If We Were Having Coffee

I saw a life coach I love, Ashley, do a post entitled If We Were Having Coffee and I decided to take her lead and do one myself in November 2013 because I loved it and sometimes I feel like we forget that there is a whole life behind the people that write and read blogs. I got such a great response to my initial post that I wanted to make it a reoccurring thing!

 

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So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice and meet me for a chat. I’ve got a warm water with lemon, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that I’m almost done with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which I’m really impressed with. I also just started Wildlife by Fiona Wood but I’m like two pages into it so I can’t say much. I’d ask you what you were reading.

If we were having coffee... I’d tell you that I haven’t been doing well lately. And that it’s a hard thing to admit. (because it’s embarrassing. Because I feel over-dramatic. Because I can’t tell you exactly why). When someone asks you how you are it’s easy to be like FINE and move on. But I’m not fine. Why should I pretend? Because of things and how I’ve been doing, I’ve been so disconnected from people and social media and this blog. I’d apologize for unanswered tweets, comments, etc. It’s just so difficult for me to interact when I feel so awful. I’d wonder if you’ve noticed my disconnect and flakiness lately because I feel really self conscious about it. That’s part of the reason I decided to write up one of these posts (it’s been a while) because I want to connect again.  I’d ask how you are doing and really WANT to know just beyond the typical response.

If we were having coffee.… I’d tell you how I’m FREAKING OUT over the fact that this month I will turn 29. It will officially be the last year of my 20’s and I don’t know what to do with it. I WANT TO STAY HERE. My face doesn’t match the age so aren’t I allowed to stay in my 20’s until it catches up?? I’d also tell you how most of the time I don’t ever feel like an adult. Like am I REALLY an adult? I don’t know. I do adult-y type things I guess but mostly I feel like the kid putting the grownup high heels and mom’s makeup stash all over my face. HOW DID ALL THESE YEARS JUST HAPPEN? HOW AM I ALMOST 29?? I kind of feel sick over it truthfully. How fast life truly does go. Days turn into weeks into months and suddenly you are older. In a flash. I’d ask if you ever feel this way.

If we were having coffee…. Id tell you how discouraged I’ve been feeling with my blog lately. It’s so unlike me to care or notice but traffic and general interaction has been down (says the girl who has been a shit blog reader). I never put my blog happiness and well-being into these things so why am I RIGHT THIS MOMENT? I think maybe it has to do with where I’m at right now so I’m just feeling really discouraged about LOTS of things. But also I get this nagging feeling that it’s me. That what I’m doing isn’t good enough. You all are bored of me. I don’t have anything to say anymore. I should quit. My inner monologue has been horrible. I have been focused too much on creation and consumption that I’m losing the beauty in it all. I’d ask, if you were a blogger, if you feel this way ever?

If we were having coffee…. I’d tell you how I’m not looking forward to the cold weather and winter but this year I’m trying REALLY hard to make the most of it. Find new activities. Really embrace the things I DO love in this season. I’d ask you what your favorite cold weather activities are/what you do when the winter chases you inside? If you lived in perpetual beautiful weather I’d give you the stink eye and ask you to house me for the winter months.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how a conversation with my dad was what I needed to reframe my whole job/career situation outlook. I’m going to be pursuing some new ideas with the job search and be more thankful for the flexibility nannying gives me. (I MEAN ALL SUMMER I GOT TO BE OUTSIDE). I’d ask who your go-to person is who always helps you reframe a problem.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that we should go out for Thai food because I’m really craving it. LIKE REALLY REALLY BADLY.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that I am often frustrated because I don’t have anything that I’m really good at. I wish I was artistic or could sing or like running. I always thought I’d find my THING at this point in my life but ALAS no talents here except expert procrastination and eating ice cream like nobody’s business. I’d ask you about what you are talented at.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you how I was reading a post from a blogger (not a book blogger) who experienced a devastating apartment fire and I’ve been thinking a lot about THINGS. How much value we place in them. How they can be gone in an instant. I started thinking about what things I would be sad about losing in a fire. (Answer: pretty much everything haha). My time of being unemployed and us being really scarily tight with money taught me a lot about what I buy and what I use and I’ve become a lot more of a minimalist in ways and have tried not to get attached to THINGS. It’s hard. I’d ask you what would be the one thing you’d miss the most if this happened to you.

 

If we were having coffee…what would you tell me? Come on…lay it all out! It’s just you, me, the pleasant sounds of a cafe…and maybe some other eyes in the comment section but NBD right?? Our we can have coffee in my inbox if you don’t feel comfortable. I really want to know! What’s going on with you?

My Own Happily Ever After

 

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Today Will and I are celebrating two years of being marriage. On one hand I’m like HOW HAVE WE BEEN MARRIED FOR TWO YEARS! And then on the other hand I’m like…wait haven’t we always been married. Maybe it’s because we have been together, in total, for 8 years.

When I was thinking about my upcoming anniversary it hit me that I’ve never really shared my own love story! I think I’ve thrown out bits and pieces of it but I’ve never written it out here. So let’s do this:

So how did we meet?

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I was a junior in college and I’d pretty much figured I wasn’t going to meet anyone in college at this point because I’d either dated the ones I was interested in (small college so it’s not like it was that many) or the ones that I COULD be interested in were definitely just friends at this point or I was NOT INTERESTED. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact I would meet someone after college but definitely not now unless they transferred. (Dating someone that was a freshman was not even an option for me). Pretty much all my friends were in serious relationships and this was the year I was FINALLY okay with being the single girl. I was having so much fun and embracing going on dates when I wanted.

Enter this goofy freshman who always wore his hood up, blasted his music too loud and was always driving like an idiot (seriously he would drive fast and pull the e-brake!). One of my friends was on the basketball team and Will came in as a freshman and was also on the team and they became friends thus introducing him to me.

Was it love at first sight?

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Hahaha no. NOPE. NO. I remember when my friend, that I mentioned before, started hanging out with him I’m like WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS KID HE IS ANNOYING AND STUPID. Then I got to know him a bit but we were just friends and actually, come to think about it, I was crushing on another guy and always talked to him about it because HE was friends with this guy. I EVEN TRIED TO SET HIM UP WITH MY SISTER BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME AGE. That was pretty much the joke of my sister’s maid of honor speech at my wedding.

We progressively started talking more and I started enjoying his company more but I still didn’t ever picture an US. I mean we are OPPOSITES. Especially back then. I was picturing some guy in an indie rock band with jeans as tight as mine who would write me songs, would be cultured, go to shows with me because we liked the same music and would read alongside me…and never make me watch sports ever. And well Will….he liked rap. He rocked the typical jock guy attire — sweat pants and basketball shorts and t-shirts — and was obsessed with sports. His idea of dinner was a corndog and fries (yes I love those things) while I was like YES THAI FOOD PLEASE? And Will has probably read like 1 book in his life.  He didn’t necessarily check the boxes for DREAM GUY  though most of my dream guy criteria was pretty superficial because tastes change and develop.

