Monday, October 29, 2012

My True Success

Besides Ethan, if there is one thing I am proud of, it's my marriage.

Friday evening, my husband and I had a date.  One that didn't include Ethan, just the two of us.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this is only our third time out together since he was born 16 months ago.  We had one dinner date shortly after his arrival, we attended a beautiful wedding in June, and then Friday evening.  Oops?

We met at home after work on Friday (Ethan was already with my parents) and got ready for our date.  We headed to a beautiful little restaurant on our town's square that holds very few people, is super quiet, and extremely not child friendly.  We talked about our jobs, our hopes for future babies, our desire for Jason's evolving career, and the possibility of creating his own business in freelance work.  We had a few sweet moments, a fantastic dinner, and a couple hours of quiet.

We were at my parents house to pick up Ethan by 7:15, home with him by 8.  Even they made fun of us for showing up so early.

Are we total losers?  Do we just not have the ability to paint the town red anymore?  Have we lost the spark that once kept us up talking until the wee hours of the morning?  No, far from it.

You see, I like my husband, which apparently most people we encounter are constantly surprised by.  We are the best of friends.  So while we rarely ever get out together without our sweet little love, I don't feel deprived of time with my husband.  It's the one thing that I don't feel is a struggle. 

Ethan is usually in bed by 8 (at the latest) and the rest of the evening is ours.  Sometimes we work on our own projects, but often we curl up together in front of the television, we play a game, or we wait to have our dinner until then.  We don't have to leave the house to have a date.  We are constantly dating one another.  He holds my hand in the grocery store, we watch our favorite shows together, we giggle like teenagers about things that aren't even funny.

On the evenings that we work on our own projects or spend time apart with other friends, we can always count on our pillow talk.  Seriously, it's almost nauseating for me to tell you about.  There is nothing that I can keep as a secret from him (sometimes a curse when it comes to wanting to surprise him) and vice versa.  He knows without saying when I'm worried, and he makes the most ridiculous jokes that I can't even deal sometimes.  No matter how stupid they are, I end up laughing because he finds himself so funny.  He's really not that funny, I swear, but it amuses me that he thinks he is. So in a weird way, I guess maybe he is.  Great.  I just talked in a full circle.  Are you still there?

Every weekend is our time.  We hang around the house, take Ethan to the park, run errands, everything normal.  So normal, in fact, that I often wonder about what to blog about.  He is my priority, and our other friends are the icing on the cake.  We enjoy each other, we want to be around each other, we make time to spend.  Life doesn't come before marriage.  Life doesn't come before children.  Marriage and children make our life.

It's the little things that keep each other at the forefront of our minds.  Like getting up a few minutes early to download the new Taylor Swift album on the day of release (which, by the way, I love) so I wouldn't have to wait all day to hear it.  Or taking a few minutes to re-draft a cover letter because he hasn't the slightest idea how to use a comma.  It comes easy for us, and there is only one reason why.

We don't compare ourselves to others.

What works for our relationship certainly won't work in every relationship, or maybe any other relationship.  What comes easy for us doesn't come easy for others.  What we struggle with are things that are no-brainers to others.  We don't worry about it.  I don't worry that someone else's husband loves his wife more than Jason loves me.  He's not worried that someone else's wife actually knows how to make breakfast that isn't a Pop-Tart.  It isn't a contest.  I'm not more in love with Jason than any of you are in love with your spouses.  I'm not more of the one for him than any of you are for your husbands.  We aren't more meant for each other than anyone else.  And no one else is more right for each other than we are.  We don't worry about that.  We do what works for us, and we love each other unconditionally.

Are the ways that we show our love weird?  Absolutely.  It works for us.  It's our easy way.  I still like to impress him.  I love that I can be in a ratty t-shirt and it not matter.  I like to do something extra to make him smile at work.  I like that I can't hold back the truth on how I feel about something from him.  I enjoy that he can tell me that my outfit is completely not working.  I want him to be the forefront of my mind when it comes to our relationship.  We focus so much on each others needs that our own needs in turn become fulfilled.  And for us?  That comes easy.

