Tag Archives: life

Churchless

I was in the 4th grade when we started going to my church. My family had hopped around from church to church, never finding a right fit or denomination for us, until the boys across the street invited us to Sunday School one week and my sister and I enjoyed ourselves so much that my parents tagged along the following week and the rest is sort of history. Though it had changed in a lot of ways by the time we’d joined, it was the church my mother grew up in and it became the church my dad found God again in. It’s a small old building that rests on a hill at the corner of two of the “major” roads in my little town, rooted pretty deep in the customs of the Southern Baptist that founded it. There are hardly any original members left alive, but one of them, Mrs. Silva-Jean sits in my pew with my family; her and my Maw Maw are best girlfriends.

 

In the time I’ve attended Towne Baptist, we’ve seen several pastors lead our church. When the first one passed away, a younger, hyper man took his place. When God called that guy to serve in another state, one of our own members got ordained and became the Pastor. That Pastor got involved in the mismanagement of church money and was ultimately asked to leave and at his exit, much of the church fell apart. Members left in anger or disappointment, others got tired of waiting for the “right” pastor to come and fill the void. And when we finally got a new Pastor, most of my church experience changed in a big way, for the better.

 

When I was younger, I mostly liked church for Sunday School and VBS and church camping trips. These things made it fun to learn about God. But when I graduated high school and could decide for myself whether I wanted to go to church or not, I mostly stopped going altogether. It was around this time when the drama surrounding the mismanagement of money started to create a hostile environment in a place that should be all about peace. Alliances were made and gossip was spread and the cattiness of it all was just too much for me. Even though I know you’re supposed to turn your cheek and forgive, most of us just couldn’t and the hypocrisy in that made me look at organized religion in a negative way. I was of the belief that you could worship God anywhere; you didn’t need a building and all that drama to find Him. While I still feel this is mostly true, I made the decision to come back to church when they finally found a suitable Pastor to fix the brokenness at Towne, because I felt myself needing to go to church; it was way too easy to drift from God without it.

 

Maybe it’s something about being older and having a better understanding about life in general, but that new Pastor awakened a desire in me that I didn’t even know existed. He didn’t preach AT you, he didn’t proclaim to be holier than us. His sermons weren’t always the uplifting, feel good types that have become so common in mainstream Christianity. He wasn’t afraid of touchy subjects, he told Bible stories from an obviously well-educated perspective and connected them to real life scenarios, and he could even laugh at and acknowledge his own mistakes when preaching. Lots of older people probably had a problem with him from the start because he’s only a handful of years older than me, which made him way younger than the average pastor we’d had for the last few decades when he first came on board. They also had a hard time adapting to his new age methods of spreading God’s word. In his time there, our church held functions most Baptists think are sinful to even entertain, like Halloween’s Trunk or Treat, and the reach in our community was huge. Literally hundreds of people who might have never even given our church a second thought showed up. The use of social media as an advertising platform also didn’t jive so great with the older members of congregation because, like some might say, “FB is the devil.” While I might agree that it can be a hellish place, I think the ways in which we reach new followers has to change with technology. You’re far more apt to reach someone with a FB post or Ad than you are by them driving by the church and noticing a sign inviting them in. In my eyes, he was already doing so much more than any of the Pastors before him and it didn’t even stop there. The guy is seriously an overachiever in life. Someone missing from the praise band for the 8:30 service? No problem, Phil can play every instrument up there and sing too. There’s something both unbelievable about his seemingly endless abilities and also really freaking impressive. I can’t tell you how many times I wondered how he’d managed to excel at so much in this life in only a handful more years than I’ve been alive. If I was a prideful person, I suppose I could see how that might be intimidating to someone who’d achieved less in more years. Luckily, I’m not. 😉

 

The bulk of people from Towne or who had departed Towne prior to his arrival never made it easy for him to do God’s work without some sort of ugliness surrounding his every move. Some even went as far as creating a FB prayer group, of which the Pastor and his wife were a part of, just so they could talk crap about how inefficient they thought he was as a Pastor. It made me sick to watch these “Christians” acting so un-Christian-like, to the point that I found myself wanting nothing to do with the church anymore. This feeling of disappointment in the congregation at my church was enough to even make my parents leave and attending church without them for the last year hasn’t been easy, but I did because Phil’s messages moved me more than anyone before him. His sermons are the kinds that make you take notes; that lingers with you long after you’ve left the sanctuary.

 

A few months ago, Phil told us he was leaving. That God was calling him to plant a new church near his neighborhood. And initially, for me, the disappointment felt like anger. The idea of having to leave the church I’ve always went to because I couldn’t stick around through another transition of a new Pastor, because I couldn’t sit by and watch those naysayers gloat over his departure. But then my angry disappointment felt like relief because with my parents already gone, there was really nothing tying me to the church anymore outside of him. And while I might not love the idea of change, even when it’s good for me, I am okay with leaving finally.

 

So, it’s been 5 weeks since Phil’s last day and now 4 weeks since I’ve been to church and I worry about how long it might be before I actually get to see a service led by him again. Probably I’ll start going to the mega-church my parents go to for a while just so I don’t start drifting, but I’m not thrilled about it. It’s too big, like the kind of church you see on TV. My parents like it because no one has to know them personally if they don’t want – they don’t have to get involved in or know about the drama this way. But big churches like that feel impersonal to me. While I don’t want to be a part of the drama, I do want to feel comfortable in the pew every week, like I’m a part of a 2nd family I look forward to seeing once a week.

 

There’s a big part of me that feels bad about leaving the church I grew up in all because the leaders gone. Isn’t that just as bad as the people who left when he first arrived? How devoted does that make me? Except that devotion should always be toward God first, not a building. And I’m afraid that the brokenness of my church might never be healed. It’s fueled by too much negative energy and I just don’t think I can be a part of trying to fix that anymore. So until then, I’m sort of churchless. I’ll be honest, it’s a crummy feeling, but I just keep hoping and praying my Pastors new church plant takes off soon and successfully so I can get back to learning about God better than I ever had before him. And in the meantime, I’m pouring myself into my devotionals and prayer journal to keep me on track.

 

About the Church Plant: Connecting Church, Coming Soon….

 

Connecting Church 2016 from Connecting Church on Vimeo.

Weight loss Journey #1: On Progress and Patience

I had meant to write about this the first time around, but having to stop a few weeks before the wedding never gave me an opportunity to blog about the journey so I’m rectifying that now. I’ve just completed the 6th week of T25, which is the same amount of weeks I’d completed the first time around. It’s also the 1st week of Alpha Round 2, as the program is technically only 5 weeks long, and I’m doing Alpha twice because I know I’m not ready to move on to Beta yet. Heck, I might need to do Alpha three times before I feel like my body can actually handle Beta, to be honest. On Saturday’s I always do an extra workout, because I don’t trust myself to take two days off, and that workout typically ends up being Tae-Bo Cardio, but in the 3rd or 4th week I thought I’d give Beta Cardio a shot and holy crap was it so much harder than I could have imagined. Now, I made it through it, and felt totally badass for it in the end, but it’s definitely not something I could do everyday yet and so I’ll stick with Alpha for another 4 weeks before I decide whether I’m ready for the upgrade yet.

