5 years (Part 1 of 2)

**Disclaimer: The spacing on this is screwed up and I can’t seem to get it right. Once again, Technology-1, Alyssa-0**

Hello friends.

This is kind of a big day for me. I don’t know what it is about “5 years,” but it seems significant. A lot can happen in that time. It’s half a decade.

Nine years ago today, I got married. My ex and I would be celebrating almost a decade of marriage together today but….

On what would have been my fourth wedding anniversary 5 years ago, he and I were huddled around his laptop, trying to navigate a website about filing for divorce in Wisconsin. I remember half sitting on the arm of the couch, not wanting to be that close.

The next day, we went downtown to file and pay the fee (yup, it’s not free!), and then he left on a plane to California. A new chapter in each of our lives was beginning as we began the 6-month waiting period until our divorce was finalized.

That day before, an “anniversary” spent discussing the logistics of splitting up the remnants of our seven years together, I remember I had put on my vinyl of Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago.” A rather melancholy tune was playing:

My mile could not
Pump the plumb
In my arbor ’till my ardor
Trumped every inner inertia
Lump sum
All at once
Rushing from the sub-pump
(Or so the story goes)
Balance we won’t know
We will see when it gets warm
I remember looking at the song title and thinking, “Huh, ‘Lump Sum.’ How appropriate for a divorce.”

You really have to listen to it to get the full effect. I’m actually listening to the album right now, and it’s raining. Too perfect. Melancholy as it is, it brings me an odd sense of comfort. I remember putting it on approximately a year after that day, when I was in my own apartment, the first apartment I lived in by myself.

Screen shot from my Insta, circa Fall 2014
Apt

It’s true. A year later, life was good. But I was still figuring out a lot. I still am.

Once I knew it was over with my ex, I remember reaching out to a friend who recently had gone through a divorce. I remember her clearly telling me that the next year of my life would be the hardest. She suggested taking down all of my social media accounts, since people would start to figure things out and have questions; I’d be changing my name, I’d be deleting tons of photos, etc.

She was right. Although I didn’t take my accounts offline, all of those things were true. Even now, my efforts to delete nearly every trace of my former relationship on social media doesn’t stop things from popping up in Timehop and Facebook memories. Tons of friends and family have documentation from my wedding day, even if I’ve managed to wipe my own account fairly clean.

It’s OK. It’s not exactly like I’m trying to erase my past. Most of the time, on days like today, it just shows me how far I’ve come.

Over these past 5 years, especially in the first couple, I just didn’t understand how I’d gotten it SO wrong. I do take marriage seriously. I took my vows seriously; I wrote them myself. How did I screw it all up? Not the marriage itself — that takes two — but my choice of life partner.

And that’s not meant as an offense to him. It’s just that he doesn’t possess a lot of qualities or interests that I learned were really important to me. It scares me. It makes me feel like we don’t know who the fuck we really are in our 20s, and tons of people get married in their 20s. Some of them are just fine, but I know there are others like me, who wake up one day and are like, THIS PERSON? How did this happen?!

We just didn’t grow together. It happens. I honestly feel like the end of the marriage in a lot of ways is more on me than him. Yes, he left, he “ended” it. But from the time we met, and especially when we moved to Wisconsin, I really set off in another direction with my wants and needs. I also think he had all of these ideals about some path we were supposed to be on, and I wasn’t fitting into that, as I was figuring myself out. I just don’t think he realized how unhappy he was, in general, and I think he sees it now. He seems much happier now, and I’m glad.

Honestly, though, I feel like getting divorced resulted in an evolvement from a former version of myself. Starting over at 30 isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s a lot better than a host of alternatives. Now at 35, I’m very confident about who I am and what I want. I’m still going to make mistakes, but I don’t think I’m going to make them in love.

In general, I’ve still got a long way to go in figuring things out. Things like:
– Saving money (LOL, what?!)
– Budgeting (more specifically, actually sticking to the budget)
– Dealing with hurt feelings
– Handling stress in healthier ways
– Riding a bike without freaking out (still!)
But I do think I’ve figured out love, for myself. Romantic love, anyway; I’m still figuring out how to love myself.

The thing about romantic love is, you’re only half of the whole. It’s more than just feelings. It’s making a choice every day. It’s a partnership.

More on that in Part 2.
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50 Books in 2018: Part 1

Hey there — do I still have readers?! If I do, that’s super swell, and thanks for stopping by! I know I haven’t blogged for literally 6 months (yikes), but it’s Monday, there’s a little bit of time left in the workday and I’m not feeling super productive, so, you get a blog!

