Wednesday, April 11, 2018

WHY I AM CHOOSING HAPPINESS

For most of my life, I've lived according to what I think other people expect me to do. Try hard in school, work towards something greater, always on -- never stopping to think about what's best for me. Even when I'm deciding what I want most in life, part of me has always thought about it will affect everyone around me.

Recently, I had a big decision to make. And when it came down to it, everyone told me: do what your gut is telling you. Choose happiness.


Life in the Lost and Found Bin is about my discovering who I am and what I really want. And while I know myself much better than when I created this blog, I think I still have a lot to learn. I have always had dreams, but I have always questioned them.

It's not that I've questioned whether or not I really want my dreams to come true. Rather, I have been clouded in self-doubt about whether or not I had the power to really make them come true. And let's be real: most people don't make their dreams come true. For some, maybe they don't have what it takes. Maybe it is about knowing the right people and having the right opportunities. But for others, I think it's about life getting in the way. The unexpected happens and sometimes you have to reevaluate what is most important to you. And I think part of maturing is realizing that sometimes your "dreams" aren't going to be your first priority. And that's okay.

So, for now, I am choosing happiness. I only recently discovered that was an option -- one that I could choose. Maybe I'm not Lena Dunham or Donald Glover, living out my dreams at 23. But everybody's path is different.

I am willing to work hard. I am willing to give my dreams everything I've got. But I'm going to do it my way. I'm okay with it taking a little longer.

That's why I am choosing happiness.


Are you choosing happiness? 

Monday, February 12, 2018

SEND TO: MINNESOTA, RE: OUR BREAKUP

Draft: Feb. 12 3:35 p.m. 

Dear Minnesota,

There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about for a while. It's something that's hard for me to admit. So please, just hear me out.


Breaks are dumb. But our break has made me realize, taking a break doesn't mean a relationship is irreparable. In fact, I believe our love can be stronger than ever.

I know it's cliche -- the whole "not knowing what you have until you've lost it." But it's true. I chose to move away during an incredibly confusing time in my life.

I was young, dumb and in love with the idea of experiencing something extraordinary. And I thought to do that, I needed to move away.

Now, I'm left missing the way you made me feel. Being with you made me a better person. I have no doubt that I am who I am because of you. The harsh cold winters made me stronger and more tolerant. The change of the seasons made me remember nothing lasts forever. The cool summer breeze at night made me -- well, let's be honest, I took that for granted at the time. In Florida, there is no breeze from April-November. It's sticky and humid. Honestly, it makes me cringe thinking about the looming return of the humidity.

But mostly, I'm homesick for the people. God, how I miss the people. Don't get me wrong, I've met some nice people here. And I cherish those friendships. However, people here aren't as aggressively nice or overly apologetic. Minnesota Nice is a thing, people. 

The state we grew up in is forever a part of our identity. It helped mold us into who we are. As a kid, I questioned my parents' choice to build a life in Minnesota. I thought, why would you ever consciously choose to stay in a state that is cold 75% of the year? But I get it now. It only took me moving away to figure that out.

Minnesota, you're not perfect (ex."cold 75% of the year"). But neither am I (ex. moved away). We've made our mistakes. Our timing was off. I wanted to try new things. You were too busy hosting the Super Bowl. But the thing is none of that matters. All that matters is that I know our story isn't over yet.

I've always loved you. And I'm sorry for not telling you sooner. Please, forgive me.


P.s. please, don't forget about me while I'm gone.




Monday, November 13, 2017

WHEN WILL I STOP WAITING FOR MY LIFE TO START?

Like most of what I write, this post was inspired by a conversation I had not too long ago. We were talking about the future and where we were in our career so far. And then the conversation turned to how we were always waiting for our lives to "start," as if everything we had done up to this point didn't really count.

In high school, you can't wait to get to college and for your life to really start.

Then in college, you can't wait to graduate, because you're still in school and have so many limitations, so you feel like it hasn't really started yet.

