Don’t be a Con-Man… And kill your own bugs.

Last week was a week of firsts for me.

First Snow Patrol Concert.

First time getting scammed.

First time ever mowing the lawn.

First time feeling ashamed of being a girlie girl.

OK. So let me just say, that Snow Patrol is completely amazing.  And they are for sure my favorite band ever.  They were just as spectacular live as I expected them to be, and I got to enjoy them with my bestest friend, K!!  We both took a half day of work on Thursday and drove out to Boston.  I was so giddy I could barely control myself.

And on the way there, I double and triple checked to make sure that I had my tickets.  We got into the theater and seated and everything was fine.  And I think at one point, I mentioned to her something about wondering why there aren’t more scammers out there.  I mean, come on people, I know how the world works.  Anyone who can get something for nothing usually will at least try.  So these tickets that I purchased for the concert, I got on StubHub, which a friend of mine recommended.  I bought the tickets back in like February.  But the tickets explicitly say on them “don’t worry if there’s someone elses name” since you’re basically buying them from a third-party.  But at one point, I asked K “How many times do you think people double sell their tickets?”

For some reason, questions like that never end well for me.  I don’t typically believe in jinxes, but for some reason, it seems like any time I have a thought like that… it’s exactly what happens.  “Wow, you know it’s been forever since I’ve seen a cop on this road” and then the sirens are wailing in your rear view mirror.  (which happened to me several years ago).  Like I said, I don’t typically believe in jinxes, but I’m officially making a point of never saying things like this out loud anymore.

Which brings us to the second ‘first’ for me.  Being scammed.  So… Ed Sheeran, the guy opening for Snow Patrol (who by the way…. is also PHENOMINAL) had just finished and an usher came over with some people to show them to their seats.  There was a couple sitting a few seats down from us, and basically what happened was, the man looked at their tickets and said “Oh, you’re supposed to be down there” so he looked at our tickets… and don’t you know… we had the same tickets.  Turns out, the seller sold them to ME on StubHub, and also sold them to this couple through eBay.

Can I even explain to you how upset I was?  I mean, SNOW PATROL was about to be live in front of my face, and these people were telling me that we had double tickets.

Okay. So, I forced myself to stay calm.  Apparently the other guy had purchased his tickets first- so they got to stay in the seats.  The gentleman in charge was very nice and ended up moving us to some handicap seats that were closer to the stage.  I was closer to the stage.  They weren’t kicking me out for not actually having a valid ticket.  I wasn’t about to complain.

The concert was completely amazing.  I couldn’t hear for like an hour afterwards, and I didn’t get home until almost 3 in the morning (and still had to be at work at 8 the next day) but seriously, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. They’ve been my favorite band for as long as I can remember.

I think it’s because of the ballads.  I love ballads.  And the lyrics.  They have such smart, witty lyrics that you don’t even realize half the time.

Like this:

I tried to tell you before I left
But I was screaming under my breath
You are the only thing that makes sense
Just ignore all this present tense

It’s sad and witty at the same time.  I don’t know maybe I’m just crazy.

But my absolute favorite favorite song by them is Run.  And it was so amazing hearing him explain why he wrote it.  Back when they were poor and struggling.  It’s a song about always being there for the people that you love.  It is so my favorite.

Ok.  So no more gushing, ok? OK.

Let’s talk about the girlie girl thing.  Because it’s really something I’ve been struggling with for a while now.  Not so much the fact that I’m a girlie girl…. more so the fact that I so often don’t feel like I am self-sufficient enough.

A couple of weeks ago- actually it was April 1 because I accused my dad of playing a prank on me.  Anyway- I came home to find this MASSIVE centipede in my bathroom.  It was high up on the wall, and I was a total wuss about it. (And I was going to insert a picture…. but it completely grossed me out just to type it into google and hit images…. so no photo of the nasty bug that wanted to eat me.)

I called my dad, freaking out, asking if it was some sort of April Fools Day prank- because I REALLY don’t like bugs.  He assured me, that no- it was definitely not a prank.  And he did what any normal dad would do- he told me to kill it.

