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I hope you’re somewhere praying.

I feel as though my updates jump around from one place to another. In my last post, I shared my extremely personal journey with mental health awareness; before that I was catching you up (vaguely) on the past year of my life. What I haven’t done yet, however, is delve into the 3 most important relationships that have helped to shape me the most since last year. This post will touch on one of those, and more specifically on how that person came back in my life for one of the most important reasons I can imagine.

Sometimes, you just meet a person and immediately connect with them. You are inexplicably drawn to them, fascinated by them, attracted to them, and ultimately all-consumed by them. I met such a person at the end of last year, right in the middle of my life going up in shambles.

He was one of the most attractive people I had ever met in my life. I couldn’t explain what it was exactly, because he wasn’t really the type of person I normally found myself attracted to. But all I knew is that I couldn’t wait to be around him. I felt electricity during the short amount of time we spent together.

Boy, was he trouble.

For the sake of saving face, both mine and his, I won’t go into too many specifics here. In summary, he helped me to realize some key things that I needed out of a relationship – excitement, adventure, passion…

He also made me realize that, though fire may be a beautiful thing, there is such a thing as getting too close and getting burned by it.

When you are attracted to someone on that deep of a level, you tend to let the negative behavior slide. Like blowing you off and forgetting plans with you, only to call you out of the blue and expect you to drop everything for them. Eventually, after the flaky behavior, the negativity, and the constant anxiety he caused, I decided enough was enough and removed him from my life.

Throughout the past year I heard from him a few times, and though I immediately remembered the passion I had felt with him, I also remembered how terrible he made me feel about myself, and for that reason I never really responded. Until recently.

About 2 weeks ago, I received several messages from him, asking me to talk. I still don’t know what made me give in – it must’ve been fate playing her hand – but I agreed to talk with him. In our conversation, I found out all of the things he had been through the past year – issues that aren’t my place to share, but definitely explained some of his behavior – and he advised he was a completely different person than the one I met last summer. He apologized for how he had treated me, and wanted to start fresh and actually get to know me. He also said he had found God again and was actively focusing on his relationship with Him.

Deep down, I wanted to believe him so badly. I figured, what’s the harm in giving out second chances? There’s always the possibility that it comes back to bite me in the ass, but what if I’m wrong? What if he really has changed?

Well. We all know where this is going.

I decided to meet up with him to see if things had changed…and I was truly impressed. We spent the evening talking, learning about each other and turning over a new leaf. I couldn’t believe how different he really seemed. It was such a huge transformation; and of course, my attraction for him was the exact same as it had been before.

Through the next week, he was calling and texting me daily, wanting to hang out as much as possible, and we even discussed the possibility of us dating and doing things the right way this time. My heart was so full.

The following week, however, he began to regress to his previous behavior. The calls/texts slowed down, along with his persistence to hang out with me. Inevitably, he informed me that he had changed his mind and just wanted to stay friends – which I would have been fine with, had I not found out it was because of someone else.

My heart was pretty crushed. I had tried, and failed, not to get my hopes up and not to really think that things could work out between us. My faith in the possibility of change and in second chances had grown too quickly.

The point of all this is not to dwell on the fact that, once again, I proved myself wrong. In all honesty, I know without a doubt that this is for the best – for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes you just instinctively know when someone is not good for you, despite how badly you want it to work out, and this is a prime example.

I truly believe that his purpose, however, was to bring me home.

As I said earlier, he had told me that he had found God again and was going to church. He invited me to attend with him, and I immediately accepted. This in itself is slightly out of character for me because I am a private person normally about my faith. I have gone to church with friends a few times throughout the years, but it’s not something I really talk with my friends about; I usually prefer to go alone.

After attending last weekend, however, I truly felt the message. The day I attended, they were starting a series on Truth: on how, as humans, we all struggle with depression/anxiety and hardships, and how He works with us to overcome these things in our lives through Love. Wow. Talk about fate. That message hit me so hard that I was overwhelmed with emotion. I immediately felt at home in this church. I felt the sense of community, and I was welcomed with open arms. Typically I am extremely picky when it comes to finding a church I like – in fact I have never found one I truly loved – until now.