So what made it finally click?

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I’m not sure the exact moment it clicked but I remember feeling a distinct shift in my feelings after one REALLY long conversation we had together in the car one night. We got into more matters of the heart and BIG LIFE THINGS. I talked about my mom this night. At this point in time, it had been only a few months since my mom had passed away. I was a mess even though I was really good at looking like I wasn’t. While my sister went wild and crazy and reckless, I held it together but inside I just couldn’t make sense of things.

After I told him my story, he shared with me that he lost his biological mom to cancer also when he was 4. There was just this vulnerable side of him this night that I had never seen and while I don’t think I was all heart eyed and in love….that couple hour honest conversation is something I will never forget.

I’ll never forget the moment I finally admitted I like him. We had a little house party at a friend’s house. I was a wee bit drunk. I was supposed to be super into and paying attention to the super popular basketball player (the friend that introduced Will and I actually) on campus but that night I kept finding myself gravitating closer to Will. I think it was pissing this other guy off and my sister cornered me and was like “omg he won’t stop talking about you to me” and I was like “yeah, I don’t think I like him…I think I like that kid.” To which my sister was like, “interesting.”

So for the next couple months I spent A LOT of time with him and we were “talking”…going on a few dates (dates are generous considering we were both super broke college kids). We would write each other long emails (where he would woo me with his high school level French), have long chats driving in the car and meeting each other after classes so we could walk together. Then we made it “official” on January 16, 2007 and here we are married two years today despite the fact I never saw this relationship being super serious.

The Day I Knew I Loved Him & Wanted To Spend My Life With Him?

 

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It wasn’t a particular moment but a couple years after we started dating his father got diagnosed with ALS. It’s just him and his mom (stepmom really because his real mom passed as I said but she’s been his mom since he was like 5 or 6) and we spent much time on weekends and in the summer there. Watching him take care of his dad was what made me know. When my mom was sick and dying from brain cancer my stepdad took care of her in a way that made me look at love & marriage in a whole new way. My stepdad is basically my hero to be honest. At some point I vowed, during that time, that I wanted to marry a man who would take care and love me in the way my stepdad did my mom. I never knew HOW I would know at the time but as I watched Will care for his dad in a way that breaks my heart because no son should have to do these things so young…it just made me KNOW. There was no complaining or resentment..just genuine love.

Things I’ve Learned From Finding My Happily Ever After

 

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* The story is still a work of progress and happily ever after does not mean we ride off in the sunset with no more battles or conflict or work involved. It does not mean I am happy every day. Good fictional reading related to that topic: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid & Landline by Rainbow Rowell

*Sure, common interests are good but it isn’t necessary to like all the same things (obviously I learned this also while dating him because OPPOSITES). When Will and I met he was an 18 year old boy and he hadn’t even begun to discover what he was into. He never cooked when we met and now cooking is one of the things he loves most in life. He dresses differently now (and not on account of me changing him or anything) and he’s even discovered he likes some of the same music as me. I’m okay with our differences and I embrace and love them. They are what make us remember that as much as we have become “one” in marriage we are still very much our own person. We learn and experience new things because of our different interests and I’m glad I never tried to mold him into who I wanted him to be in some areas.

* Most of my ideas about love and marriage were highly romanticized and were mostly based on movies and tv…and books to some extent but mostly movies and tv. How it works on the big screen is not necessarily how it works in real life.

* Sometimes you will go to bed angry. It happens.

* I never realized the new and exciting things I would learn about Will and the ways I could fall in love with him even more after marriage. Sometimes I think you have this idea after being together with someone that you know ALL THE THINGS but you don’t. And the falling in love part isn’t just a beginning occurrence…it happens to me at the most random of moments.

* Our relationship is not perfect and that’s okay. In the age of the internet and social media, it’s easy to look at the lives of others and think our relationship is inadequate. I’ve learned to reject the feelings that creep up when I see things online with someone else’s picture perfect relationship and it makes me start to doubt or think less of my own.

* I don’t ever want to stop fighting. I’m not saying I want to fight day in and day out in an unhealthy way. No, no not at all. I don’t want to FIGHT and scream and be miserable and awful to each other. What I’m saying is that, coming from divorced parents at a young age, I watched a relationship that eventually they became so apathetic/indifferent that they just stopped caring. They FOUGHT LIKE CRAZY but it was no longer serving a purpose but just to spite and let each other know how much they hated the other. (This kind of fighting is not want I want). I want to care enough to still disagree and that any “fight” we may get into will result in us taking the effort and time to work hard to bring a clear end to it.

I could write a lot more about what I’ve learned but those are just some of the most pressing things on my mind as I write this. I would LOVE for you to share your love story if you have one! And if you don’t, that’s okay too! I’m telling you…I really loved and embraced my days of being single once I came to realize it was okay and I wasn’t strange for NOT having someone.

You may also like:

10 Things My Husband Is Sick Of This Bookworm Saying
Being Married To A Non-Reader…It’s Not As Bad As You Think!!
Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
You Mean I Have To Work At This Still?

The Best Medicine When I’m Feeling Down…

I’ll be honest, friends. I’ve been feeling rather down. Things have been good in some ways but also there’s just a lot of things that have been stressful and discouraging and I feel like I’m just treading water here. I feel such a lack of control over a lot of things and some days even existing is hard and exhausting. It’s just one of those kinds of tough patches and I just try to ride it out as much as I can — being intentional to change the things I can and know that things will get better.

Some of these days are harder than other and I have to get out of my own head. Somewhere along the line I was having a bad day and I found a way to lift me up a little bit and it’s become my sort of foolproof plan on the days where I feel like I’m going to break.

I’ve found the best medicine for these days is wandering the library or the bookstore.

I spend a good hour or two just wandering and browsing with no real intention or end goal. I just wander. I pick up books I’ve never heard of. I browse in sections of the bookstore I wouldn’t typically go to. I creep on what people are looking at (you all know I’m a book creeper). I move books I loved so that they can be seen (SORRY BOOKSTORE PEOPLE). I read from books that look interesting and jot down the titles for later (okay I type them into my phone but jot sounded better). I find new interests. Discover new things. I TOUCH ALL THE BOOKS. There’s so much freedom in just wandering and picking things up on a whim. Potentially holding your next new favorite book or that book that will change your life.

ALL THOSE WORDS. ALL THOSE STORIES. They calm me. They do. It’s incredibly freeing to not rush into a store with a goal of something to pick up…some sort of intention. I’m allowed to go where my whims take me and there are no expectations. As the time passes I find the stress and that negative energy have lessened.

But mostly it helps me to remember that the world is so much bigger than this day. All those stories neatly lined up on those shelves contain hope, struggle, magic, perseverance and so many more things that are part of the human experience — some better or worse than my own. It helps me to remember in these moments I’m not alone. People have been there before me and people will be in the future. This is one day. ONE DAY of my story. One little slice of this great big world and what it has to offer me and what I have to offer it. Maybe it should make me feel small and overwhelmed (okay I DO feel overwhelmed because SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME) but for some reason it doesn’t.

