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We Are The People

Sooooooo, that happened last night.  I didn’t think it would actually come to be, but here we are with Donald Trump as our president.

This is a really hard and scary time for a lot of people, and those fears are valid.  So what do we do?  Where do we go from here?

The only thoughts that I have are this: Love. Peace. Tolerance.

What we stand for, what we fight for, what we believe in, are those three things (in a very small, all-encompassing nutshell).  The people who are devastated by the outcome of the election, myself included, we need to remember this.  We stand for love.  We stand for peace.  We stand for tolerance.  We will not achieve these things by giving into and participating in the ugly.  We will achieve these things by practicing what we preach in our everyday lives.

Now is the time that we need to go above and beyond.  We need to really practice the love that we want reflected in our country.  We need to show that we are peaceful and we want peace, no matter our differences.  We need to put into action our tolerance towards those who do not believe the same.

If we fight ugly with ugly, where is the beauty that we’re fighting so hard for?  It will get lost in all of the hatred if we don’t do something about it.

We are the people.  We make up this county.  We decide if this country is great.  We need to up our game now more than ever, when everything seems so dark, to bring out the light that we so desperately want to see in this country.

PRACTICE an act of love today.  Go out of your way to intentionally put that into the world.
PRACTICE peace today.  It’s easy to get malicious when you’re feeling so attacked, but we don’t need any more hatred out there.  There’s too much already.
PRACTICE tolerance.  This might be the hardest one of all today.  Maybe that looks like un-following someone on social media because you understand that their feelings don’t match yours, and you don’t want to fight with them anymore.  (Please don’t confuse tolerance with ignoring a problem – that’s not what I mean here.)

This wasn’t the most eloquently put or detailed blog post, and I know that I have failed to express how deeply I feel, but I needed to get these points out there.

How will you practice your beliefs today?  How will you stand up for what is right?

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Awesome, Crazy, Busy September

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Our Texas Bachelorette Party!

September has been such a busy month, and it’s really all gearing up towards a more crazy October – but in a great way.

This weekend Renee and I signed a lease on a new apartment, and we move in three weeks (two weeks before the wedding). We’re moving from a 500 sq. foot, one bedroom apartment, to an 800 sq. foot loft apartment with more storage space, cabinets and a cool layout. My favorite part so far: a washer and dryer!!! The freedom to do laundry whenever I want and not have to leave my apartment is going to be excellent. We want to take this first year of our marriage and save for our future, so hopefully in a year we can buy a house.

Money has been on the forefront of my mind recently, but not in the same panicked way it always has been before.  Something has started to shift in my mindset, from one of “not enough money ever,” to being appreciative of everything that I have been blessed with.  For acknowledging how much I do have, and for being thankful of having enough.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like “enough,” but Renee and I are able to live somewhere safe and comfortable.  We have enough food to eat and don’t go hungry.  We can help out with our family.  We’re able to make our car payments.  Those are our basics needs, and those needs are met.  The things that we consider our “basic needs” are actually luxuries to many people, so I’ve found that if I take time to acknowledge and be grateful for that, the stress is less.

In dealing with money, we also have a wedding that we’re paying for!  Weddings are not typically cheap, but they absolutely can be – if you shift your perspective.  What’s important to you and your beloved?  Is the venue worth shelling out thousands of dollars for?  The food?  The decorations?  The photographers?  The dress?  For us and our tight budget, we really had to think: what’s the most important thing for us on that day?  The answer was simply, “to be surrounded with love by our friends and family as we celebrate our love for one another.”  That’s what we wanted – love and people.  Do I remember all the table settings of previous weddings that I’ve been to?  All the decorations?  The types of flowers?  The dress, even?  Honestly, no.  In the end, what sticks out to me is how happy the couple looked on that day and how much fun we all had.  That’s it.  So when we started planning the wedding, we kept that in mind and let everything else fall into place without much stress or worry.  Is it going to be the most gorgeous, well-planned and meticulously decorated wedding ever?  No.  But I bet there will be enough love and happiness surrounding us that day that we’ll never forget it.

How have you been dealing with the stressors in your life?  How have you changed your thought process to encompass the “enough” mentality?

 

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Pre-Wedding Festivities

August has been a total whirlwind!

We kicked off the month by having a bridal shower here in Texas with some close friends.  We walked into our friend’s house and were welcomed by a “Here Come the Brides” banner, balloons, and delicious homemade food.  My favorite: the cupcakes with natural edible lavender in the cake and in the frosting.  We were super happy to be able to spend the day with great friends from all over, and for Mekia and Paige who took time out of their busy schedules to make this day extra special.

