Getting back up.

I sat here and looked at the blinking cursor for a solid 10 minutes before I had the courage to even write this first sentence. Where to begin? The word that comes to mind to describe the last 2 months of my life is “struggle.” Or maybe “fight.” “Survive.” “Live.”

I could go into detail about what’s happened. I could elucidate and point fingers and stomp my foot and lament on how unfair life is sometimes. I could go on to say that sometimes decisions get made for you. Sometimes you go to bed one evening thinking everything is fine and that you’re on the right path and that the life you’ve chosen so carefully for yourself is a good one. And then sometimes you wake up the next morning to find that the foundation has been rotting away for months, unbeknownst to half of the party.

It felt as if a bucket of ice water had been dumped over my head, reducing me to yet another millennial statistic. A house, a piece of paper, a white gold band, a surname reduced from eight letters to four, all arbitrary, symbolic, now meaningless. A brain that had rewired itself to make decisions based on coexisting with another person was left bereft and grasping at how to function. The terms “we,” “us,” and “our” were no longer relevant. The queen sized bed seemingly spanned the space of two miles without someone next to me. How would I show my face in a town where I knew everyone?

My first instinct was to run. I steeled my nerves, angrily shooed away the tears falling down my cheeks, and I called my best friend. I called her and I told her that I could not face the pitiful looks, the inquiries, the shock and unwarranted advise from people with the best intentions but the least tact. I couldn’t bear to hear, “You’re so young. You’ll find another husband.” “There’s someone out there for you.” Or, worse still, hear someone tear down a man I gave my life and soul to because that person thought it’s what I needed to hear.

So I prepared to flee. I counted my pennies and mentally packed what I knew I could fit in two suitcases and I prepared to leave.

But then I got sick. My body, in its reaction to the emotional trauma paired with exposure to 156 children 5 days a week, made a decision for me. Two rounds of antibiotics, a steroid shot, no voice, unable to sleep, unable to eat. I broke down mentally and physically. In the lowest point of a life filled with more valleys than peaks, I was broken down.

One fitfully sleepless, codeine-laden evening, I dreamt of a bird. Nothing else, just a bird of indeterminate species. It landed on a branch, ruffling its feathers and tucking its wings by its sides as it settled in for sleep. The bird closed its eyes and I opened mine.

I woke well before my alarm and stared, wide eyed, at the ceiling for two or three hours, listening to my dogs snoring beside me. The sun came up, and I took my daily antibiotic, made a cup of strong black coffee, and sat silently in my kitchen floor for another couple of hours.

Then I picked up my phone and called The Yellow Bird, a gardening and gift shop in Downtown Dalton.

Because I worked for the Downtown Development Authority, I knew where there are quite a few lofts above many shops and businesses. Somewhat numbly, I asked the owner of The Yellow Bird, Sally, if she had any apartments available. Much to my disbelief, she affirmed that her middle unit was available, and that two other people had expressed interest. Those apartments don’t stay open very long, and I had called at the exact right moment.

Three days later, I signed the lease and began moving all of my belongings into my first apartment. Two days later, I was out of our house completely and living on my own for the first time in my entire life. I made the decision to stay, for at least a year, to save money, figure out what I want to do, and to live unbeholden to anyone in the comfort of a town I know inside and out.

I won’t say the past two months have been entirely bad. If you’ve seen me out and about, I don’t look woebegone. I remind myself to smile because the alternative is to sink down and stay there. I have relied heavily on my friends, who have done a stellar job of checking in on me, yet remembering to not handle me with kid gloves. I have made a few new friends.

So I vow to not stay away as long from My Crunchy Crusade. I have been so terrified to put this awful year into words. What started out as a positive year turned into tragedy around June, when I lost my job at U.S. Xpress and my relationship started to unravel at the seams. But I have also been through some amazing changes, like directing “The Great Gatsby” at Dalton Little Theatre and starting a brand new job at the Whitfield County-Dalton Day Care Center. Both of these topics will be explored in future posts, I promise.

But for now, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with some notes of hope from this most trying of eras.

