Category Archives: Random Musings

Reading Outlook for 2018

I have a lot of books I want to read. Not surprising, right? But sometimes, that fact becomes ridiculously overwhelming, especially when I’m trying to decide what to read next. With the goal of reading at least 40 books this year (but hoping for more), I wanted to make a list of the books that, ideally, I’d love to enjoy throughout the year, including rereading some series to prepare for a new book, finally reading authors I’ve been meaning to for months (and sometimes years) and continuing to read series that I enjoy. Below is a list of the books I hope to read. I’m curious what the total number is going to be…

Series To Complete

The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett

  • The Daylight War 
  • The Skull Throne 
  • The Core 

The Shattered Kingdom by Evie Manieri

  • Blood’s Price (reread)
  • Fortune’s Blight
  • Strife’s Bane 

Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch

  • The Republic of Thieves
  • The Thorn of Emberlain

Re-Reads

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen

  • Here, There Be Dragons
  • The Search for the Red Dragon
  • The Indigo King 
  • The Shadow Dragons
  • The Dragon’s Apprentice
  • The Dragon’s of Winter (never read)
  • The First Dragon (never read)

The Kingkiller Chroncile by Patrick Rothfuss

  • The Name of the Wind (10th anniversary edition)
  • The Wise Man’s Fear 

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Way of Kings
  • Words of Radiance
  • Oathbringer (never read)

Twelve Houses by Sharon Shinn

  • Mystic and Rider
  • The Thirteenth House
  • Dark Moon Defender 
  • Reader and Raelynx
  • Fortune and Fate

New Series

The Fitz and The Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb

  • Fool’s Assassin
  • Fool’s Quest
  • Assassin’s Fate

Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

  • Assassin’s Apprentice 
  • Royal Assassin
  • Assassin’s Quest 

Solider Son by Robin Hobb

  • Shaman’s Crossing
  • Forest Mage 
  • Renegade’s Magic 

On the Bones of Gods by K. Eason

  • Enemy
  • Outlaw

Birch Hall Romance by Kathleen Kimmel

  • A Lady’s Guide to Ruin
  • A Gentleman’s Guide to Scandal

More Books

  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Kraken King by Meljean Brooks
  • The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
  • Storm and Steel by Jon Sprunk
  • Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk
  • A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  • Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
  • Nevermore by Rob Thurman
  • Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
  • Blood of Assassins by RJ Barker
  • The Deviant Heir by Melissa Caruso
  • A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
  • Outriders by Jay Posey
  • Blood Requiem by Christopher Husberg

Image result for reading photography

As you can see, my heart will now and always belong to fantasy, yet I threw in some romance, sci-fi and steampunk for good measure. And that list doesn’t even include rereading series like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher or The Camulod Chronciles by Jack Whyte. Or rereading every book that Tamora Pierce has ever written, because that’s way overdue. Or the slew of books that I’m waiting to get published this year, by authors like Brent Weeks, Joe Zieja, Curtis C. Chen and company (which I know I’ll read, even if they aren’t on this list at the moment). And the plethora of novels and authors I know I’m forgetting, but deserve to be on this list.

Yet, just listing out some of the books I already own and picking out some of the most recently added from Goodreads, with the list of books I hope to read this year (and a goal of 40 books), if I read them all, I’d be reading a total of…

54 books.

Yeah…

Time to get reading, shall we?

Cheers.

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The Most Magical Adventure

When you have the opportunity to go on a trip to Disney World the week before Christmas and you find out three days before the flight leaves and have an hour to make your decision, you may panic a bit.

But you’d better say yes, because otherwise, you’re missing out on the most magical of adventures.

I never in my life thought I’d actually get to go to Disney World, let alone have such an incredible opportunity to go during such a wonderful time of the year. But that exact scenario happened to me this past holiday season, when my boyfriend’s family, who were heading out on a family vacation, suddenly had an open spot they needed filled.

I was floored–and honored and humbled and elated–that they wanted me to join them.