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Afterwards, we came back to our apartment and Renee cooked a seriously delicious Korean meal.

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The following weekend we headed up to Michigan for some wedding festivities!  On Friday, a handful of close friends got together and we hit some local breweries around Kalamazoo for my bachelorette party.  We ate a seriously delicious dinner at Gonzo’s Biggdogg Brewing Company, where my friend is head chef and GM, and then we headed back to a friend’s house to have a Pure Romance Party hosted by another amazing and passionate friend.  My ridiculously talented sister-in-law surprised us all by making what she calls “Paint a Pussy” cookies!  It was pure perfection.

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The next day was our bridal shower/my birthday!  This was a chance for us to celebrate our wedding with our loves in Michigan who won’t be able to attend the wedding in Texas.  I felt so loved and blessed that so many people came, and it made my birthday that much sweeter.  The theme was “Adventure Awaits,” and so much thought, help, time and beauty went into making this day so so special.  I was overwhelmed and humbled at the thoughtfulness of it all, and my thank you notes just don’t do my feelings justice.

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I of course LOVED seeing my little nephew and chasing him all over the house. Miss this baby all the time.

And to top it all off, my mother decided that she loves the Plexus products she’s taking so much that she decided to become an ambassador!  I’m so happy that she’s feeling better and loves the natural products.  When you’re feeling great and you find something that works, you want to share it with everyone!  Welcome to the team, Mom!!!

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The best woman I know.
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What Became of Those Anxieties?

Picture source here
Picture source here

This isn’t going to be a long post, but had to share some thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety.  Without going into too many details at this moment, it has been almost crippling at times.  Everyday there are many moments, and sometimes hours, of panic that runs through my body.  I’m not someone who is usually anxious or fearful, and the last time I felt this way, in the end, I moved to the mountains of Arizona to a secluded ranch 7 miles off a dirt road to recuperate.

It was healing, and it was a great adventure, but I don’t want to do that again.  I’m truly happy where I’m at and I want to deal with these issues here in a healthy way.

I was scrolling through my blog when I found this, something that I had written almost exactly a year ago:

How was I going to move to Texas or buy a car or make car payments or get car insurance all while paying rent and putting money towards my student loans plus all the other bills?  What if I couldn’t find a job?  What if I found a job and I hated it, but it paid enough money so I could pay my bills but I was miserable?  And then surely my relationship would fall apart because I wouldn’t have money to do anything or support myself and I’d always be working and hate my job and it would all be miserable.  And then I’d have to move back home and live with my mothers. Forever.

I read it and laughed out loud.  Those were my anxieties a year ago: not being able to afford life, being stuck in a job that I hated, etc., which would all eventually lead to me dying alone.  What?

A year later, and here’s the scoop: I have the money to live.  It might not be pretty all the time, but I’m makin’ it.  I found a job.  I took on two more jobs.  I ended up hating one of the jobs, so I moved on and found something that better suited me.  Moral of the story — some of my fears came true; however, in the end, it didn’t result in  my demise.  I’m not a ruined person.  My fate is not sealed.

It was good to read back on my own thoughts to help put things in perspective.  For those of you who have dealt with anxiety and/or depression, how have you come out the other side?

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The Fears of Creating

"Inspiration doesn't owe you anything.  One you've found a balance between fear and creativity, you still have to do the work."  --Elizabeth Gilbert
“Inspiration doesn’t owe you anything. One you’ve found a balance between fear and creativity, you still have to do the work.” –Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post.  Part of that is because my life is continuously changing and I’m not sure where to begin.  The other part is fear.

Ever been in a creative rut?  Of course you have.  Sometimes our lives become very habitual and seemingly uneventful, so we think we have nothing interesting to write about.  Other times our lives become hectic and frenzied, and we aren’t sure where to begin or what truths we want to reveal to the world.

As I said, my circumstance happens to be the latter.  I moved to Texas a year ago today, and at this point in my life I have three jobs: working a day or two a week at Starbucks to keep my insurance, working full time at a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) as a Direct Care Staff member, and I also do my own contracted work as a freelance writer.  The biggest change has been working at the RTC.  Renee and I moved back to America to help open and run this facility, and it has definitely been hard work.

An extremely quick overview of what is an RTC:  for our facility, girls in CPS ages 6 – 17 who are classified as Intense and Specialized cases (been through a lot of trauma) live at the house and get therapy.  They go to school, learn how to deal with their emotional issues and triggers, and they learn how to live a healthy life so they can grow to be healthy adults. 

