Love yourself

Changes Made Happiness Earned

Don’t believe everything you see. Every picture that is posted, every word that comes out of someone’s mouth, every written article is subject to what the author wants the reader or viewer to believe. It works. I’m no marketing major, but I believe that’s how things work. We are all guilty of this act. We want people to believe we have our shit together. We want the world to see our happiness and we hide our struggles. I’m guilty of this act. At first glance these photos look pretty similar. It’s a picture of me at the beach. Same sunglasses, toes in the sand, laughing with a big smile on my face. In the moment that these pictures were captured, I was happy. I was enjoying life and embracing my travels. What makes these pictures different?

The photo on the left was taken at the end of April. My toes were in the Pacific Ocean at Haystack Rock. It was freezing that day but this East coaster wasn’t going to cross the country and not put her toes in the water. My hair was long, my chest and stomach were flat. What is invisible to the eye is my façade. My smile is hiding the depression. I had built up emotions with no outlet. I was loved and supported through my divorce and then dropped by that same person who build me up. For the first time I was standing alone and frankly, it scared the hell out of me. The photo on the right was taken just a few weeks ago. This time my toes were in the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May. There was not a cloud in the sky, the water was refreshing, and I was ecstatic to travel to both coastal oceans within the same year.  My hair is short and I’m about 10 pounds heavier. Unlike the picture on the left, my smile lasted throughout the entire day not just in the moment the picture was taken.

In the months that passed between these two pictures my life completely changed.  Right before the picture on the left was taken I knew that I didn’t like who I was. I needed to make changes. I needed a healthier mindset and I needed to learn how to truly be independent and not rely on a man as a safety net to feel valued and appreciated. I began embracing who I am and loving myself. Over time and with unbreakable commitment to my mental health I started to see changed. I started to view people differently. When situations arose that would typically send me over the edge into a fire of emotions, I began noticing my reactions begin to soften. Retreat, rethink, respond has become a repetitive phrase I tell myself when difficult days arise. It has not been easy. There are still days where I get anxious, I get angry, and I even cry. There are days I want to quit. Days that I want to let the hate and pain of the world engulf me in sorrow, take over my spirit and break me down. Days where I give into the role of victim and feel sorry for myself.

What has inspired me recently is that in the past two weeks the people who know me the best have started noticing the changes in me that I’ve been working so hard to achieve over the last few months. The first instance was from my mother, the very day that the picture on the right was taken. She hugged me and told me that she was proud of the person that I’ve become. It made me happy, but she’s also my mom. I know she’s always going to love me and support throughout my life. When I met with my therapist a few days later I was surprised to hear her reiterate my mother’s words back to me. As my therapist, she knows every little detail about the past two years that I’ve been seeing her. At the end of our session she said she was proud of me for doing the work. She said that “there were plenty of people who sit right where you are desperate for a change to get through hard times, but never put in the effort.” She looked at me and said, “but you, you have persevered. You have taken my homework, my advice, and done the work and I can see that you are not the same women who walked into my office scared and weak two years ago.” I began to tear up. To hear that support from two women I admire most, my mom and my therapist, utter those words of support and recognition of my efforts solidified the feelings that I had within myself.

About a week ago I was blindsided by a very unwelcome part of my past. My best friends were the ones that I turned to first. I talked through the situation, how I wanted to handle it, and how to continue moving forward . It was through these discussions that my best friends of 10 years saw my progress. After our conversations had ended regarding the topic, I received one of the best messages from my friends. “I’m proud of you. Just so you know. A lot of people like to talk about ‘oh I’ve changed, I’ve grown’ but idk how many people really do. YOU have. I’m just so happy”. Reading the messages from my friends, hearing the words of support and pride from my therapist, as well as the love and encouragement from my mother all validated my hard work. These people who know my life, my story, my heart, and my soul better than anyone on this planet, these people who have loved me at my worst, have walked through hell with me, and continue to stand alongside me while I’m out of the storm are the ones who recognize the work that I’ve done. It’s so rewarding to say that the girl in the picture on the left doesn’t exist anymore. Last night my best friend’s husband said, “that Kait (the picture on the left) didn’t know how she was going to get out of bed in the morning. I really like the Kait that’s sitting here now.” I simply smiled at him and said, “I love this Kait too”.