About books!

Probably don’t actually fold your book like this. What a tool.

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Books are neat, aren’t they? I like them in the tub, I like them on a train; I like them on the balcony, sheltered from the rain.

I’m proud to say I am a card-carrying library member, and I’ve been getting a lot of use out of it lately because earlier this year I set a “goal” to read 50 books in 2018.

I don’t know where you’re at in terms of reading level/amount, but that is kind of a lot. In fact, when I got out my handy dandy work calculator (circa whenever calculators were invented) to see what that would average per month for a year, it comes to about 4.166666666666.

This is a LEGIT piece of machinery, no?

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At that calculation, if I average one book every 1-2 weeks, I can keep up. That’s not a crazy feat for me… when I get sucked into something, I will read it within a couple of days at times, let alone a week. But you know, life happens, and sometimes it will take me time to get through a book, particularly if I’m not super into it. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t finish a book (well wait, I kind of can…), but I can tell you that when I read “1984” last year, I felt I was being tortured along with the people in this dystopian universe.

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So, it’s basically August now, and according to calculations, I should have read about 29 books by now.

I’m actually on book number 22, so I’m … sort of close? I’m confident I can still meet my goal by the end of the year.

Why this goal, you may ask? Well, if you’re a regular reader, you know I am not big on real New Year’s Resolutions. I think more often than not, they set us up to fail and are kind of arbitrary. I’ve been letting myself off the hook the past couple years by striving for things like this:

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But this year, the idea of setting a reading goal seemed like something I could work toward, and something I would benefit from yet also really enjoy, unlike exercising and drinking less.

So now that I’m close to half of my goal (and yes, I’m aware the year is MORE than half over, thankyouverymuch), I wanted to share some of the stuff I’ve enjoyed, and some I could have done without.

First and foremost, I am way late to the party, but I have discovered Jodi Picoult. It started when a friend recommended “Small Great Things,” one of her more recent novels, and I loved it and discovered she has written TONS. You may have heard of “My Sister’s Keeper” because it’s also a movie, but I haven’t read a book of hers yet that I didn’t like or finish in a few days. Next to Emily Giffin, my favorite author (I own several of her books and just finished “All We Ever Wanted,” her latest — highly recommend), Jodi is a new fav. She tackles relevant, tough issues and examines them from all angles. What’s not to love from a journalist?!

I’m also catching up on some memoir-type books I’ve been meaning to read over the years, from Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Anna Kendrick. I’m just 2 chapters into Amy Schumer’s book, “The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo,” and I love it already. Girl gets me. I also highly recommend Chrissy Metz’s memoir, “This is Me,” whether or not you’re a “This is Us” fan (and um if you’re not… Okkkkkkkk).

I. Love. Suspense. Murder. Mysteries. Anything by Ruth Ware (“The Woman in Cabin 10,” “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” “The Lying Game”) gets devoured in a day. My friend recommended “Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz, which was like a novel within a novel and very interesting. A little slower, but still gripping.

There has been one book so far I did not care for, and that was “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders. It’s basically about the death of President Lincoln’s young son Willie (true story) but explores it through a supernatural realm where ghosts in a cemetery hang out “in limbo” and get into all kinds of shenanigans. It was just kind of a chore to get through with the writing style, but to each his own. I’m still glad I read it for something different, and I definitely know more about this chapter in history now, so there’s that.

All in all, it has been a great goal for me. I watch TV maybe slightly less, and sometimes I go to bed earlier because I want to read my book, and then I fall asleep. I’m also happy to support my local library and kind of love used books. Most of them are hardback.

I’d love to hear more book recommendations if you have any! I’ve only got, oh….. 28 books to go!

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Balancing Act

With all the yoga I’ve done off and on over the years, you’d think I’d have better balance.

Alas, I don’t. Particularly on my left side, I’ll last maybe a good 20 seconds in tree pose before I start to lose it.

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It’s basically a reflection of my life. If we made the right side of my body the week (M-F), and the left side the weekend, it makes total sense.

Case in point: In late December, I made a budget. FINALLY. I finally sat down and crunched numbers to see what I can really spend each month to stop racking up credit card debt and live within my means.

Spoiler alert: It ain’t much. After I pay my monthly bills and account for groceries and other incidentals, I’m left with a couple hundred to spend on whatever I want — and that’s not even accounting for money that should be going into a savings account, which I hope to get going later this year. (I know. I’m 34, how have I not been saving this whole time?! Well, I haven’t.)