Now- I am by no means a bug smusher.  I think it’s gross.  If I didn’t get so creeped out by them, I’d probably just let them go on their merry way.  Usually I’d much prefer to swipe them into the sink or toilet or bathtub and just drown them.

But this thing…. it was high up on the wall and I was pretty sure if I tried to go near it it was going to eat my hand off.  Ok- maybe a slight overestimate as far as what it would actually do- but if there’s one thing that girlie girls are good at- it’s making things seem WAY scarier than they are.

Speaking of- I just watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother the other night that completely proves my point and kind of makes me worried all at the same time.  But I’ll get to that.

So- my dad says “If you’re not going to kill it, then what are you going to do?”  My great suggestion was to get the broom but my dad insisted that it would fall and scurry away somewhere and that a paper towel was the best method of making sure that you got it the first time.

And then, in the background, I hear my mom tell my dad to just come over and kill it for me.  Now, it’s not like we live next door to each other.  It’s probably a 6-9 minute drive depending on lights.  And to my dad’s credit (He IS an amazing dad, after all) he came over and killed it.  I stood guard and made sure the thing didn’t move while my dad drove over, and that night I had creepy dreams about things crawling all over me.

But I got to thinking- what would happen if another one came along and my dad wasn’t around?  Well… 2:36 a.m. the night I got home from the concert, that’s exactly what happened.  Another one of those gross things with a bazillion legs was hiding in my bathroom…. and I killed it….. (with a pair of scissors)

But listen- the truth of the matter is, all my life I’ve been squeamish and grossed out and scared by things.  Rodents, insects… all those little gross things that boys find exciting.  It was during this episode of How I Met Your Mother that I realized that I am afraid to be independent.

There’s one exchange in particular between Robin and Ted that brought me to this conclusion.

Robin: I don’t get it, the Ted that I went out with was attracted to the kind of woman who could use a steak knife without supervision.

Ted: For your information, Becky doesn’t like steak.  She likes pasketi… spaghetti.  And more importantly, she makes me feel needed.

Robin: Needed?  She makes training wheels feel needed.

Ted: Hey, it’s nice to feel needed.  And you know what, it’s not a feeling guys get when they’re with you.

Robin: When we were dating, I didn’t make you feel needed?

Ted: Come on, you always took charge of everything.

(Cut to a bunch of scenes where Robin interrupts Ted by saying “I got this”…. paying for pizza, pulling out a gun when it sounded like someone was trying to break into the apartment)

Robin: Did that really bother you?

Ted: Well yeah… it’s nice to be needed.  Look, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you. (his phone beeps) It’s Becky…. Ohhh… she’s trapped in a revolving door.

Okay… so humorous? Yes.  Realistic…. maybe it’s a little far-fetched.  But here’s the point of that whole thing… I am afraid of NOT making someone feel needed.

Now, the episode goes on to show Robin asking Barney about whether or not she made HIM feel needed when THEY dated- to which he also said no.  But he made a point of proving to her that it was a good thing.  Because he always knew that she could take care of herself.

I guess I’m stuck somewhere in the in-between.  I don’t want to ever to get to a point in my life where I make people feel like they’re not needed.  I don’t think it’s ever good to be THAT self-sufficient.  But at the same time, it’s a little silly that I made my dad drive all the way to my house just so he could kill a bug.  Maybe I need to be a little more self-sufficient than that.

So, after this huge self sufficiency revelation, I decided that I was going to start doing more things for myself.  And so, on Saturday, I mowed my lawn for the very first time.  There’s a lot of land at my house, and I have both a riding mower and a push mower.  And interestingly enough, on Saturday when I went to mow, I could NOT for the life of me, start the riding mower.  The engine wouldn’t turn over or whatever.  So, I mowed the massive lawn with the push mower.  And geez, if I do that every Saturday, by the end of the summer I have a feeling I’ll be in MUCH better shape than I am now.  That’s hard work, yo.  Especially going uphill.

In conclusion- StubHub is investigating the guy who sold me my tickets and refunded my money 100%.  Also- when I was getting the lawn mower out of the garage, I saw a mouse.  And I didn’t run away screaming…. I think I’m making progress. 

Be brave,

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right… But Three Lefts Do

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my ‘bucket list’ for 2012.

