Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The summer my skin turned to leather and my bank account never had a comma

Whether I'm in Central America, or good ol' Minnesota, turns out I'm chasing the sun everywhere I go. 

I went to my first music festival last weekend. I impulsively bought my ticket and camping pass off of Craiglist just weeks before, I unlike me. 

Eaux Claires. It was both the best and the worst experience, mostly the best. But I could have gone without the extreme heat and massive thunder storm. Camping is fun, they said.

I have a college degree and I am a nanny. I have thousands of dollars in loans, and I have yet to fully commit to applying to "big girl" jobs.

You know that quote, "don't live to work, work to live."? This summer will forever ingrain that quote in my mind. This summer I have chosen to work to live. And I have not stopped living since June 1st. My days on Monday-Thursday are filled with babble amongst kids, rarely holding a sophisticated conversation with another adult between the hours of 8 and 5. Every other second has been filled with wildly awesome times with extraordinary people and poochies. Weekends on the lake, Thursday's in the porch, Monday nights with my sissy. 

The same weekend I bought my ticket to Eaux Claires, I bought a plane ticket to Washington DC to visit Savannah and Caroline (see basically any post from abroad to learn about these cool chicks). My dad, quietly poking me from the sidelines..."I don't mean to be a wet noodle, but how much money do you plan on having in your bank account by the end of the summer?" Two thousand dollars, I 

It is almost August, and while my bank account is draining, I have never felt lighter and more like myself. 

In January, I died my hair red. Since then it has been every color of the rainbow...literally. And I am happy. Since May, I have been off of daily anxiety medication, and I am happy. Since June, I've gotten to kiss the same cute boy over and over, and I am happy. I have always been a big believer on spending money to make memories, this has never not worked out in my favor. I am broke and I am tan, and I am happy happy happy, boppin to the beat of my own drum. 

Beepbeepboopboop over and out,

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A love letter to my dog.

(yes I know it's cliché, and yes I understand that she will never actually be able to read it.)

Last August was the beginning of what I would confidently consider the most challenging year of my life. And last August, this little poochie girl found her way into my heart. 

I adopted Bessie from my grandparents, who had rescued her from a small shelter in Wisconsin 3 years prior. We are unsure of how many homes Bess has called her own, how many litters of puppies she has had (at least 1 or 2), or even her age. 

Shortly after Bess became my partner-in-crime, we came to learn that she needed 15 of her teeth remove due to rot and decay that would otherwise kill unfortunately common occurrence among Dachshunds. However, Bessie's lack of teeth has not stopped her from attempting to eat anything in sight, including, but not reduced to: crumbs, rocks, chocolate, garbage, etc. I thank my grandpa for Bessie's hefty appetite.

What parent in their right mind would let their daughter adopt a tiny dog, and then bring that pup to live in a college house with 5 other girls, her senior year of college? That's right, mine! I am lucky to have parents that have such trust in me. 

About 2 months after my time with Bessinator, I had to say goodbye to my lifelong friend and companion, my kitty Zeke. I sat on my kitchen floor with Zekey in my arms as he went up to kitty cat heaven, Moses following shortly behind him. And all the while, Bess sat not 5 feet away watching over the moment, not too close but not too far. 

Over the next 6 months, life as I knew it felt as though it was crumbling beneath me. Anxiety struck my life like a bomb. Panic and insomnia. All the while, Bess was quietly and calmly at my side. Snuggling into me on nights where I felt sad and alone, and walking along side me on days where I did not feel like getting out of bed. 6 pounds of poochie love held me together. 

To my Bessie girl, thank you for letting me be your mama. For letting me love you and suffocate you with snuggles. Thank you for pooping on the floor right in front of me to let me know that you didn't approve of the boy that I had over...and also making it clear when you have approved...and being a total dude magnet. Thanks for letting me dress you up in weird outfits (I'm really sorry...I never though I would be that kind of dog mom). Thank you for laying awake with me through sleepless nights and the month+ long period in the fort with wine and Parenthood (shoutout to my roommates for allowing the fort & supplying wine). Thank you for doing that crazy little dance every morning to help me get out of bed. And lastly, thank you for following in my footsteps and not caring where you are, as long as I'm close by.

