Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Reverb Post

December 30 – Gift Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

My birthday was on Tuesday of this week and my husband surprised me with so many sweet gifts. He gave me a beautiful watch, roses and chocolate covered strawberries. Jewelry, chocolate and flowers? I am one lucky girl! For Christmas my mother got me an Epiphanie camera bag and I am in love. Receiving gifts is wonderful but they don't even come close to emotional gifts I have received this year.

My husband gives me courage and strength every single day. As someone with anxiety problems, having a husband that is constantly by my side even though he does not fully understand my anxiety problems, is priceless. He is constantly pushing me to be a better person and while this is challenging, it is the best thing for me.

My mother and father give me confidence because they are my biggest cheerleaders. Whether it is for work, hobbies, marriage, etc., my mom and dad are always cheering me on. My sister gives me joy. She is one of those people that can make you laugh no matter how down you are.

My blog and twitter friends show me how I am never alone. When I am at my lowest, there is aways someone there to help me stand back up. You all give me hope and I can't thank you enough.

December 31 – Core Story What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

At the core of me is hope. No matter what I face, it is impossible for me to give up hope, even if I try. I will one day be a mother. I will someday live my life free of anxiety. I will find a job I enjoy and will one day become a photographer.

In addition to hope, I never stop working on myself. I love to look inside my mind to figure out what needs improvement. I will never stop working to make myself happier and more complete.

Reverb has helped me realize areas in my life that could use improvement. It has also brought up a million things that I am incredibly thankful for. I have met some wonderful people thorough this process and I am so grateful for those friendships. This year has been challenging and wonderful at the same time. I can't wait to see what 2011 has in store for me!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Catch Up

I have been struggling to keep up with the reverb prompts now that I am on vacation with my family. I keep meaning to sit down and blog but I would rather spend my time with my parents or sister. I haven't really been on the computer at all. Christmas was wonderful and yesterday was my birthday which was also amazing. I will have to fill you all in after we get back from our trip on Saturday.

I am so glad I participated in reverb this year but I have to admit that I am looking forward to blogging about other topics again!

December 26 – Soul Food: What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

I had some amazing food around all the holidays this year. For the 4th of July, we went to Oklahoma to spend a week with Josh's family. Josh's mom never stops cooking and her meals are always so good! She completely outdid herself over Thanksgiving as well.

For Christmas my mom has been a cooking fool! She made some of the best sweet potato casserole I have ever had. I have been eating it every day since Christmas and I'm still not tired of it. She also made me my favorite meal for my birthday yesterday which was chicken picatta. AH. MAZ. ING.

December 27 – Ordinary Joy: Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Whenever I am behind my camera I am at complete peace. Even if I have no clue what I am doing, just holding that camera in my hands makes me happy. I could be taking a picture at a wedding or of a simple flower in my yard. Either way, I am joyful.

December 28 – Achieve: What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I would love to be a professional photographer someday. I don't think I will be able to achieve that next year, but I can take giant steps in that direction. There are a ton of things I could do to achieve this goal.

1. I need to learn more about editing. There are a few editing programs that I need to get a hold of and start practicing.

2. I need to learn more about my camera. It is stunning how many cool things my Canon can do and I don't even know everything!

3. Practice! I have to practice more. I want to start setting weekly goals on how many times I get out there and shoot. I am not going to improve without this step.

4. I want to learn more about the technical parts of photography. This is the part that intimidates me because whenever I try to learn, I get incredibly confused and frustrated. I want to keep trying, even it if takes me a long time. I think it's important to understand the technicalities behind the camera.

5. Equipment. There are a million things outside of the camera that can improve your photography skills. I don't know much about any of them.

6. Inspiration! There are so many blogs and books that can offer inspiration for those days where you just feel blah. I want to get my hands on these!

7. This year, I interviewed for a great internship opportunity. It would have been something that would have greatly improved my knowledge and skills and I was so disappointed that I didn't get it. I need to start looking around for other opportunities!

8. Start saving money. I have a long list of things I want to purchase to help with photography. Most of these are pretty expensive (um, I might have picked the most expensive hobby ever!) so I need to start saving money exclusively for photography equipment.

9. No more doubts. I am so hard on myself and I doubt my abilities all the time. I am definitely not an expert photographer but that is ok! I have lots of time to improve. I need to stop focusing only on the end goal, and just enjoy the ride!

10. Have fun! I adore photography and I never, ever want it to turn into a chore. I want to improve and I know that will take discipline but I don't want it to become something I dislike. I want to keep it fun!

December 29 – Defining Moment: Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

I think if you read back on my past reverb posts you will see a long list of moments and events that affected me this year. Lexy getting sick, my grandmother dying, all the traveling, facing my anxiety problem, etc. have all affected me greatly. I think I will just leave it at that.

Sorry if these have gotten boring lately. I am all about reflecting on the past year but I think I have reached the limit on things to reflect about! There are only 2 more prompts left and then it will go back to my regular blogging.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The One Where I Catch Up

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

I can't think of a name I like better than my own. My name fits me perfectly and I would never change it. My full first name is Rebecca and that is what I use in formal situations, such as a job interview. Most of my friends and family call me Becca. I have a few nicknames that have been assigned to me such as Reptar (long story), Becs and Booba. My sister was the one that came up with Booba and I really can't tell you where it came from. I can promise you that it has nothing to do with my boobs because they aren't really nickname worthy.

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I don't think there was one moment in particular that made me realize that everything was going to be all right but there were quite a few little ones. A lot of times when I am upset, my husband can explain things in a calm and rational way. When I am drowning in a sea of emotion, rationality can be a lifesaver. There are plenty of times when my husband's calm demeanor drives me crazy but it is for my own good. He balances me out and makes me realize that everything will be ok. I just need to remember it when I start to get caught in that next wave of emotion.

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Yikes. Since this year was one where I really started getting involved in photography, I have a ton of pictures that were taken this year. I am usually behind the camera so the selection of pictures of me is pretty slim. I did manage to find one that was my favorite though.

To put it simply, it's a picture of me and my camera and I am extremely happy. This year I found a passion for photography and it brings me joy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Note to Self

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I think I have pretty much covered this topic. I traveled to Chicago and Oklahoma to visit family. We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving (we stayed in a cabin with Josh’s family) and we are going to Chicago for Christmas. We also went to Asheville, NC for our one year anniversary. I have to say, that list isn’t so bad for someone with severe travel anxiety!

Next year is London!

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

I really don’t know what I would tell my future self. I hope that 5 years from now I will have my anxiety under control, still have a wonderful marriage and be happy! Now, moving on to advice for my past self:

Dear Becca,

Your first 3 years of high school will fly by and will be a blast! Enjoy every moment and treasure your friends. You have no idea how amazing they are. Don’t quit the dance team. I know you are pissed that you had to jump through hoops to try out for varsity and that you still end up on JV, but you are only punishing yourself by quitting.

