Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May Day 29: Favorite tunes

Today's prompt: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.

Music is a huge part of my life. I go to it when I'm stressed, sad, happy, or just in need of a little inspiration. In fact, when I first started this blog, I started a weekly post called Tune in Tuesdays where I featured some of my favorite, most inspirational song lyrics. Maybe I should pick that back up someday?

Anyway, I digress. But yes, I love music. So picking just FIVE meaningful songs was tough, but I think I've got it down. I don't mean for so many of them to be associated (at least in part) with sad things, but those tend to be the ones I hold closest to my heart.

So enjoy....

Goodnight My Angel, Billy Joel
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel on Grooveshark
Let me try and give you the short version of a very long story behind this song. Growing up, I was very close to my cousins, especially the kids of my mom's next oldest sister. We were inseperable - basically may as well have been siblings. My cousin Andrew and I are 3 months apart, and when we were 9, Andrew's mom had a baby boy, Collin. I wasn't yet a big sister, so I loved being a pseudo-sister to Collin. When Collin was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. He fought hard, but lost his battle just 10 days after his 3rd birthday. This song became a favorite lullaby of his. We played it for him constantly, and it became a comfort to all of us for many different reasons. When he died, a family friend and amazing singer sang it at his funeral. It will forever give me this intense juxtopsition of grief and comfort at the same time. It's beautiful.
Collin and his mom - both angels watching over us now.

Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox
Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox on Grooveshark
I don't even know why, but this song is a big theme song for one of our closest group of friends. I can't take any credit for it, but somewhere along the way it became the song that everyone loves to rock out to. We request it at every wedding, put it on repeat all weekend when we spend the weekend at a friend's cabin, and play it over and over again at parties. The second the music starts, everyone looks around to find each other, then scrambles to the center of the room or dance floor and goes crazy. It's honestly one of my favorite things to do with our friends. Like I said, I don't even know how it started or what the meaning is, but it's become a tradition. And it will always put a smile on my face because it makes me think of some of my very favorite people and my very favorite times.
Love these people (and it's just a fraction of the people to whom this song is the best!)
Have a Little Faith in Me - John Hiatt
Have A Little Faith In Me by John Hiatt on Grooveshark
When Sean's dad died, his family (along with me, his brother's girlfriend, and the priest) sat in the room at our church's office numbly pouring over readings and songs for what still felt like a surreal event. When it came time to decide what to put on the back cover of the program (a poem, a photo), someone suggested putting the lyrics to one of his dad's favorite songs. We talked for a minute about different song options, and I think it was Sean's middle brother who suggested "Have a Little Faith in Me" by John Hiatt. We looked up the lyrics on our phones, played it aloud, and knew right away that it was perfect. I had heard the song before but it immediately took on a whole new meaning. Later that year, when family friends threw a memorial event for his dad, that song played during an emotional slideshow. The song always made me so sad. Then, a few years later Sean and I were planning our wedding. One night we were sitting at home and Sean put the iPod on our dock and asked if I wanted to practice our First Dance. I remember saying something like, "we haven't decided what we should dance to yet," and he responded with, "I've already picked it. Come here." So I went to him and he pressed play. And this was the song that was playing. Right away I knew that it was perfect. We cried in each other's arms - because we missed his dad, because we wanted him to be there for this special day, and because we knew this song meant just what we wanted to say to each other: that no matter what, we can have faith in each other and it will be ok. It was a special way for us to have his dad especially close to us that day, and to share a song that will always carry so much love for us for so many reasons.

Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks on Grooveshark
In high school, this became an anthem for my girlfriends and I. We didn't even listen to the words or understand the meaning - we just liked the music. Since then, it's become a tradition for us to play this song when we're together, much like "Walking on Broken Glass" has become for the group of friends above. It will always make me think of these lovely ladies - the ones who I can be more honest with than anyone else I know. Love these ladies!