So when I say that our fun date last night wasn't "so needed" or "refreshing," it's because we don't wait for a night out to make that happen.  It just happened to be one more lovely evening that I got to be with the only one I would ever want to share my life with.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Patches: A Photo Dump

Kentucky has some crazy weather.  Last week we were busting out the sweaters, boots and jackets, and this week we are back in our flip flops and tank tops.  We took full advantage of the beautiful weather and took Ethan up to our local pumpkin patch and apple orchard. 

So, without further ado, a photo dump:
His first ride down the "Cider Slider."  His smile got bigger and bigger with every ride!

Waiting for the petting zoo.

He thought it was hysterical when the animals ate out of his hands.

I LOVE his smile.

The thing that killed me the most?  Take a look.  We visit this same spot every year.  It amazes me how much of a difference a year can make.  My baby is way too big already!

I'm really feeling like he needs a brother!! Maybe for 2013?!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"I Might Have to Give My Dog Away"

I had a minor fender bender leaving work yesterday.

I pulled out of my parking lot, had accelerated to about 5-10 mile an hour, and BAM.  Someone was backing out of the parking lot next door to my office and hit my passenger side headlight. No injuries.  Minimal vehicle damage.  But.

It was the weirdest encounter I think I've ever had.  Due to my insurance experience, I started snapping photos, called the police, and began hunting for documents.  The guy apologized, admitted he didn't even see me, and asked if I was ok.

The awkwardness began when I called the non-emergency police number.  I told the lady I needed to report a non-injury accident, and she began to ask my whereabouts.

Me: "I'm on ABC road, right across the street from Steak and Shake." (Believe it or not, I live in one of the bigger cities in Kentucky, but we still reference landmarks.)
Dispatch: "Across from Chase?!"
Me: "NO.  Steak and Shake." (much more slowly.)
Dispatch: ABC Trace?!
Me. "NO.  Steak and Shake." (even more slowly.)
Dispatch: Oh. Ok.  I'll send someone.

I hung up, only to start talking to the gentleman that hit me.  He started asking me several questions.  "So, I pay like $120 a month already on my insurance, is this going to make it worse?" "You work in insurance, are they going to cancel me?" "Want to see my artwork?"

No joke guys, this character pulled out several notepads and started showing me several drawings he completed.  I complimented his work, and he started telling me that he didn't have a job in art because FAFSA wasn't working.  I nodded, and tried to alert my mother that Jason would be picking Ethan up, and that everything was ok.

We sat in silence after the police arrived and he began to run our information.  Awkward silence wasn't working for my co-accident partner, so he started talking again.

"So, want to hear my luck? Someone broke into my house right before I lost my job at the gas station."
"I can't find a new job either."
"I think I might have to give my dog away."

I finally looked at him said, "You just described a country song to me."

He said, "Nah, I hate country music.  I'm into heavy metal.  A teacher from my high school told me she didn't understand how I drew such beautiful pictures but listened to such crap."

Me: "To each his own, I guess."

Jason called again to check on me, and I again began to tell him about the minor damage.  The guy that hit me felt as though he was apart of this conversation, and began discussing/agreeing with me what the damage looked like.  He also began to tell me that his car wasn't damaged at all, just a "little bit of sandpaper and spray paint would take that scuff right out."  Well.  Glad to know he wouldn't be out a deductible for his own vehicle.

After what seemed like an hour, the policeman was struggling with my registration information.  It turned out that my license plate did not match my registration papers, an error in the office downtown.  He was explaining to me how to correct it, and also explaining it to dispatch on his walkie-talkie.  For some reason, the guy that hit me felt it necessary to join the conversation.

"Hey, officer, want to hear what my old car used to have on its plate?! 666!!! BAHAHAHAHA, isn't that funny?! I can't believe they issued that on someone's license plate on their car."

The poor office raised his eyebrows and muttered something along the lines of "well, how about that."  He smiled, said "Go Sox" (it pays to love the Red Sox!) and said we were free to go. 

