Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks All Year

I freely admit that I did not want to make the trip home for Thanksgiving.  Some of it was as simple as the fact that I didn't really want to be in the car with a 2 year old for upwards of 24 hours.  Heck, I didn't want to be in the car that long, period!  I was super stressed from packing and getting my home in some kind of order.  I had a tough week at work since we had our own Thanksgiving celebration that we put on. Honestly, I wanted to come home and collapse in front of the TV.  

BITCHY ALERT:  But it more had to do with the fact that I get super annoyed at how, all of a sudden, on Thanksgiving, that's when everyone is about family and thanks and everything that goes with it.  To me personally, if you are not doing those things all year long, then it seems kind of presumptuous to decide that this is the one day you're gonna do it.  Kind of like your significant other being a jerk all year and then bringing you roses on Valentine's Day.  (I know that these thoughts may make me seem like a mega-bitch, but it's just the way I see things.)

I firmly believe that a better effort needs to be made to make and nurture those family connections ALL YEAR.  Family to me is not just whose related to you either.  It's about people who care about you and whom you care about.  I was always perturbed at funerals when they ask for family on one side and friends on the other.  I don't like those divisions, because it says nothing about who is important to you.

Anyhow. Now look, I'm not saying I'm perfect, because Lord knows that's not even close to the truth. There are some things that I do that I think are good, and some that are pretty piss-poor.  For example, I talk to my mother every single day on the phone.  Multiple times per day on some days.  It's important to me that I maintain that day-to-dayness connection with my mom.

However, I hardly see many of my extended family members.  I almost never make it to family gatherings for extended family.  I should also call my in-laws more, and visit more people when I'm home.

So my goal is to think about and come up with ways to connect with my family more.  I want to, and I don't need any more excuses as to why I don't.  Regardless of the fact that I get home maybe twice a year, and have an ENORMOUS extended family, and never seem to have time to go see all the people I want to see and do all the things I want to do, I need to improve.

Please let me know of any ideas that you have for connecting with extended family in the comments.

Moving on.  I had a really enjoyable Thanksgiving!  In the end, the trip was well worth it.

After finally getting out of the house on Wednesday, we stopped off in Charlotte to have dinner with our friends.  We try to see them every time we go down.  It was a really nice time.

On Thanksgiving Day, my mom hosted.  My mom doesn't make turkey, but ham rather.  For Isaac and I, she cooked up a Quorn Turk'y Roast.  My in-laws came over, along with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  We each made a handprint that I am using to make a hand turkey for Isaac.  I want him to know that regardless of how Thanksgiving looks each year, he has people who love him and that family is important all the time (see above).

On Friday, my in-laws had their dinner.  Kater's parents, along with his grandmother, aunt, and uncle all attended.

After eating, we headed off on an adventure with Isaac- we went to Stone Mountain!  Kater and I hadn't been in years, and Isaac has been way into "choo-choo trains" so I wanted to take him on the train ride around the mountain and to see all the lights. He also got his picture taken with the Abomitable Snowman!  Unfortunately I also sprained my ankle while at the park, which was a bummer, but I am thankful (see what I did there?) that it wasn't worse and it's not my driving foot.

Saturday we took care of some errands and spent time with each set of grandparents before heading off!

I am thankful for so many things about this trip:

  • That I got to see so many of my family and had such a great time with them.

  • That Isaac did great on both sides of the trip.  Given my anxiety as a mom, that was a big deal!

  • Our neighbors for taking good care of our girls while we gone.

  • That I got to take Isaac to an activity that he really enjoys. 

Please feel free to tell me how your Thanksgiving went and what you are thankful for!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Being Tender and Open is Beautiful

"Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love."  -Zooey Deschanel

Those who know me know I love a good quote.  This one spoke to the heart.

Ever since I can remember, I've been a sensitive and "tender-hearted" individual.  When I was five, my older cousins took me to see Bambi.

We had to leave the theater.

When I was sixteen, a man who was homeless came into Papa John's where I worked to put in a job application.  Based on his appearance, I was pretty sure he would not get the job.  I was right. My manager scoffed at the idea.

After I went home, I spent the better part of my night sitting out on my porch, tears falling down my face, contemplating the unfairness of life.  Here I was with nothing but youth and a clean appearance on my side.  And here he was, the irony of desperately needing a job being the thing that kept him from it.  "Social proof" I wouldn't learn about until much later, but my lesson in how it applied I learned early.

