No Title Because I Don’t Know What To Call It

You ever have those posts where you can’t just think of a title because you’re not sure where you’re going in your writing yet? Even by the end of this I don’t think it’ll have a title. This is kind of a random rant; fair warning.

I want to start by saying I’m not a religious person. I didn’t grow up with it and never really had a desire to delve into that world. I don’t judge others on their beliefs as long as they don’t judge me on having no beliefs. On Friday I got to witness one of my very best friends on this planet marry his long time boyfriend. I remember years back when he would say if gay marriage was ever legal in Ohio he would marry within two months of it happening. So last year when it actually became reality you can imagine how we all felt. He didn’t stick to the within two months but that’s okay because it did happen. This wedding was the most last minute, thrown together wedding I’ve ever seen but it was bursting with love! I mean, it’s indescribable really but it made me feel some kind of way.

I always think about what I can have. What I mean is, you know how you look at other people’s lives and compare it to yours and always point out something you’re missing or maybe something you want? I used to have those moments. Back when I worked 3 jobs, 65 hours a week, always feeling as if I never had enough money and would always push and try harder to climb that ladder and be other people with their extravagant lives. It was always about the money you know? Money would buy more things and better my life and make me happy even though I’d had my long time boyfriend (now husband) who worked just as hard.

I look back now and just marvel at how silly I was being. I look back and see how I was measuring my happiness against how other people lived their lives. Was I striving for them or for me?

Slowly I began to stop caring. There are always going to be people in your life who judge you for whatever the hell they feel like judging you for. But then you look and you see those friends, those family members who don’t care about your 1998 loud ass car as long as the car gets you to the bookstore so you can spend all your money where it counts. The friends who don’t care that your house is a mess because it looks lived in and that’s all that matters. Those friends who don’t care that you’re broke most of the time because we can throw stuff together in the kitchen and watch YouTube videos all day. The husband who doesn’t care about your wild hair and unshaven legs when you’re lazy because he thinks you’re beautiful no matter what.

Then you really open your eyes and begin to see that you’ve been happy the whole damn time. And you go to the wedding that was thrown together last minute and share the joy of everlasting love in the chaos. You realize you’ve been there since day one and seen the good the bad and the ugly and throughout it all cheered your friends on and will continue to do so forever. That they recognized this in you and is the reason they selected you to experience their special day and the many days to come.

I don’t need to be money wealthy. Money is nice, don’t get me wrong, but it can never buy the connections that truly matter in this world. And for that, I am most grateful.

Now I’m going to go eat cake for breakfast. Have a Happy Sunday. 🙂

Easter

I had yesterday and today off work. (By that I mean I’ve really been working remotely – answering a myriad of questions and complaints.) Over the course of the past two days I’ve deemed to NOT have any extra help around our home to prepare for Easter. We have both sides of the family joining us plus an extra four paws. Here, it means the sheets all need changed, couches need vacuumed, the floors need swept, mopped, and reswept and remopped, the dogs need walked, brushed, bathed, and re-walked, the meals need to be planned and the kitchen needs to be kept up with. Oh, not to mention that Spring has sprung in a matter of two days here in Cleveland.

In an effort to work as hard (or try to work as hard) as my right hand man, I made a list. (Basically the list I already wrote plus a few extra things like going to the grocery and working out.) As I begin checking off each item on my list I keep thinking “this would be a real project with a child or two”. Bless all of you who work so hard to keep a clean house and somehow manage to have children, too! I don’t know how my mom did it with four of us!

I try not to get super stressed about things. Holidays are meant to be fun and relaxing. I’ll admit, I’m still in my pajamas, I have sweat dripping down my back, and I’m on my fourth cup of coffee. However, I did make time to read and watch an episode of my current show. (It’s the little things in life!) I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor. A clean house, little to no dog hair on the floor (for the time being), the windows open, and every bed having fresh sheets for our guests. I can definitely see how people get overwhelmed. Especially, when juggling children, practices, social schedules, and whatever else is on their plate.

This year, I work Saturday until about 5:30 or 6:00 PM and will then come home to a house full of my favorite people. How lucky am I?! That’s what I kept telling myself as I was scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees today. Ha! No, in all honesty, I am really looking forward to having everyone together. Whether we color eggs, or play backyard football, I’m sure it’ll be a riot.

I did grow up nondenimational Christian and I have firm beliefs. One of those beliefs is to love unconditionally. That’s really what Easter means to me. Love your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, coaches, leaders, whoever, love them completely and the best that you can. Now more than ever.