The move to Georgia before your senior year will be really difficult. Do not punish your mother for the move. It was not up to her and she is actually really excited to leave Illinois. You have no idea how much she hated living in Chicago so stop being so selfish. That first summer in Georgia, get up off your butt and stop eating! That does absolutely nothing to make the move easier. (Side note, do not wear that jean skirt on your first day of your senior year. You gained waaaay to much weight to squeeze into that.)

I understand how important finding a boyfriend is to you. You have so many crushes that are never reciprocated and it hurts. It will be ok.

In college, stop dating all those losers. Do not waste so much time on that guy that stands you up more than once, never takes you out on a date, never calls when he says he will and refuses to be committed to you. Stand up for yourself and walk away from him. There is a wonderful man that is better than you have ever imagined waiting for you. If you took all of your dream guys and combined only their best attributes, it wouldn’t even come close to the man you marry. Just be patient!

Stop telling yourself that as soon as you get a boyfriend, graduate, get a job, have your own place, etc that you will be happy. Be happy now! Your future is very bright but what you are going through now will be looked back on fondly. Don’t waste time wishing it was the future because you are missing out on the present.

Love,

Becca

Monday, December 20, 2010

Letting Fear Conquer

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

(Author: Jake Nickell)

The one thing that I regretting the most this year was passing up the opportunity to go to London with Josh. Josh found out he was going to London for a business trip early in the year. He mentioned it to me and asked me if I wanted to go. When he asked me, the trip was still months in the future so I mumbled something resembling, “Maybe” and changed the subject.

If you had asked me 3 years ago if I wanted to go to London, your ears would be ringing from my screams. I have always wanted to go to Europe so you would think I would be dying for the chance, right? Well, things have changed since my anxiety started. Ever since Thanksgiving of 2008, I have been terrified to fly.

That Thanksgiving, I was flying to Oklahoma to stay with my future in laws for the first time (I didn’t realize they were going to be my in laws at this point). The morning I woke up to catch our flight, I was hit by this incredible nausea. I told Josh that I was pretty sure I was sick but he told me I was just nervous. I denied this because there was no way that I could be so nervous that I felt that sick. It wasn’t just a couple butterflies; this was so bad that brushing my teeth had me gagging. I couldn’t eat or drink anything because I would gag.

I somehow made it to the airport and onto the plane and all I can remember is clutching the little paper bag that is put in each seat, crying to Josh that I was going to be sick. After I got on the plane I remembered that I had some anti-nausea medication that was prescribed to help with the nausea I get with migraines, so I took one and fell asleep. After the medicine kicked in the nausea went away, but it made me so drowsy that I was in a fog the rest of the day.

After that experience, I was completely terrified of flying. Even it if was just to fly to Chicago to see my family, I would get really, really sick. Then it extended to car trips so that basically any travelling resulted in me feeling like my stomach was punishing me for some horrible wrong doing I had committed.

Needless to say, when Josh mentioned the 8 hour flight to London, my stomach flipped and I immediately decided I didn’t want to go. I made some lame excuse to Josh about not being able to get off of work so he booked his trip without me. As the trip approached, everyone was telling me how crazy I was for not going and I started to regret my initial decision to stay home and hide from the big, bad plane.

About a month before the trip, I told Josh I wanted to go. We started looking into flights and realized it was going to cost us a lot to book another flight. In addition, Josh would be in meetings most of the days we were in London so I would be alone a lot. If we had planned on me going earlier, we could have extended to trip so Josh and I could have spent more time together. In the end, I decided this trip wouldn’t work out.

I can’t tell you how much I regret this decision. Josh had a wonderful time and still talks about how amazing London is to this day. I am so disappointed in myself for letting my anxiety win. I let fear stop me from doing something I have always wanted to do.

Recently, Josh told me he is going back to London in April and I have decided to go. Barring anything major happening like me getting pregnant or extremely ill, I have committed to going. I am excited but the fear is still there. I am terrified of how I will feel on the travel days. I can’t even express how miserable I feel when I get that nauseous. It is way worse than food poisoning or any flu I have ever had.

However, I am going to push through the fear. I am determined to overcome this, but there may be days where my confidence wanes and I might need you guys to help me. I may need some of you to kick my butt and tell me to take control of my fear. I know I can do this, but I am not ashamed of asking for help.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverb and Poop Coffee

My responses to the Reverb10 prompts will be short today because I have something else I want to talk about.

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

I really want to try being a mother and I hope I get that chance in 2011. There's nothing I can do besides what we are already doing so all I can do is try to relax and let things happen. Josh and I went to a 1st birthday party today for a friend's daughter and I couldn't stop thinking about how much I couldn't wait for our kid's birthday parties.

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leonie Allan)

I didn't heal this year. In fact, I felt broken all year and didn't know why. Now that I have identified the problem, I'm going to start working on it immediately. I don't know if it will be healed in 2011 but I hope to at least make some major progress.

Now moving on to other things, Josh and I opened all our presents on Friday night. We are leaving for Chicago on Thursday and we didn't want to bring all the presents on the 13 hour car trip. Josh had already given me one of my Christmas presents which was a Droid X and the other one was a gorgeous leather jewelry box.

I got him a bunch of little things such as some nice teas, a new travel mug, The Pacific DVD, some collar stays with sweet sayings on them and some coffee. Now, this wasn't any ordinary coffee. No, this was poop coffee. Yes, poop coffee.

Image from Animal Coffee website.

The company is based in Indonesia and they harvest kopi luwak coffee. Basically the kopi luwak (which is a small cat-like animal) eats coffee beans from local harvests and it's stomach juices break down the bitterness that is normally associate with coffee. When the kopi luwak gets rid of the coffee beans, people actually pick the coffee beans from the poop and clean it and get it ready for shipment.

The coffee is rare and pretty expensive and it is something Josh has wanted for a long time. He had been talking about it for so long I actually caved and ordered it for him. I haven't tried it and I don't think I ever will but he seems pretty pleased. I am trying to get used to the idea by telling myself that lots of people eat weird stuff. I mean I watched a show once about all the gross stuff that people in other countries eat (like moldy cheese with maggots crawling in it! GAG!) so this isn't that bad. Right?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kindness from Strangers

Day 17: Lesson Learned: What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

I feel like a lot of these prompts are very similar and I keep answering the same way. I can think of a million lessons I learned this year but most of them have been talked about extensively in previous posts. My answer for today’s prompt is simple.

This year I learned to never give up faith in people. I sometimes get very down on the human race because I see so much hate and suffering. However, this year taught me that there are many more good people than bad. There are people that will email a perfect stranger to give them suggestions on what could be wrong with their dog and to offer prayers. There are people that after reading a stranger’s blog post, write an incredibly sweet and supportive comment. There are so many wonderful, kind people out there and I am so fortunate to have been the recipient of their kindness this year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lucky in Friends

Today’s Reverb10 prompt is Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

I am in a time in my life where I don’t have an abundance of friends. I have coworkers that I am friends with, but I don’t hang out with most of them outside of work.