I am obsessed with my new apartment. I walk to work every single day, half a mile each way. I have lost 15 pounds. I have started to enjoy the person I am for what seems like the first time in my life. And with the changing of the season, my perception has changed of the cooling weather and dying leaves.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This is one of my favorite lines from “The Great Gatsby.” I’ve always thought of fall as a sad time, when all of the leaves start dropping from the trees, the air becomes sharper, and the world takes on a more somber, muted palette. Even the word itself, “fall,” can also be defined as “a move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control.” That’s why I’ve always been so intrigued by Jordan Baker’s line to Daisy Buchanan.

Now more than ever, I think it’s important to try to shift my perspective from mourning the autumnal change to welcoming the first steps of the process of living a brand new life. But like the leaves which have no choice in taking their tumble from the tops of their cozy, supportive homes, so must I brave the journey to the bottom to become stronger for my ascent back to the top. 

Peace,
The Crunchy Crusader

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Galavanting in Greenville

I have a new city to add to my list of favorite places: Greenville, South Carolina! Though it was a rather short trip, I fell in love with the city. With so many beautiful sights, delicious food, and lovely public art, Greenville is a city I will definitely be returning to soon!

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Adopting this as one of my new mottos: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” This was found on the side of The Escape Artist. The mural was created by Stone Academy of Communication Arts and Furman University.

Billy and I went to visit his best friend of 8 years, Lawrence, for his birthday! Lawrence has been living in Greenville for about half a year, and had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. He very graciously hosted us from Friday evening to this morning, and showed us some highlights of the city.

We explored Falls Park, a couple of breweries, and some delightful bars and restaurants, including the Bohemian Cafe, Lazy Goat (where I had the BEST Brussels sprouts of my life), Swamp Rabbit Brewery in Travelers Rest, the Velo Fellow, Braswells, Pour, Sully’s Steamers, Universal Joint, Barley’s, Trappe Door, and, my favorites: The Village Grind and GB&D. (Yep, we saw a lot in a short amount of time!)

We also visited Horizon Records, where I found four of my absolute favorite albums for a very great price: The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Rubber Soul” (my two favorite Beatles albums); The Postal Service’s “Give Up,” and Green Day’s “American Idiot.”
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There were a number of notable delicacies at the places we visited: the best Brussels sprouts of my life at the Lazy Goat (Crispy Brussels Sprouts with speck ham, shaved Manchego, and sherry glacé); the Raspberry White Ale at the Swamp Rabbit Brewery (light and refreshing, with raspberries added to the second fermentation- perfect for a hot day); the Swamp Rabbit BBQ bagel at Sully’s Steamers (They’re famous for their steamed bagel sandwiches; this one had turkey, cheddar, provolone, onion, green peppers & BBQ sauce. Other notable names of sandwiches include the Bob Loblaw, California Steamin’, and Big Deddy); and, one of my new favorite meals ever, the Chicken and Waffles from GB&D (with hot maple glaze and bacon jam). Don’t worry: we walked all of the delicious food and beer off!

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Pink beer at the Swamp Rabbit Brewery in Travelers Rest!

A true pleasure was visiting The Village Grind, a trendy coffee shop in West Greenville owned by a woman I went to high school with, Lindsey (George) Montgomery. All of the memories I have of her place her in my mind as a creative, talented, and beautiful person, and her shop is so reflective of that. The cozy space was decorated with eclectic artwork and furniture, tons of plants, and cute knick-knacks, so I was in heaven! Her menu had your classics, macchiatos, americanos, cafe au lait; but she also had new and fun twists on coffee, like the rose cardamom latte. GB&D (which stands for Golden, Brown and Delicious), the home of the life-changing chicken and waffles, adjoins the space and is owned by her brother and father. It was so great to get to see her briefly and give her a huge squeeze! (And I enjoyed a very, very tasty cafe au lait.)

I’ve included links to all of the places we visited at the end of this post, in case you want to try any of the places out on your next visit to Greenville!

Hanging out with Lawrence and their friend Parker made for a very entertaining weekend! I always love seeing how happy Billy is when he’s with his buddies and hearing all of the hilarious stories from when they co-opped at Shaw together. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my husband in a place that’s new and foreign to the both of us, and watching him feel completely at home. I’m constantly in awe of how lucky I am!

