Oh, Linda.

Josie Davis

Hiking through the rainforest can be a magical thing. The lush greenery all around, the far off sounds of birds you’ve only ever seen in a zoo chatting with one another, the light rain on your face, and the deep smell of mossy rocks. What’s not so magical is getting stuck in a downpour under a lean-to with a woman named Linda who insists on calling everyone she’s ever met and loudly talking to them about how her arthritis is putting a bit of a damper on her dating life.

I don’t mind rain. For a few minutes me and Frank stood together under the lean-to watching the rain fall with only the steady beat of drops falling around us. I love the sound of rain. Probably because I’m a fairly privileged white girl who’s only really bad experiences with rain were when a it put a bit of a damper on our family’s day at Epcot and I had to buy children’s large sweatpants because my jeans got soaked through (Seriously though, why does it always rain on Epcot day?). I mostly find rain storms charming and even calming, and was perfectly happy to stand with my husbands arms wrapped around me, watching the rain until it slowed. And then, Linda came.

I was standing on the edge of the lean-to looking down the hill when a middle aged woman came towards me waving frantically and yelling “I found you!”. I instantly attempted to hide behind Frank, which doesn’t work so well since I am a nearly 6 foot tall tree of a gal. The woman quickly realized that me and my husband were not the date that she had lost on the mountain, but decided it was best to hang out with us under the shelter anyway. I did what I always do in awkward social situations, and promptly pretended I’m deaf and mute and have no way of communicating with other humans, so I might as well just face the opposite direction and watch the rain some more and hope you don’t insist on talking to me.

Linda was not hindered by us not buddying up to her though. Even though we were thousands of feet up the side of a mountain she somehow had the teeny tiniest bit of reception on her cell phone which made it possible for her to voice to text, leave rambling voicemails, and call everyone she’s ever met. We heard all about her date that presumably had abandoned her and left her for dead in a Puerto Rican rainforest. We head about how she was aggressively trying to get a coworker to spend more time with her, despite this woman spurring her advances (her words, by the way), and we heard her lament about how tough dating is when you have arthritis in your hands…

It was awkward to say the least. After five minutes that felt more like an hour we decided to venture into the pouring rain and hike as swiftly as we could down the mountain in fear that Linda might catch up to us and we would be forced to listen to make more phone calls and dictate text messages. I couldn’t help but think how incredible it is that you would hike through the rainforest and still be unable to put your phone down and enjoy what’s around you. But if I’m totally honest with myself, I do that too. Sure, I don’t make phone calls unless absolutely necessary (why can’t doctors just text you anyway), and I certainly am not going to voice to text in public when my hands are perfectly free (I mean, common guys, why even bother texting at that point), but I’m sure way more often than I realize I’m standing somewhere amazing and beautiful and am too busy scrolling through instagram to even notice.

I am not someone who thinks technology is evil, quite the opposite in fact. I have no desire to get rid of my iPhone or live in some remote cabin without internet. I think all of that stuff is awesome actually. I believe instagram has truly pushed me creatively. I love that I can check out an ebook or audiobook from my library and read it right on my phone. Heck, without the internet and AIM I wouldn’t have had half my boyfriends. The question is, am I able to disconnect when real life calls? Am I able to put down my phone and enjoy the sound of rain in the actually rainforest when it’s right there in front of me? I really hope so, but maybe Linda was there to remind me to pay attention and not miss out on what’s happening. So, thanks Linda, I really will try to be more present this year, and also will try my best to avoid arthritis by whatever means necessary.

Big Dreams

Josie Davis

I’m a realist. Actually, I’m more of a pessimist with an annoying penchant for pointing out any and all tiny little problems that might potentially happen along the way, no matter how unlikely they may be. All this to say that I’m not much of a daydreamer. My brain tends to shoot down lofty dreams pretty quickly. Of course, it’s a lot of fear too. Fear is the jerk who likes to whisper in your ear and tell you it’s totally not worth dreaming because it’ll never be anyway. I’ve never spent time thinking about what my dream house, or dream car, or even just dream pair of shoes would be (are dream shoes a thing? I’m so bad at dreaming stuff I truly don’t know what people dream about).

