To be honest, I was not sure how exactly I was going to make my return to writing. I didn't know if I should just jump in and begin posting without addressing that it has been so long since I have posted or if I should write a long post detailing where I have been and why I have been so absent. Instead I plan to land somewhere in the middle and keep this short but do a bit of explaining.
I have not posted anything in nearly 2 years. I spent so much time working on my Etsy shop in 2017 and early 2018 and then transitioned into opening my own storefront on Amazon in August of 2018 and gaining my prime selling privileges. During that time I was also traveling several times a year and planning my own wedding in Hawaii, which I do plan to eventually write something about and to share our process of getting married thousands of miles from home in a place we had never even visited.
After my own wedding, my sister got engaged shortly after and we began to plan her wedding and anyone who has ever planned a full scale wedding knows that is a ton of work! Plus I hosted her bridal shower and planned her bachelorette party. On top of that everyone had babies in 2019, including my sister, which meant baby shower after baby shower.
We also decided to remodel our kitchen. No, not hire a contractor or a company to remodel our kitchen, we did the work! We gutted it, we hung the new cabinets, we installed the appliances, we put up the backsplash, we painted and did everything else that was necessary to complete the project. Also, when I say we, I really mean mostly my husband. I was the assistant and helped as much as I could though.
Time has just gotten away from me. One month past without writing, then two and now here we are.
My passions have changed quite a bit though and I do plan to start sharing more relevant content. A lot of my focus has been on living a healthier, happier and overall better version of life than I once was. I have been working out regularly for nearly a year, eating pretty healthy, and taking care of my mental health and I want to share more of my own journey.
This post was essentially a way for me to say, I'm back!
2017 was the year of firsts and the year of growth and change. I had such an amazing year and I want to share all of my highlighted "best moments".
17. Matchbox twenty concert
16. 5 billion trips to mill creek park
15. home improvements
14. Finally leaving the food service industry
At the beginning of the year I quit my job and focused on growing my shop and increasing my inventory and sales. I worked in food service for over 6 years and it was just time to move on and begin to work on something that could grow and I could actually see myself doing long term.
13. Steelers games!
12. Red Hot Chili peppers concert
AMAZING! This concert was the most high production concert I have ever been to and Jon and I were lucky enough to attend the show with floor seats. This is the concert that really started to sway my music preference away from country.
11. Brantley Gilbert and Luke combs concert
If you like country music, I highly recommend you see both of these artist at least once because they were incredible. Nicole and I had the best sister night out just jamming out to some country music and having a good time.
10. Cook Forest
I will always be down to take any trip that involves hiking in a beautiful place. Nicole and I took a trip to cook forest and went hiking and exploring throughout the area. Plus any trip with Nicole is always the best because we literally never stop laughing.
9. Mohican state park
8. Giving up meat (and most dairy and eggs)
This was one of the hardest things I have ever done, except quitting smoking. Jon and I changed the majority of our eating habits and had to quit going to a lot of our favorite restaurants. I can honestly say I have never felt better in my life though. I was always bloated and normally ate out way too often simply because I was lazy and did not want to cook. Now I am forced to cook and be very conscience of what I am putting into my body.
7. Key West
6. Halestorm concert
5. Hitting 100 sales
When this year started, I had 1 goal which was to hit 100 sales on my Etsy shop. I originally thought it was going to be very difficult to hit this goal but ended up doing so in April. Now at the end of the year my shop sales are totally 600 (possibly a bit more depending on when I post this). I never felt successful working dead end service jobs, but over the past year I have felt so successful because of the growth and progress I have had with my shop.
4. welcome to Miami
2. Bahama mama
1. memories made with family and friends
2017 was an amazing year full of so many amazing memories. It was the first time I had ever been in a different country (except Canada whenever I was younger). It was the first time I had ever been to a rock concert and I ended up attending more than 1 because they were so amazing. I was also able to make so many amazing memories with the people that I love. I hope 2018 brings me more adventures and more experiences. I also hope that I end next year with a different last name and Jon and I are officially married!