And so concludes another week. Each time we return from a trip, I find myself planning the next one! I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and feel so lucky to be able to take these short trips and see new places.

I’m sitting here now, with my cat snuggled up to me. My turkey and sweet potato chili that I prepared earlier has filled the house with a lovely aroma as it cools before I portion it out for my lunches this week. My Daily Habit Tracker is made in my Bullet Journal for the month of May, so I can get started with it tomorrow. I’m sipping a cocktail. I literally could not ask for anything more at this moment.

My wish for you, reader, is that you revel in the small pleasures of life. I’m learning to. And I urge you to take a deep breath. Just breathe the joy in. Let it permeate your being, and exhale the stresses of the previous week. It’s a brand new month, a brand new day, tomorrow. Make it great.

may

Love,
The Crunchy Crusader

 

http://thelazygoat.com/
http://www.theswamprabbitbrewery.com/
http://www.eatgbnd.com/
http://thebohemiancafe.com/
http://thevelofellow.com/
https://www.greenville.brazwellspub.com/
https://horizonrecords.net/
http://www.sullyssteamers.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thevillagegrind/
http://www.barleysgville.com/
http://trappedoor.com/
Info about the flowers mural: http://blog.escapeartistgreenville.com/stone-avenue-mural-makes-our-days-brighter

Another weekend, another adventure.

As I come to the close of another week, I sit back, contented. Another week of hard work, of adjusting to the rigors of my new job, adjusting to the commute and finding my place in the organization, has come to pass.

This past weekend, I had the immense pleasure of spending time with my dear friends, Adam and Jess, in their little paradise in Pine Lake, Georgia. Just outside of the perimeter of Atlanta, near Stone Mountain, is a hippie’s oasis. It’s tiny and seemingly far removed from the noisy, messy city, full of lush green trees and quirky houses, with a small lake in the middle.

Billy took his annual trip to Tellico, TN, to spend time with his father and former coworkers from Broadway Carpets up in Knoxville. On a whim, which is in line with most of the excursions I’ve taken this year, I asked Adam and Jess if it would be okay if I third-wheeled them for the weekend. Graciously, they said yes, and I enjoyed some refreshing downtime with two of my very favorite people.

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We went to Avondale Estates for breakfast on Saturday, and I found this lovely mural!

I ventured down on Friday evening and came home this afternoon. Luckily, I wasn’t waylaid on my trip down or back up, I’m glad to say. I also watched “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” for the first time, and swooned over Clint Eastwood for three hours.

I’ve also started Bullet Journaling! I’ve been online researching all sorts of ideas, and have started off with a few really cool pages. Can’t wait to keep adding to it as the year progresses! For those interested in learning about  the Bullet Journal, visit the website here. I really love it, because you can customize it as much as you want, and it’s a really good way to relax and focus on one task.

I had a ton of fun with the “Things That Make Me Happy” page I made today! It was a fantastic exercise in mindfulness; because there was so much room for different items, I was forced to really think about the things that make me happy (whether superficial, material, or meaningful). Plus, it’s super colorful, which brings me joy. I have so many ideas for other pages!

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I am SO excited about next weekend! It’s our friend Lawrence’s birthday, so we’re traveling to Greenville, South Carolina to celebrate with him! I have wanted to go to Greenville for a couple of years, so I’m super pumped. That’ll be another new city to add to my list. And we’re also planning a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, for my and our friend Peter’s birthday in mid-June. This is the “Year of ‘Yes’ to Travel,” and I’m making good on that!

Thank you for tuning in! I’ll leave you today with a quote I stumbled across on Pinterest earlier:

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Go forth and have a great week!