I’m trying to change that though, and I’m trying to learn to dream big. A few years ago I sat down with my husband and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my career. At that point I had really no experience in the job market besides retail, and some very painful years in college waitressing (sorry to all of you who had to put up with one of the most awkward and clumsy waitresses while attempting to enjoy some Mexican food). I remember Frank asking me what my dream job would be, and after a lot of thinking, I told him it would be to style homewares for Terrain, my favorite brand. At the time it seemed like this crazy insurmountable goal. Their parent company UBRN is notoriously hard to get into, and talent teams are basically buried alive on a daily basis with resumes of creatives trying to get positions at the Home Office. But I got scrappy. I did whatever I could, and well, to make a long story short, here I am. In the exact job I had seemingly no real right to even hope for.

Looking back it seems like a small dream, even though it felt huge at the time. I recently started seeing a therapist again, and when I talked to her about my career she told me a little more than sarcastically “well, I guess you should have dreamed bigger then, huh?” Ouch. Nothing like having a mental health professional roll their eyes at you and tell you you’re thinking too small, but I supposed that’s also what I’m paying her for, and seriously, she was totally right.

As a little exercise I decided to think of my dream house. I’d never really thought of that before. I had thought about houses that I liked for sure, but a dream house, like a legit, wildest dreams house had never been something I had spent even a minute considering. It was actually really hard to put myself out of my pessimistic box and out into the open of dreamland. At first I thought “Well, I’d like to be near the beach” and then I had to remind myself “DREAM house” and said “okay, okay, ON the beach”. Even giving myself permission to think of a dream house that’s on the beach felt like I was really stretching myself.

I truly believe you don’t luck into things. If I’ve learned anything from Micheal Scott (and apparently this Wayne Gretzky fellow) “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I also think you miss 100% of the dreams you didn’t bother dreaming. Obviously there’s a lot of hard work behind getting to those things, but I’ve found that hard work is the easier part for me. I’ll gladly put my nose to the ground and bend over backwards to reach my goals, but sometimes you gotta dream big.

324.9

Josie Davis

Three Hundred and twenty four point nine.

That’s how many miles I ran in 2018.

Maybe that seems like a small number to some of you ultra running mega marathon super people, but if you had told me I would run that many miles five years ago I would have straight up laughed in your face. I wish I could say not being able to run to the end of the block was a exaggeration, but it’s not, it even be generous. Running across the yard would leave me winded and clutching a stitch at my side.

I was out for a “hike” with my husband one afternoon. I say “hike” because it was just a walk through the woods, barely even a hill to pose a threat. But I couldn’t do it. I think we had only been walking about 15 minutes and I had to sit down and rest, and I remember sitting there and thinking “is this what I want the rest of my life to be like?” sitting around, unable to keep up. Do I want to be on vacation in some amazing place and need to take constant breaks because simple walking is too much for me? I wasn’t overweight by any means, but I huffed and puffed like I was carrying an extra person with me wherever I went. But I decided that day I didn’t want to be that person anymore.

So I decided to run.

And I was horrible at it.

Not just like regular bad, but like truly and terrifically terrible at it. Forget running a mile, I couldn’t even make it a full block before I would have to slow down to a walk. But I stuck to it a few times a week. Running as much as I could, then slowing to a walk, then running again, then walking again. I just kept pushing myself as far as I could each time. I don’t remember exactly how long it took me - several months at least, but I remember the day I finally ran a half mile without stopping. I pretty much felt like a superhero. Albeit a superhero who could barely breathe, but hell, I did it.

Ever so slowly I got farther and farther, and finally found myself being able to run one, two, three miles at a time. I did my first 5k in a sleet storm and finished soaked from head to toe, but happy. I was a runner. Sure, I wasn’t running marathons (and actually don’t plan to, in case you’re wondering), but I was running. Something I really never thought I could do.

Running isn’t just putting one foot in front of the other to me, it’s a dare. Whenever my brain tries to tell me I can’t do something, the runner in me says “I bet you can”. It might be a long a painful journey, just like running has been, but I know know that I can get to the other side. I might be sweaty and gasping for breath, but I know now that I can.