Brave.

 

It’s hard for me to write why I’m scared and what’s making me nervous. Clearly it’s all of it, but there’s something keeping me from using the words. In three days I’m moving out to a place I’ve never lived before to live with people I don’t know, and start a new job at a center where I know no one and will have to prove myself from scratch. It’s a lot, and my pain is through the roof. I’m barely sleeping and for the first time in awhile it feels like fibromyalgia is a dragon breathing fire once again.

I’ve been making promises to myself recently. Maybe I’ll use those words.

I promise to remember that it’s okay if:

  • I cry a lot.
  • I don’t conquer everything at once.
  • I feel scared.
  • I call home a lot.
  • I ask for help with silly things.
  • I cut myself some slack and not try as hard as I always do.
  • I feel lost and small. No need to feel even worse for feeling those things.
  • I don’t have fun right away. Things take time.

I promise to take good care of myself. To do so I need to make sure to:

  • Stretch before bed every night. Seriously.
  • Follow the annoying but wise “no-screens-after-nine-p.m.” rule.
  • Eat well, which means cook.
  • Keep up my exercise. Find a class or something… Yes! Become that young adult in a new place who joins groups to meet people.
  • Call my people.
  • Write a lot. It keeps me sane, it keeps me calm, and it’s beautiful to look back on. 
  • Listen to music all the time. Have dance parties. Rock out to my jams when I’m feeling down. It always works, like true magic.
  • Be nostalgic the appropriate amount. It’s par for the course. Draw strength from the experiences and memories.  

I promise not to forget that:

  • I deserve my best shot at life.
  • This whole adventure is a good thing. It’s what I wanted. Remember why you are where you are.
  • I am creative, capable, and a total badass, so I can turn anything that’s thrown my way into a piece of cake (that’s non-processed, dairy-free and chocolate-free. Maybe I need another metaphor). 
  • It might not be right away, but I will have fun! I will have so much fun. I can’t lose sight of that. I purposely created this year to have what I’ve been missing this past year – new people, independence and some fun.
  • There are so many people rooting for me. They have faith in me and they know I’ll do well and succeed and live a good life. If they know it, I should know it too.

Also, Ella? Once everything settles down your pain will alleviate. You know that, so don’t freak out. Survive it like you survive everything else. Don’t lose sight of everything. Ready set go.

Time to be brave.

~~~

Ella
Song Quote:

I did my best to assure her but assurance isn’t easy to give. -Words, Passenger

 

As promised, a new collage! This will go on the wall of my new bedroom.

collage

All of the pictures are from magazines, and I like to cut flowers out of different ads and glue them on for a pop of color.

collagecorner

“She believed she could, so she did”

Goodbye.

 

All of my adjectives might just never be enough for this.

It ended with a smile, a kiss and a hug.

It ended with pictures, gifts and moving words.

It ended with stories of the beginning and the excitement of adventures up ahead.

It ended with the feeling that I am incredibly cherished and loved.

It ended with the knowledge that these people, my people, believe in me.

It ended, and I’m feeling brave.

A long time ago I wrote in tiny letters along the edge of a collage: I know we’ll be fine when we learn to love the ride. I’m starting a new collage and along the edge I will write: She believed she could so she did.

It ended without a real goodbye, because we all know this isn’t the end…

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I’ll softly rise and I’ll gently call, goodnight and joy be with you all. -The Parting Glass, Ed Sheeran

Change.

 

Change is gathering up ahead.

I’m trying all of my adjectives.

A little while ago I was talking to my friend, Jewel,about how, when I was a little girl, I had this vision of my future self. The vision was very clear:

I’ll be independent, living in my own apartment, working a really cool job and helping people. I’ll be the person people turn to for support, understanding, laughter and ideas. I’ll have a worth of knowledge and wisdom to share. I’ll be sociable, confident, proud and happy with where I am in life. I’ll be glamorous because I’m free and comfortable with who I am.

Ringing any bells?

It suddenly hit me that somehow, without consulting the picture I had painted before I even turned twelve years old, I managed to create and execute a plan that would allow me to live exactly the way I hoped I would.

Magic? Truth.

~~~

Among the things that have already changed this past year is that I’m no longer The Sick Kid. Sure, I’m still sick (she says so nonchalantly), but I think that not being surrounded by healthy kids all day made the title fade a little. It’s not how I think of myself anymore. It carries much less weight in the equation these days.