The older I got, the tougher I tried to be.  To shield myself and my emotions.  I thought that if I did so, I could present to other people and to myself as well, that I could be strong and handle things. To maybe erase some of my bad memories and experiences, or at least to view them differently.  I didn't want to appear too emotional to others, and I always hated crying in front of people.  Especially when it was in front of people who had hurt me. 

As I got older still, I learned that strength comes from within.  And allowing myself to experience the full range of those emotions is what builds my foundation of strength.  Being open to things, even when it means it might break your heart, is what makes me a better person. It can be detrimental at times, and there are those times when I've had to set boundaries for my own sanity and protection.  But even when I have to take some time out alone to do it, I still feel the full effect of my experiences, good and bad.

If I did not allow myself to be vulnerable, to be truly affected by things, I might have taken another path to where I am entirely.  Becoming a mother has opened up a whole new range of emotions for me.  Where I used to maybe smile to myself at happy events in life, I am now brought to tears at times.  Furthermore, I might have chosen a career path that maybe helped people day to day, but didn't make a difference in the lives of others in a way that satisfied my inner need to do so.  

So I go to work everyday.  Like any other job, there are up and down days.  And then there are the days that break my heart.  Sometimes I think of what the people I work with have been through, and it literally hurts to breathe.  But I let myself be affected by it.  I let myself feel empathy, admiration, guilt, graciousness, and like I'm lucky.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I'm angry, sometimes I'm astounded.  And in the end, if I didn't let myself feel those things, I don't think I would be very good at my job.  

So yeah, I'm sensitive.  I'm brought to tears by looking into my son's eyes, I cry at pretty much any animal movie, my breath is taken away by sunsets and the ocean.  Being vulnerable and emotional is what lets me give.  Give gratitude, give to others, and give love.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Postpartum Depression

Here is the link to my old blog.  I tried to write about Postpartum Depression while I was in the midst of it.  Needless to say it did not work too well and I only got to telling the story of Isaac's birth, which is where it all started.

I liked writing this story and sharing my postpartum depression with others, in hopes that others could relate and I could help other people to understand that what they were experiencing was normal with PPD.  I have not shared my PPD story with a lot of people, or at least not how bad it was.  I feel that now is the right time to share that part of me with others.

So while I don't think I'll have an entire blog devoted to PPD, you may see several blog posts about my experience.  I honestly want others to read it and say, "That sounds like me, I'm not the only one!"  If you know me, or as indicated by the fact that I have a blog, I'm a very open person and a person who likes to help others.  If I can help others by sharing this and being open about it, then it's totally worth it.

So anyhow, there it is!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Part 2: 40 Things to do Before I'm 40

As promised, here is Part 2:  40 Things to do Before I'm 40.  They are in no particular order.

