December 30, 2019

o h 2 0 1 9

the words for this post have been mulling around in my head for a few weeks now.
i couldn't decide on the tone. happy? sad? like? how can you just determine what a year was by a tone? there's so much that goes into a year. that's a lot of days to sum up under one tone, and i don't think either happy or sad would sum it up. i don't think any one word would sum it up.
like. honestly.

2019 wasn't a shit show. 2019 also wasn't a great year. it was neither and both at the same time. i'm not going to shout out my successes without also shouting out my failures, because that wouldn't be fair or right.

oh boy, 2019. you were. a lot. really, a lot.
on one hand, my business was so extremely successful this year. @rachelnicolephoto grew. we had an amazing and all around hugely good year. i stepped away from corporate america and went off on my own, so so seamlessly, and i'm so incredibly proud of what was accomplished this year on those grounds.

on the other hand, i was in multiple accidents, my poor, beloved ronan (my car guys) was such a trooper and made it through all of that, but not without many scars to show for it. i am, of course, grateful, at this point, to have made it through that. to still be here, but the damage it has left being mentally and emotionally is so much more than i expected it to be, and i will likely be working through that for life.

going back to the wins...i travelled a lot this year. i knocked multiple states off my "never before seen", as well as visited states i've been to / have many friends in. all in all, i am so blessed to be able to travel at my own will, and i try very hard not to take that for granted.

but at the same time, with so much to be happy and thankful for, my brain doesn't always take that hint, and to be completely raw and honest with you, this year was a very difficult year for my mental health. i struggled almost weekly, reaching dark points where i tried to self harm after being clean for 2 years. this felt so much more like a loss than many things in my life, and as much as i try to give myself grace for this especially, it still hurts that i fell that hard and that deeply, after thinking that was all behind me.
only a few weeks later i got the tattoo i've been wanting for 5 years, in response to that struggle, and in reference to my life testimony. sometimes that feels like a fraud because i know what my brain is capable of, and maybe, after all i'm not all that free this. (there's a lot of unpacking of this for a different post, however)

2019 wasn't a stellar year, but it was a year that I'm proud of still. i made it through, I've been made stronger, and i'm excited for what 2020 holds, in full knowledge that it has many opportunities for failures, as well as successes.

please be careful when reading these year end reviews. many people choose to remove failures because of shame, timidness, wanting to show a happy life, fear, and so many other reasons. no ones year has been perfect and only good. please please know that.
xx, rn
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October 16, 2019

icy blue waters; a poem to the atlantic

i let my hair down from the day old bun; still damp, the scent of the atlantic still heavy from yesterday when i jumped into the icy blue waters, because i knew if i did not, i would regret it.
just three hours later, i would be leaving maine, a place i had dreamt of visiting since a small child.
though it was only a week, i felt at home on each of those days. little portland, i hold you dear.
the following is a bit i wrote on my stay.

there's this sense of quiet responsibility. a sense of "it'll happen when it happens", no need to worry, honestly, no need to stress.
maine isn't busily bustling. i felt like the oddball out, but only because i chose to be. i felt like i was the one rushing, like i was the busiest person there, and meanwhile; i'm the one on vacation
its just a slower life in maine. constantly trying to draw me in, to enjoy the moments i was living: this a large reason why i chose maine. it was a constant reminder, as this is so opposite of how i live my life, to appreciate the time i had, to slow down, and just be mindful. 
i let it draw me in, but i had to do that mindfully, as it doesn't come naturally. but each time i did, i felt my body healing, processing, able to think about the things i came here to process and delve into, instead of scatteredly going from one thing to the next.
i didn't get done nearly everything i wanted to get done, but i think that's the whole point. way down deep, i knew that wasn't going to happen, but the bustling version of me expected it because it knows what i'm capable of.
i guess, for once, the deep down needed to come out, and maine brought that out for me, and finally, for the first time in as long as i can remember: i was able to relax.

no. maine is not home, but damn if she didn't try. 
xx, rn
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October 2, 2019

that midsummer's evening

it was midsummer, in the evening. i was sitting outside, alone, headphones in, terrified my parents would take my phone away if they knew what i was listening to...but lana was the only one who understood. her words spoke to the empty darkness sitting deep within me. i didn't know what i was feeling, but she did. my family couldn't relate. but she could. my friends couldn't understand, but she somehow knew the exact feelings. it was like a whole new world.

