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Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

I’ve never considered myself a political person. Nor would I consider myself a confrontational person. I hate arguing. I usually bite my tongue when I don’t agree with something, particularly if my opposing opinion would result in ruffling someone’s feathers. Because I develop severe anxiety in situations where I would like to express my feelings but am too afraid to do so, I have spent a great deal of this election cycle refraining from engaging in any political conversation. It makes me uncomfortable. Not because I don’t have beliefs… believe me, I do, but because all of the hate that has occurred has had me doubting who I could feel safe sharing my thoughts with. Social media has been the worst. I have wrestled time and time again with “liking” comments, or commenting on things I do not “like.” I have cried over posts I’ve seen shared by people I love advocating for hate. And I have felt desperate for hope for so many people who feel persecuted and fearful of what their lives may become. Through it all, I have remained virtually silent.

Not today.

Today, I feel a sense of obligation to share what’s been weighing on my heart. I am not able to attend one of the many women’s marches being held tomorrow, but I can say with confidence that my interests and my beliefs will be well represented in every corner of this GREAT nation. Let me first say, that I am a true Patriot at heart. I 100% respect the office of the President of the United States of America, and I believe that “equality for all Americans” should actually include ALL AMERICANS.

I believe in kindness and compassion.
I believe that black lives matter.
I believe that sexual assault survivors deserve to be heard, believed and protected.
I believe that EVERYONE deserves to have an affordable, quality education.
I believe that EVERYONE deserves affordable, quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.
I believe that transgendered human beings should be treated as human beings.
I believe in equal pay for women.
I believe that women’s rights are human rights.
I still believe that this truly is the Promised Land, and we should do what is within our means to welcome anyone who is seeking a better life the same way our founders did.
I believe that despite all of the disagreements and harsh feelings that we are still one people… we are all Americans, and if there is one line from Mr. Trump’s inauguration speech I will cling to it is that no matter the color of our skin, “we all bleed the same red blood of Patriotism.”
And I believe that LOVE is LOVE.

Yes, I am a feminist, and those of you reading this may brush me off as just another angry liberal disapproving of the Republican agenda. But just like the Conservatives didn’t like being associated with rape culture, racism and Trumps unkind words about the disabled, I need to make something quite clear.
My heart is breaking a little bit in fear of what is to come. But NO, I do not approve of the violent rioters that are protesting this Inauguration. I also do not appreciate being called a “liberal crybaby” because I didn’t get what I want. You know what I want?? I want the American people to feel safe. I want my friends who are gay to live without fear of their marriage licenses being revoked. I want the 14 year old girl I know who just beat cancer to be able to have health insurance when she’s 26 years old. I want myself, my friends and future college students to have the weight of student loans lifted off their shoulders. I want black men to feel safe at ALL TIMES. I want the pay gap eliminated. I want adults and children with disabilities to be afforded opportunities that will enhance their quality of life, and I want girls to grow up knowing they are JUST AS GOOD as their male counterparts.

Here’s the thing. I did not vote for President Trump. He was not my first choice to run our country. If I’m being totally honest, he probably wouldn’t have made my top 10 (or 100). But there he is… holding the most prestigious office in our nation. So with that, I will end this blog saying that I PRAY that President Trump does an impeccable job holding this office. I may not believe he belongs in the White House, but I can say with complete and total honesty that I would love, more than anything in the world, to look back in 4 years and say, “Thank you, Sir, for proving me wrong.”

Sincerely,
A slightly terrified liberal feminist who is clinging to hope




My sincerest gratitude to President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle for their dedicated and heartfelt service to our Nation over the past 8 years. You served with dignity and poise and I am so proud to have born witness to your leadership and service.





Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sonder

Do you ever get a good look at a stranger and feel oddly connected to their life? I was driving today, and as I was making a left hand turn I caught a solid glimpse of a man in the left turn lane of the road I was joining. It was odd. I didn't recognize this man, and he didn't see me. There was just something about him that caught my attention. Immediately I found myself wondering how old he was, along with a myriad of other things:

Was he married? Did he have grandchildren? Was he a veteran? A business man? Did he make his living saving lives? Teaching piano lessons? Harvesting crops? Did he have a happy childhood? Did he love a lot? Does he feel loved? Where is he going? Why is he going there? Where is he coming from? What brought him to be in this tiny town of Whitewater, WI? Does he believe in God?