My own happiness
I know, it has been months since I have published anything, which is not okay. I go through phases where I tell myself that I will work harder to make writing a priority, but I NEVER follow through, I get busy and life takes over so I ALWAYS push writing to the back burner and make other things my priority,
I promise that I will no longer do this. I will make writing my priority because it is something I have always loved and always been passionate about. I love looking at old pieces I have written and admiring how much progress I have made over the years.
Recently, I have been reading You Are A Badass by Jen Sincera and something about this book really makes me want to push myself to do bigger and better things, which I guess is the point of a "self help book". Also, I absolutely hate that books are ever even classified in that grouping because EVERY SINGLE PERSON should have to read this book. The sooner you read it, the better. Everyone needs "self help".
I am only 100 or so pages through, but there's so many incredible passages throughout this book that I can relate to about embracing change and just not being scared to step out of your own shell. This is not a book report so I am not going to recap the book, but I highly recommend picking up a copy if you are feeling a bit lost an uninspired.
The reason I bring up this book is because in recent months I have begun to really just live my life for me, something the book encourages readers to do. I have spent most of my life looking for approval from every single person in my life. My parents, my sisters, my friends, my teachers, my boss, even my fiance, but that was not making me happy...
What makes me happy is giving my dogs 600 kisses every single day. What makes me happy is eating pizza (although I really really really wish I could live a 100% vegan lifestyle). What makes me happy is the smell of candles burning and taking long hot baths. What makes me happy is reading a book on my couch on Sunday afternoon. What makes me happy is the fact that I can make money working from home. What makes me happy is traveling. What makes me happy is watching Friends over and over and over again.
Many of these things are rather pointless things that won't spark any sort of controversy or deep disagreement, but that is the point. Start out small. Start developing your own strength to just do whatever the hell you want to do. I have seen first hand how life can be cut short at any given time, so whatever time you have, you might as well spend it doing what you want and what you love.
Also, you are never too old to grow and change for the better. Try something new, try to be a kinder and more understanding person because you never know what others may be going through,
I grew up in a house where we barely had enough money to keep our utilities on, let alone go on vacation or buy a brand new car. We received our medical insurance and food through the government. I either wore handy down clothes, used clothes, or Walmart clothing for most of my life. I did not own a pair of Nike shoes (or any shoes that weren't from Payless) until I was 16 years old. I did not have a cell phone until I had my first job and I paid the bill.
My mom drank. My dad drank. My sisters and brother did things they weren't supposed to do and also drank well before they were legally allowed. Both of my older sisters had their own children before they were even 20. I (and my twin) was the first one to graduate high school out of 5 children and also the first to attend college.
I started working at 15 because I needed money. I was not saving for a car or college, I just wanted to be able to buy tampons and shampoo and maybe go to a movie once in a while.
I never had friends stay at my house. I never even really had friends just come to my house. I kept my life a secret from all of my friends because it is something that is very hard to explain whenever you are young. It was embarrassing and I was ashamed to be who I was and come from the place I did.
I could have gotten pregnant as a teenager and moved into government housing. I could have became an alcoholic or a drug addict. I could have used my upbringing as an excuse, instead I used it as motivation to do better.
I am not a doctor or a lawyer. I'm not raking in the millions or changing the world. I am happy though. I live my life the way I want to live my life. I went to college and tried to find myself and find my path. I started my very own small business. I met an amazing man and fell in love. I have the best, best friend in the entire world that I have known forever and been best friends with her for 15 years. I have a twin who is literally God's answer to giving me parents that were not the best. I have the 2 best dogs in the entire world and a beautiful house with a pool in the backyard.
Do not let your life make you a victim. You do not have to fall into the life that most people think you will fall into because of your upbringing. Do what makes you happy and what you think feels right. If you want to stay on people's couches while traveling the world, go for it! If your dream is to open a pizza shop or bar or nail salon, do it. You don't have to make millions to be successful, you just have to be happy.
