Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simone France: A Review

Simone France recently updated their website and has added a line of body care products. I was asked to review these new items and happily agreed; I had a great experience with their line of facial skincare products.

(You can view my previous review of the Simone France facial skincare products here.)



Simone France sent me their Body Duo which is their 8 oz Body Buff and 8 oz Body Glow.



The Body Buff is an amazing exfoliating sugar scrub that has an amazingly refreshing lemon scent. The scent is light, but pleasing and I was happy to find that it did not leave a slippery surface in the shower. The scrub is very high quality and works exceptionally well. I have been using it on my elbows, knees and heels with great results. I have very dry skin on my body and my feet tend to be a bit rough looking due to my running. (The Body Buff I received was yellow, not white as pictured above.)

I used the scrub in the shower and loved the scent and quality of the product.



The Body Glow is a moisturizer for the body. The scent is subtle but refreshing and it moisturizes very well overall. It's a great companion to the Body Buff; I felt the two in combination helped with my dry skin. I found that the Body Glow keeps my skin moisturized throughout the day.

Overall, I would highly recommend both products. When it comes to body care products, you get what you pay for---and Simone France is a worthy investment.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Body Duo from Simone France for review. All opions are my own. All photos are from Simone France.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lover of the Light

So much has been said about the unthinkable tragedy that occurred on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. I read article after article, finding myself awash in a sea of emotion. Part of me doesn't want to know the graphic facts of the story, but I find myself compelled to understand the stories of those beautiful children and selfless educators who lost their lives that day.

What I can gather is this:

Some wish to turn it into a political debate.

Others want us to shed light on mental health.

Many want someone or something to blame.

But the only thing that I can think to do is look to the light.

And by that I mean dwelling on the good in others. The love that we have for one another.

The simple joys that bring us happiness, even in the midst of unspeakable horror.

Yes, the world is full of evil. There will be people who wish to tear the light from us if given the opportunity. Evil is real and it does exist. There are those who wait in the shadows to do things so evil that we cannot begin to comprehend the unanswered whys that haunt us afterwards.

Before taking my current position in private sector PR and social media, I worked as a PR Director for a school district for over 6 years. I am also married to a teacher and am from a family of teachers. I know all too well the deep love a teacher feels for his or her students--- the ones they always call their kids.

Most people don't often have the opportunity to see what a kindergarten classroom is like, but it really is a beautiful place. A place of innocence, curiosity, energy, and beauty. It is nearly impossible not to walk into a room of small children and not spend your entire stay with a smile on your face. The honesty and wonder in the eyes of those children is infectious. And kindergarten teachers? They are saints: patient, kind, nurturing and filled with love.

That was all I could think about on Friday.

And I realized that the instinct to love and protect really is universal, no matter the cost.

It would be easy to get angry---find someone or something to blame for what happened---but I have always believed that even senseless, terrible things contain a lesson hidden deep within.

For me, it's refocusing on the light. The promise of hope. The good that still exists, even in the darkness.

In the middle of the night, I may watch you go
There'll be no value in the strength of walls that I have grown
There'll be no comfort in the shade of the shadows thrown
But I'll be yours if you'll be mine

Stretch out my life and pick the seams out
Take what you like, but close my ears and eyes
Watch me stumble over and over

I have done wrong, you build your tower
But call me home and I will build a throne
And wash my eyes out never again

But love the one you hold
And I'll be your gold
To have and to hold

A lover of the light

Mumford & Sons, Lover of the Light

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ready yet? How about now?

It happened again: the adoption agency invited us to be part of another home study class. In case you haven't been keeping track of these things, this is the second time an invitation has been extended to us to attend said class.

And, yet again, I'm left in a place where it feels like I need to decide how I feel--rather than how I'm supposed to feel. It really is a difficult dance between what I want and what I'm supposed to be. Is every woman really born to be a mother? Are some meant to be something else, something less nurturing and more...untethered? Why else was I born this way---unable to have children--if it wasn't part of some grand design?

Life is often about making a lot of long term plans centered around logic. You plan for retirement and other incredibly boring things, knowing that someday you will be thankful for your foresight and astute planning.

I've stopped trying to plan everything about my life. No preparations. No timing. In fact, those things mean nothing to me anymore. Except retirement--I've been planning for that since age 22. But when it comes to kids, things feel much less structured.

It's a luxury, I suppose, to have a lack of questions rummaging around my brain. Most women feel like motherhood is something to be planned for (unless, of course, you ask my mother who got pregnant with my little brother at age 40) and spend a lot of their lives doing so.

People tell us that our bodies were made to have children, a thought I hesitate to endorse. But what I feel is based upon walking around in a body was made for not having children.

When it comes to adoption and motherhood, I'm still in a place where I don't feel compelled in a specific direction. From where I stand, life is still pretty amazing--even without children.

But when our names came up on that list again, I found my mind drifting to a place that feels an awful lot like guilt.

Guilt for all the people who want something for us we don't necessarily want ourselves.

Guilt for the dreams and plans that were made, then crushed, and finally reborn into something unconventionally beautiful, albeit slightly damaged.

I'm not unhappy. I don't yearn for anything. I have everything I want.

But knowing that my name is on a list that will continue to call to me time and time again sometimes makes me feel like I'm obligated to say something other than thanks but no thanks.

My heart tells me the time is still not right--and that I will know when it is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shopping for Work

A work wardrobe has to be comfortable yet professional. No wrinkles, no cheap fabrics and certainly no frays. Top quality doesn’t have to cost the earth though, and the best dressed in the workplace are usually shopping to suit their style as well as their budget.

The fitted suit can be bought tailor-made or off the rack. A tailor-made suit will set you back a few hundred pounds more than a pre-made suit, but the impeccable fit in a hand-picked fabric will never go out of style. Pre-made suits should be selected with care, whether you’re aiming for matching trousers or a skirt suit. Make sure the jacket fastens comfortably without straining the fabric. Lapels should rest flat against the chest and your collar shouldn’t tug at your shirt. You should be able to tuck a finger between the waistband of your trousers or skirt for a comfortable but professional fit.

Team with classic court shoes or brogues for a sharp look and make sure your handbag matches in terms of quality. There’s no point splashing out on a fabulous, cutting edge suit if you’re going to lug your tatty old handbag around with you. If your work requires it, a briefcase provides an excellent professional edge.

In the summer months, a full suit might seem a little much. Team pencil skirts with well-fitted blouses for a cooler look that still ranks high in the professional stakes. Sheer tights with a low denier are a cool yet professional alternative to bare legs, and capped sleeves are just as smart as full-length.

Office-ready dresses are big this year, with sharp and modest cuts big on the high street. Wear a smart dress with sensible heels and a fitted jacket for a demure look, ideal for the office.

