Monday, August 29, 2011

And she's off!

This little lady left me for the other side of the world today. That's my baby sister and she's headed to study abroad in Italy until DECEMBER. Cue my sobs.

My emotions this morning are as follows: sadness, excitement, nervousness, happiness, jealousy.

Sad because I'm going to miss her just a wee bit.
Excited because as study abroad veteran myself {two-timer here}, I know just how much fun she is going to have.
Nervous because she's my baby sister, who shouldn't even be old enough to be going to the other side of the world by herself.
Happy because I know she is about to embark on the time of her life.
Jealousy because I wish it were me! Unfortunately, my current lifestyle does not allow for rendezvous on the other side of the world for months at a time. Boo.

In order to ensure that her experience does not turn out like the train wreck we have witnessed on the Jersey Shore, I have inundated her with tips and advice from my past experiences traveling abroad, as her big sister that's my job. I shared a few of those on my personal blog, but thought I'd share a few here as well. You can read the complete post over here.
  • limoncello is not your friend.
  • get used to climbing stairs.
  • knowing your way around a train station will come in handy. always double check to make sure you’re on the right train before it leaves the station. learned this one the hard way.
  • take every cheesy tourist picture against your better judgement. throwing coins in the trevi fountain in rome. holding up the leaning tower of pisa. running down the spanish steps. do it, despite how foolish you think you look.
  • the best way to get to know a city—walk. just start and keep going. you’ll end up exactly where you want to be.
  • take a table outside.
  • write everything down. everything. one day you’ll want to read it. trust.
  • keep an open mind. take everything in stride. if you don’t keep high expectations, you will constantly be pleasantly surprised.
Did you ever study abroad? Studying in Paris and Florence during college are two trips I will never forget. I so wish I could have gotten on the plane with my sister this morning. I'll just have to settle for living vicariously through her for the next couple of months.

Monday, August 22, 2011

decisions, decisions

Why is it so hard for our generation to make a decision?

I have a hard time deciding what to eat for lunch on a daily basis. When it comes to making major life decisions, don't even think about it. I could go back and forth for months on end, given the time. And unfortunately, I think this is a problem that ails our generation.

I'm in the middle of a time in my life where I really want to find out what I want to do. Ha. Funny time to be deciding that, right? Having already graduated college and everything. Some people have the fortune to just know. I am decidedly not one of those people. I think I could be happy doing any number of things. And so far, I am. But I want a calling. A purpose. A passion. Something to drive me. Right now, I really do enjoy my job. But do I think I'm meant to do this for the rest of my life? No.

So that's where I'm at. Deciding what to do for the rest of my life. No easy task. But just like every other decision that I suck at making in my life, there is a path to the right decision. I'm not saying I'll make the right decision in a couple of days. But I will have decided to try something, anything. And if that doesn't work out... Well, back to the drawing board.

Here's my path to any great decision. From lunch to major life events, it never fails...
  1. Set a deadline. Like I said earlier, I could sit and think about this for the rest of my life. That just won't do. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time {not too long, not too short} to have a decision.
  2. Do your research. This may be the journalism nerd coming out in me. But find out everything you can about your choices so that you can make a well informed decision.
  3. Write it down. Weigh the pro's and con's by literally writing them all down.
  4. Internalize it. Think about it. Pray about it. Meditate on it.
  5. Talk it out. Share your concerns, feelings, etc. with someone you trust. Sometimes just verbalizing your concerns is enough to realize you're being silly. Sometimes a new perspective can shed a new light. But in the end, remember it's your decision.
  6. Just go for it. At some point you're going to have to make up your mind, so just do it. Jump!
  7. No looking back. Once you've made your decision, don't second guess it. Trust that you've made the right decision for you. Don't waste time with the what if's. And stick it out. Let it run its course.
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own regard."

-Amelia Earhart

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The world became a better place on this day.

Since Annye is busy planning birthday festivities, I have to take the time out today to write a little post in honor of her mother, a woman who I whole-heartedly admire. Today is Annye's mom's birthday. Most certainly a day to be celebrated.