Growing up, I always had to have that one BEST friend. I believe that there are two types of people. There are those that love having a ton of acquaintances and people to hang out with and then there are people like me that are much happier with one special friend. I moved around quite a bit so I had a cycle of finding a good friend, becoming inseparable, moving away but promising to keep in touch, and finally, never talking to them again. I didn’t have Facebook and Myspace when I was in elementary and middle school so I lost a lot of friendships due to moving.

With every move, it became harder and harder to make friends. I have a feeling this was because I really just stopped making any effort. I got tired of mourning lost friendships over and over so I gave up in a way.

I am the kind of friend that will drop everything if someone needs me. If you call me at 2 AM because you need help? I’m there, no questions asked. If you are going through a rough time, don’t be surprised if I drop by your house with a small gift to cheer you up.

I very rarely meet people that put as much effort into maintaining friendships so very often I feel neglected and hurt. In high school I had a good friend that hurt me over and over and I let her walk all over me. She was popular and I wasn’t and she would only hang out with me when there wasn’t anyone “cooler” in the room. I wrote about the last friend that hurt me greatly and since then I have forgiven and moved on, but I will never put that much work into my friendship with her. I just can’t let myself get hurt like that again.

However, I do have one friend that continues to amaze and inspire me. She is insanely busy and one of those people that has a million and one friends and is always going to some party or get together, so I don’t get to see her as often as I would like. Even though she is busy, she still takes the time to check in with me from time to time. We email and text and keep in touch and she is someone that I know I can count on if I ever need help. She has an amazing faith that just leaves me in awe. She has this amazing positive attitude that I try to model myself after. There have been situations where I will actually think, “What would my friend do right now?” When she laughs, it is this huge, hearty laugh that always leaves me with a giant smile.

In addition to this amazing friend, I also have a husband who supports me in ways I didn’t even realize I needed. I have a mother who would give anything for me and a sister who can always make me laugh. Even though I may not be that girl who has a hundred friends, I feel I am extremely fortunate to have a few strong, close friends that will always be there for me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 in Five Minutes

December 15 – 5 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

(Author: Patti Digh)

I set the timer for five minutes and starting thinking about everything I want to remember from this year. It was slow at first, but once I got started, the memories started pouring in my brain.

I want to remember when my mom came to visit me for two weeks in the beginning of the year. Those two weeks were spent laughing, talking and shopping. This trip was also when we found out that my grandmother had the same aneurism that her husband had died of only 8 months earlier.

I love to remember the trip we took to Chicago where Josh and I spent the time going for long walks, playing badminton, riding bikes and resting.

I like to remember how Josh and I went to Oklahoma for the 4th of July. I remember buying shorts because I had none and Oklahoma was supposed to be hot. However, it was cold and rainy the entire trip. My mom called me while I was there and told me that my grandmother had passed away. It was awful but being with Josh’s family offered comfort.

I need to remember going to Kentucky for the last time to say goodbye to my grandmother and a part of my childhood. I will never again visit their house and play Nintendo while eating little powdered doughnuts. I will never sit up late with my grandparents playing poker or go to their favorite gambling spot. I had anger toward some of the people on my dad’s side of the family because they did not treat my grandmother well but I have decided to forgive and move on. I will never forget how amazing my grandparents were and how many wonderful memories I have of them.

I am proud to remember how my sister got into her dream school and how we helped her move into her dorm at Vanderbilt. I told everyone I talked to how she had been accepted and how incredibly smart my baby sister is. We spent an entire day helping her unpack and make her dorm room as comfortable as possible. During the year, I have visited my sister a few times and she spent a weekend with us. I have grown so much closer to her and she is truly one of my best friends.

I smile when I remember my parents and sister coming to visit me and how much fun we all had together. We went to lunch with an old friend and had the perfect southern moment. My dad was able to spend time with some old high school and college friends which hopefully helped him heal after losing his parents.

I get giddy when I remember the moment Josh and I decided to officially start trying for a baby. I was so optimistic and sure it would happen right away. Through the year we have dealt with multiple disappointments from negative tests and frustrations from messed up menstrual cycles. During the year we have also grown together and I feel like I have become a much stronger woman.

I tear up when I remember the moment we saw something was wrong with Lexy and we brought her to the vet. Through all the vet visits and testing we never lost hope that our baby would get better. We made a YouTube video and many, many strangers emailed us to offer advice, prayers or kind words. I was completely amazed at how much kindness we received. I feel lucky for every moment I get to spend with both of my dogs and keep praying that she will continue to improve.

I laugh when I remember how much fun Josh and I had in Asheville, NC for our one year anniversary. We had many hours of quality time celebrating how much we had grown in our first year of marriage.

I choose to remember the moments where anxiety prevented me from fully living my life. I missed out on an opportunity to go to London with Josh because I was too scared to travel. I remember how much regret I felt and how that regret fueled me to commit to go to London in April. I also choose to remember the very recent moment of clarity I had regarding my anxiety and how I am now filled with hope and optimism.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aspirations and Appreciation

December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

I'm really glad I am answering this prompt today because I had a big wake up call this afternoon. I went to my general physician to follow up on an issue that was minor but needed to be looked at. While I was there, I mentioned this new weird eye twitch I have developed over the last week.

My doctor looked me and rolled over to sit right beside me. He then spent about 20 minutes going through what stress and anxiety does to someone's body. I, of course, started crying because I know I have a problem. I struggle with so many health issues and I am finally starting to accept that anxiety is what is causing them. I have nausea very often and I get dizzy a lot. I get headaches all the time and I am always tired.

The other day a thought popped into my head that scared me. I started thinking about people that have agoraphobia (that is when people are too scared to be in public so stay locked in their house) and I actually thought, "I could see myself like that one day." To say that frightened me was an understatement.

I also get completely terrified of travelling, especially by plane. The week leading up to leaving for a trip, I will be nauseous every single day. On the day that we leave, I will wake up so sick that I will be gagging and crying. It is unbearable and it has stopped me from ever wanting to travel. I have the opportunity to go to London in April and the person I used to be would be jumping out of my skin I would be so excited. But the person I am now? I am actually dreading the trip.

Over the next year, I am going to work on myself. I have got to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety or my health issues are going to get worse. I don't really want to take medication since we are trying to conceive so I need to figure something else out. Whether it takes therapy, exercise, yoga or something I haven't figured out yet, I have to make some major changes.

This post was really hard for me to write because to be honest, I am ashamed of my issues. I feel like it makes me weak and that everything is in my own head. If it's in my head, shouldn't I be able to stop it? Why do I feel so out of control?