Love,
The Crunchy Crusader

Garden

I want to learn to garden
Till the earth and unwind
My little patch all barred-in
Keeping my own wilderness confined

I’ll pick patch of land
And a place in the sun
I’ll raise flowers by my own hand
And pick them when I’m done

I’ll learn about seeds
And which ones respond best
To sun, to soil, and other needs
How to avoid a garden pest

A seed is untapped power
Un-marred by heat or neglect
Yearning to become a flower
That I  am charged to protect

I want to learn to garden
But not just in my yard
I want to plant the seeds of pardon
To past offenders who have scarred

I want to sow forgiveness and love
To reap empathy and gain
Pick up my shovel and gardening gloves
And weed out my sorrows and pain

Why I Should Be More Like My Dog (and You Should, Too)

So you had a bad day at work. A plan fell through, your boss was mad at you, the deal didn’t work out, you missed your deadline, etc. You finally get into your car after the stressful day and make your way home. You open the door, and there is your dog, wagging his tail, slobbering as he bounds toward you without any hesitation. He’s unabashedly glad to see you, and tells you so by planting a huge, wet kiss on your face.

It’s no secret that dogs truly are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. From the earliest days of man, when wolves gobbled up the scraps we tossed them from our hunting ventures and domesticated themselves, dogs have been our companions. Throughout time, we have bred them, narrowed down desirable traits (physical and/or behavioral) and invited them into our families.

I, for one, was never a dog person until we adopted Posy 2 and a half years ago. Growing up, we always had cats. It wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that we adopted Mocha, a brown deer head chihuahua, and later, Bella, another of the same. Sweet as they were, they acted more like babies than actual dogs. So when I browsed the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia’s website and saw this:

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I fell in love. What a sweet face!! That’s what a “real dog” looks like! I had to meet her!

Billy and I were moving into an apartment that allowed pets, and so I may or may not have convinced him to go to Adoption Day with me “just to see her.” Once we arrived at Tractor Supply, where the Humane Society had a tent set up out front, found her, and she flopped over on her back begging for tummy rubs, Billy and I knew she was ours. What I did NOT account for was how incredibly difficult it is to have a dog. Let alone one that is as stubborn as a mule (she’s half Basset Hound, half Boxer, 100% obstinate). A couple of months of trials and tribulations, tears, many ruined household items, and getting stuck on top of the cat tree (see below), and we settled into our groove with Posy. What we got in return was a friendly, affectionate, energetic housemate with whom to share the apartment.

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Fast forward two years, and we’re living in a house. We have since adopted another pooch, Pepper! We’re not sure what breeds she is (we lovingly call her a Heinz 57), but she has also found her place in our family. We adopted her from a friend of mine who rescued her from the side of the road, and though she is loving and comfortable with us, she is shy and nervous around every other person she encounters.

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Since I’ve become a dog owner two times over, I’ve learned a great deal about patience, forgiveness, and when to walk away from a fight (not literal ones, but you get the picture). Truth be told, I still don’t consider myself a “dog person,” per se; I think dogs are among the cutest and best creatures, but personality-wise, I am a “cat person” through and through. Cue picture of our first-born, yet not forgotten, Khaleesi, who fits her name very well:

khaleesi

But I think the most important lessons I’ve learned from pet ownership are more positive ones. Each day, I am delighted by my dogs’ unfailing good mood, their uninhibited displays of affection, their fierce loyalty, and their playful sensibility.

So…as an expansion of a previous post, here are four aspirations of mine, as inspired by my dogs.

1. Be unabashedly enthusiastic about the things that make you happy.

Life is hard enough without worrying about whether or not people will judge your every move. Everyone is different and has different things that make them happy. I, for one, enjoy bad 80’s music, classic literature, British television, vintage fashion, and collecting trinket boxes. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve been looked at funny for having certain preferences in what I wear, what I listen to, how I speak, or what makes me laugh.

And you know what? Enough. Enough feeling bad for enjoying what I enjoy and judging others for things that make them happy. As long as people are not harming others, what does it matter? I aspire to be unapologetic in my flights of fancy, and to approach each of my hobbies and interests with relish and boundless enthusiasm, much like Posy and Pepper when they chase after a thrown tennis ball.

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2. Play hard, nap hard.

If there’s one thing that can be said about dogs, it’s that they do everything in extremes. My dogs, for example, are relatively young (Posy is almost 4, and Pepper is a little over a year old), so they are full of energy and put every fiber of their being into playtime. Conversely, when it’s quitting time, they are immovable lumps on the couches or their doggie beds.

