Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gratitude


A lot of people are doing year in review posts- on their blogs, on Facebook, on Instagram. I don't really want to do that. This year has been full of ups and downs. But, what year isn't? 

Instead of reviewing, in pictures and detail, everything that has happened this year, I want to talk about what got me through the good and the bad: gratitude. 

I have learned that gratitude is my new favorite secret weapon. In good times and bad, gratitude will see me through. 

It's easy to express gratitude during the good times, and yet, how often do we stop what we are doing to do just that? 

It's not nearly as easy during bad times, but I have found that it makes all the difference. When it feels like the world is crashing down around you, turning to gratitude literally changes your heart. 

When I hit rock bottom financially, I found gratitude in the support of my parents, as well as in the necessary, life- changing lessons. 

When a good man came back into my life, I was grateful for God's plan. 

When I finished grad school, I found gratitude in the opportunity to start a new career path. 

When I made the move back to Wisconsin, I was grateful for the love and support from friends and family- those in Wisconsin and in Denver. 

When I was offered the job at Viterbo, I was grateful for a new beginning. 

When my heart was broken in July, I found gratitude in the journey, the memories, and the chance to redefine myself.  

When I decide to devote myself to being single, and when that decision left me lonely and confused and messy, I found gratitude in God's love for me and in the knowledge that I am enough. 

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found gratitude for modern medicine, for the power of prayer, and for all the extra weekends that I was able to get back to Appleton to spend with her. 

Gratitude. It made 2014 one of the most defining years of my life thus far. My faith has grown exponentially, I'm happier than I've ever been, and I feel blessed beyond words. 

I hope you're able to look back on your year and find gratitude in all of the experiences. 

Here's to 2015. Happy New Year, friends and family! 


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Wishes

I interrupt my blogging silence to wish you all a very merry Christmas! Enjoy the moments with your families ❤️

Love this little brother of mine!

Christmas lights with my Dad 

The reason for the season. Joy to the world! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Single, happy, and empowered


Once upon a time, I promised to write about my journey in singledom. Well, now I am almost 4 months into it and I have pretty much not written about it at all. But that is about to change! I am going to start this off by saying something that I have said in the past, but now know that I never truly meant: I am totally capable of being happy and single.

Whoa.

I have said this many times in the past, when friends or family would tell me to take a break from dating. I would respond that I really hadn't dated anyone in over a year, and was fine with that. But that's because I was using "dated" in a very broad way. I have not truly been single since freshman year in high school. Seriously. I have not always been "in a relationship" or "dating" during that time, but there has always been someone occupying some portion of my mind, my time, and my heart.

I am really proud to say that right now, the only person occupying my mind, time and heart...is myself. That is truly revolutionary to me. I don't have anyone to text when I feel like flirting, I don't have someone I can call for a hook up (not that I've ever done that, obviously) and I definitely don't have anyone to plan dates with.

And guess what?

I am ok. More than ok. I am, for what is likely the very first time in my entire life, totally and completely happy with my own company. I cannot even begin to explain how empowering this is!

As I get older, I become more of an introvert. With that, I have learned to enjoy my "me time" more. But prior to this singledom pledge, even my "me time" would be entangled with another person-- via texting, or what not. Now, my "me time" is exactly that...it is time for me, without anyone else pulling my attention away.

The timing of this revelation has been great. With starting a new job, especially a live-in, nights & weekend on-call position like mine, I am focusing on finding good balance. If I were dating right now, my "nights off" would likely not be focused on re-energizing or spending time on myself. They would be date nights, and movie nights, and dinners in, and nights spent texting for hours. Makes me tired just thinking of it ;)

Another great part of learning to like being single: learning my standards. Now that I know I can be happy by myself, I won't feel nearly as tempted to lower my standards when I reenter the dating world. Over the last four years, I think I said yes to guys just because I was scared of being alone. Yes, I really did like some of the guys I dated, but there are also a handful that I think about now and wonder what in the devil I was thinking! It is empowering to know that I can go into now with high standards and high expectations...and the patience to wait for them to be met.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Comfort Zone


Here's the thing: of the last 12 years, I have been in a defined, committed relationship for nearly 10 years. I started my first long-term relationship at the ripe age of 14. That lasted 7 years. The next was just shy of a year. Then came my two "single" years. And I've spent the last two years in more "real" relationships. It's safe to say relationships are my comfort zone. 

I am most comfortable when I have another person to share my life with. Be that the daily struggles and accomplishments, the emotional and physical connections, or even the seemingly mundane traditions. I am a relationship person. It's who I am, it's all I know. 

But what if the quote above is true? What if my life hasn't even started, and has just been waiting for me to finally give up on this "comfort zone" I've been in? Who knows if that's the case. Luckily, the only way I know how to get through being out of my comfort zone is faith. And there's nothing better to lean on. Despite being so far out of my comfort zone, I am surprisingly at peace. Faith is good. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up

Whew. Another summer weekend come and gone, and it's officially August! My goodness, time is flying. 

I have officially been a Viterbo employee for one month. Athletes started moving in this weekend, RAs move in next weekend, and then after two weeks of RA training, move-in weekend will be upon us and the school year will be starting! It's nerve-racking and exhilarating at the same time. 

