Renewal

Winter was long and a bit rough. It wasn’t terrible, really. In fact, my mental health fared better than previous winters. That still didn’t change the fact that winter in Minnesota drug on for much longer than was welcome.

My moods have been better with the warm weather. With the blossoming of crab apple trees and the scent of lilacs in the air, I feel an increment of hope within me. Maybe thinks are all right.

I have been living in Minneapolis for almost a year now, and I’ve been with Planned Parenthood for ten months.  I continue to learn and grow and hopefully educate other about sexual and reproductive health.

I find I am happy when I get to bike, sip tea, and relax (I’m a huge sucker for candlelit baths and face masks). I’m looking forward to pride next month (I already have an outfit picked out!) and I have some paid time off coming up in July I am excited about!

I took some time this past weekend to capture the spring season. Spring’s beauty is certainly fleeting, but I can only appreciate it further because of that. Photos were taken at the Peace and Rose Garden near Lake Harriet.

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Congratulations kid, you’ve made it through another year

 

The planet has completed another rotation around the sun. 2017 has largely a year of exploration in the sense of relationships for me, both in terms of friendships and intimate relationships. My blog is three years old now as well (not exactly to the day).

I sit here writing from a coffee shop in Uptown Minneapolis. It is -8 F and winter is in full swing. Noses dripping, stuck with cabin fever, wearing plenty of layers. You know, a good ol’ Minnesotan winter. I knew what I was getting myself into I suppose. A part of me wishes I was in Oaxaca, Mexico where I sat three years ago ringing in the New Year when I created this blog, spirit soaring with the possibilities of travel, head lost in wanderlust. I miss the warm. I hung up posters of gardens in my apartment last night in something of a frenzy as a reminder that spring is out there.

I began this year by ending a long term relationship that I was in. He wanted children, I didn’t. He was craving a white picket fence life in suburbia, I wanted something beyond that. During this year, I became more comfortable with who I was as a person through exploring creative venues- dancing, yoga, meditation, and then exploring my sexuality. I became comfortable with who I was as a person, with my body. I shed some of my former insecurities about body image and worrying about what people thought about me and who I loved. I came out as pansexual in the spring to people I was close to, and eventually I came out over Facebook (during late summer) and to the larger world.

I created and cultivated strong and lasting relationships with three wonderful people. Our friend group, though now scattered across states, has bonds that hold us tight despite distance. Yazmín, my good friend and dance teacher brought us together largely through a yolasalsa (yoga/salsa fusion) class that she taught. From here, I met Gene and Becca. The three of us met through dance, started going to coffee shops together, and then we began to spend time at each other’s houses in the summer and on the beach having bonfires and talking at length about life, love, and loss.

We bonded through the fires we shared together, through our commonalities and differences. How even though we walk different paths, they overlap in our desire for friendship, community, love, and respect. For a while, I was here in Minneapolis, Becca was back in Wisconsin, Yazmín was in Cuba for a bit, and Gene was in Arizona. Yazmín will be hitting the road and traveling cross country soon. Every now and again, we get to meet up and reconnect and I find my soul soaring with happiness.

I’m finding myself more grounded now in terms of adulthood. For the second half of this year, I have been trying to create more financial stability and grow as adult. I haven’t been able to develop as many relationships during this period and I feel my spiritual growth has been a bit hindered, but I’m trying now to find a balance between my work life and the other aspects of me which have been getting a bit neglected as of late. I’ve been working at Planned Parenthood for about 4.5 months. I can see the impact I have in people’s lives and I realize the work I do is good work. It is rewarding and exhausting and worth it at the end of the day.

I went on several dates with women after moving to the Twin Cities. I kept myself open to meeting new people and being realistic with my expectations. In October, I was fortunate enough to meet Scotty; a strong, beautiful, intelligent, rebellious trans woman who is training to become a therapist. We went on a few dates and the connection we made came naturally. I admire her strength and tenderness, her kinesthetic skills and bubbly personality, the fact that she wears her heart on her sleeve and blushes whenever I compliment her. My heart feels so full with her and I feel we balance each other out well.