national anthem was the first one. i heard about it from my friend emily. i think we were both going through similar things, but she lived much farther east than i did, and i only knew her online, there wasn't much to say; i was scared, so was she.

i would scream into my pillow as i couldn't fall asleep, i would cry, the linen soaking up all the tears, and wake up the next morning, somehow, after miraculously falling asleep, to a dry, stained, stiff face, and then wash it off as if nothing happened. i thought i was too much, that those who loved me couldn't handle it, so i hid it. i felt i had no choice.

i became so distant. my family would speak in hushed tones about me, i remember hearing things. they tried to reach me, they did, but they couldn't; the wall i had built could only contain me, and i physically, emotionally, and mentally was unable to let anyone in.

i remember so many times when those close to me would come towards me, i felt my stone face harden, my jaw lock shut, and i heard their words, "what's wrong? are you okay?", bounce right off me. i physically could not open my mouth to even attempt to say any words. i stared blankly, as if a statue, and i could see the confusion and hurt in their face, but the emotions they felt couldn't break through that thick stone wall, and the worry they told me they had was like a new brick, building up, stronger, and stronger, so that i would be unbreakable.

a boy told me he liked me, i didn't know how to feel, but i did know that it was new, so i went with it, because if someone liked me, maybe they would accept me.
i was wrong. we talked, we talked so much, about him, about his problems, about how his problems were so much worse than mine.
no, he didn't accept me at all. he made me feel as if what i was feeling wasn't bad enough to be worth validation as something to be wrong. it was trivial, it didn't matter...we must talk about how what he was going through was the ultimate worst way to live.

everything so romanticized, it didn't take until a severe disloyalty to show me the disaster of that situation, but in order to grow, to get up, i had to be broken, all the way, and this was only the first chip in the ice; i had a long way to go.
xx, rn
photographs by oliver sandoval
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September 11, 2019

mental health + the church

hearing about Jarrid Wilson's passing this morning hit very deeply. my heart instantly broke for Juli and the boys, but also because his story is relatable to so many, including myself. there have been many times when his words have given me so much hope when i myself was going through a difficult time. his work in the church + with mental health is not lost and is only the beginning of something greater.

this brings up another topic that is also so incredibly important to me and that i know people need to either hear or be reminded of:

the body of Christ / the church / whatever you want to call it is NOT ABOVE THE STRUGGLES OF MENTAL HEALTH.

the aftermath of my darkest moments is when i have felt the presence of Jesus the strongest, but not in a disappointed way at all, in those moments i felt great peace, and i knew that he was telling me that he saw me.
he saw my struggles. he saw my pain, and despite the ugly, he was holding me through all of that, he was telling me that he loved me before that, through that, and would still love me after it.
he looks at the scars on my arm and he tells me i'm beautiful, i'm worthy, and that i'm loved.

no. no, we are not above the struggles of mental health, we are called to be a light for those going through their own struggles, we are called to talk about it in a real way, not to judge it, not to name names and speak negatively about those who struggle. we are called to welcome; to welcome ALL people of EVERY walk, no matter what they may be facing, because you really never know what someone may be going through.

the church needs to be more involved in this. struggling with mental health is not devilish; depression, bipolar, ptsd, anxiety, all of these diseases and many more have medical explanations and descriptions and it isn't the fault of anything we did and NO, we can't just stop thinking that way to get it to go away (although we all wish we could), because it isn't just thoughts and feelings and things which can be dismissed.

i do believe that the church is to blame for a good portion of the extreme methods that people have taken, are taking, and will take, because, from the outside and the inside, the church just doesn't seem to care. the church looks away, ignores the cries for help, and turns a blind eye.

if you think that those who know Christ must be above the struggles of mental health, you need to do more research, because that is absolutely not the case and your mindset is only adding to our struggles and the number of suicides and attempts every year, as well as so many other extreme measures.