Then all the sudden you're out of school. You're in your first job, but you're clearly not where you want to be yet because no one lands their dream job right out of school. So, you're right back at the: well when this happens, then my life will really start.



When I move to my dream city.
When I meet my person.
When I lose that weight.
When I get engaged.
When I get my dream job.
When I get that promotion.
When I get married.
When I start working for myself.
When I'm the boss.
When I buy the house.
When I pay off my debt.

You think to yourself, that's when my life will start.

But here's the thing: what was everything up until then? You've been living. I've been living.

When I talk about where I see my life going and what I want to do next, a lot of people seem to have an opinion. I've gotten a lot of advice about how to navigate my life choices -- from people who have more life experience. And while I appreciate the concern, I am the only one who has to live with my choices day after day. I get to decide when my life "starts" and where it goes from there.

Waiting for your life to start is exhausting. I've spent a lot of restless nights (and by that I mean days--because I work overnight) trying to fall asleep, only to be kept awake by haunted musings of what could have been. At some point, I have to step up and change that.

In my business, I see a lot of things that really make you think more about the world. Just this weekend we reported about a 23-year-old who lost his life in a car accident. He was 23. And I couldn't help but think what if it was me? I could have a long, healthy life ahead of me. Or I could die tomorrow. I'm sorry, Mom and Dad. But it's true. So, why aren't we all living like we're dying?

I've spent my whole life looking way too far ahead into the future. And of course, I want to prepare for the future that I hope I have. I work very hard to set myself up for a good future. But I also want to find some happiness in the present. After all, it's where we spend all of our time, isn't it?

What are you waiting for?


Thursday, September 28, 2017

WHAT I'LL TELL MY FUTURE KIDS ABOUT HURRICANE IRMA

I never thought I would live through a hurricane. Midwesterners know thunderstorms and blizzards. Extreme winds back home are just mildly inconvenient at worst. I don't why, but I assumed it was one of those things that people talked about -- but would never actually happen.

But as I curled up on an air mattress on the second of the news station -- just months after arriving in Southwest Florida -- I couldn't help but wonder what I would tell people about what it was like to survive a hurricane.

Wrapped up in Wisconsin... I realized I covered myself in what felt familiar in such an unfamiliar time. My WINK hurricane survival kit included:

  • 3 Wisconsin T-shirts
  • 2 Wisconsin Sweatshirts
  • 2 Wisconsin tie-blankets
  • 1 Wisconsin Baseball cap

No, that's not all I brought with me. But as I laid there, actually trying to fall asleep in my workplace, I realized I was subconsciously comforting myself with things that reminded me of the place I called home for the last four years.

While my new home became threatening, I brought in my old home to keep me safe.

For some reason, as I laid there, I thought about what I would tell my future kids. Years from now, what would I have to say? What will I remember most about this super storm?


It felt surreal. 
Although the hurricane hit Fort Myers, I only saw the storm through the screens in the station -- making it still feel like just something that was happening on TV. Despite being stuck at the station for days, I struggled to wrap my head around the fact that it was actually going on around us. I think that's why I didn't know have anything profound to say about it to friends or family after the fact.

It was scary. It was crazy. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. That's it.

Irma caused widespread flooding, power outages, and destruction. 
Irma left behind catastrophic damage in parts of Florida. As pictures and videos of the aftermath began to flood our inbox, I couldn't believe some of the images I was seeing. It was heartbreaking.

People went into a state of panic -- especially since Irma came through right after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas. 
It was a little like what I imagined the end of the world to be like. In the days before the storm, crowds rushed to the grocery stores, wiping out the bottled water supplies and flashlights. Gas suddenly become the most sought-after commodity. Both before and after the storm, lines that backed up onto main streets, leaving many people waiting for gas for hours. We heard stories of people waiting for two hours only for the gas stations to run out by the time they got to the pump. Others were taking advantage of the shortage -- filling up gas containers, and trying to turn a profit off of other people still stuck in the lines.