My goals for 2018 are to continue to build financial stability while also working on finding a balance again. I want to explore the Twin Cities and forge friendships with more people in the Minneapolis area. I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure how to go about that. I don’t have Wifi at my apartment and so I can’t meet people online very easily. How does a person make friendships as an adult I sometimes wonder when everyone is so busy with work and relationships, family and other obligations? I hope I can begin dancing again and make people that way. I would also like to find myself a place within the queer community in some form, though I’m unsure what shape that will take just yet.

As always, here’s to being our most authentic selves. I hope the New Year will bring you plenty of light, love, and new opportunities, even when the world feels heavy and dark and sometimes it’s hard to see the good in the world. Hoping the best for you this new year and always.

Kindest wishes,

Sarah

 

 

October update

I’m a full time working gal at my first office job (hence having a lack of time to write). I schedule appointments for a variety of patients seeking various services in the health and sexual reproductive field over the phone. The work I do is highly rewarding, albeit stressful.

I’ve come to the realization that you can’t help other people until you help yourself. Even though I’ve always been pretty self-aware of my emotions and so forth, I have needed to increase the amount of self-care I do on a daily basis to keep functioning well emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. I try to do yoga on a regular basis, schedule time away from my computer (I stare at a screen for 8 hours a day) go for bike rides on weekends, etc. Even with the amount of self-care I’m doing, I feel it could still use improvement. If you have self-care recommendations, I’d love to hear from you.

Outside of work I have yet to continue building my social circle (it’s pretty small right now). I am glad for the few friends I have made since moving here and the friendships I’m working to build, as well as the ones that remain strong – they are deeply appreciated.

Another note – my roommate and I have decided to cancel our overpriced internet (to save up financially for a little bit (a month or two). I will be using this time to focus on myself, read more literature, and rest my eyes. If you really need to get in contact with me, I can be reached over email at lalunasecreta@gmail.com. I won’t be responding frequently, but I will try and check my email once a day or every other day. If you have my number, you can text me as well. As I write this email, I am posting from a coffee shop.

Until next time,

Sarah

 

A new chapter: life in the big city

Hello!

A number of changes are currently underway within my life! Wanderlust has kicked in again.

I spent July wrapping up my job as a barista, spending time with friends, dancing, swimming, having old friends visit from out of town, enjoying bonfires, and preparing for a new chapter in my life.

Back at the end of June, I applied for a position with Planned Parenthood. I was interviewed. A week or so later, I found out I was accepted to the position! I will be working as a Call Center Receptionist in the Twin Cities.

After finding out the good news, I had a few weeks to find a new place to live and wrap up my life in Wisconsin for the moment. I took a tour of two apartments in Minneapolis in July. I decided to move in with a roommate in a two-bedroom condo not too far from my workplace. So far, I’m really enjoying it! My roommate Alex and I spoke several times before moving in together. We are quite compatible in terms of cleanliness, sleep schedules, hobbies, etc. I feel as though I made the right decision to live with a roommate. I lived alone in Japan for nearly four months and I felt as though it was too isolating for me.

My job will be starting mid-next week! I plan to bike or walk to work up until the Minnesota winter creeps in and I don’t want to slog through piles of snow, at which point I will navigate city driving (which honestly terrifies me a fair bit, it’s taking some getting used to, all though so far I’ve been avoiding it).

Now that I have unpacked and settled a bit, I am looking forward to exploring the Uptown area and seeing what the Twin Cities has to offer! I miss my friends from back home, but I know they are only a few hours away by car, and I can go back and visit on a weekend sometime.

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Until next time,

Sarah

 

Life gives just as much as she takes

Just when you think you have everything figured out, life comes by with a stick to whack you. I figure life is keeping me and my ego in check. I am young, and I still have much learning and growing to do.

I’ve been dealing with some heartbreak. I’ve lost a few friends lately. I’ve hurt people. I’ve cycled through old thought patterns and habits. I’ve eaten too much junk food and fallen out of my workout routine.

But I have also hiked, swam in Lake Superior, had many bonfires with friends, danced, sat in a tiny house, and looked to the future and possible upcoming travels.

Summer is here and I am breathing in the sweet scent of lilacs. I will continue searching for meaning and finding comfort within myself. Remembering to tackle life and its challenges one day at a time.