BlindFold Me

I’ve been on a contemporary romance binge read lately. The series in particular I’ve been devouring is called the I-Team series by Pamela Clare. The “I” stands for investigative reporter team; or at least that’s what I think it stands for. The premise of these stories is you have heroine who is a member of this team who, in one way or another, gets involved in serious political drama from basic research on a story. For example, in one of the stories, the heroine is Navajo American and she reports on environmental issues and the happenings on the Native American reservation. During a religious ceremony where they are purifying themselves for one reason or another, police interrupt them and cite them with violating land laws set by the city. Later we learn its a cover up for nefarious, unlawful digging of important Indian artifacts as well as a burial site for murders. Then the bad guy ends up trying to pin it on the reporter and when that doesn’t work, proceeds to try to have her murdered.

Now, you can’t have a heroine without the hero. Well, you could, depending on the book but this is romance so there has to be a hero. The hero in these stories is usually someone who is either involved with the investigation somehow or stumbles upon the heroine in a time when she needs help. In the case of the story above, the hero is a park ranger who has a love for the environment and has been helping to protect it and keeping the peace with the Native Americans. The author used to be an investigative reporter in real life so a lot of the technical and political jargon she includes in her stories have a kernel of truth to them. In her acknowledgements section, she lists people she thanked for helping her get the information correct like park rangers, U.S. marshals, nurses, etc. It’s pretty neat.

So now you have your investigative reporter heroine with her park ranger hero and circumstances bring two strangers together in a dangerous setting. He takes it upon himself to be her protector and she allows it. Then in like a week or two the woman realizes she loves the man, the man doesn’t want long term commitment but at the same time can’t stay away from her while they’re both being hunted by murderers. That’s a big dose of adrenaline thrown in the mix and they can’t help but fall madly in love with each other right? I love these stories even though I find it hard to believe in instant love. Like how does one stranger blindly trust another stranger with her entire life in one moment? I mean he’s a park ranger, or in the other stories, he’s a senator or an ex-con or undercover federal agent so they have tons of combat and survival training and they’re all males who need love in their life so I guess it’s only natural for the heroine to take on the damsel role (not necessarily in complete distress) and it definitely makes for some juicy reading.

Sometimes you get a surprise and it’s the man who knows before the woman but most of the time women know first. You know now that I think about it, my own relationship wasn’t instant love but he definitely knew long before I did. I didn’t have murderers after me, thank goodness, but when you hear that phrase “love is blind” I wonder if it should actually say “love is seeing” because most of the time one knows and just has to convince the other that they know too.

The Babysitter

I’m a leader, a trainer, an encourager, a believer, a giver, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a counselor, a backer upper, a call away, a stay later, a helper outer, an organizer, a receiver, a deliverer, a conductor, a planner, a helper, a babysitter.

I’m a manager.

What does that mean? It means I come in early, I stay late. I work harder than everyone else before I arrive, while I’m there, and once I leave. I think about the traffic flows and the patterns. I clean the toilets, I dust the shelves, I create schedules time and time again. I bend the rules until they’re about to break. I’m also the enforcer when I need to be…and the listener when there’s nobody else.

I want to be liked and I want people to love what they do so much that everyone walking through our doors can feel it. I believe that they do. That comes at a cost. It’s a high one. It means lack of sleep, emails all day and all night, calls and texts with questions and problems. It means holding myself to the highest standards that way I can expect that from others. In turn, I do get good bonuses and a decent paycheck. Right now I have a three weeks worth of PTO – but I’m at a place where I can’t take it because I’m uncomfortable leaving the staff alone (plus countless other meetings and events I can’t miss).

The longer I am in this role the more I believe that I might be in Denial about what it is that I do. I’ve been told several times that I’m “too nice” or “too lenient”. Am I? …I want for everyone to be happy and enjoy what we do. …but I don’t want to be taken advantage of. Every now and then the mama bear has to redirect her cubs. My team is about to get some redirecting. Sometimes it is tough because everyone is so individual in their wants, needs, and desires for their place in the company. To truly cater to that takes a lot of time, understanding, and effort.

I love it but I hate it. It fuels me and stresses me out. I’m sure everyone feels this way at one point in time or another with their job. I’m learning to be a better leader and listener. (Or I’m trying to, anyway.) I take advice and criticism and do my best to implement whatever I need to in order to have a well oiled and productive machine when I’m there and when I’m gone.