I am no longer the person I was just 4 months ago let alone 6 months to a year ago. I am stronger, I am healthier, I am happier. I love my life. I love my family, my friends, my therapist. I am reaping the benefits of a positive mindset. I will continue to persevere through the difficult days, through the highs and lows, through the unexpected twists and turns of life. I will stay on my journey to happiness because it’s working! I saw the progress first, now my friends and family, and soon the rest of the world. There is no more façade to maintain. I can say I love this Kait, the picture on the right, and whole heartedly mean it!

Love yourself

Workout Wednesday

I have never described myself as athletic. I’m not a health and fitness guru and if I’m frank, I think the fitness culture today is slightly absurd. But in honor of #workoutwednesday and the fact that I tired a new gym this morning, I thought I’d tell you a little about my fitness journey. I’m not anti-workout and I think support groups of any kind are uplifting, however, I’m just not feeling it when it comes to the fitness world. In the winter I was in a mall that had a name brand active wear store. I walked in and was greeted by the sales associate. She told me with so much excitement in her voice that their new leggings were on the front table and today they were on sale, discounted at $99. I laughed in her face said “ok thanks” and turned around and walked out. I don’t understand why something you sweat in has to cost so much damn money. I buy my workout clothes, that I believe are still cute, from Target and Old Navy when they go on sale and are under $10. I call that workout winning. Maybe it’s because I’m not “athletic” that I am unable to manage the perfect post workout picture. That’s not really my thing in the first place. I don’t feel the need to post my daily workouts, my bloated belly vs. my flat tummy day comparisons nor do I have someone follow me around to take my picture 24/7. Seriously girls, how do you do it and do you get annoyed asking people to take your picture all the time?! The only workout posts that you’ll find on any of my accounts have been posted in the attempts to win free stuff through the gyms I go to or in this case, for this post. My struggle with the fitness world started long before wearing trendy work out gear and posting to Instagram was the thing to do.

I was always playing outside and in the dirt when I was little. When I was old enough to start organized sports I made some choices that did not work out for me. When I was younger I played YMCA soccer for one year until I got kicked in the shins. I played club basketball throughout elementary school and when it came to try out for the actual team for the intermediate school I chose swimming instead. Turns out I was pretty damn good at it too. I began swimming competitively year round finishing off my senior year as one of the Captains of our varsity team.  By that description alone you can tell I was never a gym rat. I hated being hot and sweaty because when you’re swimming you just dump your water bottle on yourself and keep going. Although you are sweating it’s almost unnoticeable. The stress of nursing school throughout college kept me skinny and in the summers I was a lifeguard so again, swimming. Now that I’ve been out of college for 5 years I’ve had to change my lifestyle and I’m still struggling to find my routine.

Being money conscious I tried the Jillian Michaels work out videos. “6 Week Six Pack”,  yes I got this! Nope. No I don’t got it. In my opinion the people who can do Beachbody are included in this category. Folks, you are my heroes! Being motivated to workout at home is something I’ve never been able to accomplish. I’d feel good, start working out, it would start burning, I’d start sweating (which I still hated at the time) and I’d pause that video, get a drink, take a break, and then get back at it. Eventually I learned the videos routines. When I knew a move I hated was coming up I’d choose that time to have my water break but this time I wouldn’t pause the video. I’d find myself cheering Jillian on saying things like, “you got this Jillian” and “Push through it girl”. These are all things I should have been saying to myself.  I work well with someone telling me what to do and coaching me through the moves, when there’s an option to pause, mute, or just turn off that mean trainer, well I took that easy out every single time. My life bounced around for a while and I continued to maintain my lack of workout routine. My metabolism was still excellent and when it started to slow, what I like to call my “divorce diet” had me dropping pounds without doing a thing!