As mom and daughter relationships go, we all know they can be rocky. They can be unhealthy. They can be flat out non-existent by our age. But Annye and her mom have a relationship that is exactly the one I want to have with my daughter some day. While Annye and Valli are the only ones who know the ins and outs of their relationship, as a spectator I can tell you I see quite a bit of love, support and honesty between the two of them. 

Not only is their relationship one to admire, but Valli's ability to raise four amazing children. Annye, whom I obviously know the best, is a woman I am proud to call my friend. A kind, smart, funny, confident, beautiful person. Someone with her feet on the ground but her head in the clouds. Always realistic about what's here and now, but always dreaming of what she is capable of. And we all know that is certainly anything. Annye couldn't be that way without some rock-solid confidence and that rock-solid confidence would be hard to come by without that wonderful woman who raised her to believe in herself.

I heard some quote a while back about how the true testament of if you are a good parent or not is how your children speak of you when you aren't around. Well, Valli, with those four kids of yours smiling because of you today, I'd say you passed the test with flying colors.

Enjoy your birthday and all of those that love you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

too busy being fantastic


There comes a time in any 20-something's life when everyone they know, and even some they don't, seem to be getting married. That's a fact I've finally come to terms with. So you think you're in love and want to spend the rest of your life with someone? Go for it. Have the time of your life. I'll just be here enjoying my time sans spouse.

What I have not come to terms with however is why these sudden marrieds think their 22/23/24/25 year old selves are suddenly ready to have and care for a child, let alone multiple children. Because I for one cannot think of anything I would rather do less at this point.

A side note to my future children: Mommy loves you. But mommy will love you more in about 10 years when I'm not so selfish anymore.

Listen, I can't wait to have kids. Mostly because I have a lot to say, and a child is the only thing I can think of that I will be able to force to listen to me 24/7. Also, kids are cute. Even I can admit that.

But right now, nothankyouverymuch.

Top 5 signs that I'm not ready to have a baby any time soon:
  1. The idea of constantly having to care for another human being sounds sort of gross right now. {Also relates to pets, plants, any life form.}
  2. I would rather spend money on clothes than anything practical.
  3. Sleep is not a luxury. It's a right.
  4. My iPhone has seen better days. {Check out this interview for relevance.}
  5. I can't think of one person I would actually commit to spending the next 18 years with in order to parent said child. Pretty crucial, I'd say.
Safe to say I will be sticking to the auntie role for at least a couple more years.

So am I the most selfish person you know? Or just really honest with myself? Probably a little bit of both. But that's okay, because I fully realize I only have a few more years to be the most selfish person ever. Which can be chalked up to one reason I love where I'm at right now.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Power of Things

via Pinterest
Well Chuck, I think you're right. 

I remember during college when I was on the fast track to writing life-altering articles for a big newspaper (haha), the advertising sequence always tantalized me a bit. It was creative. There was money in it. They had cooler projects. There was a certain err to the advertising students. I remember when I mentioned this to my big brother, his eyes rolling and some tangent about how advertising is what is wrong with society. 

But as I am on most issues, I try not to be to dead set one way. Call me wishy-washy, but I don't think there is anything wrong with standing right there in the middle and considering both ends of an argument.

I do think that what drives us at times is sad. Things. We want more and more things. It causes us to not want to give. To think we deserve more and more. To stay in that job we dread because we want a certain lifestyle. To work late and miss that dinner date with friends. Or that dance recital. Or that weekend home. Things that cause us to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and magically achieve financial ruin before the age of 25. My bottom line of thinking on this is when things become more important than people, this is a problem.

What is it about things? Why do we crave them so much? Is advertising to blame?

Again, with most issues, I think the finger can certainly be pointed at more than one thing or person, and at least one finger needs to definitely be pointed at....ourselves. Does Mercedes make us buy a car we can't afford? Does Marc Jacobs make us charge that purse that costs more than our rent? No. We do all of that on our own. Maybe we get caught up in the pressure of society to have this or that. Maybe we want to keep up with the Joneses...Or more likely, have a cuter this or that than the bitchy woman we work with, or the neighbor we can't stand.