I Can Only Imagine - Mercy Me
I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe on Grooveshark
The first time I heard this song was at the funeral for someone I grew up with. He was killed in a terrible accident when we were in college. But I really don't mean for this to be another story about a sad song. This song honestly moves me. It's beautiful - both the piece of music and the idea of reflecting on what it will be like to meet God one day. I know this song won't be for everyone, but it's a favorite of mine.

What are you favorite songs? Can't wait to hear them - literally!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May Day 25: Painful truth

Today's prompt: Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget.

When I was in college, I started searching for a job nannying a few days a week. I found a couple opportunities and interviewed with a nice family with two small kids. It turned out they were related to a family I knew growing up. Small world. One weekend, while I was visiting Sean at college one, they called and offered me the job!

I started working and everything was going great. (Another small world story: On my first day, I looked at a picture on the wall from their wedding at the church where I grew up. Standing beside the priest were 2 young boys - the altar servers. I looked a little closer and realized that one of them was Sean. My Sean! Seriously, small world.)

Several months later I was nearing the end of my senior year of college and knew I needed to find an internship or job that allowed me to get some experience in my field. The family knew this was ineveitable when I took the job, and I was honest with them that my search had begun. It happened a bit faster than I expected and I was offered an internship (at the company I still work for today) just a few weeks later. The family understood and began their search for a new nanny (or child care solution) to take over once I was gone.

One day, maybe a week before I was set to finish my time with them, I noticed a folder on the counter with all of their nanny search information. I snooped - I admit it. I shouldn't have, but I did. Well, included in this folder were their notes from their first nanny search. The one where they found me.

I saw the paper with my information - my name, experience, emails we exchanged, and some handwritten notes from our interview at their home. That's when I saw something they had written about me that I will never forget. Sprinkled among some nice words (that I can't even remember right now) was one word, underlined that felt like a kick in the gut.


Sure, they never told me this and certainly never intended for me to see it, but it was a way someone defined me that I will never forget. The fact that it seemed important enough to write down, to consider among all my other qualifications for the job, hurt me. Ultimately it obviously didn't affect their willingness to employ me, but that it mattered at all left a lasting impact I'll never forget.

I still see their family around from time to time (we belong to the same church), and wonder sometimes what they think of me now. I'm somewhere around 40 pounds lighter than I was when I worked for them, but I'm still not where I want to be. It will always be something I struggle with, and there will always be the memory of hurtful things like that to make it harder to overcome.

Friday, May 24, 2013

May Day 24: Top 3 worst traits

Today’s prompt: Your top 3 worst traits

Only 3? This might be hard.

I’m a procrastinator. In some ways, this works out well for me because getting down to crunch times is just the motivation I need to get something done. But the stress of it? Ugh, the stress! Why do I do it to myself? Whether it’s putting off the house cleaning until the last minute before company arrives or avoiding a work project until the day of the deadline, I’m the queen of putting things off. If it’s something I’m enjoy doing, however, then procrastination is never a problem. It’s usually only when the prospect of something overwhelms me that I ignore it for as long as I can.

I curse like a sailor. Guilty as charged, but boy do I have a potty mouth. My husband would probably tell you this should top my list of worst traits. He hates it. But sometimes I just can’t help it. My friend’s mom says that we are too smart to need to use such simple, foul words to express ourselves. I get it, I really do. And I do agree that it just sounds trashy sometimes. I’m working on getting better about it, but I’ve gotta tell you: sometimes a situation or emotion just really calls for a good ol’ f-bomb.
 I’m overly-emotional. Every emotion I feel tends to be amplified times 10. I get worried easily, and before I know it a little bit of worry spins into full-blown anxiety that I can’t seem to shake. When I’m happy or excited about something, I can be obnoxiously giddy. I remember my step-dad always telling me to “chill out” when I was a teenager and I’d be running around planning things for dances or parties with my friends. When I’m sad, it compounds quickly and I usually turn into a blubbering mess, crying not just about what made me sad in the first place but about 100 other things, too. And when I’ve got something on my mind, I have a hard time letting it go and putting on a mask. I get a bit withdrawn and people can usually sense that something is a little off. I hate that I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May Day 23: Lessons learned outside of school

Today’s prompt: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you

I'm so grateful for all of the education I've received (17+ years!). The things I did learn in school are critical – they’ve afforded me many opportunities and helped me demonstrate my ability to be independent and make smart choices. But the things I learned from life are the ones that have gotten me to where I am today, and will continue to support me for years to come.