  1. Finally get my house organized and decorated.  With real furniture!  And pictures!
  2. Take singing lessons.  My inner diva is in there, just waiting to come out!
  3. Take dancing lessons- ballet preferably, but I'm up for other stuff too.
  4. Actually make a scrapbook with all those mementos I have piled in a damn box.
  5. Do a ton of research and make a large donation to a very deserving organization.  I figure I paid a ton of money for school so I should at least use my skills, right?  My goal is to donate around $2000-$3000.
  6. See the Northern Lights.  I have been to Alaska, but went in the summer when the sun never goes completely away.  Although, I can mark off "See the Midnight Sun!"
  7. Visit Australia- my sweetie has been to Australia FOUR TIMES.  I gotta catch up.
  8. Get my organizing groove back.  I used to be such a neat freak, and I'd really like to get ahold of that again.
  9. See a return on the life lessons I'm trying to instill in my son.  An act of kindness, a moment where he's totally accepting of someone who is very different than him in beliefs, where he stands up for someone, or sees the world beyond his front door would all work just fine.
  10. Go fishing all night with my husband.  Or at least until 2 AM.  Let's be realistic, that's probably the latest I'll make it. 
  11. Become comfortable with my religious/spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof. 
  12. Learn some computer programming.
  13. Go to New York City- for someone so completely enchanted, I've never been!
  14. Get in decent shape.  I may not run 3-4 miles a day like I used to but at least some!
  15. Get a fish pedicure.  It so gross, yet seems so satisfying.  Someone will have to hold my hand because I will probably shriek.
  16. Go on a cruise- cold weather preferred. 
  17. Visit Scandinavia- Norway's fjords are the preference, although I wouldn't mind visiting Sweden or Finland.
  18. Go camping in the desert.
  19. See Mount Rushmore.
  20. Have a koi pond in my backyard.
  21. Brush up on my French and become fluent.
  22. Learn some Krav Maga, so I can be that unexpected badass.
  23. Visit all 50 states.  I've got 27 down already.
  24. Learn to accept things and find strength in acceptance.  I'm always fighting, fighting, fighting, and I'd like to learn how to find the strength in accepting things and going with them.
  25. Eat healthier on a regular basis.  I am a vegetarian, so I'm halfway there, I think.
  26. Find a really enjoyable volunteer position.  It's been a minute since I volunteered, and I would like to find time to do so again.
  27. Take Microsoft Office/ computer training courses so I can be on top of it.
  28. Be more self-confident, and get to know myself better.
  29. Manage my money better- used to have spreadsheets and bill schedules.  Now I pay bills late, if I even open my damn mail.
  30. Spend a crazy expensive but fabulous week at the spa.
  31. Have a Girls' Weekend Away somewhere relaxing.
  32. Make some physical improvements- a little cosmetic surgery, light.
  33. Donate blood- just once.  Y'all know that I hate hate hate getting my blood drawn.  But I think it's important to donate blood.  Ok, how about I at least TRY it.  Last time I was anemic.
  34. Visit my family and friends more often.
  35. Pay off my student loans.
  36. Make a difference for animals.  My furbabies made me a mommy, but I don't know if I'll get to adopt another :( Still, would like to sponsor a shelter pet, or something of that sort.
  37. Write a short story/ novella, and possibly have it published.
  38. Write an academic/professional article and have it published.
  39. Learn to let go of things/people that aren't good for me.
  40. Celebrate my 40th birthday with everyone (pets included!) that I love.
Some things that are noticeably absent from this list:  jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, anything involving getting on a motorcycle, or anything that involves public speaking!

What are some of the things you want to do before you're next big milestone birthday?  Post in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

40 Things to Do Before 40- Reflections on 20s (Part 1)

So as you may know, I just recently had a birthday, on August 24.  I turned the big 3-0.  I know some of you are thinking "That's not old, you just don't know yet!" while others are probably thinking "If I was turning 30, I'd feel old too!"  A matter of perspective I suppose.

I did a lot of reflecting about my birthday, and getting older, and life in general.  Y'all know me, I get philosophical, especially at night when I'm putting Isaac down for the evening.  But that's a whole other blog post.  At any rate, I was thinking about some of the more fun stuff that I did in my 20's that I enjoyed/can't believe I did/ would never do again!  This post will also help you learn a little more about me if you are just joining me on my blog.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Travels:  Drove across the country...twice.  Once from Georgia to California, and then back from California to Georgia.  Took a different route each time.  Highlights of these trips include:  literally being packed in the car, staying in a hotel room where the door didn't close all the way or lock, beautiful scenery, and making countless memories with one of my besties!  Other travels:  I have been to 26 states.  Road trips to see friends, my honey bear, and family.  And some crazy flights.
  • Lived in 5 states:  Thanks to the military, I've hung my hat in Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and California, and last but not least, Virginia. 
  • Got married:  To my high school sweetheart, the only man I've ever loved, and my best friend.  We eloped, 'cause we ain't got time for all that.  Flew to California on a Friday, got married on Saturday, flew back on Sunday, and was in class Monday morning.  Honeymooned 5 months later in Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  
  • Lived a crazy military life:  After spending the first year of my twenties in the Air Force, I married my Marine.  My husband left for the Middle East 6 months after we were married.  I learned to be on my own, to always listen for the phone no matter how dead of a sleep I'm in, and that strength comes from within.
  • Been in 3 weddings:  Lucky that I have friends who consider me that close!
  • Adopted 2 cats:  Freckles Sapphira in February 2007, and Stella Jade in July 2007.  My girls are the light of my life!  
  • Finished college:  It took me a minute, on account of all the moving around, but I did it!  Undergrad in 2008 and grad school in 2011.  Quite proud.
  • Bought a house:  2 actually!  Love my new home.
  • Started my career:  Got my dream job at a nonprofit.
  • Had a baby:  We welcomed Isaac James William Miller on September 22, 2011.  Rough times but I love that little bear.  Becoming a mother is unlike anything else.
  • Said goodbye to people I loved:  My cousin Jason, my uncle Felton, my aunt Sue, and my cousin Wesley.  Life is fragile and absurd.  You never know what could happen.
  • Learned a lot about life, love, and happiness.  Still working on it, but learned to count my blessings, be open-minded, that there is strength in acceptance, and to let things and sometimes people go. Learned a lot about myself too.  I'm a fighter but that's been forged by fire.  I've learned to know myself, what I believe in and what I stand for. I also know that there is so much that I don't know.
  • Overall, your experiences and the things you've had to go through build your character.  Although I used to sometimes get down about taking so long to finish school and get my life started, the things I've gotten to do and the places I've gotten to go have made me into who I am.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Life Is Easier Now?