Nothing about this man was out of the ordinary. He was a white man, maybe mid 60s of age, driving a white SUV of some sort... I wasn't paying attention. What I did notice were his wrinkles. That's how I know there was a lot of life behind his eyes. And so, I wondered about his life. Because I think that by wondering about other's lives add a level of compassion to our own lives. If we are considerate enough to recognize that we are not the center of this universe... that each person we pass by is the lead character in their own story I think we gift ourselves the opportunity to deepen ourselves.

sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

I don't know the man in the white SUV. I may never cross paths with him again. But I can tell you, I'm grateful for his existence on this planet. His presence today gifted me with a sweet reminder that everyone has a story, if only you take the opportunity to uncover it.

To growth, gratitude and grace~

Allison


Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year of Joy

Before adventuring to see the sea turtles. Such an
incredible day!
I've spent the past 19 days in the presence of some amazing people. People I love more than I could ever explain.

First there was the family vacation... four siblings, two parents, a handful of sea turtles, a dozen gourmet meals, 5 days in the sun and a [couple] of cocktails here and there... it was incredible.

Then, there was Christmas. Another week with the family full of wine, games and more time spent with my favorite humans on the planet.

Christmas Eve with my truest soul mates.
Finally, I had the privilege of standing next to one of my best friends as she said "I do," to her perfect match. It was a week full of love, laughs and so much joy. Congrats to Dani and Jeremy. I am so happy for you both!

I can't remember what life was like before these 4.
They are my brightest lights.
Naturally, I was flying high with all of these amazing experiences that were taking place in my life. It's always special spending this time of the year with people I love. Then, yesterday I started receiving messages wishing me a "Happy New Year!"

Wait a minute.

It's New Years Eve??

Shit.

Of course I was aware of the date on the calendar, but in all of the craziness, I had failed to give myself any time to process the start of the new year (If you know me well, you know that this caused my blood pressure to skyrocket... processing is kinda my jam). So naturally, I started to panic, because in this moment the introverted portion of my brain (approximately 65% of me) needed nothing but alone time. So, I gratefully said goodbye to the friends I was with and headed home to check in with myself.

I've never been a huge fan of resolutions. Until last year, I always made them and I always failed at them. it's not hard to fail at a resolution. As human beings, we're ambitious creatures. The promise of a new year can create big dreams and set high expectations. Excitement runs high on a holiday, and when we are feeling our best, it's easy to believe that we have what it takes to make some amazing change in our lives.

I'm going to lose 20lbs this year.

I'm going to save $10K this year.

I'm going to fall in love this year.

{Insert ridiculous hypothetical resolution here}

Last year, a dear friend of mine told me she hated resolutions, and instead of setting resolutions, she chooses an all encompassing theme for the upcoming year, one to keep at the forefront of her mind as the months go by. This theme, like an overall blanket of good intention is something that she focuses on, to keep her intentions and thoughts on track. I thought this was a brilliant idea. Instead of saying, "I will journal twice a week for 52 weeks," I could instead say, "I will write with intention when writing makes me happy."

With this concept in mind, I thought forward as to what may bring me joy in 2016. I had always been a very cautious person, cautious with my life and cautious with my heart. When looking forward at the upcoming year I decided to name 2016 the year of Bravery. I wanted to take risks, to open myself up to change, to make mistakes and to become someone I looked up to. For me, a lot of the people I look up to and admire seem carefree and open to new experiences... you know, brave. I wanted to be like that... so bravery it was.

This dream team has my whole heart. After 10 months of
working together online, sharing a space with them was
the definition of magical.
Last night, as I was looking back on 2016 I couldn't help but feel disappointed in myself. Bravery was not at the forefront of my year. Now, I'm not saying I failed completely, because I did grow in this department this year. I had several experiences that taught me how to face a problem head on, instead of just shutting down (something I would have done in the past), and I'm very thankful for that. I also made several decisions this year to do things for me. I advocated for myself, sought help when I needed it, and embraced some truly wonderful mentors to help me navigate through some terrifying unknowns. I did brave... and maybe it wasn't as intentional as I would have liked, but I did it.