 

So how has it been, now vs. before? Interesting? That’s a bad answer. Challenging? Yeah, that’s better. And challenging is good, because growing bored in this certainly wouldn’t keep me motivated. I must admit, though, that some weeks have been harder than others.

 

In week 1, making it a habit again was difficult. I found myself barely making it home in time to swallow some dinner, workout way too late, shower, and head to bed before midnight. For someone who gets up between 4 and 5 AM everyday for work, this is too little sleep. It left zero time for anything else, stressed me out, and left me constantly tired in a dangerous way. The best thing about week 1 was being able to actually do the recommended 2 workouts on Friday. I couldn’t do 2 in one day until week 4 the first time!

 

In week 2, that tiredness in week 1 caught up with me and my workouts suffered for it. Where I should have been able to give them a little more oomph, I was giving them a little less because I just didn’t have the energy. But, the habit felt formed already, like something I couldn’t skip – something my body needed – something I must do! Even though my muscles ached, I’d started to crave the pain because it reminded me I was doing something right.

 

By week 3, my priorities surrounding my schedule started to shift. Feeling like I must workout everyday forced me to make the most of the minutes in all the other things I do everyday. It also forced me to ax some non-priority activities like TV and social media from my everyday to-do list. If it couldn’t be done on my phone in a handful of minutes, it’d have to wait. I managed to make getting at least 7 hours of sleep a real thing and my muscles and mind were grateful for it.

 

In week 4, frustration set in. When you physically push yourself hard 6 days a week, you expect to see significant or noticeable progress. And when you don’t, it’s so easy to just want to throw in the towel. For as much as I loved the aching of my muscles, I hated it too. I hate how much my knees crunch every time I go to stand up or squat down. I hate how old it makes me feel to move stiffly after being seated for too long.  I hate how I have to take ibuprofen on leg intensive days just so my knees can even handle the workout. I hate standing on the scale and seeing the number either not move at all or even move up, when everything about your body feels tight and awesome until you step in front of a mirror and confirm that nope, you’re still giggly and fat. In week 4, my insecurities wanted me to just give up and stop wasting my time, but mentally I knew that wasn’t the answer. And I kept praying desperately for just the slightest evidence of progress, a 1/4″ even would have helped, but it hadn’t come. Thankfully, I didn’t quit and it was probably the sermon at church that week that kept me going. Things happen in God’s time, not ours – Pray for patience, not progress.

 

In week 5, frustration turned into obsession. Truthfully, I’m surprised it took that long. I suppose the feeling of working out as a must was the beginnings of it, but fitness obsession was in full-blown effect by week 5 and it’s not going away anytime soon.

 

 

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At the start of this second attempt of T25, I’d sold the unopened Fitbit Flex I got for Christmas and got myself a Garmin VivoSmart band to track my steps and sleep activity. My husband and mom have older model Garmin bands and it’s made both of them revive their naturally sedentary lifestyles. I wanted to do the same, but I wanted more features so I went for the newer “smart” model and quickly became obsessed with it. It’s thin and unobtrusive on my wrist and it acts like or appears to just be a digital watch whenever you touch it, but swiping and pressurized touches will give you a whole series of other options like: how many steps you’ve taken for the day, how many you still need to hit your goal, how many calories you’ve burned, or how many miles you’ve walked today. It also does even cooler things like when you’ve been sitting still for an hour, it vibrates at you and tells you to move and won’t clear itself until you do it to it’s satisfaction. If you ignore it, it will continue to vibrate at you every 15 minutes until you’ve hit 2 hours. It takes a lot longer to clear it if you let it get to that far without listening. It also tracks activities, so whenever I do T25 (or any sort of “workout”), I tell it to track the activity and then when I’m finished it stores them all on the app so I can later compare the actives on a week to week basis to see how I’m improving. It can track an assortment of different types of activities and it breaks each of them down by your fastest pace, a graph of your movement, how many calories you burned, etc… The sleep tracker is one of my favorite features though because it not only tracks the hours you sleep, but your light vs. deep sleep hours too so you can tell which things might be making you get more or less of the different kinds of sleep (for instance, my sister discovered her lifelong habit of sleeping with the TV on was leaving her with very little deep sleep every night). It even knows when I’ve gotten up to pee in the middle of the night. And you can set a little alarm on it, so you wake up to a vibration instead of the jarring sound of a regular alarm. Lastly, it can sync so seamlessly with your phone that you could control music from it, if you were in the middle of a workout and wanted it louder or softer or just to change a song, and you can have notifications sent to it, of which you can actually even read right on the band! I currently have my phone calls, text messages, and emails linked to it and it’s extra convenient for knowing when I NEED to check one of those things right away or if I can wait a minute until I’m near my phone again.

 

 
Sleep Tracker

 

Activity Comparison

 

Screenshot_2016-03-20-13-53-46Looking back, that all sounds a bit advertise-y, but it’s just because I really do love it. So much so that my sister has also since gotten one and now my whole family competes against each other daily in steps. You can “friend” people on the app and set challenges or just see their general daily progress every time they sync. My sister and Heath are so competitive they will literally run in place for 10-20 minutes several times a day just to get more steps and there’s a ton of trash-talking in the daily comments; it’s quit funny really. Having a job that requires I actually SIT at my desk means that I don’t beat them often, but I have on a few occasions and it was such a victorious feeling! My best day so far was over 16K steps and since I’ve had the band, I’ve put in over 400,000 steps total! I’ve found myself so obsessed with the steps that I have a hard time sitting down for too long now. Heck, I delayed a whole week in writing this post because I didn’t want to sit at my desk long enough to write it when I could be stepping. You can imagine what that means for my reading. If I can’t read it while I’m walking around the house, I haven’t touched it (which means, I’ve basically only read comics these days). Even while I’m doing menial tasks like the dishes, I’m stepping or dancing in place as much as I can to get those steps in.  I’ve joked that by this time next year, everyone will ask our family how we got so fit this year and our answer will be out stepping each other, but it could be true. I never thought I’d ever see us so motivated before and who knew we were so competitive?!

 

Anyway, I rambled about all that because it’s feeding my fitness obsession right now and in week 5 signs of spring started to make an appearance outside so Heath and I started walking after my T25 workouts. At first it was just a mile or so, but since then we’ve wandered halfway through our town, walking up to 3 miles a day now in addition to T25! That’s like an additional 3-5K steps just for walking around for a half hour. We both signed up for the Color Run in May this year and while I know we’ll likely just be walking it since the kids are going with us, I’m excited that if we keep up this walking every night thing, we might actually do the Color Run (walk) without being winded at all.

 

This past week, week 6, was a re-start of the program and you might think that since you’ve done it before and already made it past 5 weeks, that going back to the start wouldn’t be very challenging, but it is for a couple reasons. For starters, I can do a heck of a lot more now with the group than I could in week 1. I almost exclusively followed Tanya (the modifier) in those early days, and while I still need to for the high impact knee moves (primarily any that involve jumping), I’m otherwise doing everything else with the crew now. I’ve also been struggling with the tiredness again, but this time not of my own doing. Turns out that despite taking prescriptions for both of these things, my thyroid and vitamin D levels are back in dangerous places. I’m currently working with my doctor to rectify these things, but my week 6 routine definitely suffered for it. Hopefully it will be all sorted out before I hit week 8.