Part of the problem is the vicious cycle that credit card debt creates. I have to pay more each month to try to shrink the balances on the cards, and then I find myself short on cash, and use the card to supplement – thus perpetuating the cycle.

But I’m trying to stop now! Really. I want to stop using the cards entirely for awhile and just try to live within my meager means. Then maybe I’ll actually have some money available to me when an emergency arises. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So, backing up a bit… I said I created a budget in December, with the intention to start living by it on Jan. 1.

January was a disaster. I went over my “spending” budget pretty quickly, but then in one of the last weekends of the month, I spent an additional EIGHTY UNPLANNED DOLLARS at one bar on an impromptu Sunday Funday. Apparently, I was feeling generous and buying rounds for my friends.

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I hope they enjoyed it because I can’t be doing that shit anymore if I ever want to get out of this mess!

So Feb. 1 is my new start date to give this another shot. I’ve got it all figured out — what I can spend for the month, even what I can spend in each pay cycle. I’ve also decided if I do go out, I’m taking cash out before I go, and if I spend it all, THAT’S IT. No hitting the ATM!

Even though it’s kind of a bummer to face what little I actually have to use as spending money, it’s also great to be aware of where all my money is going and how much I actually have. Even though it constricts me in a way, it’s also freeing. I feel more in control of my destiny instead of just “screwed.”

Life balance is about more than money though, obviously. I think even worrying about money is something you shouldn’t be doing all the time. I’ve had some really great times over the course of my life, and I don’t really regret spending my money to live as I have, but I’m getting to the point where it feels a little unbalanced. There needs to be more of a middle ground between my YOLO-esque lifestyle and buckling down a bit with spending and just general consumption. I don’t really want to burn out before my time, and (un?)fortunately, the awareness of your own mortality starts to really kick in mid-30s.

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Thus far, I wouldn’t say I have any major regrets. But I also don’t want to have them down the line because I never reined it in a little.

But it’s about balance. I can’t subscribe to these ideas of punishing, all-or-nothing diet and exercise plans or even budgeting to the point where you’re only saving and not really doing anything fun now. To me, that’s no way to live. It has to be a give-and-take. I want to enjoy my life every single day, not punish myself until this future date where I’m allowed to live again because I have more money and a smaller waistline. No thanks. I’ll baby-step my way there and I may never get to a certain level. I think I can live with that.

So here’s to improving my balance — on and off the mat!

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Girlfriends

This is my squad.

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May 2016

Next to Luke, these ladies are the closest allies I have in life. I’d say even closer than my own family. They are my family. A little bit about each:

Katie, second from right

Katie and I both went to Ohio University and majored in news editing. We worked on the school paper together and shared some classes, and in our senior year, we rented a house together. Following graduation, we both landed internships in California and then later, jobs in Washington, D.C. Despite my moving to Wisconsin in 2008, we have remained very close and manage to visit each other nearly every year! We were each other’s maids of honor, and we’re able to keep in touch every week thanks to Google Chat.

Sam, far right

Sam was one of the first friends I made upon moving to Madison because I moved into an upstairs apartment in the same building she lives in. We share many fun parts of Madison life, including shows, yoga and various events about town. Knowing Sam has opened me up to some really great music and people, but she’s also taught me a lot about living a happier and often simpler, unapologetic life. We always support each other but also often egg each other on to making some questionable decisions that lead to great times and great stories.

Emily, left

Emily, my ginger warrior, is what I often refer to as a “real adult.” She’s really, truly got her shit together and knows how to live life with admirable balance between great times, healthy living and responsible decisions. She’ll egg you on at times too but typically make more responsible decisions on her end to prop you up in the aftermath. We met through people we don’t even talk to anymore, but we’ve only grown closer, both moving out of the near east side of Madison a few years ago (which is kind of a big deal) and coining the term #northsidelove, which if nothing else, gained some traction by organizers of the North Side Farmers Market. She’s very direct and doesn’t sugar coat advice or take sides — she gives it to me straight but is also one of my biggest cheerleaders and dearest friends.

When I’m rarely with all 3 of these ladies, it’s nothing short of magical, but either way I manage to keep them all a part of my life on the regular.

That’s not to say I don’t have other very close friends, and of course, relationships are always evolving, with people sometimes taking a greater role in my life for any period of time, while others may come and go. And then there are my high school friends, who when I actually get to see them, I have so much fun as if no time has passed and I’m sad I don’t see them all the time anymore. Then there are the people you meet through your significant other, who can also become close friends.

