Photos from Paris: An Introduction; Places

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over six months (!!) since I went to Paris. The trip was a study abroad opportunity through my graduate school program. Together with 20 DePaul grad and undergrad students, I visited five different companies and learned about luxury marketing at the heart of this lavish city. After my week of studying abroad, Sam flew over to Paris and we spent another four or five days together.

Not gonna lie, folks: Paris wasn’t perfect. Sam and I were in a tough spot in our marriage. We tried hard to be normal while on this trip and, in the process, realized how drastically wrong everything felt between us. This trip was the peak of a volatile time in our relationship that lasted for months.

Continue reading “Photos from Paris: An Introduction; Places”

Confessions

DSC_0380

A friend of mine who saw one of my recent posts on social media reached out and asked if I was feeling better. He knew that I’ve been going through a tough time, and wondered if my recent upbeat post was an indication that things were looking up in my life.

“I thought it was universally acknowledged that people only show their best selves on social media,” I replied.

In that very moment, standing in my kitchen waiting for my tea kettle to boil, I despised the kind of person that I’ve become.

It’s unclear how long I’ve been slipping into this person. Maybe it’s been my whole life, the way everyone conforms a part of themselves to societal standards. Or maybe it’s been the last few years, navigating through the world post-college. While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, I think it’s happened slowly over the last 10 months. I’ve navigated a lot of difficult territory in the last 10 months, but I’ve not been very open or candid about that journey.

I don’t know how else to say this: I’ve felt very lost lately. It could be just your standard quarter-life crisis, but it doesn’t stop it from feeling real to me. It’s felt very, very real. Over the past few months, I’ve had some pretty monumental breakdowns. During that time, I’ve made an effort to dig deep, investigate the scary spaces in my heart, and ask myself hard questions. The result is that I’m lead further and further down into a space that I don’t often go:

Continue reading “Confessions”

Truth and Consequences in Portugal

Truth and Consequences in Portugal - Mo Stych Blog

A few weeks back, I entered the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship contest.

Even though I wasn’t one of the three winners selected from 8,000+ entries, I’m still happy I entered the contest. Of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take a free trip to the Balkans (because DUH), but more importantly, I’ve never entered a writing contest like this before. It was a great challenge for me, as it required me to hone my travel story into 2,500 carefully selected words. Plus, I researched the Balkans region a lot before submitting my entry and this part of the world is now high on my list of places to visit someday.

Since I’ve not had the chance to blog in a while, I wanted to share my entry here. You can also find it on the World Nomads site (and read some other submissions, too). I hope you enjoy it! (Note: the photos were not part of the submission, but I like them.)

—————-

We’re standing on (what feels like) the hundredth hairpin curve, halfway to the Pena National Palace in Sintra, and my husband is ignoring me. Gasping for air, sweat soaking through our shirts, the tension between us is as palpable as the sweltering humidity. The shade from the tall trees does little to cool our overheated bodies and tempers. As we silently fume, another air-conditioned bus filled with happy tourists drones past us towards the apex.

Continue reading “Truth and Consequences in Portugal”

Makin’ Waves: Big Changes

makin-waves-big-changes-in-our-lives

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (i.e. my dad, my grandma), you’ve likely noticed it’s been a while since I last posted. To be exact, it’s been over a month since I wrote on this blog. I’m not sure if I can even consider this a blog when that much time passes between posts.

While I don’t want to apologize for my lack of writing or come up with a bunch of excuses for my absence, I do want to fill everyone in on some updates in our lives. Maybe I needed a full month to fully process everything I’m about to share or maybe I just didn’t prioritize the time to write these past 30 days. It’s tough to say.

What’s important is that I’m ready to share some things now. Are you ready?

Here are the big changes in our lives:

Continue reading “Makin’ Waves: Big Changes”

Quiet Thoughts on a Loud Election

quiet-thoughts-on-a-loud-election-2016

Yesterday, I proudly voted for a criminal. Voting for a criminal meant supporting a leader who values the lives of all people regardless of race, heritage, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or class. It meant supporting a leader who recognized the severity of climate change and its certain destruction to our planet. It meant supporting a leader who values equality for all: women and men, gay and straight, rich and poor, of every different skin tone.

