When You Run Out of Gas, You Need a Person

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This is me and my friend Bethany. Bethany is an amazing photographer and beloved friend. We went to the Yellow Conference in Cali earlier this year. The road-tripping was just as fun as the conference.

That is until we started running out of gas on our way home.  *see picture*

Apparently when two women get chatting while listening to the lovely Sam Hunt sing to us on the radio, they can sometimes forget that cars need gas. A simple blip in memory that could happen to anybody, really!

We found ourselves in between Baker, California and Primm, Nevada. If anybody has driven this route, you know it’s desolate desert of over 50 miles between both spots.  We noticed the lack of gas half way in between each town. 25 miles one way, 25 miles the other way. Bethany’s car is fancy with a gas gauge that tells you how far you have on your tank of gas and what gas milage you’re getting.

We had about 30 miles of gas left to go.

Either way, we’d cut it close. So we decided to move forward! We had 30 miles of gas and only 25 miles to drive? We’d be FINE, I kept reminding my sweet driver friend. (It’s possible I reminded her SO much it sounded more like personal reassurance than a statement of truth. *see picture*)

A few minutes in, we realized the gas tank’s “miles to go before you die in the desert” gauge was plummeting MORE QUICKLY than the miles we had actually driven. Before we knew it, we had the SAME number of miles to drive as miles of available gas.

We freaked out, ok. Just picture two 20-something girls in this situation. That, my friends, is exactly what it looked like. We may have been slightly dramatic. *see picture* I was trying to figure out the exact MPH that made us the most gas efficient according to the gauge, so I was screaming, “Go slower!” “No wait! TOO SLOW! Speed up!” “No, slower, we need it slower!” We turned off the music and A/C and saved our water bottle for our inevitable demise.

Then, miraculously, as if God himself decided we both should live long and prosper for another day, we saw an old gas station out in the far distance. If we had decided to turn back instead, we would have never made it. But we were saved. Saved by the rickety old gas station not found on a GPS.

We laughed about it later like, “yeah, we totally knew we’d be fine the whole time.”

You see, sometimes in our lives, we run out of gas. Not car gas, but emotional stamina.  These are the moments brought on by hardship when our energy and willpower are totally depleted. We’re stuck smack dab in the middle of a desert and we don’t know whether to turn back or keep moving forward.

All we know is we’re hot and dry and screwed.

But let me tell you this: when you run out of gas, you need a person.

If I had been driving home alone that day, the fear and irrational thoughts would have been out of control. I probably would have turned back and gotten stuck in the desert heat with little water. I needed my friend to get through it together.

When we run out of gas in our lives, we need a person in the car with us. We cannot face our own demons, make hard decisions, survive heartbreak, or even make it back to safety completely on our own.   When we are at the end of ourselves, we need somebody to pick us back up. We need somebody shouting crazily “Go faster! Now slower!! FASTER!”

We need a person.  Or a few.

A good friend we can trust and be vulnerable with.  

Don’t try to do it alone.  

Be brave and reach out to people.  

Make car-driving friendships that can stand the test of running out of gas.  

The kind of friendships that encourage you to keep moving forward.

Invest in your friendships, search out the good ones.

It’s not that we are weak; we just become so much stronger when two or more strong people join forces.

Eventually, you will make your way to your own blessed “gas station,” because life is full of highs and lows, goods and bads. Then you will realize you’re going to be just fine (which you will be!).

You and your person can look at each other, laugh, and say –

“Yeah, we totally knew we’d be fine the whole time.”

I’m a Real Girl

I’m a Real Girl

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“And now that you don’t have to be perfect,

you can be good.” – Steinbeck

Growing up, my brother’s favorite Disney movie was Pinocchio.  I was more a Disney princess sort of girl. Ariel and Pocahontas were my favorites. Nobody cared that I had firstborn rights; we had to share the VCR (Kids, VCRs are clunky machines in antique shops).  I’d have to watch this old movie about a puppet turning into a real boy.  Time and time again. Because one time is never good enough for a child; movies were watched until the VHS tape was ruined (Kids, VHS tapes can also be found at antique shops).

“I’m a real boy!”  Pinocchio screams in delight.  And the whole house celebrates.  Even the cat and the fish join in and the cricket gets a gold star.  Because Disney knows what every child knows: animals are real and cool and totally human.  We forget that as we age.

We are so often like Pinocchio.  Many of us live as puppets. Some of us figure out we’re real. Some would rather stay puppets.  Puppets put on a show and entertain those around them.  But they’re hollow on the inside.  It’s easier to be a puppet, but it’s worse.  It’s lonely because nobody knows your true self, and life is lived playing pretend.  And we can pretend to be perfect all day long, but it’s exhausting.  People-pleasing is a gamble.  You can lose yourself and still never gain the people.

Or we can figure out that we’re real.  It’s harder to be real, but it’s better.  It’s freedom.  We can drop the act.  We can look at our flesh-covered bodies and know it’s a jumbled mess of screw-ups, wrong decisions, weird past experiences and total awesomeness.  Then we can show the world all of that.

Jiminy Cricket tells his beloved star: “He deserved to be a real boy.”  I think we all do.  We deserve to be real human beings in our one and only life.  We deserve to live a life that isn’t a puppet show.  Cut the strings, feel the blood pulsing through your veins.  If there are certain people in your life who prefer you on your puppet stage, leave them.  Find people who will celebrate when you shout “I’m a real boy!” If you can only find a cat or a fish or a cricket at first, choose them.  We weren’t made to be perfect puppets, we were made to be real people, alive and breathing and imperfect.

