The Lonely Princess.

One glass of Merlot, Henry Mancini’s The Lonely Princess, and an emotional flip through old photo albums was all it took for me to know exactly what to write about.

It’s Friday night, and once again, this princess is alone.

The pattern isn’t unfamiliar, and though I’m comfortable in its familiar pages, I’m also becoming desperate for a change.

In the pages before me, a smiling and confident younger me looks at the camera with such contagious and pure joy that it ironically brings tears to the my eyes.

The princess who’s crying (hello, it’s me), merely a few years older than the girl looking back at me from behind plastic covers, is looking for something.

I’m on a hunt, a hunt that I’m hoping will bring clarity and lead to the discovery of where and when it went wrong.

Because all those years ago, that younger girl in the photos was smiling in a brighter place than I felt like I was currently in.

Perusing through photo albums and old journal entries, the kind of entries noticeably marked by tear stained pages and runny ink, I’m trying to put together the pieces and find the moment when the world went from bright eyed to teary eyed.

In particular, when I became disconnected with the girl I used to be.

See, once upon a time, I used to be this incredibly confident woman who held the world at my fingertips. What came with this confidence was this feeling of power and peace with who I was, and like Barbie, I believed I could do and be anything.

Like most people, I blindly followed the path from living at home to living with roommates, whilst checking off the high school, college, and even the study abroad accomplishments I was taught at a young age to follow. It was during those years that I felt the most sure of myself, the most confident, and I trusted who I was and where my path was taking me.

I was a part of this rich fulfilling girl gang, surrounded by like minded people, and I was this curious sponge soaking in all I could about the industry in which I was so passionate about.

When that last box was checked, I was left, not with an offer at my dream job (which, in my eyes, meant being my own boss), but a gigantic question mark. The kind that I’d been forewarned about as graduation drew near, the now what are you going to do with your life? question.

But I didn’t fret. I trusted myself and my talents and believed that I could still do what I had set out to do all those years: write, and someday edit my own magazine.

There was one flaw in the plan though: I didn’t know where to start. And instead of trying to problem solve and figure it out, I locked myself in a tower of self-pity.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find me hunting through past memories, trying to find the one key piece I think I lost when I locked the door to my tower:


The princess crying with her hefty glass of Merlot has lost belief in herself.

I’ve lost my trust, confidence, and faith in who I am and all my unique qualities that I’d embraced and celebrated for so long and am left feeling incredibly alone. 

Somewhere on the path of being lost, I became disconnected with myself. Where once I felt physically inflated with joy because I was so aligned with who I was, I now feel detached and incomplete. My days are lonely not because I don’t have romance or a close group of friends, but because I’m no longer comfortable in my own company.

What bothers me the most is that I know what it feels like to be so connected and in tune with myself, so it frustrates me to no end to feel so far away from something I used to feel energized by before. I’m struggling to figure out how I lost hold of that power within and I’m trying to rekindle that relationship I used to have with myself.

It was an honest and tough conversation between me and my closest friend that resulted in a verbal affirmation that it wasn’t the world that didn’t believe in me, it was that I didn’t believe in myself. And ever since then, I’ve been determined as hell to reconnect with that girl in the photographs from so many years ago.

This princess is lost, plain and simple. I’ve wandered so far away from my true self, listening to the naysayers and the societal messages telling me I should follow this prescribed plan, that when the time came for me to face the future, I was lost without some form of laid out path. I was never taught the tools on how to get there, I was just told to get there.

But HOW?

This world obsesses about the end outcomes, foregoing the most important part of getting there: the journey. And I’m finding that in this rather tumultuous journey, the low points are often the periods of the most growth.

I’m close to finding what I’m looking for because already, I’ve accepted that I am, in fact, lost. And being lost shouldn’t be considered a bad thing, it simply means I’m on my way, maybe just off track a little.

Think about all the great fairy tales with the princesses and the happy ever afters. Not one of those stories was ever told with a story line in which everything went right and according to plan. In every one, there were disasters and hurdles to overcome, because what kind of story would it be without them? Whether it be evil witches, cruel godmothers, conniving villains, or literal Hades from Hell, every fairy tale had to suffer some form of hindrance This usually results in conflict resolution, a lesson learned, and that happy ending we all know so well.

In my fairy tale, being lost is is currently my obstacle. And the brilliant thing about knowing and accepting that fact is that it’s all part of my story. Per Maxie McCoy in You’re Not Lost, “…feeling lost is a wildly wonderful thing. These crap feelings are about your process of achieving clarity. Breaking points break you open. They lead you to the light. If you never face these feelings, you’ll never have the option to rebuild a path you’re fully pumped about.”

I never found what I was looking for in my photo albums and journal entries because I knew all along that what I’ve been looking for has always been within me. My self-confidence was buried, hidden, tragically shoved so far down when I let those toxic thoughts in, but it never left me. Sometimes though, it takes some outside affirmation from a friend and a painful trip down memory lane to reinforce what my heart has been trying to whisper to me all these years. The princess in this story is slowly learning to trust herself again and believe in all that she is, regardless of what the world has told her otherwise.

I’m slowly getting back in touch with myself, with this girl I used to be. It’s about time I learned to look around and honor where I am instead of comparing my life to the happy one I had in college, or fantasize about the big future up ahead. Life isn’t happening back there or up ahead, it’s happening now.

So if it’s happening now, why wouldn’t I make the most of my current situation, regardless of being lost, and embrace where I’m at, wearing a bitchin’ outfit while I do it?

You know what’s unique about this fairy tale ending?