I’m very grateful for all of this. Just writing this now is a great reminder of how many great people I have in my life. Despite that, I’m not immune to sometimes feeling left out of something, or worrying I’m annoying people, or wondering if people are judging me. It happens to the best of us.

When it comes to friendship, even those with the best intentions can inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, make someone feel left out. If this isn’t something you’ve ever dealt with, if your “circle” is so tight and so perfectly balanced that things just flow all the time without any drama whatsoever — congrats! But I know for me and a lot of people, it’s not that simple.

I’m not talking about Mean Girls here, either.

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Ain’t no one got time for that.

What I’m talking about is much more subtle than that.

I’m going to describe some scenarios here, scenarios that actually have happened to me or that I was involved in, or friends of mine have dealt with.

Scenario 1:

A group of friends decides to go to a Ladies Night event at a local store, with contests and giveaways. One girl sends a message to a few others. Of those girls on the message, one of them considers inviting another friend, realizes that friend’s work schedule isn’t likely to align with the event, and doesn’t bother sending a message. The event happens, social media posts go up, and the friend who wasn’t invited feels left out, wondering why she wasn’t included.

Scenario 2:

A group of girls who regularly get together for dinners are all invited to one of the girl’s birthday party. Upon arriving, one girl in the group learns everyone in the group but her went to a dinner before the party. She wasn’t invited. She feels hurt and wonders why.

Scenario 3:

A group of girls gets together every few months for Restaurant Week. They plan a specific day of the week to go to a meal each time the event comes around. Another girl on the fringe of this group — who is close with some in the group — wonders why she’s never invited. She then gets invited to a baby shower of one of the girls in the group, one she isn’t as close with. She’s very confused about her role in this group.

 

Each of these scenarios really happened, either to me or someone I know. With the exception of #2, I know the people involved well enough to know that any slighting or infliction of hurt feelings was inadvertent, unintentional. But does that make it hurt less for the one who feels left out?

And what’s the solution? That is something I’m not 100 percent sure of. You can’t think of everyone all the time for everything… but are there times we should be thinking of others more?

It’s complicated. When I sit down to make an invitation to a party, it can get out of control fast. I don’t want anyone to be left out, and between Luke and I, we know a lot of people. But certain gatherings don’t work beyond a certain head count. How do you pick and choose?

Obviously, some of that is natural. You’re closer with some people than others. Sometimes other things factor in: Did this person recently invite me to a gathering, making me inclined to return the favor? Are there people in the group who used to date or are not on speaking terms, making it awkward to invite both?

In most scenarios, you’re going to be fine. The major players will be included, and it’s unlikely the others are going to take issue or be offended. But then scenarios pop up like the examples above. When this inevitably happens, the next phase is how the one who feels slighted chooses to deal with it, and how the rest respond.

Scenario 1:

The person in Scenario 1 didn’t sit on her feelings — she told her friend she was hurt. When the friend explained she thought her schedule would interfere, she was reminded that an invite is appreciated regardless, and it so happened that the friend could have gone that day. Lesson learned; they moved on.

Scenario 2:

It’s been a few weeks, and the person in Scenario 2 still has hurt feelings but hasn’t addressed anyone about it directly. Other issues are popping up in the meantime, and she’s questioning how good of friends these women may be and whether it’s worth it to even bring it up.

Scenario 3:

Over time, the person in Scenario 3 has come to accept that a certain group is getting together for these dinners, and that’s OK. As far as the other invites go, she only goes if she feels inclined to, and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t feel bad about it. She knows no one is doing this to intentionally confuse her, so she’s going with what’s best for her at the time.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Every member of my squad above is involved in at least one of these scenarios. So we’re not perfect either! Even among us, feelings can be hurt. As you can see from the actions taken, or not taken, this is where the hard adulting part comes in. In the first scenario, direct communication was chosen. The issue was addressed and the case was closed, and the friend now tries to remember “an invite is always appreciated,” and it generally stuck. In the third scenario, that friend doesn’t feel it’s worth raising a stink. Over time, the importance or any hurt feelings have basically subsided and it’s not a huge deal. It wasn’t worth it to bring it up. And in the second scenario, the friend in question is still trying to decide what to do, if anything.

There are many, many mitigating factors. Sometimes things come up spur of the moment, you invite some people along, you go. It happens. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you someone who is living life, without overthinking. In those cases, if anyone has hurt feelings, they’re typically fleeting. If you know where you stand with your friends, you know. You don’t have to read into everything all the time. And when lines are crossed, you have the option to either confront or chalk it up to a misunderstanding or simple oversight.