School never taught me how to love – how to share your soul with someone, be their best friend, nurture each other, grow together, overcome obstacles, laugh and cry together, and be selfless. Sean taught me that.

School never taught me how to be a friend. Sure, it was the setting in which many of my most memorable friendships were formed. But it didn’t teach me about loyalty and honesty, making time for each other even when it’s hard, laughing until you cry, keeping secrets, and having empathy in life’s highest and lowest moments. Katie, Claire, Meggan, Molly, Beth, Gina, Julia, Amy, Lacie, my cousins, and my mom taught me that.  
School never taught me that life ain’t always beautiful. Gary Allan taught me that. Ok, just kidding (about the song at least). But it’s true. School never taught me that life is sometimes just plain hard—that things go wrong and bad things happen and it’s not always easy. School didn’t teach me that you’re stronger than you believe, that God is with us even (or should I say, most especially) when we struggle, that even a little bit of faith can go a long way, and that good things do happen. My mom, my family, Sean, his brothers, his mom, even total strangers have taught me that.

School didn’t teach me about death. Sure Mrs. BLT taught a class on grief, but I didn’t learn that gut wrenching feeling of losing someone you loved from a textbook. School didn’t teach me about how to appreciate every minute because life can change too quickly, how to let a pain like that become a part of you but not all of you, and how to give thanks for having someone so special in your life (no matter how brief) that makes it so hard to live without. My grandpa, Collin, Ellie, Mike, Kelly, Morning, Robbie, Steve, Matt, and even our nearly 7-week pregnancy (among many others) taught me that.

School never taught me how to love yourself—to cut yourself some slack from time to time, to be confident in your strengths and allow yourself to believe them to be true, to trust your instincts, to have faith that you can do big things. I’ve taught myself that—correction, I’m teaching myself that.

And surely there are so many lessons ahead. In my opinion, that’s the best thing about the School of Life, we never stop learning!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May Day 22: My soapbox rant

Today’s prompt: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel.

Oooh boy does this sound fun. I’m going to play it relatively safe here, though, and avoid ranting about anything that might stir up some tension around these parts. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about one of my biggest gym pet peeves.

Picture this: You’re at the gym, where they conveniently cram a few too many machines into a line to accommodate their booming membership levels. You’re sweating away on a treadmill or elliptical, drowning out the sound of your own huffing and puffing with music at ear drum-damaging levels. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot someone approaching your general vicinity. There’s a long row of open machines, surely they won’t end up right next you. But no, they’re getting closer. And sure enough, they climb onto the machine Right. Next. To. You.  Nevermind that there are several—and I do mean several—open spots. They insist on the spot right next to you.

See, I have a thing for personal space. I don’t like feeling like my “bubble” is being invaded, most especially when I’m self-conscious enough about my aforementioned sweaty, huffing and puffing self. It’s very much like choosing the middle bathroom stall in a choice of three (you know you’re guaranteed to end up next to someone if they come in, right?).

Am I the only one who is driven completely crazy by this behavior? Maybe I’m just envious of people who are carefree enough to simply make decisions like which exercise machine to get on without carefully weighing all possible scenarios.

