Cheers to Five Years

Today marks five years since I went through something called brainwave optimization therapy. FIVE YEARS. If you had asked me five years ago if I thought I would ever feel this good, I probably would have laughed at you. (You can read about Brainstate Technologies here and by visiting brainstatetech.com) I’ve spent all day reflecting, thinking about the last five years, and trying desperately to put my feelings into words. It’s something I’m generally pretty good at it, but found myself at a bit of a loss today.

I went back and read the post I wrote three years ago, on my two year anniversary. Everything I said then is still true today.

It’s hard to explain to people what depression feels like. It’s something that’s not easily put into words. I remember in high school people saying cliché things like, “snap out of it!” or “just try to look on the bright side.” The bitch about depression is that it takes away your ability to see the good in life. It takes away your ability to feel joy, about anything. It’s this thing that sucks you into a black hole and makes you forget about everything good in your life. You forget about your friends and family, and that they love you. You forget how much you love being outside, or photographing things, or listening to your favorite bands. You forget the simplest things in life. I like to use Eeyore as an example. You know, when he’s the only one with the rain cloud above him. That’s what depression is like; it’s raining on you all the time, and you can’t figure out how to make it stop. You look around and see your friends having a great time out in the sunshine, but no matter what you do, you can’t quite feel what they feel. You can’t make that rain cloud go away.

Brainstate saved my life. I consider myself lucky because I was never suicidal, but whatever I was doing before December 10th, 2012 wasn’t living at all. Since then, I have prospered in so many ways. I have found happiness that I quite literally never knew existed. I said it in my writing three years ago, and I’ll say the same things today… My life is no where near perfect. I still have bad days, sometimes even bad weeks. The difference today is that I have a motivation for life, passions I never knew could exist and pure joy that nothing can take from me.

So, here’s to five years. Five years of challenges, learning from mistakes, and growing.. and being happy every step of the way. (And doing it drug free!)

My serotonin tattoo with my anniversary date. Shoutout to my grandma for taking me!

Just for fun – here’s the picture I took on my last day of treatment back in 2012. I liked the way the clouds looked, so I snapped the picture and didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I went back and looked at it later that I realized the way the sun hit the lens… Like the rain cloud was finally gone.


Social Media Blues

For those of you who know me, you know I am all about social media. I sing it’s praises constantly. Back when I was trying to blog for money, I even wrote a post about all the reasons I thought social media was great and amazing… And I meant every word of it. There are dozes of reasons why I think it’s great. I know it has it’s down sides, but I’ve only ever read about them.

Lately, I’ve been considering taking a leave of absence from social media. Probably a small one, maybe only a week. But that’s a lot for me. And the more I think about it, the harder the decision. A lot of my daily life revolves around social media. About two and a half years ago I started Jeeps of SoCal. I never thought it would be as successful as it is, but it is. And lately I’ve taken on a few other side projects for myself, personally. I launched American Jeepaholics, in hopes of starting a brand. I re-launched Classy Jeep Girls purely because the page got a lot of attention on Facebook with ZERO effort from me. (Come on, how could I not run with that?) And just last month I launched an Etsy store. All very social media-y things. Deciding to take a step back from social media has taken serious thought.

The last month I’ve felt some things that I’m not used to. Lately, I open up Facebook/Instagram and I feel alone and left out and disconnected. I didn’t even feel like that the 15 months I spent without a drivers license, literally unable to get in the Jeep and join my friends. I honestly can’t figure out why I feel this way now, or what’s brought it on. All I know is that these days when I open my apps, I don’t get excited anymore. I get anxious and sad. For someone like me, it’s hard to feel things and not have a specific reason, but I know that’s what’s going on here.

I don’t know why I’m feeling what I’m feeling, but I can’t help but wonder if a short hiatus from social media might make a bit of difference. It may sound pathetic, but that idea scares me. I grew up on a computer. (Yes, I played outside, too. I still play outside!) I’m trying to make a living off social media. The idea of stepping away from it, even for a short time, is scary. Even more scary, is the idea that without it I could feel better.

I love this digital age we live in. Some curse it, but I think it’s wonderful. I love having information at the touch of a key. I (generally) love being able to see what my family and friends are up to with a quick update on Facebook. I love (generally) seeing the adventures my friends are on via Instagram. The last few weeks it’s brought me heartache and anxiety, and I can’t seem to figure out why.