It’s as if I have finally opened myself up to Christ again. I’ve always been a believer, and throughout my life I have prayed, attended church, read daily devotionals and other religious books, etc. But it wasn’t until recently that I’ve truly FELT His presence again. My heart is so full again, and I am so blessed.

After he and I “broke up” the first time last summer, the Kesha song “Praying” came out. I used to dedicate it to him in my mind, shouting the lyrics with such emphasis. I hoped that he WAS somewhere praying, and I hoped his soul WAS changing, especially after treating me with such indifference and disrespect. Ironically, the message must’ve gotten across. Not only did he rediscover his own faith, but he helped me to rediscover mine. For that I will forever be grateful, regardless of whether or not he remains in my life.

What I do know is that I can’t wait to see where He leads me next.

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“Honesty is honestly the hardest thing for me right now.”

This blog post has been in the works for about 3+ years now. With Monday (September 10th) having been Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, and with September being the month of Suicide Prevention Awareness overall, I felt that this was a good time (if there ever truly is one) to share my own journey with my mental health.

**Disclaimer – no, I have never been suicidal personally; but I do know people who have been. The number of people that suffer silently with mental illness is astounding. While many feel alone or afraid to reach out, there ARE people who can help. Should you or anyone that you know have any suicidal thoughts, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255**

In my late teens and early twenties, college was what defined me. I knew that no matter what life threw at me, I had a community of people my age surrounding me, going through similar life experiences, whom I could reach out to at any given moment. I have always been a social person, so naturally I thrived living in a college town. It was truly wonderful, and plenty of days I think back on those memories and wish that I could just experience it all one more time.

Naturally, as a student, I felt stressed – I felt the struggle of paying bills, of keeping on-track with my assignments, of balancing my social life with classes and part-time jobs, etc. To me, stress and anxiety weren’t exactly new – but I was so busy constantly that I didn’t really have the time to think about what was “normal.” After graduation and securing my first adult job, I felt like I would make the transition from student to adult extremely well – I had a job in a field I was hoping to make a career in, and I was moving to a town that was right in-between my hometown and my college town, which would make visiting my family/friends/boyfriend SO easy. I’d be living truly on my own for the first time, and though I was sad to be leaving plenty of friends behind, I was so excited to see what the “real world” had to offer me!

For a few months, things were okay. I enjoyed the work I did, and I even managed to make a couple of friends in the small town I lived in. I was pretty poor, but I was making it on my own. What more could I ask for?

Now, don’t get me wrong – small-town life has its benefits. I experienced firsthand just how wonderful close-knit communities can be, and how nice it can be to see a friendly face nearly everywhere you go. But, going from a college town atmosphere, where my friends were only a few blocks away at any given time, and constantly having a social life, to a town where I spent a majority of my down-time alone, was a really harsh change. I started to feel pretty depressed and anxious, and didn’t know how to handle it.

Months went by, and things only continued to worsen. With no social life to distract me, I was stuck with my own thoughts – and it was then that I realized that I maybe needed some help. My anxiety had manifested itself at full-force, to the point that I couldn’t sleep on my own, which only caused more anxiety. I was fearful that I was alone, that I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I was fearful that no one my age had feelings like this, that I was abnormal. Finally, in the spring of 2014, I had just about as much as I could handle. I broke down. But most importantly, I asked for help.

At 23, just one year out of college, I felt like such a failure. But I had truly learned one valuable lesson – that no matter what, family and true friends will be there for you. I have never felt that more deeply than I felt it then.

After some therapy (which I should’ve stuck with, but at this point wasn’t fully convinced I needed), official diagnoses of anxiety/depression and some medication, I was finally feeling back to my “normal” self. I still wasn’t ready to fully open up about this experience to anyone, but I was definitely in a better spot.

Flash forward to the winter of 2015, a year and a half later. At this point, I had had several different jobs, straying from the field I really wanted a career in, but was back in my hometown and living with my boyfriend. I had been sticking with my medications, but had not sought any further therapy. All in all, I was fine. I even started forgetting my medication at times, but I didn’t have anything to worry about – things were just fine.