This is important work, but it’s also really hard.  I never know what I’m going to walk into that day – is it going to be calm with a few minor instances of defiance/rudeness/acting out, or am I going to walk into a knock-down-drag-out kind of day?  As a result, I feel nauseous every time I get ready to go into work.  After talking to people who have worked in the industry for twenty-plus years, I realized that this is quite normal.  Most of them cried every single night after work for almost a year.  But despite the uncomfortableness and newness of the job, I feel like I’m heading in the right direction in my life.  There are so many possibilities and roads ahead of me, I can’t wait to see where it all goes and grows.

That being said, when I have some free time for myself, I’ve gotten into the habit of zoning out on TV.  I’m physically and mentally exhausted after a twelve-hour day, and I just want to sit and think about nothing.  I don’t write because I’m afraid that all that will come out is work stuff, and that’s the last thing I want to focus on after being immersed in it for most of the day.

Lately, though, I’ve had this gnawing feeling inside of me that has turned into a heavy burden.  I want to create.  Realistically, my schedule will be pretty full for a while with work, but I’m finding it necessary to carve out some time to do something creative.  Instead of checking out of my life when I have any free time, I need to get in the habit of writing, reading or listening to an inspiring and insightful podcast.

Hectic schedule and changes aside, there is also the issue of fear.

What do I really have to contribute to the world?  Haven’t all of the topics been covered, all of the feelings been discussed?  What do I have to offer that would be of any value at all?

What if what I create isn’t good enough?

All of us as creative people have felt this at one point or another – or usually at many points in our lives.  I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcasts, Magic Lessons, and some of the things she or her guests have said have helped me drag myself out of that fog.  For one thing, I realized that I was holding the art of creating on a pedestal.  Like, if I wasn’t creating something as good as the Sistine Chapel, why bother?  It’s good to get into the nitty gritty of your craft – get yourself dirty, make some mistakes, take some wrong turns – but when you do it, be genuine in your efforts and put whatever you have out there.

Think about if your favorite books were never written because the authors felt that they had nothing valuable to say.   What if they let their fears or the craziness of their lives take over, and they never formed the work of art that has so greatly influenced your life?

What if you are that artist?  Don’t let the fear of imperfection or uncertainty stifle your actions to live a creative life.

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The Knockoff — Technology and Fashion Collide

Getting mail is one of my absolute favorite things.  As a kid I would run to the mailbox each afternoon like I was expecting a present to be waiting for me.  Even as an adult, any time a UPS or FedEx truck passes by I think, stop here!  Stop here!  And sometimes they do.  Recently, as I was pulling up to my apartment I saw a UPS truck driver standing at my door, and I rushed to meet him.

“I wasn’t expecting anything!” I told him excitedly with a huge, stupid grin on my face.

“Looks like it’s from Publishers Clearing House.  I’m guessing you got a book.”

knockoffYesssssssss.  Turns out I won a copy of April’s BirchBox book club pick of the month, The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza.  Sykes has worked in the fashion world for years as a stylist, fashion editor and fashion director.  She was the fashion director at Marie Claire magazine, and she is currently the fashion director for Rent the Runway.  Piazza is the managing editor of Yahoo Travel, and she has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and more.

Together they have written an extremely entertaining and funny novel about how the fashion and tech worlds have collided.  Imogene, the Editor in Chief of Glossy magazine (who is pretty much the opposite of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada) comes back to work after a six month medical leave, and she barely recognizes her own magazine.  Eve, the 20-something year old sociopath, fresh out of Harvard business school, has taken over and transformed/reduced the magazine into an app.  Under Eve’s reign, she fired all of the “gray hairs” and brought in new hires to work in her tech sweat shop.  Quality of work greatly decreases, editing goes out the window, and all the focus is on quantity of articles and social media postings.  Imogene, who can’t tell Twitter from Facebook from Instagram, is completely lost in this world and has to either sink or swim.

I found myself rooting for and identifying with Imogene throughout the book, as I am pretty un-techy myself.  I don’t know half of the social media out there, I have no idea what coding entails, and I am certainly not up to date with the latest in technology (seriously, I just got my first smart phone a few months ago).  I don’t, however, want to get left behind as the world advances, and neither does Imogone.

This book is a great and easy read, definitely recommended for taking on vacation or for curling up at home on a rainy spring day.  If you love fashion, if you’re a tech wizard, or even if you can’t figure out why your phone was working one minute and is now all in Japanese, this book is for you.