So to my friends, if you’re reading this… I’m sorry if I’ve been quiet and distant lately. I’m trying to stay away without cutting everyone off entirely. I’ll admit, I don’t know what I’d do without social media for a long period of time. Obviously I am capable of disconnecting for a few days to get off the grid, or in the Jeep or around a campfire. But long term? I don’t know. I don’t know if I could see that wifi symbol on my phone and not open up Facebook. I don’t know if I could go a week without posting to any of the numerous Instagram pages that I run.

I know the social media world would go on without me, but do I want to go on without it? I’m sure it sounds petty to most of you, but this digital world is a passion of mine. I guess I don’t know how to handle the fact that something I love so much is making me feel like crap.

The FOMO is Real.


It’s rare that I experience the downside to social media. I’m a social media advocate. I’m constantly talking it up while others are tearing it down. But I can see the negatives to it, however rare they may be. 
The FOMO has been real for me lately. (FOMO = Fear of Missing Out) I wasn’t able to do the things I wanted to do over New Years and it hit me hard every time I opened up Facebook or Instagram. I felt that I was missing out on so much, and that the people I was missing didn’t miss me. 

But here’s the thing. I KNOW BETTER. I went through cognitive behavioral therapy so I KNOW when I think these things that they are irrational and without any fuckin truth. 

The truth is that I was invited many places for New Years. What I did was I depended on my boyfriend to get us there, and when he couldn’t, I couldn’t get there either. I wasn’t prepared to go out on my own. And when I’m not prepared to go/do something on my own, it starts this downward spiral of kicking my own ass that I have a hard time getting out of. 

I think; I wasn’t able to go. Had I gotten a real job earlier, I would have been able to afford to go. Had I not been arrested for a second DUI, I would have been further along in life, and able to go. Had I not even gotten the FIRST DUI, I probably wouldn’t have got the second, leading to unemployment, leading to not doing anything for New Years. 

Some days, it goes as far back as, “had I just done better in high school, I would have had a better experience in my young adulthood and I would have NEVER been in a position to miss this New Years.”

This is serious, people. These are actual thoughts I have when I’m not able to go somewhere and I open up social media. It’s torture, but I only do it to myself. 

And here’s the difference between me and normal FOMO. I know I was invited. I don’t blame anyone else, EVER, for the fact that I didn’t get to go. It’s never on anyone else but myself. But when it’s on me, it’s bad. 

It takes me a few days to pull myself out of a funk and figure out what to do next. I’m grateful that I can, though. I no longer wallow in these feelings, but I fight against them. 

2017 will be the year of no FOMO. I’m working my ass off to get a job and make money, so that I will not miss out. I want to experience everything and anything that’s thrown my way. I never want to miss out. 

To my friends reading this, please know that my FOMO is never placed toward you. You have all been wonderful and I am blessed to call you friends. I wish we could be closer in other ways, but maybe that’s a post for another day. 

2017 will be my year. The same way that 2016 was my year. I will do more this year than I did last year. See more places, experience more things, meet more people. 

Fuck anxiety. Fuck self doubt. Fuck irrational thoughts. 

This is my year. 

Twenty Sixteen

This time of year always gets me feeling all the feels. I’m grateful that I can smile as I look back on the last year, though. It’s absolutely been one for the books. I’ve accomplished a lot personally, grown mentally, seen some pretty cool places, and met a lot of amazing people I now call friends.

I’m also pretty anxious for the year ahead. (Isn’t everyone?) Excited, yes, because I know it can only hold more good things. More accomplishments, more growth, more trips with awesome people. But some things in life have always been a struggle for me. And while I am still very anxious about the future, I remind myself to be grateful that I can face it head on. (A few years ago I wasn’t able to)

This time of year – and this day especially – brings up so many different emotions. I’m happy and sad. Excited and anxious. I’m looking forward to the future while desperately wishing I could stay here just a little longer.. it’s comfortable and I’m safe. But no one got anywhere in life by playing it safe, right?

So I’m looking forward. I’m excited for new opportunities and finding new ways to grow. Excited for all the adventures I’ll go on with all my new, wonderful friends. Excited to see what John and I take on next.

2016, you rocked. Thank you to everyone who was apart of it. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.