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

Moving on to happier topics, I am so grateful for so many things in my life! In the past year, one of the things I have come to appreciate the most is family. I lost my grandmother and my grandfather within one year and it scared me to realize how fast everything can change. Both Josh and my parents live very far from us so I have learned to appreciate every second I get to spend with them.

My husband has spent the past 5 years busting his butt to earn his Masters degree and he finally finished last month. Now that he is done, we get to spend much more time together and it is wonderful. I am happiest when I am hanging out with my family and I treasure every second with them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

11 Things and Convertibles

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)
Coming up with 11 things to live without is a little tough! A few things sprang to mind right away but after that, I had to do some serious thinking.

1. Fear/Anxiety - I have said this before in previous posts but I have to stop avoiding things that scare me, especially travel.
2. Negativity - I could live without this from myself and from others.
3. Television - I don't want to give this up entirely because Josh and I have a few shows we love to watch together, but I could definitely cut back on the amount of TV I watch.
4. Self doubt - This is a big one for me. I doubt myself in almost every area of my life. I want to become a photographer some day but that is never going to happen if I keep doubting myself along the way.
5. Worry - My husband never worries about anything unless it is really big. He tells me all the time that worrying doesn't change anything but it is so natural to me. I really want to work on this.
6. Lack of faith - I don't talk about faith much on here but I do struggle with mine quite often. I have many family members and friends that are so strong in their faith and I want to be like them.
7. Impatience - For some things, I have all the patience in the world but for others, my fuse is incredibly short. I need to have more patience in all areas of my life, not just some.
8. Need to have a plan - I am one of those people that need to have a plan for every situation. Sometimes this can be helpful but most of the time it just makes me anxious and causes a lot of "what ifs."
9. Nausea - This one is a little different then the rest of my list but I spend a lot of my days sick to my stomach. I don't know if it is a hormonal issue or anxiety but I need to get it figured out. I can't stand feeling nauseous and I want it to stop!
10. Sugar - I eat way to many sweets and I know it's horrible for me. I don't have any issues with my weight but I want to cut back on sweets for my health.
11. Envy - I am constantly looking at other people's lives and comparing them to mine. Those with children or people with no health issues make me feel horrible about my own life. I need to stay focused on myself and all the amazing things I have!

December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

For our one year anniversary, Josh and I went to Asheville, NC and we had a blast! It was absolutely beautiful up in the mountains and we stayed at an amazing inn. As a part of the package we booked when we booked the hotel, we got to take a 3 hour test drive in a BMW. Josh was thrilled and we picked out a hot little convertible.

The weather was perfect that afternoon and we put the top down. On the way up into the mountains, we stopped and ordered a couple of mochas and pumpkin bread. We turned the radio up and drove around these amazingly windy roads for three hours. I remember putting my hands up, throwing my head back and smiling while the sun hit my face. I had no worries or concerns in those three hours. Josh and I talked and laughed and we took tons of pictures. The time flew by but I didn't care. I was completely in the moment and it was perfect.



This post is in response to prompts 11 and 12 of Reverb10.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You Save Me

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Every now and then I get a little lost
My strings all get tangled, my wires all get crossed
Every now and then I'm right up on the edge
Dangling my toes out over the ledge
I just thank God you're here

'Cause when I'm a bullet shot out of a gun
'Cause when I'm a firecracker comin' undone
Or when I'm a fugitive ready to run, all wild-eyed and crazy
No matter where my reckless soul takes me
Baby you save me

(Lyrics from Kenny Chesney’s You Save Me)

Back in 2009, I married my amazing husband. I knew how fortunate I was to meet and fall for such a great guy, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized how the decision to marry Josh was the best decision I have ever made. This year, we have had our share of struggles. We have been through my grandmother passing away only a year after losing my grandfather. I have dealt with numerous health problems that cause frustration and fear almost daily. I have had family members that have had really scary health issues including my dog that we came incredibly close to losing.

Through all of this I have had my rock. It is no secret that I do not deal with stress very well and Josh manages to balance me out. I still have plenty of days where the worry and stress of my life overwhelms me but they are not as frequent as they used to be. Most of the time I know that everything will be ok because I have a strong man by my side and together we can do anything. So what if we don’t get pregnant right away? We will get there. Who cares if I don’t feel good a lot of the time? I can still have fun and relax even if everything is not perfect.

We have also had some really amazing times this year. We took a trip to Oklahoma over the 4th of July break that had a ton of great moments. We went to Chicago over the summer and had a blast! I will never forget watching Josh try to play badminton. Josh has always been better at me in everything sport related but I whooped his butt in badminton. He is seriously bad, which is hilarious (he would agree). We went bike riding, which was interesting because you know that saying that once you ride a bike you never forget how? Yeah, that’s crap. I hadn’t ridden a bike in ages and I couldn’t even stay on the road. I was horrible.

The decision to marry a man that knows how to take care of me without being suffocating, that brings me happiness in moments when I am down, that can make me laugh without even trying, and who believes in me more than I have ever believed in myself was the best decision I have ever made.

This post is in response to Day 10 of Reverb. It's not too late to check it out and join in!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spiders and Cowboy Games

I got extremely busy yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to do my Reverb10 post. I thought I would double up today so I can get caught up. I have a feeling I may be doing this quite a bit this month since blogging every day has been more challenging than I thought.

Prompt 8: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I am embarrassed to tell you guys how stumped I was on this one. I can think of plenty of things that make me different but how do they make me beautiful?

I know that I am incredibly emotional. For example, I despise spiders. I think they are awful and gross and don’t want them anywhere near me. However, one day while I was in the shower I saw a tiny spider had made a web in the corner of our bathroom right above the shower.

Anyway, I thought he was kind of cute and immediately thought of Charlotte’s Web so he became my little friend (seriously, he was really, really small). For a few days when I would shower, I looked for him and smiled when I found him. One day, I couldn’t find him so I asked Josh if he had noticed the spider. Josh told me that he was worried that it would scare me so he killed it. You will never guess what I did when he told me that. I cried. I actually cried over a tiny spider.

There are many times in my life that my emotions get out of hand. I have a hard time controlling my feelings so things come out of my mouth that shouldn’t sometimes and I can be very moody. However, that emotional side of me is also what makes me care about others so much. I can’t stand to see anyone or anything suffering. If I see a turtle crossing the road, I will stop and make sure he gets across no matter how many people honk at me.

If a pet is suffering, I will spend thousands of dollars trying to save it because it deserves a good life too. Sure, sometimes my emotions cause me to be moody and get depressed but overall, I think I am incredibly lucky to feel so deeply. I may feel pain and sorrow more often then some but I also get to feel incredible happiness too.

Prompt 9: What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

The first thing that popped into my mind was when I went to Oklahoma with Josh for the 4th of July. Josh’s entire family lives in this tiny town in Oklahoma and once a month they all get together to celebrate all the birthdays and anniversaries of that month. When we visited over the 4th, we were lucky enough to be there when one of these gatherings were taking place.