There's an episode of 'How I met your mother' where Barney explains the concept of graduation goggles. This phenomenon occurs whenever you are going through a change in your life, a change like graduation. When you graduate either high school or college you may be sad because you think of all of the good memories, not all of the hard work, sleepless nights, and even tears. You are sad to leave it all behind and have a fresh start, although that has been the end goal the entire time.
This phenomenon explains why people cannot seem to make long term relationships work. When you are single, you long to be loved and to love someone else. You want the snuggles and the kisses and the dates. You want the amazing trips together and brunch on Sunday. You want to escape your single lifestyle.
Whenever you actually get into a relationship you do get to experience these things! You get to feel all of these amazing emotions and make all of these beautiful memories. This will wear off though, whether it takes 2 months, 6 months or even a year. The original flame and the original spark wears off. You begin feeling comfortable. The relationship begins to feel normal and regular.
This is when people choose to walk away. They want the new and exciting experience of a relationship, but do not want the comfortable and real part of one. They reminisce on being single and think that it was such a freeing and fun experience because of their graduation goggles. They remember the amazing girls nights they had and the first dates they went on. They forget the lonely nights though when they wanted someone to just be there and let them know that everything was going to be alright. They forget the Valentine's days they spent on the couch watching a movie alone or even the date nights with friends where they were the fifth wheel.
Truth is, relationships are boring sometimes. You and your boyfriend/girlfriend are together daily and just living your lives. You work, clean, take care of each other and sometimes the magic is not always there. Your heart doesn't skip a beat with every kiss and you wear old sweatpants to dinner. You do not need to make every single moment memorable or magical because you are supposed to be best friends and love each other through everything.
There are days where I cannot stand my fiance, but when i get into bed I still make him snuggle me because even when I don't like him I still love him. There are even days whenever I think to myself that being single would be sort of fun, but then I would just be out there looking for exactly what I already have.
I am of course no relationship expert, but who is? Who is to say that anyone knows exactly how to act whenever they are in a relationship or how a relationship should be day to day, My advice to anyone who seems to think there's no one out there for them is to take a chance. Sometimes you find love in unexpected places and with unexpected people. When you are finally in a long term relationship remember that the grass is not always greener.
She is not your friend
When I think of an abusive relationship, I think of a romantic relationship. But you can have an abusive relationship with a friend too! Friends can verbally and mentally abuse you the same way that your significant other can. They can tear you down just to ensure you will never have the courage to part with them. They can make you feel like they're the most amazing friend and there's no one else will ever be as good of a friend as them.
If she never has anything nice to say about the way you dress, your hair, makeup, or anything about you. If she makes fun of your weight, either calling you too large or too skinny. If she makes you feel as though your ass or even boobs are too large or too small. She is NOT your friend.
If she makes you feel like your boyfriend/husband is unattractive or beneath you, If she belittles you so that you are afraid to take a chance or pursue a dream. If she tells everyone your business and secrets. She is NOT your friend.
If she listen only to speak. If she acts like she is better than you because she has more money, a nicer house and car, or a better job. If she critiques you in order to make you feel self conscious. She is NOT your friend.
If she consistently ignores your texts and calls. If she can never make time to spend with you or keep the plans you make. She is NOT your friend.
Women (most women at least) won't allow a man to belittle them or treat them like crap, but some woman allow their friends to treat them like garbage. A good friend wouldn't say something that is going to hurt your feelings (unless they're telling you that your boyfriend is cheating or something along those lines). Your friends should lift you up when you are feeling low and always have your best interest in mind.
Know when to walk away and cut ties with someone who is trying to hold you back. If they've been your friend for a few months or 10 years, it does not matter! Some people are so unhappy and miserable with themselves that they only want to make others feel as horrible as they do.
Have you ever noticed that when good things start happening to you, toxic people will begin to become jealous and attempt to ruin your happiness? They cannot just be genuinely happy for you because they are too focused on tearing you down. They are so unhappy with their own lives and instead of trying to do better, they want you to do/be less so they do not feel so terrible.