 

Yesterday I did the stretch session for the first time since having T25 and I’m not sure why I waited so long to check it out. My muscles are in a constant achy state, even with Sunday being a rest day, but doing that stretch DVD after my Saturday workout yesterday not only settled my heart rate and mind to a calm place, my muscles also felt SO relieved for a change. They’re achy again today, which is to be expected since I murdered my legs yesterday, but I think that stretch session is crucial from here on out. In addition to this, I’m going to continue to up my step goal by 1K every two weeks and try one of Blogilates daily mini workouts for the month of April. With all of that, my T25 schedule, and neighborhood walks with Heath, I’m bound to be reporting even bigger progress the next time I blog about this journey.

 

For now, I’ll leave with this… Anything worth having in life takes time and it’s important to track any and all of the things you want in life so you can later reflect on them in a better light than you might have had along the way. I’m on a mission to lose a significant amount of weight, on a journey to feel strong and be healthy enough to house a baby. Nothing about that will happen overnight. So, celebrate the progress, no matter how small or how long it took to happen, because it is happening. You are changing, little by little, for the better – just don’t give up!

 

Current Stats:

 

Weight: -6.2 lbs (-20 total since first starting in September)

Bust: -1/2″ (-4″ since September)

Waist: -1″ (-4.5″ since September)

Hips:  -1/2″ (4.5″ since September)

Arms: -3/4″ (1.25″ since September)

Thigh: -1/2″(1.5″ since September)

 

Becoming Mrs. Harris

Last July, Heath and I celebrated our 11th year together. That’s a long time to “date” someone; made to feel even longer considering I’d been wearing an engagement ring on my finger for the last 7 of those 11 years. I’ve hinted at the reasons why before, but it mostly boiled down to never having enough money to make it happen on our own. There were other things… the uncertainty over whether I could accept never being a mother for the rest of my life (since Heath didn’t want kids) or the fact that family seemed like a very unimportant thing to Heath (in comparison to me at least, because I spend a great deal of time with my family). But when Heath’s dad passed away last year, the change in him was almost immediate. He started talking about having kids, about how he regretted us not being married already because now his dad couldn’t be his best man and see it, and that he realized why all those moments I spend with my own family were so valuable. As an introvert myself, who’s constantly trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, it was so nice to finally have a partner to leave that comfort zone with. And to dream again about a future I always saw myself having. So wedding planning began last February and here were our a year later, married.

 

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, everything that could go wrong did go wrong and I’ll elaborate more on that in a minute, but first let’s talking about planning. People always tell you how stressful wedding planning is, how you need all this time to get ready for it. I mean that’s even the message shows and movies about weddings tell you too. And I suppose to some degree, it can be, but I think it’s mostly a choice you make about how stressful you really want to make it for yourself. How much of a bridezilla do you really want to be? I chose none at all, but even with that relaxed attitude, I did manage to get a little crazier as the wedding approached. The thing about wedding planning is, you can have all the ideas sorted out months in advance. I had a pinterest board and a very clear idea about how I wanted the barn to look on the big day almost immediately after we’d decided to finally get married last year, but outside of imagining the look of the day, there’s not much you can even do that far in advance. Basically everything that needs to happen to make a wedding a success happens in the last couple of months/weeks before it and I guess that’s where the stress comes in because no amount of proper planning can stop everything from having to be done at virtually the same time.

 

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We’d planned a small gathering, which primarily consisted of my family (because it’s so huge) and the few friends we have that could make it. We didn’t have a wedding party so we walked down the aisle together. We didn’t do all the traditional dances or bouquet throwing, because who made those wedding rules anyway? We didn’t even have cake, because I hate cake and just can’t understand why anyone would pay the prices those things cost for something that mostly just looks pretty but often doesn’t taste very good at all. Basically, we just wanted to throw a slightly extravagant Thanksgiving-like gathering and in the end that’s what we got and everyone loved it. The warmth of the barn, the rich fall colors, the smaller crowd that encouraged lots of socializing, the comfort food we served, the pie bar which allowed guests to enjoy a variety of different desserts whenever they felt like eating it. There wasn’t any pressure to be “on” the entire time and for two introverts like Heath and I, it was perfect.

 

But back to those stressful weeks leading up to the wedding and everything going wrong… The details of the wedding came together without much a worry at all for me. My dress had arrived wrong initially and when the right one did finally show up I had to have a significant portion of it taken in, but otherwise I’d commissioned my friend at work to be my wedding planner/arrangement artist/jeweler. She’s talented in all these areas and had just been married in the same place a year before. She knew what sort of look I was trying to achieve and I never once doubted that whatever she created for me, I’d love. Not having to make all those decisions myself took such a huge weight off my shoulders. And it was a good thing, too, because the month before the wedding is probably a photographers busiest season and definitely my personal busiest as a photographer since my hobby became a full-on side job in 2015. I was working overtime at my real job, working out religiously, and taking pictures of people almost everyday or several families a day on the weekends. To say I was drained would be an understatement and my body finally made me stop all that nonsense two weeks before the wedding by gifting me with pneumonia for the first time in my 33 years of life. It was so bad I even missed nearly an entire week of work. The whole time I was sick, Heath took the best care of me, doing everything he could to make sure he didn’t get sick too. And he made it through that week, healthy as can be while I struggled to get enough air into my lungs to even do more than waddle to the bathroom occasionally.

 

They put me on steroids the week of the wedding and finally I’d started to feel some improvement, and a false sense of energy, but I sorely needed that because it was time to get super busy. I had pictures to edit, work to catch up on, bags to pack, pies to bake, a music playlist to put together, etc., etc… In hindsight, I would do a lot of these things differently if I had to do it again; I wouldn’t have baked all the pies, I wouldn’t have decided to be the DJ for my own wedding, I wouldn’t have taken on so many clients when I knew I wouldn’t be able to get their pictures back to them in a timely fashion… but it was too late then to do anything about it all so I just got busy. And then Heath got sick, too. Thankfully, it wasn’t pneumonia, but it was a fever that wouldn’t quit and stomach that was constantly heaving. I don’t think I’d ever seen him sweat through so many clothes in our whole 11 years together as he did in those few days before the wedding. Even on our wedding day, he was running a fever, feeling weak and drained before the day had even began. I felt bad for him having to power through it all, but he did. And despite feeling ill for most of it, he’d genuinely enjoyed the day as much as me.

 

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It’d rained the morning of the wedding and the temperature had dropped significantly from the muggy 70’s we’d had just days before. We’d prepared for the cold with a basket full of blankets for people to share since the ceremony was outside and they were a huge hit! And luckily the rain quit just in time for the ceremony and held off long enough for our photographer to capture some pictures of us in between it and the reception.  My dad officiated the wedding, which of all the gifts my parents gave us for this (the wedding itself and a portion of the honeymoon), was probably my favorite. We wanted it short and my dad made the whole thing happen in under 5 minutes! He forgot the rings, which he beat himself up over, but it was actually a huge break in the tension I was feeling. For an introvert to be the center of attention, standing at the alter wasn’t easy for me. Forgetting the rings made everyone laugh, and reminded me that all those eyes on me were just my family – people I’m comfortable around on any other given day.