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Image via Wikimedia

Chasing Lovely & Wander Woman

It all started when my friend Katie and I were visiting at a coffee shop.  She asked: “What would it look like for a group of young, Millennial women to get together as a group to empower and support one another?”  It started that way.  It ended this way….

chasing lovely

Last weekend, women between the ages of 18 and 25 gathered into a home. We called ourselves “Wander Woman.” Most didn’t know each other, many came alone which is scary and brave and awesome.  We had a table where they could write why they were there (most of them wrote about how they wanted to be with other women who support and encourage each other), they put on name tags, and wrote one word on a mirror to finish the sentence “I am…” These women wrote words like “strong” and “worthy” and “enough.”

woman_chasing lovely

chasing lovely

Then they poured mugs of coffee and tea and gathered around in a living room of twinkly lights to listen to other young women read things they had written about self-love and being enough.  Girlfriends can write, y’all.  We laughed, some cried, some just listened.

The delightful duo from Nashville Chasing Lovely joined us for the evening and shared ten songs and their hearts.  They exceeded all expectations – their music was beautifully written, their voices were strong and flawless, and their kindness, style, humility, and wisdom was refreshing and inspiring.

chasing lovely

chasing lovely

We finished the night by taking photo booth style pictures.  We laughed and chatted and ate a lot of dessert and laughed some more.  We made new friends and discovered we are all so much alike.

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So – What would it look like for a group of young, Millennial women to get together as a group to empower and support one another?  It would look like this:

chasing lovely**some girls had to leave before this photo was taken – and they were awesome too!!**

You can also read about this event on Katie’s blog.

The Power of Female Friendship

The Power of Female Friendship

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As a textbook introvert, making friends has never been extremely natural for me. My habitat is in my own head.  But let’s be honest, it’s a little crazy up there.  So, like most human beings, I need other people.  I have tried to respect the way I was wired while balancing the art of learning how to make and cultivate female friendships.  So I’ve asked extroverted people how to small talk.  I’ve learned that complimenting a woman’s shoes is a great intro into a little conversation.  An introverted girl’s gotta start somewhere.

When I went through my divorce, I thought I was alone.  I went from a couple to a single.  I stopped saying “We” and had to say “I.”   “Hey you guys” turned into a “Hey you.” It was in this time of mourning and confusion, I saw how deeply precious and necessary female friendship was in my life.  I wasn’t alone.  Because other women get it.  They have had relationships end.  They have been mad, heartbroken, and confused.

So I started stepping out of my comfort zone more often.  I tried to make new friends and enrich the friendships I already had.  Any of you extroverts may think I’m crazy, but this was incredibly foreign to me.  I was an alien in the land of people.  But somehow I figured it out.  I look around me now I can see so many amazing women surrounding me. I obviously have a friend type.  I like strong, creative, funny, brave, and KIND women.  And they are all vulnerable.  They don’t hide their shit.  I gravitate to women who will allow me to be honest with zero judgement, and women who will be honest with me.  Then this really amazing thing happens.  You learn that you’re not alone.

Here’s the thing.  What I’ve learned.  And I know this for sure.  There is something powerful and unstoppable when women join together as friends and defy all stereotypes of female cat-fighting, back-stabbing, and bitch-slapping.  We need each other.  We need to support and lift one another other up.  It’s really that simple.  Because this world is tough.  It is so freaking tough and nothing goes as planned and everything falls apart sometimes.  And we need to be reminded that we aren’t alone.  We need friendship.

I met up with two different lovely girlfriends two days ago.  One younger than me, the other older than me.  Our lives aren’t identical.  But we each knew what the other was going through.  I met with one in the morning and we kept saying “Me too!” or “I totally get that!” because we do get it.  I met with the other in the evening and we kept saying “Me too!” or “I totally get that!” because we do get it.  When we as women have the power to support each other because we understand exactly what it’s like to be female, why would we ever choose to do otherwise?  

There is power in female friendship.  Strong and independent women know how to tap into that.  Weak women would rather tear other women down.  They haven’t yet realized that they’re missing out on something incredible.  I haven’t done this perfectly for my whole life.  But each year I get older I know I’d rather lock arms with other women then try to do it alone.  Because it can be brutal out there.  It can also be really fun.  And there’s no one better to laugh about it all with than a good girlfriend.

“Girls get competitive, as though there’s only one spot in the world for everything — but that’s not true. We need to stick together and see there’s more to life than pleasing men. It’s important not to cut yourself off from female friendships. I think sometimes girls get scared of other girls, but you need each other.”  – Zooey Deschanel

Image via Flickr

An Interview on “Life Is…”

I had the utter privilege of being interviewed for the sweet Katie Visconti’s blog “Life Is...” She asked me hard questions about life as I see it – like “What does the world need more of?” Everything I believe is somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but having to articulate your beliefs into words makes you think long and hard about precisely what it is you think.  I love this.  I love having to put my sporadic thoughts into concrete words.

Click here to read the interview.  While you’re there check out Katie’s blog – it truly is a beautiful space with beautiful thoughts and words.

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P.S. The photo used in the interview is by the terrific Bethany Paige Photography