Shoppers looking to flex their credit card for a new work wardrobe would benefit from an American Express
Gold Card. With excellent Gold Card Rewards, you can collect points and reap the rewards for virtually every pound you spend on smartening up your work wardrobe.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Faith Means

The concept of faith is something that feels like it has been haunting me lately. I think a lot about how easy it is to lose our faith in the goodness of others. Or, how easily we lose faith in our own abilities. Faith isn't something we can touch or call by name--it's just the belief that things really are going to be alright. This perhaps is why it's so easy to let it fade into the background; it's not something we can ever really touch. It's just something that we feel.

Often, we talk about faith in the religious context, but I have to believe it's a bit more universal than that. Do you really have to believe in something specific in order to have faith? I believe that the concept of faith is something that lives in each of us, regardless of our beliefs. It taps into the core of who we are and how we choose to live our lives in what can sometimes be a messy world.

It's easy to lose faith when it feels like things are crumbling beneath our feet. Or, when the storm in our life begins to swirl and we become fearful of what will remain when the wind settles. It's in those moments, I think, that we have to call upon our faith to survive. To put one foot in front of the other, believing that we will survive.

More and more, I realize that faith isn't about getting what you want--it's about knowing that you will always get exactly what you need. Maybe it won't happen today or tomorrow, but it will happen in time. And it will happen as it's meant to, which sometimes arrives as a blessing in disguise.

I have always believed that my life will unfold just as it should, even when it would have been easier to give up or lose faith in myself or the world. It's easier to talk about having faith than it is to actually have it, but living a life of unwavering beliefs and convictions will always take you where you need to go.

What I believe is this: what you put out into the world will come back to you in spades. Some call it karma, others call it the Golden Rule, but how you treat people, what you do when no one is looking, how hard you work, and whether or not you are willing to be brave enough to speak the truth will always come charging back toward you someday.

My mother has always explained it to me like this: people always get exactly what they deserve, either in this world or the next.

 This takes away the responsibility of exacting what you might call revenge upon someone else. It's not your job to punish people---including yourself---for the ills of this world. It's your position to be the best you that you can be and let the rest of the pieces fall where they will.

"But there were some things I believed in. Some things I had faith in. And faith isn't about perfect attendance to services, or how much money you put in the little plate. It isn't about going sky clad to the Holy Rites, or meditating each day upon the divine.

Faith is about what you do. It's about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It's about making sacrifices for the good of others--even when there's not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are." -Jim Butcher
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

What it's like to run a Marathon

The marathon has come and gone and it would seem that my legs are desperately trying to separate themselves from my body today. I enjoyed (almost) every moment of the race, despite feeling a bit worse for wear today in the leg area of my body.

My alarm never went off that morning, but we still made it to the starting corral just before 7 a.m.--and in time for complimentary gloves to fight off the cool temperatures.

The atmosphere throughout the entire race was great: upbeat and positive, and there were many encouraging spectators along the majority of the course. Especially these two, who printed out a gigantic embarrassing picture of yours truly:


That's my sister and brother.


My parents came, too:




My mother in-law and sister in-law were also there to cheer us on.

I spent the early part of the race wondering if I was going to finish. I felt achy and nauseous, which I ultimately chocked up to being dehydrated. I was able to get back on track with Gatorade and Shot Bloks. The more we ran, the better I felt.

However, it's likely that our outfit choices for the day were the highlight of the experience.



As you can imagine, they were an attention grabber and garnered plenty of compliments along the way. My favorite was an man who pointed at us and said excitedly, "I saw those pants in Bexley!" Yup, that was us, 10 miles ago.

The way I see it, if I'm going to run 26.2 miles I would like very much to be as bright and obnoxious looking as possible.

We also had the opportunity to run through Ohio Stadium during mile 18, which was pretty amazing.



Most of the race we both felt strong and happy to be there---which is evident in all those photos. In truth, it was those last two miles that were the hardest and most taxing of the experience. My legs were beyond tired and it took everything I had to put one foot in front of the other. My body was ready to stop, but we kept pushing.

Our finishing time was 4 hours and 38 minutes.



I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I refuse to entertain the thought until after a well-deserved week of rest.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Grunion


Grunion (n.) anything we seek that eludes us, but in its place we are mysteriously blessed with something sweeter than what we set out after in the first place. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Taper Torture

The marathon is on Sunday. Our days of lengthy runs are a not so distant memory as we continue our taper in preparation. For me, it's not running all those miles each week that has begun to break me a bit. It's been forcing myself not to run that has successfully pushed me off my rocker.

It's a funny thing, training for a marathon. It's a lot like life: it has its ups and downs, moments of pure agony and torture, followed by moments of blissful accomplishment. It has tested me in ways I never imagined it would: both my physical body and the murky depths of my soul. I've been pushed and pulled to the brink plenty of times in my life, but never in this way. Training has seeped deep into my pores and reminded me that I'm much tougher than I think and much less willing to bend than I thought.

Marathon training is truly the physical manifestation of anything you've ever worked for in your life: it just feels more simplistic than any other problem or hurdle I have encountered. It has shone a light on my shortcomings in a way that nothing else could. It's split my brain and soul open in some strange way that makes me feel one part strong and another part incredibly vulnerable. It's difficult not to feel poetic about the experience.

Training is tough work, there's no sugar coating it. It's about putting in the time and the miles to accomplish a pretty amazing feat. It's not easy, and there were plenty of moments where I looked myself in the mirror and wondered what in the hell I was thinking. Each week, I change my mind about ever running a marathon again--it seemingly depends on how I feel in that moment.

Life keeps humming along at its normal pace while I've dedicated most of myself to marathon training; that's what sometimes makes it feel impossible. I'm married to running, it seems. In sickness and in health, good times and bad. Even when it's the running that is actually making me sick and the bad times seem to outweigh the good ones.

My personal breaking point arrived last week. I was exhausted, stretched entirely too thin in every area of my life, and I actually wondered if I was going crazy. It felt like something--anything--had to give. It was one of those uncomfortable moments that I typically revel in, the ones that seem to have the power to mold me into a better person.

But last week? Last week I wasn't interested in being a better person. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and kindly request a monetary refund for Sunday's marathon please and thank you. I felt exhausted and beat down and really quite pathetic. Of course, this feeling only blossomed into something terrible when I woke up early Saturday morning with a raging case of DPE (that's Double Pink Eye) and if I had the physical ability to do so, I would have cried.

We took a break from running this weekend, listening to our tired bodies that seemingly had enough. We ran 53 miles the prior week and had to pay for our efforts in some sort of bizarre health-related currency. I felt defeated and tortured.

I ventured out on a solo run late last week (my first since June) without the company of my iPod and let myself take it all in. The air was cool and a trademark Autumn breeze whipped through my hair the entire way. That run dug deep into me and pushed me back to where I belonged---deeply in love. I love running in more ways than I can articulate. But like anything else, turning something you love into a demanding job has a way of helping you to fall out of love. I needed that time to be with my thoughts, listening only to my heart and lungs working in concert, to flesh out that soft spot I once held for running.