But why is that so hard sometimes? As my friend asked earlier today, “What age do I have to reach before things stop hurting my feelings so readily?”

My answer would be: Probably when you’re dead. If you’re like me, you feel things. And let’s be honest, we’re all about OURSELVES, nearly ALL of the time, so of course you’re going to feel that you should be forefront in your friends’ minds. Always. Even if you don’t actually think that, subconsciously, you probably do on some level. It’s normal.

I think a lot of it comes down to trust and communication. Deciding when to trust that it’s not a big deal, you’ll hit the next thing, or that you do need to talk about it. Only you really know that. And on the flip side, if you have a moment of question or doubt, be kind. Make the effort.

One thing’s for sure. Whenever possible, we should stick together. We’ll be running the world someday.

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I’d love to hear from you on some examples of your sticky situations and how you handled it! I’d also like to state that you are ALL invited to celebrate my 35th birthday May 31 at the Bonfire music festival in the hills of Wisconsin.

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The season of RED

Yes, it’s the season of red, white and green, silver and gold…

But mostly, red.

And by that I mean — my checking account.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Buy some gifts, buy some booze, buy tickets to hear tunes,
Pray that payday is near…

…It’s the most wonderful time of the year?!

Between holiday events and parties, birthdays, Christmas gifts, winter car care and regular LIFE, I’m rather cash-strapped. While Christmas carols rule the airwaves, I find myself humming a different tune, by local favorite The People Brothers Band:

Ain’t it funny how the money goes
In and out my pocket
Round and round and round it goes…
Never gonna stop it.

Stop it.

Here, give it a listen. It’s quite fantastic.

I danced gleefully to this song Friday night at one of their shows, actually. I spent most of my Christmas bonus on festival tickets and a couple gifts this weekend, as well as some social outings, and this morning was a nice little bitch slap when I logged onto my account.

Now, some of this headache is the health care shuffle, and I know I’m not the only one feeling the pain. I had to switch plans yet again because my premium was going to be too high, so this month, I’m paying a double premium as I paid the monthly bill for my current plan for December and I have to pay ahead for January’s premium for the new plan. Now, that’ll all shake out eventually, but right now, it equals BROKER THAN A JOKER.

That’s not really proper grammar… fuck it.

About a month ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I logged onto Pinterest. I wanted to get some new ideas for holiday decorating.

An hour later, I was creating a “Holiday Craft Night” at my place because I was so excited to try out some of the craft ideas, and I figured other ladies might want to do the same.

It’s tomorrow. Today, I looked around for the funds needed to buy said crafting materials like:

And tonight I’ll be cleaning like a madwoman because… yeah.

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Here’s the part of the post where I should take a deep breath and spout some crap-  er, wisdom-  about how it’s about who you’re with, not gifts. It’s the season of giving, but it’s about being together.

I got nothin.

But I’d like to end on this note. Here’s something you can do this season that is INVALUABLE yet costs nothing at all — donating blood. A friend asked some of us to share this to try to get attendance up, and I figure this is as good a place as any. Even if you don’t live in Madison, I’m sure you can find somewhere to donate locally.

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Happy Holidays! I hope you’re seeing more green than red… unless you’re giving blood.

 

The case of Thanksgiving vs. Christmas, and giving less f*cks

This is the most wonderful time of the year.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The significance of celebrating the birth of Christ aside (and tbh I’m not particularly religious), I find Thanksgiving superior to Christmas for the following reasons:

  • More days off.
  • It’s always the same day of the week.
  • No gift pressure.
  • ALL the food.
  • Being thankful for family and friends and spending time together.
  • The kick off of the holiday/Christmas season! Because yes, I love that, too.

It’s funny how much things can change in just two years…. and how much doesn’t change.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because I do not intend to attempt to impress anyone. You can look back at some of my older posts (here and here) to see the various things that have consumed my thoughts over Thanksgivings past — namely, failing to cook because I’m too hungover, worrying about the status of my home, worrying about my own life status, etc.

(Side note: It cracks me up to look at older posts where I used code names for everyone. Silly!)

So with that, I would like to announce that this is the Thanksgiving of giving zero fucks.