Let It Snow

I’m 27 years old, and I just saw falling snow for the first time. EVER. Yes, it’s true. It’s easy to go 27 years without seeing falling snow when you live in beautiful, sunny Southern California. Even with the mountains a short drive away, I managed to miss out on this for so long. Just two weekends ago, I was invited up to Big Bear for a short off-road trip. I knew that snow was in the forecast so I practically begged my boyfriend to take me. (His Jeep is better equipped for the trails in Big Bear than mine is.) So we left early Saturday morning and headed for the mountains.

Here’s the girls and I just a few hours before the storm hit. (Love these ladies!)

For those of you who have been through a winter storm, it’s probably nothing special. But to me, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. One minute, it was sunny and the skies were mostly clear. As we made our way into Lake Arrowhead for the second trail, the sky got incredibly dark. First we got hit with rain and a few loud claps of thunder. Then, it hailed heavily for a while. John (my boyfriend, I should introduce him here sometime) assured me that there was a huge difference between hail and flurries of snow. So, I waited.

By the time we made it up to the start of the trail, we had full on SNOW. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was. It made me feel very young and innocent, always a welcoming feeling. I didn’t get to play in it much, because I wasn’t quite in the right clothing for running around in the snow. I did, however, jump out of the Jeep to just stand there and let the snow fall on me. I also managed to snap this picture.

IT WAS AMAZING! I know, it’s such a simple thing. People in other parts of the world experience snow like this, and worse, every winter. But for someone who had never seen it, it was EPIC. The rest of the trip was a bit stressful, but John and I managed to have a good time regardless. We spent hours in Big Bear, driving around, getting out to play and being stuck in traffic. The traffic part wasn’t too fun, but the snow made up for it. By the time we got back home, I was already preparing for our next mountain trip.

Squad Goals Met

One of the many trends floating around the interwebs lately is the term “My Squad”. I’m guilty of using it, so there’s no judgement here. Seeing people’s photos and definitions of their “squad” had me thinking. Excuse the rambling that is to come, but this is as real as it gets.

I’ve come to realize that my squad is not limited to a specific group of people, or a certain number of people. It’s not “these people” or “those people” or “no boys allowed”. My squad is anyone willing to go outside and get a little dirty. Anyone willing to sit around a campfire, throw back a few beers (or non-alcoholic beverage of their choice) and have a good conversation.

My squad is anyone who has my back and is willing to stand up for me when I’m not around. Those who empower me and support me. My squad is those who help without judgement and give advice when needed.

My squad is so much more than the people I can fit inside one photograph. There’s no limitations. My squad is bigger than I could have known or imagined, and (at the risk of sounding “basic”) I am incredibly blessed to have people like this in my life.

Erin & Brittany’s Grand Adventure

On Sunday, my best friend & I completed another one of my bucket list items. This one may seem a little weird to some, but it was something I had wanted to do for a quite some time. Visit the desert, mountains, and ocean all in one day. One of the best things about living in Southern California is being so close to all three. I’m about two hours from the desert and the mountains, and only about 30 minutes away from the ocean. I’ve seen them all, but I wanted to do it in one day. It doesn’t leave you much room to actually DO anything in all those places, but we had fun regardless.

We started our trip in Orange County, and headed for Joshua Tree National Park at about 8am. Our destination on the map was Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, which was technically in 29 Palms. It was a bit confusing for a few minutes there, but we figured it out. The high temperature we saw was 99 degrees, but that was only about 10:30 AM so I’m sure it got warmer in the afternoon. The visitor center was cool. Those places are always pretty educational. But my favorite part of Joshua Tree, were the Joshua Trees. I had seem them plenty of times through the Mojave Desert but had never stopped to take a picture until now. I just can’t get over how weird and cute they are!

We also found these random dinosaur things on the side of the road. Probably art. They were definitely worth pulling over for!

Next, we headed out of Joshua Tree and into Lucerne Valley, which leads to Big Bear. Driving through Lucerne Valley would be boring to most, but I think of all the driving we did that day, this was my favorite. It’s so flat and the road is pretty much straight. You don’t have to worry about going off the side of a mountain.

From the desert, we made it up into Big Bear in about an hour and a half. Not bad, considering I thought we’d have to stop due to my Jeep running too hot. That thing was a champ though. Big Bear is one of my favorite places in Southern California. We drove around the lake, stopping a few times for photos. The weather was MUCH NICER than the desert. I think Big Bear only had a high of about 75 degrees. Perfect, in my book.

The last photo was taken at Boulder Bay in Big Bear Lake. It’s a pretty cool place to stop and hang out, but during the summer, and over the weekend, it’s incredibly crowded. Not to mention that because of the drought, there isn’t much water left in the bay there. The scenery is still gorgeous, though. So much green!