Just a little over a year ago I was ready to really focus on taking care of myself. The best way I knew to get rid of all these unwanted emotions was to swim. I revisited the idea of gyms with pools and remembered but then remembered the old people. I looked into options and heard about a new gym that had recently opened that was more of a trend gym. I check it out and in July of 2016 I joined Orangetheory Fitness. It was challenging, the coaches were nice and motivating some of which I have become good friends with. I had to sign up in advance for class and was held accountable by being charged for a class if I was a no show. It was one hour of ass kicking that was exactly what I need. Well I’m crazy enough that over a year later I still go regularly. I thought this was a good start to learning how to workout while in the adult world. I would love to still be swimming but lets be honest, trying to do laps in a pool where you’re avoiding the old people doing the dead man’s float is next to impossible. Adult competitive swim teams don’t exist (If you’re reading this and I’m wrong please message me).  When I go to these classes my goal is to try not to die. I could care less about the other people in the class, especially on the treadmill. I look straight ahead and focus.  I consider this workout my “home base” because it’s the first workout that is not swimming that I can tolerate doing.

Throughout the year I have gone through swings of motivation to add to my workout routine. These swings come for multiple reasons but its mainly due to my love of Luciano’s Pizza and Beer.  I added The Barre Code to my workout regimen and it ended up being the right kind of addition to my routine.  It’s a different pace, different workout, but still challenging. What I learned most from The Barre Code is that I am not flexible at all! Walking into a room full of mirrors and trying to focus on nothing but yourself is really challenging when you can see everyone in the room from every angle. I must say, damn, some of those girls can lift their legs high! I thought that Orangetheory had me in pretty good shape until I started shaking through the warm ups of my first Barre Code class. I still go every so often to switch it up a little but it never fails I always feel like the graceless ballerina in the room.

I’ve been on vacation from work so this morning I tried out a new place I had stumbled upon through social media avenues. It’s a pilates class on resistance based machines and the studio is called IM =X. These machines are unlike anything I’ve ever done before. At first I thought it was fun. I was pulling myself along, pushing myself up and down, gliding back and forth on the carriage, but then we started jumping. Laying on your back on a carriage that slides while jumping off a platform sounds fun. But for a girl who easy gets motion sick, I was turning green! Thankfully you’re looking at the ceiling so the only person who saw my color change was the trainer. She smiled and said, “the movement is definitely something to get used to.” All I could respond was, “I’ll say”.  With that sarcasm we both started laughing. I don’t mean the soft inside voice fake laugh to appease one another. I mean the all out loud, stop what you’re doing, belly laugh. She had watched me struggle throughout the class to get the loops in the right foot, boards in the right holes, and attach and reattach the correct springs. It was my first class so all of those struggles were expected from both of us and will smooth out over time. However, the fact that I managed to make myself motion sick on the machine was something neither one of us could control laughing over. When the rest of the room went silent she simply stated it was my first class and there were small chuckles with the collaborative “been there” census from the rest of the group. Will I be adding this to my workout routine? The answer is I’m just not sure yet. I have a week to trial the classes and see if I figure out how to be more coordinated on the machines! Regardless, today was another step on my journey and another effort made for making myself a healthier person, in addition to getting in a good laugh.