But, there is also the point that maybe we just enjoy it. We love fashion, so that Alice & Olivia blazer gives us the warm and fuzzies. Or we love being outside, so that fancy pool makes us smile every day. And this, my friends, is where I get it. I mean, I do work for a boutique, trying to get girls like you to buy shoes, jewelry and clothes. Photographing them on gorgeous girls so you look at the item and go "I want to look like that," and buy it. But, I also want you to look at that item, on that gorgeous girl, and say "I can look like that." Things, if we speak with a little brutal honesty, can build confidence. Certainly we want our brains and hearts to come first as to why we feel like a confident woman, but things help too. That killer dress. Or those jeans that make your ass look, well, perfect...they make us feel good.

So when it comes to things, we must hold ourselves accountable and constantly put it in perspective. To have balance. Don't stay in a job you hate just to have some fancy apartment. Cut back. Take a job you love and you'll be happier for it. Don't spiral out of control financially so you are always a slave to your debt. Sounds so easy, doesn't it? I say this without experience, as I charged too much in college, have a latte´ habit that is costing me a pretty penny, and feel actual anxiety when tons of cute things arrive at the boutique I work at (embarrassing, but true!) but I'm thinking it actually is pretty easy... if you just do it. If you take the stance that having things you can't afford actually isn't cool at all. It's actually a bit, well, sad. 

So, for me, I'm going to be looking at it this way: Seek to impress people with who you are and not what you have, without sacrificing things you really love or enjoy.

*PS- If you haven't seen the movie The Joneses with Demi Moore, check it out...will serve as a great reminder not to get too wrapped up in things. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

just a little thought

"I think the reason why twentysomethings are so fixated on age is because we feel a pressure to be a certain way at 23, at 25, at 29. There are all of these invisible deadlines with our careers and with love and drinking and drugs. I can’t do coke at 25. I need to be in a LTR at 27. I can’t vomit from drinking at 26. I just can’t! We feel so much guilt for essentially acting our age and making mistakes. We’re obsessed with this idea of being domesticated and having our shit together. It’s kind of sad actually because I don’t think we ever fully get a chance to enjoy our youth. We’re so concerned about doing things “the right way” that we lose any sense of pleasure in doing things the wrong way. Youth may be truly wasted on the young."

Do you relate to that at all? Because I totally do.

I have to consciously decide everyday to live in the present. To take things as they happen. To not spend my time wishing for other things or watching my life pass me by.

Totally cheesy.
But true.

Be present. Do things you think are stupid and you'll most likely regret later. Don't worry about whether or not you are going to have four kids or five. Don't inspect every man you meet to see if he fits your criteria for Mr. Right. {guilty} Be stupid. Make mistakes. {But maybe don't ever do coke.}

Let's make a pact to enjoy our time being twentysomethings and live it exactly as it plays out. Don't over think. Don't hope for things you can't have. Live the life you've got and make the best of it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

home sweet home

Tomorrow I will set out on a 11 hour road trip to my hometown. I am so excited to see my parents, my sister and old friends.

I've been lucky enough to have multiple "homes" since I left home for college in '05. For 4 years I called Columbia, Mo. home, and now I call Fayetteville home. In each place I've been blessed with great friends that become like family. Loved ones that make being so far from Illinois not so bad.

Going back to the place I grew up always feels good though. It feels right. It's nice to see people that know you in a different way. People who know your parents. Who know what is was like where you grew up. Who you had sleepovers with, went to school with, got in trouble with, shared secrets with. The people who were with you through your first kiss, your first love, your first heartbreak. The people you went to prom with. Graduated with. And cried for hours with when it was time to leave for college.

Whenever I've lost sight of myself, they serve as my anchor. My roots. They remind me of who I once was and how capable I am of achieving what I want to achieve. They have no doubt in me because they've already seen me overcome trials and tribulations. They've seen me have a dream and go for it. They've seen me succeed. They believe in me, often with more faith than I believe in myself. They are the people who know where I came from as I continue to figure out where I am going.

So my heart's in Illinois. And in Arkansas. And Missouri. Home really is where your heart is, and a little bit of my heart is in each place.