Tapering, or reducing your miles in anticipation of a lengthy race, is a very necessary part of the training process. You need to rest (mentally and physically) to prepare for the 26.2-mile journey ahead. But it feels like torture today. After everything that stands behind us, running fewer (or no) miles leaves me too much time to spend inside my own head.

I have a difficult time, in all areas of my life, with resting and knowing that I have truly tried as hard as I could and put in every effort left in my body to successfully complete an important task. The tapering--resting--lets those questions swim freely in my brain. I have a problem with second guessing myself, and it's never been more clear to me than in the midst of resting, not training, for this marathon.

Have I done enough? Probably. I have to trust myself--and my body--now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Poop Gets In Your Eyes, a song by Frank Sinatra

Oh, you haven't heard that mega hit by Old Blue Eyes? That's interesting.

People like to say that "$hit happens," but I also like to think that it's much more all-encompassing to simply say: Life happens.

I realized this over the weekend when I woke up early Saturday morning in a crazed panic upon realizing I could not open my eyes. Literally. They were completely incapable of opening and it was a problem.

But Emily, you might say, what's the big deal?

Well, the large deal was that both of my eyes were swollen and fused closed from a pesky case of double pink eye. DPE, as it were. It was one part scary, two parts disgusting, and a few parts disturbing. DPE is not for the faint of heart, friends. As a very clean adult who spends a scarce amount of time in the company of small children, it was a bit perplexing.

I did what any intelligent human being would do: I blindly tripped over two overly anxious dogs and smashed my bony shins into a large wooden bed frame as I felt my way blindly into the bathroom to see what the fuss was all about. The fuss, I realized, with the aid of a warm wash cloth and sheer determination was DPE.

Upon realizing this news, I promptly went back to bed for another 6 hours and spent the remainder of the weekend feeling sorry for my quarantined self and cleaning my home like a mad person with products that had words like "anti-bacterial" and "bleach" in them.

The high point of the weekend arrived from my ever-loving husband who, upon hearing the news of my ailment, asked the following:

"Don't you get pink eye from getting poop in your eye?"

Yes, you do.

I guess this means my days of spreading fecal matter all over my face and eyes for their magical healing properties have come to a close.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CampusBookRentals.com

I was recently contacted by the website Campus Book Rentals to provide information to my readers on the company and the services they provide to college students.

While I am no longer a college student myself, I very vividly recall the anguish and significant expense associated with purchasing textbooks--and the horror of trying to sell them back after the semester was over. The fact of the matter is this: textbooks are crazy expensive and reselling them back to the bookstore typically means a loss of your investment. When I was in college, I recall a man in a very sketchy looking van parking on campus with a makeshift banner and buying textbooks each semester. It was a bit unnerving.

This is where Campus Book Rentals comes in: they allow you to rent the textbooks you need right from their website. They will ship them to you for free and give you free shipping when you send them back. The books are deeply discounted (think 40% to 90% off what the bookstore charges) and guess what else? You can highlight the books. I love a lot of things in this world, but using my highlighter is among the most beloved of the things I do on a daily basis.

They offer flexible renting periods for books and even buy books you have on hand using a free shipping label. As if that wasn't enough, every book you rent means a donation to Operation Smile, an organization that helps fund surgery for children across the world who are born with a cleft lip as part of their "Making A Difference" Program.

This website *almost* makes me want to go to grad school just to save money on books. Almost. If you are in the market for textbooks, however, I highly recommend you check them out!


Disclosure: I was compensated for writing a review on the Campus Book Rentals website. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Buy Now or Never: A Review



I was recently contacted by the website Buy Now or Never to do a review on a few items on their website. Buy Now or Never is a discount website that carries deeply discounted handbags, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings, area rugs, and luggage & travel items. There are many big designer names and items on their website at great prices.

I chose two pieces from their designer-inspired line of jewelry:

Designer Inspired Double Band Ring with Raised Stone Encircled by CZ's



Designer Inspired Twist Gemstone Oval Earrings


My items arrived quickly and well packaged. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of these items. When it comes to "designer inspired" items, there can often be questionable workmanship which makes them look cheap. That was not the case for these items; both the ring and earrings are both heavy and appear to be well made. The earrings are relatively heavy and have beautiful filigree details on the back. The ring's CZ stones were set properly and appear to be very secure.

Both pieces are a great option for someone on a budget: they are significantly less than the real deal and in my opinion look just as great. I received many compliments on both pieces when I wore them.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience with Buy Now or Never and wouldn't hesitate to return as a customer in the future.

To sign up for the Buy Now or Never email list to get updates on sales and discounts, click HERE.


Disclosure information: I received a complimentary pair of earrings and ring from Buy Now or Never to review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Storm before The Calm

I have always believed that chaos is thrown into your life for a very specific reason. To test you, build your character, make you think harder, or even to give you a new perspective. It's not always easy to see things that way, but I have to believe it's true.

I think about this a lot, mostly when I feel overwhelmed and I wonder why I'm stuck in (what sometimes feels like) a mess. When you are stuck in a place where it feels like you'll never go anywhere, you are there for a reason.

I hear this all the time: you are where you are because there is still more for you to learn.

As someone who wholeheartedly believes I will always have much more to learn, I still struggle when life gets crazy and it feels like I'm struggling. Life can be messy sometimes. It feels like chaos. It feels like you are going to break. But really, I like to think that it's that way because I'm on the right track. Things are on the verge of changing, right in the midst of the chaos of my life.

I have to believe this is all true, based upon everything I have experienced in my own life. In every moment I have known in the thick of utter chaos, things have always turned for the better afterwards. There's just something incredibly powerful about fighting through it all to come out on the other side with the experience to back it up. It's made me who I am.

I don't know what the future holds---and neither do you--but I have to believe the ugly parts are all part of the grand design. I've seen it in my own life and I know I am a better person for it.

So, embrace the ugly. Encourage the chaos into your life every step of the way. Allow yourself to be criticized, tested, and honed into something beautiful and strong. Hold firm to what you believe is right. Do the right thing, even when you are criticized for it. Treat people fairly. Trust carefully.

But more than anything, be willing to ride the waves as they crash onto the shore. It will all make sense someday--your path is all part of the plan.

As for me, I know the bad always has a way of leading to the good. I welcome the mess into my life, because I want it to make me a stronger person. I have seen it play out in my own life time and time again--and my prayer for you is that you can find the strength to see it, too.

"When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you were into it, it was a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect." - Schopenhauer
 
Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world cannot support that many ballerinas. Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world cannot support that many ballerinas. and every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurerand every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurerand every day with. It's about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there's not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you've finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that's all that you can ask for." -Paul Maurer

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Easy ways to save money

Easy ways to save money at home


At the moment, a lot of us are suffering financially due to the struggling economy. Many people find that they can only just scrape together enough money to pay the bills and that debts are piling up fast. However, with just some simple adjustments to your lifestyle, you can save significant amounts of money.