My goal is to continue to be my unathletic self but also keep going. I’ve already come a long way from being the girl who doesn’t like to sweat during a workout to being drenched at Orangetheory. I will continue to try new things, explore new options, and keep my progress to myself. Loving my body is something that only I need to focus on and care about, it doesn’t depend on how many “likes” my pictures get because of how many filters I use. For me it’s about how my clothes fit, how I feel being in my clothes, doing something active that keeps me healthy but is also something that I enjoy, finding people who are there with me to burn, grow, laugh and sweat alongside me. It’s about enjoying the foods I like to eat and living a life of balance. There are so many studios out there and different places to try, this is just the beginning of my journey as it’s only been a year that I’ve consistently exercised since I graduated high school. Swimming will always be my first love and pizza will be my second, followed by donuts, tacos, and beer but you get the picture! Be kind to yourself. Love yourself and have fun doing whatever keeps your mind happy and your body healthy! By all means if that includes wearing expensive athletic wear and posting selfies, in the words of a former dance teacher, “you do you boo boo”!

Love yourself

100% Human

Most girls are said to be made up of sugar, spice, and everything nice.  Lately I think my personal break down consists of coffee, sass, and a little bad ass with maybe a shot of insanity.  When you’re young, you don’t know who you really are or what you’re made of. The stigmas of the world that categorize us into stereotypes define who we are as individuals. For the most part, we accept these labels for fact and carry them around in our mental luggage as more imperfections to divulge or strive to hide. We are constantly told how we can improve ourselves. The health/ fitness world seems to be the worst. As a nurse I’m all for health promotion and preventative measures, but where are the health and fitness organizations that focus first and primarily on mental health and loving yourself? There’s a reason that there is a quote that says “Change your mindset, change your life”. Because it has value!

It sounds silly to have  a tally of how many days I can say that I’ve been happy, but I’m a planner, I like lists, and I like keeping track of things so I have a page in my bullet journal entitle Mood. I am almost at 2 full months of happy days! This doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been low points or that I haven’t had to deal with difficult days. My life didn’t change. There is nothing profound that struck me out of nowhere. I still have the same job, same friends, same family. What changed is how I think about each day.

The month of July has tested my mental patience. During this month just two short years ago my world was knocked from its axis. Two years ago I lost faith in a man who was to be my forever and was introduced to a man who would support me through some of my darkest days. Now within two years, neither one of those men are in my life by no other choice than my own. Remembering the dynamic of July 2015 brings a wave of emotions that I have not yet grasped how to handle. Each “anniversary” gets easier, the memory weaker, the feelings less intense. As I believe time does heal all wounds, I also believe the strength of my mindset empowers me to overcome dark emotions associated with memories from this month. The thoughts don’t disappear that quickly, however, this month I choose to focus on the happiness and opportunity that has been granted to me by these men both entering and exiting my life. I was able to change my mindset from dwelling over the pain to embracing the possibilities and being excited for my future. There is no more gaping wound in my chest, no sleep is lost over anxiety or fear.

I am 100% female, 100% human, and 100% Kaitlyn. Being authentic and not getting caught up in trends is where I’m dedicating my attention. If something or someone hinders my success to being fully happy, I say a little funeral for it and let it go. I have down days, I have days where I can’t let things go that easily. I have days where I’m stuck in a funk and let my emotions get the best of me, but at the end of the day I love myself. I embrace whatever silly stereotypes that are attached to me. I wear my labels proudly and the ones that I’ve had attached to me that aren’t true, I embrace those too because no one knows me better than me. I know what I’m made of, I know who I am, I love who I am, and I know what I can handle. Going through this month has only proven to me that my mental health is becoming stronger a little more ever day.

Continue to be 100% human, push yourself, fuck up, fall down, get up, be weird, sing loud, dance often, work hard, achieve your goals, speak your truth, and never let anyone into your headspace that makes you feel there’s something wrong with who you are!

Love yourself

Freedom

No one else is me and I am not you. She will be her and he will be him, but that is not me. Thankful to be whole heartedly, individually, everything that is me.

Not cut from the same mold, I don’t follow a trend. I don’t want to be anything like them. I strive for vibrancy and fulfillment from life. Loving people and blessings granted away from the spotlight.

I sleep in peace knowing I have been true to myself. I did not give in. Oh, the self love I have. Freedom.