To my loved ones in Illinois, I can't wait to see ya'll. (And listen to you incessantly make fun of me for using the word ya'll. Hey, some things do change.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

signs of adulthood


I had a moment the other day when I was looking at personalized stationary for myself. A moment where it hit me, I'm really an adult. Never in my life have I cared about having stationary with my initials on them to send to my grandma {because she's the only one I actually ever send snail mail to}.

I have these moments from time to time. Doing things like buying my first car, paying my first college loan payment, booking my first trip by myself, picking up a bottle of wine after a day at work. Little Reminders that I'm no long a baby--I'm a {semi} responsible human being. How and when did I suddenly get here?

Feeling responsible and in charge of my own life is great. Not having to constantly worry about my parents' approval {even though I still do from time to time}, not having to ask for money--it's nice! And yet, there are times I wish I could rewind about five years, back to when my life was mostly carefree and less complicated.

Suddenly I have to worry about making my paycheck last the full two weeks so I can pay my bills on time and feed myself. I have a job to be at Monday-Friday. You know, those responsibilities that come along with being responsible.

Ahh, being a grownup. It's a double-edged sword. Most days I'm wishing I could pack up and jet around the world at the drop of a hat, or spend a weekend visiting friends in Chicago, or buy a really great pair of jeans whenever I want to.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is that I can't decide whether being an adult rules or sucks. There are certainly some perks, but then there are times I would gladly hand it over to be carefree for just a little while longer.

Someone should have warned me that being an adult is hard. And so is picking out personalized stationary.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thanks Universe.

My 23rd year came to a close on Saturday. The big 2-4 was marked by a few days of festivities. Two days in Branson with my beautiful 70-year-old grandma, a day floating and camping on the river, and a final day of strawberry cake, gifts and a spaghetti dinner.

This birthday made me feel unbelievably lucky. It is one of those birthdays that went beyond all expectations. My friends and family went out of there way to make me feel special and loved. I was (and still am) very, very touched.

A new year always makes me reflect on the past one, and my birthday made me think about something my friend Tricia talked about a few weeks ago. I was seeking a little advice, and probably complaining, when she told me that the universe is always giving us who and what we need. Maybe it hasn't come to us with a big bow on it, or maybe it isn't perfectly wrapped, or maybe it just seems like a really shitty gift--but regardless, it is exactly what we need at that place and time in our life.

Sometimes we look at life and think it needs to be "perfect." The perfect boyfriend, roommate, job, family. But I'm not telling you anything new when I say that nothing in life is perfect. Someone will disappoint us, we will argue with a loved one, we will have a really bad day, be really sick of everyone and devise a plan to move to Europe. (Guilty.)

But when we sit back, let go and let God as they say, we realize it actually is pretty perfect after all--and everything is just as it needs to be.

Take my life for instance. My very first birthday, in fact. On the day I was born my dad wasn't even at the hospital. He was drunk. I was born into a home with an abusive, alcoholic father. And that was the beginning of my story.

Fast forward to my fourth birthday. My mom has married my now stepdad, Russ. (Who I call dad - I know, it can get kind of confusing.) But, this man, this great, great man became my dad. He truly took me from a life that would have been most likely filled with abuse, sadness and poverty, to a room with a canopy bed, private school and way too many clothes for a little girl to ever have. He gave me a life with every opportunity in the world. But most importantly, he gave me a life filled with love and support.

Now my dad didn't come with a big red bow, and we certainly had our years of battling over curfews and boys. It's not a perfect relationship. But it is perfect for me. As Tricia would say, the universe gave me what I needed--a dad.

Fast forward again to my 24th birthday. College is over. So is my hopefully one-time awful relationship with a man. I mean boy. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) So is my first job. So is my move and know no-one journey.

Twenty four years of surviving. Of living. At times, jumping the hurdles alone. But at other times, when I've needed it most, jumping the hurdles with someone running right along side me. Twenty four years of the universe giving me exactly who and what I've needed to become exactly who I am supposed to be.

So thank you, universe. For every good and bad relationship in my life so far. For every good and bad thing that has happened. For letting me complete the race which was my 24th.

On to my 25th. Sure to be my best time yet.