And while we’re talking about gym etiquette (I use this term loosely though since some are very much more personal preference than true etiquette), could you please also refrain from the following:
  • Spreading your belongings out all over the locker room. We’re all pretty crammed in here, so if I could avoid having to dodge your expansive clutter just to get to my locker, that’d be great.
  • Taking care of your lady business in front of all of us. Maybe this is just my conservative nature, but I’d really rather not be witness to you changing your panty liners or moisturizing your nether regions with your leg propped up on the counter.
  • Basically – please just remember that you’re not at home, you’re in a public place you share with lots of other people (primarily strangers). Just be courteous, that is all.
Ok, stepping off my soapbox now…

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May Day 21: Favorite posts

Today’s prompt: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives

What a great idea! I had a little too much fun going back and reading some of my old posts (since I haven’t been blogging that long, and have taken a few “breaks” in the last year or so, there weren’t too many to go through). Plus, I had already started a list of favorites on my “Must-reads” tab, so half of it was done for me.
This may be one of those posts that is far more interesting to myself than anyone else, because there are more than enough posts in my archives that lack a bit of substance and aren’t terribly interesting for anyone to read. But there are a few in there that I think have a bit of inspiration in them, too—ones that really got me writing, usually because of the deep emotional nature of the post or my passion about the given subject. (Side note: I’m noticing as I’m putting these together there are an absurd amount of posts about grief and loss—but it’s an issue I’ve dealt with a lot in my life and a topic that really inspires the writer in me to come out.)
{A photo that has nothing to do with this post, but am loving this beautiful tree outside our kitchen window. It's ALMOST enough to make me want to stand there and do dishes. Almost.}
So here we go, take your pick:
  • Where were you 5 years ago: A reflection on all that can happen in 5 years, specifically reflecting on the day Sean moved away to college when we were first dating
  • Grass is greener: Thinking about envy (kind of a really good reminder for me right now)
  • Empathy: A post about my (sometimes too) strong capacity for empathy
  • In loving memory: Writing about the anniversary of my aunt’s death, but even more, reflecting on grief and how it’s made a difference in my life.
  • Crying: If you know me personally, or stick around long enough to read a couple posts, you’ll quickly come to know that crying is a big part of my life. Happy, sad, stressed, anxious. You name it. I will cry. But it’s ok – because I think crying is a very important emotional outlet.
  • Serendipity?: A story about finding the love of my life
  • Back to reality: A quick recap of a once-in-a-lifetime trip I took with my mom to take care of some family business in Turks & Caicos
  • Remembering grief and sadness: Reflecting on the day we lost Sean’s dad on the two year anniversary of his death (it’s now been 4).
  • Giving thanks: A pretty brief post, but intriguing nonetheless—thinking about what if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday.
  • Teeing off in memory: A recap of the annual golf tournament we throw in honor of Sean’s dad. I love this post for a lot of reasons, but most especially because of the photos of such a beautiful summer day.
  • Year in review: There are a LOT of words in this post, but it sure does cover an awful lot that happened in 2012.
  • Embracing my muffin top: Talking about learning to love myself and all my flaws – and knowing I’m not the first person to ever be hard on myself.
  • Don’t worry, be happy: A recap of an article I read about 15 things you can give up to be happier. Needed this reminder today!
  • Writing through the night: A bit of a word-vomit post of all the emotions running through my head when Sean was unexpectedly hospitalized last year.
  • And then comes marriage: So excited to be married to my love, but also wrestling with the “what now” and the crash after the planning high.
  • If you really knew me: A post that was going around for a while, but also a fun way to get to know a few (pretty random) things about me.
  • Summer fest 2012: Our annual cabin trip with friends fell a little more in the fall this year, but it was still as fun as ever. This is one of my favorite weekends every year, and I love reliving it all through posts like this.
  • Heavy stuff: The story of my ectopic pregnancy. Including it here if only because it’s such a big part of who I am right now, today.
  • I’m sorry I hate you: While recovering from our pregnancy loss, I was a bit angry at the world, and it came time to be honest with myself about it.
    Edit: This deserves so much more than a post script to a post like this, but as I prepare to hit publish, I can't ignore the devastating news about Moore, Oklahoma on the TV behind me. I'm up late with the dog who is afraid of a very brief thunderstorm that rolled through and am just so sad to hear of the horrible destruction in the wake of a spring tornado. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Oklahoma right now as they dig out from this terrible tragedy. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