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Waking up to their bursts of energy each morning makes for a very refreshing way to start the day. They are appreciative and loving when I come home at lunch to see them and let them outside for awhile. And the pups get so stirred up with joy when we get home from work for the day that they just don’t know what to do…they just do that adorable little prance/half-wiggle thing until I bend down to give them hugs (yes, both of my dogs hug.)

While those are very literal examples of the “play hard, nap hard” sensibility, a more figurative approach is appropriate for human behavior. Simply put, the gusto and dedication Posy and Pepper put into play time, meal time, and nap time can be translated as: give life everything you’ve got. We’re not guaranteed time, and so it is important that the moments we have are spent wisely. Every action (or inaction, like spending a lazy Sunday working on a blog post) should be met with full intention of purpose; every meal should be savored and appreciated for the fuel it provides, every book should be devoured for the beauty of the language it contains, and every day at work should be a celebration of your talent, your purpose within your organization, and the satisfaction of doing something productive.

3. Welcome new friends with open arms.

As anyone would say about me, I could talk to a brick wall. From the time I  was very young, I enjoyed making new friends. And as I got into college and took classes in communication, sociology, anthropology, and psychology, I learned more and more about human behavior, and why we make the choices, form the relationships, and fit into our respective cultures the way that we do. So I love nothing more than to sit down with someone and ask the simple question: What does a day at work look like for you?

If it is someone who is passionate about their line of work, they will immediately start talking excitedly about the tasks they are responsible for, the procedures they take to accomplish them, and what their particular job means to their organization. If it is not someone who is passionate about their line of work, the question does not yield a lengthy answer; instead, the person typically will start talking about their hobbies, or what they would prefer to be doing instead of their present job. Either way, a spark appears behind their eyes, the pace at which they speak quickens, and the sheer delight of talking to someone about what they love to do, whether it be for work or play, shines through.

That is what I love. And that is what I strive to continue to do; I strive to continuously make these connections, talk to people about what makes them happy, and welcome them into my life with open arms.

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“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer)

4. Love unconditionally.

This is a hard concept for a lot of people, but very few dogs. Your dog does not mind if you’re having a bad hair day. He doesn’t care if you’re black, white, purple, or polka-dotted. He doesn’t have a concept of religion, so it doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Pastafarian.

All your dog knows it that you are the most important person in his life. You’re his human. You’re the first person he sees in the morning, and the last one he sees before bedtime. And he loves you without question.

Shouldn’t we be inspired by this? Shouldn’t we strive to be more accepting, more tolerant, and more loving? It’s so easy to get caught up in our differences that I think we sometimes fail to remember that we are all humans. We have that in common. Maybe we should take a page from Posy’s book and welcome each interaction and seek connection.

 

So that’s the end of my (somewhat weird) blog post. At the end of the day, wanting to be like a dog is a silly suggestion; but at its core, the principal stands. We should all look at life like these innocent, adoring creatures, and cherish the good over the bad.

After all…life is short, but every dog has its day.

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For information about how to adopt a cat or dog (adopt, don’t shop!), contact your local Humane Society. For my local friends, visit the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia’s website, hsnwga.org. If you’re not in a position to adopt, they are always looking for volunteers! If you are not from the NW Georgia area, you can find info on your local Humane Society branch and other organizations from which to adopt pets here.

New Year, Better Me.

Until recently, I used the phrase “New year, new me.” New Year’s is a time for reinvention, for starting fresh and beginning again. But looking at 2017 in the last moments of 2016, I don’t agree with the phrase.

I don’t want a NEW me. I like me. Or, I’m beginning to, anyway. I don’t want to create a totally different me. I want to grow. I want to improve. Maybe instead of saying “New year, new me,” we should switch to “New year, better me.” I think I’ll start right now.

I have compiled a list of goals (I won’t say “resolutions,” because I feel like it’s been overdone and I almost never stick to resolutions.) So here, for your reading pleasure, are my 17 Goals for 2017.

1. Read 20 books.


Ever since I learned to read, it was very rare for me to be seen without a book in hand. Whereas I still possess a thirst and passion for reading, I read far less than I used to. I have tried to come up with half-baked excuses as to why I don’t read as much anymore, but the truth is that I just haven’t carved the time out to do it. I have gotten into a routine of spending about an hour before I go to sleep browsing the internet on my phone. This is a habit I will be breaking in the new year.

