Homeowners Guide to Reality

I’ve always had high expectations. Generally this lofty, out-of-reach mentality results in disappointment, frustration and angst. It’s something I’ve never been able to outgrow: somehow in my mind’s eye, everything looks so much simpler and clean-cut.

Purchasing a home and then moving into it shortly after the holidays is not exactly ideal.

It’s as if the rest of the world ramps up the notion of New Year, New You…which funnels into a pile of emails in your inbox, meetings and travel piling on in a short amount of time.

But we did it. We bought a house. And as wonderful as it is to call a place home for the next several years, I felt this urgency to fix everything fast. Wake up, Sam. That’s just not reality.

Expectation: We move into our new home seamlessly, with minimal back and forth trips from the old home to the new one. Everything gets unpacked and put away neatly before the week is over.

Reality: It’s a nightmare. A move that stretches out over the course of two weeks. Box after box, shoved into closets, under beds, hiding in the basement. Boxes. Everywhere. And I can’t find things. Essential things.

Expectation: Rooms are renovated, painted, and the furniture neatly arranged. Quickly of course. The whole house looks like something off of Fixer Upper or Pinterest.

Reality: Ask me in three months if both of our bathrooms are functional yet.

Expectation: Cute dinners sitting around a newly constructed booth and table in the eat-in section of the kitchen.

Reality: Grabbing two forks out of the utensil drawer and crowding around the pot of freshly-made, off-brand mac-n-cheese, starved.

Expectation: Coming home from a 9+ hour work day to a clean home, laundry done, new projects completed, and the dogs properly exercised.

Reality: You and your partner look at each other and ask, “Would it be lame to get into bed at 7:30pm and try to accomplish more tomorrow?”

This has been the most exhausting project we’ve taken on. It’s set my expectations lower (even if it took a week to readjust) and helped me to be OK with the unorganized parts of my life. I’ve allowed myself to say “No” to obligations, duties, responsibilities to sleep a little extra, read a book, or just breathe.

We are excited to pull this house together, one day at a time. In the end, it will all be worth the inconvenience and frustration, but for today it’s enough to have a roof over our heads, and a mattress [still sitting on the floor] beneath us at the end of the day.

It’s an important lesson for me to keep learning: slow and steady wins the race.

Transformation Tuesday

Sometimes I think back to these days of living out of hotel rooms, exploring Charlotte in hopes of finding a decent place to live. I think Heath’s face is very reminiscent of the one I had on myself for the first few weeks…but we did it. And we’re here. And when I think about how we did this, you and me, together, I think sometimes that we’re invincible. That if two people who loved each other for only two years of life could undergo the stress and frustration of 2016, then the future will be a piece of cake.

I keep reading all of these self-help books, trying desperately to pinpoint the exact moment where I decided that nothing could be good enough for me to stay content. Where my loud mouth would be allowed to expel all things that Sam needs or Sam wants. Where feelings and reality flowed together, indecipherable. Where gentleness, kindness, and patience weren’t values I wanted to extend any longer, unless they were earned by rising to unimaginable standards.

In a media-filled world that assaults your senses before you’re even quite awake, it’s hard to be content with what you have, who you are, and where you’re going. It’s hard to say, “I like my body,” or “I’m content being an entry-level employee,” because the thing is most people aren’t feeling that way. What I’m trying desperately to figure out, is how to have standards, truly attainable, realistic standards. Ones that help shape me to be a better person, and not someone who is self-absorbed or willing to crush others to get to my goal.

How do we become content without becoming complacent? How to we get to a point where we use our goals to push us to become greater, and not just sit in place, complaining about how nothing will ever change?

When this photo of Heathcliff was taken outside a dinky little Motel Six off of Arrowood Road, in brand-new Charlotte,  NC, I didn’t know if I would have to tuck tail and run home to PA by the end of the week. I didn’t have a job, a home, or a plan. But we made it, with the help and support of each other. Kyle and I slept on a damn twin air-mattress for two months! We ate breakfast pizza while sitting on the dirty carpet of a disgusting home that we were promised would be in living condition by the time we arrived. We spent nights apart, me in a new and scary neighborhood, while Kyle exhausted himself working hours and hours of overtime at a job that didn’t remind him what an incredible asset he is.