Then, I got the news that someone I had gone to middle/high school with had committed suicide. Not to say that this person and I were close by any means – but I remembered sitting next to her in classes. I remembered her bright and charismatic personality, how friendly and outgoing she had been – and I just couldn’t believe it.

Combined with the fact that I hadn’t been taking my medication as prescribed, and a few other family events wreaking emotional havoc, I had my second break down. And once again, I had to ask for help.

This time around was a pretty dark time for me. Even though I was living with my boyfriend and I had family/friends around, it was still extremely difficult. At this point, I truly realized that I wasn’t alone in dealing with mental illness – that there were so many other people my age dealing with it themselves – but it wasn’t a comforting thought. It scared me that suicide was actually possible. I realize that sounds silly, because it’s always existed. But having it happen to someone I actually knew somehow made it more real to me.

I learned firsthand the importance of sticking with medication, even if things seem “better” – that doctors do know much more than I do, and that medication can truly help. I realized that medication alone isn’t always the answer, either. Sometimes you need some additional help, such as therapy, to work through your “issues.”

Since winter 2015/spring 2016, I have grown so much. I have been much more open about my use of medication to assist with my anxiety/depression. I have been able to talk with people about it, and I continued with therapy (though I haven’t been in awhile – really should make an appointment soon, while I’m thinking about it). Even having gone through quite a bit of loss recently, I have had plenty of people around me to help me get through. I have had my good days and my bad, but overall I am really doing well.

People may think that having a mental illness means that I am a weak person – but I guarantee you that I am not. People may not fully understand what it’s like to suffer from anxiety/depression –  and that’s OK. This experience has been extremely humbling for me. Everyone’s life experience is different. My story just happens to include depression/anxiety, and I will not be ashamed of that.

The moral of my story is this: I’m glad that I can open up and share my truth. While it’s terrifying to think of the feedback from my friends and acquaintances, and that it may change their perception of me for the worse, it’s also such a great feeling to be honest about it. I am so grateful to have people in my life that I can rely on to help me when I need it, that I can go to and talk with, and know that I won’t be judged. I can only hope that others have that same experience. There is still such a stigma associated with mental illness/mental health – but so many people are starting to share their own stories. More and more celebrities have opened up about their own struggles, showing that it can happen to anyone. Me sharing my own story isn’t to try to gain sympathy – it’s the exact opposite of that. I’m sharing my story to encourage others to do the same, to let people know that they are NOT alone, and to hopefully encourage those who may be suffering in silence to take that chance and ask for help. It’s terrifying at first, but I know that I am so glad I did.

“Guess who’s back…”

“..back again…”

Just had to. Moving on…

So, last update was October 2017.. I really, really have sucked at my promise to keep updating this thing…probably because so much has been going on in my life the past year that I truly haven’t known where to start.

Where we last left off: All before my 27th birthday last August, I had suffered 3 pretty tragic/life-changing events. My identity was pretty much in question at that point in time. I had lost my dad and any potential at continuing to build a great relationship with him; I had lost my dog, my furbaby, basically my favorite thing in life; and I ended a 4 1/2 year relationship. I was basically starting over from scratch.

In addition to trying to overcome loss, I was trying to discover who I was and what I wanted out of life – what I wanted out of a relationship/partner, what I wanted out of my career, etc. Quite a bit of pressure to put on myself, no?

Well. Needless to say that didn’t quite go as planned…(surprised? HA.)

What I needed (or so I thought) was a way to make new friends, meet new people, and really get myself back out there. Enter Tinder/Bumble.

WOW did I not know what I was getting into.