2. Go on more dates.

Of course I mean with my husband…but I also mean with my friends. It all boils down to not taking enough time to nurture my relationships properly. With a packed schedule, it becomes easy to neglect something as simple as calling up a friend and asking them to dinner, or scheduling a night or two each month to stay in and play board games with the hubs. And you know what? This goes for myself, too. I need to take myself out on dates more.

3. Keep on bloggin’.

Now that I have revived My Crunchy Crusade, I have opened the doorway to blogging again. I have set a goal of blogging at least once a week. I even have a shortlist of topics to write about for the next few months. Hooray for writing therapy! I hope you guys will stay tuned!

4. Meditate.

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I know that meditation means many things to many people. A lot of people picture meditating as something a guru does, seated with their legs “criss-cross applesauce” (I’m bringing back that phrase, so help me), eyes closed and touching their index fingers to their thumbs, forming a circle. Whereas this is one way of doing it, it’s not the only way to look inward and achieve moments of peace. This year, I plan to seek these moments of peace throughout my day, living in the moment, taking in what I’m experiencing, and being truly present. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone home and been asked, “How was your day?” only to blink confusedly for a few seconds, trying to recall. I know I went to work and did my job, but how was my day? I hope to remedy this in 2017.

5. Make more art.

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This goes across the board. The arts mean a great deal to me, whether it be visual, performing, literary, you name it. There are a number of projects I already have lined up for the year: working on my blog/writing poetry, directing The Great Gatsby and hopefully being involved in a few other productions throughout the year, and working on chronicling the last few years with scrapbooking, to name a few. I plan on relishing any other involvement with the arts that comes my way. I have a creative soul, and I need to work on nourishing it more.

6. Drink more water.

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This one’s really straightforward. I am entirely convinced that I have spent the majority of my life mildly dehydrated, so I need to be more mindful of sipping water throughout the day. I could expound on the health benefits of water, or perhaps even the symbolism of water as one of the bases of life, but I’ll leave it at this: I need to carry a water bottle with me everywhere. Or chain it to my ankle; whatever it takes.

7. Whine less, celebrate more.

THIS. This is a biggie. I am susceptible to negativity. My anxiety seems to feed and thrive off of it. For my entire life, my factory setting has been more negative than positive. But as the entirety of my high school and a portion of my college life taught me, no one likes a complainer. No one. As a result, I have spent these past few years trying to negate the negativity. Though there are plenty of times where complaining is just a part of life and a healthy way to vent frustration, every day is a battle to remain positive and stop the whining. I plan on continuing this fight and trying to encourage others to do the same, because I would be a total hypocrite if I told people to stop whining without following my own advice. Thus, I created My Crunchy Crusade and also the Glass Half Full Initiative (#glasshalffullinitiative) to spread positivity and forward-thinking in life and on social media. What do you have to be happy about? Celebrate it! I know I will be in 2017!

8. Say “no.”

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For those of you who know me, you know that I care a LOT about what people think of me. Like, a LOT. Though I’m beginning to be better about it, I make myself sick over disappointing people. What I’m learning, however, is that it is completely okay to say no to people. NO, I would not like to join your LulaRoe Facebook group. NO, I cannot join your committee/board. NO, I will not be able to run that errand for you. NO. It’s another daily struggle, but one I continually work on.

9. Stop apologizing.

In the same vein as saying NO, I have this very annoying tendency to apologize for almost everything I do. I don’t know if it’s a societal thing, where I’m afraid of ruffling feathers as a woman, or if it’s my own neurosis, but I apologize way too much. Sure, there are instances that warrant an apology. Running over someone’s foot with a shopping cart because you weren’t paying attention? Thoughtlessly insulting someone during an argument? Missing an appointment because you didn’t write it down? Yes, by all means, apologize with meaning and with your heart. Having a differing opinion and respectfully making a counterpoint? Not doing something for someone because it makes you uncomfortable? Standing up for yourself? No. No more.

