Exciting announcement: The Porch invited me back to tell a story this Saturday evening in Salt Lake City. We've escaped Provo! We'll be at a venue called Trackside (510 W 200 N). I'll have time and ticket info later this week. Would love to see some of you there.

A few days ago I was thumbing back through some older posts on Stranger. I do this every once in a while for the sake of taking some little walks down memory lane. It's also interesting to see how my writing and perspective has changed. AND HOW MUCH BETTER MY HAIR IS GETTING!

I clicked on a post from a little over a year ago and gasped when I scrolled to the bottom and saw the pictures. This one in particular surprised me:

First, never mind the fact that I'm that close to hot dogs (GROSS). Never mind that I'm apparently serving food to other people despite being drenched head to toe in sweat and dirt and grime. And never mind that I'm flipping burgers WITH A FREAKING MACHETE.

I gasped to see myself from one year ago--the Palau version of me. A version that seems so foreign to me today.

I see that version of myself similarly to how I see the Survivor contestants on day 39. Unhealthy, tired, emotionally drained, and dirty as hell. Don't forget, too, that this was right around the time that Leotrix was breaking into my apartment and rubbing his disease all over every item I owned.

But besides the dirt and fatigue, I see myself as such a different person now than that person from one year ago.

I walked barefoot. I lived with a lot of anxiety. The future scared me. The past haunted me. I felt alone. Life was hard for me. It was really really hard.

But here I am today. I wear shoes. I've stopped sweating. I weigh thirty pounds less and feel much healthier. But more importantly, I've had an internal change. I'm happy. I'm at peace.

Jolyn told me tonight that most of our problems and fears are created by us. And that the most powerful people are the ones who can figure out how to alter their perceptions in a way that keeps these problems and fears from forming. Because we can't change the fact that the rat broke into the apartment and had babies, or that we failed at an important task, or that someone we cared about acted really selfishly and disregarded our feelings. But we can ultimately control whether or not any of that ruins us. Defines us. Makes us think that our future has to be marred with the pain of the past.

And I think that maybe that's the biggest change I've gone through since flipping burgers with a machete in the hot tropics a year ago. Because my life circumstances have not gotten more peaceful. The people around me have not gotten more reliable. And the obstacles to success have not gotten smaller.

But gosh darn it. I just sort of feel like things are going to be ok. And that's a victory.

~It Just Gets Stranger