 

 

The rest of the afternoon moved at lightning speed. For as little people as we had in attendance, I feel like I hardly got to talk to any of them. I don’t know how people with weddings in the 100’s manage the crowd at all. My uncle’s company catered the event, serving prime rib eye, roasted chicken, a root mash, my mother’s macaroni & cheese recipe, and cheddar broccoli soup. Everyone raved about how delicious it all was and I vaguely remember it being tasty, but I probably only got 1-2 bites of each thing. I hardly eat at other people’s wedding and having the chance to at my own was even slimmer. The pie options were Berger Cookie, Blueberry Mascarpone, Apple, Apple-Berry, Pumpkin, Pecan, and there was also a plain cheesecake, too! We’d made the wedding favors (a mason jar mug with seasonal tea & cider) everyone’s place holder, and several people put them to use right away to stay warm. After exploring a table full of “fun” just for them, the kids tried to rally the crowd to the dance floor and when that was unsuccessful, lured us there instead by battle dancing. I wish someone had recorded it, because it was epic!

 

It was all over so fast, I’m not sure how people have time to even fit those traditional wedding activities into the event. Surely that takes so much of the fun out of it. As people departed and left us with warm hugs and well wishes on our life together, nearly everyone had something to say about the ambience of the barn or the comfort of the food, the closeness of the guests and the pinterest-like success of the decor. Even though the day was about us, the fact that my guests were so pleased made me feel even happier about the day as a whole.

 

Heath and I were home by 9, with smiles on our faces that just wouldn’t quit. Even as I type this remembering how happy I felt, I get a little teary eyed. I’d thought that getting married wouldn’t feel that exciting or different than already being with him for 11 years had felt, but it was truly the happiest day of my life to date. I’d dreamt about getting married since I was a little girl, sure that it would have happened before I was 25 and when 25 came and went it stopped feeling like a dream and more like something I’d failed at. But to finally know that this is forever now gives me a different sort of peace and security in our relationship than I had before and I’m so-so glad we finally did it.

 

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Sarah & Heath

November 7, 2015

 

Our full wedding album can be viewed HERE!

 

A few favorite tracks from our wedding reception playlist can be heard HERE!

 

In my next post I’ll tell you all about our Honeymoon in Disney! [aka: a continuation of the best days of my life. 😉 ] Stay Tuned. :)

 

2016 Resolutions

You wouldn’t believe how long ago I started this post. What’s that thing they say, about starting things right away when they hit you instead of setting start dates in the near future? Yeah, well, I just knew I wouldn’t have time for some of these things, but I didn’t want to forget the desire either. And I figured if I wrote it down six months ago and it still felt like something I wanted to work toward by the New Year, it was meant to be on the list.

 

What am I hoping to achieve this year? More than last year, I’ll start with that. While I know 2015 wasn’t a total wash (I mean I did get married after all) productivity didn’t seem to be my strong suit last year. There were some legit reasons for that in 2015; death in the family, wedding planning, and an unexpected burst in the photography business, but I think another problem might be the looseness of the goals I set last year. I tend to do best with structure and detail and so by casually saying, “Oh, I’d like to write. Doesn’t matter how much,” I really just set myself up for failure because “writing” can mean a lot of things and while I did “write” things, like plenty more blogs than usual, none of them were the type of writing I really wanted to be doing, which was the storytelling kind. So, here are some specific things I’d like to achieve in 2016…

 
Study for and take CST1 & CST2 tests. In losing my old boss at the end of 2014 and gaining a new one ¼ of the way into 2015, I hit my 10 anniversary of working for the surveying world and finally found the strength to make sure my value (or lack thereof) was noted by the owners. While it saddened me to discover they were oblivious to all the hard work I’d been doing all this time, it made me realize I need to demand their acknowledgement more often if I ever expect to climb a latter of success and income in this business. Being a female surveyor in a world full of men is already against me, but apparently there are ways to make my intelligence and experience known other than by just performance and dedication alone in hopes that someone’s paying attention. My new boss (who’s not so new anymore) said there are several certifications he feels confident I would pass with ease because he sees the level of skill in me and knows that having those certifications only makes me a bigger asset to the company and my future in this field. I don’t think I could take them all in one year, especially since they cost $200 each, but I could probably manage the first two and I really want to make it happen. Not just for the job security it will help me have, or the bargaining tool I’ll have when it’s raise time again, but also just for the pride in an actual organization acknowledging what I already know about myself and my ability to survey.

 

(CST1 & 2=Certified Survey Technician, Level 1 and 2)

 
Read ½ a book a week. Maybe that sounds like a weird goal, but in years past I always said, read X amount of books and that’s become increasingly harder to achieve. And it doesn’t feel good. ½ a book a week should be doable. I should be able to find pockets of time throughout a week to squeeze in at least a half a book. And if I read more than that, great, but I need that half at least. I think part of the reason I struggled to write this year was because my creative well was bone dry. You need to read to write and I just didn’t read enough this year. If I only read ½ a book a week, my overall count of books read still won’t be that great at the end of the year, but the consistency of reading every week should help keep my creative well wet all year long.

 

Write 500 words a week. I missing writing like you can’t imagine. It’s been so long since new words poured from my fingers that I’m not even sure I remember how to write. There were a few moments last year when I felt compelled to write, inspired by music or books I did have time for, but for the most part my creative brain has been a desolate place, completely abandoned by all of my characters. I want to encourage them to come back, to be so loud I can’t possibly ignore them anymore. I want to still believe being a published author one day is an attainable dream I should still be having. 500 words a week sounds like so little. Heck, there used to be a time when I could put out a few thousand in a day. But it’s a starting place to get myself back into the habit of writing and it’s a small enough number that I should be able to find at least a handful of minutes a week to make it happen. Maybe I could try to get back into writing short stories first and then dive back into my novels. I don’t know, I just know I need to make it a priority again, even when photography threatens to steal all my free time.

 

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Learn Photoshop & Other Photography Related Goals. That sounds laughable, right? Even photoshop pros are always learning something new, considering the massive capabilities of Photoshop. What I mean is, learn to use it enough to ditch PaintshopPro and do at least the editing techniques I know how to do there in Photoshop instead. PaintshopPro has been good to me, it really is a decent program for the price, but as my photography wings continue to spread, I know that the edits I could make in Photoshop will be far superior to PaintshopPro and more in line with the level of quality in the pictures I’m already producing. It’s time to make the shift. To help me, I got a giant bible of a book on using Photoshop for photography and even though its size is intimidating, I’m hopeful it will guide me in the right direction so I’m not wasting too much time trying to figure out how to do relatively simple edits while I make the switch in programs.