It's ironic to think about everything that can happen in a years time. I'm not even close to near where I thought I would be, but I sure am happier than ever. 

I love you poochie, and am now an official member of the Dachshund cult following because of you. 

Cheers to the next year and another crazy ride around the sun. 
Crazy dog lady out,

Yes Bessie has an Instagram, and yes you should follow her: @Bessiegoes

Friday, April 3, 2015

Breathe in, Breathe out: A year in the making

Hey there party people. It’s been a minute. Poppin’ back in for a little recap on life…

So there’s this pesky little app called Timehop…heard of it? It is the best, and it is the worst. It shows what you were doing exactly a year ago at any given time. A year ago I was dying eggs in a beautiful house in Nicaragua over looking the ocean, with two of god’s greatest blessings in my life (Caro and Sav…miss you though).

A year ago I was craving Minnesota more than I could have ever imagined possible, I was terribly homesick. And one year later, I am terribly homesick for that moment in time with people that took such good care of me.

“Home is not where you live, but where people understand you.”

It is safe to say that the past twelve months of my life have been the craziest yet. There have been quite a few curveballs, most of which I did not anticipate. I struck out a couple times, but I did also manage to hit a few home runs (naturally I make a baseball analogy…did you know I’m a Pettersen?)

A relationship ended in my life that a year ago I thought would last forever. I held my kitty cat and companion since age four in my arms as he left this earth. I was forced to seek medical attention for anxiety that I wish did not exist in my life. I could focus on the negative all I want, pity myself, blah blah blah….
But HELLO! The amount of homeruns that I’ve hit outweighs every single damn strikeout. I adopted the most incredible little creature, Bessie girl, who lights up my life every single day, homerun. I moved into 617 with my best friends, homerun. AJ and Emily moved home and Josh and Kristen had a beautiful baby girl, HOMERUN!!! (I guess I didn’t really hit the last two, but I sure am glad that they did.)
In 5 months I do not know where I will lay my head each night. But I have people across this country that understand me, who love me, and who are rooting for me. There is no one else I would rather have in my line up.

“Turns out not where, but who you're with that really matters.”

Central America, Minneapolis, Minnetonka. And beyond.

The day miss Adelle was born, the most perfect baby in the entire universe (I dare you to question me on that), is when my life took a grand turn. When my niece was born, and I met her for the first time, something in me changed that I could not ignore. I made a major decision that day that stemmed solely from a “gut feeling”. And that was one of the best decisions I could have made, I freed myself from shackles that I did not even know existed at the time, and this tiny little being, without the ability to even hold her own head up, helped me do that.
A year from now, I will think back to the morning of January 8th, when I was holding her tiny little body in my arms for the first time, and I will thank her.

And ten or fifteen years from now, when life’s pains might find her, I will thank her. For coming into this world and helping me realize my worth, and I will make sure she knows how much she is worth. I will tell her that she is a strong independent amazon women who can do whatever the hell she wants in this life, and she has an amazing mom and dad, and aunties, uncles, and grandparents, that will help her get there.

One year. Two years. Ten years. Twenty years. Breathe in, breathe out. Each year will hold new adventures, new failures. Strikeouts, singles, doubles, and home runs. Failing much more than succeeding, with a batting average I am not always proud of. There will be slumps, but thus is life…and I cannot imagine my life any other way.

I am a single 22-year-old woman with a bright, bright future ahead of me. Hear me roar!