For instance, you could consider installing a water meter at home. If you have a big house with few occupants, you could save a surprising amount of cash. You could also slice your phone bill in half by switching to cheaper alternatives than your current cable company.

Do you enjoy a bit of DIY every now and again? Turn it into a skill by taking a DIY course at your local institution and train yourself to tackle the most common household repairs. By fixing any problems yourself instead of calling out a handyman, you could save hundreds of pounds.

If you need to purchase or replace an expensive item, find companies that offer ‘buy now pay later’ schemes. With buy now pay later laptops, customers can make an instant purchase and then pay for it via weekly or monthly payment plans in small, manageable amounts. There are even some companies that won’t charge you a penny for up to 12 months. Just remember to check that you’re not being charged interest and only pay back the exact original amount.

Easy ways to save money out and about

Supermarkets are very skilled at getting you to buy more than you‘d originally planned. Have you ever noticed that when you first walk into a store, you’re often funnelled through a narrow corridor of seasonal merchandise? Or the strategically placed bakery goods?

Outsmart your supermarket by planning your meals and making a list – that way you only buy exactly what you need. You could also consider buying own-brand goods, after all, who can argue with a 20p loaf of bread? Or avoid the supermarket altogether and head for the local market stall to pick up cheap, quality meat, fruit and veg. If you do decide on the supermarket, make sure to use coupons (which you can get online or from the newspaper), as they can have a pronounced impact on your grocery bills.

Likewise, coupons are available online for a wide range of restaurants as well as theme parks and theatre shows. Spending just five minutes searching for vouchers online could bag you some impressive deals – and make a potentially significant difference to your current financial situation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts on childlessness

A few weeks ago, my husband and I met up with friends, a couple we've been friends with since college. The topic of being childless came up, as neither of us have children, which sparked an interesting conversation. As couples in our late 20's/early 30's, friends and people in our lives who do not have children are becoming scarce.

I have thought a lot about that conversation since then--what it means to be childless and how it has affected my life.

And I quickly realized that it really doesn't affect me all that much anymore. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that living without children was devastating; it was the toughest burden I had to bear. Things have changed since then, though.

The more I live my life, the easier it is for me to truly understand that there are some things in your life that cannot be chosen and there are things you can choose. Mostly, you get to choose how to react to the things you can't choose. I chose to seek acceptance and peace--and I have finally found it.

It's difficult, I think, for people to understand this. Mostly, people who have children themselves--those who understand what being a parent is like firsthand--struggle to make sense those who choose to live a life without children.

Our path is a rare one because we didn't choose to live without children from the start. We wanted kids back then. The thought of choosing a life without children never crossed our minds. After all was said and done, however, we realized we were happy with things exactly as they are right now---without children. Our choice is one part not our choice and one part completely of our own making.

This complicates things, I know. My life often feels as though it is comprised of people who are waiting for me to do or say something to change, well, anything. It sounds crazy to say, but I don't have a desire to change anything right now; I am truly and completely happy with things exactly as they are right in this moment.

So, to be clear:

We very much love children. We adore the living daylights out of our nieces and nephews and sincerely enjoy their presence in our lives.

My biological clock is not ticking. At all. Or, it might be broken. I should probably look into that.

We are completely at peace with our inability to reproduce. We do not envy or dislike people who have children or those who have even the most remote ability to control their child making abilities. If you can have children, then you should have as many as you want.

It's possible we will someday change our minds and choose to pursue adoption. If my life has taught me anything, it is this: nothing in your life can be predicted.

Mostly, I approach this situation in a very simple and straightforward manner. I tell everyone the same thing: the truth.

The truth goes something like this:

Infertility was terrible; it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Likewise, it was the most defining moment of my life. I have never learned more, grown more as a person, or understood more about life, spirituality, and happiness than I have from that experience. It has changed me for the better--I have more clarity, less tolerance for petty concerns, and a better handle on who I am and who I want to be.

I chose to work on myself and accept the reality of infertility; this is a choice I still make every day. It wasn't easy. It didn't happen overnight. But it's our reality and I believe it happened for a very specific purpose. Happiness and acceptance of terrible situations always involve choice---and you always have the power to choose.

I chose to move on, and that's exactly what I did. I am in a place today where I am happy--and I don't feel a gaping hole where a child should be. Life is entirely too short to dwell on the things you cannot have. It has always felt like a big giant waste of time to me, so I don't do it.

The end result? We are really happy. Completely fulfilled. At peace. And if you ask me, that's what life is all about.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Crying Uncle

To be honest, training for this marathon has been a trying experience. There is something to be said for the work, time, and spirit required to fully prepare yourself for such a major feat. I had no idea what would be required of me when I signed up to run my first full marathon back in January.

It has not been easy. There were times when I wanted to quit. Exhaustion has become a familiar friend. Some runs were painful. Others took more from me than I had to give. I have questioned my choice to run 26.2 miles over and over again. I have begun to understand what people mean when they say running a marathon is training and preparation--but mostly, it's about your mental toughness.

For me, the experience tugs at a strange place for one important reason: I have never been an athlete. I played softball, volleyball, and soccer in junior high but I would never go so far as to say I was athletic. My mother says all my athletic pursuits were based around my social life, not my interest or talent in athletics.

I starting running my freshman year of college after a girl living in my dorm came up to me after an orientation event and said I "looked like a runner." She and I became close friends since then, but I will always give her credit for lighting a spark in me that has burned brightly ever since. For some reason, all it took was the power of suggestion to make me realize I could be an athlete.

That was well over ten years ago, but I have never forgotten the experience. The mental part of running is sometimes much bigger than anyone realizes; it has the potential to empower or destroy everything you're doing. Add in the exhaustion you feel from running 35+ miles a week and it's enough to break you entirely. Fortunately, I am training with a friend who has been there every step of the way who knows exactly how this feels.

We have been closely following a training plan since June, rarely veering off course from our assigned mileage. The problem is, training for a marathon has to be thrown into the mix with working demanding full-time jobs, raising three children (for her), and just simply living life. It's a lot to take sometimes---and it requires a willingness to tell yourself it's actually OK to take a break.

That's exactly what we did last week. Instead of heading out on an 18 mile long run on Saturday, we rested instead. I came down with a brutal head cold and I knew running would make things worse, so I made the call: we were going to skip our long run. It was a painful decision mentally, but the break proved to be a great idea.

A lot of times, we get wrapped up in the idea that we have to do things "the right way" and we ignore the call to give ourselves permission to cry uncle. I sincerely believe our physical and mental health is closely tied together--and an exhausted body often leads to a jumbled brain.

Running and training for a marathon has been an exhausting experience, if not a rewarding one. Like everything else, something that requires a lot of you also gives back to you along the way. I am stronger and more capable than I ever imagined. I understand my body and give it the courtesy of listening closely when it complains.

