i’m so happy

If I could tell the me of two years ago how happy I would be right in this moment, she would be shocked but so relieved. You know you are happy when you drink rum and Black Cherry sparkling soda and you are overcome with gratefulness. I’m just sitting here staring at the empty space that will eventually be my living room. It needs furniture and wall hangings. It needs sweat and elbow grease. It needs color and warmth. It needs memories. It’s a work in progress, but I am so happy that it’s mine. Charlie is being annoying and needy, but we are in our home. He is literally putting his face in my coat to go outside (even though every time I take him out he stares at the yard like “this is not what I expected”).

–Also side note: I’m listening to Lonely Eyes by Chris Young on repeat, and for some reason, the chorus is just so uplifting that I’m not even thinking about lonely eyes. —

Tonight I looked at my loan payments and savings account. It’s so relieving to know that even though I’m not living an extravagant life, that I am paying my bills and getting ahead of my student loans. Even though I’ve change my lifestyle a little bit, I’m still okay.¬† I’ve been eating out a little too much, but I’m cutting back so I can focus on my student debt again. It’s crazy what a little raise can do. I’m so used to saving money and accounting for every penny that I think I can go a few more years putting all I have towards my student loans and have them paid off by 2020 just like I hoped. According to an online calculator, I actually should be able to pay them off in May of next year!

Honestly, at that point, I don’t even know what I would do with all that money¬† when it isn’t going toward the loans. Maybe I would roll the snowball into my mortgage. Maybe I would put new siding on my house. The possibilities are endless. Just a little while longer watching all my money pay down my degree. It’s so close; I can taste it.

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currently

 

Currently Reading:¬†I read salt. by¬†Nayyirah Waheed in February. Waheed is an Instagram poet that published a couple of collections of poems. I really relate to her words and style.¬† She’s fiercly feminist and tough on white people, but so many of the poems were really helpful to me last month. I’m also still working on The Screwtape Letters¬†by C.S. Lewis. I’m flip it open every now and then. I need to finish it, and crack open something new.

Currently Singing: Worst In Me by Julia Michaels.

Currently Watching: Bojack Horseman and Cheers. I’m on the last season of Cheers which is very sad.

Currently Loving: Coming home to my own home and a happy dog who misses me.

Currently Celebrating: It’s Lent, and I’m doing a very bad job at being Lenten. I’ve been meatless every Friday, but I prefer to take up some routine or ritual that is reflective or good. I still haven’t thought of something.

Currently¬†Thinking: I’m currently preoccupied with the house projects I still need to do.

  1. Sand and finish the hardwood floors.
  2. Take measurements of the kitchen and attempt to design my “dream floor plan.”
  3. Remove/throw away the old furniture and junk that the previous owner left in the house.
  4. Get the workout/studio room in a functional state.
  5. Put shades or curtains on the kitchen windows.
  6. Buy a couch and chairs.
  7. Clean the upstairs.

Currently Worrying: That I need to start saving for a newer car. I could definitely drive mine longer, but I’m worried something else will be wrong with it tomorrow. I’ve put almost as much into it as I paid for it – of course it wasn’t that expensive. My plan is to hang on for a little while and build a savings. I think if I hold out and wait for something to happen, I will at least be comfortable making the decision to buy a newer one.

2017 is almost over…

life currently (2)

… and I haven’t written in awhile. I almost asked myself why even bother sharing my thoughts with the ether, but I know how much it positively affects my mental state. So I am back here.

I think the thing I miss most about logging on and putting my thoughts down in words is reflecting on my goals and weaknesses. I use a daily planner for every day To Do lists, but I don’t take the time to think about myself as much as I used to.

Part of that is because I’m not as worried about “making the right decisions” anymore. I know that life is not about making the right decisions but rather about finding your way day by day.

I had knee surgery. I had an accident with Charlie. I gained some weight. I went back to work and picked up another part-time shift.¬† I currently work 40 hours plus an additional 3 shifts at the Knights. I got a raise at my day job – the one I asked for a year ago. I’m going to close on a house soon.

