Shaking Off the Rust


Blogging regularly on here (or elsewhere) is like taking a cooking class; it always sounds like a good idea, but I never seem to get around to it. Judging by the lack of recent posts on this blog, I assume that I’m not alone in this struggle. At least we’re all failing together (hurrah for collective failure!).

I’ve been working on becoming more disciplined lately. I’ve focused on basic things like making my bed daily, keeping up on laundry, washing dishes immediately following a meal, etc. These are all small things, but they add up over time (particularly if one doesn’t keep up with those menial chores). Listening to podcasts like the Jocko Podcast (particularly the episode with Jordan Peterson’s interview) have helped fuel my desire to stay disciplined. And while I’ve been able to keep up with those basic tasks, I haven’t yet moved on to the work I actually want to do regularly: writing.

In addition to not writing on this blog, I haven’t been writing much elsewhere. The energy to write regularly has been gone for months now. This is partly caused by working at a highly repetitive job that leeches my soul away every weekday; it’s also partially caused by me being totally “out of shape” with writing. I haven’t written regularly in years. Going to college and working full-time stripped away a lot of free time and energy that I used to have in abundance. Now, I have to make time to write. Creativity follows no schedule though, and it’s exceedingly rare to find a time where I can write and I feel like writing.

I think the key to getting over this variety of writer’s block is to simply keep writing regularly. I gotta shake the rust off and get back to the base level of writing fitness I had back during the twentyeleven days.

Please forgive me in advance for some less than stellar posts that might come out at the beginning of this endeavor (including this one). I promise that they’ll eventually get better, but it will take time. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Look for another post from me on here by Tuesday.



Home sick, time to scheme, make it your own, etc. 

Hey, guys.

I’ve come down with something ominously representing influenza, so in the sanctity of my lonely apartment, I have opened the windows, turned on some chill beats, and I have time to plan. This is the first time in my whole life that I’ve had a bedroom entirely my own to design, and it’s so disappointingly barren.

Now, some of you don’t know me that well, some of you know me TOO well. I need things in my life. I need a cluttered space. Anything too tidy distracts me and keeps me from being able to function. Anything too messy or “full” overwhelms me and causes a near panic attack.

I’ve recently come to embrace the side of me that loves herself. She loves wearing a lot of makeup, looking as pretty as she can, she loves dressing up in fancy clothes and *gasp from former me* wearing high heels. She reads anything she can get her hands on, she cooks for herself and others because she can and she’s damn good at it, she does nice things for strangers because she lives to put smiles on faces. She isn’t sure of her place in the world, but that doesn’t scare her anymore. She knows life is about the journey. She plans to start donating time to others, she dreams of a life away from home, she hopes for everything she’s ever wanted. Because she knows she can have it.

When I was 13, I went to summer camp for the first time. I was gone for 5 days. I had just finished painting my bedroom a shade called “bubbly lavender”. I remember the shade because I picked it out and tortured my mom with many a shrill “please!” before she finally caved and let me have anything but white in my room. She also let me get some yellow bedding, covered in different colored roses. The reverse side of the comforter was purple with green damask stripes. So cool. I had a 1970s brown wicker lamp hanging over a corner of my room with nothing at all under it. I got home from summer camp, had a sandwich and some strawberries, and went downstairs to my room to unpack and figure out which camp best friend to call first. I walked in, and gasped. My mom had painted a desk for me. Yellow to match my comforter, with multicolored rose appliqués under the knobs and on the desktop. This desk, I later learned, belonged to my great-grandma who was the nicest lady I’ve ever known. All I have of her are photos of her smiling down at us so big it looks like her face might split in half, and this desk. It was one of the only surviving members of a pretty devastating flood that I don’t have a lot of other history on yet. It’s old as shit, guys. That’s what I’m getting at. I  was able to borrow shop space from a buddy and get him to help me sand it down and prime it, and this week I’ll be painting it, applying a fun glittery finish, installing agate knobs and a custom glass top and putting it in my room, with a matching mirror above it. It will be something I look at every day and remember how much I am loved. It will be with me and my family for as long as it stands. It will be where I do my makeup and silently remind myself each day that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter how daunting the task. That’s something I never used to put much faith towards. I have always relied on the reassurance of others that I am enough. Now I feel that from within. I am more than enough and I am here for a reason.