More than anything, it is an experience to push yourself past anything you've ever done before to achieve an important goal--even if everyone else thinks it makes you crazy.

But really? Paying for the opportunity to run 26.2 miles might require just a bit of insanity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Tragedy

Have you ever experienced tragedy? What about heartbreak? Intense loss? Devastating pain?

If you walk this earth long enough, you will--if you haven't already. Most of the time, these are feelings and experiences we would rather avoid. Or, they blindside us in the middle of an otherwise peaceful existence. We seemingly spend our lives trying NOT to experience the terrible feelings associated with tragedy.

But really? I think the the true tragedy is never knowing what tragedy actually feels like. Those negative feelings, as awful as they may be, actually have a way of stripping us down to the core of who we are. Think about it: surviving and finding your way through an awful experience calls upon a part of yourself that normally lies dormant. If you don't use your survival skills, they tend to grow idle.

Tragedy is tragedy, no matter the form. It rocks you to the core. It chews you up and spits you out. It brings you to your knees. It leaves lingering questions. Or, it causes you to question everything you have ever believed about your life.

It's not pleasant. You wouldn't wish for it. You wouldn't want anyone else to know it like you have. But like any other profound experience in your life, it has some magical way of putting everything else in focus. It helps you to notice how fortunate you are; makes you realize that life really is beautiful, fleeting, and sometimes very short.

Perspective is the name we give to this feeling; and sometimes we cannot have it until after we have survived something terrible. Tragedy has a way of haunting us, breaking us, and then allowing us the opportunity to try to rebuild ourselves again.

That's not to say we forget what happened or are able to pretend it never happened. Rather, I think it's a chance to walk alongside what happened---feeling those feelings and knowing that pain when it comes without being weighed down by misery.

I like to think there's a lesson in there somewhere, buried beneath the heartache and pain. Sometimes it just takes us years to find it.

"No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone." -Haruki Murakami

"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dream

Since I was a child, I have had the same dream over and over again. This has gone on for years, with no signs of stopping. This has always fascinated me: what is it about me or my life that causes this dream play on repeat in my brain for all these years?

The dream is always the same: I'm late and completely unprepared for something very important. As much as a I try and as quickly as I scramble to get my act together, I'm unable to do so. Sometimes, it's an important trip and I am unable to properly pack my bags and make it to the airport on time. Other times, I'm unable to get my act together in order to save someone I love from certain death or disaster. Most of the time, I am back in school as a student and I'm late for class. I don't have my books. I can't find my school supplies. I forgot to put on shoes. I can't find my classroom.

I always feel the same way: rushed, unprepared, and anxious. I typically wake up with my heart racing and drenched in sweat (disgusting, I know) and sometimes I wake up my husband because I fail to realize I was dreaming. The dream is always so realistic and it leaves me in a state of extreme panic. The dream haunts me while I'm sleeping and it sometimes haunts me while I'm awake, too.

Is there something unresolved in my life that causes me to be haunted by my own recurring dream? Why does it play on repeat over and over again?

I don't know the answers, honestly. I'm a (fairly) organized person and pride myself on being timely and prepared for just about everything. But really? You can't be prepared for everything---because most of the things that are thrown your way in life cannot be prepared for, unfortunately. I like to think my dream is a standing reminder that I'm not in control of this life and the more I prepare the less prepared I become.

How can you prepare for a tragedy? There's no way to anticipate something awful or to ever feel like you're ready for something you don't want. You can't live your life waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to be smacked in the face on some idle Tuesday with life-altering-game-changing-news. It's just not realistic.

So, you just live your life. You do the best you can with the hand you're dealt and hope and pray for the things you want. That's what I do. That's what I believe. That's how I live.

But the dream still haunts me, somewhere deep down in my brain in a place I can't touch. Maybe my act isn't as together as I'd like. Perhaps there's something unresolved that I don't know about yet. I have to believe there's a reason I'm being haunted by my own thoughts while I'm sleeping.

I'm just glad I remembered to wear shoes to work today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blind Item (re: dog butts)



Our dog Buster has some bizarre tendencies. Like stalking, trapping and then eating flies that get into the house, for example. Yesterday I caught him leaping 4 feet straight into the air over and over again in an attempt to catch a fly sitting at the top of a tall window. I have to admire his efforts, as fleeting and unintelligent as they may be.

In my mind, however, his strong urge to spend the majority of his day underneath our bed is among the most perplexing of his interests. I fail to understand the appeal, I suppose. Most of the time, the scene looks something like this:





It's funny that he's under the bed, sure, but it's even more funny that he doesn't see the point in making sure his butt is under the bed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lately

Remember when I said my life was really crazy? It still is.

For me, it's very easy to become overwhelmed with life in general. Especially when both work and my personal life become quite busy.

Here's what I've been up to lately:

Turning dusty barn treasures into furniture

Like the old wooden porch posts we turned into a console table (more on that project tomorrow):




And the old wood telephone we turned into a cabinet:



Training for a marathon



My husband had clearly grown tired of me telling him how terrible it was to train without the aid of a gps watch and got me one for my birthday. He's one of those people that researches things to death before making a purchase, which is typically annoying to me, but I was thrilled when he gave me the Nike+ SportWatch GPS. I have only used it a few times, but I'm head over heels in love. Best of all, the watch connects directly to any USB port that allows you to upload all your data to the Nike+ website, tracking mileage, pace, time, and calories burned. Plus, I giggle every time it congratulates me on my performance. Earlier this week it said, "You crushed it!"

Because really, I did crush it.

Eating obscene amounts of candy corn



Every fall, I eat as much Brach's candy corn as my body can tolerate over the course of three months or so. Then, I abstain until August of the the following year. It's a sad state of affairs, but the way I see it is this: I can only access candy corn (conveniently) for a few months of every year. And really? It's just about the only unhealthy vice that exists in my life.

I say these things to make myself feel less pathetic for eating four entire bags of candy corn in the last week. Also, it's Brach's and Brach's only; everything else has the consistency of chalk. It's made with Real Honey! That makes me think I'm eating something other than sugar and food coloring!

Amassing a high heeled shoe tape dispenser collection



You know how some people collect things? I've never been one of those people. However, the people in my life tend to think I collect two things: bobbleheads of Cincinnati Reds players and high heeled shoe tape dispensers.

The official count is as follows:

High heeled shoe tape dispensers: 2
Bobbleheads: 6


Growing out my bangs



Have you ever tried growing out your bangs? It's pretty much the most difficult thing you will ever, in your life, attempt to successfully do. It's practically impossible. Many, many people fall short and lay wounded on the battlefield of bangs trying to complete this complex mission.

Strangely, I have managed to hold strong. I think my hairdresser doesn't believe I'm strong enough, because every time I go in for a haircut she asks if she can trim my bangs. I always say no and I'm pretty sure she nods approvingly. They aren't completely grown out just yet, but I'm finally in the home stretch.