I could probably make a whole anonymous blog on my Tinder/Bumble dating experiences…but for now, my friends just get to listen to my stories and laugh/cry/shudder with me. Still considering the whole blog thing though…but since I’m SO successful at updating this one, I can hardly imagine how I would be able to handle two…

Since joining the dating apps, my eyes have been opened to the whole new world of dating in the 2010s. (That sounds weird. Is that right? I don’t know, I’m on a roll, so I don’t really care.) Long gone are the days of meeting people in public, striking up conversation/flirting, asking for phone numbers, calling and getting to know someone, and then being asked on a date. Now it’s all about “swiping right” and hoping to maybe match someone that looks like they might be a decent person, seeing if they will message you first or if you’re going to need to be the one to break the ice, then having conversation through messages – really getting to spend quality screen time while they stare at their screen and message you too…SUPER special..

But in all fairness, I have met quite a few decent people through the apps. I’ve gone on some wonderful dates; I even got the chance to fall in love a couple of times. Won’t go into too much detail there – I could write a whole NOVEL on those relationships – but what I experienced and learned taught me so much about how I want/deserve to be treated, how I don’t want to be treated, and things that I look for in a future partner.

Now, I’ve also had some pretty terrible experiences that have left me emotionally questioning my choices and wondering why I am even still trying to meet people.

YUP. My life has been a circus.

In the past year I’ve really struggled with anxiety, depression and heartbreak. I felt pretty lost. Trying to pick up the pieces and make myself whole wasn’t really working for me. I was miserable at my job, I was miserable physically, and emotionally just wasn’t feeling like myself anymore. (However, I did run 2 half marathons last year, so those were two huge highlights of personal/physical accomplishment!)

Finally, however, things started to look up. About two months ago I FINALLY decided to do something about my life. I realized how miserable I was in my career and started job searching. Last month, I accepted a new job, and I’ve LOVED every second of it! It’s truly amazing just how much happier my life has become, both professionally and personally. It took a long time for me to realize how much work truly has an effect on your overall happiness, and boy, am I glad I’ve finally figured that out.

Last week, I turned 28. It’s officially been a little more than one year since I went through my life-changing turn of events. Though I put a TON of pressure on myself to figure out exactly what I want out of my life, I think what I needed the most was just time to heal – and that’s what the last year has provided.

Now, I have a new goal.

This year truly will be the year of ME. Now that I’m in a better place, I really want to dedicate this next year to myself, to learning what truly makes me happy on my own. I need to take the time to determine the activities that bring me happiness and encourage growth. This year will be the year I really do weed out the negativity and analyze ALL aspects of my life – hobbies, friendships, relationships, etc. I will take the time to get to know what I really enjoy doing vs. what I think I should enjoy doing. I will discover what I value out of friendships/relationships and what my expectations are, whether or not the people in my life currently bring me joy and happiness, and expressing to others what I’m looking for in a friendship/relationship.

As far as dating goes, I haven’t quite given up on that – but I’m not making that my main focus. I am dedicating this next year to being in a committed relationship with MYSELF. After all, you can’t really love someone until you can make yourself happy, know yourself, and know what you’re seeking out of life.

So, this is my promise to myself. 28 is the year of ME, and I truly am #sorrynotsorry.

Sometimes there’s good in goodbye.

Last I had left off in my story, I lost my furbaby 2 1/2 weeks after losing my dad. Basic summary: July was the month from hell.

After going through such huge losses in such a short amount of time, I shut down a bit. Coming home to my empty apartment without my baby to greet me, feeling alone and empty inside…it wrecked me. I was doing all I could to make it through every day without completely losing it. I started working at my new part-time job as much as possible and occupying my time with anything – anything to keep me out of my apartment and dwelling on her absence.

What I didn’t realize was that in a time that I should have been relying on my significant other for help, I was actually pushing myself away from him.

Relationships are hard. Times of turmoil either bring you closer together as a couple, or bring you further apart. Sadly, for my relationship, these trying events did the latter.

My boyfriend and I had been together for nearly 4 1/2 years. Our relationship was never perfect; we always had to work hard to make us work as a couple. But for the last half of it, neither of us had been honest with one another in our feelings – we both denied that we were unhappy in the relationship and kept trying to make it work and ignoring the signs that were telling us it was time to part ways as friends.

Keeping romance alive, and dating with intention, is something that requires effort by both parties in order to maintain a successful relationship. For the latter half of the relationship, I had been feeling as though we were extremely great friends and roommates, as opposed to cultivating a loving/romantic life-long relationship and partnership. Over the years, we slowly stopped going on dates as much; we weren’t as present in each others’ day-to-day activities; we just stopped trying.