Love yourself

Dear future boyfriend,

Dear future boyfriend,

I don’t know who you are. I maybe unaware of your presence in my life or you may not yet have made your grand entrance. I can tell you that I’m eager to experience your love. The butterflies of the first dates, the anticipation of being in your presence, anxiety waiting for a first kiss. The hopeless romantic in me longs for our beginning but until our moment arrives I will daydream of the person you will be..

You speak kindly. Respect that my trust must be earned and progress slowly with me. Be patient, honest, and genuine. No favors are being done by hiding your truths or making adaptations, show me who you are. I want to know the intricacies of your mind. What feeds your soul and captures your heart? Celebrate the small joys and accomplishments of life. Cherish the moments that pass by so quickly and always express yourself freely. 

I hope that you are ambitious. Eager for new life experiences. Be open-minded to our differences and embrace the changes associated with new love. As the rhythm of our lives ebb and flow, know that I am ready for the challenge. Loyalty is a priority. Don’t simply speak of your feelings but show me. I don’t ask for a stage production but for the small moments found in each day. Simply chivalrous gestures are more than enough.

What’s your favorite color, season, holiday? How do you drink your coffee? What’s your favorite food? Do you like to read? You must love dogs. Will you dance with me in the kitchen to my forever changing favorite song? The words I speak will not be lost but remembered and respected. Your thoughtfulness will be overwhelming but a blessing.

What is it that you do for a living? I hope it’s a passion of yours. No, I don’t want to know your salary.  I hope you have aspirations for your future and goals for your life. I want you to be stable and able to take care of yourself. I prefer your time and attention over the girth of your wallet. Be the guy who will play outside, crawling through woods and exploring rivers. The man who will explore the world by day and dine in the city at dusk.

Admire my appearance but fall in love with my mind as beauty fades over time. There is beauty in learning the human wiring of ones brain. Strengths, weaknesses, fears, flaws, embrace mine as I will yours. Accept my past for who I was, appreciate what I’ve gone through, but don’t let it affect our future as it’s made me who I am. Most importanly, I hope the anticipation of our connection is reciprocated.

When I’m with you I will feel home, safe, accepted, and comfortable. You will be all I have imagined and more than I deserve. A calming realization that our paths crossed with intention will ease the anxiety from the wait. My heart will be chaos and my mind will be clear. I know that you are out there. See me, for here I stand.

Until our paths cross,

♥Kaitlyn

 

Love yourself · Show me a sign

I am Bold

Pam Grout’s third experiment in E-Cubed asks us to redefine one of our many stories that we’ve accepted as truth about our lives. I chose to redefine how I perceive my ex boyfriends portrayal of my personality. They don’t get to tell me about myself. I thought this was going to be difficult because I have no contact with any of them. I’m just not good at being friends after my heart has been broken. Now I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of how I wanted to rewrite this story of myself, but over those three days a few things happened that could be nothing other than my answers.

On the first day of the experiment I had a very vivid dream about my most recent ex boyfriend. It was almost as if the conversation we were having was in person. I understand that dreams are a product of your subconscious, but when I woke up I felt like he had put the thoughts and words he said out into the universe for me to hear. Because of my willingness to look and accept these answers to help me redefine my story, I opened that window to hear his message through my dream. As always when the first things happens to me after I accept a challenge, I question and attempt to rationalize my experience.

On a recent date I was told that I was bold. I never considered myself a bold person. I’m in my late 20s and am afraid of the dark, snakes, and Ronald McDonald. My style in clothing is not to stand out or to fit in. I don’t use hair dye or wear purple lipstick just because I can. I’ve never been a person who feels like I need to make a statement with my outward appearance. Additionally, my actions and interests are not that of someone who I would categorize as a bold individual. On my days away from work at the hospital I spend my time with my dog, my friends and family. I like to read and write. I listen to music. And I dream of what I want to do with my life. I don’t think any of that is out of the ordinary or particularly bold.