When I wrote it back in January, I really struggled to come up with 25 solid things.  In fact, after about 15 I struggled.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have things that I wanted to do, it was more a matter of wording it in a way that I could make it stick… all year.

But I’ve gone over that list time and time again and you know what I noticed more than anything?  The word ‘buy’.  You see… buying for me isn’t difficult.  In fact, I rather take after my dad in the fact that I’m an impulse buyer.  The people that set up endcaps and clearance sections love me, because I can come up with a justification to buy a lot of things.  I wouldn’t say everything… but if I really want something, I’ll find a way to convince myself that I need it.

But you know what is actually DIFFICULT for me?  Saving.  HA.  No, it’s not difficult… it’s a joke.  I am by no means a saver.  My younger brother… that boy stashes more money than Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.  Okay, maybe not… but suffice it to say, he’s the saver in the family… while I am most definitely a spender.

So, looking at all of these things on my bucket list that have to do with spending money… I can’t help but ask myself, how am I stretching myself with any of these things?

The truth is, I’m really not.  None of them are intentionally put there to help me become a better person.  They’re frivolous, and while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to spend money on things, is it really a GOOD thing to spend money on things?  Things that I don’t need?

In fact- 1/5 of all of the things on my list have the words “buy” or “purchase” or “spend” in them.  One fifth.  20%.  And on top of that, another 6 items on the list involve unnecessarily spending money.  That’s almost half of everything on my list.  There’s something wrong with this picture.

I think I’m beginning to realize the person that I used to be.  I think I’m beginning to see who she really was…. and I don’t really like her all that much.  She spends way too much time worrying about herself.  She claimed to care for other people, but when it came right down to it, the most important thing was always herself.

I always let myself get in the way of things.  I let myself get in the way of my own happiness.

I can recall, in vivid detail, the day I knew that my relationship with HandyMan was over.  It was Thanksgiving weekend.  We had had a nightmare of a time figuring out whose family we were going to spend the weekend with.  We had gone back and forth several times.  In the end, he said it would really mean a lot to him and his family if I would spend Thanksgiving with them at their house.  So I drove out there and spent the day with them.  Handyman was always very different than me.  But that was a good thing.  He loved being outdoors.  Camping, hiking, fishing, geocaching, cross country skiing.  You name it- if it was outside he was there.

Me, on the other hand… am not an outdoorsy kind of girl.  It’s not that I hate being outside.  It’s just that if I had my preference, I’d rather be somewhere that I won’t get sunburned or eaten alive by mosquitos or alligators or covered in poison ivy.

There’s a lot of variables in the outside world.  And a lot of dirt.  This girl is not a big fan of dirt.  High heels and sparkles yes- dirt… not so much.

Anyway- Thanksgiving weekend 2011 was really really warm in New England, and on Black Friday (instead of the usual shopping trip I take in the morning with my mom) HandyMan and I went for a hike.  And this was not just any hike… this was a 3 mile up hill both ways kind of a hike.  Not the normal nature walk that I consider ‘hiking’.  For the first mile and a half, I actually did okay.  I’m really not in good shape, but we kept the pace slow and I stopped only when completely necessary for a breath or a drink of water.  Otherwise, I forced myself to keep pace.

Let me preface this next part by saying that not only am I not a major fan of the outdoors, I’m also incredibly clumsy.  Half the time, all I need is a light breeze and I’ll manage to trip over something… or nothing.  At one point in the hike we veered off the main path to follow a smaller one down to a waterfall.  There was a long set of incredibly steep stairs that led down to the spot where you could see the falls, and it didn’t take long before I crashed down on my backside.  I was pretty sure that I had at the very least bruised my tail bone, and everything from that point on hurt like the Dickens.  A few stray tears had managed to escape before I bit them back, but otherwise I forced myself to stay calm.  People fell when hiking… it was the nature of the beast.