There’s all sorts of perspective to be found in wandering in the bookstore and even though it doesn’t fix everything…it sure does help my heart and calm me down a bit. And I just enjoy being surrounded by all those books.

I think this is one of the many reasons I love reading so much — sometimes it’s so calming and  helps me get out of my own head or sometimes it gives me perspective I need/offers up something that helps me think about what I’m going through. It always reminds me that I’m not alone. That this is fleeting. That there is reason to hope and persevere.

Books = the best medicine. I don’t care what anyone says or if it’s not scientifically proven.

If We Were Having Coffee #2

I saw a blogger/life coach I love, Ashley, do a post entitled If We Were Having Coffee and I decided to take her lead and do one myself because I loved it and sometimes I feel like we forget that there is a whole life behind the people that write and read blogs. I got such a great response to my initial that I wanted to make it a reoccurring thing!

 

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So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice and meet me for a chat. I’ve got water right now because it’s far too late for coffee for me.  I actually wish I was having a jack & ginger right now because it’s been that kind of a week but alas I am not. What are you having?

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that I’m in the middle of Half Bad by Sally Green which I started out loving but have hit a wall with. I don’t know if it’s the crazy of this week or what but it’s kind of causing me to be in a slump. I’m also in the middle of The Sea of Tranquility which is going a bit better. I’d ask you what you were reading.

If we were having coffee... I’d tell you that this week drained me. There was a bit of a family crisis that involved my sister and her two babies (Genevieve and Adela) staying here with Will and I in our one bedroom (things are fine now) and then I found out on Wednesday that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for and was really excited about. I was at my nannying gig when I found out and it took everything not to just break down and cry. I started crying the minute I got in my car. I’m just so frustrated. I KNOW I would have been amazing at that job and I just don’t know why I can’t get a job in my field (marketing/social media). And I feel so stressed because of this long term unemployment. I’ve done everything in my power to find a job and I can’t and I KNOW that jobs just penalize you even more when you are out of work. And all I want to scream is I DID NOT ASK TO BE LAID OFF FROM MY PREVIOUS JOB!!!

If we were having coffee.… I’d tell you that I need a vacation. I need to go somewhere where I don’t speak the language and explore and eat new foods. My soul needs it…to recharge. To feel even more alive.  I’d ask you about the last trip you went on.

If we were having coffee…. I would tell you how I seriously cannot stop mourning the fact that Breaking Bad is over. Will and I binge watched it in December and I can’t stop thinking it. I feel like no other shows compare for me at this point. I’d ask you if you’ve watched it and if you said no then I’d (lovingly) bully you into it.

If we were having coffee…. I’d tell you how this winter is going to be my undoing. I’m NOT a winter girl at all. I hate it. If it weren’t for family I’d be on the first flight out of here to live somewhere warm. This winter has been BRUTAL. In fact, the news keeps telling me it’s the THIRD snowiest winter we’ve ever had. DIE, MOTHER NATURE, DIE. And the fun part? WINTER IS NOT EVEN OVER. Between getting stuck in traffic for 4 hours (should have only been 25 minutes), having below zero temps, my car door being so frozen multiple mornings that I can’t shut it, having to dig out my car, falling on ice and having to drive in shitty conditions…I’M JUST OVER IT.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I went to a party for my former bff’s 1 year old kid (to support HER because we’ve been working on things) and I had to see my old group for the first time in over a year. There were only a couple of people who actually acknowledged us/talked to us and the rest of the people literally ignored us. It’s so sad to see friends I’ve had since middle school and high school just act like I’m not there. I had my reasons for leaving that group but this showed me it was the right decision when I thought about how none of them have even tried to reach out/basically showed me how shallow those friendships always were. I was just so disappointed that there wasn’t even hellos or “it’s been so long! How have you been?” from any of them. It give me the major sads. I would also tell you how Will and I went out for burritos and margaritas afterwards and I no longer gave a shit about what transpired.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I slacked off on working out in 2014 so far. I was really dedicated last year and then I started the year off sick and I just have not regained my mojo. SOMEONE PLEASE KICK ME INTO GEAR.

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you that I really want to go to BEA again this year and would be really sad to miss it after having gone every year since I’ve been blogging. It’s more about being able to hang out with people than it is about the books but I really look forward to it. Everything is so up in the air because I don’t know what I’ll be doing job-wise by then and who knows if I’ll be able to get off the time. FINGERS CROSSED IT WILL WORK OUT. I’d ask you if YOU were going and if you didn’t know what it is, because maybe you don’t blog or you are new, I would tell you ALL about it..how it is a bookish heaven.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m really behind in replying to comments on my blog and visiting other blogs. It’s embarrassing honestly. And I feel bad. I don’t know what’s up with me lately HOWEVER..I’m working on it.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you that I’m honestly having the hardest time keeping my spirits up these days with this whole looking for a job thing. I keep having to look for bright spots in my day — your comments and tweets being one of them — and it’s just really, really hard just not to give up. I’ve never felt so demoralized in my life and I feel like I’m doing the best I can and asking for helping and doing All The Things You Are Supposed To Do and it’s not getting me anywhere. Something’s gotta give eventually, right? Everyone tells me to “keep on going” and I KNOW that’s what I’m supposed to do but I feel like I’m just a hamster on a wheel at this point.

 

If we were having coffee…what would you tell me? Come on…lay it all out! It’s just you, me, the pleasant sounds of a cafe…and maybe some other eyes in the comment section but NBD right?? Our we can have coffee in my inbox if you don’t feel comfortable. I really want to know! What’s going on with you?

Dear 2013, Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out!

So I had initially written this whole long goodbye 2013 letter but I decided, after rereading it, that it was mainly for me. It was. I needed to write it. To word vomit out all the rottenness of the year and get it out of my system like a night out drinking. I cried as I wrote it. My rageypants fit a bit tighter as I got more pissed about things that happened this year. I ate a brownie. I cursed 2013. And then I just sat there. I reread it. I cried more. And then I decided that I didn’t want this to be the first post I made in 2014. I’m ready for a new year, a new start — I know it’s a mental thing but my brain likes the idea of a new year to let go of all the baggage I have carried this year.

Let’s get it out: This year SUCKED. There were good moments. Really fun, awesome moments. Things learned. Things tried. Memories I won’t forget. There were seriously awesome days. Those things kept me going. But there was this dark cloud that followed the whole year and liked to dump acid rain all over me at inopportune moments. I told Will often that I just wanted to quit life this year. I pleaded with him that it was a good idea to take what little money we had and just flee to an island somewhere and sell smoothies out of our shack. He often rolled his eyes at my solution to things. It’s no secret — I’ve been honest. I struggled this year.

