It continues to amaze me how this year has flown by.  I always feel like the days go slow and the weeks go fast.  I’m not sure how that happens, but it has.  It’s been far too many months since I’ve been on here posting about my life and my year, but I want to end the year out strong.  So I’m back!

I’m officially at day 305 of my year.  I’ve got 10 months under my belt and 2 months to go.  And you want to know a secret?  I feel FANTASTIC.

I started out the year on a real mission to find myself.  To learn who I am and what I want out of life.  And still may not know what I want for my life, but I’ve made a very important first step– I’m learning where to look.

In January, I had just lost a guy that was really fantastic.  I had just cut my hair and given up Diet Coke.  I was desperately searching for a way to be happy being single and made up a list of things that I thought would get me there.

Ten months later and I’ve changed the list as a whole, and only followed through with about half of it.  I’ve found my way back to my Diet Coke addiction, although I’m drinking way less than I had been, eating better and subbing out soda for water as much as I can.  But somewhere during those months, I stopped caring about what had once been so important to me.  Thankfully, it was a good thing that I stopped caring, because it freed me to realize that I really don’t need a man to be happy.

This year, I think I only saw one of the many chick flicks that came out in theaters.  I spent more time reading and being creative.  I expanded my circle of friends (narrowly, but still) and became more involved in church.  I stopped focusing on all of the negative that I thought existed in my life and found a way to be happy with the positive.

I think a lot of things fell into perspective for me so far over these last months.  I found moments of pure happiness without a man.  And most importantly, I don’t spend all my time thinking about guys.  I don’t wonder what some stranger passing thinks of me (positively or negatively).  I don’t fret about it anymore.

Recently I had a guy friend ask me about my year.  I had mentioned it in passing to him several months ago and he was curious about what I was doing, why I was doing it and what kind of rules I set for myself.  He said he wanted to change the way he was living and was considering doing something similar to what I am currently in the middle of.

As I went over my rules with him, I realized that my biggest thing for this year wasn’t that I was forcing myself not to focus on men.  It was that I was trying to shift my thinking from what I don’t have to the bigger picture of my life and where I want it to be.  10 months later, my life still isn’t perfect.  I still have days that I’m lonely and some times that I’m miserable.  But I don’t let those days define me.  Instead, I make sure to find a way to see the positive.  To wallow when I need to and then dust myself off, pick myself up again and refocus on the positive.

Interestingly enough, I haven’t had many ‘bam’ moments in my life this year.  For this, I’m rather glad actually.  This year has been steady.  Not a ton of highs and lows like the last several years of my life.  I’ve got some ideas in the works for next year… so we’ll see what happens moving forward.

That’s all for now!

Be brave,

A Good Man-Friend Is Hard To Find

Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here.  How’s it going blogging friends?  Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about man friends.  And no, I don’t mean the grownup versions of boyfriends.  I mean, men that are actually friends.

When I was in high school, I had a good group of friends.  For the most part, the people that I spent my time with were my female friends.  Despite my entire family’s participation in various sports, I’ve always been much more of a theater and arts girl.  My after-school activities consisted of music, photography and theater.  Since my interests have always been more ‘backstage’, I joined stage crew instead.  When I joined, the only other person without a Y chromosome was our Teacher/Advisor.  Most of our meetings were filled with crude jokes, way too much talk about the NY Yankees and more crude jokes.  And I’m not saying that to be stereotypical… I’m just saying, come on, they were teenage boys.  For a few solid months during play rehearsal, the majority of the people I spent time with were the guys in stage crew.  And I really began enjoying their company.

Anyway- eventually more girls joined stage crew and things evened out some, but I was always proud of the guy friends that I made there.  It taught me the value of friendships with guys.  For the most part, they’re straight shooters where women tend to beat around the bush.  Guys generally have fewer hidden agendas and WAY less drama.  At least they did in high school.

Through the years, the majority of my friendships changed, as they do with everyone, I’m sure.  I feel like as we get older, there’s less of a need for pretense as the naivety wears off.  Even in our 20’s people say and do things that were completely taboo ten years ago in high school.  It kind of makes me wonder if those things are still taboo, or if kids are just starting things younger.  I’d hate to think the latter, but working with the youth group at my church the last couple years has kind of made me skeptical.

I guess where I’m going with this is: I still have some guy friends that I have known for a long time.  One in particular seems to have some reoccurring issues.  And that issue is that despite how many times I tell him that I’m not interested in him, he doesn’t get it.