We made it down to the falls, and then had to trudge all the way back up the horribly kept stairs back onto the main path.  We had just passed the mile 2 out of 3 marker when I shut down.  I stopped smiling.  I stopped holding his hand.  I didn’t acknowledge half the things he said or pointed out.  For all intents and purposes, I gave up.  I let myself break down and all the while, the voice in my head kept rolling over and over “this is it… this is the end.  This is when he finds out who you really are and is done with you.  This is where your heart breaks.  This is the spot right here.  You can’t go any further.  You can’t finish.  You can’t do it.”

It was a steady stream of constant nagging in my head.  Telling me I wasn’t good enough.  Telling me that he deserved so much more than me.  My stomach was in knots and my chest burned with the pain that it was ending.  That was the moment that I knew.

And of course, I did what any emotionally unstable, insecure girl would do… I picked a fight.  I stopped walking.  My voice was quiet and laden with all of the hurt and insecurities that I could no longer keep at bay.

“What are you doing with me?” I asked.

He stopped walking a few paces ahead of me and turned and looked at me curiously.  His nose twitched in that adorable and awkward way it always did when he wasn’t thinking about it.  He asked me what I was talking about.  He said we were taking a walk together.  (I tried not to scoff at the casual way he said ‘walk’ when it was obviously more of a vigorous workout for me than it was for him).

I repeated my question.  “What are you doing with me?”  I felt I should explain.  “This- out here.  What is this?”

He eyed me carefully.  He took a step toward me and I retreated.  I could feel the tears welling and I knew that if he touched me at all I would lose it.  I was angry at myself for getting so worked up.  I was angry at him for suggesting the stupid hike in the first place because I didn’t want to disappoint him by saying no.  I knew it wasn’t worth it, but the words came spilling out before I could stop them.

“You don’t deserve this,” I said, still catching my breath.  “You deserve someone who can stinking keep up with you on a hike through the woods!  So what is THIS?!”

I was frustrated.  I was physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted.  The tears were brimming over and spilling out now, before I could stop them.  We took a seat on a nearby bench so that I could calm down and catch my breath.  He was quiet for a long time.  I always liked that about HandyMan.  He always knew when I needed to talk and when I just needed someone to sit with me, to put a reassuring arm around me, and just wait.  Our silences were never awkward.  Never filled with all of the things that we couldn’t bring ourselves to say.  But this silence- this one was brimming with all of MY fears from all of the previous months.  All of the times I felt like he deserved better than me.  All of the moments I wondered if it would finally be the end of my intense fairy tale happiness.  This silence was different.

And after a while, after I had calmed down he made me look him in the eyes.  He told me that he loved me.  He told me that the fact that we were different was a good thing.  We could bring out differences in each other.  Our unique personalities could be celebrated in our relationship because we complimented each other.  And for the first time ever, I thought maybe he was right.  Maybe the fact that he was strong and analytical would compliment my sensitive emotions.  Maybe he would teach me more about being self sufficient and I would show him how to slow down and smell the roses.  I began to see our differences in a new light.

And unfortunately so did he.

It’s kind of interesting to me that only 2 weeks after that conversation, he broke up with me because we ‘were too different’.  He told me that he thought we would come to resent one another.  That our differences would ultimately come between us and drive us apart.

I can’t say that I blame him.  After all- it was me that planted that seed in his head to begin with.

But that brings me back to my original question.  About the girl that I was and the girl that I want to be.  Planting that seed of doubt in his head- it did nothing but hurt us both.  It hurt him.  It hurt me.  It hurt our relationship.  It DOWNGRADED our relationship.  I basically told him to stop having pity on me because that’s how I viewed our relationship.  Come to think of it, ever since Voldemort, that’s how I’ve viewed everything that could have ever even potentially been a relationship.  If I don’t value myself, how can I expect anyone else to?  Wow.  Did you read that right?  Did I read that right?

How in heaven’s name can I expect anyone else to place any value at all in me, if they see how little I value myself?  What’s to keep them from treating me like dirt, if they see that’s how I see myself?

It’s in everything that I do.  The way I act, the way I look, the way I talk.  I’ve always been self-deprecating by nature, but it’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to anyone in my future.

I’ve never felt worth it.

There. I said it.

It’s out there for everyone to see.