Do you try to make small talk with the people you are involved in an accident with? How far are you willing to go with disclosure for small talk?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Worst Enemy

I really feel like I am my worst enemy sometimes.  My years in college allowed me not only to grow into the adult I wanted to be, but my studies actually taught me a lot about myself.  Studying the human mind and its processes (and being a slight hypochondriac) leads a lot of people to the awareness of some mental struggles they may have never known they had.  While it is easy to portray a perfect life on the internet, I'm here to tell you mine is far from that.  I've been thinking of doing this for a long time now, and I think I'm finally going to bite the bullet.

There is nothing shameful about mental illness.

If I were to "play therapist," I would absolutely call myself co-dependent.  While I don't feel that I fit this mold completely, I definitely have several co-dependent habits (mainly in the denial of my own feelings and putting aside my own needs for others) that get in the way of my relationships sometimes.  I do not find myself struggling with these characteristics nearly as much in my closest relationships that include my husband, my mother and my best friend.

My biggest struggle is invalidating my own feelings.  I often find myself feeling guilty for being hurt or angry at someone and justifying what someone else has done to make me feel that way.  "Oh, she's just had a bad day," "He didn't intend to hurt my feelings by saying that," "Well I probably provoked it somehow," "I'm being too hard on her," "He's just going through a lot right now, and he definitely doesn't need me picking a fight," "She's not meaning to blow me off, I'm sure she's preoccupied by something else."  Any of these sound familiar to you all? Maybe I'm the only one.

This cycle I put myself through can be really heavy on my heart.  Not only do I struggle with hurt feelings, but in turn struggle with thoughts that my feelings are "wrong."  Since my feelings are "wrong," I rarely speak up about them (another realm of my co-dependency that maybe I'll address later) and tell someone what they've done has bothered me.  When I do speak up about it, I get all kinds of nervous and then end up not making one bit of sense.  Of course, since it doesn't make sense when I'm trying to explain it, I'm often validated with my feelings are "wrong."

I'm not perfect.  Sometimes I do get angry when I shouldn't, and sometimes I do take things the wrong way.  My problem is figuring out the differences of those situations and overcoming the anxiety to actually do something about it.  I hate confrontation, I hate arguing, but sometimes I hate feeling guilty for being angry more.

The confrontations I do get involved in often end up nastier than they would originally be, primarily because I've surprised the hell out of someone for actually getting angry.  They're used to being rude and inconsiderate without me saying anything, it's hard for them to understand why all of a sudden they aren't getting away with it.  It's almost like a parent/child relationship, where a mother would let her child jump up and down on the bed on a regular basis without correction, and suddenly the child finds himself in time-out and grounded for jumping up and down on the bed.  Wouldn't you be confused too?

I've made it ok for people to hurt my feelings.  I've made it ok for people to pick fights with me on their bad days.  I've made it ok for people to take things out on me that are not my fault. I've let people know that once they are done with hurting my feelings, I'll forgive them and everything will be fine without any responsibility being taken.  I've made myself the easiest target you can find.

I'm learning that I'm more comfortable making things about other people most of the time, but sometimes, just sometimes, it's about me too.  Wanting someone else to consider my feelings or be a thoughtful friend is not selfish or unreasonable.  It is not unreasonable to want a relationship that is consistently warm water, instead of extremely hot or cold water.  I'd rather turn the faucet off.

Do you ever feel like the things you want out of your relationships are unreasonable?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Team Robin

Have any of y'all been following the recent health struggle of Good Morning America's newsanchor Robin Roberts?  She's been struggling with a rare blood disorder called MDS and has recently undergone treatment and a bone marrow transplant.

Robin left on medical leave not too long ago to begin her long and difficult journey to better health.  Shortly before she took her medical leave, she talked about how blessed she feels because not only does she have the support of her friends and family, but she had the support from her employer.  She even went as far to say: "Forty percent of Americans can't even take a sick day, and here I know I will have a job when I come back."

I was in that forty percent.

I drew the bad hand of a rare heart issue combined with a pregnancy, and immediately felt as though I was not going to have the support from my employer.  When medical issues began to arise, I was on their radar.  I started to become reprimanded for a performance that I had always been complimented and praised on.  I started to hear comments around the office about what a struggle it was going to be to have to deal with a second (the first being another co-worker and dear friend) female in a year to take medical leave.