Sadly, it was the loss of my furbaby that caused me to realize that she was the glue keeping us together. No longer having her in the apartment caused me to focus more on my boyfriend’s and my relationship, since it was just the two of us. I realized that the doubts I had been feeling could no longer be ignored.

In the beginning of August, after we both discussed things thoroughly, he admitted he had been feeling the same way for some time, despite never having told me. How crazy that both of us had been feeling unhappy for over a year and did nothing to confront it!? In a way, we were both too scared to let go, too scared to move on from so much history together.

It was very hard for both of us to come to terms with, especially the first couple of weeks. Learning how to live together and remain friendly while also trying to decide what our next moves were; learning how to move forward together, while also parting ways. It’s something we are still trying to figure out, 2 months later.

It is still our intention to remain close friends. After 4 1/2 years, we still have a LOT of love and respect for one another, and continue to be a part of each others’ lives as we embark on this new journey. I only see positive things in both of our futures, and I hope that we will both continue to be a part of each others’ successes and triumphs. I wish him nothing but happiness, and hope for the same for myself.

Now, to be fair to both parties, I did ask my ex’s consent to post this blog entry, and I sent him the text prior to posting – so he has approved and agreed with everything I have stated above. The purpose of this blog post is NOT to point fingers of blame at one another; simply to state the way things happened, and the way I am personally coming to terms with this situation.

To summarize; in July I permanently lost two huge parts of my life; and in August I let go of a 4 1/2 year relationship. To say that 26 was a completely life-changing year for me is an understatement. Now, at 27, I am learning how to be a single adult; I am re-discovering myself, my interests, and what I hope to gain out of a relationship (though that is not my top priority at the moment). I get to focus on myself; and though at times it is terrifying, stressful and chaotic…I am learning to see it as a beautiful opportunity; truly a new beginning.

Love is a four-legged word.

Phew…this has been the blog post I have dreaded writing the most.

Where we last left off – I had fractured my left ankle on June 11 in the middle of an obstacle course run and it threw me off of my half-marathon training (until August 2, to be exact); then, a little less than a month later, I lost my dad on the Fourth of July.

In the 2 1/2 weeks that followed my dad’s passing, I slowly got back on my feet. Friends and family were there to support me endlessly; and I had the constant love of my furbaby, Tappy. Anytime I needed to cry or just lay in bed, she was there for me without hesitation, giving me kisses and comforting me with her cuddles.

Sadly, July just had to be the month from Hell, and my furbaby was taken from me too soon.

Losing a parent is hard. Losing a dog is also hard (I have lost 2 in my lifetime). Losing my dad, followed by my dog 18 days later, was probably the hardest thing I have faced so far in my life.

Tappy was more than just a pet. She was my family; my baby. I took care of her for over 5 years, and it was not enough time. Those 5 years were the best years of my life with her; she was able to comfort me through some terrible losses in that time, and add an immense amount of joy to my world. Her constant love and companionship was something I relied on daily; that’s why I think losing her really sent me over the edge in a way that losing my dad didn’t quite do. When you are so used to taking care of a pet, used to them being in your home 24/7, used to feeling their presence constantly….it is something that does not disappear overnight.

I felt constantly lost. I hated coming home to my apartment knowing full-well that she would not be there to greet me with her beautiful face, her goofy whine, her silly running sprees, and her unending amount of kisses/cuddles. I cried myself to sleep nightly, and hated the thought of living in a world where she wasn’t present. It is still a thought that troubles me, to be truthful.

I will not go into details about her passing; it is something that haunts me, and will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. All I can say is that on that day, I was able to be with her as she crossed that rainbow bridge, and I am grateful that she was in her home with her mama.

The amount of love my little dog gave to me is something I cannot put into words. Sitting here reflecting on it and trying to think of a way to describe her….I simply cannot. If you knew Tappy, however, you know exactly what I mean.