May Day 20: Struggle

Today’s prompt: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.
Well apparently I’m struggling with blogging, seeing as how it’s been several days since I participated in Jenni’s Blog Every Day in May challenge. In my own defense, I was traveling for work last week and had a ton of things going on when I got home, but excuses excuses.
So aside from struggling with time…
A few things come to mind, but I’d say two in particular are weighing most heavily on me.
First of all – work. I really enjoy my job, but lately I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed with it. I know a lot of it is self-induced. I was talking about this with some coworkers the other day, in fact. I get so stressed because I let it happen. Instead of just going with the flow and trying my best, I let the pressure of getting everything done, of doing a perfect job (impossible) get to me. It’s just the way I am. So I guess part of it is that I’m struggling with cutting myself some slack. But part of it is just struggling with my confidence in my ability to do the job. I’ve been in this role for about 10 months and still sometimes feel like I’m not up-to-speed yet. I used to be so confident in my knowledge of my work, and now that I’m not always sure of myself, I get frustrated with questioning my ability to make decisions, provide direction, and make the right choices. So being busy on top of worrying about doing my job right is pretty much drowning me right now. I think I need a vacation. (Except that, then coming back and catching up after vacation is almost not even worth it.)
And secondly, I’ve been struggling with being healthy. I’m just going to be honest here – I’ve let myself down in staying fit and eating right. Part of it is stress. The past several months have been really tough for a lot of reasons, and emotional eating has always been my biggest weakness. I get mad at myself for packing on a few extra pounds, skipping the gym a few days here and there, or making food choices I used to be so good at turning down. I hate that I’ve allowed myself to slip back into the “easy” (but bad) decisions when I worked so hard to make the healthy decisions come easy to me. But I’ve done it before. I’ve overcome the bad habits to settle into a routine that feels comfortable and right. And every day is a new opportunity to get there. Little by little I try and get back there. I’m trying (but struggling, thus the reason for this post) to get back to a place where I feel good about myself again, and I think making good choices is going to be the most important part of it.
Struggle, I think, is a part of all of us. We’re our own toughest critics, so there will always be challenges and obstacles in our lives that make life feel a little less than easy. But in my experience, struggle is what makes achievement most rewarding. Having to work hard for something in life makes earning it that much more satisfying. So I’ll take the struggles in stride, hoping—knowing—that there can always be light at the end of the tunnel as long as you let yourself look for it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May Day 14: What makes me happy

So my “every day in May” challenge is proving to be slightly less than every day, but I’m trying.

Today’s prompt: 10 things that make you really happy.

It’s easy, for me at least, to get caught up in the worries of all the things that stress me out and frustrate me and make me anxious. But lately, I’ve been trying really hard to just stop – for even a single second – and be thankful for all the good things, too—the things that make me really happy. So this post couldn’t come at a better time.
  1. Family walks. Oliver is usually pretty content sleeping the day away and getting his exercise in our yard, but every dog needs a good walk, too. We’ve been trying to be better about it doing it every night after dinner, and it’s my favorite when the 3 of us go together. A few quiet minutes, no distractions, just conversation and the company of my favorite boys.
  2. Apologies. Of course, I don’t like that they usually come after something worth apologizing for and I’d rather do without the mess in the first place, but there’s something about the peace that comes from resolving an issue that just makes me happy. Whether it’s with a spouse, friends, family…we all make mistakes, and it makes me happy that we can learn to acknowledge our remorse, forgive each other, learn from those mistakes, and love each other a little more because we got through it together.
  3. A hot bath after a long day. Need I say more?
  4. Days off work. Who doesn’t love an extra day every once in a while to relax, do something fun, or even just take care of things that are otherwise neglected. Looking forward to that this Friday!
  5. Hearing someone introduce me by my “new” last name. We’ve been married for almost a year, so I’m not sure how much longer I get to consider it “new,” but I never tire of hearing it. Whether we’re in a meeting at work or a friend is introducing me to another friend, it still feels so strange—in the most happy and exciting way. I guess I’m still in my newlywed bliss phase.
  6. Speaking of newlywed bliss…of course my husband makes me happy. You know, there are always going to be moments from time to time that are a little less than happy (ahem, see #2), but overall, there is no one and nothing in the world that makes me happier than him. Sorry for getting all gooey romantic over here – but boy do I love this man. So lucky to call him mine.
  7. Sleeping with at least one fan on and the windows open, especially if it’s just a little chilly out (this is even more preferable on a weekend, so I can crawl out from under the warm covers whenever I want, not when my alarm tells me I have to).
  8. Home. I am such a homebody. I just like being at home, whether that means my house or just in my hometown (i.e., not traveling). Of course I love to travel, too, but I love the feeling of coming home after being gone and everything feeling so right. I’m traveling for work the next few days so maybe I’m a bit biased right now (traveling alone is one of my least favorite activities), but I’m already looking forward to coming home and I haven’t even left yet. 
  9. Nice weather. I know I'm not alone in this. I just love how nice weather can put me in such a good mood! Today's 90+ temps here might be overdoing it just a little bit, though. 
  10. Accomplishment. Whether it's a chore I've been meaning to get done around the house or a big project at work, it's such a good feeling to get something done and finally put it behind you. (This weekend, I painted our living room while Sean was out of town. Huge success!)       