My medical condition worsened quickly, and my paid leave time was quickly running short.  I began to inquire about FMLA, and was originally told that I likely would not qualify because my performance level was not what they wanted it to be.  Now, I'm no lawyer, but I knew this was wrong.  I went to a higher source.  I gained approval for intermittent FMLA.  It didn't end there.

If you've been around my blog long enough, you will know that my condition quickly changed from a minor pregnancy complication to a rare, life-threatening condition.  The combination of the condition in someone my age and pregnancy was nearly unheard of.  The level of fluid drained from my pericardium "set records," according to my surgeon.  Nearly 3400 cc's of fluid, and that was the second surgery.  It was a long hard road.  It was harder because of my job.

I loved my job.  I loved my clients.  I still think of them all the time, and wonder if anyone told them why I just disappeared.  Leaving the job I loved for an unknown period of time was also weighing on me.  To make matters worse, we knew every day I wasn't allowed to return to work was one day closer to the termination of my employment. 

After my first procedure, I was contacted regularly by my employers requesting a date of return.  I gave them the hopeful date, only to be disappointed. Not only could I not return on the day I hoped for, but I spent that day in the back of an ambulance, headed back to Nashville for a second surgery.  I remember texting my employer from the ambulance, apologizing that I wouldn't be able to return like I hoped.  I received several text messages, including one about 12 hours post surgery, asking for a date of return.  I didn't have one.

I hoped at every appointment to be released to return to my clients, for the chance to go back and tell them that I wasn't abandoning them, and that I wanted to continue to work with them.  I never got the chance.  I was told time and time again that my leave time was running out, and if I didn't bring a release to them by the end of that period, I would be facing termination.  I was consistently reminded the legal matters to the process, assuring me they weren't doing anything that wasn't "common business practice."  Every step of the way towards my recovery also lingered with reminders that I was losing my job, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.

As soon as the legal amount of time required by the FMLA laws passed, I was released from my position.  My clients would never know.  Here I was, nearly 6 months pregnant, not sure if Ethan and I would live to see his due date, and I was out of a job.  If we did live to see his birth, I had no job to return to in order to support my new baby.  Thankfully, Jason still has the job he loves, but we knew it was not going to be an option to literally cut our income in half for any extended period of time.

I can't tell you that I would have not felt any stress or anxiety in that time had my employer backed me the way that GMA is backing Robin Roberts.  I can tell you, that I could have focused more on my family, my health, and my child more easily had I not had the worry of losing my position and therefore losing the ability to financially support my family.  I could have enjoyed my post-partum days more, instead of worrying about when I was going to find a new job and how much time we had before we were in huge financial trouble.  Those early days with Ethan, as joyful as they were, were robbed from us because of the issues that were before us.

Granted, I'm no Robin Roberts.  While I saw myself as an asset to my clients, I was not irreplacable based on credentials and experience.  I didn't have the entire country watching, praying and supporting me during my time of medical struggle. But I shouldn't have to be.  I was simply a young woman, new in her career that adored going to work every day and felt completely loyal to the people who took a chance on a girl fresh out of college with no experience.  Life slaps us in the face from time to time. It happens, and it will probably slap Jason and I in the face in the future. 

I've been told time and time again that what happened to me is common.  It's legal, even though it may not be right.  It's appropriate, though it may not be moral.  So some of us get lucky to have compassionate employers like GMA that will provide love and support to their employees during those times.  Some of us do not.  The fact that those types of luxeries are luxuries instead of the norm is a shame. 

I understand that business has to go on and the world doesn't stop just because someone falls ill, but I also understand the meaning of a temporary replacement.  The ability to heal without additional stressors shouldn't be our luxury, it should be our right.  God doesn't put a time limit on our struggles, and extreme conditions are rarely resolved within twelve weeks.  I wasn't asking for additional paid time off, all I was asking for was the ability to know I had somewhere to return to in order to keep my family afloat.  What I got was a phone call of termination and the verbal request to re-apply once I was well and saw a position available that I was qualified for.  Legal obligation fulfilled.  I guess I shouldn't ask for anything more, right?  Call it what you want, but I do ask for more. I found more in my current position, while others aren't so lucky to ever find it.