I found that as I was telling him about some of the experiences of my life such my medical mission trip to Ghana, white water rafting on my birthday, and even my future plans like my trip to Boston, MA. He kept asking who I traveled with. I started to look at him funny and asked, “Why do I have to go with someone?” He smiled and simply said that it’s not bad to travel solo rather it’s a bold move. I had never thought that living my life the way that I wanted to was neither bold nor brave. I just thought that it was what I needed to do to be happy. I walked into the date being the one intimidated and unsure of how he would perceive me. Carrying those stigmas from my ex boyfriends in the back of my mind, hoping that this guy wouldn’t see them. When I left the date, I felt that he was intimidated and also attracted to my confidence and independence. Now I know he’s not an ex boyfriend, but I couldn’t help but believe that him telling me that I’m bold is a part of the answer that I asked the universe for in Experiment #3.

I am no longer the identity that my ex boyfriends have attached behind my name. They don’t sit like credentials never to be removed. I have let go of the sham of failing, the pain of their rejection, the daggers in my spine with their unkind words have been removed and the wounds have healed. I am not controlling. I am not un-loveable as I am. I am not manipulative. I am not vulnerable and fragile. I am not a monster. And I am not a back up plan. I am not afraid to explore this world alone. I am not afraid to do the things that make me happy. To say the things that I need to say to express my emotions. To love wholeheartedly. My life is dependent on my mindset and I am embracing the boldness that I have been graciously blessed with.

So to my ex boyfriends here is what I say to you. I am Kait Karan. My heart is my greatest asset and my biggest flaw. I love hard and care immensely. I forgive often and trust easily. I am understanding and patient. I spit fire when I’m hurt and I say how I feel. I own who I am. Always willing to admit my weaknesses and never too good for apologies. I am free, independent, and bold. Lastly, I thank you for letting me go so that I could grow.

Love yourself

The Cycle

I have the best friends. Look at all my free time to do whatever I want. Life is mine for the taking. I can have anyone I want. I’m smart, I’m pretty, I’m successful. He will miss me, he will wish he never left. It’s his loss anyway…

I’m ok, I swear I’m ok. This isn’t that bad. It’s just a failed marriage, it’s just the end of the relationship. “You’re young”, they say. “Plenty of time to meet the right guy” they say. I believe them…

I’m breathing. I’m going through the motions of day to day life. I am numb. Today’s a low day. This will pass. I have responsibilities to take care of. I’ll distract myself until this feeling subsides. I will just sleep until it’s over…

I don’t want to wake up. Opening my eyes floods reality back into focus. My dreams don’t bring me peace or provide an escape. I get out of bed. I can’t control thoughts. My body involuntarily functions…

I’m screaming, I was asleep. It was just a dream. I’m alone. I want to explain. I need him to know how I feel. Apologies and explanations come from desperation. Will it work? No. Does he miss me, no. He hates me, how quickly he’s moved on…

Is this how it feels to be dead? Stupid girl, couldn’t keep it together. Despair, panic, fear, hopelessness, grips at my chest and takes every last breath of air from my lungs. Each throb of my heart is a twisting dagger. Maybe I’d rather be dead. Will this gaping chest wound heal? I ruined everything. I hit rock bottom…

Clarity. He’s gone and moved on but I’m still breathing. I survived. My heart is healing. This is progress. I deserve better. I am better. I am stronger. I am independent. I don’t need a man to love me. I am my own hero…

I have the best friends. Look at all my free time to do whatever I want. Life is mine for the taking. I can have anyone I want. I’m smart, I’m pretty, I’m successful. He will miss me, he will wish he never left. It’s his loss anyway…

Love yourself

Goal Crushing

Having a positive mindset to achieve every goal you’ve ever dreamed of seems like an impossible task. I’m here to tell you that today I proved to myself that it is possible! In January I was 4 months into my attempts to better my life. I knew I was facing the right direction, but I didn’t know what needed to be done to be successful in my transformation. I seemed to be enjoying life but I still had stressors looming over me. I decided to write some goals and define some new habits that I’d like to achieve throughout 2017. These were things that I felt would help me continue on the journey to enjoy life and attempt to put those stressors at bay. I called them resolutions, however, they are more like lifestyle changes. I didn’t take this challenge lightly and I made sure I came up with a list of things that I truly wanted to accomplish. Here’s what I came up with.