Part of an exercise I was assigned in therapy was to write Tappy a goodbye letter. Last week, I was able to accomplish that, and read it out loud with her collar in the room. It was cathartic; it was emotional; it was bittersweet.

I do not want to fully disclose the contents of my goodbye to her – I feel that it is something deeply personal and it is something I would rather cherish with her (and my therapist…and probably my mother). To quickly summarize, however, I recounted the story of how my best friend and I went to the shelter and that the day I found her I knew I had to have her. She was the answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had, and she was exactly what I needed in my life. In my letter, I wrote some of my favorite memories and aspects about her, and I let her know just how much she meant to me.

I lost the furry half of my heart the day I lost Tappy. Reflecting upon the month of July is painful for me – I lost 2 huge parts of my life in less than a month. Still, every day can be a struggle; I cry at random times in the day when a memory hits me. Sometimes I will laugh and be so happy, and it is incredulous to me that in those moments I can forget how much pain I am still in.

They say time is the best healer – I suppose I’m learning that this is true. It’s a really hard truth to face; but slowly and surely, I am facing it. Through her short nearly-5 1/2 year life with me, she gave me enough love and affection to last for years to come. It just still feels like I was prematurely robbed of the opportunity to experience her love and her presence in my life for a few more years to come.

Tappy Lou…you will always have my heart. I cannot wait to see you when I cross over to the other side – I know that you, Gracie and Groucho will all be waiting there for me, tails wagging and ready to greet me with open paws.

No Fourth of July has ever burned so brightly.

It’s been 3 long months since I’ve posted. In reality, what I’ve gone through the past couple of months is something that most people go through in a much longer time period. I haven’t felt much like sharing, or bringing everything out in the open, but now I feel ready. First I will start with the first of my 3 largest life-changing events of this year (of my life, really).

I woke up on July 4 expecting it to be an ordinary day. I woke up early to go get my run packet for the Four on the Fourth 4-mile run I had signed up to do. Sadly, I was still in a walking boot for my ankle and couldn’t compete in the race, so I had to change my entry to a virtual entry to be completed at a later date…oh, by the way – I fractured my left ankle doing an obstacle course 10 days after my last blog post. So, really, I guess 4 major events have happened since I last updated. Whoops. Regardless, just tack that on to the list…

Anyway. I came home from picking up my packet and editing my race entry, and really wanted to take a nap prior to working some holiday hours from home. For some reason, I just really couldn’t sleep..kept feeling disturbed. In hindsight, I’m very aware why.

I woke from a slight doze to my boyfriend telling me I needed to call my mom right away. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I called her, and the words, “Calli, I’m sorry, but your dad passed away this morning,” came out of her mouth. My whole world was rocked.

How did this happen? How on earth did a day that started off relatively normally so quickly become derailed? I laid on my couch sobbing, howling in a way I have never heard myself yell before. With Tappy licking me and cuddling me, and with my boyfriend rubbing my back, there was still no consolation – nothing in the world could bring him back.

My dad had been sick off and on for 10 years; he was a fighter, and he just never gave up. Through the countless hospital stays, rehabilitation center stays, medication, procedures, etc…he endured. So, in reality, his passing wasn’t a complete shock. However, it’s because of how much of a trooper he was, how long he kept fighting, that it really was still a shock. How could something I had been preparing myself mentally for for so long still come as such a surprise?

There is absolutely nothing in this world that can prepare you for that phone call; prepare you for the flood of emotions that overcome you.

I was 26 years old, and I had lost my father.

No girl my age (or younger) should ever have to go through the process of losing a parent so young. Losing a parent is inevitable; it is a natural part of life. Losing a parent so early, however, is not something anyone should have to endure.

Gone were my hopes of having a man someday ask him for my hand in marriage; gone were my hopes of having my daddy walk me down the aisle; gone were my visions of him dancing with me at my wedding to “Butterfly Kisses”, which had been our song since I was 6 years old. Gone were so many hopes and dreams I had of him being present in my life; things I don’t even know that are yet to come, that he will miss because he is on the other side of this life.