Imagine a trailer home with about 40 people packed inside and half of these people are big men with cowboy boots and cowboy hats. All the women were rushing around setting up the food and talking. Kids and teens were running around playing volleyball and laughing. After we ate an amazing meal, everyone wanted to play a game.

The game is a little complicated to explain but let’s just say that by the end, Josh had fallen out of his chair laughing and I had tears running down my face. I have never laughed so hard in my life and it was a day that I will never forget.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photography Community

I am participating in Reverb. Join me!

December 7 – Community

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Back in 2009, about four months before I got married, I became interested in photography. I took a class through my company and was enjoying learning about the vast field, but wedding plans quickly took over my life and I put photography on the back burner.

After things settled down after the wedding I decided to start back again. This past year I have met some amazing photographers locally and in the blogging community. I have been absolutely amazed at how many of them are willing to help out a complete photography novice that they have never met.

I spent a day helping out a local photographer and had a blast! I interviewed for a photography internship that unfortunately I didn't get, but still had fun in the process and made some great contacts. I talked with a wonderful photographer, Rachel, who gave up her precious time to give me some great advice.

I completely adore the photography community and can't wait to be more involved. I fully intend on being involved as much as I can next year and can't wait to meet more amazing people and talented artists!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crafty!

Day 6 - Make


What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

(Author: Gretchen Rubin)



For our 1st anniversary, I decided to make a gift for Josh. I spent weeks working on it and it is something I am incredibly proud of.


I wrote up the entire story of how we met. I typed it up and even used the emails Josh sent me when we first met. In case I have never said it on here before, Josh and I acutally met through Myspace. He emailed me and I emailed back. After we had been emailing for a little bit we discovered we both worked at the same company. Small world!


After I typed up the story, I completed the book by decorating the cover and binding it together with some ribbon. I gave it to Josh on our anniversary and he really seemed to like it.
I do not consider myself very crafty or creative so I don't make things like this very often. I do need to start scrapbooking with all the pictures from our wedding so I think that should be my next project!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letting Go

December 5 – Let Go.

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
(Author: Alice Bradley)



I thought about this prompt all day today and really couldn't think of anything I actually let go of this year. I can think of a million things I would have liked to have let go of though. So today I will focus on things that I am going to let go of next year.

I want to let go of negativity. I have said this before but it is so natural for me to look at the negatives in situations. I don't want to be like that so I am going to let that go. Instead, I will only look for positives even in situations where that may be difficult.

I want to let go of judgement. I am so quick to assume that I know what someone's intentions were. My husband gets the large brunt of this and it's entirely unfair to him. If he forgets to clean up after himself in the kitchen, instead of assuming he just wanted to make more work for him, I need to be understanding.

I want to let go of fear. I am tired of my fear controlling me. I get incredible anxiety anytime I travel, especially by plane. I have the opportunity to visit London this year and instead of being excited, I keep finding myself dreading the trip. My fear is making me change who I am and that has to stop. I want to let go of all my fears.

I want to let go of worry and stress. There are many things I cannot control and those things are not worth wasting energy on. I need to have faith that things will work out and if they don't that I have the intelligence and strength to fix things.

I firmly believe that if I am successful in letting these things go, my life will be more fulfilling and positive. I know some of these things will be a challenge because they happen out of habit but I have to make it a priority and stop making excuses.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sense of Wonder

Day 4 of Reverb

December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
(Author: Jeffrey Davis)

I wish I could sit here and tell you all of these amazing moments of wonder in my life. I could say that I always see the little things in life and appreciate the beauty in the day to day activities. But that would be a lie. When I read the prompt for today I was completely stumped and that really disappointed me. Over an entire year, I could not think of anything that cultivated a sense of wonder?

Photography was something that somewhat helped because I started to see the world broken down into pictures. However, I think the fact that I don't really have a sense of wonder has prevented me from becoming a better photographer. How can I capture a photograph that has a sense of wonder if I don't have that sense in my own life?

I also tend to be very pessimistic. In any situation, it is a lot easier for me to pick apart the bad things than relish in the good. If I am constantly seeing the negatives, I obviously won't have a sense of wonder. Today's prompt is the first (and certainly won't be the last) of the topics that has helped me realize an area of growth in my life. I need to develop my sense of wonder.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Alive

Reverb Day 3: December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

(Author: Ali Edwards)

About 7 or 8 months ago, I sat in the bathroom with the test in my hand. I was shaking so hard that I decided I needed to set the test down on the counter so I didn’t mess something up. My heart was pounding so hard that I was pretty sure it would jump right out of my chest. I knew my husband was anxiously waiting outside the door for the results. I had been ready for a baby for a while but this was the first month we had actively tried.

As I sat there waiting, a million thoughts ran through my head. I placed my hand on my stomach and prayed that there was a little baby growing inside. My mind danced with images of cribs, baby clothes and little fingers. When I glanced back at the test, the words NOT PREGNANT glared back at me and my heart sank. My eyes welled up with tears and dejected, I opened the door to shake my head at my husband. Josh was disappointed but I barely noticed it before his optimism came out. He told me this just wasn’t our baby and we would get it next time.

We still don’t have our baby but we are in this together and we will get there when the time is right. I have taken a couple more tests since that first one and each one makes me feel more alive. I can’t even imagine what I will feel when I finally see that little plus sign.

Reverb Catch Up!

Have you guys heard about this Reverb thing? I hadn’t until my blogging BFF, Michelle signed up for it and I read her amazing first post. I went back and forth when trying to decide whether to participate. The usual excuses were there of course. Did I have enough time? The holidays are so busy and I might not have time to write every day. What if my writing sucks so bad that people hate it? The excuses just went on and on.

Then I realized how I always put way too much thought into everything I do and how I need to do things without so much hesitation and fear. So I am going to participate! Since I am a couple days behind, I decided to do the topics from Monday and Tuesday now and then I will do today’s prompt this evening. Monday’s prompt is:

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)


Trying to encapsulate the entire year in one word is a little difficult but I think I have the perfect one. For me, this last year has meant a ton of growth. I lost some family members and starting the journey of trying to conceive. My dog became extremely ill and we had to fight with everything we had to save her. Through all of these challenges, I have grown tremendously. Furthermore, I believe that my marriage has grown and become a lot stronger. I did not handle every challenge this year with grace but I learned from my mistakes.

For 2011, I am choosing calm. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am anything but relaxed and stress free. I am constantly worrying and anxious and it is affecting my health and everything else in my life. In 2011, I want to stop worrying about so many things that I can’t change. I want to live my life in the moment and stop looking ahead or in the past.