Over and out,


Thursday, June 26, 2014


            I never blogged about that final, “I'm baaaaack" post. I never wrote about it, because I’m still trying to understand it. I did not feel like I was ready right when I left Central America
Before I came back to the states, I was overcome by the emotions of going back to my loved ones and sharing all of my experiences, excited to brag about all of the awesome new people in my life and the memories we shared. And I really have not sat down with anyone and shared more than the surface level memories, and I struggled with that for a while. Why doesn’t anyone want to know? Why don’t they care? And of course they don’t care as much as I expect or want them to; they were not there. Just like I will not understand how hard it was for my parents to have their only daughter traveling through third world countries until I have a child of my own.
And on the other hand, I did not want them to know, I did not want to share. I began to believe that once I told my most incredible stories, my times of enlightenment and pure euphoria, those memories would not just be mine anymore, and the person I told them to would not even understand the gravity of what I was sharing….I am hoarding my own memories.
            John Green just wins in all aspects of writing, The Fault in our Stars being his most well known novel, for good reason. But I just started a new one by him, Looking for Alaska. Amazing. Strongly recommend it. This morning I came across a quote that encompasses a lot of how I feel…”but I realized that the Colonel didn’t know, that she never took him to the edge of the woods and told him to dig for buried treasure, that she and I had shared that alone, and I kept it for myself like a keepsake, as if sharing the memory might lead to its dissipation.” Gold. This book is genius. He wins.
            I am so glad that I took about a gazillion pictures over the course of 4 months. Many of which I am also still hoarding. But what I am most glad about is that, for the rest of my life, I will hold these memories that touch many different corners of the globe, and stay rooted in the hearts of my friends. Our keepsakes.
            I have just been feeling sentimental lately, it is hard to believe that it has been over a month since I have been back in the states, and I am dealing with that ache for them, and the confusion that I will never be the same person as I was before I left. This life is one big f*cking labyrinth that I will never get out of, and I am finally okay with that. I always thought there would be this final destination, the finish line. Happiness, contentment. I have spent my last 21 years waiting for the next thing, looking forward, but there is no finish line for happiness; true happiness comes from being discontent about something 100% of the time and being okay with that (learned that one from my wise ol’ pops).
            Being ‘home’ has been hard, and I am beginning to realize that ‘home’ is just a social construct, it is a materialistic landmark, and my real home is who I am with. I was just as much at home in Mira Flor, Nicaragua, as I am in Minnetonka, Minnesota, because of the people I am surrounded by. My parents just put the house I have spent my entire life growing up in on the market, and naturally when I tell people the first thing they ask is, “Are you sad?” Which of course I am sad, I have countless memories of this place…but I have begun to look back, and I don’t have a single memory that does not include another sibling, parent, friend, cat, dog, rat, frog, etc. (bless my parents hearts for putting up with my love for strange creatures).
            So it will be sad to leave, just like it was sad to leave Central America, but I will make just as many memories in their next house, just like I will make new memories in my first house, and my next destination. A house is where you settle for a while, but a home always depends on the people you surround yourself with. Just like I said in one of my first posts, when I was living in Guatemala, home is where the heart is. So as I continue on in my labyrinth, and make my way into other people’s labyrinth’s, I will be forever ‘readjusting’ and ‘reentering’ into life.
I follow this amazing photographer, and her new tagline is: beginning of anything. Through the transitions of life, it is always just the beginning, the beginning of everything and anything.

“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.”


Sunday, May 11, 2014

And then life happened

105 days have past since I left the states. Before this trip, the longest amount of time I spent away from my home was never more than 3 weeks. 21 days. 15 weeks later, I am almost down to just a handful of fingers until I get to see my family.
My dad; Your patience and kindness with me throughout this journey, not only the time I've been away, but the preparations leading up to it, means the world to me. And your occasional selfies light me up. Who ever thought the day would come where Paul P would know how to take a selfie...I love you dad.
My mama, coolest fricken lady there is. You got on an airplane 62 days ago to another country all by yourself to see me. You are braver than you give yourself credit. You are curious, you are selfless, you are the most incredible woman I have ever known. I can't wait to see you!
My siblings. Josh, Kristen, AJ, Emily, and Luke. You have been one text, one phone call, one FaceTime away over the past 4 months, sending me your love and encouragement at the times that I have needed it the most. I am so proud of each of you, accomplishing your dreams every day. I can't wait to be on that big sectional snuggled up with you guys so soon.
"You can never love somebody as much as you can miss them."