The hurricane brought out the best and the worst of people. 
We had the pleasure of telling stories of communities coming together to help each other out in the wake of a natural disaster. And people really stepped up. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. It was truly incredible to see our reporters telling the stories of people who risked their lives and spent hours in the heat, helping others clean up the mess after Irma. At the same time, it was distressing to hear the stories of people who took advantage of others, like the looters who stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that a pastor used to spread the word of God.

Working during Hurricane Irma was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. 
When my family and friends up North found out that I had to stay to work during the hurricane, they freaked out.  They were scared. They didn't want me to stay. Governor Scott was telling millions to evacuate and, admittedly, it was scary. I didn't fully know what to expect. Irma had a pretty uncertain path for a long time -- and it definitely raised concerns. But I can't tell you how proud I am to have been a part of something like that. I watched hundreds of emails pour in about how grateful people were that we were there for them throughout the storm. And I knew, if I had to, I would do it all over again. We were there from Saturday morning to Monday night straight, and we were on the air for more than 80 hours in a row. We couldn't shower. A few people even washed their hair in the bathroom sinks. Everyone was exhausted. But it was worth it. We provided vital information for people in their time of need.

When I was 16, I wrote a paper in AP Comp about how I wanted to save people through my writing, because I realized I no longer wanted to be a doctor. I knew my calling was writing. But I had a really hard time believing in myself for the longest time. When I have kids, I want them to know that Hurricane Irma taught me how valuable what I am doing really is.

I often wonder if what I'm doing is worth it-- the long hours, the odd hours, the lack of time I have to have a life outside of work. But as I laid on that air mattress on the second floor of the news station, I couldn't help but think: if I make it through this, I can make it through anything.



Monday, August 21, 2017

NO ONE KNOWS WHAT CHEESE CURDS ARE HERE

There's a lot I didn't know before moving to Florida. For instance, did you know that despite being called the Sunshine State, it rains pretty much every day for about half the year? Didn't know that? Funny, neither did I before moving down here. And we're not talking about a little sprinkle in the afternoon. We're talking about trees down, aggressive lightning, and flooding on the roads so bad sometimes that you might as well just commit to life as a hermit because you don't want to be caught in the massive puddles.

Okay, so that last part was a little melodramatic. But in all seriousness, I thought I moved to Florida, not Seattle.

Moving to a new place both excited and scared me. It was something that I had wanted to do a for a long time, but I knew that it would make the transition into adulthood even more challenging. The move meant a new start--a fresh start--but it also meant starting from the beginning.

It meant making new friends, learning how to navigate a new city, and figuring out who I was when I was completely alone. With no one to fall back on, I was forced to start learning how to live on my own. That part was a little scary.

But what I never expected was how much I would miss home.
Now, over the last four years, I've had two homes: Minneapolis and Madison. It only took being away from both to realize how much love I have for them.

No one knows what cheese curds are here. I didn't even eat cheese curds that often in Wisconsin, but I never realized that they were a concept people in other parts of the country didn't understand. The other night I found myself struggling to explain a concept that I've understood since I was a little kid. It's just a curd of cheese??


The Humidity is killer. Honestly, if you've never been to Florida in August, you don't even really know what humidity is. Imagine walking into a sauna every time you set foot outside. There's no relief. Your only choice is to stay inside in the A/C. Even the ocean and pools usually don't cool you down that much because they get so hot. At least up north, even on a hot day, when the sun goes down, so does the temperature. Here, you can walk outside at 2 AM and it's almost as humid and sticky feeling as it was at 2 PM.

People drive like maniacs here. Slow down there, Vin Diesel. We're just trying to get to work, not film Fast and Furious 9.  And don't even get me started on how the older people drive here. I cannot even imagine what it is going to be like "in season" (when all the "snowbirds" come down).