Please, trust me when I say that I’m not the type of girl that gets hit on a lot.  In fact, I can remember the one and only time a guy has ever asked me for my phone number.  I was living just outside of DC at the time and I had just gotten my hair highlighted.  It was an uncommonly warm day for early spring and I had dressed up in jeans, a nice blouse and my FAVORITE heels.  (Honestly, I think maybe they’re magic shoes.  Just kidding… Maybe).  Anyway- I was sitting at a restaurant with a friend and our waiter had a napkin inside the folder with the bill asking me for my phone number.

He was this really awkward, extremely punk guy, and I thought he was totally cute.  So, I gave him my number.  He called me later that night when I was at the same aforementioned friend’s house and she and I giggled about the phone conversation for a good hour after I hung up with him.  Well, technically, I hung up ON him after he told me that he didn’t want to ask me out until he let me know that he had an STD.  While I maybe should have been appreciative for his honesty, mostly I was perturbed and annoyed that he felt it necessary to tell me that up front.  Like he expected things with me to get that far just from the 2 minute phone conversation we had had.

And there you have it- the only time I’ve ever been asked for my phone number.  Now, back to the previous story after such a long aside.  But you’re glad for the little life stories, right?  I feel like that one should have been sent into Seventeen Magazine as a dating horror story, even though it wasn’t even a date.  But I’m getting off topic again- back to the point!

So, we’re back to exploring the nature of a particular friendship of mine with a guy who continues to suggest that we be more than friends despite my continual and constant refusals.  At first, it was amusing… maybe even a little flattering.  But as someone who claims to be my friend, it’s gotten to the point where it’s exhausting and honestly, disheartening.  Because I’ve explained to him, on at least 3 separate occasions what I’m doing this year.  Shouldn’t a friend care about that?  Shouldn’t a friend want what’s best for me, or at the very least respect the decision that I made?

The worst part to me (as if this whole issue wasn’t bad enough) is that he has a girlfriend.  Yes. Girl. Friend.  So when he texted me today and asked me if I wanted to ‘cuddle later’ (and just as an aside- and completely irrelevant- seriously… that’s what you open with?) I told him that I was *pretty* sure he was texting the wrong person.  And when he wrote back and said that no, he didn’t have the wrong person, that’s when I was just really fed up.

How LITTLE respect for ME can you have, that despite the fact that BOTH of us know that you have a girlfriend, (because, BTW, I just mentioned it in my previous text) you STILL want to try crap with me?!?! Wow.  I mean, just wow.

If you don’t want to respect yourself, that’s fine.  I won’t judge you for that.  But if you claim that you’re my friend and you want to stay my friend, you sure as heck better learn how to respect me.

Maybe I’ve been overshooting what I call a ‘friend’ these days.  Or maybe I’m just so used to crap from people that I let too much go.  But this is getting ridiculous.

So where are you, men that call yourselves ‘good guys’?

Where are you, men that can be friends with a girl without wanting something more?

How long do I have to suffer through the guys who care more about trying to make something physical happen before I meet a guy who is really as good as his Momma thinks he is?

Anyone heard the song by Carrie Underwood “The More Boys I Meet”?

Well, if not, let’s just say it ‘explores’ all these types of guys.  And the punch line is “the more boys I meet, the more I like my dog.”

Perhaps another good line would be “with friends like these…” because seriously.

Now please, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to harp on the whole gender.  It just seems that all of the guys that I meet aren’t exactly what I’d call ‘good guys’.  Scratch that- because I do know some good guys.  They just seem to have no interest in being friends with me.

So, to take the typical girlie route- is there something wrong with me?  Am I attracting (even in a friendship kinda way) the wrong type of guy?

And if so- how do I change it?

Thanks for listening blogosphere.  And thanks for the little jaunt down memory lane.  I had all but forgotten phone number guy.  And remembering about him after a particularly troubling text conversation with that ‘friend’ made me giggle a little all over again.

Be brave,

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,

Bad Boys, Writing and Poison Ivy

This week has been a strange mix of highs and lows. It seems like they all kind of balance out in the end… but still it’s been somewhat exhausting.

 Monday was incredibly hectic at work.  With just one other person in the office, we had about 6 customers between 10-11 Monday morning, all of whom demanded some special attention (usually all at once).  Generally it’s not an issue.  But being so short staffed, and since we’re supposed to always have someone available to answer the phones, it got a little crazy.  And by special attention, I don’t just mean they asked for a price or two.  Usually working in an antique shop is fun.  And rather easy.  The people that come in are generally content to walk around and see all of the amazing pieces that we have.  But Monday was a different story.  Everyone needed to have something moved or opened or lifted or have photos taken of something.  We were measuring and opening tables and searching for keys for cabinets and digging out sconces.  It was insane.  (And also the first Low on the scale)

BUT I got to see my favorite one of our shippers (who I may or may not have a crush on).  When I first met him 8 months ago he made a joke about us going on a date.  I don’t know… I’ve kind of liked him ever since.  Plus, he’s sweet… and you can tell just a major teddy bear kinda guy.  And in a place where no one calls me by my preferred first name (really long story), the fact that he does is kind of a breath of fresh air. (Definite high)

HOWEVER… Monday, I also discovered that I have poison ivy.  BADLY.  It’s disgusting and oozing and last night I got so fed up with how DEFORMED I look, I broke down and cried.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so emotional about things.  But I choose to blame the prednisone. (MAJOR LOW).