I could write a novel about all the adventures that took place (and looking at the length of this post, I nearly have), but I’ll just try (read, fail) and stick with some of the highlights.

I Have A Bug Bite?

One of the most surreal things was stepping off that airplane and immediately taking off my jacket, wearing a tank top and yet still be sweating, in December. I know I was at the most magical place on Earth, so this is a silly thing to highlight, but this little fact floored me the entire week; how back home, it was below freezing, yet I was out and about, wearing tank tops, sweating, wishing I’d brought some capris instead of only jeans, during Christmas time. It was almost foreign, seeing these gigantic Christmas trees everywhere and all these lovely decorations, yet still being able to feel my fingers.

HS

Oh, and I did come home with three total bug bites.

In December.

What.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

So, I’d been to Epcot once before, during a work trip, but I counted this trip as my first time at Disney. Edward loved pointing out how “extra” the staff was, from silly puns to describing buying an animatronic dragon as having an “adoption fee,” rather than a price tag. Not in a bad way, by any means, but he loved to point out how much everyone tried.

Yet I don’t think anyone was as extra as me.

I was your ultra tourist. I can’t tell you how many times I rushed to go and take a picture (or how I made us stop at every photo person to take another cheesy photo) or jumped up and down in excitement or my grin was a little too wide. I was ridiculous when we first saw the castle, lit up with Christmas lights during the night sky. Or how I was constantly squeeing the entire time we were in Animal Kingdom, my favorite place. I was always buzzing, asking Edward questions or asking if we could do X thing or stopping to look at Y shop. I was awed the entire time and it was just so incredible.

I’m not even ashamed.

I Would Walk 500 Miles…

We definitely got the full Disney experience, too. From the 90 minute wait times for rides to the 22 hour day we pulled on day one, walking 25,000 steps and a little over 11 miles (and averaging 9 miles throughout the trip); to hitting up every park and staying out from open to close almost every day. If we didn’t get thighs of steel from that trip, then I dunno what to tell you. Yet for every blister, every moment when we felt like we were going to collapse from exhaustion, every time we’d tell ourselves, “We’ll take it easier tomorrow,” only to add another mile; it was all worth it, because we couldn’t stop laughing, smiling and enjoying everything Disney had to offer.

MS

But we didn’t just walk.

One day, we were waiting for a bus to get to Epcot, but it was going to be a hot second. And buses to the Magical Kingdom were showing up left and right. So we thought we’d hop on a bus, go to the Magic Kingdom, and then jump on the monorail to get to Epcot. We ended up, somehow, also including a ferry ride (since we showed up on the wrong side of Magic Kingdom for the Epcot monorail), so we literally hit up every form of transportation possible, just trying to reach Epcot. Waiting for the bus definitely would have been quicker, but it wouldn’t nearly have been as much fun.

So-fari, So Good

Like I said, my favorite place was Animal Kingdom. We actually did get to go on a safari, which was probably really annoying for Edward, as I clung to his arm and pointed out every animal we saw right after our tour guide did, as giddy as a child (as if he couldn’t see them himself). Seeing the Tree of Life was incredible. Walking through Pandora was really amazing, too. Even though we didn’t get to ride one of the rides there, we did get to do the Naav’i river ride (twice) which was way too freakin’ cool. And we saw the two little tiger cubs and I may have made us watch them play with their mom a little longer than anyone really should have. I also had a weird fascination with all the ducks around (and saw ducklings!!), because I’m that much of an animal nut.

Animal Kingdom

What’s a Fast Pass?

When I think of Disney, I think of the iconic landmarks, like the castle. I don’t think about the fact that it has a ton of rides. And roller coasters. Which I, uh, don’t do, because they freak me the frack out (which Edward learned really fast when I actually started crying slightly at Hollywood Studios because I was so terrified to go on Rocking Roller Coaster, where you went upside down, three times; he didn’t make me get on it, the gem). Yet I did try a couple, because Edward has a great knack (and I’m being 100% serious here) of knowing exactly when and how much to push me out of my comfort zone.