It's inspiring to see GMA support Robin Roberts the way they have.  I am always uplifted to watch an update of her journey, how positive she has continued to stay, and how much her professional family continues to let her focus on herself until the physicians deem her healthy enough to return to her post in front of the cameras every morning.  It is encouraging to watch the strength of a professional relationship unfold as Robin continues to fight her battle.  It's nice to see that there are large corporations out there that still work with ethics based on compassion and loyalty.

Team Robin, Team Good Morning America.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Something About These Two...

There's something about these two hanging out together...

...that brings me so much joy.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I'm a really low risk taker.  In every aspect of my life, I go with the guarantee. Right? Maybe.  Wrong? Maybe.  I spend a lot of time worrying about all of the "what ifs" in life and go with the safe route.  I've been taught my entire life "the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward" but I often find myself not willing to take the jump into the bigger risk.  I weigh the option of what I have to lose if the risk I take doesn't pan out.  Usually, I'm not willing to lose it.  So I stick with the safe route and am happy with the smaller, but guaranteed reward.

I do this in my relationships as well.  I'm not willing to make the 100% investment into a relationship for a long period of time.  I do usually begin a new relationship with an "all in" mentality.  The second I lose a hand or two, my investment begins to decrease.  I understand this is not the right way to look at it.  I believe in second chances.  I believe in third chances, and fourth, and fifth.  There comes a time when the relationship has run its course.

Now, please don't think I'm completely incapable of having a healthy relationship.  I have had the same best friend since my freshman year of high school, and many other wonderful friends for several years. I'm not talking about those relationships.  I'm talking about the toxic ones.  The ones that you want so badly to become in the category of "life longers" but no matter how hard you try, they just don't happen.  They fizzle, they run their course, a falling out happens, and they're done.  It always, always hurts.

I always think it is ironic that most of these "courses" end during a life change.  I have a complete agree/disagree conflict with the statement that you find out who your friends are when things get hard.  But you also find out who your friends are when things are incredible.  Jealousy sets in, rears its ugly head, and the gloves come off.

I learned this lesson the first time when I became engaged to Jason.  I had so much wonderful support, people to cry tears of joy with, squeal with, and jump up and down with.  Then there were the others.  The ones that were angry, that didn't speak to me for a few weeks, that said they were happy but their faces said it all.  Those that thought they should be married before me.  Those that didn't know the engagement was coming and upset they hadn't been filled in.  Those that made hateful comments about the ring Jason selected.  And somehow, somehow, a couple of them ended up in my wedding party.  I justified their hateful comments and looked past them because they were so dear to me.

I often felt like I had no one to share my excited experiences with, and spent a lot of time venting via e-mail to some of my other friends. I didn't ask a lot of these girls.  I understood they had a lot going on in their lives, and not all of it was good.  One in particular was really struggling, and I over invested myself to eliminate her struggles.  I couldn't understand why I couldn't just "fix" things for people, instead of just being there.  I was over investing while they were under investing.  Never a good combo.

I asked for my girls to show up, to be happy for me, and to make it a fun day.  I invested a lot of time into making things as easy as possible for them, and in turn made myself miserable.  The night before my wedding, things came to blows.

I had one extremely uncomfortable conversation that eventually lead to a complete shut down of our relationship.  I stopped talking.  I stopped returning calls.  I was always "busy" when plans were made. I withdrew my investment without making a single effort to figure out what happened.  I decided that it was their turn to make the investment for a while.  When they didn't, the relationship was over.