 

In addition to learning Photoshop, I want to do a few other things this year where photography is concerned. For instance, take advantage of a magazine subscription for Popular Photography I’ve been getting for a year now, but have never read. There might not be actual education in them all the time, but it would serve me well to read about how other photographers do what they do, just so I’m exposed to other techniques I might not have discovered on my own. So, as a goal, I’d like to actually read this magazine every month.

 

I’d also like to test out other lenses and apparently you can rent them from places online to do just that. Last year I took a chance on a portrait lens for 100 bucks and I swear, it changed the way I shot and to this day is probably the best 100 bucks I’ve put into my business. It is easily my go-to lens now, but I know there must be others out there that will wow me; they’re just all too expensive to take the same chance on. I’m glad there’s an option like renting them for this reason and maybe by the end of the year I’ll have discovered a new “go-to” lens that is actually worth a real investment.

 

And lastly, I want to actually make this business more official, with standard rates and logo watermarking. Last year I was often under paid for the effort because I was too afraid to ask for what the work is actually worth and/or people were very quick to take advantage of my unprofessional or amateur outlook on the whole thing, like if I just call this a hobby, then why should they have to pay me for something I enjoy doing? Well, because it meant basically working 2 full time jobs for me and that can break a person. If I’m going to be exhausting every minute of my free time for this, it should at least pay the bills. And while I don’t really want to watermark my pictures, I think it’s a must after I found a few of my photos being used online without any link back or credit to the photographer. Perhaps people would stop looking at them as just pictures and more for the art they are if they’re stamped professionally. Plus, hello easy advertising. I’m still hesitant to do all of this because I’m not sure I can handle a workload much bigger than the one I had last year, but I do think it’s time I take this a little more seriously if I want to keep taking on the work.

 

Master T25 & Other Health Related Matters. To date, there are 3 series of T25 workouts: Alpha, Beta, and Omega, each of which lasts for 5 weeks. I currently have the first two in my possession and while I think it will take at least 2-5 week rounds of each to actually “nail it” I want to get through those first two series and have to buy the third one because my body will be demanding a new challenge by then. I’ve already said how empowering T25 was for me the first time I gave it a shot and I’m positive that will remain true with the other series as they’re designed to be increasingly more challenging and overcoming them will feel like such a huge success. I’m excited to see what kind of weight and inches I can keep losing with this regimen and how it impacts my sleep schedule and overall mental stability. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’ve successfully made it through all 3 series, but I hope by then to be in such a conditioned state that working out is just a part of my every day routine. Now that I’m married, and we’re hoping to be buying a house, making babies is something I have to get real serious about ASAP (since my age will start mattering whether or not having a baby is even possible soon). I want to be one of those women that already works out enough to keep working out throughout the pregnancy. Being older makes everything harder, especially losing weight. I don’t want to work so hard to get to a happy place only to put it all back on with a baby and then struggle to lose it again. If I just stay fit and active, the repercussions of being pregnant shouldn’t be as bad.

 

I also want to focus extra hard on my diet this year, for bigger reasons than just losing weight. About 6 months ago I started to make the transition to a gluten free lifestyle after coming to the realization that gluten had an obvious connection to my IBS and other gastrointestinal issues. During this transition I’ve noticed a huge improvement and comfort level with my stomach problems and just as a whole for my body too. But in cutting it out of my diet so much, it literally feels like I’m under attack if/when I ever give gluten a shot again, say in the form of bread and pasta. My stomach will literally swell to a pregnant looking state and the hours of discomfort that follow are not worth the taste of those once go-to foods. While GF foods are becoming more readily available, they’re not all suitable replacements for things I used to love and some of those things I love just don’t exist at all in the GF world. Those will be the hardest parts of completely cutting gluten out of my diet, but I want to work toward it. The more I read about gluten and our bodies, the more I know it’s just not for me. Outside of it being such a problem for my stomach, it also has a huge impact on people with thyroid conditions, which I also have. I hope by the end of 2016 I’ve successfully made the switch and I’m no longer missing the food of my old life, when I was slowly torturing my body without even realizing it.

 

Go Out & Live Life. I took some pretty significant hiatus’s from the internet this year, some by choice and others because of lack of time, but I learned something in those “vacations” from the internet and it’s that I miss out on a lot of life by devoting so much time to the internet. I spend more time admiring the way other people live their lives than I do living my own and there’s something very wrong with that. In 2015 Heath and I starting bowling once a month, which forced us out of the house and ended with eating out and toy hunting in the wild after. We actually went on vacation with my family to the beach for the first time, despite being offered the trip several times in the past decade. We finally took a bus trip to New York for the day, which is something I’ve wanted to do at Christmastime for as long as I can remember. And the best trip of the whole year was going to Disney World for our honeymoon (which I hope to finally write about soon). As someone who hasn’t traveled much simply because they were afraid to fly, I sure am happy I got over myself finally because traveling anywhere I want seems like a real possibility now. And in doing all these things, in getting out and living life, Heath and I seem closer now than we did even the year before, despite having been together for 11 years now. Clearly date night is an actual beneficial thing and I want to practice it more in 2016. I don’t know that we’ll have the kind of money to take vacations on the scale of Disney again anytime soon, what with trying to buy a house and all, but I want to make it a habit to get out at least once a month to do something with each other outside of our office. And I want to get away on occasion, even if it’s just over a long weekend, so we can escape the pull those computers in our office have on us. I encourage you all to do the same. :)

 
I feel like I’m forgetting a resolution, but this thing is super long as it is and working on these 6 specific things should keep me plenty busy this year so I should probably wrap this up. What are you hoping to achieve in 2016?

 

 

Cat Gang

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A couple months ago a white and black cat wandered onto our porch and bothered the crap out of our cat Tay, who watched from the window. No matter how much she hissed at him or how puffy the sight of him made her, he was just not afraid of her. Or us, for that matter. That first night he showed up, we went outside to see if the collar he wore had a tag on it and he came right up to us. Unfortunately, the collar was just a flee collar and this cat looked like it’d been a while since he’d eaten last so we fed him (further irritating our own cat all the while). We took his picture and spread it around on FB to all the local animal pages, but no one ever claimed him as theirs. He came back every night after that, seeking the safeness of our porch and the food he knew we offered.

 

 

After about a week of this, we put a water and food bowl out there permanently and just got in the habit of filling it in the afternoon so it’d be there whenever he showed up. In doing so though, we encouraged a whole gang of cats to seek food and shelter on our porch. And I’m not joking when I say, that black and white cat is the leader (we call him Boss now).

 

At first, they’d all come one after another, slowly creeping up our walkway, looking out for anything alarming, and then only eating what they needed before disappearing for the next cat to have a bite. But then Boss started coming to the porch with a kitten, with not much resemblance, but clearly Boss is looking out for him for some reason, as if it’s his kid. We call that kitten Boots, because he’s primarily black and gray, but has white feet. Once the pair of them started coming, the other cats started joining them, practically standing in a line together for their turn in the bowl. When they’re finished, they don’t even vanish right away, often times they get comfy in our porch chairs and hang out there all night.

 

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So now we’re officially feeding four more cats than the one we own. There’s Boss & Boots, like I mentioned above and Derpy, who’s a Himalayan with crossed eyes, and a little scrawny guy we call Lone Ranger, because he’s still a bit afraid of the rest of the gang and us for that matter. He seems reluctant to hang out around anyone for very long.