So we rode Everest (I only squeezed my eyes shut once!), which I enjoyed, but was definitely shaky, afterwards. We did the Naav’i river ride, the water ride (which was way too much freakin’ fun); Soaring, Test Track (and my car didn’t fail as horribly as I thought it would) and Mission Space, all twice and all incredible. We went through the globe at Epcot, the Dinosaur experience, Pirates of the Caribbean and even did a few rides at Universal, too! Though I was nervous, it was really fun and I’m glad I pushed my boundaries a little bit.

You’re a Blizzard, Harry

HP

We did get to do two days at Universal, which basically, for us, equated to an afternoon at Jurassic Park and then the rest of the time spent drinking Butterbeer and wishing we were wizards (at least, I was). I don’t think I can accurately describe how incredible the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was. When we stepped around the corner and into Diagon Alley, I was literally so excited, I may have punched Edward, accidentally, in a not so pleasant area, to which we then had to pause for five minutes so he could recover.

Oops.

But, it was so incredible, the attention to detail, the soundtrack playing everywhere, eating at the Leaky Cauldron, all the people wearing their house robes. It made me wish the wizarding world was all the more real, more than I’d ever had before.

It’s Not the Trip, It’s the Company

As you can see, the trip itself was pretty amazing–and that’s just a mere glimpse, not including so many other highlights, like literally taking all modes of transportation to the Magic Kingdom just to get a footlong chili cheese dog, wishing we got a free puppy when we stayed a 101 Dalmatians-themed hotel room, the fireworks show, eating at a space-themed restaurant and getting prime seating, or doing a focus group while we waited our ride time. There are just so many amazing aspects of this trip that I can’t even describe them all.

But the best part?

The people.

Dating an extrovert led me to meeting a lot of really amazing people that my shy self normally wouldn’t have talked to: a dad and his daughter, who was scared to ride Mission Space with us, yet halfway through the ride, screamed “THIS IS AMAZING,” which had us all cracking up. A boy who rode with us on Test Track, doing drive number eight in a row. Parents and their son who talked with us while we waited the first time for Test Track, gushing about how much they love Disney and reminiscing about what the park used to be, way back when. A single dad and his daughter who’d just arrived the day before, yet were already killing it at the parks, same as we did, never taking a moment to rest, because there’s just too much to do. It was so neat, to meet so many different people, even for a short while.

Then, there were the family dinners we had (almost) every night, which I enjoyed tremendously. It was great to get to know his family better, hear about their own experiences from what they did that day and just trade stories while getting really freakin’ fat on good food (gosh, don’t even get me started on some of the food we had while we were there….).MK_MSCINEMA_20171219_407270787580

But, the best company was the man who traveled right alongside me.

That was absolutely my favorite part, hands down. We could have sat in the hotel room and just binged watched the Weather Channel while eating mozzarella sticks and french fries (which may or may not have happened one evening) and I still would’ve had such a wonderful time, because I was with a person who understands me so well and just makes me so incredibly happy.

Thanks, babe, for putting up with my touristy nature, only making fun of me a little bit when I grinned too hard any time one of the photographers asked us to kiss in a photo, pushing me out of my comfort zone and creating memories with me that will last a lifetime. I couldn’t ask for a better person to go on adventures with.

I’m absolutely ecstatic for all our future adventures to come.

Cheers.


This Post is Definitely All Over The Place

I’ve written about my brain before.

Sometimes, my brain really sucks.

You know, like how it always goes to the worst case scenario whenever a situation pops up. Or how I overthink every little thing, to the point of exhaustion. Or how the combination of these things makes life just a little more complicated than it needs to be and even though this happens over and over and over again, I still repeat the same cycle.

Let’s go on some ramblings, shall we?

This year, I met a really wonderful guy. I fell for said wonderful guy and I’m very elated to be his girl. I’m hoping it stays that way for a long time, if I’m being honest. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever been in and, needless to say, that comes with a lot of firsts. Yet it’s also the first time I’ve really experienced a lot of the…more complicated aspects of being in a relationship, I guess? I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, but I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself.