And yet… I am sick. How will I manage?

The Change, it’s all-encompassing. I’ll be starting with a completely blank page. I’ll be living and working with people I don’t know. Absolutely everything around me will change and be different than it is right now. Three months from now I’ll have a whole new world.

I find myself in need of a reminder that that’s a good thing. That’s why I’m writing about Change – because it’s desired. It’s healthy. It’s what I want and what I’ve been waiting for all of this time.

Take a deep breath and look around. Appreciate where you are right now before it all changes. Don’t let a single good thing pass you by. Take snapshots of moments with the people you love and admire. Spread your arms and soak in the feeling of the present. Change is coming.

Get your adjectives ready.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I walked off an old me… And now, breathe deep, I’m inhaling. –Alaska, Maggie Rogers (in love with this song!)

{By the way, please note that this is filed in a new category called “Changed.” Future posts will also be in “Changed.” Welcoming in a new era, three years on…}

 

One Hell of a Year – 19

18 started with uncertainty, exhaustion and a dramatic collapse. I was plagued by the question marks and the sorrow of regret, immersed in the emotional storm of goodbyes and the pre-graduation pressure. My strength was failing me, just when I needed it most. I couldn’t help but reflect on the year I had had and feel as though it might have gotten the better of me. I graduated and said goodbye to a place that had been my home for the best and worst years of my life. A few days later I fulfilled my dream of cutting my hair short, and embraced the new look as a symbol of the new phase in my life.

18 continued with me starting my volunteer position and feeling lonelier than I’d felt in a long time. Starting from scratch in a new environment was a challenging, frustrating and upsetting process for me, and my friends weren’t around. They too, were going through their own processes of change. It took some getting used to.

I wasn’t quite sure where my place was. High school wasn’t my home anymore, but the foundation wasn’t my home yet. It was strange, and at the same time sort of freeing.

A few months in and everything had settled down. By ‘settled down’ I mean ‘picked up’. I had so much going on – because things were going well – that I very nearly couldn’t handle it all… And I loved every minute of it. My friends and I adjusted and the time we spent together became true quality time. My memory and my diaries are peppered with our adventures, our birthday celebrations and our (many) lazy, lounging catch up sessions. We realized that not being together all the time meant having countless stories to share, and we appreciate every moment we get to spend together now. We are evolving and so is our friendship. I love them so much. I’ve also made new friends along the way, and we’ve had our own share of wonderfully random adventures…

The foundation became my home (understatement). I’ve always tried to be kind to other people, but this year it was my job to do so. I made people’s lives better and I made magic real. I’ve grown so close to the people I work with and we’ve had such a beautiful time together. The staff meetings, the lunches, the office banter, the events, the work itself… It’s been my everything. They know me: they know how much I care, they know what I’m capable of and they know just what to say and just when to say it. I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve loved feeling embraced by their love and appreciation.

As 18 started to come to a close I started to figure out what my next step would be. My goal was to know my plan by my birthday and my plan succeeded. I’ll be finishing my year with the foundation in two months and moving out of my parent’s house to do another year at a new non-profit. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited about something so inherently scary. Realizing how little time I have left with the foundation has made it all very real. I’ll miss them and I’ll miss being one of them, but I will never, ever, forget how much it has all meant to me.

18 is over, and it was better than anything I ever expected it to be. I’m overjoyed to say that looking back, I feel proud. This year did not get the better of me – I made it what it was. I truly lived it to the fullest. 18 will go down in history as one hell of a year…

This year I’ve realized that I love who I am as an adult, I’ve wasted way less time worrying about things I can’t control and I’ve learned how not to give a fudge and just cut myself some slack.

This year I changed my ringtone to “Here Comes the Sun”, and that really says it all.

19 – bring it on.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. –What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

 

“You can take the girl out of the foundation but you can’t take the foundation out of the girl.”

The Sunburn Anecdote

 

I’ve been a bit of a mess lately. I’ve been in good spirits, actually, but I think my brain has decided vacation has arrived (no vacation in sight) and is really enjoying kicking back. The other morning I woke up with only one earring in. I looked everywhere, scoured the office, called shops I’d been in, the whole shebang, and I was forced to come to terms with the fact that it was just gone.