But we also some awesome victories. We found our little Rylee, wandering our neighborhood, lost and unclaimed. We made friends, some of the best friends two people could ask for- ones who have been there for us and helped us come to love Charlotte. We found jobs, financial stability [somewhat], and a direction to point our lives towards. We’ve transformed from two people living outside of Philadelphia to a little family in Charlotte.

This whole “Transformation Tuesday” trend is generally pushed forward by body-image campaigns. But it’s not on the outside that I desire to see the change: it’s always within. It’s accepting with grace that you’re not in your final form-yet. But the journey is too beautiful to rush past or complain the whole time…and when I reflect on that, I know that the pain and frustration was so so necessary.

Let that be my reminder today, and everyday going forward.

Vulnerability: the capability of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt

Vulnerability is such an awful thing. It’s literally painful, and yet it’s the only way to make a true connection with those around you. The more vulnerable you are with a person, the closer you two become, but the uglier you feel inside.

Every day that I have an appointment to see my therapist, I find myself dreading the meeting. I wake up, and think to myself, “I have to go bare my soul tonight.” And I push the thought to the back of my head.

At lunch, I pick up my phone to make the call, a perfectly formed excuse on the tip of my tongue. “Uh, yes, I’m going to have to cancel tonight. I’m sick,” *cue the fake coughing that ensues*, “Can we reschedule?”

I never go through with the call. But at 4:58pm as I pull into the parking lot, I wish with every ounce of my being I had.

You see, I love the time I spend sitting on that couch, in a cozy room, divulging my inner thoughts and struggles. I love walking out of that building, feeling refreshed and light, after finally being heard. But leading up to it, thinking about all the terrible things I said in did since the last time I had been in that room…oof. It’s hard to make myself say it all out loud, and explain why I am the way I am.

In the end, it’s easy to be vulnerable in such a safe space, with a complete stranger. I don’t have to go home to that person, worry about bumping into them at my favorite restaurant, or work in the cubicle next to them.

Sometimes I think about my relationship with my life partner. And I immediately think about how undoubtedly ugly I am to him. He has seen me turn into a monster many a time. He has seen me blubber and wail and get snot-nosed on multiple occasions. I’ve said some terrible things, shouted and thrown full-grown tantrums, and manipulated situations to come out on top, even at his expense.

I’m disgusting. And I know it. I’ve always known it. It’s why I relished my single life: because I never let anyone get close enough to see my ghastly insides.

I remember in high school how I handled my filth: I ran away. When someone saw the real me, I cut them out of my life to avoid the guilt I felt every time I looked at them. I eliminated them in an effort to save myself internally.

Recently a friend shared such a real post that has been helping me hold on to hope while not excusing my behaviors:

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Now I’m a big girl (although I often don’t act like it) and I can’t just discard the ones I love in an attempt to outrun the ever-present guilt. Today, I’m trying to figure out how to live with grace: for myself, and for others. I’m trying to find a way to erase the dirtiness of my past reactions, and I keep coming back to the need for ultimate forgiveness. From anyone I’ve hurt, past, present, future.

Seeing as I am a closet-perfectionist, I can’t get down on my hands and knees and beg to have my mistakes tossed to the wind just yet. I need to prove to myself, and to others, that I am evolving. That I’m growing up, and really really trying to keep the dark parts of myself trained and obedient to grace.

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Today I feel hopeful that I can keep the dark side at bay, and begin to extend grace and love in all situations, especially to those who deserve it most. Today I strive to be a better me with a cleaner heart.

*In case you haven’t noticed up until this point, I don’t filter my feelings before I let the internet world see them. For some reason, vulnerability on a computer screen comes much easier than in person for me. I think it has to do with the fact that I can sit and mull something over for a time before shooting it out into the worldwide web. But I never regret being honest. In fact, I find that many people can relate to my deepest insecurities and darkest thoughts. Please reach out to me at any point if something clicks, or if you want to talk anything out. This world is deficient of earnest listeners, and I strive to live up to the meaning of my name: Listener.*

Somewhere, over the rainbow.

Things have a funny way of coming to a head all at once, at the most inconvenient of times. Sometimes I wish I had someone on speed dial to call at any hour of the day or night, and ask them to tell me sincerely what the adult thing to do is. To ask them questions like, “Is it OK to go to bed at 11pm when everyone else is going out for drinks?” or “How do I effectively communicate my needs when I can’t quite grasp what they are right now?”