Enjoying 5,000 tomatoes


Every spring, we plant a few tomato plants. Then, every late summer and fall we eat tomatoes until our skin turns red. {Slight exaggeration} We always remark that we should plant fewer tomatoes next year and then when next year rolls around we forget how much one tomato plant produces. It's still exciting to eat something you grew in your backyard, though.

Trying to master the art of napping

I have never really had much of a need in my life for taking naps. Believe me, I have tried to nap--I just couldn't do it. That is, until I started training for a marathon. I run twice a week before work/sunrise and with 16+ mile long runs on the weekends, I'm exhausted. All the time. So, I started napping. And? I don't know why I didn't hop on this bandwagon earlier.

The problem, however, is that I'm an inexperienced napper. I have no idea what I'm doing. I nap in the late evenings for an hour and wake up feeling worse that before. Or, I nap for hours and again feel terrible. What's the ideal nap length? What time of day should I nap? What is the line between a nap and just going to bed early?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The 29th Year



Today is my 29th birthday. Strangely, getting older isn't really something that I dread. I would love to avoid wrinkles if at all possible, but I get the impression that's just part of the package.

I can't say for certain that I get wiser as I get older, but it does feel like I gain a greater sense of clarity with every passing year. I don't know it all, but I do know a few things for sure:

It's better to have friends in quality rather than quantity: I don't have a lot of friends, but I have a few very close people in my life who really get me--and vice versa. I like my relationships un-fussy, un-complicated and just mutually understood and respected. I don't have the time or patience for anything (or anyone) else. To me, that's what true friendship looks like.

Some people will not like me and that's OK: I'm truly content in my own skin; and anyone who doesn't like me can't change that. I get that I cannot please everyone and not everyone will find me fashionable, charming, and hilarious. And really? That's OK by me.

Everyone needs something that makes them feel alive: It doesn't matter what it is, but I believe we all need something that makes our lives richer and more meaningful in a profound way. Maybe it's your job or even a hobby--whatever it is, you need to make time in your life to do something you truly love. For me, that something is running. I love it so much that it's the only thing I'm willing to get out of bed for at 4:45 a.m. morning after morning.

You can't steal my joy: Unfortunately, the world is full of negative people who want nothing more than to pull you in to their miserable place. I find myself noticing this about people more and more--and working to protect myself from them. When someone is negative or nasty to me, I tell myself you cannot steal my joy. Because it's mine, and you can't have it.

If something makes you miserable, do something about it: So often we find ourselves stuck in a rut comprised solely of our own own misery. Maybe you hate your job. Perhaps you despise something about your life or situation so much that it affects everything else in your life. Do something about it. Right now. Get a new job. Go back to school. Actively work to erase your debt. Whatever it is, be willing do something bold and scary to find your happy place again.

You won't be happy until you find a way to accept what is: It has taken me years to finally be in a place where I'm at peace with a life that does not include biological children. I was miserable and unhappy with our situation because my primary intent was to find someone to hate or blame for our inability to reproduce. Infertility involves a lack of choice, significant out of pocket expenses, and a long list of questions that cannot be answered by any human being on planet Earth, no matter how many advanced degrees they hold.

It feels unfair to be put through what can only be described as a truly miserable, devastating situation. But for me, peace and acceptance came in accepting what is---rather than wishing and hoping for what might have been. There are plenty of things I will never accept or understand about infertility, but at the end of the day I am completely at peace with my life. Resisting the reality of your life will leave you feeling empty inside each and every time. Perhaps your reality (your 'what is') isn't what you thought it would be, but it is what it is. And you have to work to understand that if you want to find your own sense of peace.

Consult your brain, but always follow your heart: The best way I know to avoid making the wrong choice is to let your heart be your guide. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true: think it through, analyze it, and consult all the people you want, but let your heart have the last call. It will never steer you in the wrong direction.

Calories don't count on your birthday: At least that's what I've been telling myself all day. The scientific proof to back this up is still emerging, however.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Front Porch



In my world, life begins to shift gears in early August. And by shift I mean the world starts to spin on an entirely different axis and it feels like this has caused my brain to fall out of my skull. (People tell me I'm dramatic, I have no idea why.)

But, that is how it feels. Both my personal and professional life ramp up to high rates of speed and despite the fact that this happens every single year without fail, I find myself scrambling to pick up the pieces. It's like being caught in a tornado, wishing I had the foresight to batten down the hatches as my house is pulled apart, board by board. I don't know what it is about this time of year, but it just has a way of putting all of my personal ugliness on display.

I'm sure you know what I mean by ugliness: those icky parts of myself that I manage to smooth over most of the year that I simply cannot hide when life gets crazy again. I'm reminded that I have poor coping skills as my anxiety bubbles to the surface of my pores and causes me to let those little cracks show. I like to think I'm good at hiding things, but the fact that I try to hide them in the first place reminds me that I'm not. It's a terrible idea, hiding your shortcomings, because they emerge in funny ways without asking for your permission first.

I tend to get moody and contemplative, in a way that draws my heart and body to the front porch. It's my happy place; the one actual place where I can sit and rock back and forth until my feet feel like they are planted on the Earth once again. I have other places, sure, but I can't go there to visit. Like, the place I live in when I'm running. It's not really a place, but it always allows me to clear my head. And that always makes me happy.

But the porch? The porch makes me feel like I can get away, even if it's just for a brief moment in time. It's not about talking or thinking, either. It's just about being. And it makes for a peaceful reprieve to an otherwise peace-less existence this time of year.



That's the funny thing about a routine: it allows you to get comfortable with things exactly as they are. Even when you know things are about to change, as they always do, it still manages to catch you by surprise. I don't deal well with changes, even the ones I can see coming from a few miles away. I find myself going on more runs and spending more time on the porch, stretching and reaching for that place where I feel sane.

It's all temporary, I know. That doesn't make it any easier, it just makes me realize it won't last forever. Or, that I always have a peaceful place to exist when life leaves me feeling dizzy and disoriented.

It's all we can hope for, I think: a place that allows us to feel peace, even if it's only for a few moments in time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The commitment

I have always been perplexed by people who say they aren't good at commitment. What does that mean, exactly? Is it really possible to go through life without truly committing to anything?

It's possible, I suppose, to avoid full commitment but I don't think it's realistic to do so forever. When I think about commitment, my thoughts always drift back to running. In preparation for an upcoming marathon, I have been running 26+ miles a week; and it's only going up from here. As you can imagine, this commitment has begun to dominate my life.

Running can be exhausting, from a physical standpoint. More than anything, it takes a exorbitant amount of my time. My life, even. I have to carve out hours of my day, time and time again, to run. It takes my time, it involves preparation and it makes me want to take a nap nearly every moment of every day. It draws me to bed early every night and up out of bed at ungodly hours in the morning.