105 days have passed since I landed myself in the Miami airport. About to embark on a journey with 9 strangers. 9 people who I had never met, but was about to go on the biggest journey I have yet to embark on in this life. A life changing whirl wind of 4 months. 
And while I did not choose the people I have been with, I couldn't imagine this trip without a single one of them. Caroline, John, Michael, Savannah, Heather, Jenna, Dima, Emma, and Ruthie. 10 strong personalities, and we coexist seamlessly. We share all of our food, we spend every single day together, we are a family. Ruthie, holding us all together, making sure we are all safe and healthy, our mama. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have made it through Guatemala without this incredible woman by my side.
The places we have gone, the stories we have heard, and the things we have seen have changed my life forever; but the compassion, knowledge and presence of my 9 travel companions have made just as big of an impact on who I am today and who I wasn't just one semester ago.
"As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination."

When I left Minnesota 105 days ago, I was sad. Leaving Michael, my family, my home. But I always knew I would be back. In 7 days I will be back in my house in Minnetonka, laying on my couch with my Zekey. In 7 days, I will be back where I started. And then the countdown ends. There is not another countdown for when I will be back with the 9 people who I have grown so close with. And that is so frightening. We have been existing in the same space for 105 days, having experiences of all degrees, and I don't know the amount of days until we will all be existing in the same space again. I know I'm jumping the gun on this one, because we still have a week left, but I'm just really going to miss you guys. Thank you for putting up with me this semester! 
I'm so grateful for our time together, whether it be through hours and hours of active listening, digesting our thoughts, sharing our stories, drinking on a soccer field, or having a rave in a tiny air-condioned room. The memories are endless, and I will never forget them.
"The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with those who matter to you." 

I left for this journey thinking I'd go home having figured myself out. Really have it all together. Go home and know what I need to do next, but I am going home more confused than I was when I left. I have learned so much, but still know so little. I can't wait to keep learning, expanding my heart and knowledge as big as it will stretch. I know I will never understand a lot of things, and that's okay. That's part of life. But I will never stop listening and growing.

"We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick for the places we have never known."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rain, rain, never go away

Some of my favorite moments have happened during rain. 

Splashing in the muddy puddles in my water boots at Bennett Park. My mom and dad not only okay with me starting my day in clean clothes, and ending my day looking like I rolled in a pile of mud (which I probably did), but they encouraged it. Shout out to my them for killing it at the whole parenting thing. 

Or running around my wet backyard with my fellow neighborhoodlums. Creating slip and slides with our bare bodies and the soaked grass, taking the tops of garbage bins and surfing down the flooding creek. Splash ball instantly become an unreasonably unfair sport once water started falling from the sky. 

Fast forward quite a while, to about a year ago, to the first time I realized how head over heels in love I was quickly becoming. After a long day at work, Michael and I went out to dinner at MOA (always a mistake), both of us crabby and not being very nice to one another. We got back to his place and he made the decision to bundle me up in warm clothes and force me out into the rain with him, I agreed, but not without a fight. We laid next to a big tree at Augsburg that night and let the water drip down on our faces for what felt like hours. Michael holding my hand and not saying a word. Bliss. 

Rain is so magical, and I have realized over the past three months how often I have taken it for granted...not seeing or feeling any substantial rain since I got to Central America. My latest complain has been about just that. 

And last night Savannah woke me up to the sound of water falling from the sky. We were all elated! We stood outside on our hotel balcony and listened to it sprinkle, quenching the dry, dry soil and cleansing the baron streets. It was so lovely. 

It's funny. A month from now I am sure I will be complaining again about the rain, and the unpleasant gloom that tends to accompany it, making us feel lazy and tired. I will cry out for sunshine. While my time here, I have had nothing but sunshine and have been crying out for rain. It's such an ugly habit of mine. 

Anyways... The past week rocked. We spent two nights in Esteli, and two nights in a rural area about an hour outside of Esteli, MiraFlor. No cell service, no running water, very little electricity. It was awesome. We rode horses, watched the sunset on top of a huge hill over looking what seemed like all of Nica, and tasted coffee that the women's cooperative of the small campo organically grows, picks, and produces. Besides the fact that I got fleas (which I still don't understand really) for the third time, I loved it there. 