Gosh, these get long quickly, don’t they? Time for another fever nap.

Love, Kelci.

Six Years Later…

It’s been awhile since we last spoke, but I think we can skip the awkward small talk.

My life has gone in a vastly different direction than I assumed it would back in 2011. Looking back at this post, I can’t help but laugh– I was so naive. I was so convinced back then that biochemistry was the major for me. After nearly failing my first chemistry exam, I soon realized that I didn’t love chemistry as much as I thought I did. College in itself was a different experience than I assumed it would be back then. I thought that MSU would finally present an opportunity to explore the topics I loved, with challenges that went beyond boring busywork. College, I thought, would finally eliminate the things I loathed about academics from past experiences.

College turned out to be a completely different beast than I anticipated.

Writing the first draft of this post lead to the most depressing catalog of events that happened since 2011. I don’t want to sugarcoat the past and pretend everything has gone according to plan (because it really didn’t), but the last six-years haven’t been entirely terrible either. Great things happened. Awful things happened. Life happened! Focusing too much on either the highlights or the pitfalls would be disingenuous.

Distilling the past six years of life into a single post is nearly impossible though. To keep things brief, I’ll hit some of the important details here:

  • I’m currently living in Bozeman. I work for Gibson Acoustic. (If you would have told me six years ago that I would be making guitars, I wouldn’t have believed you.)
  • I’m dating my best friend, Kelci. (Another thing I probably wouldn’t have seen coming back in 2011.)
  • I totaled the old Focus back in 2013 (RIP in pieces). 2013 was a shitty year (for numerous reasons that I might dive into in a later post).
  • I have not graduated from MSU (yet). Changing majors multiple times, taking time off to avoid student loan debt, and other reasons have led to this delay. It’s something that really bugs me, but I do plan to finish my degree soon.
  • I finally got a motorcycle last year. Motorcycling has become one of my favorite hobbies. The mental clarity and presence you get on a bike is difficult to find anywhere else.
  • I’m an uncle! My nephew, David, is four-years old. He’s the best. (I don’t feel old enough to be an uncle, but it’s a pretty cool experience.)

Many other things happened since 2011, but I’ll leave some of those details for later posts. For now, I’m happy to be back with you all. This reunion of the twentyeleven crew was a total surprise. I want to thank Kelci for making this happen, as well as all of you who’ve come back and written a post on here. You guys rock.

I’ll write on here again soon. Until next time,


P.S. For a delightfully incomplete record of some of the things that happened since the twentyeleven project ended, you can check out my personal blog, The Final Summer.

Who are you becoming?

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

How do you sum up what’s happened in 6 years?
Especially in your 20s?
Don’t they say that these are the most formative years of your life?
I believe it. I’ve lived it.
It feels as though I’ve been at least 6 different people in that span, and culled through the grime and the dirt of living only to reveal more dirt and grime to be expunged.

Truth be told, I have no clue how to begin telling you the myriad of stories I have to share. I guess you could hop over to my blog and see some of what has transpired, but does that even do it justice?

I’ve traveled to 5 different countries, lived in at least 10 different rooms/buildings, broken hearts and nursed wounds on my own, become a fur momma to the best pup ever to quell the throbbing and add some (more) excitement to my life, discovered who I am not, exploring who I am, worked 7 different jobs (only 5 at once, tops), changed majors, graduated college, sang on an album thats up for Grammy nomination, chopped and grown my hair, hiked mountains and floated in pure salt below sea level, made hundreds of new friends, lost many friendships that I cherished more than they, seen miracles at the edge of prayers, dreamed big and halted my own dreams from growing, performed on a Disney stage after landing the best and most challenging job I’ve known, grown in confidence, been struck down by pride, made thousands of mistakes, and have completely been transformed by the love of God and those He has placed around me.

And that’s not even half of it.

I think what strikes me about looking back on who I was 6 years ago is how little I knew about how broken I really was. Shortly after I entered college, it all broke down. I broke up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years, experienced some serious PTSD from things in my past I had tried to bury, entered trauma therapy, discovered a church full of people who honestly sought truth, found out who Jesus really was (much more than just fire insurance or a cause/belief to fight for), and with that knowledge recognized how much I was hiding, holding too tightly, and crying out for. You can’t heal if you don’t know what’s wrong with you.