Sometimes it just gets tiring to always be the babysitter, to be one step ahead, to always be looking back over your shoulder, and listening in on conversations to help out or redirect. Sometimes you just need a vacation.

Secure

These two are my security: my husband and my best friend.
There comes a moment in your life where you go through everything you’ve been through in your life and examine the constants. Sure you have your parents, if you’re lucky enough, but there are those people you talk to every single day who you can always count on for anything and everything. My husband and my best friend have been my constants. You hear about unconditional love and you automatically think of your pets. I have pets, and yes, they love me unconditionally but I can 100% say with all my heart that these two people love me unconditionally. We’ve been through some good, bad, and really ugly times. I can think of a few times where even I didn’t want to be friends with me anymore but these two don’t give up and I love them for that. I can conquer the world as long as I have these two with me.

10 years and counting.

 

It Started on a Map: Day 17

It all started with this map. My husband and I are coming on on our 2 year marriage/10 year dating anniversary this summer. This map is a rough navigation we started for ourselves when we were planning our trip to Florence, Italy. It was our first time ever going across the ocean and visiting that side of the world. We were fortunate enough that we had saved enough to be able to pay for our wedding and this trip. I’ll explain the stars on the map and then I’ll share some of the beautiful photos we took while there.

When we were planning were planning the trip, I got it into my head that it would be a great idea if we could find a highly reviewed B&B that was in walking distance to all the sites we wanted to see. After scouring TripAdvisor and Expedia and all the other travel review sites, we ended up getting a really good deal and stayed at Locanda dei Ciompi. It was smack in the middle of everything. Breakfast was served every morning at the cafe two doors down and we had free wifi. The remaining stars on the map: Osteria de’ Peccatori, Il Latini, and Palazzo Tempi were restaurants we discovered that we ended up frequenting throughout our 6 day stay.

In case anyone is curious what kind of camera we used for the trip, we ended up buying a Sony RX100 Mark 2. It’s a really small, compact camera that took really great photos in low lighting. It also had a neat feature where you can hook up your smartphone via NFC and control the camera using the smartphone. Quite handy for those couple selfies people were begging us for back home.

Words cannot describe how beautiful Firenze is. All I can say is if you ever get a chance, you must visit this beautiful city and just soak it in. There is rich history and culture in everything you see and eat. I hope you all enjoy the photos and if you ever find yourself in Italy, definitely check out Florence. It may not be the most romantic city in the world but it was the best honeymoon we ever dreamed of.

 

 

Dense

Love in Shades of Purple: Day 14

I woke up this morning doing what I normally do; make a smoothie, get dressed, pack a lunch and go to work.

I checked my WordPress feed to see what the daily word prompt word would be and surprise, surprise it’s my favorite color! I looked around to notice that I’m wearing a purple shirt, my smoothie as a healthy gross looking purple color, I’m texting M and her person option color is purple and my office has mini bags of purple skittles in a bowl for people to enjoy.

That got me thinking. You know how most people associate the color of love with pink? I’ve always seen shades of purple. The first time my husband graced me with flowers he automatically assumed I preferred roses. I think roses are pretty, sure but I have always been a Gerber daisy kind of girl. Every time I see one I have to take a picture of it. If they were native to my area, they would be all over my yard.

Back when I was getting married, we had to decide between real and fake flowers. Real flowers are great because you can throw them back to nature once you’re finished and they’ll biodegrade naturally. Fake flowers don’t have that option but you can keep them forever and look back on your wedding day. I ended up going with fake flowers because of the second reason. My bouquet wasn’t purple (unfortunately) but it was still beautiful none the less and I got to have the girls have Gerber daisy bouquets. They matched well. My husband was against purple in our wedding. Like adamantly did not want it; wouldn’t even try on a purple vest. Our colors ended up being emerald, which is my birthstone and second favorite color and slate.

Howeverwp-1490617892904.jpg, I’m a woman and I try to have my way in some capacity. I wanted flowers to go down the aisle. I scoured craft stores for petals that would match our color scheme. They were all either too bright or too dark. It was quite frustrating. So then we started thinking if we can’t have loose flowers maybe we can find big flower buds and cut off the stems so that they can rest on the ground. Well that was difficult too. The next best place to get ideas was YouTube; searching for terms like fake flower ideas for weddings and subjects of that nature. We came across tutorials on how to make paper flowers and my friend, who is super artistically inclined, tried to make a few of them using construction paper. The end result was my dream come true! The flower in the picture is the example flower but I was so happy with it that we made it happen. I didn’t get to have purple in the aisle flowers but we did have raspberry filling in one of the tiers of our cake so a girl will take what she can get considering that was and still is the happiest day of her life.