10. Get outside.

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Again, this is another instance where I’ve made half-baked excuses. I do not take enough time to be outside enjoying nature. There is more to life than sitting at a computer all day and then coming home to sit in front of a tv and go to bed. Here’s to embracing Mother Nature!

11. Stop comparing apples to oranges.

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I believe we all have a tendency to look at other peoples’ lives and say, “What am I doing wrong?” I know I do, almost constantly. The thing is…no one knows what anyone else has gone through to get where they are. We all have so many factors contributing to how our lives turn out. Some people truly do live a charmed life, with very few things that ever go wrong for them. Some people appear to live that charmed life, but suffer on the inside, or hide the bad things very well. The fact of the matter is…none of us are the same, so we do ourselves and others a disservice by comparing one person to another. I catch myself looking at other women and making things a competition. She does this, she does that, she looks a certain way, she acts a certain way…why can’t I be/look/act more like her? That’s the wrong approach. Instead of comparing myself to these other women…why not try to be happy with who I am?

12. LET IT GO.

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2017 is the Year of Elsa. Or…the year of Let It Go. Here’s one of my favorite memes about my struggle:

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One of the main contributors (and there are many) of my day-to-day stress is that I hold onto the wrong things. Instead of hanging on to the simple delights of my day and the good things that happen along the way (I unintentionally rhymed, but I’m going to keep it), I tend to harp on the bad things. There are things that happen in life that suck. It is impossible to scrape by without being touched by some unfortunate occurrences. The biggies should be dealt with and may take time to heal from, but the smaller bumps in the road need to be LET GO. Sometimes nothing can be done. Agonizing will not help nor will it change the fact that something crappy just happened. The best we can do is take a small amount of time to be upset, then move on. Keep truckin’.

13. Get out of town!

In the new year, I plan to use this phrase to express my disbelief at what someone just told me.

“Did you know that most Muppets are left-handed?”
“Get out of town!”

No…I’m kidding. I plan to travel more. I was born and raised in Dalton, GA, and have traveled very little in my 23 years. It may not be in the cards to take a bunch of trips across the country, but I’m setting the goal of taking multiple day trips in the coming months. There’s so much more to see!

14. Be more like my dogs.

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You may be scratching your head at this one, but hear me out. My dogs are the most enthusiastic, loving creatures on the planet. Posy, my Basset/Boxer mix, has never met a stranger. She does not discriminate. If you have hands to pet her, she is your best friend. And don’t even get me started on their zest for life. They get excited about absolutely everything: meal times, lazy couch time, potty time outside, you name it. I can even start talking in a very excited voice to them, and they start wagging their tails and doing that cute little hopping dance that dogs do. It is precious.

So here are my goals-within-the goal, or “Lifestyle Tips from Pepper and Posy”:

  • Be unabashedly enthusiastic about the things that make me happy
  • Play hard, nap hard
  • Welcome new friends with open arms
  • Love unconditionally

15. Laugh, laugh, laugh. (And cry a little.)

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One thing that I’ve found is very therapeutic in times of stress is to find the humor in life. This is where the old saying “laugh to keep from crying” comes into play. But sometimes, it’s okay to cry. They say laughter is the best medicine, but sometimes a good cry can help. Like, an ugly, snotty, toddler cry. As long as it’s not in public, because I think that might freak some people out at Kroger. But one thing I hope to do in 2017 is laugh more than I cry. Because life is short, and laughing makes you feel good. In my book, there’s not much better than when something makes you laugh so hard, it turns into a silent wheeze; you’re doubled over, tears streaming down your face, trying to get a grip. That’s what the world needs more of.

16. Be. Patient. (I mean it.)

When describing myself, I always use the phrase, “I’m a lot.” Meaning, I’m a lot to handle. I have an abundance of many things: personality, love, passion, drive. What I don’t have an abundance of is patience. I’m getting better about letting things settle and breathing, but I have a long ways to go. Perhaps one of the most important goals I’ve set for myself for the new year is that of being patient.

The Information Age has spoiled us all. Now, at our fingertips, we can achieve instant gratification on many fronts: sending a message to someone, posting an angry status in the heat of the moment, one-click shopping, looking up who sang that one song that’s been stuck in your head all day, etc. Some things take time. Some things you have to be patient for. And those things are usually the ones that are worth your while.