But then I found it! Very early yesterday morning I decided to check the shower again, and as I pushed in the door I peeked around it and lo and behold there was my earring, a frighteningly small distance from the drain. Needless to say I was overjoyed and went about getting ready with a spring in my step.

I needed to leave the house quite early to meet up with a coworker at a golf club. Now erase that image of me as an old white guy, and replace it with this: the nonprofit I volunteer with is organizing a golf tournament fundraiser with this club, and we need to take it in shifts to be present and recruit players to sign up. I happily told my coworker that I found my earring (hallelujah) and we set up our stand in the sun because we were cold.

Then the wind happened. I had a cup of orange juice on our table, and the wind knocked down our poster, which knocked down my juice and spilled it all over our materials. Oops. Also the cup broke.

Now I have a tale to tell about a man named Richard (so fitting for the setting it’s actually ridiculous). Richard is a bit creepy. Is creepy the right word? Maybe we’ll call him pervy. The first time we met on the course he called me pretty, which is fine (ish) unto itself except then he made a joke about how my grandmother is probably too young for him and how funny is it that he still falls in love with girls like me? I’m barely 19. Yeah. So that’s Richard. We talked about atheism and his grandchildren (no relation between the two subjects).

I saw Richard again yesterday and while my coworker was busy being amused by our conversation Richard told me I have to take better care of my skin. I ignored this comment as another “old man talking to young girl about preserving good looks” comment, but when I left the club I discovered he deserves more credit than I gave him…

I kind of burnt off my neck. It’s kind of a highlighter pink hue, it’s extremely pissed off and it is going to express it’s rage for the forseeable future. Sorry, Richard. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.

Now the thing about sunburns isn’t just how painful they are. Whenever I see the red skin in the mirror I get angry. I mainly get angry at myself for not taking better care of myself, but I also get angry at the sun and at random people around me. It turns me into a bit of a witch. Bye-bye, good mood.

On my way to the office I stopped to gas up the car and pulled into my regular lane. The guy working there (we’ll call him Gus cause I’m lazy and Gus seems like a good name for him) smiled a cocky smile and motioned for to me to move to the lane over. I was like, “Sorry buddy, but the cap is on this side. I know what I’m doing.” But Gus kept smiling and kept motioning, so finally I pulled into the other lane and lowered my window. “The station there is out of order,” says our chummy little Gus. “Turn around and come to this one in the opposite direction.”

Okay, maybe his words don’t sound condescending here, but it was the way he delivered them. So I turn around and pull up, tell him what the car needs and he just stands there smiling. What, Gus? What do you want from me? He just keeps standing there. Eventually he says, “You need to open it for me.”

I felt like squishing his face. I’d had enough of misogynistic men for the day and he was just looking at me like, “Look at the silly little girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing”.

Let me tell you something, Gus: I’m doing more with my life right now than you will ever do with yours, so get off your high horse and treat me with the respect I deserve.

So I got to the office, completed my entire to-do list (!!!) and grabbed something we needed to exchange at the mall. Where I encountered an idiot. The day was really just not going well. The trainee at this store, who refused to call her superior, had a lot of difficulty figuring out what to do with my receipt. Twenty minutes later (I’m not exaggerating, I timed it) she told me I needed to pay the difference between the two products, which came out to 176 (local currency). Now listen, honey, I don’t know if you have any sort of education, but the difference was 30. 30! Not 176. Another ten minutes later (half an hour out the window) the superior finally shows up and go figure, the difference, when calculated correctly, is 30. Thank you very much, good bye.

My level of frustration with humanity was pretty high at this point. This entire time I was feeling extremely self-conscious of my angry red skin and suffering immensely from the pain. I could fry an egg on the back of my neck. Lovely times.

Later that night I also broke my sister’s very expensive glass bottle of skin care something-or-other because I was trying to get my top on without touching my skin. She was mad. Sorry.