The princess won’t have the knight in shining armor, the fairy godmother, the enthusiastic army, or her brave ally coming to rescue her from the tower she locked herself in.

In this story, the princess ends up saving herself.



A big thank you to Joshua Valdestra for the photos!  

Cabin Fever.

It’s been awhile since I had a good laugh, and the other morning, I got one.

I was talking to a lower 48er, complaining about cabin fever and its dreadful effects and this is how he responds:

You live in a cabin?

After the initial feeling of being completely and utterly dumbfounded, I then gave a chuckle because it was such a naive response, but honestly so fitting to someone who’s never experienced Alaska’s cold, dark, and looooooong winters.

Ask any Alaskan what makes a true Alaskan and aside from the obvious they gotta love the great outdoors they might also tell you that surviving a winter up north means you’re well on your way.

Doesn’t sound terribly difficult, right? So what is it about winters up here that set such a high bar to establish being a true Alaskan resident?

To start, they’re not for the faint of heart.

From October to March, we endure five months of cold and dark.

Coming off the highs of summer, our 18hrs of sunlight a day drop drastically down to 5hrs of daylight a day. The bustling river so affluent with fishermen typically freezes up, our influx of tourists scatter to warmer weather down south, and we remaining Alaskans bundle up and prepare for the many long months ahead.

Sure, there’s skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and walking, but for those of us not entirely comfortable with freezing our limbs off, there remains a lot of Alaskans who coop up indoors.

Though I live in a more moderate climate off the coast of southcentral Alaska, I’m starting to feel what many Alaskans dub “cabin fever.”

Cabin fever is a noun described as having irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

What’s interesting is that in all of my years in Alaska, I’ve never felt the symptoms of cabin fever. Sure, I’ve read about it, coupled with statistics for depression, suicide, and rises in domestic violence, but I never understood what it means to get cabin fever.

Things like school, dance, vacations, and work always kept me occupied and it wasn’t until this year that I felt what can be a serious problem in the dark winter months.

After the hustle of the holidays, the pace of life slowed down for me, as if does for many Alaskans. Since about mid January, I noticed myself retreating into hard core hibernation mode, body preparing for the long winter (which essentially brought on a craving for fats and sweets).

See, after Christmas, I was hit with this sudden drop of inertia. Bouts of loneliness crept in, I became consumed with periods of self-doubt and low self-esteem, and the itch to get out of Alaska clawed its way to the forefront of all of my thoughts. It was like a weighted blanket draped itself over my body and kept me laden with heaviness.

Cooped up indoors, my tan skin faded, my thoughts turned dour, my social life seemed like too much of a chore, and I wracked my brain trying to figure out where all of these maddeningly depressing thoughts were coming from and how to stop them.

And then it hit me.

With all of this ample time that would normally be spent outdoors and in the sun, I found myself doing a lot of staying inside and letting my mind wander.

This can be good, sparking creativity and inspiring me to focus on things I would otherwise put off in the busy summer months, or it can be bad. Like the winter sun, I find myself retreating indoors and therefore, into myself, so far into myself that there’s no longer light. 

And the latter is definitely happening.

Despite being a victim of cabin fever (as evidenced by my heightened sensitivity, ever present loneliness, sliding into comparative mode whenever I log onto social media, grumpiness at my stagnancy and inability to do anything about it, my exhaustion and weakness, and my deeply rooted heartache that’s chained its way throughout my body), I’ve already started the process of healing from it, simply by admitting that I do, in fact, have cabin fever.

I know its cheesy and ever so cliche to say that the first step to fix a problem is to acknowledge it’s there; but in all honesty, coming face to face with whatever’s plaguing me and simply greeting it point blank really does make my situation real; and therefore, fixable.

Instead of denying that I had any problems, I decided to look into the probable causes of my sudden drop in mood.

I found myself reading on a casual weekday and in my new book, You’re Not Lost by Maxie McCoy, I found an excerpt that resonated deep within me.

It was in a section called “sit in my shit” (how could I not continue reading) and the author talked about sitting down and feeling what was going on. That instead of asking how to fix the problem, we should be asking why we’re feeling it in the first place.

Essentially, once we know the root of our problem, we find the confidence to do what we need to do because we have an awareness of what we’re feeling.

Problem? Solution.

Pretty simple change in perspective, but it made a hell of an impression on me.  

So I asked myself some questions: 

Why do I feel weak? Why am I insecure? Why am I lonely?  

I knew cabin fever was to blame, but I didn’t know what the next step should be.

So I decided to broach the topic with some of the experts. Who knows cabin fever better than my fellow Alaskans?

What I found out was that I was not alone. Not only am I not alone, but there a lot of Alaskans out there willing to give advice as to how to cope and celebrate her long winters instead of fall prey to her weighted blanket of darkness. 

Vitamin D supplements and happy lights were common responses, but the strongest and most popular solution that came up in conversation was to simply spend more time outdoors. 

I know.  

It’s cold. And it’s dark. But we’re so short on sunshine during the winter that it is vital to our health and our happiness to spend more hours outdoors, and not just on brief runs from car to building to back again (like I’m so guilty of).

There’s no stopping Alaska from taking her long winter naps, which means that I have to learn to acclimatize to her dark days. It’s been an eye opening experience for me to finally understand why these winters here can have such a bad rep, but it also makes me feel like I’m I’m proving my Alaskan residency by surviving and working to overcome the dark times.

And part of overcoming the dark times is finding joy in the little things.

Like a lower 48er asking if I lived in a cabin.