Okay now that that’s out. Let’s talk about a few takeaways from this year that will be melded into the armor that I will wear into battle in 2014 — because I will fight to make things better, to be happy, to be stronger. Hear this rebel yell, 2014! I’m coming for you.

Perseverance

My dear friend Ginger had an awesome idea for a project and I loved seeing the outcome. She asked some bloggers and authors to give a word that summed up the year for them and it really made me think. I had a lot of negative words come to mind initially but I knew that’s not the direction I wanted to go in because I’m a glass half full kind of girl. There had to be some overarching theme of 2013 amidst all the really negative words I was thinking and all the things that had happened. And then it came to me — perseverance. I think this word sums up a lot of my life. In fact, in college I was given the perseverance award presented by the Business Department because everyone knew about my mom’s fight with brain cancer through most of my college career. I just persevere.

The official definition for perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

That pretty much sums it up. This year was a lot of just keep pushing through. Even when I wanted to lie down and quit, I just kept going even if nothing felt better. Even in the days where all I wanted to do was cry, I let myself cry, I dusted myself off and said, “Self, you will keep going.” I didn’t feel particularly in battle mode most of the time but it was more of a quiet perseverance this year for me. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. The biggest thing was the job thing — it’s demoralizing and exhausting to keep looking for work and knowing you are good enough but new rejections pummel you every day. I don’t see the fruits of that labor yet but I’m persevering knowing that soon enough I will be where I need to be career wise. Perseverance.

I’ve always known I can handle a lot, as hard and as weighty as it seems, but this year perseverance was everything. It was a new challenge for me and, even if the only thing I can say at the end of all this is, HEY I SURVIVED 2013..then by damn I’m going to put it on a t-shirt, bedazzle the shit out of it and embrace it.

Perspective

I find some irony in the fact that last year I was declaring myself DONE with a certain longstanding group of friends — my former bff included. And how did I spend one of my last days of 2013? Hanging out with my former bff who is now solidly my friend. For, you see, I did in fact cold turkey cut them out of my life. I did it. It was the best thing I did for myself. I needed to. I could have went about it differently for sure but that’s what I did. I did not speak to them for most of the year — until this Fall when I was invited to have dinner with the one person who had hurt me the most. And you know what I did? I said yes. Because I felt like I needed closure of some sort. I could see I was different now. I did what I needed — put some time and space in between me and them. And suddenly I realized they had NO bearing in my life anymore. It was the most freeing realization. I worried about them SO much and let them dictate my life to the point of being miserable and they NO LONGER HAD ANY HOLD ON ME. I did not care what they thought. I didn’t. AT ALL.

But at that dinner I realized my heart was not so bitter towards them anymore. I will never be a part of that group again but I proved to myself that I can be friendly with them and see them from time to time because there is history there. But I became myself again because I wasn’t letting my life be dictated by them anymore. I’ve changed my expectations on the friendship and gained perspective in my “timeout” from them.

And then I reconnected with my former bff. I apologized. I explained why I did what I did. She understood it. She forgave me. I forgave her. We will never be as close as we once were and that’s okay. We have a new friendship built on a foundation of 10 years of friendship and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Biggest takeaway: There is always room for forgiveness and healing in life.  I vow to take this lesson with me in 2014 and be more gracious in my forgiveness — without being walked all over. Sometimes it just takes a new perspective to see that your initial reaction wasn’t completely right. Yes, I did the right thing that I needed to do in the moment but I wasn’t altogether right about everything.

True, Genuine Friends Can Get You Through Anything

I don’t know where I would be without a select few people this year + the whole amazing community who in their own way were able to support me and encourage me.

This year I was largely a crappy friend. I have this tendency, when I am going through really hard times and am having the sads, to shut the world out. I did that. I’m not proud of it but I figure that most people don’t want to have a mopey friend. Luckily, I have a select few people who loved me in spite of all that, who encouraged me, inspired me and UNDERSTOOD without judgment. I don’t know what I would have done without them listening to me let it all out, for putting up with my scattered mind, for sending me encouraging links or quotes or a mood boosting playlist. I don’t know what I would have done without dance parties via text (yeah that forreal happened and it was epic) and lip syncing via text to Hold On by Wilson Phillips. I would not have survived without mutual bitch sessions, the kind texts asking me how an interview went, the brainstorming to get ourselves out of ruts, etc. I appreciated and needed their “keepin it real” advice and thoughts even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. They let me wallow but also kicked me in the pants and for that I am grateful.

I vow in 2014 to be the kind of friend I always was before and to shower these special people with so much love it is going to come out of their ears. I’ve always believed that friendship is give and takes and sometimes someone will need to carry a little more of the load when the other is down and my friends have proved that and I am ready to be there for them in a better way than I could this year.

Dance Parties Are Necessary

I am the dance party queen and I really outdid myself this year. Out of necessity. I don’t think I would have made it through some days without dance parties — both text dance parties with a friend and the ones I had in my kitchen. There were days that I just had to dance it out — a la Christina and Meredith style on Grey’s Anatomy. I made myself dance because it kept me from crying. I made myself dance even when I was crying. For at least a couple minutes I just acted ridiculous and silly and it helped. Even when Will walks in on them and makes me cry because he just doesn’t miss a beat and just joins in.

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

When all else fails, at different points we just had to laugh at ourselves and the bad things that happened this year. Some of our most hearty laughter came from the most ridiculous situations — my Nancy Drew stint when our car got broken into and tons of stuff was stolen, when our power was out for days and we had to stumble around our apartment in the dark, or when we talked about how we’d decorate our cardboard box when we eventually had no more money to afford our apartment. Sometimes laughter turned into crying and sometimes crying turned into laughter. I’m just so thankful for all the laughs Will and I had this year.

Defining Who You Are

One of the biggest things for me this year was thinking about my worth and who I am and what defines me. I’ve never been the type of person who was defined by a career or anything but not working for a year makes you feel all sorts of things about your worth and you realize how often we define ourselves by the things we do. Normal conversations often leads with, “So what do you do (for work)?” and when you aren’t working it causes you to have a bit of an existential crisis — even if you, like me, do not at all put all your value in your career. I’ve come to really realize that we can’t really define ourselves and put our worth in some of these things that we do because they can end, they can break, they can disappoint us and they could be gone in an instant. Like everything they have their place and their importance in our life but hinging our worth and who we are on one thing is scary. I resolve to NOT let myself fall in that trap when I get a job or really with anything — this blog, relationships, etc.

 

And those are a couple of the takeaways I’m bringing with me into 2014. I firmly believe there is always something to learn from the bad and the good and I can go into 2014 stronger, smarter, better and with even more perspective. I have high hopes for 2014. I’ve been really proactive already about making it a better year — really fixing the things that were bad this year. I made the most out of 2013 and, while I wouldn’t say it was the worst year I’ve ever had, I’m okay with letting it go and moving on. I already see myself changing and growing and really what more can I ask for. I’ve weathered that damn storm and it’s time to see what’s on the other side of it.