My heart has never been as full as in this theater. I don't think
I've ever cried so hard, experienced so much joy, or felt so alive.
I think more than brave, this year was spent learning more about myself, acceptance and growth. I learned to turn every experience, positive or negative, into a growing experience. I would ask myself,
"what did this interaction teach me," "how could I have handled this better," "what do I need to do to move forward," and a myriad of other questions. I don't believe I failed in my year of brave, but that my year of brave may have transformed more to a year of understanding. Understanding myself, understanding my needs and being open to learning in every aspect of the word.

Strangers who became friends, friends who became family...
these women have inspired me beyond words.
This year I gave myself the opportunity to grow on multiple occasions. I stopped making excuses for not meeting my own needs and started taking my life seriously. I gave myself vacations, sick days and time with people who lifted me up. I flew to the west coast 3 times in 3 months because I wanted to show up for some important people in my life. Yes, I wanted to show up for them, but I NEEDED to show up for myself. These adventures gave me the opportunity to expand my heart and step out of my comfort zone and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for those experiences.
2016 was hard. It was full of challenges, changes and uphill battles. I had inner struggles, outer struggles and fought alongside some special people who needed backup on their own front lines. Despite all of the ups and downs, I think there's promise in the turning of a page. 2017 is a blank canvas, for us to create whatever picture of our life we desire. The page we've turned is still there... we have the knowledge from it, the scars from it, and the joy from it, as we look toward the year ahead. And with that, I've decided to embrace the theme of Joy for 2017.

In 2017 I plan to make decisions based on what brings me joy. I will surround myself with people who bring me joy. I will do the things that make me the happiest. I will make time and space for joy on a daily basis. I will do my best to share joy with those around me, and I will make a conscious effort to remove the things from my life that do not. I know that I am the only person who can dictate my happiness... and this year, I plan to take that responsibility seriously.

My intention for 2017 has been set; The Year of Joy. It may only be January 1st, but I think that this is something I am capable of maintaining. However, should my journey lead me down another path, I will not consider it a tragedy, but merely a redirection of the path I'm on. Roadblocks occur everyday, but embracing gratitude and joy will help me to keep perspective in 2017. May you all experience boundless joy in 2017.

With growth, gratitude and grace,

Allison

Monday, October 17, 2016

An Open letter to that girl at #GIRL2016

Hey Girl!

Well, we made it happen... we finally met. We traveled from our perspective ends of the universe to finally embrace in each other's precious company. I don't know about you, but I thought it was pretty damn magical. And maybe we didn't have the privilege of make EVERYONE'S acquaintance (because lets face it, there were 300 of us), but simply sharing that space with you was a complete treasure.

This mission that brought us into each other's lives, our reason for connecting and our shared passion for life gives me so much hope. Whatever it was that led you to I AM THAT GIRL, whether it was a struggle, a triumph, a set back, accomplishing a goal, a fear, a joy or a complete tragedy... be grateful for it... because now you're here, and here is a good place to be.

Getting here may have been an easy journey for you, or it could have been years of an uphill battle, but you made it. This community needs you here, the world needs you here, I need you here. Because here is everywhere. Here, at IATG, is a tangible feeling felt everywhere... not just while in each other's arms at a theater in LA. Here is in the late night text messages, the Facebook & Instagram posts, and the three hour Skype sessions across oceans and time zones. Here is in the love letters sent via snail mail and here is in each of your communities where you share the love you receive with others who may need to find what it means to be here.

Photo credit: I AM THAT GIRL, Twitter account
This community's strength is found in the depths of your soul and in the light that you shine every single day. So, even though we are no longer in the arms of one another, please remember that our bond is far stronger than the miles that lie between us. And when it comes time to cut that piece of multicolored string off your wrist, know that the ties that bind you to each other will not unravel. Go forward from this experience knowing you have effected my whole heart and the hearts of so many women. You are strong, you are capable, you are inspiring, you are needed here, you are beautyfull and you are so much more than ENOUGH.

The universe has handed us a grand opportunity... to be the best versions of ourselves, together. Can you even imagine the mark we can leave on this world? I hope that you continue to use your voice and your gifts as you carry on this journey. You are a warrior princess of this cultural shift and I am thankful for you every single day. As I sit on this plane, filled to the absolute brim with gratitude, I can only pray that this world is good to you, my sweet Anam Cara. And when it's not, know that we're here, I'm here... and some day soon we will again find ourselves in each other's presence sharing hearts, holding hands and celebrating the magic that is sparked when women who believe in the one another share space together.