 

Getting their pictures has been difficult because unless Boss is around to be brave for them, they keep their distance from us while we’re outside filling the bowls. Boss on the other hand will eat right out of my hand. He even comes up onto the window sill to let us know they’re ready for dinner if we haven’t already filled the bowl for the day. It drives Tay insane.

 

 

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I know I’ve started a dangerous habit with this. Right now it’s okay that they’re outdoor cats because at least they’re eating and have each other, but I know once winter arrives it will kill me knowing they’re out there without warmth. I would take every last one of them in if were even allowed to have the cat we currently have, but it’s not an option in this apartment. I’m afraid to call any of the local agencies to help find them real homes because most of them aren’t no-kill shelters and so I’d basically just be handing them over to death and I can’t bear that now. They have names, they matter to me now.

 

I really don’t know what I should do with them at this point. They trust that we’ll feed them everyday so I can’t stop. They feel safe enough on our porch to sleep there and I’m glad for that, but what do I do when winter gets here and they’re freezing? My porch and food aren’t enough to keep them safe and alive at that point, so how can I save these precious kitties come winter?

 

(Pictured in this post, top to bottom: Boss, Lone Ranger, & Derpy. To see more pictures or full size versions of these cats, click HERE!)

Internet Hiatus

At the end of May I found myself needing a break from this place. Sometimes it’s just too much, you know? Plus, I’d been obsessive over it, spending all my free time on social media instead of doing productive things that actually leave me feeling happy with myself.

 

I told myself I’d just get away from it for June and spend some time reading, which is something I’ve failed at majorly this year. And maybe be able to finally write something after giving myself a much needed dip in the creative well. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reading all that much, or writing a single word for that matter, and as you can see by the date of this post, it’s August and I’m just now returning. Sort of. But my time away wasn’t a waste. In fact, I was super busy. And not just busy doing things that are or feel like work, though there was some of that too.

 

So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see….

 

I did read a little, but more comics than books. That’s basically been the story of this year. I don’t know what’s gotten me so much more into comics this year than previous years (probably, it’s partly Heather’s fault. 😉 ) but my comic reads and purchases are leading by a landslide. A few of the more notable reads during the hiatus include: Jem & the Hologram Comics, Morning Glories Graphic Novels, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Novel.

 

Photography’s been keeping me the busiest outside of my day job, between actual photoshoots and hours of editing. I shot a wedding, a superhero birthday party, a pregnant lady, and a little diva! It’s both weird and awesome how much paid work I’ve gotten photography wise, considering how little I broadcast the business. God’s been good to me this way. As I look toward fall, which is notoriously my “busy” season when it comes to pictures, I’m a little nervous about how I’ll juggle it all alongside wedding prep, but I think I might be able to make it happen with designated weekends for taking ALL the pictures. Sort of like Fall Minis or whatever that trend is… I’ll have more on that later if anyone’s interested.

 

VBS CollageI had two opportunities to work on one of my resolutions during the hiatus. First, I shot most of Vacation Bible School at my church. Not only was it fun capturing all the kids being kids, it was awesome to see how excited they got about Jesus. And just how many of them showed up night after night. My small church saw a record breaking number of 106 attendees! That doesn’t even include all the adults who worked or attended the adult class either. At the end of the week there was a slideshow presented with a bunch of my pictures mixed in. My cheeks were sore from all the smiling I did watching the recap of a great week. I hope I get to do even more next year.

 

 

 

Sharing Table CollageI also finally got to volunteer for the Sharing Tables (aka Soup Kitchen) during the hiatus too. I didn’t take my big camera to capture that, just a few camera phone shots, but it is definitely something I want to commit to every time my church participates. We served the 70-some people that showed up lunch and dessert and then, thanks to the goodness of local grocery stores and everyday people donating their goods, every person gets to leave with a bag of food and necessities to get them through the week. These Sharing Tables are open to them every Saturday and while it was really sad to see how many people have to rely on this to eat and live in general, I am so glad such a thing exists for them. It’s disheartening to see just how many people right around me go without; the veterans, the disabled, families with an abundance of children. Their struggle tugged at my heart in a serious way and I left there feeling both humbled and blessed and really happy I got to serve God this way.

 

My toy collection grew somewhat substantially during the hiatus, but that’s probably no surprise. I was extra excited about all the toys I got in June & July though because for the most part I’d pre-ordered them all months ago and even though they weren’t necessarily slated to release all at the same time, they basically did, leaving me with what seemed like days and days’ worth of toy hauls. Toys received include: Inside Out Funko Pops!, Mystery Minis, and Disney Tsum Tsums, Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsums, The Breakfast Club Funko Pops!, a full case of Garbage Pail Kids Funko Really Big Mystery Minis, Funko 10” GPK Adam Bomb Vinyl Figure, the 17” Monster High Freak Du Chic doll Gooliope Jellington, and Tokidoki’s Unicorno Series 4! You can see pictures of all them HERE!

 

Some random things I did during the hiatus that are worth noting include: Starting two new subscriptions services in addition to my Loot Crate. One was Nerd Block’s latest venture, Comic Block. I’m still not entirely sure how much I’ll love this in the long term, but I think I’ll probably keep it around until I switch back to Horror Block for Halloween. And I also subscribed to a treat service called Universal Yum, which sends you snacks and treats from different places around the world every month. So far I’ve gotten goodies from Mexico & Japan. It’s been really fun tasting places I’ll probably never get to travel to.

 

My tattoos have changed since the last time I was online. I’ve had two sessions to add color behind the leaves and snowflakes and they finally feel complete! I’m hoping to squeeze one more tattoo in before the wedding, so long as schedules and funds work in my favor. If not, I suppose I’ll have to be patient till next year.

 

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Heath and I went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. I’ve always wanted to see a Cirque Du Soleil show, but I guess I was ignorant to the fact that they’re entirely in French. Despite having taken 4 years of honor French in high school, I had no freaking idea what was going on. But it sure was pretty and they’re some crazy talented performers. I think before I make too much of a confused judgment on Cirque Du Soleil as a whole, I should probably see another show first and see if I can follow that story a little better.