And although there are still hundreds of issues needing attention in my heart, I can’t help but rejoice in how much healing has happened.

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

1. I am a woman of very strong opinions.
I would hope the last 6 years have softened me and turned me into a better listener, but I am forever grateful that I am a person of conviction and am not afraid to stay true to what I believe. The strength of my conviction has led me to a deeper understanding of how other people think and act; After all, we act out of the core of our beliefs.

2. I am a creative.
Everyone is putting on their best “duh” face here. In a world where creatives are not viewed as relevant to society and the job market isn’t sure what to do with you in some parts of this nation, that piece of my identity started to feel more secondary. That is, until I was reminded what I was created for. I can’t live without pursuing the arts and music – I would be doing myself and everyone else around me a disservice by pursuing anything else.

3. I have a very strong streak of empathy
I can’t even watch the tamest of Disney movies without getting emotionally involved with the characters. (Lookin’ at you, Baymax) I’ve learned that empathy is a strength, and a muscle to be worked on in order to expand your range of emotion and depth of relationship. The weakness here is when your emotions control you, rather than embracing them as a part of who you are and learning to partner with them in making decision, not allowing them to overcome you. Empathy allows you to step in to another person’s world and learn from them, as well as see a better way to love them and help them.

4. I love big and I love loud.
And I am learning to love quietly and embrace the small moments too. This can be a double edged sword, especially for an empathic artist who works at Disneyland. Self care has been a HUGE lesson that I am still learning, even now. Loving myself was the biggest challenge I faced – realizing that God loved me and wanted to be with me was even harder. But it wasn’t long before I realized that loving from an empty cup only made me bitter, exhausted, and scared to love anyone. You can only truly love from a place of love. Love yields love, whereas hatred yields hate. You can be the most giving person to others, but if you hate yourself, your actions toward others will never have pure motives and your love capacity will shrink with your soul as you continually deplete yourself.

5. I am highly adaptable.
Montana girl plopped in the middle of Southern California with uncertainty and culture shock around every corner. Trips to South Korea, Israel, Nicaragua, and Europe with varying degrees of intensity. Unstable living situations, car troubles, balancing more jobs and commitments than any sane human being should, having to learn the power of “no” to stop from slipping into that insanity. Learning to thrive instead of function. Coping with the busy until stillness becomes a habit of the soul, not just the body. Putting on 11 different hats every day to fulfill the expectations of every space I inhabit. My will is strong, but has learned to bend. Flexibility has become one of my favorite modes of living. I have learned there is freedom in not knowing, a delight that comes with embracing a blind but confident faith in a God who loves you and knows you inside and out. There’s a peace in smallness, doing the same things faithfully while trusting that more is on the way. Trust precedes a leap of faith, and if you allow yourself to bend and mold, while keeping your identity like putty, you’ll find life has a way of surprising you in the best possible sense.

6. Life is an adventure, and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
I am applying to grad schools, expanding my photography, diving into personal music projects, sinking my teeth into my department at Disney to learn and grow all that I can, and discovering more of what needs to be healed in me to truly live out the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10. It’s onward to a time of refining, growing, and loving like I have never loved before.

This is a glimpse. I know there will be more to say, and I guess at some points I ought to be more specific. I guess I just felt the focus for myself needed to shift to truly figure out how to even begin.

I guess the real question isn’t “what happened since then?” it’s “who have you become?”
How do you sum up what’s happened 6 years?
You don’t.

Yours truly,
– Anna

And Now…..

It is me, once again. I missed this.

I was going to write a bunch this last month, but I wanted to have something interesting to write about. Now I feel that I do.