My mom came to visit me this weekend, and it was everything my heart and soul needed. I know that I am beyond blessed with the relationship I have with my mom. She is, without a doubt, my very best friend. So to have her be the first one to visit my new home in La Crosse, and for me to show her around town and her to help me make this on-campus apartment my home...oh, it meant so much! 

I didn't take any photos during the time we were together, but these are the fruits of our weekend labor! 


Pickles! My very first batch of refrigerator pickles. We bought the cukes at the farmers market. I can't wait to taste 'em when they're ready on Tuesday! 


These babies almost speak for themselves! My mom bought this amazing bouquet for me at the farmers market on Saturday morning. I can't get over how much happiness comes from a beautiful case of flowers in the house. 


It's a little hard to see anything else, but this shows some of the main "homey" pieces that have been added to my apartment. My mom and I picked up curtains and hardware (praise God for 3M hooks!) and hung curtains in the living room and bedrooms. Once she left, I found these cute teal lattern lights on sale at Target. They add a nice touch, but I'm not sure I love them.



My mom and Ginny found this great table for me at a garage sale-- a steal at $10!!! I knew I wanted to refinish and distress it, as I didn't love the dark green legs. I was originally planning to use white paint, but my mom suggested this great green (it's the same green as my wine cork table). I decided to give it a go on Sunday night, and I have to admit-- I'm kinda loving it! That may have been the quickest an easiest DIY furniture project ever. 

Did you all have a great weekend? Is your summer flying by too?! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things I'm Loving Today


There are enough "t"s (side note: is there a correct way to make a letter plural?!) in this title that I think it works as a new Tuesday series. Yup. I was going to follow a few other bloggers who list three things they're loving each Tuesday, but I don't want to be limited like that. So, off with the limit on to the things I'm loving!

1. My mama comes to visit this weekend!!! There's really not much else to say; I feel like the triple exclamation points say it all. Basically, I'm ecstatic. 

2. Hootie and the Blowfish. When Hootie comes on my Pandora station, I can't help but smile. So, so good!

3. My first week of on-call duty is coming to close today! Phew. Ok, that's an exaggeration, because in reality, it's a ghost town on campus still so duty is easy peasy. But I'm still excited to be able to stay off campus past 7pm again ;) 

4. Riverside Park. If it weren't for the annoying gnats, I would be down there during all of my free time. Even with the gnats, I visit on a regular basis-- either for the Saturday morning farmers market or to lay on a blanket and read. 

5. READING! Seriously, I'm on an impressive roll right now. I mean, finishing a book every 48 hours kind of roll. Thank goodness for the well-stocked library system in La Crosse! I've basically scoured all of the "books to read in your 20s/30s" lists and judged the books by their covers to choose which ones I'll start with. I'm not ashamed. So far, I have read: Gifts From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (a 16th birthday present from my mom, taking on a whole new meaning at 26), The Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, and Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. My current "to-read" pile is pictured above.

6. Continuing with the library theme, free movies! I have Amazon Prime, but their selection can sometimes feel like it is lacking, so it's nice to have another resource. So far, I've watched Gatsby (the new one), The Butler, and 84 Charring Cross Road. Now if only people would start returning their copies of season 3 of Game of Thrones, so I could get my hands on that! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making it Official: My Single Pledge



This post is going to be a total deviation from my norm on this blog. But I want to use it as a place to record my experiences and feelings as I embark on a new personal journey. I mean, that's what this blog is for, right? I've had people send me messages after posting certain things, saying that it was exactly what they needed to hear, or that it somehow made a difference to them. It's never my intention to write something with that kind of meaning, but the fact that it happens means so much to me! And I think sharing this new journey of mine may touch people who read this. Then again, maybe it won't. But I know that it will be good for me. 

So, what's this new journey I'm talking about? I am officially taking the rest of 2014 off from dating. Yup. No dating for 6 months (backdated to when I became single again). I'm not saying I've had any offers or that I intend to in the next six months, only that I will not be intentionally seeking any dates. 

Why cut such an excruciatingly painful, time-consuming, frustrating experience out of my life? (Kidding about that description, by the way...mostly.) A few reasons are behind this:

1) I'm in a new job, in my dream field. I want to take the next six months, at least, to really soak up as much knowledge as I can. Universities are such complex organizations, and I want to learn everything I can about this environment. That, and I want to focus on being amazing in my position. 

2) On that note, life is about to get really busy for me. I supervise a student staff of 11, directly oversee buildings that house roughly 350 residents, and am indirectly involved with 9 more student staff and 350 residents. I also have 24-hour on-call  duty two nights per week and every other weekend. Add to that attending any programs my staff put on, events on campus, and still maintaining a life of my own and there just isn't room for dating. Esoecially not if I want the other areas of my life to receive their full share of attention. 

3) I've been hurt and disillusioned. I'm going to be completely honest, my ability to trust another person, let alone my own feelings, took a major beating recently. Jumping into anything too soon is a recipe for disaster. I want to take the time necessary to heal and rebuild my trust in myself.

4) And finally, I'm sick of dating and I just want to take a break. 

And with that, here's to the second half of 2014 being dateless...and totally ok with it!