I invest my hard earned dollars on expensive clothing, overpriced performance gear, and I find myself on a never ending quest for the perfect combination of foul tasting energy supplements, food, and electrolyte-laced liquids to fend off pending exhaustion, weight loss, and dehydration. I push my body as far as it will go, and when it pushes back I just push harder. I use stretches and massages and gadgets to fool my body into obeying me for just one more mile or just one more run.

On my 'off days' I push harder still, with yoga and weight training to avoid boredom and injury. I watch as my toenails turn black and my legs become more muscular with every long, punishing run. I laugh as jaws drop and eyes roll at the mere mention of a 14 miler. I watch the Olympic Games from the floor of my family room with two dogs in my face, arms propping up my body with my leg perched atop a bright orange foam roller to fend off a pesky IT band injury.

So, why do all of this? Well, because running is a lot of things but after all the noise is stripped away, it's really just about commitment. I do all of these things because I made a commitment--monetarily and mentally--to run a marathon. Despite all the negatives, it is a worthwhile investment of every last thing it requires of me.

I am deeply committed to a lot of places and people in my life, but running ranks up there with the most meaningful of the bunch. I wholeheartedly love running and it's partly because it's not for everyone. Running requires a lot of you, clearly, but more than anything it involves your willingness to sacrifice and commit yourself without reservation. And really? That's what life is about, too. Let's be honest: marriage is pretty much the same way. Running is just part of the metaphor.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HOW TO: create a home bar



When it comes to home decor, I'm all about mixing old with new. Our home is an eclectic mix of antiques and new items; I feel like it adds character to what I would otherwise consider a character-less home. (It was built in the early 90's, after all.)

One of my latest decor obsessions is the bar cart. After seeing bar carts featured on style blogs like Glitter Guide and Cupcakes and Cashmere, I set out to recreate something similar in my own home--using as many existing items as possible. Luckily, I already had the basics: lots of alcohol and an antique piece of furniture.



Instead of a cart, I used this beautiful antique sewing cabinet that has a marble slab on top. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. Best of all, it is the perfect size for this little space in our open-concept dining room.

If you're going to set up a bar in your home, here are six key elements:


1. An interesting print or photo: I bought this two-sided page from a 1950's veterinary textbook on Etsy for $5. The other side shows the muscular structure of the horse, so I found this side just a bit more pleasant. Maybe I'll flip it around for Halloween or to scare small children who come near the bar.



2. A vintage decanter: I found this leaded glass decanter in a local antique mall. It weighs about 5 pounds (yes, I actually weighed it) and came with this beautiful vintage GIN Stieff Pewter decanter label. The decanter itself is lovely, but in all honesty, this pewter label was the main reason I bought it. Stieff Pewter is no longer in business, but it appears to be quite easy to find these decanter labels for sale on Ebay and Etsy. I love the beautiful detailing on the front; almost as much as I love gin. It's a tossup, really.





3. High ball glasses: My husband received a set of four monogrammed Sterling Cut Glass highball glasses as a gift. They are very well made and are the perfect size for a mixed drink. I stored the fourth one to make room for....





4. A vintage corkscrew: I pilfered this brass ship's anchor corkscrew from a pile of items my mother was gathering for a garage sale. It's probably from the 60's or 70's, but has just enough wear and patina to look like an antique and the worn brass adds some visual interest.

5. A tray or platter: This white platter was a wedding gift and has been gathering dust in my china cabinet for the last five years. I used it to tie that "area" of the bar together.



6. Alcohol: Clearly, this is the showpiece of the bar. At our house, bourbon whiskey and gin are favorites. Tequila isn't bad either. However, we also have a random hodgepodge of bottles we have acquired--like unopened bottles of vermouth, cheap Canadian whiskey, scotch, and other obscure items. My philosophy is this: display the "good stuff" (i.e., best looking bottles and highest quality spirits) in the front, then use bottles in the middle and back to fill in the holes. I'm not planning to drink that vermouth any time in the near future, but I put it out anyway. I just put it in the back with the other randoms.



I added small bottles and a chotchky on the end for some visual interest. Those are small bottles of Crown and a random wood piece I spray painted black.

Other essentials I plan to add in the future:

A vintage bottle opener: I'm mildly obsessed with bottle openers made from shed deer antlers. There is a decent selection of them on Ebay and Etsy. Most seem to be made with "shed" antlers, meaning they were antlers the deer naturally shed from their body throughout the course of the year, rather than antlers pilfered from a deer by a hunter. If having deer antlers in your home gives you the heebie jeebies, Bakelite made a series of bar tools and utensils from faux antlers (molded plastic) in the 50's and 60's and there are a ton of them on Etsy. Plus, they are cheap!

Drink-mixing books: There are hundreds of these on the market today, so be sure to peruse Amazon for reviews on the best books. It wouldn't hurt to find some that look cool, too.

A vintage ice bucket: If I had an actual cart (or a table with a shelf underneath) an ice bucket would be a great addition to my home bar. I like vintage buckets that add a unique flair to your bar, like these apple ice buckets on Etsy.

A unique bottle of vodka: In my book, the clear winner of this requirement is Crystal Head Vodka. Extra bonus points: the company was started by Dan Aykroyd!

Fun shot glasses: There are some cool vintage ones out there, but I also love the skull shot glasses on the Crystal Head Vodka site. They come in a pack of six for $35.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

30 things I have done

I have...

1. A tattoo. You can read the story behind it here. It was very painful, but I would get another one in a heartbeat.

2. A body piercing...sorta. I got my bellybutton pierced in college (Didn't every girl?) and later took it out. There's still a small hole that will probably be there forever.

3. Been a librarian. In high school, I started out shelving books at my local library and worked my way up to the desk. I quickly decided it was not a career goal.

4. Run 5 half marathons and completed two (small) triathlons.

5. Had surgery--twice. One was outpatient surgery, the other was major surgery that required an overnight stay in the hospital.

6. Had two concussions. Both as a college student.

7. Had a black eye--as a direct result of #6. I fell off of my bunk bed in college.

8. Been to therapy. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

9. Worked in the food industry. It gave me a new found respect for waiters and waitresses.

10. Witnessed the sudden death of a family member. You can read about it here.

11. Owned a cat and two guinea pigs. I will never own either ever again.

12. Been in a tractor as it was harvesting corn. Just one of the many advantages of marrying someone who grew up on a working farm.

13. Had an offense expunged from my record. As far as the world is concerned, it never happened--so I'll never tell!

14. Been hunting. It was a pretty boring experience.

15. Been camping in a tent--just once. It rained and it was a terrible experience.

16. Had several spots of possible melanoma removed from my body. All were benign, but I still have yearly visits to the dermatologist to be checked.