I need that little fairy that sits on your shoulder, ushering you through the painful pathways of adulthood. Here I am, not even 24 years old yet, and most days I feel as though I’ve lived the life of a 45 year old.

Most days, I need my mom. And the scary part about being an adult is that I’ve found myself sometimes calling her and just talking and talking about myself. I feel so selfish reaching out to friends with a cry for help. Because when everything’s fine, I just try to juggle it all and barely have time to breath, let alone keep up with everyone. And now, when I need someone, I’ve got to bear it alone.

I WANT TO HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. I want to present myself as a successful business woman who has the perfect body, perfect teeth, perfect relationship and perfect mental state.

I’m not confident I’ll ever have that. I think I’ll always have a mess inside of me, swelling up and pushing me to the brink of a breakdown. No matter how many times I sit on my therapist’s couch and make a breakthrough, something at some point will uproot all the progress I’ve made, and I’ll wake up on another morning confused and frustrated at myself.

I thought I had it all managed going into this week. But one too many nights alone and I start thinking.

I’m thousands of miles away from the place I identify as home. But even that place isn’t secured as my home. I don’t own anything to make me stay there. I don’t have anyone to keep me there. Even my job is expendable at this point in life. I was born to keep moving, to survive on travel-sized snacks and jet-lagged moments.

Today, I feel lost. And I just want my mom.

Take a Lap.

It’s Friday. Strange how the weeks, months fly by without warning. It’s true what they say: the older you get, the faster time goes by you. Which is why it saddens me that I waste such precious time dwelling on things outside my grasp.

I’m at this precarious place in my life right now. I’m nearly 24, and by worldly standards I’m doing just fine. But it never seems to be enough for me.

I went to college for Missiology and Anthropology…and I’m working in Marketing and Business Development. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do, and I like to think I’m getting better at it. But my heart yearns to do something that will benefit others in a big way. I want to fix the world.  I want that feeling I used to get when I was fully devoted to a project. I want that passion to fuel my energy.

Sometimes I think I sold out. That I graduated and immediately let Sallie Mae and the Higher Education of Student Loans start ordering me around, telling me what I can and can’t afford to do with my life. It’s like I got a glimpse of the great future I prepared for taken away from me the moment I flipped my tassel from one side to the other.

So ok, I had to forfeit my dreams. My passions. It’s temporary, I tell myself, I’ll get back to it the second I pay off the thousands of dollars I borrowed to learn about my dream.

I will, won’t I? Most days I don’t feel so sure anymore.

So if I’m to dedicate my work-life to a new calling, I better be good at, right?

Wrong.

Some days I’m so discouraged by how useless I feel. Some days I mess up, I forget, or I get downright angry. I try to be diligent in doing my best, but it’s difficult to survive in this new world I’ve uncovered.

I come home at night with an hour of daylight to spare. I come home to a home that has never felt like home. I hear gunshots. I tote my laundry to the laundromat, and try to avoid the panhandlers eager for my last few quarters. For the few hours of sleep I get, I get slowly pushed off the bed by the smallest dog. And then my alarm goes off at 6:20am, and I start it all over again.

Drive. Coffee. Work. Work. Work. Drive. Dogs. Dinner. Sleep.

It’s monotonous and I struggle to find the joy in the little things. I dwell on memories of the “good old days” and miss my mom and dad on a daily basis. I wonder if I took the right life path, if I’m doing enough to stay in touch with older family members and childhood friends.

It all builds up, in my head, ready to explode.

Today, at 3:35pm, I was ready to burst. When did weekends get so lonely?

So as the internal pressure was building, my heart pounding and my temples aching, I decided to do it. To take a lap.

It’s a simple process, really. I walked out the front door of my office, and I took a quiet, steady stroll around the building once.

And you know what? I realized just how beautiful this world is. How refreshing nature can be. How fortunate I am to live in a city where it’s still 89 degrees on November 4th. How I get to go home to a house with a big back yard and two wiggly dogs. How I get to travel to cool, new places on my company’s dollar. How I made it to almost 24, and there’s still much more of life to live.

I need to calm down, to take a deep breath, and just take a lap to clear my head.

My passions are still present, but so is my future. I’ll keep that notion close to my heart today.

 

Please help me get through another Wednesday.

IMG_20161026_080503.jpgIt’s a chilly October morning. Wednesday morning. I’m tired-exhausted, really. And yet so behind on so much.