My life is easier now.  

I came to this startling conclusion over this past weekend.  I was getting Isaac down for his afternoon nap, and of course, he was flopping around and fighting sleep.  I was not frustrated with him per se, but it took a good long while for him to go to sleep, and when he finally did, I breathed out a sigh of relief.  

I was thinking to myself, good grief, I wish this child would go to sleep.  Cripes, I have all sorts of stuff to do.  Cleaning, trying to get my house in order organization-wise, bills that need paying, cleaning, catching up with friends, writing thank you notes, and did I mention cleaning?!

When he finally did go to sleep, as I waited for him to get settled down, I started browsing on my phone.  Facebook.  Then Amazon App and, looking for things to decorate my home with, books I want to read, clothes I want to buy... And suddenly I realized something.

This is the life.  This, right here.  This is it.

All I really had to do was get my child down for a nap and spend half an hour shopping online.(Note:  Smartphones still amaze me).  And what's even better, is that all I really had to do after that was clean my brand-new home, shop for things for my home, and fill my home with the love of my husband and little boy.  

Spending an afternoon like this, when I think about it, is really quite luxurious.  For the first time in years and years, I didn't have to worry about school.  Papers, projects, notes to be typed, research to do....  Now, I will tell you right now how grateful I am for my education.  Not everyone is as blessed as I am to be able to go to school on the GI Bill, then get my Master's degree from a highly ranked University.  Stressful as it may have been, I know how lucky I am.  I have had opportunities others have not even come close to.  And trust me, I am humbled and awed by that.  I think, and hope, that I see the bigger picture, that I see the things put into place that made me so lucky.  To have that foundation upon which to build my education.  Supportive parents, the military, enough money so that I could spend more time studying and less time working in college.  And let me tell you something else:  My education does not make me better than anybody.

But at any rate, school always stressed me out.  To the max.  I love learning and the fact that I went to school, but actually being in school, with that constant feeling like you are never finished, that there is always more to be done, was always so overwhelming to me.

I always thought that being in school was the hardest thing and the most stressful thing I would deal with.  Not ever, maybe, but in my mind, no matter what would come after I was done with school, I would not have to deal with that issue AND school.  I would always be done with school at least.

I had forgotten that.  I had forgotten my feelings on that matter.  

But this weekend, as I sat listening to my baby boy's even breathing, his little hand curled on my chest, shopping for garden statues and marble bathroom accessories, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  How many times did I wish just for this type of moment?  Where I could just relax and the things I would stress about were things like the right bathroom accessories?  Where Sundays I could take the time to care for my home and family instead of rushing through just to stay on top of things until the next paper was due?

Not to say I'm not stressed.  I'm still struggling with postpartum depression.  Kids are hard, and my constant anxiety and worry can be draining.  The sheer amount of things I need to do at home overwhelm me easily. 

But there are things that are a lot harder.  Harder than healthy, happy little boys with lots of energy.  Harder than attending graduate school.  Harder than cleaning my brand-new home.  Because those things are blessings.  There are mothers out there struggling to make it to work, who are balancing their child's special needs with their minimum wage job.  Who are disabled.  Who don't have enough money to feed their families.  So am I stressed?  Yes.  But it's a different kind of stress.  The kind I told myself that I would be grateful to have if I ever made it out of school alive.  

And I am grateful.  So dare I say, my life is easier now.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog!  I recently started my blog and I have a brand new design thanks to Mary at Bright Sunshine Designs.  She did an amazing job, and if you are looking for a blog design, I highly recommend her!

Right now, this blog is pretty general about my life and an outlet for me to express my views.  Otherwise, if you have ideas for me or questions, please feel free to stop by and ask!  I appreciate any ideas!

Thanks for stopping by!
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