  • Drink at least 65 oz. of water daily
    • How: Fill up green (24 oz.) water bottle x3 daily
  • Read 6 books
    • How: Finish one book every other month
  • Cook at least one meal a week/ Eat more salad
    • How: Meal prep once a week, plan out grocery list
  • Pay off Visa credit card debt
    • How: work overtime, budget, save

I am so proud to announce that as of today Friday June 16, 2017 I have crushed those goals that I’ve set for myself. Within 6 months rather than the full year!

Goal #1: I’ve been working out more consistently, trying to eat better to take care of myself, and drinking that water to stay hydrated. Some people eat their feelings, I don’t eat at all when I have too many feelings. At my lowest point over a year ago through my divorce I weighted 112 lbs. which was a loss of 20 lbs. from my “normal”.  Even though I was battling through some pretty rough weeks at the beginning of this year and fell back to 120 lbs. I kept my goals in mind. This morning after a very happy, healthy, relaxing vacation, I stepped on the scale at work. I was ecstatic to see the number, 130.2lbs.!

Goal #2: When I can’t say what I want to say, I write. When I can’t tame the thoughts in my head, I escape reality in a book. That’s what I’ve always used to help manage my emotions, but I’m not the strongest reader or writer. I’m sure some grammar Nazi could destroy my blog posts and make them flow more eloquently, but then it wouldn’t be my words. I also was always a slow reader. School was never easy for me. I would have to read something a few times before it really “stuck”. I was in reading labs and attended tutoring in after school programs to get my reading skills mastered. With that being said, setting a goal of reading 6 books in a year seemed very reasonable and achievable. My thoughts were if life happened or if I got busy then I still had adequate time. Over this past 6 months I have been dedicated to taking care of myself and most importantly my mind. Reading and writing have been my outlet and have allowed me to discover new pieces of myself. There are only 8 pictured because the one book was borrowed from a friend and returned, but these are the books that I’ve read in the past 6 months. 9 Books!! Its amazing if you set your intention on doing something rather than letting your thoughts overwhelm you and take control of your life, what you truly can accomplish! I know that there were days where my mind had been struggling to focus. I had wanted to day dream, think of what certain people were doing and where they were, imagining if they were thinking of me and trying to put myself in a fantasy land of my own life. That was such a dangerous mindset to be in and I battled through it with these 9 books. Staying focused on what’s right for me and important for my mental health. I can’t wait to see what the total count is by the end of the year!

Goal #3: Before my husband and I divorced we had some debt. Debt from our honeymoon, debt from a new car, and debt from us just being young, stupid, and ignorant to managing money. The snowball quickly started rolling. We became a one income family for four months which lead to more debt, we had to purchase a second car adding another payment, and finally all of that life happening couldn’t sustain a marriage which lead to divorce lawyer bills. I honestly don’t know the exact number of credit card debt I had found myself in by the end of everything but to my that’s not important. I had three credit cards when my husband moved out. I used to be the girl who would put something on my credit card just because I hadn’t used it in a while. I would always pay off the total balance and would make sure that I had enough money in the bank before considering buying anything. All of that changed when I had to try to keep my head above water financially. My personal finances were my biggest stressors. I would lose sleep, I was too stressed and depressed to eat, I would feel guilty for taking a day off of work and not going in for overtime, but I was such an unhealthy person at the time that the thought of working more than what I had to was an additional stressor.