I realized I have jealousy issues, so that’s fun. Fear of abandonment, thanks to all the guys who liked me, but choose a different girl instead. Super rad. Still got those bouts of confidence droughts that have followed me since middle school, which is every guy’s turn on, right? Sometimes, I struggle to open up to him about how I’m feeling, just because I care about this man so damn much that I don’t want to lose him over being a crying emotional mess, which, in turn, makes whatever I’m struggling with, build up and up and up until I break, and I end up being a crying mess, anyway (which, btw, if a guy is willing to leave you because you’re human and you feel things, maybe he isn’t the right guy for you? Luckily, my human is the exact opposite and is one of the most empathetic, patient souls I know).

Oh, and I really struggle at balancing things.

You see, this morning, I got a really surprising offer: to go on vacation with his family. Next week. To Disney World (I know, right? I’ve never been to Disney World *cue excited screaming*). Last minute, sure, but super exciting. Honestly, a trip of a lifetime.

Yet what’s the first thing I do?

Panic.

Can I even get off work? Do I have enough vacation time? How am I going to afford it? Will I piss off my family, being gone the entire week before Christmas? What about changing my eye doctor appointment or my phone call date with my friend?

the incredibles slapping GIF

Which then began the spiral of anxiety and overthinking that related to that balancing struggle I mentioned above. You see, ever since I started seeing him, he quickly became a really important aspect of my life. I want him to stay that way. My life began to become more busy, with dates and hanging out with his friends, things like that. So, some things, that I used to do when I was single, have sorta stopped happening. Like having an abundant amount of free time, not leaving my apartment for three days in a row, playing my PS4 way too much…

Seeing my family.

This has been bothering me for a while. Between working nights five days a week, having two different DnD groups that take up two large chunks of my weekend and then a man who actually wants to spend time with me, for a change, and suddenly, my family has been put on the back burner. Which really isn’t okay with me. If you know me, you know how important my family is to me, so the fact that I’m going a month–if not longer–between seeing them when I live less than an hour away, is really not working.

Then, you add in the changes that I’m experiencing for the first time, mainly the “being-in-a-relationship-during-the-holidays” shenanigans. Balancing two Thanksgivings and two Christmases has been something I’ve never had to do and it’s been a challenge for me personally (though this is a challenge I’ve always wanted to experience and I couldn’t have found a better man to experience it with). I want to spend time with my man during the holidays, obviously. I want him to be able to see his family and I want to get to know them better. But, my family is everything to me, so I want to spend time with them, too. Yet there’s still only so much time in the day, especially during the holidays.

Cue stress and anxiety.

Especially when I don’t tell anyone involved about any of these feelings.

Which results in bawling your eyes out in stress, fearing that you’re going to piss off your family to go on a vacation you really want to go on with your boyfriend, while also trying to figure out logistics of said vacation mere days before it happens while being a Type A planner, and oh, you’ve been on your period for over a week now.

You might be getting a mental picture of where I was at, this morning.

There are a few important things I’m missing, here.

One: I must stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Though I have gotten better about this, I do really need to take this advice to heart and follow it like it’s my religion. Because at the end of the day, this is my one shot at living the best life I can and the happiest life I can. If I want to take a day off work to do something else, I can (without worrying that my boss is suddenly going to think I’m lazy). If I want to spend the day with my man, I should do that (without feeling guilty it’s been a few weeks since I’ve hung out with my family). If I want to go and have dinner with my folks, I should do that (without stressing that my man is going to get irritated that I love my family so much).

I’ve gotten a lot better at being true to myself: being that nerdy, LOTR-obsessed, quiet, introspective, passionate, straight-edge, hopeless romantic I’ve always been, but sometimes too scared to stay true to. Now, I’ve got to also give myself permission to do what I want, as well, without considering every other party before I make a decision (because half the time, my anxiety is giving them untrue opinions/reactions to those choices to being with, which just makes everything unnecessarily complicated).