To say that my dad and I had the perfect relationship would be a stretch. When he and my mom separated in high school, our relationship suffered a bit of a strain. However, through time, we had repaired old wounds. I didn’t talk to him daily, or see him nearly as much as I wish I had. So many regrets when it comes to our relationship the past few years. But, there wasn’t ever any doubt, I loved my daddy and he loved his baby girl.

He left this world fighting; he left this world after having given so much of his time and energy helping others, and giving me so many examples of what a true man is. He worked so hard, loved to have fun, gave so much to others, and refused to fully quit anything.

There are many memories I have of my dad that I will cherish forever. The purpose of this blog entry isn’t necessarily to reminisce, however, but to focus on my path of healing and moving forward.

In the past few months, I have learned that life is truly short. You can never really count on tomorrow coming; it is best to say what you feel and cherish what you have while you have it. There’s unfortunately no other lesson that teaches this better than death.

It’s poetic that my dad passed away on his favorite holiday; the Fourth of July was always his favorite time of year. He loved hanging out down at our beach, grilling and smoking meats, shooting off fireworks, and spending quality time with family and friends. That is how I choose to remember him – smiling, laughing, and shining radiantly like a firework that inevitably had to burn out. Now, every time I see a fireworks display, I know he is with me.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will see my dad again someday. When that day comes, who is to say – but I will be very glad to see him, whenever that may be.

In closing, I would also like to add that were it not for such an amazing support system in my life, I would not have been able to fight through this. Though this is just one of the three major events I have experienced in these past couple of months, this was definitely a hard one to process. My family and friends were so supportive and helpful in this time, and I just hope they truly know it did not go unnoticed.

RIP, daddy. I love you so much.

So long, Facebook

You know it’s sad when you have to write a blog post commemorating the day you’re deleting your Facebook for good (well…that’s the ultimate goal, anyway..we’ll see).

I don’t know what’s more impressive; the fact that I was the first of 5 people at my high school to sign up for Facebook, or the fact that it’s taken me 12 years to delete it.

Sure, off and on we’ve all had moments where Facebook or any other social media account has irritated us to no end. But it’s almost pathetic how much of a choke-hold it has over people that use it, whether or not they realize it.

If I were to count the number of hours I’ve spent staring at the computer/phone screen, scrolling through an endless number of meaningless posts, it would probably appall me. Would it add up to weeks? Months, even? Probably.

Sure, I’ve come to this realization partially every once in awhile, and I’ve deleted my account a couple of times for Lent or for some other challenge. But, like an addict, I eventually come crawling back and get in the habit of wasting away my days constantly checking for notifications.

Seriously.  How freaking sad?!

Not to mention, over the years I have found less and less enjoyment with Facebook. Don’t get me wrong – it is AWESOME seeing photos and posts on some of the milestones my friends and acquaintances have reached, such as graduations, engagements, marriages, new homes, children, etc.; but the more and more that I see of these posts, the more I find myself comparing my life to theirs, and wondering how I measure up to those around me.

Yes. I know this is stupid and unhealthy.

But I know I’m not alone. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard people complain of the kinds of things that come up in their newsfeed and how sick people are of seeing/reading certain things, feeling inadequate to those that seem to have the picture-perfect life on their social media pages. Not to MENTION the sheer amount of daily political arguments that continue to threaten everyone’s sanity…

Frankly, it’s just all finally getting old.

I’m realizing that I have spent way too much screen time and way too little face-to-face time with my friends, family, etc. Sadly I have learned this lesson a little too late, and I can’t really take any of it back. What I can do, however, is start to make a change for the better.

So, for all of the above reasons and more, I am finally quitting Facebook.

It really feels so freeing to say.

Yes, I will be keeping my Instagram – because I do love photos. I have phone numbers for the people that I want to keep in contact with, and I am hoping that this helps me to actually communicate better rather than relying on Facebook to keep in touch with the people I care about.

For those of you that think I’m crazy – well, we’ll see how happy I am  when I’m not feeling bound by the chains of social media and the expectations of keeping up appearances online. I am hoping to truly focus on the people that matter in this life, and not have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself.

Anger after death.