Life is happening to me.

My most important goal was paying down my student loan debt, but then I started to like my job and started to hate my living situation. I recognize that I’m so lucky to have to home I have now with my sister. We just can’t live together and be happy. It never worked when we were little. It hasn’t been working now.

So, I got excited about the idea of having my own place, and my mom Рwith her newly earned real estate license Рstarting looking. My budget was small, and I know that means a lot of paint and a lot of patience until I have a home that is modern and mine. I found the house that I was looking for. I have plans for an office and a shop room and a guest bedroom with a screen projector for movie nights. I will have room for an additional freezer for the game I harvest. I will have a garage to put a canoe. I will have little view of the river. I will have my own bathroom!

I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my jobs. I’m grateful for my family. I know I’m single and 25 all alone in a house, but I have my doggo. I have my parents and grandparents within ten miles.¬†I’m scared and worried and a little disappointed that I’m taking out more loans rather than paying them off, but mostly, I’m excited.

craigslist dog

Craigslist Dog, sit. Craigslist Dog, wait. Craigslist Dog, quit hitting the baby with your tail.

The thing about Craigslist dogs is that they are special. Especially the one I re-homed. Charlie’s original owners were dog people. They bred Dobermans. Yet when I asked her why they were getting rid of him, she replied that he was too much for them. That should have been my first clue. The second clue should have been when she asked if I had read anything about the breed.

When I think about it, she was very lucky that I was the one to drive an hour to take him off their hands. I think about all the people who could have taken him home and how most of them would have been in way over their heads.

Craigslist Dog requires a lot of patience and a lot of exercise and a lot of food and water. Craigslist Dog prefers to be working rather than letting people pet him. Craigslist Dog does not like to be stuck inside all day. Craigslist Dog refuses to get into the car 90% of the time. Craigslist Dog hates when people enter the house without his consent.

I’m a patient person and I was prepared to be particularly patient and work hard on his training because, one, I want him to retrieve waterfowl and two, I want him to be a really well behaved dog. Maybe, other breeds would have been easier, but I doubt they would be as loyal as my Horse. Lucky for me, I know nothing else but what Charlie’s training has been like.

Maybe one day I’ll have another dog and I’ll think, “it’s true what they say about Chessies.” They’re big brown goofballs and they are the most stubborn retrievers of them all.

Here’s the thing, my Craigslist Dog greets me every time I come home. My Craigslist Dog wants nothing more than to lay with me in my bed. My Craigslist Dog thinks the greatest thing in the whole wide world is going on a walk with me.

When I come home from a long day at work, Craigslist Dog is there to make everything better.

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2016 in review

1.What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
When I shot my first deer.

2.If you had to describe your 2016 in 3 words, what would they be?
Sisterhood, Charlie, and Affinity.

3.What new things did you discover about yourself?
I’m a decent bartender because I know a little bit about a lot of subjects.

4.What single achievement are you most proud of?
I put almost $2000 into repairs for my car plus paid off my car loan.

5.What was the best news you received?
I got a raise.

6.What was your favorite place that you visited in 2016?
Allegany State Park.

7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?

My observation skills and common sense.

8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
Rachael.

9.Which new skills did you learn?
Tending bar, PagePlus (software), new chords on the guitar, cutting shoots off a plant, training a stubborn dog, treating a sprained knee, laying laminate flooring, and more.

10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
Charlie Horse. A walk with him transforms my mindset.

11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2016, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
Rural underdog flick.

12.What was the most important lesson you learned in 2016?
A little raise goes a long way.

13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
At the beginning of 2016 I lost 15 lbs. I thought I¬†was on my way to my goal weight. I lost the motivation though and became stressed again. I didn’t let it completely tear me down.¬†I stayed confident in myself.

14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
Rachael, Emily, Mia, Dad, and Nora.

