In an effort to breathe some new life into my blog, I’ve decided to join a blogging series that’s happening on of my favorite blogs to follow, Story of My Life. She’s going to be blogging and giving prompts every weekday in September. I can’t promise how many days I’ll be joining in because I’ll be doing lots of traveling this month, but I hope to link up as many days as possible.

Today’s writing prompt says: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are. 

I come from Wisconsin, and live in Washington currently. Try as I might, I can’t shake my Wisconsin roots. I know that’s a rather odd thing to say, but let me explain.

My whole life, I’ve lived within an hour and half of my family. Growing up, I lived in a small house, then a bigger house in the same town. When I went off to college, I moved away and lived an hour and a half from home. After college, I moved back to my hometown, and met my future husband. We moved around a lot, but always within my hometown. Times were tough and neither of us worked a very good job, so when we got the job offer to move to Washington, we took it in a heartbeat.

For some reason, I have allowed myself to define my entire life since then after that day. I am a creature of habit, and I don’t like change. I found out I was pregnant the same day I found out we were moving 26 hours away from home. Now, we have an almost one year old, and have moved AGAIN, but still within the state of Washington. I’m not currently working in my career field, and instead I’m working as a stay-at-home mom. My husband works as a biomedical engineer, fixing medical equipment at hospitals and is gone ALL the freakin’ time. I’ve learned a lot about myself by being here, but mostly that I suck at making friends, and as a result I’ve spent a lot of time alone with my daughter at home, playing with Duplos, and feeling sorry for myself.

I have a hard time with the fact that we’re HERE. I’ve allowed my last year and half to be gobbled up with so many thoughts of missing home, that I haven’t really let myself live in the present. Every day is consumed with what the past held, and what the future might hold, rather than living in the present. It’s rather depressing honestly. Every time I meet someone, I feel like my interactions go like this…

“Hi, I’m Justina. I’m a stay-at-home-mom but I WAS a teacher, back when I liked my life…not that I don’t like my daughter, I love my daughter and love spending time with her, but I also like my family, and I’ve been robbed of time with them by living out in Washington. Hey, want to see my paper chain countdown that I’m making? I’ve been keeping track of the days of our two year contract and when it ends and we can start applying to jobs in Wisconsin again. I’d love to hang out with you, but let’s not get too attached mmkay? You’ll never measure up to my friends in Wisconsin, and I want to leave this dreadful place ASAP.”

…ok so I’m not really that dramatic in real life, but you get the point. It’s just kind of a bummer that my attitude is so stinky. At what point in a person’s life do the people/places/factors that make up who they are shift?  At what point will I give myself permission to be happy where I am? Will I always feel like I’m at a crossroads? Will I ever learn to make friends?

When we originally moved to Washington, we lived in a smaller town called Wenatchee. Every night when I took the dog out, I would look up in the starry sky at the Big Dipper. Wenatchee is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and is a really beautiful place and one of those rare towns where you can see all the stars in the sky at night. Anyway, I would look up in the sky and think, the world’s not THAT big because I can still see all the same stars that my family can see, half the country away from me.

Now that we’ve moved to a much bigger city in Washington, I can’t see the stars very well at night anymore. My husband works a different job here than before, and is much busier. If I thought his previous 8 hours a day working (and my eight hours of being home with our daughter) was a lot before, now it’s more like 10-12 hours minimum. Moving “home” seems like a distant dream…somedays it feels achievable and in our near future, and other days not so much.

