Staring Into The Big Grey Abyss

April 30, 2020
cammy

No, you don’t have to have everything figured out.  It was April of 2013. I was weeks shy of walking across that big stage to accept a diploma and celebrate the completion of my undergraduate journey. Graduate school was definitely not part of my plan come fall. All I wanted was to read a book for my own pleasure, hang out with my friends on a beach, go to some new bars, and chill for the summer. I was a college graduate. My plan up to that point was complete and the big grey abyss would cause significant anxiety if I thought about it too much. I was terrified and excited and so very ready to be DONE. Your early twenties are a strange and beautiful time. You’re kind of an adult but still kind of a kid, mostly trying to figure out who you want to be. You’ll watch your friends begin their first “grown-up” jobs and get married. You’ll use words like adulting to describe the steps you’re taking to full independence and think about things like a 401K and benefits packages. You’ll be making plans to travel the world and get a few more years out of…

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Why did I decide to go to grad school?

February 23, 2020
cammy

To be blunt, I decided to go to grad school for all the wrong reasons. My inner-critic was very loud at the time and the life-changing effects of anxiety medication and therapy had not yet entered my life. I was one year out of undergrad, living with my parents, and desperately searching for a recognizable path to success. Basically, I was in my early twenties and tired of feeling like I was frolicking around with no real direction.  Acquaintances would regularly ask me “where are you working and living now?” and I hated my lack-of an answer. So, why not go back to school? Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my graduate experience. It was damn hard, but that was mostly the pressure I put on myself, not the actual program. However, if you’re coming to the end of your junior year of college or, like I was, trying to find the easy path after a few years away from school, I’d like to offer some advice: Do not go to grad school just because it’s the next step in the educational process. Grad school is like 4 years of college squished into 2 years with very little of the fun. Your…

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Make 2020 the Year You Notice

December 27, 2019
cammy

Do you ever feel like the days are long but the years are short? Does is seem like someone pushed fast-forward and you forgot to pay attention to the things that really mattered? Do you feel constantly distracted and pulled in too many directions? I want you to imagine a stress-free moment for yourself.  A moment of stillness and quiet. There’s nothing you need to do; you can simply be. What’s the first thing you do? Pull out your phone to distract yourself?  Nearly everywhere you go, you can find something to look at to distract yourself from the life in front of you.  Screens that distract you from the emotions you’re avoiding and the people standing right in front of you. Instead of thinking for yourself or doing a little research to formulate a better opinion, you can read the words shared by someone else and tap a button to support.  Instead of cultivating gratitude for the life you have, you can open an app and easily find reasons your life is not good enough. This is just how it is, right? We’re all distracted now. This world we’ve created is filled with disconnection and we all have to…

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An Awkward First Date with Jesus

December 18, 2019
cammy

I wanted to be a priest when I grew up.  Seriously. I wanted to lead a church and support community members as they navigated their faith. It was my dream to break the bread and serve the wine. That is, until my mom informed me that women couldn’t be Priests. “I can’t do what I want just because I’m a girl?” Ludicrous. I like to think this was the moment my feminist passion was born. My early years of faith were shaped by the Catholic church. I was raised Catholic and learned to carry that infamous Catholic guilt so many intimately know and live with. It was important to my parents, so I did it.  My faith, however, was not inspired by or fueled by the teaching of that particular church. Sunday mornings were typically a long, arduous drag until we finally got to eat breakfast. The Priest would stand in his pulpit and I’d zone out for the duration. “Can we bail at communion?” My Dad was never particularly thrilled with that question.  At my confirmation, the Bishop came and delivered a message that is burned into my memory: “To all the young men here today”, he said, “you’ll…

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5 Tips for Thriving Through a Break-up

December 11, 2019
cammy

As a little girl, I once asked my mom why there were so many songs about love. It seemed like every song on the radio was about some relationship gone wrong or some guy singing about  some girl. As a child, I was less than amused.  Now, as an adult, I get it. That “love” stuff is, well, life-altering. Attempting to find love, falling in love, falling out of love, or watching your love walk away changes everything. I can confidently say I’ve been in every one of those positions. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from the beginning. The worst being the feeling of heartbreak. When my long-term relationship ended and I watched my former significant other walk away, I felt absolutely powerless, hurt, angry, confused, and desperate to get him back. 4 years later, I thank God the relationship ended. It was the best thing that could have happened to my 20-something self. I grew into a stronger, better, more confident version of myself in the days that followed (see my last blog for more on this). Unfortunately, the initial days of that break-up looked like something akin to Elle Woods laying in her bed watching horrible soaps while stuffing…