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)


Honestly, I don’t take my writing very seriously. I know I could be a decent writer but I don’t put the time or effort into it. I work all day and then when I go home I always have a million things to do. If I do get a chance to write it’s at work when I have nothing else to do. So I guess to directly answer the question, almost everything I do gets in the way of writing but the biggest thing is laziness. Yes, I can eliminate that and Reverb is my first step!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crossing Our Fingers!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was pretty great but I have to say that I am glad to be back home. I had been holding back on doing any more updates on Lexy because I was afraid to jinx anything. However, I thought it was finally time. Guys, Lexy is so much better! She is on 4 different medications right now; three of them are to protect her stomach and the fourth is a strong dose of steroids. Since going on the steroids, she has improved really quickly. She no longer twitches or shakes, she has a lot more energy and her coordination has improved. She isn't completely back to her normal self but she is really close.

We were really hesitant to bring her with us to visit Josh's family on Christmas because we weren't sure if she was ready. She did absolutely wonderful. She had so much energy and seemed to have a great time around all the family. Josh thought we might have started babying her a little too much and that on the trip we let go a little. I agree completely. I have stopped staring at her 24/7 to see how she is doing. I have stopped freaking out if her breathing gets erratic because I know the steroid causes that. I am not paranoid that she will never wake up. We have been doing everything we can and that's all we can do.

I want to thank everyone for your comments and for forwarding the YouTube video. We have had so many wonderful suggestions that we are planning to take with us when we go for a follow up at UT. I can't even tell you how many times I have cried over a stranger emailing us to say they cared about Lexy. Some days I get really down on the human race but not lately. I am just completely amazing and so blessed. Thank you all so much! I can't even express how much I love you all.

The next steps for Lexy are to stay on the steroid for another few weeks. Then, we will go to UT for a check up and if everything is OK we will start to wean her off of the steroid. I am praying that the symptoms do not return at that point. We want to get her off the steroids as soon as possible because it causes a lot of side effects and other problems.

In the meantime, we are enjoying every minute with our little girl and we feel so blessed to have these moments.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Help Lexy!

Josh and I made this video so we could reach out to other dog owners who may help us out. If any of you guys know anyone that could help, please pass it on. Thank you so much!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Lexy Progress Report

We finally got word on the final results for the tests the animal hospital was running. Everything was negative. Since we have pretty much eliminated everything else, UT believes that Lexy either has an autoimmune disorder (where basically her immune system is attacking her body) or distemper. They are recommending that we try to put her on a high dose of steroids for a while to see if that helps. If it does, she probably has an autoimmune disorder and she will stay on steroids for a month or two and then will hopefully wean off the medication.

If it doesn't help, she probably has distemper. The steroids may help distemper or may make it worse. We have decided if we see no improvement with the steroids in a week or so, we will discontinue it and start looking for distemper treatments. Distemper is classified as a non-curable disease but there are a few methods that show success. My grandparents had a dog with severe distemper that after giving her gamma globulin shots every day for a while she made a full recovery.

Lexy has moments where she seems back to her normal self. We have been cooking her hamburger meat because she isn't interested in her dog food and she gets really excited about that. However, she still has many moments where she seems completely out of it and confused. Josh seems convinced that she is dizzy and that's why she keeps tripping and stumbling.

Right now we are just taking it one day at a time. I am hopeful but still trying to be realistic. I have not gotten much sleep this week and my stress level has been out of control. Basically that means I have spent all week nauseous because my stomach likes to freak out whenever I am stressed.

Another thing I am worried about is Thanksgiving. We were planning on meeting Josh's family in Arkansas to stay in a little cabin in the woods for Thanksgiving. We were supposed to leave on Wednesday. However, there is no way we can bring Lexy with us at this point. The trip would stress her out way to much. Right now, she needs all the rest and relaxation she can get and we try to make sure someone is with her at all times. The only solution we can come up with is that I stay home with her and Josh goes to see his family. I would hate for him to miss out on meeting up with his family since he has not gotten to see them much this year. So unless Lexy has some miraculous improvement in the next few days, I may be spending Thanksgiving alone with a sick dog. It is a tough decision but I am putting Lexy first.

In talking with all of my friends and coworkers it's amazing how some people understand what I am going through and others look at me like I am crazy. I know not everyone would spend close to three grand on a dog. Many people would not devote so much time and energy trying to save a pet. I guess I don't look at Lexy like a pet. She is a family member and I love her like one. I have never once considered giving up and paying for all the tests wasn't an option for me. I love her and I am not giving up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Doing So Good

Lexy came home last night and I immediately noticed something was wrong. She kept stumbling and when she was standing still, would rock a little. She has always been extremely agile so I knew that wasn't good. We tried to feed her and she would take a couple of bites and then just stand there staring at the wall. She seems confused and disoriented. She also wheezes a little when she is laying down and seems to have trouble getting her breath. I also question whether she can see out of her right eye. She wants to lay in her bed but she won't sleep. She just lays there staring at the wall or one of us.

Josh is home with her right now because if she does pass away, we are not going to let her do it alone. We are watching her closely and if it seems like she is in any pain, we are going to have her put down. If it comes to that, I am going to find someone that can come to the house so that her last moments are at her home.

I don't know what to think right now. I am devastated and just keep crying. If any dog deserves a long, happy life, it's her. How am I going to get through this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lexy Update!

Wow, this has been one long and crazy day! All day we were receiving updates from University of Tennessee. Can I just say how amazing they are? They are so caring and wonderful. If anyone ever needs extensive work done on their dogs, I would absolutely recommend them.

Lexy made it through all the tests today and is resting. Her MRI and electromagnetic test (test on her muscles) came back normal. Her spinal fluid showed minor inflammation so they are still thinking it has something to do with her nervous system. They were very concerned about distemper and ran tests to see if she had it. I was praying so hard that she did not have distemper. There is no cure for it and the majority of dogs die.

Around 5:00 today we received the news that her distemper results were negative! I can't even explain to you how relieved I was to get those results. She still has a chance that she has distemper (sometimes dogs go into a sort of remission where distemper cells are not shed) but it is less likely.

The next steps are to test for a few infectious diseases. Most of the diseases they are testing for are treatable with the exception of one or two. If those come back negative we will start a drug trial. One of the drugs we will try is for seizures since she could be having localized seizures. The other one is a drug used to treat cardiovascular problems that has had success in dogs with distemper.

If none of that works, the last resort is to do a muscle and nerve biopsy.

Basically, we don't know anything for sure yet. We know her MRI is normal and that her spinal fluid is showing minor inflammation. We have many more tests to do and hopefully we will figure something out soon. Thank you all for your comments and tweets. I don't know how I would get through this without you all. I love you guys!

Also, I realized today that your comments are not showing up under the posts. I am working on trying to figure this out, but please know I have received all your comments by email. If I haven't responded to you by tomorrow, please email me at bsig84 at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Little Lexy

I wanted to give you all a quick update on what's going on right now. Some of you may have an idea from twitter but I haven't told the entire story.