I’m not sure if it’s because of Voldemort or my longstanding issue with my weight and image or some twisted combination of the two, but my self worth has been kind of slammed into the ground.  I think that’s why for so long I was so worried about finding a man.  It gave me a sense of purpose, a sense of being needed.  In some sick way, it gave me worth.

I think for me, a lot of the reason why I like to spend money is the same.  Spending money is an emotional charge for me.  It’s fun, it’s frivolous.  Buying something new… it gives me that same sick twisted sense of worth.  My closet is filled with clothes I never wear and gadgets I bought and never gave a second glance at.  And the shoes-  oh my goodness the shoes.

I’m not as bad as I once was with shoes… but it’s still a little ridiculous the sheer number of pairs of shoes that I have that I haven’t worn in years.  The pairs that I bought for a particular outfit and only wore once.  Or worse yet- still have the tags on.

But it seems to me, that if I want to shed that image of my past.  If I want to stop being the girl that gets in her own way.  If I want to stop being the girl who waits for everything to happen to her… the girl who steps out in the morning with a smile on her face and a sense of purpose, then I need to change my list.

I need to be less ‘spend’ focused and more ‘people’ focused.

Which is why my list is changing.  And here’s the new one:

1. Get and stay right with God.
2. Make time to exersize on a weekly basis.  (Baby steps here…)
3. Lose 25 lbs (This one is still important to me)
4. Take a roadtrip (Done last month.  woohoo!)
5. Take a class (I think I’ve decided on horseback riding lessons… I’ve always wanted to do that)
6. Do something for someone and not expect anything in return.
7. Have photos taken of me that I actually like (A good step to an improved self image)
8. Talk to a stranger, even if it makes me uncomfortable.
9. Finish writing my book
10. Build and Stick to a budget
11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely (coming in May… major cuts back on TV/computer time)
12. Volunteer (I’m working on getting in contact with someone at the local Habitat for Humanity to volunteer over the summer)
13. Show someone my finished product of my book.  (this one is scary!!!)
14. Invest in people and build better, stronger friendships.
15. Hand out compliments.  Every day tell someone something nice.
16. Host a ‘Girls Only’ night.
17. Dress up, just because.
18. Impress myself.  For once, just be in awe of something that I’ve accomplished.
19. Reward myself with something small for something that matters (like weight loss goals)
20. Be spontaneous.
21. Create.  Craft projects/DIY projects
22. Purge.  (Spring cleaning anyone?)
23. Yard Sales/Flea markets on the weekends (to coincide with #21)
24. Read. (2 books a month… this one, I’ve been pretty good with so far)
25. Take more pictures.

And I just went back and counted.  You know how many things involve spending money now?  3.  (Well 4 if you include the road trip which has already taken place.)  I want to start taking responsibility for my own life and start making the most of it.  And money does not dictate happiness.  If Voldemort taught me anything, it was that.  His family was the wealthiest, most screwed up, unhappy lot I have ever met.  And they had way more money than I would have ever known what to do with.

It’s interesting to see how far I’ve already come in just over 3 months.  How my viewpoint on what I want out of my year and out of my life have already drastically changed.  8 out of 25 things on that list changed in 3 months.  And often times I go days and even weeks without feeling like I need the approval of a man when it used to be an hourly struggle.

Here’s to the next 9 months of freedom.  The next 9 months of letting go and letting God.  I couldn’t be more excited to see what the next 270 days have in store.

Be brave my friends,

You Are More Than The Sum Of Your Past Mistakes

Today I finished the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  For anyone that hasn’t read it, it’s a heart breaking and often times gut wrenching look at a broken girl who ultimately made the decision to commit suicide.  But before she did- she made a series of audio tapes explaining the reasons that led up to her decision and how these 13 people affected her enough to make her feel like she had no other way out.  It’s told from 2 different first person narratives-  the girl’s voice on the tapes and one of the boys that was a ‘reason’.

I wasn’t really expecting to remember so many of my own depressed-ridden moments as I did reading the book.  They kind of hit me out of the blue like a ton of rocks.  Certain passages in the book making it hard to breathe just thinking about different times in my life when I felt alone and alienated, worn out and just plain exhausted with life.  For me, it never got to the point of even considering the s word- but it’s hard knowing that so many people go through life thinking there is no other alternative.  Sometimes, it makes me wonder exactly how they can feel so desperate for escape.