This past weekend, a friend from college flew out to Washington for the sole purpose of coming to the Dave Matthews Band concert at The Gorge Amphitheater. He was literally in town for about 30 hours. It was pretty insane, but he’s a huge music nerd so it was totally worth it. While I was watching the concert from the grass, and watching the sun set around the gorge, I got a little self-reflective and started to get a little ashamed of myself. I swear it wasn’t the 2 enormous cans of $13 Mike’s Hard Lemonade or the $9.50 Redhook IPA that I consumed during the concert, or the second smoke (that stuff is legal here now). I started thinking…look at the gorge. It might be one of the most beautiful views ever. And I might be listening to one of the most amazing musicians ever. Why have I been denying myself happiness the whole time I’ve lived here? It’s beautiful here! And I have so many happy memories here!
Here’s a happy memory of eating brats in Leavenworth when my friend, Jessica was visiting. Leavenworth is a Bavarian village about 30 minutes from where we used to live in Washington. I’m also quite certain it’s one of the coolest places on earth. I got to choose between about 16 types of mustard to put on my brat. At the time this picture was taken, I was pregnant, so food was a pretty big deal to me. 
This is a picture of my husband and I in Vancouver, when we visited the gardens there, among other things. That was such a fun trip. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to go to Vancouver if we were still living in Wisconsin, but it was only about a three hour drive from Wenatchee.
When Mike was always gone training, Ruckus and I became so close. We walked the trail that led around the Columbia River in Wenatchee every single day while I was pregnant. He sadly got cancer in his eyelid towards the end of our time living in Wenatchee, but they happened to have an Animal Eye Clinic in Spokane that was able to remove his tumor. I’m fairly certain that if we still lived in Wisconsin, we wouldn’t have had access to a specialized animal eye clinic, and our dog probably would have passed away.
We had so much fun hiking in all the trails in Washington before our daughter was born. We are a hiking family through and through. I wish hiking wasn’t such a pain in the butt now with an active little kiddo because I miss it. The hiking in Wisconsin is fun, but Washington hiking is something really special, and the scenery is amazing here.
The Wenatchee fires of 2012 were something really epic. While I wouldn’t count that as a good memory, it certainly is a standout memory of mine and something I’ll never forget! Jocelyn was born towards the tail end of the fires.
Our daughter was born in Washington! For that reason, no matter what happens in Washington and how many bad or good memories we have here, it will always be special to me.
Having to travel by plane to get home has made going home even more special than ever before. I make a point to see as many friends as I can, and all my family each time I go home. I give out more hugs than ever before, and take way more pictures than ever before. I know that especially with the elderly members of my family, every time I see them might be the last time, so I take tons of pictures, tell them I love them 80 bazillion times, and try to cherish every last second of our interactions together. 

P.S. this picture’s kind of creepy…I should explain that it was taken in the airport a few days before Christmas. There were entertainers everywhere!

My brother, among other visitors, has been out here twice to visit. Here we went to the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project Museum) in Seattle. It was so much fun. Can’t do THAT in Wisconsin!
We went camping with our teething baby, and packed up at 2 am to go home because she was screaming, and it was pretty much the worst idea ever. It is certainly a memory I’ll never forget.
Jocelyn spent the first summer of her life in Washington. We have had an absolute blast watching her grow up this year. Being her mom is the most amazing thing I’ve ever had happen to me in my life. This is my favorite picture of her ever taken. The bliss on her face of being at the splash pad just makes me so happy. 
While I haven’t made many friends here, I do cherish the friends I have made here. I will never forget them, no matter where life takes my family in the years to come.

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”

-Marcel Pagnol

I have done a really fantastic job at seeing the past as better than it was. I have put “home” on an incredibly high pedestal. We left for a good reason (needing better jobs) and I hope that when we return it’s for a good reason too (getting even better jobs than what we have now). The present’s not that bad, in fact it’s kind of good. And the future…I don’t know what that will bring, and that’s ok.

What makes up who I am anyways? A combination of my roots in Wisconsin, my present in Washington, and the fact that the future has promises of being magical and amazing, and is a mystery. I have no idea what the future holds for my family, and that’s ok. The people I know in Wisconsin are awesome, and I have learned to cherish them even more now that I don’t get to see them daily. I will never again take being in close proximity to family or friends for granted. I am made up of a combination of my life experiences, and frankly, before moving to Washington, I had never really done anything that hard. I am made of freaking steel, man! I know that now. I didn’t before. Even if that’s all that I’ve learned here, it was worth it.

I have a pretty great life. In fact, I kind of like it. We have been through a lot but I’m confident that I like who I am and that everything will be ok. 
Whew…that was a long post. Want to link up tomorrow? Here’s a link to the prompts if you do. 

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