 

I actually went to the movies. Twice! As someone who loves film as much as I do, you think I’d go more often, but I just can’t justify the cost and am strangely patient in most cases when it comes to waiting for movies to come out on DVD (probably because it happens so fast these days). That being said, I miss the theater. I used to go A LOT and even though it’s crazy how much it costs nowadays, there’s something about seeing it on that big screen that you start to miss. So, Groupon had a deal and Heath and I just picked whatever looked the funniest, which happened to be Amy Schumer’s TRAINWRECK (and it was perfectly hilarious, btw) and we found ourselves at the movies randomly one day after work. I think it’d been a year since I’d been to the movies so it was odd that I’d find myself there again, for a second time, in the same week. But that following weekend my sister called and said, “We asked Gideon who he wanted to go see Minions (his first theater movie) with, Mommy or Daddy? And he said, “Aunt Sarah,” so I don’t know if you wanted to take him or not, but…” And of course my heart was melting and I was all, “I’ll be right there!” God, I love that kid. He was scared initially, of the bigness of the theater, of the darkness (he’s scared of everything new these days, it’s a phase), but once that screen lit up he was so captivated he forgot all about those fears, he even forgot he had an ice cream sandwich in his hand (and no one ever forgets about ice cream). When it was over he was so excited to see it again on that “Big TV.” And I’m excited about the idea of getting to see kids movies in the theater now, because Aunt Sarah will always be willing to take him. 😉

 

I’ve finally started to panic about the wedding and the lack of planning I’ve done for it thus far. It’s 3 months away now and I’ve only just now locked down a photographer and sort of locked down a caterer, but haven’t decided on a menu yet. There’s still so much to do that even thinking about making a to-do list for it all overwhelms me. I’m sorely regretting not taking this more seriously earlier on in the year. It’s still just going to be a laid back, sort of non-traditional wedding (I keep referring to it as a glorified cookout, but it’s definitely more than that), but that still requires serious effort considering I’m making so much of the decorations and whatnot by myself. I’ve really got to get busy.

 

Ocean City CollageThe most exciting thing I did during the hiatus was taking a real vacation for the first time in ages, to the beach for the first time in over a decade. It was only a 3 day getaway, but it was much needed and oh so fulfilling. My parents had rented a giant beach house and my sister’s family and neighbors came down too. Being at the beach again with my entire family had me nostalgic for my youth and all the vacations we took there when I was a kid. Heck, just being on the boardwalk after so long away from it had all the feels buzzing happily inside me. We did all the necessary, OceanCity things; Candy Kitchen’s Fudge, Fisher’s Popcorn, Thrasher’s Fries, Skee-Ball, and Old Time Black & White Photo booth pictures. We walked a ton and ate a really good seafood restaurant called Hooked, and even got to take home some really pretty blown glass ornaments from the Christmas Village my parents have always gotten their own ornaments from. The waves kicked my butt and Heath and I were both so sunburnt we looked like lobsters, but it was incredibly fun and relaxing. Just the long overdue escape from life we needed. I hope my parents get that place again next year. My camera performed like a champ while we were there, and if you’re interested in seeing pictures from the trip, click HERE!

 

This hiatus was good for me, mentally and physically, and while I did miss the internet a little (Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I mostly only missed Twitter – lol.), I think I need to practice staying away from it a little more often. It’s a bad habit I don’t want to let takeover me again. Because even if I didn’t get all the things I thought I would do done in my absence, I still did a heck of a lot more than I would have had I still been wasting all my free time with it. Stuff that was way more fulfilling than the internet’s ever made me feel. Everyone should take a break from time-to-time. It’s good for you to actually live life, you know? Not just watch how other people are living theirs. 😉

 

What have you been up to while I was gone?

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Show On Earth

So, maybe the title is a slight exaggeration. Surely there are other great shows out there, but I don’t fault them for using the phrase. It really is one GREAT ass show.

 

If you haven’t already figured it out by now, I’m talking about the circus; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey LEGENDS to be exact. And it was AMAZING! I don’t know when the last time I went was, I was probably so young that the memory is too fuzzy to recall, and so being there yesterday was almost like the first time. It didn’t matter that I am about to turn 33 and had no children in attendance with me, for one night I was 5 all over again and completely captivated. No, seriously, my mouth was dry from hanging open in amazement for so long. There was so much to see, my eyes could hardly keep up.

 

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We had excellent seats, which helped enhance the event, though I don’t think there were really any bad seats necessarily, just better ones. We had the better ones. The entire show is a burst of color, covered in glitters that catch the lights perfectly and draw you in. Actual performance aside, it was just visually stunning. The level of talent and bravery these performers have just blows my mind; they don’t miss a beat and thank God for that because several times I was equally amazed and horrified that I was about to watch someone meet certain death… like for instance the maniac motorcyclists in the video below. This video isn’t even the final count, we just wanted to watch the last round with our eyes instead of the phone lens, but they literally had 8 bikes in there! EIGHT! The program I bought says they ride at 60 mph, 4″ apart. That’s just insane.

 


Other bits of insanity involved the Big Cats. Now, I love cats, especially the big ones. In my mind, I think: Awww, wouldn’t it be so awesome to hug one of them! But I’m not stupid. Their mass and ferocity is terrifying and I know better. But Alexander Lacey doesn’t. He’s like, 11 big cats? YES, put me in a cage with them! This is where the line between brave and stupid blurs in my opinion. Thankfully, I didn’t have to witness the man be mawed to death, but I will say there were moments when I wasn’t sure. And while I loved seeing the Big Cats, I have to admit they didn’t seem happy.

 

When I was excitedly telling people I was going to the circus, I was met with a touch of nastiness like, “How can you support an event that is so cruel to animals?” There were actually even picketers there. I hadn’t even thought it that way. Only a small portion of the circus includes animals and all of them, with the exception of the big cats, seemed to enjoy their role in the show. Call it silly on my part (re: crazy imagination that believes animals have minds like us), but I think that some animals actually enjoy being used in something so spectacular. Dogs definitely enjoy learning tricks and getting treats for successfully pulling them off. No one hates on trainers who enter their talented dogs in Dog Shows, right? And horses seem to love to be ridden; they’re runners by nature so how much cooler is it for them to have a rider who gives their run a direction and purpose? I know the circus just recently announced their phase out plan for the elephants by 2018 and I understand and respect the decision to focus more on their preservation than on the money they help bring in, but I have to say that even the elephants looked like they were having a good time. The only animal I felt didn’t want to be there were the Big Cats and that did make me sad for them. However, the program I bought has a section on Alexander Lacey and his Big Cats and apparently his family has been raising them for decades, so these aren’t wild cats turned circus, they were born for this. Maybe this is just their usual demeanor? I don’t know. I suppose the cats will eventually go with the elephants and maybe they’d be happier? Or maybe that’d just put more of them in the wild for murder? Ugh, animal protection is such a tricky thing. :/

 

Back to the show, though… The drama kid from my past surfaced in me and I couldn’t help but also marvel at more than just the show itself, but all that I know has to go on behind the scenes for it to unfold so flawlessly. No one missed a beat. The lights, the music, the set changes, it just impresses me like you can’t imagine. How many hands go into making a show of this magnitude go on so successfully? I don’t know, but bravo to them. Every last one of them are stars in my opinion.

 

I’m sad to say we don’t have a ton of great pictures to remember the event by, but you can sort through the ones we did get in the slideshow below. I wasn’t sure they’d let me in with my good camera and phone cameras, while surprisingly decent these days, just don’t know what to do with all that light and movement. Still, I got a shirt and a program, and a hat with my cotton candy. Oh and a squeaker nose for good measure. 😉 It was awesome to take my mother-in-law (to be) and see her have such an awesome time herself, since lots of her days have been filled with sadness since Bobby passed. I’m still feeling the buzz of happiness today, that I had the whole ride home. So cool to get out and do something so fun for a change! If you’ve never seen the circus, I highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

The Necessity of Routine

I’ve fallen out of it, in more ways than one.