So, sweet girl, until that magical time we meet again, when we are able to sway back and forth singing the anthems of our tribe at the tippy top of our lungs... I will keep you in my heart. I have cried so many joyful tears knowing the amount of truth and love that exists within the confines of our sisterhood can move mountains... so that's what we will do. Do not be sad that we are no longer together. We were always meant to go our separate ways. Coming together was an opportunity to fuel our passion and to set out on our own individual journeys to change this world. So I am wishing you endless growth, gratitude and grace on your beautiful journey. Thank you for touching my soul, and for allowing me to be a part of your inspiring story.
Photo credit: I AM THAT GIRL, Twitter account

All my love forever,

Al

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Self- Diagnosis

I'm a self-diagnosed perfectionist.

I've decided.

I think that's what it means when you uncover some kind of crazy truth about yourself without the help of a medical professional. I've struggled with believing I was good enough in various facets of my life for a number of years. The time I've spent overanalyzing decisions I've made, outfits I've worn, things I've said, people I've shared my time with, situations I've been in, and obstacles I've faced completely baffles me. If I'm being honest... I'm ready to be done with that shit.

As one self-diagnosed individual does, I have determined that I require a specific course of action to help curb the progression of this perfectionism. The easiest form of therapy would be to simply say, screw it and move on every time I find myself doubting my "ENOUGH-NESS." Unfortunately, that course of action is probably akin to looking at a Nicorette patch without the intent of placing it on one's skin. I can also confirm that this strategy would not be practical for this individual given my ability to think about things far longer than the average human should be able to mull things over.

I think the most appropriate course of action is actually self-realization. When I find myself criticizing the fabulous woman in the mirror, I simply need to take a moment to remember what I know to be true about myself:

1. My worth is innate. No one can tell me who I am or what I am worth. Only I can determine that.

2. I recognize that no person who contributes to me feeling less than I am worth is not someone I will chose to spend time with. Sorry people... if your presence in my life is causing me to feel crappy, I'm cutting you out. Life is too short for me to worry about what you think. 

3. In conjunction with that, I also know it is absolutely impossible for me to make everyone happy. Despite nearly 30 years of attempting this... I'm giving up. It's not going to happen, so I'm going to focus on my one obligation... Me. 

4. Life has blessed me with some truly beautiful people that I can confide in when I need it.

5. Perfectionism is not a disease... it's a flaw and I'm flawed and that's okay. 

It's all just a part of this journey to growth, gratitude and grace, right!?

Stay Sweet, Friends~

Allison

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Radical Empathy

What do you do when you don't know what to do? When someone you know is hurting and you're not sure how to help. When you feel overwhelmed and can't seem to uncover why. When society seems to be going to shit and no one has any answers...

I started reading a book that has come highly recommended by one of my soul sisters (thanks, Liv). It's called Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. I have not had the opportunity to dive in deep yet, but within the first 50 pages I've found a quote that seems to resonate here:

"It's what most of us have to give a few times over the course of our lives: to love with a mindfully clear sense of purpose, even when it feels outrageous to do so."

I'm not sure what to do to help the best friend who is hurting, or the child who has experienced a trauma, or to help bring peace to communities who are being destroyed by race and judgment and bigotry.

So I'll love, and I'll love purposefully.

Reaching out to loved ones in need can be hard sometimes. Holding space for healing hearts can be exhausting, but we do it... because we love them. Our friends and families appreciate this of us, knowing we are there. They may not always reach out, but the peace of mind that a person can and will show up for you is a remarkable thing. But what about those who we may not agree with??

What about the bigot who lives on the corner, or the online bully who is brave behind a screen and a coward in person? What about those people who cause our loved ones pain? Is it possible to show up for people we dislike in the same way?

I think if every person decided to love purposefully on someone who may need it most, someone who seems impossible to show compassion to, someone they can not see eye to eye with... we could change the world. At I AM THAT GIRL, we have a saying "hurt people hurt people," and I honestly believe in the truth of that statement. It takes someone who is in pain to cause pain to another human being. Think about it... truly happy people don't treat people poorly, they lift them up.