Last night, I watched election results come in with a group of new friends who shared my values—the values of a criminal—and felt my stomach sink lower and lower with each state called. We stress-ate Oreos and brie and Chicago Mix popcorn, sloshing everything down with patriotic Jell-o shots and hard liquor. What other choice did we have? I did my part to avoid a national crisis, but with each passing moment an unthinkable tragedy settled in around us. I turned to the only coping mechanisms available.

This morning, I drifted awake from a dream where I was in the women’s suffrage scene from Mary Poppins: clearly a dream given the unfolding of events from the night prior. I felt emotionally hungover, trying to “cast off the shackles of yesterday.” But it felt like the shackles had found their way back onto my wrists and ankles after nearly a decade’s work of freeing them. Back to square one. Back to fighting the fight all over again. I kissed my husband goodbye, grateful to have someone in my life who shares my fears and fights my fights.

Continue reading “Quiet Thoughts on a Loud Election”

Why I Run: Part 3

why-i-run-part-3-mo-stych-blog

If you’ve read part 1 and part 2 of my running story, you’re probably curious about why I’m still running. I never felt naturally inclined to run as a child, and there isn’t enough ballistic emotional shit still going on in my life to carry forth the trend that motivated me to run in college.

When I first started, my goal was to run X number of miles and finish. I ran another marathon after my first marathon and it sucked. My body and mind were exhausted, and I wasn’t ready to commit to another training cycle…but I did it anyway. It was slower than my first race, and I felt more miserable for a greater portion of the race than my first marathon. I swore off running another marathon when I finished.

By this time, I’d met my to-be-husband and got him hooked on running, too. He’s been a lifelong athlete (baseball, football, basketball) and went on weekly jogs, but he didn’t take running seriously as a stand-alone sport. Just like when I started, running was a means of getting better at some other sport.

Together, we ran around our hometown, college campuses, and so many places in-between. I’m happy to report we’re still running together now. We make a good pair: on days that I struggle getting out the door, Sam pushes me to go faster than I’d go on my own. I’m a morning person and often convince him to get up and run with me at the crack of dawn (or earlier).

img_0061

Continue reading “Why I Run: Part 3”

Why I Run: Part 2

Why I Run: Part 2 - Mo Stych // mostych.comSince I’m not a natural runner, it should come as a surprise that I wasn’t fast when I first started running. And I lacked endurance. And I didn’t really know what to do to improve either of those things.

It didn’t stop me from running, though. I slogged through laps around the track outside Couzens Hall a few times a week, running a mile (or maybe two if I felt ambitious). As winter set in, I found myself enjoying my running routine and going a little bit farther each time. Instead of one or two miles, I ran two or three, or sometimes five miles.

My mom, seeing my interest in running, proposed that we both take on a race together. I agreed it would be a (potentially) good idea. We don’t do a lot of things together, just my mom and I, so maybe this could be something we shared. Feeling empowered by our consistent mileage and perhaps a little too ambitious, we signed up to run a half marathon on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. It was two or three times further than any distance I’d ever run. I was terrified to race, but also invigorated by the challenge.

Thankfully, the track path stayed plowed during the winter months, so I kept running. On days when it was too cold or snowy, I moved to the indoor track at the gym and ran there. I felt physically better than I had at any other point in my life. Nothing made me feel as joyful and bubbly and ready to take on the world as running did.

Running did so many other things for me, too. I took chances during my sophomore year of college that I wasn’t brave enough to do my freshman year. Longing for a news room, I joined the Michigan Daily and was elected Co-Managing Design Editor after only a semester on staff. I also ran for a position on the executive board of the Arts Chorale choir. I was voted in as Secretary (and held onto my position through senior year). I also finally decided on a major, which was stressful until I realized I loved learning about art more than anything else. I tried dating some guys during my sophomore year, but all I really got out of that experience was some awkward date stories. Despite being successful in some ways and unsuccessful in other ways, it didn’t matter. The important thing was taking risks and trying new things, and my running dedication fueled these actions.

Continue reading “Why I Run: Part 2”