After Big Bear, we of course headed back down the mountain. We stopped at the bottom for a much needed lunch/early dinner break. We ate about 4pm, so I don’t know what meal that is considered, but it was SO GOOD. Any food is good when you’re starving and have been in a moving vehicle most of the day. We then continued on our way to the ocean. Our original plan was to go out to Huntington Beach, one of our favorites in SoCal, but when I realized Newport Beach was much closer, we changed our plan. We drove down into Newport Beach, thinking we could park, check out the pier and the water, and head back home. We didn’t really consider that it was a Sunday, and still technically summer… The place was PACKED. I pulled into the parking lot at the Pier and then we were stuck in traffic. It probably took us a good 20 minutes to get out on the other side. So, we just decided to drive south (which is the way home, anyway) and at some point, we would stop and see the ocean. Driving on Pacific Coast Highway, you can actually see the ocean from the road. Of course, we needed to stop for pictures though. We eventually stopped in Laguna Beach. It’s a big tourist destination, but we managed to find a parking spot.

The beach was pretty gloomy looking, which made for weird pictures. But there it is! The Pacific Ocean. By the time we got there, it was about 7pm. We were exhausted and way too tired to walk down to the water. We admired God’s beautiful work, took a selfie, and headed back home.

Here she is! My co-pilot, Brittany. I think she mostly came on this trip because she wanted to hunt for Pokémon. Whatever the reason, I was glad she came with me. In hindsight, it would have been nicer to take this trip in September or October, when the weather is a bit cooler and there is way less tourists out and about. We had so much fun, though. It was about 11.5 hours, spanning 355 miles. Essentially, we drove in a giant circle like shape.

I was glad to have crossed this trip off my bucket list! And even more glad I have such a great friend willing to join me. 🙂

July 4th Weekend 2016

Hey there! I hope you all had an awesome Fourth of July weekend. I certainly did. I checked two major items off my bucket list in a matter of three days, and it was AMAZING. My boyfriend, John, and I drove from Santa Clarita, CA up highway 395 to Lake Tahoe, CA. We both love road trips and 395 has gorgeous scenery. The main attraction was completing the world famous Rubicon Trail, which we did in John’s Jeep. It was a very long weekend, but my goodness, we had a ton of fun.

The first item we checked off my bucket list was visiting Bodie Ghost Town in Mono County, CA. I first heard of Bodie a few years ago after seeing an image on the Bing homepage. I immediately knew I had to visit some day. I love abandoned places, and this one is the coolest of all. Bodie was a mining town that boomed in the late 1800s. Although the last mine didn’t close until 1942, it is said that the town’s decline began in the early 1900s. Finally, in 1961 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Bodie has an eerie feel to it, which is a given. The buildings are so beautiful, but seem like they could fall over if you got too close. A few of them you can actually walk into, if you’re not afraid of falling through the floor boards. Regardless, it’s an incredible experience.

This 1937 Chevrolet Coupe is probably the most known thing in Bodie. If you do an image search anywhere online, you’ll find TONS of photos of this car. So naturally, I needed my own photo of it.

Our next stop was the Rubicon Trail. We camped Friday night near the trail head, and were up early on Saturday morning. We half expected the trail to be congested due to the holiday weekend, but it was surprisingly quiet. It made for a very nice, mellow two days on the trail.

We camped at Rubicon Springs, which was beautiful. The water was FREEZING, so I refused to get in. Parts of the trail are pretty difficult, (to me, at least) and there was a time or two that I got pretty freaked out. But I survived! We made it all the way to the other end of the trail, where of course, I had to take a picture of my mini Jeep.

Sunday night we stayed in a Super 8 in Carson City, which wouldn’t be my first choice of motels, BUT I was incredibly desperate for a shower. Monday morning, we hit the road again, headed home this time. We stopped in Bishop, CA to eat at Erick Schat’s Bakery, recommended to us by Ashten over at Just Go Left. First of all, the place smells AMAZING. And the sandwich was pretty freakin good, too. We got a turkey club to go, so we could eat it in the air conditioned truck.

Funny story… We get into the truck and the first thing I say is, “I need to take a picture of this sandwich!” Then, as John is trying to take the box out of the paper bag, the sandwich falls out of the box. It was a disaster! While laughing my butt off, I pick everything up and put the sandwich back together. I take my half, snap a quick picture, and then immediately knock the box and my half of the sandwich onto the floor of the truck. Then I about died laughing. How we managed to drop this sandwich twice, I do not know. BUT it still tasted amazing. And I think the picture is pretty good, too.