So find that jackass, or that person in pain... seek them out, find them. They need you more than you know. Show them love and understanding. Ignite radical empathy and start a chain reaction. They probably don't deserve your love. Give it to them anyway. Actively practice loving with purpose... if it doesn't change their life, let it change yours.

Wishing you growth, gratitude and grace~
Allison

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dreams

It's been another long hiatus for this writer... not from writing, but simply from this platform. I've had a lot on my plate lately, so posting for the masses has had to take a back seat. I so appreciate the support and encouragement I've received from some of you! Lots of loving vibes are being felt and sent back your way! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!!



I've spent the past two years writing and interning for an organization that completely enhanced and transformed my life. I've built relationships with women in all corners of this country and some across the globe. My heart has drummed one beat after another for the cause that is I AM THAT GIRL. I have had the privilege of learning from women I idolize and sharing my story with younger girls. It was always my hope that they, at their tender ages, would not feel so alone knowing that women before them have made it through similar situations... and become better and stronger human beings in spite of their struggles.

It's been incredible, enlightening, inspiring and motivating. I've learned that I have more interests and more passions in life than I ever thought possible. A typically scared individual, I am learning to stare my fears in the face and conquer them without second guessing myself (something I've struggled with my entire life).

Over the past two years, self-exploration has been in the forefront of my life. I've dedicated countless hours to journaling, dating myself, engaging in hard conversations with people I trust and really getting to know who I am. Learning about my needs and how I can best serve myself and the people in my life, was one of the most incredible self-discoveries I've made. Throughout this time I also learned that I hadn't really given myself permission to dream. I think a lot of times, we limit the dreaming to the kiddos, emphasizing that they CAN DO ANYTHING they set their minds to. At a certain point, we stop reaching for some of those dreams. Perhaps we achieve them, perhaps we settle for something less than our original aspirations... but somewhere in my nearly 30 years, I started to stop believing that the dreams I had dreamt up as a child were attainable.

Almost a year ago exactly, I wrote about a quote from one of my favorite philanthropists, Sophia Bush. Earlier this week, the quote resurfaced for me, and it now resides on the cover of a binder that is housing one of my most precious dreams. Part of the quote reads,

“The dream is what you imagine, the hustle is what you have to do to actually live it and the hustle is hard, no matter what career path you’re in.” –Sophia Bush

We get so caught up in being dreamers. People appreciate that you have a dream and often look at dreams with romanticized ideations. But I think sometimes we become so enamored with dreams being dreams that we forget (or we don't actually believe) that we are capable of making them come true. I know that I'm incredibly guilty of that. When thinking about my aforementioned dream, it always seemed so far out of reach, a beautiful thought, something to fantasize over. I don't think I ever truly believed it was something I was meant to accomplish.
IATG instagram post

So what of dreams, then?? I refuse to believe that dreams are meant to stay dreams. Dreaming is a beautiful concept but I can't help but become frustrated at the idea that dreaming is merely theoretical. What purpose do dreams serve if we only look to them to give us warm and fuzzy false hope?! We owe it to our dreams and to ourselves to chase after them with the intent of catching them... or, if you ask me, we do not deserve to dream them at all.

This binder of mine, it comes with me everywhere. With it, I carry a journal that I am utilizing to brainstorm, plan, and explore the depths of my creativity and my passion. The simple act of keeping this physical representation of my dream close has helped reaffirm the "hustle" for me. It is allowing me the space to dream out loud, so to speak. Having it close at all times gives me the opportunity to embrace inspiration when it comes, instead of putting it off until I have time (if you know me... you know I'd be waiting for months). For the first time since I was a little girl reciting monologues and making music videos in my bedroom mirror, I am actively and confidently pursuing a dream I've had for 10 years.

It feels good people. It feels really good.

So my friends, I implore you to dream dreams. Don't place yourself in the box of adulthood and assume you have no right. Dreaming is for everyone... not just the kiddos. But don't dream in vain. Decide what you want and actively pursue it. Remember, “The dream is what you imagine, the hustle is what you have to do to actually live it..." 

Hustle hard my friends,

and dream on.

Wishing you growth, gratitude and grace always-
xo AL