Two: Perhaps throw a little trust around, eh?

I have this ingrained fear of pissing people off. My friends, family, boyfriend, all of them are included in this fear, no one is exempt. I can’t really describe where this fear comes from, but it taints a lot of my thoughts and fuels a lot of my anxiety and my decisions. Yet it’s also wrong, because none of those people have ever given me a reason to doubt them or my relationships with them–not to mention the strength of those relationships, which I’m very lucky to have strong ones in each regard. I need to start trusting in that strength and the people that I care about; trust that their care for me is genuine and it’s not going to dissipate the moment things get rocky.

Three: The people I love can’t know what I’m thinking/feeling/needing if I don’t tell them. 

Self-explanatory, but apparently something I really struggle with. Gotta love the introverted shyness coming out in me, forcing me to resort to writing letters or long texts or hiding notes or passive aggressive blog posts to communicate how I’m feeling about something; causing me to wait until whatever’s concerning me has reached the boiling over point and I become the crying mess I was this morning. A mess who was answered by an understanding family, excited that I’m going on an awesome trip, instead of being angry or feeling jipped, like I feared; and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand why I’m not hanging out with my family more, because he knows how important they are to me–and isn’t going to go anywhere, if I do.

*sigh*

It’s safe to say, friends, that I’ve still got a lot of learning to do: in life, in love and in learning how to balance the two.

 

Cheers.


A Little Mini Rant

Wanna hear a rant?

As I believe I wrote about–or at least mentioned in a post, somewhere–thanks to the lovely people (<– read sarcastically) currently in charge of our government, I had to switch my birth control methods earlier this year, from the pill (which went from $0 to costing $200 per month) to getting an IUD implanted (which was a $1,000 surgery that, thank goodness, my insurance covered, after the saddening/baffling change in leadership). It wasn’t my choice and getting an IUD wasn’t my preferred method, yet it was my only option. I have no desire to be a mother any time soon and having regulated, controlled periods have helped out a lot in life.

Except that, of course, since I switched from a pill that I’d been on for years to a new method, my body is out of sync. My periods are no longer in-sync with a time table. They start when they want, they end when they want, they last as long as they please, sometimes they skip a month, sometimes they last two weeks, sometimes they’re light, sometimes they’re heavy. There is no regulation, like I had before. And the cramps. Goodness me, don’t even get me started on the cramps. I thought I had bad cramps before. It’s nothing compared to the pain I experience now.

*sigh*

So, that’s annoying. Yet it’s still manageable. I could be in a lot worse scenarios. But, because of this, I’ve had to leave work early twice. Once because my cramps were so bad, I literally knelt over in my chair at the desk, sweating profusely while feeling like I was going to collapse. The second time, last evening, was because I started my period two weeks early, and was completely unprepared, clothing wise, to be bleeding, with three hours left of my shift. It sucks, but I left and took care of myself at home.

Here’s the part that really floors me.

I needed to email my bosses today (I have two), let them know I left early. And, since transparency is pretty big to me, especially at work; and, since I’ve already had to leave early twice when normally, I’m able to power through, no problem, this might become a reoccurring thing; I wanted to be frank, in telling them my period was causing this and it might be a once a month thing, each time my period starts. Both of my bosses are male.

As are their bosses.

And theirs.

And our Dean of Libraries.

Here’s the thing: I wrote that email frankly. I wrote out “period”, because that’s what it is. I didn’t beat around the bush or try to hide it. I’m not embarrassed by it and I’m never embarrassed to talk about it (obviously, since this entire post features that exact topic). Yet I knew it was going to make them uncomfortable.

Because they’re men.

Don’t get me wrong–I know all men aren’t bothered by this. Yet I have a hunch that my bosses wouldn’t be comfortable discussing this topic. Yet I wanted to give an explanation, because it’s not like me to leave work or have to call in sick. Especially when, today, I feel and look totally fine. I didn’t want them to question my work ethic–especially when, if my body doesn’t re-regulate itself, it’ll probably be like this every month.