It was absolutely a great weekend, and I can’t wait to hit the road again. Where we’re going next though, I have no idea!

It’s Okay to Be Sad

(I copied this post from the Unsophisticated Blogger before shutting it down)

Confession: I’m still not really sure what I’m doing with this whole blogging thing. I haven’t quite found a rhythm yet, but I decided while I’m figuring it out, I’m just going to write about whatever pops into my head. Lately I’ve seen a few posts about how to cheer yourself up when you’ve had a bad day, or when you’re feeling sad or depressed. While those posts are great, (please do not think I am bashing anyone here) I have a different approach.

Scenario One:
Person: Hey! How are you?
Me: Oh, I’m okay. How are you?
Person: What? Just okay? Why, what’s wrong?
Me: Nothing is wrong.. I’m just not GREAT. I’m okay.
Person: Well you should be great!

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in life.

Prior to December of 2012, it was rare that I had a good day. I was severely depressed and honestly, I didn’t know what joy was. I didn’t know it was possible to feel happy for no apparent reason. Then I found Brainstate Technologies. The short story is, it saved my life. (Read more of that story here) I am no longer depressed, but that doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to a bad day every now and then. The difference is that now, I am aware of the difference between depression and just a bad day. IT IS OKAY TO JUST FEEL OKAY. When I respond to “How are you?” with “Okay”, that does not mean I am sad or depressed or feel like crying all day. It just means I am okay. Not bad, not good. Just okay. AND THAT’S OKAY.

Scenario Two:
Person: Hey! How are you?
Me: I’m alright, just a little bummed out today.
Person: That’s no fun! What can we do to cheer you up?
Me: I don’t need to be cheered up.. This will pass.
Person: Well it’s not good to be bummed out all day!

Another thing I’ve come to realize since emerging from the dark hole that is depression, is that it is okay to be sad. I’ve had plenty of bad days… Days when I’ve been upset, irritated, pissed off, or even just bummed out and feel like crying. I’ve learned that those days are normal. Other people are always so concerned, though. When I’m feeling a bit blue, there are a few people in my life that will try anything to make me feel better. (Can’t really blame them though, I guess it’s sweet.) But I say the same thing every time; I am not afraid of a bad day. I am not afraid of being a little sad. I know that these feelings are temporary. If they don’t pass today, then tomorrow is a fresh start.

Inside Out is now one of my absolute favorite movies. I laughed so hard, I cried. And then I cried for real because it hit so close to home. I even keep this little Sadness figurine thing on my desk to remind me that it is absolutely okay to be sad from time to time.

Mistakes

(I copied this post from The Unsophisticated Blogger before shutting it down.)

This month, I’ve been participating in the Photo a Day June challenge with Chantelle, from Fat Mum Slim. Today’s prompt was Mistake. There’s only one thing that comes to my mind when I hear that word, and I knew there was only one photo I could take.

In November of 2014, I received my second DUI. Yes, you read that correctly. Two DUIs. Yes, I was stupid enough to make the same mistake twice. I’ve always been the type of person who has to learn things the hard way, and unfortunately, the consequences for the first DUI didn’t exactly teach me a lesson. The consequences for the second, however, kicked my ass. Which is apparently how I learn best.

The toughest part about making the same mistake twice is that others go on believing you’ll make it a third time. I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my mistake, and I know that in my heart it’s not something that is going to happen again. Not only is it incredibly dangerous – seriously, I’m lucky to have just gotten a DUI – but it’s time consuming, expensive, and worst of all, you’re left without a drivers license. When it comes down to it, drinking and driving isn’t worth it. AT ALL. Unfortunately, that was something I had to learn the (incredibly) hard way. I wish people would have more faith in me. Even now, with this interlock device on my ignition, people still ask how I’m getting home from the bar. “You’re not driving home, are you!?” I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but now, I simply don’t want to.

My DUIs are nothing that I’m proud of, but I’ve come to a place in my life where it’s better for me to be open and discuss them. I have little shame left about the whole situation. I hope that by talking so freely about this it may stop someone from making the same mistake.

Through all this, I have made a new best friend… Uber. It only costs about $7 to get home from the bar, and there’s always someone around to drive me back for my car in the morning. 🙂