Thursday night, I noticed Lexy was squinting her left eye. She did it a few times and stopped so I decided to just watch her to make sure she didn't do it anymore.

Friday, we didn't notice any problems until that night when she started squinting her left eye again. Since it was late and our vet wasn't open we decided to just watch her and make her an appointment on Saturday if she was still having problems. On a side note, I am so grateful to have a vet that opens on Saturdays!

Saturday morning, she was still squinting. When I knelt down to pet her, I noticed her left front leg was also twitching a little bit. I told Josh and he said we should call the vet. We went to see the vet and they did some blood tests. Everything came back normal with the exception of her potassium level which was low. They gave us some supplements and sent us home. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn't a potassium issue but I thought we would give the supplements a shot.
By Sunday morning, Lexy got worse. As the day went on, the shaking and twitching became more pronounced and was constant instead of every now and then. I called the vet and made an appointment for first thing on Monday morning.

At this point I knew it had to be something neurological. The fact that it was localized to one side of her body and was out of her control were huge signs for me. Sunday was a rough day. I spent a lot of the day crying. Lexy would look up at me with her twitching eye and I would just burst into tears. At one point I saw her looking at her shaking leg with a confused look and then she tried to lick it a couple of times. I could tell she was confused and it killed me. I was extremely grateful that she did not seem to be in any pain though. I don't know how I would have handled it if she was.

Monday morning we brought her back to the vet and they told us they wanted to refer us to the University of Tennessee animal hospital. They were concerned with how fast it was progressing and when the vet called the hospital to make an appointment, after hearing her symptoms the hospital told us to come that day.

So at 9:30 this morning I set out on a 4 hour drive to Knoxville, Tennessee. Luckily, since Josh was not able to go with me, my grandfather offered to drive me. I was able to hold Lexy in my lap the entire way.

Once we got to the hospital, they took her back to examine her while we waited in the waiting room. About half and hour later we were called back. Basically, they aren't really sure what's going on but they are suspecting a nervous system issue. They think it could be an autoimmune system disorder which is like a human getting lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, her immune system could be attacking her brain. If that is the case, medication (either short term or lifelong) could help her live a normal life.

They decided to do an MRI and spinal tap to see if it is in fact a nervous system problem. If it is not, they may have to do a muscle biopsy and other tests until they figure out what is going on. They had to keep her overnight tonight since they can't put her under because she ate this morning. I should be getting updates tomorrow and if the tests go well, I may be able to pick her up tomorrow night.

Josh and I are praying for good news. I would hate for her to have to be on medication for the rest of her life but I will definitely take that over something like a brain tumor. I love my little Lexy Loo like a member of my family and I can't imagine my life without her!


PS. I apologize if there are a million grammar and spelling mistakes in this post. I am so tired and just don't have the energy to proof read tonight! :O)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Facing Obstacles

Last Friday I interviewed for an amazing internship opportunity. A local photographer who I am completely obsessed with held a group interview for people interested in the internship. To say I really wanted this job would be a HUGE understatement. I was extremely nervous to even go to the interview because I am usually much better in one-on-one situations and since this was a group interview, I was worried I wouldn't stand out.

The interview went well and I felt like all my answers were honest and from my heart. I did the best I could and hoped for the best. Over the last few days I have been obsessively checking my email for word on whether I got the internship. I couldn’t stop thinking about how badly I wanted this opportunity.

Last night I received word that I didn’t get the internship. I was devastated and spent the night feeling sorry for myself and shedding a few (ok maybe more than a few) tears.(It needs to be said that I am not upset with the photographers for their decision at all and I hope to keep in contact with them in case they need help in the future.) One thing that struck me this morning was that not once last night did I question my passion in photography. I never thought for even a second that I wanted to quit. This is a big deal for me.

Growing up I quit everything I started. I tried ballet, volleyball, basketball, track and field, dance team, marching band, gymnastics and softball. Most of these things I tried for a season or so and then quit. Sometimes it was because I was bored and other times it was because I came across an obstacle and just gave up. So the fact that it never even occurred to me to quit photography is a big step for me and I am really proud of that. My passion for photography is not fading and I don’t think it ever will. Even though I am still a little sad today, I am also proud of myself for going to the interview, facing an obstacle and hoping right over to continue on my way.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Little R&R!

This has been a pretty stressful week so I am so excited about this weekend. Between blood tests, x-rays and doctor visits I am completely exhausted. Everything is fine with me but I am still looking for answers that I haven't gotten yet. I will update you guys on everything going on sometime soon but right now I am too tired to get into it all.

Instead I want to focus on a very positive thing! I am spending this weekend in Asheville, North Carolina!
Image from here.

We are leaving tomorrow morning bright and early and driving to Asheville. Along the way we will take the Blue Ridge Parkway so we can get some hiking in and take a ton of pictures. We are staying at the Grove Park Inn which I have heard lots of good things about!

Image from here.

On Saturday we are taking a test drive in a BMW for three hours (this came with our hotel room) and we will have picnic up in the mountains. That night we are going on a ghost tour of the city! Sunday will be devoted to the Biltmore Estate. When we started planning our trip, I didn't think we would go to Biltmore because I thought it was just a big house. After talking to a few people that have been there, we decided to go.

Image from here.

JJ and I haven't been on a normal vacation since our honeymoon so we are both extremely excited about this trip. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Photo Contest

My local botanical gardens put on a photography contest which I eagerly signed up for. I am really trying to further my skills and knowledge in photography and I knew the contest would push me to get more practice. To enter the contest, the pictures had to be taken at the gardens from September 1 to October 18. You had to put the pictures on a CD as well as print out copies.

I have been pretty busy lately so I only went to the gardens twice to take pictures. The first time I went I only got one picture that I was really happy with. So last weekend I went back and took a bunch more and had quite a few that I was extremely happy with.

Here are the ones I like but that didn't make the cut to be entered into the contest.

I decided to enter my three favorites and here are the ones I chose. (To see all of these in a bigger size, see my Flickr page.)

On Sunday night, the day before the pictures were due, I spent some time editing and getting the pictures on a CD. It was about 6:30 that night when I realized I still needed to print my pictures out. After a very brief moment of panic (OK, maybe it was more like 15 minutes of freaking out) I decided to have them printed at a local drugstore. I uploaded my pictures to their website and got an email that they were ready for pick up at about 7:15. When I got back home, I glanced at the pictures, wrote my name on the back and put them in a folder to turn in the next day.

When I got to work the next morning I decided to look at my pictures again. Pretty quickly I noticed that something looked a little off. They seemed darker than I remember them being. I pulled up the images on my computer screen and held the printed pictures up to the screen to compare. I was completely shocked at the difference in pictures. They were a LOT darker.