It just blows my mind that there isn’t a woman I could have gone to, as my superior, to keep them in the loop. That I technically work two jobs as one position (since I report to two different people) and both of them are male. It’s a bummer that there isn’t a female in charge who I could report to, if I were uncomfortable, even though I’m not; how that isn’t even an option.

That’s really sad.

(Not much of a rant, I realize. More like a…realization. And don’t get me wrong: I work with some really awesome people, who I know are going to be empathetic and understanding, even if it’s awkward and they’re uncomfortable by a perfectly normal, healthy and natural function. It just makes me sad that, the majority of people in power at my work place, are men.)

Cheers.


Reflections of the Past

I experienced an interesting juxtaposition over the past few days, inspired by celebrating Thanksgiving.

I’ve always had this quirk where, on Thanksgiving and Christmas every year–usually during the commute to whomever is hosting that year–I go through all the contacts in my phone. I reach out to those old friends and admired acquaintances and wish them happy holidays, with the hope that, perhaps, some sparks may be rekindled and I might get to catch up with some people who, otherwise, I haven’t talked to in a while. This year, I also added why I was thankful for each of those friends and family members, instead of just wishing them a generic, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

I was really blessed with the responses.

They were sweet and made me feel butterflies–on top of being overly stuffed with turkey–and I even got a phone call from a friend who it’d been, what, almost two years since I’d talked to them? It seriously made my day. A couple friends mentioned that we needed to get together soon and catch up, which is exactly what I wanted to begin with, and even though no plans have officially been made yet, I’m still pretty jazzed the door has been opened, regardless.

Fast forward to yesterday evening, just a mere few days after Thanksgiving.

I was wasting time on Facebook, like you do. Somehow, I started going down the rabbit hole of looking through my friend list and looking at profiles of people who I don’t talk to much anymore; friends from college and even a few from high school. I caught up on life events I hadn’t known about otherwise: engagements, weddings, birthdays, holiday photos, graduation pictures, kids, the like. It was really cool, to see what some people were up to and how their lives were going, even if I haven’t talked to them in a while.

But it was also kinda sad.

best friends friendship GIF

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really stoked with where my life is at. I’m lucky to have the friends I do now, both new and old, and I live a pretty dang blessed life. Yet looking through those photos and updates, I couldn’t help think about the past and the relationships I used to have, some of which were really close friendships. Not all of them even fell apart, either. Some of them just faded into the background naturally, thanks to growing up, the main culprit, I think.

Doesn’t mean that I don’t miss them.

Last night, I just couldn’t help thinking about the “What Ifs,” you know? What if I hadn’t made X choice: would we still be friends? What if I’d done Y differently: would I have been invited to that wedding? What if I put in a little more effort: would I have gotten to know about this event in person, rather than creeping through social media? 

Like I said, I’m really lucky to live the life I have. Sometimes, though, there are aspects about growing up I’m not exactly fond of. Losing friends is one of them. Fearing about the future is another. Though I’m generally pretty stoked about the future and all that’s left ahead of me, there’s another part of me that’s fearful, usually fueled by that “What If” train again.

What if I don’t have anyone to be a bridesmaid at my wedding? What if I never get married? What if I don’t have any friends by the time I’m in the 40s? What if life becomes as lonely as it felt last night? 

I don’t really have any answers, here. I’m just musing and reflecting. I know I’m going to try and do better at telling those people who are important to me exactly that. I’m hopeful that those coffee dates which never come into fruition will do the opposite. I’m striving to not create a bunch of shallow relationships just so I’m not lonely, but to keep strong those real, inspiring friendships with those who are important to me. I think, with growing up, it just takes a little more work to keep those kind of friendships alive.

And that’s something I can do.

Cheers.


A Whole Lotta Thankfulness

I know what you’re thinking: Great, another stereotypical Thanksgiving post where some random blogger writes about everything she’s thankful for. Wahoo.