-Sarah

April entry (on being outgoing and active)

Back at the start of the year, I set goals to be more outgoing and active. For once in my life, I’ve been following through on my new year’s resolutions surprisingly well. My overall health has been better from building and strengthening my relationships and from working out.

For about two months now, I’ve made it a habit to go to the gym once or twice a week with a few of my friends. We help keep each other motivated to do cardio, yoga, and some weight lifting. The gym we go to currently doesn’t charge any fees- score!

There have been a few setbacks in the process of being active, however. On April 8th, I got off of work after a stressful day and began having some troubling pains on my right side. The pain began worsening as I tried to nap, with a shooting, almost stabbing pain. I thought it might be my appendix at first. My mom decided it was best to drive me to the emergency room as the pain kept increasing. An ultrasound revealed a large stone in my gallbladder, and thus I was admitted overnight to the hospital. We decided to schedule surgery to remove my gallbladder on Sunday the 9th. Surgery went well, and I am now living a normal life without my gallbladder (it’s one of those organs humans don’t really need, though it helps with the digestion of fatty foods).

I stayed one more night after surgery and left the hospital on the afternoon of the 10th. I have to tell you though, the C02 that was used to inflate my stomach for surgery created some horrible pain when it pushed into my shoulder area as my body was getting rid of the C02, causing pain worse than my gallbladder had even been. I literally began screaming in pain as my shoulder pain spiked up. The pain subsided within about another day, and I’ve been healing up well since surgery. I have four scars on my stomach that make for some cool battle scars.

Despite surgery, I haven’t been slowing down a whole lot. I was off work for a week immediately following surgery. I’ve gone back to my schedule of working six days on, one day off. I danced for four hours only a week and a half after my surgery, actually. This was from attending yoga/salsa, and running into a friend at the store who invited me out for further dancing on the same day. We had a low-key girl’s dance night where we threw on Beyoncé and other hip-hop, pop, and Latin artists and danced the evening away. I had a blast! I’ve been back to the gym only once since surgery, so I’m slightly behind schedule there. I’m back into the grove of my weekly yoga/salsa fusion class. I haven’t had enough energy to get back into daily yoga either, but I don’t want to push myself too hard. I’ve been overdoing it slightly as it is, I think. I caught up on much needed sleep yesterday and napped for several hours.

Lately I’ve been growing close to my dancer friends. Here’s a shout-out to Yaz, Becca, Nic, Gene, and Jodi! Thanks for being awesome. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Nic and Yaz lately in particular. Thank you for being excellent friends through thick and thin. To my gamer friends in Duluth, I don’t get to see you as much, but you are all wonderful as well- stay nerdy, my friends (Kaelt, Jeff, Ty, and crew!) Dancing and gaming have earned me many friends, and I’m grateful to all of you!

The weather keeps flipping between warm and cold, but I have had about three bonfires so far this spring. The most memorable fire involved Yazmin, Becca, Gene, Nic, and I. We burned mementos from the past to help heal from past relationships, to leave behind old habits, and so forth. It was quite cathartic and a good bonding experience; more plans for future fires are in the works. Plus, we ended the night with a spontaneous kitchen dance party, which is the best kind, if you wanted to know my opinion!

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One of the first bonfires of the year

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Hiking at Houghton Falls recently with Yaz

I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can exercise outdoors. Once summer is here, I have set goals of walking/jogging three miles around twice a week, on top of going to the gym, doing yoga, and dancing each week. I also want to bike ride occasionally. If I plan it right, I will be exercising about six days a week with one day of rest. For anyone who is interested I can post a schedule of what exercises I do on which day of the week in a future blog post- just let me know!

I am continuing to become happier, healthier, and more confident in myself in many ways, shapes, and forms. Self-improvement is a continual process. It’s nice knowing that I’m a work in progress. Life would be stagnant if we were already in our best condition emotionally/physically/mentally/spiritually/etc.

Here’s to more dancing and warmer weather!

-Sarah

Winter update

Hello!

It’s about time for another update.