I was extremely disappointed and even considered not entering the contest anymore. Even though I was thrilled with the images on the computer, I was not very proud of the printed ones. I would normally order the pictures from Winkflash or MPix but since I had procrastinated until the night before, I thought the drugstore would be fine. I learned my lesson!

The pictures had to be turned in by 5:00 pm that night and I arrived at the gardens right after work at 4:45. The gate to the entrance was already half way closed so I drove through the exit to get in. After all that trouble there was no way I would miss the deadline now! I ran into the gift shop to turn my pictures in to the women at the desk. I told her I still needed to pay the entry fee and she informed me that I did not pay her but instead, I needed to put the money in the folder with my pictures.

I hesitated for a moment because I knew I didn't have any cash but then I remembered I could just write a check. I don't write checks very often so I forget that I even have a checkbook. I dug through my purse for a few minutes before I remembered that JJ had used it and put it back on the kitchen table. I was supposed to put it in my purse but forgot. I felt my face get red as I realized I didn't have a way to pay.

I told the woman at the desk that I didn't have a way to pay so I had missed the deadline. As I turned to leave she told me that I could just bring a check back up later. I told her that I could do that and started to make a note on my folder that I would be back with a check. She then suggested that I could just write my credit card number down on my entry form and I could pay that way. Without even thinking about it, I wrote my card number down and handed her the form.

It wasn't until I got back to the car that I realized how stupid I had been. How did it not occur to me that it wasn't the brightest idea to leave my credit card information in the hands of someone I didn't know? When I told JJ he was concerned but told me we could just carefully watch our credit card charges to make sure we don't have any unknown charges being made.

So to summarize, I procrastinated until the night before the deadline and had to print my pictures out from a unreliable company. I barely made the deadline with my pictures and actually had to break driving laws to make it on time . I didn't have any cash or checks on hand so I left my credit card information with a stranger. I am hopeful that my brain will start working soon so the rest of this week will go a little smoother!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Amazing Year

One year ago today, I walked down the aisle and married the man of my dreams. During the months leading up to the wedding I had many doubts. I didn't know if I had chosen the right venue for the reception. I didn't know if my nerves would take over and ruin my wedding day. I was worried about how we were going to stick to our budget. One doubt I never had was whether I was marrying the right person. So many people say getting cold feet is normal; that deciding to be with one person for the rest of your life is scary. I never experienced that. I knew I was making the right choice.

I went back and forth on whether we should stick to tradition and sleep in different houses the night before and not see each other until the walk down the aisle. Only weeks before the wedding did I decide that didn't matter to me. I needed to see my future husband when I woke up that morning. I wanted to see him before the walk down the aisle. He is my rock and I knew that being with him would always make everything OK.

The moment I first saw him in his tux I almost passed out. I could not believe how I got so lucky. When I was younger I would constantly daydream about my future husband and what he would be like. I had many different versions of this perfect man. There was the country boy who lived on a farm. There was the business man who worked hard to advance in his field. There was the intelligent man who could spend hours having discussions and debates with me. Somehow, I ended up with the man that embodies every single one of these dream guys. He is that country guy that grew up in Oklahoma and I get to see that side of him whenever we visit his family. He is the business guy that gets up early every morning to spend a hard day at work and he is the smartest person I know.
Since we started dating almost three years ago, we have been through quite a lot. Our parents live far from us and that is difficult. We have been through a few deaths in the family. I have struggled with health issues on and off for almost two years. We have had our ups and downs. We have had fights over things that should never been fought over, but through it all neither of us ever stopped caring. We never stopped trying.

Baby, I hope you know how much you mean to me. I know I can be a pain in the butt at times but you are so patient with me. You have done things so selfless and giving that it completely blows my mind. Whenever I have a problem I can't solve on my own, I know you are the one person that can always help me. You make me want to improve who I am as a person and you balance me out perfectly. You are kind, intelligent, happy and witty. You can always make me laugh even when you aren't trying. I still have to catch my breath at times when I look at you.

This has been a wonderful first year of marriage and I can't wait for many, many more. Happy anniversary babe! I love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Independence

I moved out of my parents house my second year in college. I got a condo with two roommates (one of them was completely insane and you can read about her here) and lived there for a year. After that I moved into a small apartment with a different roommate and after a year with her, I once again moved in with two other girls. I never lived alone and I never was fully financially independent from my parents. I did work all through college (in fact I started working when I was 14) but most months I needed a little extra help. One of the things I was most looking forward to when I graduated from college was being able to support myself and live alone.

After I graduated, I moved in with my grandparents until I could find a job. It took a few months and when I finally found something, I was making so little that I still couldn't afford to move out on my own. Shortly after finding my job, I met JJ and we started dating. After only 6 months I moved in with him. We decided before I moved in, I would pay half of everything except for the mortgage since my name wasn't on the house. A year a half later, we were married and now we have one account.

Something I struggled with when I moved in with JJ and when I closed my old bank account and transferred my money into his, was that I never reached my goal. I never lived by myself and supported myself financially. I was so disappointed in myself that I was always dependent on someone else and I felt like I still had something to prove. JJ had a hard time understanding this so it caused an argument or two in the beginning.

JJ has been out of town all this week and I have learning a really valuable lesson. I don’t NEED JJ. I love him and want him around. I want to spend time with him, but I am not dependent on him. I took care of myself, the dogs and the house all week by myself and I was fine. I even have a horrible migraine today but I am still working and plan on getting some cleaning done tonight. I am strong, independent and can take care of myself. I have a wonderful husband that takes care of me if I need help and supports me but that doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself. I can stop trying to prove my independence. I already have it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comment System Update!

I have always wanted to be able to email people back after they comment and I finally figured out a way to do it! I installed IntenseDebate (the installation was so easy!) so from now on I should be able to email you guys back, as long as I installed it correctly. Check back later for an actual post!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Passion

About a year ago I tried to start learning about photography, but ended up giving up due to my upcoming wedding and being sick ALL.THE.TIME. Lately, in order to distract myself from some not so pleasant events in my life (nothing major. Sorry for being so vague), I have jumped head first into photography.

And I am LOVING it. I am the happiest and most free when I am walking around with my camera on my face. When I am taking pictures I feel like myself again, finally! I have moments where I get overwhelmed because there is so much to learn but most of the time I just enjoy it. Any time I am bored at work, which is pretty much all the time, I read photography blogs or search for inspirational photos. It is so nice to have something I am proud of again. Work drains me because I dislike my job and feel so worthless so it's nice to feel like I have accomplished something at the end of the day. I have posted some pictures on twitter and on Digital Photography School and have gotten some amazing feedback. My confidence is building and my passion is overflowing.

I also have to send a HUGE thank you to Rachel for helping me get started! She is an amazing photographer and took time out of her busy schedule to help me out. Rachel, I don't think you will ever know how much you did for me.

So! Here are some of my favorite photos so far.



Pinwheel

Lexy

Clock

Kenspeckle - Stiletto