I've become 77% sand. It's everywhere. My car is covered. My flip-flops have to stay outside. You can't escape it.

There's no Caribou here. And it's a serious problem -- not for my bank account. But sometimes a girl just wants a good cup of joe.


My 7-year-old sister keeps asking why I can't come home, and it's breaking my heart. When my little sister first asked why I moved to Florida, I told her it was because I got a job here. Her response? "There are jobs in Minnesota too. You could work at Target, Dairy Queen...." If only she understood why her big sister couldn't be satisfied serving Blizzards and Dilly Bars. The other day she said, "Don't you want to be with me?" That girl really knows how to tug on the heart strings.


I'm going to miss the Minnesota State Fair. And that means I can't eat my weight in Sweet Martha's cookies and Fresh French Fries, and that's a huge problem. The Great Minnesota Get Together is one of my favorite times of the year.

I miss the city. I really took for granted how much there was to do in Madison and Minneapolis. Bored in Fort Myers? Well, I guess I'll go to the beach again? Not that I'm complaining about going to the beach. I will gladly soak up some sun while everyone up North is huddle around the fire in their parkas.

 Lauren, Becky, Taylor, and Shelby ( at 17) in line for the concert of our lives outside Fine Line Cafe

But more than anything, I miss my friends and family.
Yes, I have made friends here, and I'm so lucky to have them. But sometimes you just want to sing Anna Sun in your car and know that your friends are there to harmonize and reminisce about that time that you discovered one of your favorite bands. I miss watching movies with my parents, and freaking out over Big Brother with my little brother. And my mom's cooking. Boy, do I miss my mom's cooking. And Grandma's baking.

All right, before I get too sentimental, I better remind everyone why I'm here. As much as I miss Minnesota (and Wisconsin), I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. After all, this blog was founded with the goal of inspiring other people to pursue their passions. So, here I am showing you that it's possible.

Four years ago, I wrote a post right before college wondering if I could really make it happen. Could I actually make a career out of writing?

This is for 18-year-old Taylor.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT DATING AT 22

What could I know about dating, right? I'm 22. I'm the first to admit dating confuses me, as it does many. I'm pretty sure online dating wouldn't exist if everyone knew how to pair off on their own.

Can you imagine? Just being able to do this organically in an efficient matter? In this imaginary world, little girls just point to boys on the playground and they've mated for life -- like penguins.


No instead, we're left with unlabeled "things" -- in a world where no one can quite pinpoint exactly what a "thing" is but everyone knows they are definitely a thing. Didn't quite follow that last part? Exactly.

So, we patiently wait until we've gone on "enough" dates with a single human to approach the awkward, "What are we...?" conversation. And then in due time when it inevitably dissipates, we're back at square one, swiping through a seemingly endless stream of mirror selfies and poorly crafted bios.

Which brings me to everything I have learned over 22 years: dating is hard.

I could leave it at that.

But through the entire series of Sex and the City, Andrea Silenzi's Why Oh Why podcast, Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance, my own personal experience, Taylor Swift songs, and countless viewings of movies like 500 Days of Summer and When Harry Met Sally, here is what I have come up with:

1. On a first date, if they're asking a bunch of questions, it's actually a bad thing! It means that the conversation isn't naturally flowing (Why Oh Why).

2. If you're meeting through a dating app, it's actually better to meet early on, rather than chatting for a long time. That way you can see what your dynamic is like in person (Aziz).

3. There always seems to be that *one* person that creeps back into our lives (i.e. Mr. Big in SATC). But that doesn't mean that they are "the one."

4. Being truly open to something means being vulnerable -- and willing to sit out on the curb in the rain with your heart in your hand.


5. Breaks... more like BreakS. (FRIENDS -- Ross and Rachel. Enough said.)

6. Going on exciting dates can help you like a person more than a standard dinner/coffee date -- you associate the adrenaline rush with your feelings for a person. (Read Modern Romance for more on this phenomenon -- it's actually pretty interesting).