Behind on keeping up with old friends. Scheduling time to talk seems so difficult most days. If we do find time to connect, it’s bittersweet, and I wonder why I can’t find time more often.

Behind on keeping up with new friends. It’s difficult to keep everything all lined up and tidy after 45+ hours of work a week. Some nights I just want to invite someone over to binge watch Netflix and do facials. Other nights I can’t stay awake past 9pm.

Behind on keeping up with my family. As the holidays approach, I stress about finding time to head home to see everyone. With minimal PTO to spare, and 7+ hours of travel to see the family, I have to adjust my expectations of this joyous season.

Behind on a healthy lifestyle. Because when you’re tired at the end of the day, who wants to go out running or eat anything healthy? Please, pass the Doritos and beer.

Behind on my motivations, dreams, and goals. There are so many of them, piled high, just waiting for me to pick any or all of them up again. I want to finish DIY projects, I want to start writing again, I want to get a second job, get my Master’s degree, volunteer…I want to be passionate about anything again.tumblr_n5vqmvuxVV1r8fss3o1_1280

But this week, like many weeks, will find me struggling to reset come Sunday evening. And with work trips coming up, the boyfriend’s birthday around the corner, and a very full laundry basket waiting for me at home….let’s just say I’m not hopeful for accomplishing anything other than survival this week!

But despite allergy season, I am still breathing. And if I can just focus on that to get me through today, then that’s enough. And I’m happy just to have another day to do whatever I can to wake up and start again tomorrow.

Did you just call me “basic”?

One of the saddest trends I have come to see develop in the world of stereotypes is this idea of being a “basic” type of girl. I’ve struggled with what it means, as I’m sure many of my fellow ladies have. It seems that I can’t enjoy a cup of Starbucks coffee or my favorite flannel shirt without someone pointing out that I’m a basic white girl. What the hell does that even mean?

This terrible trend is most prominent in my life during this favorite season, fall. All over social media there are memes and pictures and hurtful words regarding women who enjoy this season. It appears that right now, it’s “uncool” to enjoy the changing seasons.

Fall is my favorite season for many, many reasons. They mostly all stem from childhood memories and family outings in the fall. The fall also signalled a new school year, holidays, and general happiness. It’s hard to frown while picking apples or pumpkins with your family in tow.

But one particular reason I relish in the season of fall, is because it signals that summer is finally over. I love summer, don’t get me wrong. But for me, and I’m assuming some other women out there, I spend 4+ months of the year worrying about what my body looks like with minimal clothing allowed. I agonize every time I’m invited over to someone’s house to swim. I dread walking around a store during the heat of summer, with my thighs bared for all the world to see. I love myself, you see, but that doesn’t make my “basic” insecurities go away.

I love the fall because it means that once again, I can throw on my favorite oversized crewneck sweatshirt. I can wear jeans, and boots, and scarves, and feel cozy instead of naked. I can get out of my deliciously warm bed and wear a sweater that just about mimics the same feeling, and have that with me all day.

I cringe every time I see a girl allow someone to make them feel just “basic”, because sharing the love of a lot of the same things does not make us all the same. When did we become a world so critical of absolutely nothing? In the midst of a terrible election season, school shootings, bombings, terrorism, hurricane disasters, and so much more, we still choose to be demeaning and downright cruel to each other- and for what?

Ladies, the next time someone (most likely a man- or otherwise a very frustratingly  rude woman) goes out of their way to comment on your pumpkin spiced latte or Ugg boots, tell them to shove it. Because what we enjoy, what we wear, and who we are, is none of their damn business and does not define who we are as people.

And please, please, please remember to advocate for other women. There’s no better place in this world, I am convinced, than the women’s bathroom at a bar near closing time. I have had such loving and compassionate conversations in a blurry bathroom at 2am with complete strangers. Why can’t we all be so complimentary at 2pm in the afternoon on a Monday?

Let me clue you in on a secret: you will find yourself more forgiving to yourself when you are consistently complimenting others. Identifying the beauty in one woman does not take away your own inherent beauty. And while I’m still trying to fully learn this in an age where I feel I have to live up to a Kardashian’s standard, I can still tell you how unbasic you are. Let’s all make it a point to go out of our way to lift each other up, even when we ourselves feel awful inside. I think we’ll find a kinder world in time.

I will enjoy this fall season, thank you very much, even despite all these misogynistic, sexist, rude, and otherwise unwelcome comments floating around. And you should too.

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