OK, so maybe they didn’t exactly even out… I feel like there were more lows than highs…. but I’ll live.  I got to spend time with one of my bestest friends over the weekend.  We went with a group of friends to see Hunger Games (which was definitely amazing).  I made some new friends and have a great new source for book recommendations.  The hour and a half drive to MA really isn’t that bad, but I admittedly don’t make the trip as often as I’d like to.  Sometimes I wish things weren’t so busy all the time.

Anyway- enough wallowing.  What I really want to talk about today is characters.  Well, one type of character in particular.  I know I’ve touched on this before- but now that I’m back into writing my story, I really want to explore this a little more.

You see, for as long as I can remember, my literary boy dreams have been about one particular type of guy-  The bad boy.

Well, more like bad boys that are really good.  (Because really, bad boys with no redemptive qualities are just… bad.)

When I was younger, it was as innocent as Mr. Darcy- with his brooding ways and perceived pride by Elizabeth.  He was never actually a bad boy, but he and Elizabeth always had that opposites attract thing going on that really just stuck with me.

And then there was Gilbert Blythe.  *sigh* 

He may not have really been a bad boy either-  but you could always tell that he enjoyed the mischief he caused.  I mean look at that picture.  You’re picturing him whispering “Hey Carrots!” right now, aren’t you?  I know I am.  Anyway…. Gilbert had that innate quality that made you want to scream at him and run to his arms all at the same time.  At least- that’s what I always wanted to do thought Anne should have done.

Through the years, my interest shifted from good boys that act bad: Michael from Grease 2… (stop laughing.  It’s a guilty pleasure movie), Sam from Supernatural (the early years), to bad boys that have something redemptive in them.  Jess from Gilmore girls, Damon from Vampire Diaries.

 

Michael from Grease 2

For some reason, I’ve always had a thing for Michael.  He’s like the geek of all geeks because he finds a way to get the pretty, popular girl.  I think there’s something in me that relates to him and his struggle.  The one person he really wants is looking for something so completely opposite of who he is.  He’s the smart, studious Teacher’s Pet.  And as Stephanie so oddly sings about…. she wants a bad boy, a ‘cool rider’.  I like that song.  I know, there’s something so wrong and cheesy it’s not even funny.  But she says “if he’s cool enough he can burn me through and through.”  So Michael decides to become a bad boy for her… and in the end, she realizes that she really likes both aspects of Michael when she finds out who he really is. Blah- I’m admitting way too much about the absolute geek that I am here. ha.

Sam from Supernatural (the early years). 

Before Sam got himself hooked on demon blood steroids (let’s just make this a don’t ask/don’t tell type deal, K? K.), he had so much potential. In college studying law- no one would have known that he spent the first 18 years of his life learning how to hunt all of the things that go bump in the night.  His easy smile and quirky, geeky ways were so charming.  And then he’d turn around and kill some nasty urban legend baddie (like Bloody Mary or the Wendigo) and turn into a completely different person.  I was in love.

Jess from Gilmore girls

Despite being messed up by both his absent father and his jumping from one bad relationship to the next mother, Jess turned his tortured childhood into the ultimate snarky, bad boy with a good heart.  It always amused me how strikingly different he was around Rory than anyone else.  Granted, it made it difficult for anyone but her to see the good in him, but eventually most people came around. 

Damon from Vampire Diaries– (insert swoon here). 

There’s something about Damon… He’s snarky and sarcastic.  He’s passionate even though he doesn’t always let it show.  He’s conflicted and flawed.  So often characters on TV are portrayed as someone that’s unattainable.  And despite the fact that the whole vampire thing IS unattainable, there’s something about the humanity of Damon that is intriguing.  He hides his true feelings.  He buries them and pushes them down because even though he’s in love with this girl, he knows that she can do better than him.  But at the same point, he’s dark and dangerous and you never know what he’s going to do.  (Can you tell I have a thing for him? haha)

 I could probably go on for days listing all of these amazing characters.  There’s just something about them.  They’re conflicted and unpredictable.  It’s almost like being drawn to the beauty of a flame.  You know if you get too close, you’ll run the risk of getting burned.  But sometimes you just want to see how close you can get.