Today I paid off my second credit card in full!  I can finally say that the majority of that stress and despair is behind me in regards to my finances. My goal was to pay off this particular credit card by the end of the year. I had learned to be gracious with myself and balance my money a little better. Although I hated the debt, I accepted it as a part of who I am and the journey that I had been through and continue to go through. I put in my mind that patience and consistency will pay the bills. And BAM within 6 months I was able to pay off that credit card! Two down, one to go! I feel like I can do anything right now!

Lastly, here are some signs of a good day. Last night was my first night back from vacation. I never sleep well the first night that I have to switch from daylight to night shift so this morning I knew I’d be tired and looking a little rough. It also stormed like hell yesterday so I didn’t bother with my hair. I pulled it out of my face and called it a day. Within the last 24 hours:

  • One of the respiratory therapists at work told me that I have beautiful hair and that it always looks so nice and healthy.
  • I was asked by a new friend to be a plus one to a wedding
  • And I got a message from the nurse at Central Blood Bank whom I connected with while I was there the other day. She briefly got snapshots of my life story through my donation and this morning she messaged me with a suggestion for a blind date.

You guys, life just works the way it’s going to! Tell the universe what your goals are, dream big, be faithful, and have a gracious heart. Be thankful for the struggle. The bad days are just as beneficial as the good days. I have learned and have been shown within the last 6 months that it is possible to do things that you never imagined!

Love yourself

Just a Mutt

“One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right” – One Love By Bob Marley

My dog is a three year old shelter mutt. I found him in a random pet store in the middle of Marietta, Ohio while I was killing time waiting on my ex husband. He had been at the pet store for three days and was almost a promotional pet to encourage people to visit the shelter. I spent a few hours with him that day in the pet store and when we left for the weekend I had signed adoption papers. The shelter that was housing him found him in a lumbar yard, and that’s about all I really know about the first year of his life before I adopted him. I seem to be the only one who accepts not knowing his genetic make-up.

People ask all the time what he is and my response is always this, “he’s my shelter mutt.” My response is then followed by blank stare with an inquisitive look at Carson. Before they even speak I say “the shelter said that he’s a miniature pincher and hound mix.” Because that’s actually what his paperwork says, and for whatever reason I want to appease the people who are hunting for his ancestry. The responses I get range from a confused, “oh ok, well he’s adorable” to a flat out, “no that’s not what he is” followed by an insertion of their opinion.

I have one question to all of you. Does it really matter? If you want to know what breed he is because you want to get a dog that’s of that breed, that’s perfectly acceptable. Once you hear that he’s a shelter mutt, why is that not an acceptable answer? We transfer this same skepticism into our daily lives with each other. When we meet someone new we always ask where they are from. We all do it, but try this… When someone asks you what you are, try saying “I’m American” and see the baffled look you get in return. Even when I was volunteering in Ghana I was asked where I was from. When I said I’m American or I’m from the United States I was asked which state I lived in. Again, some out of genuine curiosity, but other out of the need to place an identity to me, just like my dog. If he’s not a pure bread dog or I don’t know exactly what combination of breed he is, does that make him less or a dog? That doesn’t take away the fact that he’s my best friend and companion. He’s the one who has been consistently there for me through the past few years of my life (and they have been a hell of a few years). In our generation we are hell bent on loving people for who they are, for what color their skin is, for their religious and cultural preferences. We are striving for the “one love” dream that Bob Marley sings about.

My heritage and my dog’s breed history is definitely a part of who we are. I can’t deny that because that’s where our hair color, eye color, and skin tone come from, that’s science.  I want to look at people for who they are, what they think and feel, I want to judge if they are someone I want in my life based on their personality and character traits. I don’t need to scrutinize what their background. I will love you for you just as I love my dog for the shelter mutt that he is.

 

 

Feature photo credit: Chasing Eden Photography