17. Lose 20 pounds.

I am so sorry to shift the tone so drastically with the last item of my list. Truth be told, I was extremely nervous to put this on the list and onto the internet for anyone passing by to read. But this is a big deal.

I am unhealthy. My bevy of poor choices in diet and lack of exercise have culminated in weight gain that goes beyond “happy weight,” a term which I hate. My sleep schedule and quality are shoddy. My head is foggy a lot of the time. My stress is through the roof. The time has come for me to take charge of my life, make better choices, and get it in gear. I am doing this for no one other than myself, and have laid it all out here on a public forum to hold myself accountable. This will not be an easy process, as I am used to eating whatever I want, not exercising, and staying up late, but I feel it is crucial to being the best version of myself I can be. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

With all of these goals laid out, I have a big year ahead! The time is now. The need is mighty. Negate the negativity. Live life. Be the ball (wait, I don’t think that one fits here.)

Anyway…I’m both excited and terrified of what 2017 has in store. Each hour brings us closer to toasting the new year, replete with potential and chances to evolve, to move onward and upward. I think most of my fear comes from being scared of not having the willpower to break bad habits, and of reverting back to past behavior. Which reminds me of the last two lines of The Great Gatsby:

…tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

It’s not easy to move forward without looking back. Our past happened, and there’s nothing we can do about it except learn from what we’ve been through. Even though we are constantly pulled back into our past, we move forward as much as we can.

Here’s to inching forward together. See you in 2017!

End of the year musings.

Over the last 12 months, I have come to realize that the older one gets, the faster time seems to move. I remember being a child and wanting time to speed up. I wanted to be an adult, to set my own bedtime, to do grown-up things; little did I know that once I became an adult, I would be yearning for the exact opposite.

I remember when I started realizing how time worked; how the seasons pass in the same pattern, how the annual events and holidays seem to creep up quicker and quicker with each passing year. I was 6 or 7. I remember fitting the puzzle pieces together in my mind of how it was already winter again.

But didn’t it just snow last year? Yes, and three seasons followed that, and here we were again.

I consider that a sort of awakening, a major milestone in my adolescence.I had emerged from the foggy existence of a young child who was being taught to go through the motions of life.

New Year comes, we drink the sparkling grape juice and stay up past our bedtime for one evening. We put away the winter clothes and take out the dresses and sandals. We finish school for the year, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, we’re waving American flags and looking up at the sky as fireworks boom above our heads. Then we meticulously pick out new school outfits and supplies, we pack our book bags, and we return to the classroom. We pack away our summer clothes and switch to long sleeves and pants. We see our distant relatives for the first time in what seems like forever and eat some turkey (we never eat turkey…this is strange). We get a break from school and start saving up change for the Salvation Army kettles outside the grocery store (one of my favorite times of year as a tyke). Santa delivers presents while we’re sleeping (we try to stay awake long enough to catch him in the act, to hear reindeer hooves on the roof, but by golly, we always drift off.) And, as the weather grows cold and the wind picks up, you look to the sky for the smallest hint of snow.

Now, at 23 years old, I look back at the routine of it all. And though I enjoy a glass of champagne (or two) now on New Year’s, I don’t get a summer break (boo-hoo), and I don’t get to enjoy school supplies shopping in the fall, the motions are pretty much the same. We go from season to season as we always have. We celebrate the holidays, we switch from long sleeves to short, then back again.

If 2016 has taught us anything with the international tragedies plastered across the 24-hour news channels and high volume of celebrity deaths, it is that we are not promised time.

2016 is drawing to a close, and 2017 lies ahead…shining with potential.

What if, for this year, we don’t just go through the motions? What if we were to take the time to savor each day like a fine meal? Let’s drink in the hours like a fine glass of wine. Let’s enjoy each day like a grade-A steak (or sad tofu patty, or whatever vegetarians eat instead). Let’s delight in each interaction with people as if we’re relishing a gourmet dessert. Life is a treat. So let’s “treat” it that way. (I’m so sorry for that pun.)

Here’s to 2017!

Next blog post: “New Year, Better Me.” (17 Goals for 2017)