I just got back from the first paid vacation I’ve ever taken, which coincidentally was also the longest time I’ve ever been away from home, (aside from taking care of my mom in Seattle while she was dying-not-dying from cancer, which really should not be counted as vacation.) I left Friday, September 8th and drove to Bozeman, spent 10 nights and 9 wonderful days with some of my favorite human beings on this earth, and woke up at the butt crack of dawn this morning (the 18th) to pack up and drive back to Billings for work. Ever since I started visiting Bozeman on weekends roughly 5 years ago, I’ve found it increasingly more difficult to leave each time I go. It doesn’t have as much to do with the company I keep there, so much as it is just the feeling. There’s no gross refineries, you’re completely surrounded by mountains and mountain air, it’s a nicer feeling town, it’s smaller; (granted more densely populated during the school year, which does not bother me at all) and don’t get me wrong…. I do quite enjoy the people I go to see when I’m in Bozeman, but I would still be excited to go every time, even if I didn’t know a soul. There’s a feeling of elation that washes over me as soon as I enter the Bozeman Pass, and it passes just as quickly when I leave. I think it could maybe be the anticipation of what I always know will be a fun-filled and happy weekend, whether it entails drinking games and going out and laughing til I cry, or just vegging out and binge-watching whatever series we’re into at the time and lobbing creative insults at each other. I’ll let him fill you in on our week together.

Will and I have been dating for nearly two months now, and absolutely everything about it just feels right. Every single tacky love song I hear walking around the grocery store or in a restaurant makes me restlessly giddy. I can’t shut up about him. He’s my very best friend, and I still cannot believe we are together. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. I never would have thought this could happen. Ask me one, three, six, eight years ago if I thought I’d end up with him, the answer was no way, he’s just my best friend. And each time I’ve said that, that’s what I’ve meant. Back in high school when there was a sliver of a chance of us dating, that was all I wanted. As soon as I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I decided I’d kill him if we ever dated, and we should just be friends. We’ve always had a very comfortable line of communication; we have always been able to say anything to the other knowing there’s zero judgement. My family loves him, my friends love him, everyone’s reaction to the big news has just been “Oh, Finally! I was wondering when you two would do that.” I cannot imagine my life without him. He is as constant as oxygen and water. Getting to kiss him and all that gushy shit is just cherries on top. Anyway, enough about the stupid boyfriend stuff. Back to ME.

I currently live downtown with a close friend from high school/college. This is the first time I’ve ever lived with someone who isn’t a parent or a boyfriend. It is the best thing for me right now. We have so much fun together, we cook and clean together, we go out with our respective groups of friends, and we’re both the kind of person that isn’t afraid to say “Hey, maybe clean up your shit?”. Our apartment is a perfectly mixed combination of our two styles. It’s comforting to feel at home for the first time in a very, very long time. I’m not tiptoeing around trying to stay out of anyone’s way, this is our spaceour beer fridge, our collection of nail polish on the coffee table carefully obscuring the cover of ESPN magazine’s Body Edition.

This lease will not last forever, in fact it will be up next May, which is far too soon for me to be ready for the next step. The next step is finally, FINALLY moving to Bozeman, which is something I should have done upon graduating high school. As Frank Sinatra says, That’s Life. It struck me last month that I should probably just go to school and do something with my life, lest I let my brain atrophy while handing out 20s to angry retirees. I like my job, and there’s nothing too much wrong with it, aside from the mind-numbing boredom/stress that comes along with doing the same 14 things on auto-pilot all day, with a couple minutes’ worth of crippling panic when/if something goes wrong. I’ve decided I am interested in pursuing a career in Plant Biology, a PhD if I make it that far. I can’t really describe in words why it’s so important to me, but anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been obsessed with anything that grows in the ground. I want to do that for a living. I want to be in a field that I actually really care about. I hope that if I can’t do anything super important with it, I’ll at least be satisfied with myself for not wasting my chance and not trying.

Let’s see, what else? I started running more (again), I only got sunburned twice this summer, I am working on writing/refining a stand-up set that I’m hoping I’ll have the guts to perform in front of strangers only by perhaps this spring, I am teaching myself to establish savings, I am teaching myself to be a more organized and neat person, I am teaching myself to recognize distress and confront it before it manifests in more toxic ways, I am back to reading at least two-three books a month, I am teaching myself to approach cooking as a creative process instead of a mathematical formula, I am attempting to learn Italian (again), and I am telling people who I love that I love them whenever I can.

Maybe one of these posts I’ll get around to talking about the last six years of my life. Maybe I never will. Stay Tuned, Y’all.

Love, Kelci