Have some more pie, suckas.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. My parents and my brother and his girlfriend are all coming from Ohio. I ordered a turkey from Whole Foods, so yeah. We’re still going to have a meal. I will bathe, the house will be passably clean and I’m even making a cute centerpiece for our table. It’s not that no effort will be put in, it’s just that I’m not going to worry about details like:

  • My weight and monetary status (we’ll get to that).
  • The house being spotless. People are just gonna fuck it up, anyway.
  • Am I drunk? (hopefully) Am I hungover? (hopefully not)

As of Monday of Thanksgiving week at 3:11 p.m., this is my current status:

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(Those sliders do look good, though.)

Luke is picking up the turkey today, but I still have to get EVERYTHING else. And I’m not even going to do it until tomorrow. I spent all of last weekend (in town) barely thinking about it and doing exactly zero shopping. We did some half assed meal planning, but not really. It’ll come together.

This isn’t really the me I’m used to. I’m a planner. I make an entire perfect plan in my head and even though it doesn’t play out exactly that way, the plan gives me comfort, direction, a goal of sorts.

You know what else it does, though? Sets me up for big-time failure. As of late, I find certain plans to be exhausting. I’ve also found that when I wait, sometimes parts just come together on their own in a way that wouldn’t have happened if all those items were already checked off.

I’m learning.

I’m also learning that if “super planner” me and “pretty much waited til the last minute” me met around noon on Thanksgiving, the results of both ways of doing things would likely be pretty similar, but I’d put money on the fact that the latter version of myself might actually be having a better time.

Now, back to that weird comment about my weight.

I’m pretty happy these days. I’d have to say there are just two major things that plague me that I wish would improve: I’m overweight, and I’m mostly broke.

The fact that I’m the key answer to solving both of those problems isn’t lost on me. I can’t budget my way out of a paper bag. I’m an instant gratification person a lot of the time. I work hard, and I play hard.

Some days, reading the news headlines, I think that is totallllllly fine. Lord knows where this world is going.

But I digress.

Over the years, I’ve had a pretty significant mental shift and a redefining of sorts of what happiness is, at least for me. I used to engage in a dangerous way of thinking that went something like “Things are good, but they’ll be GREAT when…..” As if once I reached certain milestones, then I could really be happy. So what was the present? Just some kind of life placeholder?

I’ve decided that’s no way to live. So, I live. I enjoy myself. I count my blessings and I still strive for self-improvement and I still have goals, but I really try not to beat myself up all the time for not being at a certain level. Some days are harder than others, obviously. Sometimes I do have to smack myself around a little. But for the most part, here I am, flaws and all. And I’m so thankful I’m here.

It’s a constant struggle, though, and one that experiences minor to major setbacks, especially when….

My parents come to town.

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I haven’t blogged about this because, it’s hard, and also because not all dirty laundry needs to be aired, but I will say this: My parents and I had words this past summer. This will be the first time we’re together since. We’ve texted, emailed and had limited phone conversation, so we’re not actively in a fight or anything, but things are still a little raw for me.

Even though I’m so much like them, I’m not like they were at 34. Our lifestyles are totally different. They say they get it, and for the most part seem proud to support me in my life choices, but do they really get it? Do our parents ever really get who we are?

So, last time they were in town, they decided to get really judgy. Their timing was great. Luke and I were moving, our good friends were having a big, fun wedding (which my parents also attended) and it was Fourth of July weekend.

I mean, I’m no expert on judgment, but this seems like a fantastic time to judge someone’s stress level, alcohol consumption and just general way of living. Sure. It’s just annnnnnny other day- where you’re moving, going to a wedding and celebrating our nation’s freedom. Let’s go to church!

The big difference between this time and other times this has happened in the past was where I am with myself and my life mentally. So I basically told them to fuck off, in so many words.

The thing is, my parents in recent years have become my friends — and I feel like they betrayed me when they judged me. They’re not my friends. The judgment goes both ways too (at times), but I kept my mouth shut. So yeah, I can treat them like other parents. There’s “me” and then there’s me. Filters are certainly possible.

But I’m not sure what to expect of this visit.

The thing is, I’m not really nervous. For one thing, my brother and his girlfriend are there, too (and he is the king of giving zero fucks), but also… I’m caring less and less what my parents think. What really matters is that I need to believe in myself and my own life. Luke and my friends play a huge part in making that possible, but I know much of it has to come from within.

So this year, I guess I would say I’m most thankful for the ability to stop apologizing to myself or others about who I am, flaws and all.

I know my parents love me, and I love them, too. They tried to say they just say things out of concern — but the thing is, that concern is coming from a place where life looks different than mine does, or something. It’s not on me to get inside their heads. And I’m done waiting for some special day where I can be happy. I want to be happy now. I choose to be happy now. I hope they’re happy, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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