Now, two years later, it’s not *as* hard to convince the man to get purple things. The purple curtains are a no go but the purple sheets are fine. Purple wildflowers are also okay in my yard landscaping plans. I hope to slowly but surely convince him of letting me paint at least one wall in the house purple… we’ll see what happens.

My Best Purchase (Recently)

I have people who look at my hands all day. …from showing customers products to typing in their account information, they’re always looking. I used to be a nail biter and my mom hated it. Even now, when I’m stressed or anxious I will peel or bite them. …and then it’s just a mess all around. You can’t paint bitten nails and have them look nice.

I finally put two and two together! When my nails are in fact painted I don’t want to mess them up so I don’t bite them. That leads me to my next problem…who has time to paint their nails and pray to God that they don’t get bumped, scratched, or smudged? I’ve tried all the best and most expensive nail lacquers. (OPI, Essie, China Glaze, the list continues to bottles that are $30 +)

My family is super high energy (3 dogs and 3 cats) I also have three younger brothers and a boyfriend who is always into projects. (Last night he was sanding a picture frame as I worked out in our basement.) Needless to say, I need something that’s quick drying and long lasting, that takes Minimal effort. I figured I’d go to some salon and get a gel mani and pedi. Let’s just face the facts on that – it’s an easy $100 after tip. (That’s not even at a nice salon around where I live.)

…one of my best friends told me she has an “at home” gel manicure kit. I kind of laughed it off because I have all the Essie “gel” top coats a person can own – they don’t do squat. We ended up going to Sally’s and she talked me into it. I (well, my mom – thanks mom!) got the kit. The brand I went with is ASP. I got the LED lamp, a polish, primer, base, and top coat for $67. …I guess that might sound like a lot, but it’s really not. I would have spent that for one mani at a nice salon.

SO, since I’ve told you a little about what it is let me tell you about the end result. I’m in love. Like looooove love. If you, or you know someone, who is always paying big bucks to get their nails done give one of these a try. It took me roughly 20 minutes to prime (buff and shape) my nails, do the base coat, color and top coats before I was happily eating Do-Si-Do’s.

I painted them two days ago. I don’t have single chip, scratch, or bump. I have a funeral to go to tomorrow and the last thing I wanted was to go with unkemp hands. (I secretly can’t wait to do my toes tonight!)

Home

I’m going “Home” this weekend – which means I’ll pack up my three dogs, maybe my boyfriend (if he’s lucky) and I’ll make the three hour drive down south. My hometown is full of big trucks, football games, corn fields, and southern slang. It’s where I grew up, went to high school, had my first kiss, played sports and made some of my best friends.

It’s strange to me now. I don’t know the people like I used to. The shops have changed and so have the restaurants. Even the schools have been rebuilt and moved on. My name, my mom’s name, and my brother’s names are still etched into the walls and on plaques and trophies that line the halls. I set records and broke them in both swimming and soccer. My mom coached. I skipped school, had snow days, and stayed after to serve dinners for fund raising events.

Now, I walk into the massive gym for basketball games and see my last name written on banners, on t-shirts, and on the backs of jerseys. I get choked up watching my brothers play football and basketball. I’m proud of their accomplishments on and off the field. I go home to support them, teach them, and love them.

I enjoy my own house and my pets and my neighborhood. I love living in a new town – that’s still small. …but I love being close to so many other great things. Big cities with great restaurants, sporting events, and theaters were not things I grew up around. They are things that I want my future children to have access to, however. So, now, at 25, I am attempting to convince my parents to move up north.

Home is where the heart it…or where my dogs are…I don’t really know. To me…my home is where family trumps everything. My friends come to visit and are welcomed with open arms. Maybe you trip over an extra pair of shoes or dog toys but that’s my life and what I love. Maybe there’s take out pizza on the counter because we’re all too busy to eat at once. …but we aren’t too busy to play games, or sit in bed with grandma until late at night.

Home is where you have Secrets and share them…but most importantly where you keep them. Heart break is mended, depression is squashed, and a shoulder to cry on is just a room away.

…so whether my home is here or there, I can feel it anywhere.