Winter is here, though spring is getting closer each day. The days are gradually growing longer. When I leave work at 5:30 pm it’s not completely pitch black outside. I can usually catch the sunset- it’s a great feeling after having the sun set at 4 pm in the dead of winter.

My new year’s resolutions were to stay active and to be more outgoing. So far I’ve been doing both. I attend a weekly D&D group on Sundays or Mondays that meets for about four hours at a time (we take gaming seriously I suppose). I do yoga on an almost daily basis (with occasional rest days, or I’ll skip if I’m doing another physical activity.) I dance every so often (I’ve taken a few different classes). I also have meet a group of friends in the Twin Ports area who I’m getting to know (new D&D/gaming friends!)

My best friend Mari visited recently. I saw her at the end of February when she landed in the states and hung out with her that day. She spent a week or so visiting college friends. During the last four days of her stay, she spent time at my house with my family and I. We had a blast catching up. While we didn’t go out (neither of us are big fans of outdoor winter activities), we passed the time watching movies, funny videos, having drinks, and chatting away the hours.

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I am thinking more long term about where I want to live and where I might want to move, but nothing is clear yet. I have been kicking around some ideas in my head, but I don’t think I’m ready to move anywhere just yet. I’m considering Minneapolis, and more longer term moving out to the West Coast. The soonest I would move is this summer or fall. We shall see what happens.

Until next time,

Sarah

Reflections on 2016

A quick mention- Today is the 2nd anniversary of my WordPress page. Two years ago I found myself wishing to document my study abroad experience in Oaxaca, Mexico. Last year I was making my way to the East Coast on a road trip with my boyfriend. This year, I’m in my hometown, with no plans currently to travel anywhere for a while *sigh.* I’m saving up money, but I don’t know where I’ll be heading to next.

     2016 has been an interesting year in all senses of the word. I won’t get into the politics, social issues, and other events of the year- that’s too broad and lengthy to cover (and would be exhausting and depressing to be honest). (I am still in mourning over the loss of musicians such as David Bowie, too, but that’s another post for another time.) I will try but fail to keep this a brief post. It’s more of a way for me to remember what happened this past year, and for those I haven’t spoken to much in the past year.

     2016  was the year of the monkey, and the monkey is my zodiac sign. I went into 2016 after a fulfilling 2015, fully expecting a great year ahead. I wanted seize the day (carpe diem) and make the most of the year. In some ways, I did. The universe did pull some strings and make things possible for me, as did hard work (I fulfilled my dream of visiting and working in Japan!)

At the beginning of the year, I spent two weeks on the East Coast with my boyfriend in upstate New York and Maryland visiting his friends. It was my first time on the East Coast. We visited Washington D.C. and played tourist during the off season of snowy January. I attended a Bernie Sanders rally at the end of January. I didn’t have a job for a couple of months after graduating in Dec. 2015. I allowed myself some time to relax and recover after burnout at the end of my undergraduate career. I began job hunting online in February. At first, I looked for work in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but then I branched out and looked for jobs teaching English in Japan. I tutored English online briefly at this time.

In the spring, I harvested maple syrup from the trees on our property (I live with my parents and brother on 22 and a half acres of land in rural Wisconsin). I purchased a Nikon d3300 and began figuring out how to use a proper camera. My family adopted a very sweet old dog, who is half German shepherd, half Australian shepherd. By March, I was accepted to a position teaching English overseas. Within about a month, I was on a big jet plane headed for Tokyo.

I spent three and a half months teaching English in Japan. I grew a lot as a person, and began to mature, learn life lessons, and adjust to living on my own.

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My best friend and I. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan. Aug. 16′

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A shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Aug. 16′

It had been my dream for nearly ten years to visit Japan. I was fortunate to receive the opportunity to teach overseas. I enjoyed my experience and learned many life lessons, had the chance to experience a new culture and way of live, and had the chance to learn a new language. I networked and made several friends and strengthened existing friendships in Japan. On the weekends, I took advantage of my time to travel and sightsee in Yokohama and Tokyo. However, my time didn’t go quite as I had expected. I was scheduled to work for one year, but due to job stress and unforeseen health issues, I returned home to Wisconsin.