You know what? That’s exactly what this post is, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

thanksgiving turkey day GIF

Though here’s a cat dressed as a turkey, as a peace offering for going stereotypical. 

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a lot to be thankful for and live a really blessed life. I have an incredible family who believes in me and supports me. I’m so glad to be close with them and have an actual relationship with them. I have a great group of friends who I don’t get to see enough, but I’m so lucky for the time I do get. I have a wonderful guy who treats me right and challenges me daily, always helping me grow and experience so many firsts together. I have a steady job, a fantastic internship, a lovely apartment, make enough money to support myself, have my health and I’m chasing my dreams.

Yeah, I’m definitely one of the lucky ones.

This year, I’m specifically thankful for a couple things–not meaning that they are any more important than the amazing list above, but I just wanted to highlight them, in this post, and express how  truly grateful I am.

My Writing: The past year has been a bit difficult, writing wise. I got into a rut that I’m just now figuring out how to break, after multiple attempts and plenty of failure. Yet I’m so thankful for this passion, not only because it helps me escape when life gets tough, but it gives me an incredible feeling that nothing else can. Creating stories and bringing those characters and their ordeals to life, from inside my head to the written page; it’s unlike anything else in the world, and I’m so thankful to be given this gift.

My Hopeless Romantic Attitude: I feel like this will probably be an entire blog post for another day, but I’m really glad I’ve chosen to love fearlessly and with my entire heart, every single time. Though I didn’t know what it felt like to be in a relationship until recently, I’ve had my heart toyed with and scarred on multiple occasions. Hell, this time last year, I was still recovering from a guy ghosting on me for no apparent reason, leading me to a lot of self-doubt and self-questioning. So when my current guy showed up, a few months later, and the only way we’d have a chance was for me to rip down any walls I’d built up around my heart and step completely out of my comfort zone, so I could take a risk on him? It was one of the best decisions I ever made, bumps and tears included. So I’m really thankful I’m willing to be fearless with my heart and risk it, even with the possibility of its shattering as a result. Without that vulnerability, I would have missed out on the best man there is.

My Willpower: I started running and practicing portion control, two things my brain always told me I wasn’t strong enough to do. In a year and a month, I’ve lost 30 pounds and am only 10 pounds away from my 40 pound weight lost goal. I never thought it was possible, but by practicing my willpower, it was a goal I was able to achieve. But I think it’s an even more important muscle to flex–using willpower–because this battle was one stuck on repeat. Some days, I had to fight the same mental demons I’ve fought so many times before and, without willpower, I would have given in and not made it to where I am now. I’m thankful I’m learning the strength of my own willpower and using it.

My Voice: It’s something I’m still learning how to use and I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t use it enough. Yet I’m really thankful I’m learning to trust it and be confident in not only my opinions, but having the courage to voice them. It’s incredible what can  happen if you speak up.

So, yeah. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and I’m really excited to celebrate that with a few days off of work, time with family and friends and gaining all the weight I lost back in one day, thanks to numerous helpings of sweet potatoes. And rolls.

Lots and lots of rolls.

thanksgiving GIF by jecamartinez

Cheers.

PS: Happy 52nd Birthday to my Dad, who gets to boast that everyone is taking the day off and eating a lot of food for his birthday. I love you!


Frugal to a Fault

Apparently November is Financial Literacy Month–which I totally didn’t know until YouTuber Nerdy and Quirky talked about it in one of her vlogs. Not only was it a funny (and relatable) video, but it was great inspiration for a really apt topic to write about this week, as I looked back on my own finances.

They aren’t exactly…healthy.

As I’ve continued to level up adulting, I’m hit some pretty big milestones this year. Got promoted to full-time and broke into making just a sliver more than $30K a year. Started a retirement plan. Took over all the remaining bills my parents still paid for me, except for healthcare. Downloaded Mint, a budget tracking app, and actually started to stay on top of my finances and create a budget.