Friday, May 10, 2013

May Day 10: Most embarrasing, I've got plenty of those

Today's prompt: Your most embarassing moment(s). Spill.

I actually had what I would consider my absolute most embarrassing moment just a few months ago. But that cringe worthy feeling of mortification is still a little too raw, so I just don’t think I can bring myself to share it here yet. It’s a mixture of TMI and plain ol’ embarrassment, but if you really are dying to know, shoot me an email and I’ll share. I don’t think I’m ready to document it forever on the world wide interwebs just yet.

But don’t you worry, because I’ve had plenty of embarrassing moments in my life. Like the time I ran face first into a glass door while racing a friend to call “shotgun” outside. Or the time I slipped, fell and continued to slide down the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s giant hill on my way to class as a cute boy behind me tried to catch up and make sure I was ok (“Just hurt my pride. Please keep walking,” is what I told him.) I must be clumsy because I also once fell down an entire set of stairs right next to a plumber who was working on our kitchen sink. Or how about when I was coming home from seeing a movie with friends for my 12th birthday? We were racing from the garage to the house, our bladders about to burst, when someone said something that set us all into a laughing fit. And I was done. I fell into a snow bank and proceeded to completely pee my pants. Imagine how the laughter only increased after that. And then there was the time in my first few months as a PR intern when I accidentally pushed an outdated version of a press release to the wire with a quote in it by an executive who had asked us to remove it. I’m still shocked I didn’t lose my job over that.

Ok, I could go on forever, but I’ll end with just one last one that I’m probably forever scarred by. I was in fifth grade and the desks of our history classroom were set up in the shape of a giant U. We all sat slumped in our chairs listening to the lecture when it came time to work quietly on an assignment the teacher passed out. Just as everyone settled in with their pencils, I scooted up in my chair and without warning, let out an unmistakable fart. The entire room looked up and the boys instantly started to tease me. To them, at that age, it’s simply funny. To me, it was absolutely mortifying. I can still remember wanting to crawl under my desk and hide my reddening face from their taunts. They may never remember it, but I’ll never forget it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This is Water

I'll be back later today to share the Blog Every Day in May "moment in my day" post, but in the meantime, I had to share this video.

I needed to hear this message today. Yesterday. The last few months. I need to learn to live it for tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May Day 8: My favorite advice

Today's prompt: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

One of the favorite pieces of advice I’ve received (and I can’t take credit for it) is that you shouldn't compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Let me explain. It’s common for us to look at others’ lives and feel a bit of envy sometimes – about a job, a relationship, material possessions. It’s easy to look at someone else and think they're "so lucky", but we have no way of truly understanding the battles they’re fighting (or have fought in their journey to where they are today). But that’s a different (yet equally wise) piece of advice.