15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
I started taking on more marketing projects. I designed literature and photographed products.

16.How did your relationship to your family evolve?
I had to remind myself to stop into the house on Thacher St. I met¬†my parents for drinks once or twice a week. Also, Mike graduated and joined the Navy… three out of six of us are out of the house! Having¬†Nora around has made it a little more fun to get together and hang out. She turns 1 on January 4th!

17.What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
I read two books that reinforced what I have come to believe¬†about life. One¬†was Maybe in Another Life¬†and the other was¬†Back When We Were Grownups.¬†Both stories show¬†how a person’s life can go in a variety of directions. One choice can change the trajectory forever, but thinking about how things could-have-been is not helpful. Happiness is the outcome of¬†so many different story-lines. Hindsight can’t truly prove that you’re decisions were wrong.

18.What was your favorite compliment that you received this year?
I will reiterate what I wrote last year: “I should start writing down the compliments people give me.”

19.What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Walking Charlie Horse // kissing Nora // music

20.What cool things did you create this year?
I finally worked on the painting of Mia swimming that I started almost two years ago. Also  I used up some cotton yarn to make a little blanket.

21.What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
The first half of the year, I was optimistic and really creative; the middle was stressful; the last part of 2016 was a combination of being tired, proud, and motivated for a new year.

22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Shot a deer.

23.What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
Camping with Rachael and Charlie and Jude at Allegany State Park. We just laid on the beach and played with the dogs and hiked 12 miles – no biggie.

24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
I helped out a lot with the modified high school volleyball team and it reminded me how much I miss the sport. I think I would like to continue coaching that level. Also, I realized how much I want to get back in shape.

25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
Automobile repairs. Although, “unnecessary” is a strong word. It is what it is.

26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
Dancing in the rain at the bar during the Strawberry Moon.
 

27.What was the best gift you received?
Dad got me a travel backpack for Charlie which I’m very excited about.

28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I realized that I love living in my hometown. It’s such a beautiful¬†town. I love that I can walk my dog down the street and let him run around off leash along the river. ¬†I ¬†like to think that my 12-year-old self would be interested in the life I live now but also kind of confused. My overall outlook is that I don’t need to impress other people, but I have to remind myself that almost daily.

29.What was the biggest problem you solved?
Check engine light.

30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Oh my gosh I laughed so hard at Rachael for something just a few weeks ago. She just said something without meaning to be funny but I found it gut-bustingly funny.

31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
I don’t have an answer for this, but on December 27th I had my nose pierced. So far it’s been a good decision. No issues yet.

32.What one thing would you do differently and why?
I probably spent too much money at the bars. Which isn’t really that much, but over the summer I had stopped drinking for a few weeks and it really improved my state of mind.

33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Remaining confident in Charlie’s training capabilities.

34.What activities made you lose track of time?
Walking, training, or snuggling with Charlie.

35.What did you think about more than anything else?
The Blue Tuscon.

36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
I’m still learning a lot at the tile factory, but I most enjoyed practicing the guitar.

37.What new habits did you cultivate?
Walking almost every day.

38.What advice would you give your early 2016 self if you could?
Don’t stop dieting. Don’t settle.

39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
I think a 180 is building up but nothing happened in 2016.

40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
The other girl I work with at the factory is constantly telling me how good at my job I am. She is so supportive that I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve it.


What do you want the overarching theme for your 2017 to be?
I think perseverance worked well for 2016. Persistence was critical to some of the struggles I faced. For 2017, I’d like my theme to be ADVENTURE.

What do you want to see, discover, explore?
Maine.

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2016?
My grandparents.

What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
Painting, photography, music.

Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
Still applicable: “I have a hard time giving people orders while at work. I feel self-conscious about needing things from people.”

What do you want your everyday life to be like?
I would like to awaken refreshed. I would like to exercise often. I would like to share more with other people.

Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
I have some nervous habits I’m really trying to get rid of altogether. So hard to do.