What lessons did you learn this year?

Best Of 2013: All Things Not Books!

I’m bringing this back from last year!! You’ve already gotten the run down of my highlights of 2013 in books through my End of Year Book Survey & so let’s do a rundown of my favorite NON-bookish things of the year like I did last year! Shall we?

best music 2013

 

5 Playlists I Listened To The Most In 2013

1. My Monthly Rewind playlist — the roundup of all my favorite songs from each month

2. UP — full of upbeat songs

3. Mellow It Out — really relaxing and chill playlist

4. A Very Fall Playlist — just really loved the selection I ended up putting on here.

5. ROAR — I didn’t make this playlist but I helped contribute some songs to it. It was created by Anna and I definitely needed this playlist on days where I needed a little dose of confidence — which was a lot this year. Also was a decently good running mix for me minus a few songs.


 

15 Favorite Albums That Came Out in 2013

 

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EPS/Singles I Loved: Terraplane Sun’s Ya Never Know, The Colourist’s Lido, Twin Forks EP, Hozier’s Take Me To Church EP, Bear’s Den Agape
Honorable Mentions: Bastille’s Bad Blood, Lorde’s Pure Heroine, Imagine Dragon’s Night Visions, CHVRCHES’s The Bones of What You Believe


You can see more of my monthly music choices in my Monthly Rewinds

 

tv

Best new shows I started watching this year (some long overdue & some new!) in addition to the shows I’m already watching (Parenthood, The Walking Dead, Revenge, The Voice, Grey’s Anatomy etc.)

Breaking Bad

HOLY HELL YOU GUYS. You all were right about this show. 100% RIGHT. Will and I watched 2 episodes of this the summer and couldn’t get into it. Everyone told us to give it a try again so we finally did after our shows went on break and we’ve been binge watching it ever since. As I write this we are like 8 episodes from the end. HOLY EFF. One of my all time fave shows now.

House of Cards

KEVIN SPACEY. That is all.

American Horror Story

  WEIRD show but excellent. Can’t wait to watch season 2. I hear it’s awesome.

Nashville

Connie Britton!! Honestly this show is so fun and I’m so obsessed with it.

Scandal

Margot told me I had to watch this and Will and I just can’t get enough of Olivia Pope.

Reign

This show is so bad and so good all at the same time. EXCELLENT music too. Cute boys. I LOVE IT. And the time period…LOVE.

 

misc

Last year when I did this I had a whole section for beauty products I tried in 2013 because I’m a beauty addict. However, this year I have had to REALLY limit my spending so I’m going to make this a general fave discoveries!

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Blogilates

I had tried Blogilates once or twice in 2012 but 2013 was the year of Blogilates for me. It made me find a strength training sort of program that I really loved. I wasn’t into the gym but I loved sitting in my own living room with my yoga mat and going through these videos with Cassey + her infectious enthusiasm for healthy living. She kicks my ass nearly every day and I want to throw things at her but this was the best thing I did for myself in 2013 and I can’t wait to add more cardio to this routine but I attribute my dedication to working out now to her!

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Acure Organics shampoo and conditioner

I previously used Alterna and before that Pureology and I really liked them but I wanted to go for something a little bit more natural for my hair plus a better price tag because I can’t justify spending a ton of money right now being without a job. So of course I asked my natural beauty expert Betty and she told me about this one. LOVE it! This one was perfect for my dry, curly hair and my hair is super soft now!

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Julep

If you love nail polish + getting things in the mail, this is for you!! I love this subscription service even if I couldn’t get them every month but it was a nice treat every once in a while this year.

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Here’s five blogs I loved and discovered this year!

1. Ashley from Your Super Awesome Life: Ashley is a good dose of motivation and encouragement in my reader! I also had a really awesome life coaching session with her this year!

2. The Skinny Fork: Will and I make a lot of her recipes! Lots of variety and we’ve loved everything we’ve made!

3. Pinch of Yum: Another excellent food blog that Will and I love. I want to make ALL THE THINGS on there.

4. The Everywhereist: Love this travel blog a lot! Relatively new find for me so I still have tons of archive reading to do!

5. Beauty and Britches: This fashion blog is so my type. It’s no BS and she actually has cute, wearable stuff that I WANT. Plus she’s the fiance of Eric Smith (you may know him from Quirk or recently met him from this post) and she’s a local Philly girl so I love the shots she gets in the city. She started the blog this year and I’m very excited for where it goes!

moments2013I already shared some of my favorite bookish moments of the year so these will be more personal!

 

1. My niece Adela being born at the end of August. I have loved watching Genevieve love on her since day 1.

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2. My family’s vacation in July/August. It’s always a great time and it was a much needed break from life.

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3. Finally seeing The Postal Service play after like 10 years!! What a great concert and OH THE NOSTALGIA.

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4. I know this is sort of bookish but reuniting with my bffs I’ve met through blogging at BEA. Much needed time with people who keep it real. BEApic1
5. Running a 5K. This is hilarious that this is on here because it was a TERRIBLE experience. I hadn’t trained for it, my lungs hurt, I had to run/walk, I was ready to cry and honestly almost quit and just walked home (it was near my dad’s house). HOWEVER, it’s kind of this metaphor for this year for me. But I didn’t give up. No matter how bad I wanted to. I plan to train for it next year to prove to myself that I can do it. I can do better and I can run the whole thing. That moment got me thinking A LOT — even if it could also be one of the worst 2013 moments also. Does that make sense?

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6. Honestly, lots of moments with Will. Despite this shit-tastic year, we made the most of it. We laughed it off as best as we could and we just got through it. Even when we didn’t think we would. I am so thankful for him.

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Tell me if you listened to/watched/used/did these things!! Also, I’m so down for other recs if you think there is something I’d like! Tell me what your best moments were!

If We Were Having Coffee…

One of my favorite bloggers, Ashley at Your Super Awesome Life/aka the life coach I told you all about, did a post like this the other day and I decided I wanted to do the same because 1) I loved it and 2) sometimes I feel like we forget that there is a whole life behind the people that write and read blogs. She sat down and typed out what she’d talk to her readers about if she was meeting them for coffee. So let’s try it?

 

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So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice and meet me for a chat. I’ve got tea right now but if we met earlier it would be a gingerbread latte. What are you having?

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you about how I’ve been in an epic slump for the past week. I’d tell you how I wasn’t sure if it was ME or the book (The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert). I’ve been really preoccupied/stressed so I know that could be my problem. I’d tell you that I decided to try something paced a little differently and ended up reading Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker and finished it in a day. Now I’m going back to The Signature of All Things but reading Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff at the same time to balance it out. I’d also ask you what you were reading.

If we were having coffee... I’d tell you about how I’m really having a hard time finding those books that just WOW me to the fullest degree. I’m talking those books that make you remember why you love reading. The ones that just knock you off your feet. I want to curl up and sob like a little baby because of how it wrecked me or because of how beautiful and amazing it was. I want to almost convince myself I never want to read again so this book could be the LAST BOOK I’D EVER READ if I died. End on an amazing note. I’d ask you what book last did that for you.