I made my way back to the states feeling like a complete failure at first. I felt good for about the first day, (I was excited to see family and friends) but I was mentally struggling after that. My extreme highs turned to extreme lows. I didn’t know what to do with myself after my lifelong dream had been fulfilled/shattered (depending on how you want to look at it). I didn’t know what I would do for work, where I wanted to live, and so forth. I was having an existential crisis (an ongoing on, if that’s possible) about what I wanted to do with my life, and what my true purpose is. I walked a lot when I came home from Japan, as a way to both be with my thoughts and to escape them. I would walk for three miles at a time, once or twice a week. While I still don’t have the answers to purpose in life, I can assure you I am better today than I was when I returned home.

Two weeks after returning to the US, I applied to a barista position at a local coffee shop in my hometown. I was hired and began working shortly thereafter. Working shortly after my return home helped me readjust to American life and reconnect, or create new connections with people in the area. It took a while, but I began to make new friends and create new bonds. I enjoy having a moderately fast paced job that keeps me busy, but allows for a good work-life balance and isn’t too stressful (it’s the least stressful job I’ve had to date, actually).

The future is uncertain, but I’m not necessarily scared for what lies in 2017. Well, maybe a little bit. The rise of a bigoted, xenophobic, racist, homphobic president scares me (okay, this is my one political blurb of this post, I’m done now). I will continue to do my best to grow as a person, help others, learn new languages, visit new countries and states, and make new friends. If one thing is certain, it’s that there is no certainty in life (I sound like a cliché).

I hope 2016 was kind to you. If it wasn’t, (I’m guessing it may not have been) I look forward to a different 2017 with you. See you next year.

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Best,

Sarah

Luna llena / full moon

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Luna llena

Traer claridad al mundo turbulento.

Protegernos y lléname con fuerza

Para luchar las próximas batallas.

//

Full moon

Bring clarity to a troubled world.

Protect us and fill me with strength

To fight the upcoming battles.

I am too tired to write more. I may flesh this into more of a poem later. It’s just a start for now.

This election has me thinking about the state of the world, and especially the state of the US. I am worried about my friends of color, my LGBTQ+ friends, and other minority groups. On a personal level, I am worried I will not have access to insurance and won’t have access to birth control and other services offered by women’s health care clinics. But there is so much at stake right now. I have been crying and angry and filled with anxiety; I’ve been depressed and ready to fight and everything in between.

I may write more later. For now, I need sleep. I haven’t been getting enough rest this past week.

Stay safe.

-Sarah

 

 

Back in the states

I’ve been back in the US for just over a month now.

I made the decision to leave Japan about two weeks before departing. I returned home on August 23rd. I left for personal reasons: namely, I was over-stressed and experiencing some health problems. I left my teaching job and my best friend behind.

I returned to the US 3.5 months after having arrived in Japan. I was stressed, in need of a doctor and dentist appointment, a general emotional mess, and 17 pounds lighter (not a bad thing).

Around 3 weeks after returning to Wisconsin, I was hired on the spot to a barista position at a local coffee shop. I’m glad I started working shortly after coming home as it’s helped ease my transition back into my local community and US society. Outside of work I don’t really have much of a social group outside of my family, whom I live with (my parents and brother). At work, I can see acquaintances and people from the area that I know. It’s a good thing. without it, I would never be social at all.

I am trying to reconnect with old friends, but after being in Japan, and even before then, I’ve drawn away from a lot of my old high school friends to some extent. It would be nice to make new friends or to reconnect more with old friends. For now though, I am fairly content. I’ve developed the habit of a taking a 3 miles walk on the country roads near my home at least twice a week to keep up with the walking habit I developed while in Japan. I used to walk everywhere. The weather has been spectacular this September- warmer than usual, which makes for wonderful walking.

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A corn field I see on my walk near my house each week.

There are times where I really miss my life in Japan. I miss my best friend, the train announcements, little phrases in Japanese, the snacks, the city bustle (sometimes). I’ve gained back 5 pounds I lost. But for now, the comforts of mom’s home cooking, inside jokes with my brother, hugs from dad, and so forth keep me going.

I don’t know what’s next, but for now, I know it’s good to be home in Wisconsin.