 

I used to be a list-maker, an alarm setter, a strict scheduler. In some ways I still am, that’s how it all starts out at least, but I’m struggling with keeping these to-do lists and schedules. I can blame some of my scatterbrained life these days on the terrible way in which 2015 started off, weighed down by death and depression, but the time to move on is here and I can’t seem to figure out how to get back into life’s routines.

 

For instance, I JUST deconstructed Christmas last weekend. Anyone who’s read this blog long enough knows that I struggle with releasing Christmas every year, but I’ve never let it get past the end of January before I finally say goodbye to it. This year, I just couldn’t do it. Granted, January was sad enough without making myself sad by saying goodbye to Christmas, but what was February’s excuse? I don’t even know. I had to force myself to make it happen last weekend, torn between being sad to see it go and also disgusted by it’s disorderly state after being up so long. My living room is depressing now, lonely and devoid of any sort of cheer it held just a couple of months ago.

 

I also joined the gym this year, but do you think I’ve stepped foot in it even once? The answer is no. And it’s not that I don’t want to, I’m excited about getting in shape and finally having the right resources to do that, but I’m either too busy to stop there for an hour on my way home or too tired from being busy the day before. They’re both awful excuses. I need to make this a routine, that I make a part of my life no matter what’s going on at the moment. I’ve gotta take this seriously and not waste 20 bucks a month like I’ve done so far.

 

The biggest reason I’m reflecting on my lack of routine, though, is because I miss writing. You have no idea how much. I miss having that creative release. I miss my characters talking to me instead of to each other, just making my head a loud, lonely place. Last night I tweeted about this frustration and overall disappointment in how unproductive I am these days and my friends encouraged me to “free write” and “make it a routine.” They’re absolutely right, but I just don’t know how to make it happen anymore. Today I made myself sit in front of the computer all day, rather than read on the couch (which is what I really wanted to do), trying to will my fingers to make the magic happen again, but all I ended up doing was reading through every story idea I’ve ever had and feeling even more disappointed in myself over how great all those ideas were and how they never went anywhere.

 

I’d like to thrust myself back into GRAPEMO for March, set some goals and try to regain some sort of hold on the routine I used to have where writing was concerned, but I’ve been ignoring the group for months now and, honestly, I feel a bit ashamed about my lack of participation. I’ve become that writer that talks about being a writer, but doesn’t actually write anything. How can I show my face among all those real writers again?

 

This post is getting too whiny to continue; I’m just hopeful that saying it out loud (or writing it down in this case) will give me some sort of accountability to guilt me into figuring this routine stuff out again. I used to be so good at routine, the makeup for that has to still be a part of me, right?

 

Wish me luck.

 

There is Always Light in Darkness

Things have been grim since Heath’s dad passed away. I’ve seen him cry more than I even thought he was capable of and his pain resonates loudly in my soul. I want to take it all away, but there just isn’t really anything I can do outside of just being there for him. I am grateful that God has given me a heart big enough for the both of us, because it’s been every bit of necessary. People say time heals the wounds, and I know they’re right, but time, or lack thereof, is what upsets him most. There is no more time with his dad. You can’t get back all the time you regret not spending with him now. And experiencing this has changed something in Heath, for the better.

 

We’ll celebrate our 11th year together this summer, 7 of which we’ll have been engaged. I think we’d both just sort of already felt married and so actually making it legal didn’t seem all that pressing to us. But it did to our families, particularly Heath’s dad. He was always asking when it was going to finally happen and we’d shrugged it off too many times. He’d also asked about grandkids time and time again and it always left Heath and I in a bad place because I’ve always wanted kids, three to be exact, but Heath didn’t. I’ve imagined myself a mother since I was just a little girl and watching my sister’s kids grow into these perfect tiny humans only makes me want my own even more. Ever since I turned 30, I’ve worried about running out of time to have kids. Women have that biological clock and all and mine’s ticking fast. And so I’ve been praying for years now, for God to let me know if my future really didn’t include kids. That my purpose in this life wasn’t to also be a mother. And all this time I’ve grown more and more frustrated over not hearing or feeling His answer. Never confident in what that meant for mine and Heath’s future. But I know now that God was answering me all along and his answer was: Patience. A lesson I seem to constantly be learning.

 

On the way home from Heath’s father’s viewing, we talked about how hard it was to watch his dad die the way we did, but that we were glad we were all there for him, that he didn’t die alone. And I admitted that it’s one of my biggest fears, dying alone. I’m not afraid to die, I know heaven is far better than this life, but I want to be surrounded by love when I’m heading out. It was still a few more days before the conversation I wanted to have would take place, but the entire time I just kept thinking: Neither of our parents are all that healthy and the likelihood of them outliving us is slim, which means when we’re on our deathbeds, we’ll be all we have and once one of us is gone, the other dies alone. Heath must have been thinking the same thing because a few days later, he changed his mind about having kids without any provoking at all. He realized how important family was to him and decided he doesn’t want his family to end with him.

 

Despite all the sadness I’ve felt over losing his dad, my heart feels so hopeful again. And I just know he’s in heaven right now, proud of his son for changing his mind, even if it took him passing for him to realize what his dad had been telling him all along.

 

Heath’s conditions were that we have a house before we try and that works out well since we were already trying to get our bills in order so that we could be buying a house by the start of 2016. That plan is still in place and baby making can start once we’ve reached that place, but in the meantime, we figure, we should probably go ahead and get married finally. So, on November 7th, I’ll officially be Sarah Harris and I’m more excited about it than I thought I would be. Being with someone for 10+ years means the lust of new love has worn off, and quality friendship has sunken in. But I feel in-love with him all over again and it’s exhilarating. We’ll still be mourning his father, for a long time to come, but we’ll have these beautiful distractions from keeping us stuck there in darkness, and I just know we’re making his father happy right now.

 

God works in the most mysterious ways. 😉

 

P.S. If you’re curious about what my wedding might look like, I’m plotting it HERE!

Saying Goodbye Too Soon

Sunday night my fiancé’s father, Bobby, was rushed to the ER completely unresponsive. After getting him stabilized, it was determined that his COPD ridden 1 & 2/3 lungs (he lost 1/3 of the left to cancer 5 years ago) had double pneumonia. Pneumonia that was likely left untreated for months. For days he sat in the ICU, doctors trying to get his oxygen level up high enough to go home, but that just wasn’t a reality. A ventilator was really the only way to preserve his life, to force his lungs to work at a reasonable level, but that would have meant spending the rest of his life on it, a life lived in a nursing home (which is no life at all really). Bobby didn’t want that, even though none of us were ready to accept what that meant for his fate. He just wanted to go home and in the end that home was to God.

 

Thursday afternoon the “comfortable way to die” was initiated. Watching and waiting for him to pass was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever witnessed. Bobby’s mother celebrated her 88th birthday watching her only son pass away. Even if I hadn’t known this man and his family for the last 11 years, I would have been crushed. Friday at 1:30, he took his last breath. He was only 54 years old.

 

If you’re the praying type, Heath’s family could use all the prayers for strength they can get while they learn to live life without Bobby.

 

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Heath holding his father’s hand for the last time