7.  Often times one person likes the other person more -- and it sucks on both sides (500 Days of Summer -- and personal experience).


8. You shouldn't stay with someone you're not crazy about just because they check some boxes or sound good on paper.

9. You also deserve better than being with someone who falls anywhere short of being absolutely crazy about you, too (Half of My Heart -- John Mayer).

9.5. But watch out for the people who are just straight up crazy.

10. Your ex is an "ex" for a reason.


11. Most people have to kiss more than their fair share of frogs (or in my case, go on a string of bad coffee dates) before meeting Prince Charming. 

12. Sometimes, we need to take breaks from the dating scene to take care of ourselves first. 


13. If you start to like hanging out with someone else more than your significant other, it's probably time to move on. 

14. No matter how well a first date goes, saying "I love you" is NEVER appropriate. (How I Met Your Mother). 

15. Facebook stalking your ex is not helping you move on (weirdly enough -- a college class called the Dynamics of Online Relationships -- and no, it was not just about online dating). 

16. Maybe there is no "one," maybe there's just "the one right now" (a monologue I did in college). 

17. Getting together with someone who still has feelings for their ex will always end badly (#tb to the time I learned this about a guy I was seeing from his Twitter. #unfollowed #classycollegeboys). 

18. Sometimes it's best to have low expectations -- but that doesn't mean lowering your standards. 

19. Having more options isn't necessarily a good thing. With the invention of online dating comes that seemingly endless stream of profiles to swipe through -- leaving people more easily unsatisfied, because they're always wondering if there is something better out there (Aziz's Modern Romance). 

20. Dating is hard -- until you find the right person who makes it easy (Why oh Why).

21. Sometimes you just have to Shake It Off and sing Our Song Fearlessly with someone in your Wildest Dreams when you're 22 because You Belong With Me... and because let's be real: sometimes Taylor Swift songs are annoyingly relatable.


22. 22 is too young to settle.

There's this country song called, Settlin', and one of the first lines is "don't even know why I try when I know how it ends... lookin' like another we could be friends." The song is all about not settling, and I can't get it out of my head lately.

At 22, I'm not ready to settle for mediocre.

As Carrie Bradshaw once said, "Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with."


Friday, July 7, 2017

HOW TO EAT LIKE AN ADULT

Eating. It seems like a simple enough task. I mean, we all eat. We eat to satiate ourselves. We eat to socialize. We eat to fill the void entertain ourselves.

But no one ever said it would be this hard.

By "it" I mean making meals for a single human being that are both healthy and cheap. Just because I am a graduate, doesn't mean I have all the green to splurge on the greens. And I'm sure you know, eating healthy is not cheap. Or easy.

Sometimes a bowl of Cap'n Berry Crunch sounds better than a bowl of berries... that's a lie. I like fruit a little too much for my own good (if only I could eat an unlimited amount of natural sugar). But seriously, unhealthy choices are usually less time-consuming and easier to think about making after a long day (or night) at work.

So I had to come up with some rules to keep myself in check:

1. No picking up takeout if you are on your way home to a fridge full of food. 
We all have those times when we haven't had a chance to get to the grocery store. Life is busy. I get it. Every once in a while I get too busy at work to really get enough to eat so I will have to pick up something on the way because I have a long drive home. But living by this rule saves you both money and calories.

2. Sugary cereal is not breakfast. 
I love a good bowl of Cap'n Crunch just as much as the next kid, but as much as we want it, a sugar rush is no way to start the day. That doesn't mean I never eat it. While I have been eating cleaner recently, I don't see any reason I can't have a bowl from time to time--as long as that it really is just from time to time. So if I do have it, I pour myself a bowl, close the box and put it back in the pantry. And it is a dessert.