If we were having coffee.… I’d tell you how I’m really kind of nervous about this whole not having a job thing. I don’t know what I can do anymore honestly. I send out resume after resume and rarely hear ANYTHING. I’ve had people look at my resume. I’d tell you that my unemployment is up in December and I don’t know what were are going to do. I’m rather scared. I’m going to see what is hiring around the holidays and just go from there. Also, I’d tell you how demoralizing this all has been. And stressful. And all consuming. Probably contributing to my slump.

If we were having coffee…. I would tell you about how I’m really loving this auntie thing even MORE as Genevieve grows up. She is almost two and such a little person with a BIG personality. I love watching her grow and learn and I just get so much joy from being around her. I would tell you how she likes to say to my sister, “MOVE MAMA!” so she can be the closest to her baby sister Adela.

If we were having coffee…. I’d show you the bruise on my leg because I’m a klutz and ran into the side of the bed today and how it hurts so bad. I’d also ask you if my roots were showing really bad because I’m WAY overdue for getting my hurrr did.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I’m really, really happy that I’ve been reconnecting with my high school/college bff again. We have been on rocky ground for the past couple years but it’s been really nice working on our friendship and both admitting where we messed up.

If we were having coffeeI’d ask you if you always knew what you wanted to be when you grew up and if you are happy doing what you are doing. I’d tell you how I’m so passionate about social media and marketing but I doubt whether I could do the corporate thing long term because my last job sucked the life out of me. I would tell you how I hate the notion that you have to pick what you want to be as an 18 year old kid, before you even really KNOW who you are, and pursue that as a degree for the next four years. 18 year old Jamie who chose to be a business major is a lot different than 28 year old Jamie and had different motives and priorities in life than me now. I’d tell you that it scares me that I still can’t answer the question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Can’t I just date a few careers first?

If we were having coffee….I’d tell you how I’m loving doing Blogilates and it’s the first workout I’ve stuck with ever in my life. I can feel myself getting stronger and stronger and more flexible since I started doing it in July. I’d also tell you how I’m a dummy and I signed up for a 5K on Thanksgiving and trained for one week a month ago. OOPS.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you how excited I am about something that I’m working on. I’d also tell you that that something isn’t the NaNo project I promised myself secretly that I’d do this month without telling anyone. Not one word has been written.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how thankful I am for you. For reading what I write. For talking to me about books and other things. For encouraging me. For commenting. For letting me be myself.

 

If we were having coffee…what would you tell me? Come on…lay it all out! It’s just you, me, the pleasant sounds of a cafe…and maybe some other eyes in the comment section but NBD right?? Our we can have coffee in my inbox if you don’t feel comfortable. I really want to know! What’s going on with you?

I Did Something I Never Thought I’d Do & It Surprised Me…In A Good Way.

I’ve been really honest with you guys about where I’ve been at this year — I’ve been feeling lost in this year of unemployment, directionless and frankly very unbalanced in life — which involves this blog and a possible other passion project I’ve been working on.

I’ve honestly feel like I’ve hit this brick wall and I can’t figure a way to get around it, through it or over it. I just feel stuck — more than I ever have in my entire life and, at this point, I’m letting myself just be tossed about by the waves of life. It’s a really terrible feeling.

So I decided I need to shake it up. Do something different to break through that wall. I couldn’t figure out what until I got this amazing opportunity from a blog I follow daily. It was outside of my comfort zone. I was excited but nervous. I wasn’t altogether sold on the idea but figured I’d be open because how could it hurt? So what did I do?

I spent 3 hours on Skype with a life coach. Now, before you think “oh this is SO not for me” and close this tab, hear me out.

A little background:

I’ve always been the type that is skeptical of these kinds of things. I love having great conversations with people in my life and find it to be really helpful in my life to work things out like that. But I’ve always been of the mind to just figure it out myself. I never went to any sort of therapy or anything after my mom passed away. I just said, “Self. You can figure this out on your own.” I never ever would have thought I would need to enlist the help of a life coach. Ever. It didn’t really make sense to me until I found myself in a position where I was at a complete standstill in life and that was just unacceptable to me.

So what was this experience like?

Amazing in one word. I worked with Ashley, the blogger behind one of my favorite blogs called Your Super Awesome Life, and I felt so energized and excited after our session. We chatted on Skype for 3 hours and I thought it would be slightly awkward but I’m telling you Ashley made it seem like I was chatting with a bff about life and dreams and hopes…all something I would do with my friends. But the difference? Ashley has a counseling background and her questions and steering of the conversation really gave me a lot to think about and left me feeling empowered. I met with a friend for coffee later that day and even was telling her something that Ashley shared with me that made SO MUCH SENSE and my friend even ended up writing it down to help her in her struggle with doubt in her new business venture.

What did we talk about:

– Before we Skyped I was to fill out a questionnaire of sorts. I got to rank my level of satisfaction with different areas of my life, talk about the 3 goals I really wanted to work on, things that made me the most happy/unhappy, etc. It helped her to get to know me and what I wanted to make the session really focused.

– The things I wanted to talk about with her: figuring out what I wanted to do career-wise, figuring out how to regain some balance (talked a lot about this blog vs. a new passion project I have) and working on some of these self crippling and self defeating attitudes which I realized really affected the first two things. Seriously. I couldn’t even imagined how there was this pattern of them affecting all these things in my life.

– I consider myself a VERY self aware person. I know my flaws, my strengths, my weaknesses, the habits I have, the reasons I DO things and know where I want to BE in life but Ashley really gave me a lot to think about. You see, I could know all these things and KNOW what I want but I have a really hard time getting there. I struggle with actualization of these things so we really talked about some of the things holding me back in my job search, in letting go of certain things in my life, etc. Identifying these things and saying them out loud was really, really helpful. I needed to get out of my own head and Ashley asked all the right questions to help me get in the right direction. I’m learning to see what you might call your “inner critic” as a good and a bad thing. The dots that Ashley was able to connect opened my eyes to how some of my self doubt and fear really run far deeper than I could have imagined.

– I was sad our conversation was over because it FLEW but I felt confident with the action plans she had given me and the tools that she had shared with me to help some of my problems — largely very inward things like self doubt, lack of confidence as a result of this time of unemployment, fear, holding on to things even when they don’t work, etc. All those things really affect WHY I couldn’t take action in two very important areas.

So did it work?

I think you have to think about WHAT you are looking to get out of this and what your expectations of a life coach or. Did I come out with a clear THIS IS GOING TO BE MY CAREER PATH? No, but I felt like I really thought out what things make me happy and feel fulfilled and now I can take that into my job search with me. My action plan had more to do with this passion project I’ve been talking about and I feel the most energized about that because we also realized that THAT could make me feel very whole even if I don’t have the DREAM JOB that is super satisfying. I wasn’t looking to Ashley to FIX all my problems but to get out of my own head so I could see things differently, help me identify the things that were holding me back and looking for some guidance in HOW to change things because what I was doing wasn’t helping. You have to go in with specific goals that you want to work on.