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My Relationship Sent Me To Therapy

December 4, 2019
cammy

My relationship sent me to therapy. Actually, two romantic relationships sent me to therapy for radically different reasons.  I thought the first was love. I really did. 2 years of sacrifice, of learned silence, of negotiation within myself as to why I should stay.  He said he loved me, and I’m sure he did. He loved the version of me I’d transformed into over the time we were together to keep him around. I’d learned how to silence the voice that said I wasn’t happy, to put his desires before mine,  and his priorities above mine. If he said he only had one night to give me each week, I’d find a way to make that okay. My only goal was to keep him. If he didn’t want me, who would?  Slowly but surely, I let myself drift away from myself. That’s what surprises people most when I tell them about that time in my life. For someone who is such a proud and public feminist, I let any semblance of equality and partnership in that relationship turn into a single-party system of power and control. He had it all – and I’m sure that’s why he loved “me”. He…

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Countdown to 2020

November 30, 2019
cammy

30 days in December, 1 task for each day. Sounds easy enough, right? Take what you like, leave what you don’t. Challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone to be thoughtful and reflective – especially when your inner gremlin starts speaking up! 2020 is nearly upon us: make this the year you put intentional actions before habitual actions. Days 1-10: Reflection 1.Write down 1 thing from 2019 that made you feel proud of yourself. This doesn’t have to be a revolutionary or dramatic change you made; It’s just one thing that made you feel proud of yourself 2. Write a thank you note to someone in your life for all they’ve done to support you. 3.Share your favorite picture from 2019 and explain why it’s your favorite! 4. Send a text to express gratitude or make a phone call. Write a thank you note to yourself for the last year. 5. Write a thank you note to yourself. 6. Think of one thing that changed for the better this year. Write a quick journal entry about it. 7. Reflect on 1 thing you’d consider an “absolute win” from the last year. Share on your social. 8. Write down…

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The Worst Kind of “Me Too” Moment

September 11, 2019
cammy

“I hate her” “We hate her” They chuckled together, like the shared disdain for one human in particular created a bond. They felt comfortable standing in that statement. Or, at least comfortable enough to say those words at a higher volume than they should while in the middle of the jewelry section at Target.  I kept sifting through the earrings in front of me. I cringed as I overheard the conversation. My nose squished, my shoulders lifted a little closer to my ears, and I felt my body lean away. These five young women, presumably college students getting ready to return to class, were discussing their plans for football attire while tearing down another girl. It was simultaneously painful and infuriating to listen to.  “She talks about everyone like she’s better than them. We don’t like her anymore.”  The irony was missed entirely. The figurative pot called the kettle black, and they didn’t even realize it. They were doing the very thing they were criticizing this girl about, while trying to make themselves feel better about it all by throwing “we” into the sentence. It created the worst kind of “me too” moment while engaging in a toxic pattern –…

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Walking with Surrender

August 20, 2019
cammy

A few years back, I went to a new year’s goal setting workshop. My nerves were higher than normal as I walked into a room of strangers and found my seat. There were only about 7 women in the workshop, but it was enough to feel the shared desire for change upon entry. It was a perceptively exciting fresh start to a new year. It was 2017.  In the middle of the table, sat a bucket of small rocks and an assortment of markers. “Oh here we go” I thought “we’re going to have to write something on the rocks aren’t we…. How much did I pay for this workshop again?”. The cynicism I felt had already taken root and the workshop was barely underway. Yes, I, Cammy Nelson, had one foot out the door in a personal growth workshop before it even had a chance to begin. Maybe you’ve been in those very shoes, yourself? I picked my rock from the group. Per usual, I wanted something with a color in the blue family and a soft texture. Something that didn’t offer much resistance. I wanted to be comfortable with the way the rock felt it my hand. I…

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The Night that Changed it All

July 21, 2019
cammy

I’m two and a half months into my first year of grad school. At this point, I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, intimidated, terrified of failure, in desperate search of a reason to quit, and working harder than I ever have. It was a Thursday night and I had only one more class in the morning to get through before the relief of the weekend would settle in. A “relief” that would still wake me at six AM in a panic to get everything done perfectly. These were miserable days. That night, I sat down in the living room of the beautiful condo I was fortunate to be renting and opened the assigned textbook for the next morning. That’s when it all started. As I opened the textbook, my eyes fell upon the 12 point, single spaced font. There were two columns on each page. There were hundreds of pages to get through. It  soon dawned on me there was more to read than I could possibly get through that night. Even as I write this, I can feel myself back in that moment. The sheer panic building as the tears were starting to well up for the umpteenth time that week and…

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