Sometimes though, the same people can create a new relationship.  About two years after my wedding, an old friend and I ran into each other.  I felt my blood boil, remembering old hard feelings.  I didn't speak.  In fact, I rudely turned the other way.  For two days, I thought about it.  I knew I had done wrong.  So I contacted her.  I apologized for my behavior, and she was kind enough to accept it.  We talked about how much we had missed out on the past couple of years by pulling our investments out completely.  Two weeks later, I found out I was expecting Ethan.  She was one of the first I shared it with.  She was incredibly supportive and thoughtful, and our friendship has never been the same as it was before she and I were both married.  Thank goodness for that.  She and I both needed to grow up a little.  We had enough of a bond that the relationship was repairable with the understanding things couldn't and shouldn't ever be the same between us.  I needed to learn how to be there for her without over investing and imposing, and I needed to learn how to explain what I needed from her without getting angry and shutting her out.  It's a rare occurrence in my life that the stars align and these things happen, but they did.  And I am so thankful they did.

I've learned a lot from my relationship with her, namely that I can't tell people "how" to fix their problems.  I'm always willing to listen, rephrase, offer insight, and give my honest opinion.  However, I've learned that is absolutely all I can do.  I can't make anyone else's decisions, and I really don't want to.  I can be invested without being over invested, and investments do not have to be "all or nothing."  Sometimes a minimal investment and loving people from afar is best.  Sometimes it is being a large part of their daily life.

And sometimes it is figuring out where you fit best in someone's life.  That is often the difficult for me, and I usually learn the hard way.  We don't always have to risk it all to have the healthiest relationships, and we don't have to invest our whole selves into another just to solidify our place.  When it comes to my relationships, I'm always happier with the guarantee that someone is always on my side.

Do you over invest or under invest? Has it ever caused an issue with a friend, family member, or spouse?

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I struggle with the content of this blog.  I often use it as a tool to keep people we know and love involved in our lives, but it is absolutely not intended to be the only source of involvement.  While I love documenting Ethan's life here, and talking about where God takes my family, I often hold back what's really going on in our lives.  I most certainly hold back from talking about how I feel about certain situations and experiences.

I spend a lot of my time worrying about who is reading this post, rather than just letting things pour out like I want them to.  There are a lot of people I know IRL that read this blog, including family, friends, old co-workers, etc.  I worry about what they will say.

I hate discussing the contents of my blog in a face-to-face conversation.  For me, the posts that I have exposed a little more vulnerability are behind me once I click "publish."  I have nothing more to say about the topic, because I've already poured my heart out in it.  It makes for very awkward conversations where I don't know how to respond without being redundant.  And rarely would I ever speak out loud the things I write.  I'm weird like that.

I worry about my presentation.  I worry about people thinking I'm writing about "them," when the likelihood of that is extremely rare.  I worry about people getting angry, thinking I'm saying things about them on their blog.  I've already had one mishap with one post regarding a couple friends.  While I was making reference to another entirely different situation, I ended up with a very long text message from another friend, thinking I was talking about her.  But isn't that the risk we take involving ourselves in social media?  I struggle with the balance.

We spend so much time thinking that everyone else always has us at the forefront of our mind that we irrationally believe that they are always referring to us.  It's horribly conceited, really, but we all do it to some degree.  My blog, my Facebook account, and my Twitter account are just small little pieces of things that run through my head.  They are never to hurt anyone, exclude anyone, or attack anyone.

I understand that social media, including my blog, are good resources to stay updated and involved in people's lives to a more detailed degree.  These tools are no means an excuse to not stay connected in other ways.  I don't consider you involved in my life or my child's life if you only know what is happening with us via Facebook, blogging or Twitter.  While I am happy to bring my part to the table to keep you involved, it is not my responsibility for the entire thing.  Nothing frustrates me more than someone pretending to be extremely involved in our lives because they saw a sweet picture of Ethan on Twitter.  Reposting it and pretending you were part of the experience doesn't make up for the moments they miss.

While I'm happy to update anyone and fill anyone in on our lives, sometimes I want to be asked about it first.  Sometimes I like to be met in the middle, and sometimes I like the effort to come from both sides. I'm not interested in part time relationships, and I'm not interested in investing my time for anyone that is not willing to return the favor.

I've decided it's time to stop worrying.  I can't help how people feel about what I say and what I write.  While I would never write maliciously about someone, this is my place to write about how I feel.  This is my perspective, my reality, and my public journal to do so.