What do you want to achieve career-wise?
I still want to do as much good as I can in my current position. However, I have been considering asking a  few people for their input and advice in regards to careers. I also really want to explore ways to make money online. I do love my hometown and small town life. I should take advantage of the possibilities of online work.

How do you want to remember the year 2017 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
I want to remember 2017 as the year I lost 40 lbs.

What is your number one goal for 2017?
To act out of love.

3 Ways to Find Peace

After a while, I start to wonder if the things I think and write down are redundant. It’s like Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates, every day I come to the same realization and that gets me to the next day. Then I wake up and have to convince myself it’s okay all over again.

Not much changes. I mean I’ve had a few minor revelations over the past few months. I’ve learned some things about how to be a better friend and how to communicate better. I’ve been able to see the flaws in others but¬†still¬†care for their needs.

But, my car still has the same problems it had three months ago, and my weight loss plateaued again. I still hang out in the same places with the same people without meeting anyone new.

When I say I have to reassure myself everyday that this is just one phase of my¬†life, I’m not exaggerating. I lay down at night and say¬†to myself, “It will not always be this way” when in¬†reality, it – life- is never the same. From first grade, to second, from freshman year volleyball to junior year softball to college¬†sophomore fall semester to spring rugby to final semester of college to driving an hour to work for ten months to working in back in town for a year. Life’s path is not unchanging.

It sure does feel like it, though, when the bills are due, and you have just enough to get through the next two weeks; the progress you’ve made in behavioral training seems to have evaporated¬†out of your dog’s head; the repairs for your car keep getting pushed back even though your inspection’s up, and on top of all that cops are being killed, priests are being killed, children are being sold as sex laves, and the only people the U.S. can come up with to be the face of the free world are Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

What gives, Mortal Existence? What do I do with all this?

There really aren’t very many good answers here on earth other than practicing love. I balance the negative thoughts with the good and always try to fall asleep feeling at peace.

So here I am again, trying to answer my own questions. I’m trying to write the advice¬†I need to read. The best answer I have for overcoming a¬†lack of peace is yoga and prayer and children.

  • Let your worries go and play with kids. I’ve always been one for embarking on¬†small adventures. Having small children around who get excited to go take a hike or play in the river with you brings youthfulness back into your heart.
  • Surrendering¬†your physical¬†presence in some¬†form of activity: yoga, biking, swimming, whatever distracts you from your mind and focuses on being. An evening bike ride in the dark makes me feel like a million bucks.
  • When your chest feels weighed down¬†and you can’t breathe or think straight, you have to give it all up. I give it up to God, but if you need to give it up to the universe or the earth, you go ahead and do that. Give up your thoughts and emotions in prayer. Today, I prayed out loud¬†for the first time in awhile. I asked for peace and then I cried. I felt pretty darn good after that.

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thursday thoughts: big dogs

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It’s hard to write with a dog on your chest.

I turned the lights off the other night with Charlie’s head on my chest, and I suddenly felt very aware of the 100 pound animal sharing my bed. I had originally put off letting him on my bed. In the morning, he would put his front half on the bed to nuzzle me and wake me up. Then he started jumping up on it in the evening or during the day when I was at my desk. After that, he slept through some of the night on the bed, but the past few nights he has slept the whole night with me.

I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I do love hugging him. I at least push him to side when he’s taking up the whole bed though.

Anyway, I was thinking about him being in my bed, and it made me remember when I first realized how weird it is to have such a big animal share our houses with us. I was probably ten when I looked out into the backyard and saw my childhood dog, Casper, and the beagles running around and thought, “There are animals in the yard!”

It was an interesting thought. I still love seeing deer in a field even though I see them all the time. There’s something about such a big animal being free in the woods. It’s like they are a secret. Dogs aren’t as free; they belong with us, or, at any rate, we like having them around. Still, when you forget the context of pets and see them in your yard, they look wild and free again.