Recently I have had a lot of positive things happen to me. My Etsy shop is doing amazing and is growing really fast and my fiance and I just planned a dream vacation to the Bahamas and Miami. On top of getting engaged and buying a house late last year, I feel like I am on top of the world! Yes,I want to discuss all these amazing things with the people who are supposed to love me and be my friends, because they're new and exciting. Unfortunately, some people will never have your best interest in mind or be capable of being genuinely happy for you. They listen only so they can eventually talk.
Those people are toxic! You should not have to hide your happiness or excitement in order to appease someone else. You should be able to openly share all the goals you are accomplishing without fearing that someone will become angry at you for doing so.
As of this moment I am done letting toxic people bring me down. I am done letting someone control my emotions simply because they are unable to find their own happiness. I (and you) am allowed to be happy. I am allowed to brag and talk about things that I have accomplished and the things that I experience. I am not the issue, the toxic people that creep into my life are my issue.
My journey with anxiety
I rarely share my mental state with others. Most people that know me do not even know I have anxiety because for a long time I tried to hide it. I didn't want people to know that I was having problems.
Anxiety is relentless. It does not care who you are, what you come from, how much money you have, what you do for a living, etc. ANYONE can have anxiety. You can also develop it at any time.
I am sharing my story because when I read other people's stories it makes me feel better and it gives me something to relate to. My journey with anxiety did not even start until after I graduated high school. I was always pretty normal. I got nervous on occasion and sometimes felt anxious whenever I had a big presentation or a first date or something along those lines, but I never had anxiety.
Over the last 4-5 years my mental state has changed dramatically. There was a time when I was very comfortable in my body and in my life and now there are days where I just wish I could crawl out of my body. I want to escape the 'heart racing, pit in my stomach, fear of things that are out of my control' mentality.
I used to only have anxiety once in a while (once a month or so) so it was very manageable. It was usually sparked by something that I could pinpoint and in the future I was sure to stay away from. There came a time when my anxiety was sparked by something I could not just avoid for the rest of my life though. It was sparked by things I had to do or I had to see every single day.
This is when I knew it was a real problem. It took about a year for me to really know that this wasn't something that I would just grow out of or something that was going to go away on its own. This was now something that defined who I am as a person and how I make decisions. I was so embarrassed in the beginning. I don't think I told anyone for months.
I can remember having an 'episode' (I would not consider it a full blown panic attack) in one of my classes at college. I instantly asked to go to the restroom and waited for our mid-class break to return to the room and grab my things and leave, I would make excuses as to why I was doing some of the things I was doing or why I was so flaky.
People who do not have anxiety just cannot seem to understand the effect it has on your body. They don't understand why you cancel plans with no real reason or why sometimes you just don't want to get out of bed. There is no way to really explain anxiety to someone who has never had to experience it. The best way I know to even attempt to explain it to someone is to imagine having to participate in something that you fear (heights, snakes, spiders, public speaking) and magnify that feeling of fear. Now imagine feeling like that and not being able to just shake it off and get rid of it, because that is anxiety. On top of feeling like that your mind will think of all kinds of scenarios (most will never even occur) that also terrify you.
There are weeks at a time where I have no anxiety at all. I am normal (or what I imagine normal is). Even in these times I still feel like a sitting duck, just waiting for the anxiety to find me and take over my life once again.
My triggers range from trying new things, being in large crowds whenever I am not sure what to expect, and a general fear of dying. The fear of dying is a relatively new one that I have just developed since my dad was diagnosed with cancer.
When I actually have anxiety talking about it (usually to my fiance or best friend) makes me feel better. They go over all the possible outcomes of whatever I am feeling anxious about and make me realize that it really is mostly all in my head. It is the anxiety that is taking over my train of thought and I cannot let it get the best of me. This doesn't always work though, There are times where I have extreme anxiety for several days and I don't know how I end up pulling myself out of it, but I do.