So, it should probably come as no surprise that my main character, Dallas, has a lot of these characteristics.  In my head, I can see the way he acts- the way he keeps everyone at arms length.  I can see the snarky attitude and the dark and dangerous unpredictability.  He’s actually gotten a lot clearer in my head recently.  I’ve been going back over my 50,000 or so words that I’ve already written.  And I can see so many places where I’ve boxed him in.  I’ve made Dallas someone that I want him to be instead of letting his character just be.  I’m reminded of the quote that goes something like “people who follow the rules rarely make history.”  Dallas and Lia and their friends… they become history makers in this story.  And in so many instances, I’m making them follow the rules.  I’m keeping them tied up in a nice neat little box and just letting them out when I want to.

Hopefully this all doesn’t make me sound too incredibly crazy.  It’s hard to say “I want to let my characters be their own person” when they’re not really people.  But they kind of are… all stuck up there in my head.

But regardless of all of that, I want this story to ring true.  I want it to be authentic and not fall flat.  And in so many of the scenes that I’ve written, I feel like it’s falling flat.  The characters don’t have the depth that they should.  And I’m finding myself more and more discouraged that I won’t get it right.  I want someone to be able to picture and envision my characters the way I have with books since I was little.  Before Jonathan Crombie, Gilbert Blythe was in my head.  I could see him.  I knew who he was.

And I just want my characters to have that same ability.

I know that writing takes time.  I know it won’t happen over night.  And I want to be the best writer that I can.  I don’t write to become published.  I write because I love words and the effect that they can have.  I just want my writing to matter.

Maybe I need to work on taking my own advice and
Be Brave,

When Alligators Attack, and some thoughts on The Hunger Games

There were some interesting things that happened on vacation last week.  We went to Daytona Beach during Bike week.  We were followed by some psycho driver in Savannah at night (I think he wanted to challenge my mom to a drag race in her HHR).  But probably the most crazy, insane, terrifying thing happened the day before we left Florida.  We were attacked by an alligator.

Okay… so the alligator didn’t really attack us.  Per se.  But let me tell you, this has been my major talking point of the vacation, because it was just so ridiculous.

Basically what happened was this:  On this vacation, my brother and his girlfriend also drove down to Florida and all 5 of us (them and my mom, sister and I) stayed at our grandparents house for the week.  Someone found this kayaking trip down a river where you could see wildlife… including alligators.  To be honest, I really wasn’t that worried.  Surely if someone collected money by sending unsuspecting victims down a river where alligators snacked on humans, Chris Hansen would have done a report about it by now.  But I digress…

So, the 5 of us decide to go on this kayaking trip.  My mom and sister were in a tandem kayak.  My brother was in a single, and his girlfriend and I were in the other tandem kayak.  We all took turns in the lead of the group.  And we did actually see a lot of alligators in the water, near the water, on the banks, on fallen trees.  It was a very meandering river and there were a ton of down trees in the water.

Anyway… at one point in the trip, my brother’s girlfriend and I are out front, making our way down the river.  We’re not really paying close attention to the banks anymore.  We’ve seen our fill of alligators.  And then…. BAM

Image

THIS guy shows up.  Terrified is not even the right word for what I felt.  And no, it wasn’t that guy in particular.  No one got a picture of the alligator that came after Jenna and I.  But let me tell you, we screamed our heads off and 15 minutes later I could still feel my heart pounding in my chest.

I’m 85% sure he didn’t really want to snack on us.  I’m guessing we probably just scared him and he went rushing into the water.  But he COVERED us in mud and water and scum and dirt.  It was kind of jarring.

Cross THAT off my list of things to ever do again.  I mean, I love kayaking and all…. but no more predator infested waters please.

The rest of the week was kind of tame by comparison.  No one managed to get sunburned too terribly badly.  I don’t think anyone got enough sleep.  And by the end of the week the drive home was filled with punchy jokes and lots of laughing for no reason.  Ah, to be in a car for 9 hours straight two days in a row.  On the plus side, we listened to all of Hunger Games, all of Catching Fire and the first part of Mockingjay.

And just as an aside… I read a blog yesterday about a woman who didn’t want her 17 year old daughter to go see the Hunger Games movie because it condoned violence.  And she claims to have read the book.  Ummm…. just because Romeo and Juliet ends the way it does doesn’t mean the entire story is about teen suicide.  I am kind of at a loss because the Hunger Games books are so amazing (insert mad Peeta love here) and so ANTI “sit by and cheer for anything including death matches” that I’m pretty sure this lady has no idea what she’s talking about.

Okay.  Rant over.

To all my friends out there in the blogosphere,
May the odds be EVER in your favor!
And also…

Be brave,