What I’m trying to get to is that it’s easy to look at someone’s life and think “I want that.” But everyone is at different stages in life. When Sean and I were dating and I wanted desperately to get engaged. I was sad every time I heard of someone getting engaged. But how can I compare our relationship path to anyone else’s? Ultimately, it wasn’t about someone else getting there first. We all get “there” when we’re ready in our lives to get there. It’s unfair to compare our milestones in life to those in anyone else’s life because those milestones are unique to each of us. Our paths, our journeys, are the way they are because that’s how it’s meant to be.

It doesn’t mean it won’t still sting a little when you find yourself a little jealous of something. And it doesn’t mean you can’t still wish for things in your life that you see in others’ lives. This, I believe, is a natural part of life that is common for many of us.

But what this advice meant to me was that I have to try harder to look within my own life and be thankful, and not let the pressures of envy or desire distract me from contentment. We all fight battles and have thinsg to stress about, but we also all have a lot of things to be grateful for, too. Happiness isn't always ahead of us - in the goals and dreams we hope to achieve. It's right here in front of us, too. And at least for me, that was advice I really needed to hear - to embrace the happines in my own here and now.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May Day 7: My top 5 fears

Today’s prompt: The things you’re most afraid of
I have a few major fears, though most aren't anything outrageous. In fact, I’d probably venture to guess that some of these are among some of the most common fears out there.
Heights: I simply hate them. I get vertigo just walking around the second-level concourse in a sports arena because I feel like I’m going to get too close to the stairs and fall stories to the ground. I can be nauseated by an image taken from a high distance, let alone the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I witness a distance firsthand. And distance is really a relative term because the second story of the mall is probably just as frightening as the observation deck of the Sears Tower to me.
Death: I imagine this doesn’t need much explaining, because it’s pretty straightforward. The thought of dying—whether it’s me or someone close to me—just terrifies me. I suppose I should come to terms with this as a part of life, but for now, I just like to pretend it’s never going to happen (again). We’ve dealt with enough death in our families already.
Fire: It terrifies me. I refuse to do laundry if we’re not going to be home because I’m so afraid that something could go wrong (lint trap not clean enough? Electrical malfunction?) and our house could burn down. I am especially afraid of fire breaking out while we’re sleeping. I’m constantly making sure nothing is touching any power cords in our bedroom before we go to sleep. I used to keep our laptop on the couch, but after hearing about a fire that started from this, I never, ever leave it anywhere but on a hard, cool surface.
Going to jail: I have this strange fear that one day I’m going to accidentally do something that puts me in jail. Growing up I was a bit of a goody two-shoes and always felt guilty breaking the rules, even if I knew I could get away with it. I guess you could say the same is true as an adult. One of my biggest nightmares is ending up in jail. Of course, I don’t partake in any behavior that might land me in jail, thus the reason I’m so concerned it will happen by accident. Among the accidental reasons I fear could lead to my jail time? Being wrongly accused of something. Getting in a car accident that is somehow my fault (including accidentally hitting a pedestrian, another of my fears). I mean, who thinks like this?? Me I guess. Let’s file this one under extremely irrational fears, shall we?
Not having a chance to be a mommy: Maybe this is a bit too depressing for this post, but I want to be real here. I’ve been open about our recent pregnancy loss, and would be remiss to not include this when talking about my biggest fears. Being a mommy is something I’ve always dreamt of, and something I seem to want more and more with each passing day. A friend once told me (by way of advice she got from someone else) that God wouldn’t give us such a strong desire in our soul if it weren’t meant to one day be fulfilled. So until that day, I will just have faith and hope that it will happen for us when the time is right.
So there you have it, my top 5 biggest fears. Nothing too shocking, except for maybe my slightly embarrassing fear of one day becoming an ex-con. But that’s what fears are often about, right? Rarely rational or sensible.
What are your fears?