So I reiterate, I’m a mess. But at least you got a lengthy rant like the good old times! It’s been a while since I’ve had to write something like this. Good thing or bad thing? By the way, this blog just turned 3 years old! I still have a little notebook where I recorded the first like! And the first follow! And the first reblog! I tried to keep track of when I hit milestones, like 10 followers, 100… Little did I know I would go on to celebrate 1,000 and 2,500 and now we’re at 3,600! Craziness. Thank you for all the love.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

It’s a wonder at all that I survived. –This Is War, Ingrid Michaelson

I Hate Everything – A Tale of Optimism

For quite a while now my first thought every single morning has been, “I hate everything”. Well, to be fair, it’s usually a word that starts with “F”. Or “S”. But the second thought has been, “I hate everything.” It’s like the soundtrack to my life. *

Why? Because I’ve been in immense pain. But why have I been in immense pain? Because I’m busy. And that’s why it’s a phrase of optimism.

You’ve known me for a very long time – remember when I turned 16 and started freaking out about growing old and being sick? – and you know I’m big on self-reflection. I’m astounded when I think about how much I’ve grown in the past seven months, on so many fronts. Besides all kinds of official things – being upgraded to an adult credit card (not below 18 anymore), having no more age-related driving restrictions, having control over my own medical everything – there are the things that are less obvious.

I’m not here to list all those things. Normally that would be a classic post, but today I’m content with just the knowledge that I have grown. Today, I’d like to talk about the fact that I’m busy (and therefore I hate everything).

Since September I’ve been volunteering with a certain charity, and in the past few months I’ve had to make a decision: either find another place to volunteer for a year, or go on to university. I took the higher education entrance exam (psychometric test) and got a high enough grade to enter the excellence program and receive a 50% scholarship (!) at my school of choice. Attending the course, preparing for the exam and still working (i.e. volunteering) three days a week took a lot out of me, but the success felt amazing. So that covered the technical aspect of university for me, but I was left with the question: am I ready?

I’ve never told you where I live, what my real name is or what my religion is, and you’ve never seen a picture of me. You know no truly identifying factors (which I’m sure has driven some of you crazy). I have my reasons for this, but the reason I love the most is that this blog is the opposite of real life. In the real world, the first things you (usually) know about a person are what they look like, the part of the world they live in, their name and maybe their religion. It takes longer to learn about their personalities and their feelings, if you ever do. In this world, our world, the only things you know about me are my personality and my feelings.

Which is why I’m still not telling you anything, including where I’m volunteering or what country I live in. I wrote all of this simply to explain that in my country, it’s not weird that I’m not starting university at 18. In fact, even if I go when I’m 20, I’ll still be on the younger end of the scale. Generally speaking, I’m much older than my age suggests, so I’m not worried about fitting in socially with an older crowd, but I am worried about my feelings. I’m so separate from my contemporaries as it is, and if I jump shoot choosing a profession, studying and starting a career I fear I’ll feel galaxies away from everyone.

It has come down to the fact that I have doubts. I’ve decided that the fact that I doubt I’m ready to start is enough to decide I’m not ready. I’m not the sort to waste my time and I take things very seriously, so I’m not going to start until every aspect feels right.

Which leaves me with finding another place to invest my heart for a year. I’ve been busy because I’m following leads and putting myself out there, all the while keeping up my regular work schedule. Sprinkle in tutoring, physical therapy, exercise, doctor appointments, additional work events and the occasional (*gasp*) attempt at fun, I am exhausted.  

So my brain is occupied with hating everything the majority of the time because I constantly feel like I’m dragging my body around and running myself into the ground (please note that I’m still taking care of myself – I haven’t aborted the mission of health just yet). When the thought first started popping into my brain I was kind of amused – it is kind of a funny way for my mind to have phrased my displeasure – but I recognize that it’s a sign of me being proactive with my own happiness.

I am my own person, and I am making the decisions that are right for me. I’m not just sitting here, feeling miserable, and hoping I do something worthwhile with my time. I’m already doing it. I’m being smart about my life. I’m building my path from scratch and turning it into something I can be proud of. Even if I don’t always realize it, I know that every step I’ve been taking recently has been an offspring of a superpower: optimism. Somehow I’ve been operating under the assumption that I have the ability to make everything work out.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why hating everything means I am a true optimist. Farewell.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

We’re on the right side of rock bottom. –Rock Bottom, Hailee Steinfeld

*I literally push myself up into a seated position on my bed and think, “I hate everything.” Then I go to the bathroom and think, “I hate everything.” As I’m getting dressed, I’m thinking, “I. Hate. Everything.” When I find my way to the kitchen and start making breakfast, I’m just a broken record of, “I hate everything”. It’s quite the life I lead, my friends.

Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

IMG_1896

I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!