Yet I’m still always terrified to spend money.

I’m not sure where it’s stemmed from, that heightened anxiety when it comes to money. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where I’ve felt I’ve had enough money. Not in the sense of, I want to be filthy rich, but more like, enough money to actually be stable and not feel guilty any time I buy something that either isn’t allocated in my budget or isn’t a bill. Even with achieving all those milestones listed above, I still panic when my bank account dips into the lower side. I still struggle to even spend any money, aside of what I’m forced to spend to make ends meet.

So, considering that Christmas is barely over a month away, I’m sure you can imagine how heightened my stress gets, trying to add in a Christmas budget to my normal, frugal never-buy-anything budget. When you also take into consideration that one of my absolute favorite things to do is buy those I love presents, especially for Christmas, well, it just makes everything a tad bit more complicated.

Last week, I got a slightly funny, but also eye-opening, wake up call, when I started doing some Christmas shopping online. I had enough saved up that I could get everyone I was shopping for the bare minimum of what I wanted to to get them, without completely ruining my bank account and making my stress levels go through the roof. All of it was online, so I decided to just knock it out in one sitting–mostly because, after buying things for only one person, I already felt like I wanted to puke, even though I knew the money was there and I had nothing to worry about.

I got roughly halfway through before my card started getting declined.

Of course, I started panicking. It didn’t help that, by that time in the evening, the banks were closed, so I had to wait until the next day to see why my card wasn’t working anymore. It didn’t take a lot, however, for me to figure out that my card had probably been frozen by the bank, for two reasons: 1) it looked phishy, getting a bunch of things from a lot of different websites in one sitting and 2) looking at my normal spending habits, even buying one thing online was off, because I never spent anything. At all.

Some, of course, would call this some really damn good self-control. And I do have that, I think. I’m pretty good at shutting my brain off from buying that sweater that looks really cute or choosing to go to the library to get the latest bestseller instead of a bookstore. Yet, I couldn’t help but think about my reaction to buying Christmas presents this year, the whole card fiasco aside. While I was buying things, I just wanted to go throw up. I was sweating so badly that my shirt was drenched.

All because I was spending money.

Money that I had already budgeted to spend. Money that I was financially okay to spend.

Yet, in my mind, because it’s such a rarity, I couldn’t handle it. What if I did my math wrong? What if I misjudged when I should make my purchases and I didn’t have enough money in the bank for when bills were due next week? What if a paycheck came late and I was suddenly screwed? Yet, I did do my math right. I was totally okay, money wise. My bills were going to still get paid. I was going to be fine.

And that, my friends, is where I’m financially unhealthy.

I’m frugal to a fault.

Buying Christmas presents shouldn’t result in me struggling to eat my dinner because I’m still so nauseous or make me wish I had my deodorant with me to fight against my sudden sweat bucket status. Getting a new pair of tennis shoes I really need shouldn’t make me feel like I need to cut what I buy at the grocery store in half. Spending money that isn’t set aside for my bills shouldn’t induce a feeling of complete guilt or immobilizing fear.

I’m not saying that I suddenly need to start spending left and right or jump completely to the opposite end of the spectrum and spent without regard. That’s not healthy. But inducing lower-level panic attacks any time I do spend money isn’t healthy, either. Like a lot of things in my life, I need to find a better balance. I need to recognize that I’m doing okay, financially. Sure, this time next year, when I’m paying for my own healthcare or if any of my current bills increase, I’ll be screwed completely and utterly, but at the moment? I’m doing okay, even if everything is a bit tight. So if I want to go get dinner with someone, every once in a while, I can. If I want to get a new pair of jeans, that’s not going to kill me. If I want to spend the money I saved up for Christmas, I should do it without panicking that I’m making a mistake and about to ruin myself financially.

I need to give myself a little more credit and give myself room to breathe a little easier. Money is never an easy thing to manage, but I’m not doing too shabby. So why don’t you trust yourself a bit, mhm?

Cheers.