Should YOU consider a session with a life coach?

** Right now Ashley is offering Pay What You Want sessions so I would HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of this if you are even thinking about it!! —> check it out!

So, the answer to that question would depend on the next few questions you should ask yourself:

Do you have specific goals you want to achieve but don’t know how to get started? Do you feel stuck? Unmotivated or uninspired? Unable to move forward or let something go? Do you feel like you have dreams but don’t know how to make them a reality?

Things like:
– Wanting to start a business but you are too afraid/don’t know how to make it a reality, etc. (Ashley QUIT her job to make her own business — big leap of faith in herself so SHE KNOWS this one well).
– Wanting to start a new project but need direction, motivation, little action steps, etc.
– Trying to lose weight (seriously, she was telling me how she’s helped people with the mental barriers they’ve put up, action plans to help them succeed, identifying WHY they struggle etc.)
– Having an idea for a book but feel overwhelmed by even starting it — she will HELP you break things up, help you remove your self doubt, etc.
– Career change
– Letting fear/lack of self confidence/self doubt etc. etc. holding you back in general in life — she will help you work through that. Trust me on that one because I feel so equipped now.
– Taking that dream you have and helping you not just DREAM about it but putting the stepping stones to doing it.
– How to live the life you want, how to be inspired again, etc.

If any of those things sound like you…I’d HIGHLY recommend it. There’s a million more things you could talk with her about and I highly suggest it.

I’m feeling more confident, motivated and like some of the things I want are ACTUALLY attainable — they aren’t just these daunting things that I’ll never start because I don’t know how to take the first step.

If any of those sound like you I’d say ABSOLUTELY do this. Invest in yourself. You might think WOW that’s a good chunk of change to spend talking to someone and not knowing if it will work but it’s a lot about how you see that investment and what you want out of it. Ashley knows her stuff. I can only speak for her, since obviously this was my first time, but I would certainly schedule an appointment with her again when I feel like I need to because I saw my session as very successful for what I personally needed.

And if you don’t necessarily feel like this is for you right now or ever…I still HIGHLY recommend checking out her inspiring blog.

What about you guys..have any of you ever worked with a life coach? Are you interested/curious? What are your reservations? I’d love to talk to you guys about what YOU would want to work on with a life coach…what are you struggling with/want to change?

* Full disclosure: I received this opportunity in exchange for discussing it on my blog after speaking with Ashley. All of these opinions were 100% my own and would be the same had I paid for this…I can promise you that. She gave no guidelines of what to talk about just that I’d talk about my experience. I’m extremely humbled by her generosity in letting this broke and unemployed chick have this opportunity. When I get a job, I AM saving up to do another session.*

The Best Bookish Birthday Ever

So yesterday was my birthday — I turned 28! It just so happened that it was the night of a Gayle Forman signing at my local indie, Children’s Book World, in Haverford, PA. Let me tell you, it was one of the best birthdays in the history of birthdays I’ve ever had.

I have to give love to my local indie, first…

Here’s the thing. I buy books everywhere and anywhere — I shop local, I do buy from Amazon when I need to, big book chains. I don’t discriminate. But here’s the thing…my local indie? They made this night happen. They are incredible and put on the best events and the staff is so awesome. Everything that happened that night? They were totally in on. There’s just something about a local indie bookstore that you just don’t get from buying elsewhere. There’s this “family” type feel — I go to events often there but I wouldn’t say they KNOW me but by sight. The type of book love that happens at local independent bookshops is unparalleled and what they did to help make my night special is something that I’ll never experience with Amazon or other big chain bookstores. And this isn’t saying anything bad about THEM but it’s more about how extraordinary local indies can be and how it is SO, SO important to support them. The experiences I’ve had at independent bookstores are just SO much different than all the other places I buy. I can’t deny it. I never, ever want to see my local indie close!

So my night…

I showed up to Children’s Book World and was immediately greeted by book club who showered me with the most thoughtful and lovely gifts. Seriously. Macarons, an amazingly sweet and thoughtful homemade card (THAT GAYLE FORMAN SIGNED!) and more! THEY KNOW ME SO WELL. The thoughtfulness of all the presents kind of makes me a little teary. Not going to lie.

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IMG_2371 IMG_2372Look at Lindsey’s cardmaking skills!!

And did I mention I got a huge Happy Birthday hug from Gayle Forman when I walked in? No? OH WELL YEAH THAT HAPPENED. Nothing like a Happy Birthday from a favorite author on your birthday to make a bookish gal’s day! Then it was time for trivia night with Gayle Forman in which I realized how badly I need to reread If I Stay & Where She Went and makes me want to do a reread of Just One Day and then obviously reread Just One Year. (All those links go to reviews if you haven’t yet read any Gayle Forman books and need convincing!!). Luckily Katie and Lindsey took it home for book club and were answering questions left and right and Lindsey won one of Gayle Forman’s new shirts! Then Gayle read from both Just One Day & Just One Year and then this happened….

YEAH GAYLE FORMAN BROUGHT ME A CAKE FOR MY BIRTHDAY! So, in my favorite bookstore with one of my all time favorite authors…many book lovers sang happy birthday to me! I was shocked and a bit flustered because ALL EYES ON ME MAKES ME WANT TO SQUIRM but it was the loveliest of all surprises and I am so, so grateful for my bookish friends, my lovely local indie and Gayle Forman who, not only writes books that speak to my soul, but is one of the kindest and most lovely people ever  and SUPER interesting to talk to because she has great stories, is hilarious and I love her outlook on life.

Gayle Forman signing

Gayle FormanYep…just Gayle feeding me some cake!

It was truly a fab bookish birthday and I am so thankful for those who celebrated with me! And now tonight Will and I will celebrate with dinner because, being the husband of a bookworm, he knows that I’d totally choose to celebrate my birthday doing something bookish.

Check out Gayle’s tumblr and see if she is coming to a city near you! She is not to be missed!

If you could choose, what author would you love to come to YOUR birthday party? Tell me about a memorable birthday YOU have had!!

HEY YA JAMIE! We Need To Talk!

You guys all met YA Jamie (still cringing that I put these pictures on the internet) and you learned some things about her with my little survey but after reading this post I was thinking a lot about what I would tell my YA self I could sit down and talk to her and tell her what I’ve learned in all these years since being a teen. I doubt she would have listened because she thought she knew it all (Will would still say this is true of me now but WHATEVER) but reading so much YA I think SO much about my teenage years. So here it goes…

*stares at YA Jamie* *hands coffee* Don’t give me that face. You learn to like coffee one day or at least like it out of necessity in college. Also, your boobs don’t get bigger. HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU. Everyone who said you were a late bloomer LIED. You just bloom in other ways. So start saving those pennies and cozy up to Victoria’s Secret. So for real…let’s talk.