17. Been stung by a jellyfish.

18. Had stitches for an injury.

19. Chipped one of my front teeth on a bottle. It was Snapple, I swear!

20. Passed my driver's license exam on the first try.

21. Been in a car accident that was my fault.

22. Passed out due to severe dehydration.

23. Called 911 to report a crime.

24.  Owned a porcelain doll that was also named Emily. Creepy, right? And no, I do not own it any longer.

25. Felt and seen the presence of a ghost. While babysitting in a creepy old house, which has since been torn down. In the home owner's defense, they did warn me about it before I agreed to babysit.

26. Danced on top of a bar to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me"

27. Been the victim of a home invasion. Read about it here.

28. Spent Christmas in Hawaii and Thanksgiving in Florida.

29. Seen Bob Seger in concert--twice. The first time was my first concert.

30. Flown in First Class. It's overrated.

31. Want to know 30 things I've never done? They are here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

30 things I've never done

Never have I ever...

1. Run a full marathon. I'm running my first marathon in October.

2. Been skydiving or bungee jumping. I am terrified of heights, so it's never appealed to me.

3. Lived in another state. It's been all Ohio, all the time.

4. Traveled to Europe. I have left the country though: I've been to Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.

5. Consumed chicken wings or brussels sprouts. Both seem disgusting. However, I love sushi and raw oysters.

6. Given birth to a child/been pregnant. Obviously.

7. Done illegal drugs of any kind. Seriously.

8. Watched any of The Godfather movies. I love Good Fellas and Scarface, though.

9. Attended an NBA game.

10. Been on a motorcycle.

11. Broken a bone. Which is a minor miracle, considering my lack of grace and coordination.

12. Successfully completed an entire crossword puzzle.

13. Been a redhead. I have been just about every shade of blond and brunette, however.

14. Traveled to any state located on the west coast of the United States.

15. Been in a hot air balloon.

16. Been in a helicopter.

17. Owned an SUV.

18. Owned a recreational vehicle (jet ski, boat, RV, etc.)

19. Been in a physical altercation with someone.

20. Given a eulogy.

21. Played a true game of hockey--on ice, with pads.

22. Created/possessed a MySpace account.

23. Been fired from a job.

24. Sued someone or been sued myself.

25. Served on jury duty. I was called to serve twice but was excused because I was a college student.

26. Received a speeding ticket. (I sincerely hope this doesn't cause me to jinx myself.)

27. Been arrested. I was once handcuffed by a police officer as a college student, but was let go.

28. Performed in front of a large crowd.

29. Fired a gun.

30. Had a job that required me to wear a uniform.

31. Want to know 30 things I have done? I'll tell you tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five.



July 21, 2007.

Tomorrow is our five year anniversary. Most people place a huge sense of importance upon the milestone anniversaries; typically those that occur in increments of five and ten. I won't tell you that this day isn't important, but I will say this: it's no more important than all the others. I believe it's more productive to focus on what you've done with your time, rather than celebrating how long you have endured something. Anyone can stick something out for years---but it doesn't necessarily make it a success.



I love that this day is an opportunity to look back on a really wonderful moment in time. A day of happiness and beginnings--it's our day. But every other day needs to be our day, too. I think it's very easy to forget about your marriage or relationship and the work involved in making it successful. The longer you are married the easier it is to forget about the work.

The flip side of being married for five years and not having children is the opportunity to focus solely on our relationship. We have no distractions, no other people in our family that are pulling us in other directions. It's a strange thing--because it's one part not our choice and one part completely of our own making. I'm not saying people with children can't have a great marriage, it's just...different. I often hear people say that they love their significant other more once they have children together. I don't know what that feels like, but I do know the greatest bond that exists in our relationship will always be the one that was forged over the fires of our inability to have children.

Things have turned out differently than we planned in 2007, but that's just life. Life was a hell of a lot simpler back then. But five years ago, I wanted the same thing I want today: to be happy. Perhaps my life isn't exactly what I imagined five years ago, but it's mine. It's ours. I wouldn't trade it for an easier one. I wouldn't go back and rewrite anything. I'd ask for the same hand to be dealt to us. Honestly, is life fair for anyone?

We are traditional people, but I love that our life has taken a very nontraditional turn. We have worked to embrace it. We never stop making the most of it. I think life is entirely too short to follow every last one of the rules laid out for you when you were a child. Happiness is what you make of it, and sometimes you have to find that part of yourself by going through something terrible. And sometimes you survive it by making your own rules as you go.

We didn't place a timeline on children when we recently decided we weren't ready to adopt a child. Sometimes, I think it may never happen--other times, I wonder if I will look back and regret that decision. I don't feel strongly either way; I'm really happy just existing in this place right now, exactly as it is.

It's difficult to predict how I will feel about being childless in 15 years, mostly because there was no possible way I could have predicted I'd ever be in this predicament in the first place. But from where I stand today, it's really not all that horrible to live without this one thing we have been denied. It is what it is.

Maybe God made us this way for a reason, I tell myself when things are quiet and my mind drifts into a place I like to call What If Territory. Ever been there? Sure, it seems like a nice place to visit. But you don't want to live there, trust me. I can't help but think: didn't the universe know something nine years ago when two people were brought together who couldn't possibly have children even if they lived together in the Twilight Zone? Don't they say God has a great sense of humor?

The bottom line is that we've spent the last 5 years fighting every last battle together--and I sincerely believe that's what marriage is about. It's hard work, and anyone who tells you it's not is lying to you. Or, in denial. It's worthwhile work, but it is work. Like everything else, anything worth having always involves hard work.

These have been both the most difficult and most wonderful 5 years of my life. I believe those things go hand in hand: the good with the bad. It makes you more appreciative. More humble. Just a bit more patient. And honestly, it makes for a pretty amazing life.

The one thing I know for sure is this: things really do get better with time.







Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The skin shoes



I take an inordinate amount of time to get ready. In the morning, in the evening--really whenever I'm getting ready for anything, it's going to take a while. So, you might as well grab a drink and relax. We are going to be 30 minutes late for everything, mmkay?

My beauty routine runs like a finely tuned machine, so most of the time it's the outfit selection part of getting ready that creates the problem. I just cannot make up my mind. Also, everything I put on makes me look stupid/fat/weird/some other judgemental adjective.

So, I like to gather a second opinion to ensure I am making the right choice. There is only one other person at my house who is capable of expressing opinions using their words, so my husband is the clear winner of this particular job. But really? He doesn't have an opinion. He says everything looks great, but not because everything I wear looks great. It's because he wanted to leave 15 minutes ago.

This morning, I was stuck on selecting the right shoe for my outfit. I trounced out of my closet, wearing two different shoes and asked which shoe I should wear. He looked down and quickly said:

"The skin shoes."

Skin shoes? Oh. He meant these, my snakeskin shoes.



Which, technically, could be skin shoes. Except no one wants to buy shoes that are simply called 'skin shoes.' This is why marketing is so important.

Also? The veins in my feet are pretty gross. And? I just noticed the carpet almost matches my shoes. Skin carpet, anyone?

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