But when I remember those times in my own life.  The times when I was beaten down and bruised, I can always remember something in the back of my mind.  Even when days went on without end when my phone didn’t ring.  Even when I felt so disconnected, so removed from anyone and everyone that I thought cared about me, there was still a small flicker in my mind.  That reminder that all I had to do was turn around, and I could fall into the safety net of Christ.

For anyone that hasn’t experienced it, it’s a difficult thing to describe.  It’s more than just a reason to go on.  It’s that steadying calm inside your heart and mind… down into your very soul that says that you’re not alone.  It’s knowing that even though words can not convey the depth of the hollow inside your chest, He will forever be there, waiting for you to ask Him to fill it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong… I understand that for a lot of people, depression is a severe chemical issue and not just a matter of mood.  But for me- based on the choices I was making and the path that I was following- the issue was far more mind over matter.

Last week in our young adult group we talked about purpose.  We talked about life and what we’re really here for.  For me, it’s mostly always been a non-issue.  Aside from the few years that I strayed and made my life’s purpose to do whatever I wanted- my purpose has been clear.  Aside from that time, my purpose has been to follow God and His Will for my life.  I’m not saying I’ve always been good at it, or that I’ve always done exactly what I should- because that’s not what being a Christian is about.  All I’m saying is that deep down, no matter what, I’ve always lived with the knowledge that God’s will for my life is greater than my own will.  That no matter how many times I think my way is better- I’ll eventually discover that I’m wrong.

And that really got me thinking.  For anyone who doesn’t know God… I can completely understand how you get to a point where there’s no alternative.  I can see how at the bottom of the seemingly endless pit of hollow despair, there is no light.  If following God isn’t your purpose in life, than what is?

Love?
Wealth?
Happiness?
Convenience?

And if so- how are any of those things measured?  How do you measure love?  Is it lust?  The number of contacts in your phone or friends on facebook?  How do you measure wealth?  Is it the things you have?  The labels on the clothes you wear?  The name on the car you drive or the size house you live in?  When is it ever enough?  The idea that what’s good for me may not be good for you… how do you ever determine rules?  What is too much?

What if someone thinks stealing kittens is okay?  What about killing?  With that line of thinking… even though I don’t think it’s okay… even though it’s not ‘good’ for me… if they think it’s good for them, who am I to tell them it’s wrong?

Aren’t you all glad more people don’t live by this rule?  I know I am.

Getting back to the point- I feel like the only thing you can really claim to be a purpose would be to find something that you’re passionate about and pursue it with all your heart.  And in the end if that thing is not God, pursuing a passion can become a self-fueled obsession that leads to the hunger, the desire for more.  It’s how a love of a job can lead to a need for money.  How a passion for love can lead to marriage crippling lust.  It’s how out of a longing for a life of convenience is borne a life of complacency and stagnancy.  And I don’t want my life to become any of those things.  I don’t really think any of us really WANT those things.

And so- with all of these things swirling around in my head today, this post was born.  Because I feel like it’s so important to talk about, and so often it’s things that we miss.  We see a friend hurting and we brush it off, we get busy or we’re afraid of over stepping our bounds.  I pray that I am ALWAYS the type of person that people feel they can call no matter what.  Day nor night, busy or free, early or late.  No matter what- I want to be the type of person that would never turn away a person in need.  Because in life, everyone needs (and deserves) someone like that.

If anyone out there is wondering today… Yes.  Your life is worth it.  Yes, you are loved.  Whether you’re single, married, athiest, religious, black, white, straight, gay.  Whether you’ve been hurt or you’ve done the hurting, your life is worth it.  And whether you know it or not, you have someone there for you.  And for you… yes you… the one reading this right now that says you have no one.  Right now, you have me.  For an encouraging word or a listening ear.  For an email or a phone call or a hug.  Whether we’ve met in person or you’re crossing this blog for the first time knowing nothing else about me- I am here for you.  Because I know what it’s like to feel like there’s no one on your side.  I am on your side.

And for anyone who needs another encouraging word… this song is for you.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Be brave,