Things You Need To Know:

 

advice1It’s all part of adolescence so go with it but whenever you are feeling particularly overwhelmed about something remember that it is transient and think of the bigger picture. That party your mom wouldn’t let you go to? It really did NOT ruin your life. See…I’m here. Do I look ruined?? Worry about these dumb things because it’s your now but put more stock in the important things that will be there in 5 years. Perspective is really key in getting over these things.

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Here’s the thing, if you don’t you are going to end up sitting in your bed at night running through all of the “should haves” and “what ifs.” TRUST ME. Sometimes the chances you took don’t pan out the way you think they will but I assure you at some point you will realize that even that failed attempt changed you and you won’t wonder “what if” down the road. Take chances, say yes even when you are scared and be bold. It’s empowering. Some opportunities you won’t get back. They won’t wait for you to finally get the courage 5 years later. TRUST ME. I have a whole list I could share with you.

advice3I know you feel like you get along better with guys and I know your friendships really ARE awesome with them and you DO really fit in. But there is going to be a point when you realize you have no girl friends and you need them. And then when you TRY to make them? You are going to be really bad at it. All the things other girls learned about friendship? You are years behind and don’t quite understand how it all works. It sucks but luckily a few girls come into your life that make it real easy. Sadly, geography is not in your favor but they are important nonetheless. Also, read this and find those kinds of friendships!

advice4They are by no means perfect but you won’t have them around forever as you will soon learn. Appreciate them. A lot. Try to peel back the layers and bridge the gaps. You are going to feel the absence of not having a mom but you still have a dad and sisters and stepmom and stepdad. Cherish that. You and Angela will stop hating each other and actually she will be your best friend. Want to know how? She’s going to tell you she’s pregnant and that will change your life and make you inseparable. Be gentle with her as you work out your differences through high school and college. You are going to realize that these people will be here for you when others hurt you, fail you and they will love you unconditionally despite your flaws and will be the ones you call crying when bad things happen.

advice5Let go of things that don’t work. Let go of people who do not add anything positive to your life. Let go of anger. Let go of the past. Let go and forgive. You’ll feel a million pounds lighter. It’s going to be hard and you are going to struggle a lot. It seems counter-intuitive because you’ll feel like you can fix those friendships and situations but you’ll really just feel prisoner to them. And ignore the slogan, “Quitters never win” because it’s OKAY to not want to do something anymore if you don’t want. You are free to try new things. Just be honest with yourself about why you want to quit it.

advice6You are going to feel like you are always at different stages than your friends and peers a lot. In high school and college you are going to grow up fast because of what happens with your mom. Your friends aren’t going to understand it really and you are going to feel alone. But I promise you that you will have a step ahead of them when it comes to seeing the world differently and having perspective. Relish in that when you feel alone but don’t hold it against them. And then they are all going to be in serious relationships and you’ll be single. It’s okay. When you get a relationship, they all get married. It’s okay. You learn from their mistakes. When you finally get married (yes it’s before your are 30) and get your first apartment, they will be having babies and buying houses. IT’S OKAY. Don’t compare yourself because your journey is different.

advice7
This is the biggest lesson you could ever learn. Look, I’m only meeting with you right now because I got laid off and have TIME. I didn’t order food to go with that coffee because I’m broke. But I’ll tell you what…you and your husband laugh a lot. At your situation. In spite of it. You are going to go through things that you can’t control and sometimes you will feel like everything has gone wrong (seriously..2013 you will have a HUGE bad streak) BUT you can choose to put a smile on your face, be kind, laugh, be the best person you can be and that will help you get through it. You can’t control the chaos but you can do something about how you see it.

advice8Seriously, you are going to fight it SO MUCH. STOP IT. You will save so much time, money and painful burns in your quest to straighten it every day. Give into the lazy, girl. Rock what you have!

advice9Seriously, you have lots of dance parties. Just the other day you had one and your husband walked in from work and immediately started dancing with you. He’s a keeper. Plus as much as he shakes his head at your white girl moves and your failed twerking attempts..he still thinks you are awesome. Also, he’s a better dancer than you. Deal with it.

advice10
People will show you who they really are. They will. You are going to come across a lot of people who treat you like crap, make underhanded comments, talk behind your back and just genuinely don’t have your best interest at heart. Don’t let those bad eggs make you become jaded…just cut your losses. That person who talks about EVERYONE else (even her “bffs”)…don’t be stupid to think she isn’t also talking about you. That person who loves gossip? You will struggle with wanting to get in on it but it’s TOXIC. That friend who isn’t every pleased with anything that anybody does? You have flaws but don’t need to try to aim for what she thinks is acceptable. Stop trying to please her. Focus on your handful of AMAZING friends. You will be blessed with friends who send you empowering mixtapes when you need them, that friend who you can text at 3am about a fight with your husband, friends who GET you and don’t judge you even when you tell them something ridiculously stupid and petty and friends that understand your quirks and flaws and love you but aren’t afraid to tell you like it is when you are being a jackass.

advice11Even though you should be wary of certain people, you should be gracious with everyone else. Remember you could be seeing someone on their worst day. Don’t assume things. Don’t think the worst of people’s intentions right away. Talk about things when you feel slighted and don’t hold it in. Be honest. Don’t be stingy with second chances and “I’m sorry’s”. Meet people where they are at. See other people’s perspectives and consider them. Don’t judge harshly when someone is human and makes mistakes or does something douchy. Understand that sometimes in friendships you give and take at different intervals — it’s never the same for every friend but I can assure you that it will never be equal at all times. Sometimes people need more from you than they can give at certain times and vice versa. Don’t keep a tally. You’ll know when it’s right.

Things you will still struggle with at 28 (but I assure you, YA Jamie, I’m WORKING ON IT FOR US)

+ making omlettes
+ painting your nails
+ Not stabbing yourself in the eye with your mascara
+ Saying I’m sorry first
+ Feeling accepted/left out
+ Letting things consume you that shouldn’t
+ Trying to seek approval
+ dealing with the loss of your mom
+ Making friends
+ Knowing what you want to do with your life
+ Letting people walk all over you
+ Making decisions
+ Feeling like you are your age (trust me, girl, you still look 16 too)
+ letting one person ruin your mood
+ being the one to make plans/pick up the phone (also, you SUCK at answering texts)
+ feeling overwhelmed to the point of just shutting down
+ loving exercise (though right now you started Blogilates and you kind of maybe love it)
+ reading into things
+ feeling worthy and believing in yourself
+ finding pants that don’t show your crack when you bend down

You aren’t perfect but you’ll do alright, kid. You don’t even comprehend your strength but you’ve gotten through some of the worst things life could throw you with grace. You are still here. You are growing. Learning. Loving. Playing. Every day. And that’s what is important…at 16 or 28 or 58.

Love, ME

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