3. Prep as much as possible. 
I never have enough time in the morning. I  give myself a decent amount of time to get ready in the morning--and somehow I still find myself rushing out the door at the last second. Because I know that I am like this, preparation is key. Even sticking some watermelon or carrots in a container the night before gives me a head start. And it also prevents me from buying a bag of Cheez-Its or potato chips at work!



4. Limit the number of times you eat out per week. 
We ran a story at my news station last week that said Millennials eat out more than any other generation before them. It says we're splurging on takeout, drinks, and coffee multiple times a week. I like to think that I am pretty good about this one, but my goal is to limit this category of expenses to social activities. There's no reason for me to go spend $5 on a latte just for the heck of it. But if I am catching up with an old friend, it's money well spent in my book.

5. Eat like you love yourself. 
This one might sound a bit strange, but hear me out. One of the best Tweets I've ever seen was something to the effect of, "Eating grocery store sushi is a good way to show the world you hate yourself." Just because something is at a supermarket doesn't mean we should eat it. I once went on a date with a guy that told me his diet consisted mainly of Hot pockets and Ramen. I would rather go broke buying vegetables than fill up that way. I'm not saying quit junk food forever and live off of vegan burritos and kombucha. Not everyone wants to have a crazy healthy lifestyle. And that's fine. But really? Hot pockets and ramen? You deserve better.

6. Learn how to use your oven. 
Believe it or not, a stovetop is not just a great place to spread peanut butter on a slice of bread. In fact, great things can come out this wonderful kitchen appliance. My mom always told me that she wanted me to know how to cook before I went out into the world, and I couldn't be more grateful. It's pretty neat what you can do when you know you're way around a kitchen.

Now, close out of that food-delivery app, and eat like an adult.


Next week, look out for: 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

I'M NOT AN ADULT--YOU'RE AN ADULT

Well, my college diploma finally arrived. If it wasn't official before, it's official: I am a college graduate. Although I'm in my 4th week at my first full-time job, it doesn't seem possible. How am I really not returning to campus the day after Labor Day?

I watched this amazing video by a Priest the other day that was talking about times of transition. He said that people who just graduated college are in this state of transition and they don't quite know how to handle it, but that it was okay because it was something that you've never had to do before.

Let me repeat that: This is something you've never had to do before. It's okay to be afraid. It's okay to admit that you don't know what you're doing.

And I love that. I have no idea what I'm doing. For the first 22 years of my life, I had someone else telling me what to do. My parents, my teachers, my coaches, my professors... they were all guiding me.

I always had a place that I had to be. There was structure. And now, I have to create my own structure.

Sure, now my job dictates my schedule for the most part. But for the first time, my schedule isn't laid out on a grid--filled with times I have to be to certain buildings or take exams. That terrifies me.

One of my younger cousins is heading to college in the fall, and she actually chose UW-Madison as well. So she's been asking me some questions about dorms, classes, etc. And there's a little twinge in my heart just thinking about it--because I am a little envious of her getting to go on this amazing roller-coaster of an adventure.

Yes, she will she have ups and downs. College wasn't all hanging out with your friends and eating pizza at 3 in the morning. It's a lot of hard work, and it's confusing time trying to figure out what comes next.

However, what comes next isn't nearly as exciting. I wish I could say that being an adult was everything I hoped and more. After all, I spent 22 years preparing for it. But to be honest, I would give anything to do four more years of that confusing crazy time, because I'm starting to feel homesick for it.

All that I have now to hang onto is that I'm heading toward making all those "dreams" I have come true. I'm clinging onto the fact that maybe all these overnight weekend shifts and nights spent alone will be worth it in the long run. I have to.

Maybe being an adult isn't everything I ever hoped it would be. Maybe it's naive to think that it still could be, but I want to stay naive enough to believe that someday it could be for as long as I can... because I still believe that one day everything I'm working toward could work out.

Until then? Well, you can find me sitting on the beach, sipping on something cold (that I probably overpaid for at Starbucks), denying that I am now boring officially an adult.


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