I'm having such trouble living in the moment each day lately, anxiously awaiting the moment I jet set back to Sota, also leaving behind my crew here. But that's a whole other situation I with delve into at a later date. My big brother and his wife, my sissy, nailed it on their blog posts this week, yet again filling me up with their wise words and reminders that I always need. So here's my shameless plug:
Twins Daily AJ's rockin' new post
Freckles and Fastballs Emily's exquisite blog

While there are so few days left til I am back home, that means that there are very few days left for me to soak up this beautiful country. And I will try my hardest to do just that! 

In the wise words of Luke Bryan, "rain is a good thang"

Monday, April 21, 2014


Spring break was nothing short of perfection. We picked up Savannah and Caroline's crews from the airport on Sunday afternoon and went on our way to San Juan Del Sur. A beautiful quaint beach town. We stayed in two beautiful homes on the top of a very very steep hill (like soooo steep), about 10 minutes from the beach. I am forever grateful for Dani, Craig, and Colleen for taking me under their wings for a week. It was so wonderful to have some family time, even if they weren't technically my own. It is always fun to finally meet the family of my closest friends, it makes everything make sense. Caro and Sav are definitely their parents daughters, in the best way.

We spent one day at a small beach, Playa Hermosa, surfing! While Savannah and I have many skills, "the sport" is not usually one of them, but we weren't bad at surfing! All the other kids were naturals as well. It was a blast.

We spent another day in Granada and boating around lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America and the only fresh water lake in the world with sharks. Eeeeek.

The rest of the days we spent wandering the little town, swimming in the infinity pool that overlooked the ocean, and eating meals in hammocks. It was the worst. 

I finally got to drink coconut milk out of a coconut! It was disgusting, but I loved every second of it. 

I got sunburnt. 

Flor de Caña made many appearances throughout the week. Colleen won with the best mix, tasting similar to what you would expect fingernails to taste like. Delicious. 

People travel from all over to Central America to San Juan Del Sur during Holy Week to party. You go Jesus! It was pure craziness. The nights I didn't go out, I spent falling asleep to the base shaking the earth below me...or were those temblores? 

It was just such a good fricken week. We dyed eggs, we played, we danced, we swam, we laughed a lot, and maybe cried just a little bit (oops.) I'm sad it's over, it went way too fast. I owe tremendous thanks to all of the people who let me tag along for the ride.

Emma jetsetted back to Minnesota for a week, John and Heather spent several days on the Caribbean coast getting their scuba diving certificates, And Jenna and Dima wandered around Ometepe, an island on lake Nicaragua, staying at different farms and hostels. Our lives aren't real, we know. Jenna fell in love, naturally. I will continue to live vicariously through her beautiful life. 

Here comes the plot twist...our parents received an email on Thursday morning letting them know that Managua was still on red alert. And in fact, Sunday and Monday night many people spent the night sleeping in parks because the trembles (or earthquakes) were pretty severe. Soooo what that means is that as long as there is a red alert in Managua, we will not be. 

We got back Sunday afternoon to our host families and were forced to pack up all of our belongings and take a taxi back to the CGE house. Now we are in Esteli, a town about 3 hours outside of the city. The transience keeps getting more and more real. I actually don't know where I will be tomorrow....wikka if I wasn't already outside of my comfort zone, good one universe. 

The plan is to spend the next 4 days in Esteli. 2 nights in the town, and two in the campo. No electricity. No cell service. Naturally the two days without cell service also falls on the day of Michael's birthday. How convenient. 

Oh and while Michael is turning 22 in a few short days, he was also just offered his first big boy job!! What an adult. I'm so proud of you bub. 

We have been told that Esteli is cooler than Managua, it might even get to the low 70's! When it gets to the 70's in Minnesota I hop in my bikini, and when I heard it could get to 70 degrees here I packed pants and a light coat. Who have I become? 

On Friday we will either go back to Managua, if the red alert is up, or Corazo, a town about 40 minutes outside of Managua and also outside of the red zone. Have I mentioned that Managua is literally on top of a fault line? Also convenient.

If at any time there is another massive earthquake in Nicaragua, rating around 5 or higher on the Richter scale I will be soaring back home to the states. Oofta. Minnesota I love you, but I just don't know if I'm ready yet. I have a little bit more of myself to get in order first. 

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." -Alan Aida