Do your part. Do better. Lives actually depend upon it.

xx, rn
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September 2, 2019

the one where i finally become legal, but also one year before i'm 'old'

2018, the year i turned 21. much anticipation, was also supposed to look so much different, but those dreams finally sailed, and new dreams were starting to come to fruition.
i really was at a pivotal point in my life, but i didn't really realize it, much like anyone who lives any bit of life understands. you can never really know what's coming next, but i just decided to let it go and let it roll as it would.

i spent my birthday half up north, tucked away in a cabin on the edge of Wisconsin and Minnesota, swinging away on a swing bed, waking up on my birthday to catch two fish, my only two fish of that year, then driving my beloved Ronan all the way home, immediately going to c's apartment, driving to the Journeyman hotel, checking into our room, drinking champagne while getting all dolled up, then spending my 21st getting bubbly drunk with all of my favourite people, changing into my second fancy birthday outfit of the night, and probably admitting way too many things, while tearfully telling them that if i were to get married soon, they would all be in my bridal party.

but i was smart and also booked a trip to canada for later in my birthday week...specifically calgary/banff, a place i had been dreaming of for years, and finally decided, 'ef it, i'm going', and went. i'd seen so many photos, had countless saved, my brain was spinning with ideas of things i wanted to do, and the sights i wanted to see. i couldn't wait to go, so that birthday weekend i packed my things all up and flew to canada.

i met up with someone i knew online but had never actually met in person: d, she was so kind and so welcoming. we talked a lot, explored calgary, and then headed to the mountains on the first full day. we're both the type of people to go, look, take photos, then leave. skip the hikes, we don't got time. it worked out perfectly because i was really only there for a weekend, and i wanted to see as much as i could in the little time i had there.

it was definitely a dreamy trip. canada did not disappoint. we took so many photos, we slept in the rental car two nights. or was it three? it was perfect. the weather was just that perfect fall feel; a little crisp, but still comfortable...and the smell, my gosh, it's straight from heaven, i swear. i wanted to bottle it up and take it home. i miss that beautiful piney smell more than most things, and i daydream of going back every day.

2018 was a very interesting year. not really bad, but not really great. it was a year of a lot of growth, leftover hurt, happy, beautiful times, buying a car and moving out of my parents house, new friends, finding the ones i could really count on, and realizing that i didn't have to allow my name to be continually dragged through the mud. that i didn't need a giant group of friends. that i didn't need to be around those who hurt me.
i left my church, took a long, much needed break that went into 2019, but was so necessary to cleanse the wrongness that those in the church had infiltrated my mind with, and to begin the journey to restoration in Christ.

xx, rn
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August 28, 2019

a wish to reality | prologue

i was surrounded by 'normal' people my whole childhood. i say 'normal' because, what really is normal? we don't have anything to code as 'normal' and to veer from, because we're all different in our own rite, right? but then, if that's the case, how come we all know exactly what 'normal' is? how come we know what's different, and how different from 'normal' someone is?

i don't really know the answers to those questions, but i do know that as a child, i was a pretty normal, happy, fun child. i don't remember most of my childhood, but i know this from photos and stories that i am told. i'm not really sure why i don't remember my childhood, but i think it could very well be due to the trauma in my teen years, and how, with myself blocking those memories out as best i could, the door couldn't be left open to remember any of my childhood.

i remember for most of my preteen years, i heard stories. interesting stories. stories of people who faced real issues every day, and who made it to the other side to tell their story. those stories...they were captivating. they intrigued me and i couldn't get enough. i began to yearn for a good story. a story that made people listen, because, after all, being the middle child of nine, i was often forgotten.

that desire for a better story grew by the day. i wanted a story. i wanted a good story. i wanted a better story than the ones i heard. but how do i get that story? how do i go through those trials? how did they get their story? and what could i do to get my own?

i grossly misinterpreted the whole point of these people sharing their stories, and i hope that in saying what i am saying, others do not do the same. i truly believe that if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way to get it, or you'll wish it into reality, and i am sure that that is what happened to me.
i wanted a good story, but what i got was a nightmare that i've spent the past half decade of my life trying to work through, and know that i will likely spend the rest of my life trying to come to terms with. 
xx, rn
photographs by Alex Weyer
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