I know there are people out there who suffer is complete silence. They don't have a friend or significant other or a family member to talk to. They don't know where to go or who to turn to and they trap themselves inside of their own heads. If you are one of them and you are reading this, I promise you there are places to go and people to turn to. Talk to a parent or teacher or coworker. Find a therapist or talk to your family doctor. Research online resources and books that you can read. Just do something! Don't suffer alone because you are embarrassed. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Life is Short
There was a time not so long ago when someone could have said to me "Life is short, live everyday like it is your last" and I would have just rolled my eyes. I would have been annoyed by the cliche because I never had anything to relate to it.
Most of us spend the majority of our lives working toward goals. Goals that help us obtain more money and more belongings and we believe more happiness. We will work and work and miss out on amazing experiences with friends and family because the desire to obtain money.
Learning that my dad had stage 4 lung cancer (for those of you who do not know very much about stage 4 lung cancer, the odds of living longer than 5 years is 4%. 50% of all patients do not make it more than 8 months after the day they are diagnosed) was devastating. No one tells you how to handle it or what to do. No one tells you how to speak or interact with someone who knows their time is very limited (I know miracles happen and I continue to pray, but the realist inside of me knows the odds and I am always going to be a numbers person) How do you look at someone who you have always thought was so strong and see that person cry or see that person deteriorate, because that is what chemo does to you! It wears down your body. It makes you sick and thin and weak. It makes you tired and drains all of your energy.
I have had many conversations with my dad about how he feels now that he has spent majority of his life busting his ass in order to make money, pay bills, save and hopefully retire. Or how he feels knowing that he will never be rid of cancer and he doesn't break down or get upset. He is thankful every single morning he gets to wake up, although he is usually is pain.
This makes you think, you could live your life the same way; Work, work, work and never take the time to be with your family or friends or go to any of the places you love. Or you could accept that money and busting your ass is not everything. I am not saying you should not have a job or that you should not want to get ahead in life, I am just saying that work and money should not be the only motive.
Go visit the places you want to see when you have the opportunity or spend quality time with the people you love. Some people choose to make their entire lives and every part of their being about their job and the money they make. Life is supposed to be so much more than that.
Our lives are unpredictable. None of us know how long we have or where we will end up. You could be killed in an accident or you could live until you are 100, but you will never really know until it actually happens and by then it is too late.
Live every single day like it really could be your last. Tell the people you love that you love them. Make an effort to see your parents and grandparents frequently. Don't let tiredness and laziness keep you from doing the things you want to do.
People who are not in love or who fantasize about being in love seem to think that it is all about fancy dates and romantic nights. They focus on finding someone with the best looks and tons of money instead of looking at someone’s heart and personality.
There was a time when even I thought falling in love and being in love meant holding hands all the time, flowers for no reason, expensive gifts, and endless posts of social media. There was a time when I thought that I had to be a certain age before I could settle down. There was a time when I thought I needed to date tons of people before I would know what kind of person would be best for me.
The harsh reality is that love can be difficult sometimes. I am not saying all the time, every day or even every month, but sometimes it can be very challenging. Especially when we now live in a world where when things are broken we do not fix them. Instead we throw them away and replace them with something newer and prettier and better. Sometimes those new things will usually only break even faster than the older version.
Love means different thing to different people, but to me it is simple. Love means never making your significant other feel as though they are not good enough or that they have to compete with someone else for your attention. Love means watching movies you don’t always want to or attending concerts that you don’t really care to attend. Love means taking someone else into consideration before making a major decision.
Love is so beautiful when two people actually want to be in love. Whenever two people are actually honest and caring and actually want to build a life together. Unfortunately, some people get into relationships they never really wanted to be in. They end up breaking hearts and trust and damaging another person. This is just one of the risks everyone takes whenever they open their heart and life to love.
Love is always worth the risk! The opportunity to fall asleep in the arms of the person you love every single night or always have someone who cares about how your day was is something almost everyone is the world looks for. Just having someone there to enjoy the simplest things in life like a walk in the park or binging on Netflix series can change your attitude and outlook.