Monday, May 6, 2013

May Day 6: What I really do

Today’s prompt: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?

I love this question because I think, while our jobs can be significant parts of our lives, they are only a small fraction of who we are. These jobs can certainly be a reflection of our personality, but I think often what is most telling is what we do with our lives outside of work. The activities we choose to do. The people with whom we choose to surround ourselves. The priorities we set for our precious free time.
So what does it say about me that sometimes, I’m not even sure what I do with my free time? I feel like we’re so busy most of the time, yet, we really don’t have that much going on. I can’t imagine what busy will feel like as we get older and have all sorts of other priorities (like kids, etc.).
But we’re talking about the here and now. So what do I do?
Well I take care of my hubby and my puppy. I enjoy taking care of people, so I like doing things to take care of my boys – whether it’s making meals, going out of my way to do something nice, or just helping out with things that make life a little easier for them. Let’s face it, this is pretty standard for a dog, but I’d have to say my husband is pretty lucky most of the time. (It’s ok, I’m a lucky lady too.)
I spend time with my family and friends. As cheesy as it sounds, I just feel at home around my family—whether it’s with Sean and the pup or either side of our families. My favorite times tend to be the simple moments—running errands together, a family dinner, working on a house project. The same is true with our friends. Sometimes when we’re all together, I look around at all of us laughing together and think it’s pretty darn incredible that we’ve found each other. These are the moments where I feel most content with my life.
I take pictures. I have a camera with me almost everywhere I go, even if it’s just my cell phone. I love photography, and while I’m nowhere near a professional, it’s a hobby that keeps me challenged and happy.
I stay active. I love relaxing as much as anyone, but I tend to get a bit stir crazy if I sit around too long. Whether it’s going to the gym, taking the dog on long walks, playing softball, or going for a bike ride—I like to keep moving.
I watch TV. If what we do in our free time is actually telling of who we are like I said at the beginning of this post, then chalk this up to one of my lesser qualities. It’s nothing to be proud of, but there’s something about settling in with my 2 favorite boys to watch a favorite TV show or movie. It seems to be the perfect relaxation at the end of a long day.
I write. Whether it’s a blog post or an email or a few scribbles in a notebook, I love weaving words together to create stories, capture memories, or draw inspiration from life happening around me.
I wouldn’t say any of these things is unique or impressive, but they’re the things that make me, me. At the end of the day, it’s these things that make me happiest.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Day 4: Favorite Quote

Today's prompt: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it 

Sharing just one favorite quote with you is like having to choose which child I like best (you know, if I actually had children). I’ve always been a bit obsessed with collecting quotes that speak to my heart and have collections in a variety of places—word documents, journals, post-it notes, and of course Pinterest.

But for the purpose of this, I’ll pick one. Just one. (Remember, it’s one of many, though).


There are so many reasons I love this quote. For starters, I have always liked Elisabeth Kubler Ross. I took a class in high school on faith, grief, and loss and we learned a lot about her work. I had experienced a few losses in my life at that point, but had no way of knowing just how much more I would experience in the years that would follow. Since then, I’ve increasingly understood the five stages of grief and think of her often because of it.

But aside from my respect for the author of this quote, the main reason it is among my favorites is because the beauty and truth I find within it.

I’d gladly trade every hardship, tragedy and loss in my life for anything. But I can’t. And in trying to draw strength from those situations, I’ve learned some of the greatest lessons in life. Many of my most defining characteristics are the result of the most trying times. So in a strange way, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have drawn strength from them. To learn to endure and persevere. To appreciate the small things. To see life in an entirely different light. I believe those experiences in my life have given me a unique sense of compassion, empathy, strength, and wisdom.

And this isn’t even about me. I’ve seen it true for so many others. It seems unfair that it takes challenging experiences in life to make you truly appreciate things, but some of the greatest beauty comes from those moments where we rise from the ashes. And while I’d gladly forego the hardship (or take it away for anyone who has to endure it), if I can’t, then I’ll take away from it the grace, wisdom, and character it builds.