I’m just going to jump right into this one.

I’ve been struggling off and on with quite a few things lately; one of the main ones being that, nearly 2 years after my grandmother passed away, her estate was finally settled in the most drug-out, slap-in-the-face way possible.

Kind of hard to explain, really; a long story full of secrets and betrayal with an extremely sad ending.

For the past 2 months I have had a few boxes of my grandma’s personal belongings sitting in my apartment. With circumstances, and the way things ended, my emotions were too high for me to really care to start going through them.

Around the end of January I finally started to go through them. They’ve been taking up space in my guest bedroom, being the literally huge elephant in the room that I can’t ignore, but kept trying to. As I started going through them, however, there were so many things I discovered even by just going through one full box that I didn’t even know how to comprehend.

I saw a side of my grandma in photos that I didn’t even know existed; a model, a dancer, a party animal; a beautiful yet wounded person. I saw a life full of memories and wonderful experiences – raising a family, vacations, boating, etc. I saw words written to her by friends and family members through the years about the kind of person she was, the character she had, the great relationships she had built.

It made me happy, sad…and angry. I was deeply hurt that I never truly got to know her. It made me mad that I never had a relationship where we shared much. It was more surface-level; she was a relatively stiff woman, yet here I am reading all of these kind and beautiful sentiments written about her by other people close to her.

Not only did I see a side of my grandma that I didn’t know, but my grandfather, too. He passed away when I was very young – my first grandparent to pass away, actually. I didn’t get the opportunity to know him as well as I could’ve, but he lived until I was 11 and was one of my favorite men in the whole world. He considered me to be the “light of his life,” the “prettiest girl in Kansas City,” and other wonderful things. He was so loving and kind, had such a loud boisterous laugh, gave wonderful hugs and kisses. Of course, at age 11, you don’t get to experience a lot of the depth of a human being. It’s as you grow older and mature that you truly get to know a person for who they are.

His relationship with my grandma, his life before me – none of these things are things I got to learn about from him before he died. And, of course, I didn’t ask my grandma about their relationship, or about her life before me, either – it was all kind of a taboo subject. Much of what I learned about them was either after they had passed, or things I learned that I wasn’t really supposed to know or talk about. Kind of hard to get to know people that way, agree?

I could go on and on for quite awhile about the crazy dynamics of that side of my family; basically this entry is to share my experience. Dealing with death is hard enough; learning things about people after the fact makes you feel like you truly never knew them at all, and makes you wish that you could talk to them to get the story from their perspective. It’s pretty hard to move on when you know you can’t get the full version from the horses’ mouths.

I’m hoping this entry helps me to vent out some of my anger, sadness and frustrations – but I know that this is definitely a life-long process.

In all reality, at least the knowledge that they both loved me in their own ways, and gave me some positive memories to look back on and cherish, is enough for me. But, I will still always wonder…until we meet again.

The adopted aunt.

Last blog was 11 days ago, hey! I’m getting better at this thing!

I won’t get too far ahead of myself. I’ve done this before..

Anyway.

Today is Veterans Day, and though I am super appreciative of everything that they have done for myself and this country, that is not what I am focusing today’s blog on. Maybe an idea on a future blog, however..

Today one of my friends gave birth to her baby girl!! I find myself super excited, as this is the fourth time I have become an “aunt,” and I can’t wait to meet her!

Why are you putting “aunt” in quotations, you may ask?

Well.

Because I am an only child, I will never be an aunt (by blood, at least).

Now, there are MANY things that separate life experiences of those with siblings from those who are only children. Honestly, that is a blog post I’ve been working in my head for quite some time – delving into why being an only child is both a blessing and a curse, the different nuances of personal qualities and attributes I can blame/thank for being an only child…hell, I’ve probably already written about it and forgotten. Regardless, be prepared – an entry will be coming soon.

Before I ramble too much…as I was saying, there are many things that differentiate a person with a larger family/siblings from someone like me, who is an only child and has a small family. The fact that I will never be an aunt by blood is something that I somewhat struggle with. If I don’t have any children of my own, I will never have the joy of sharing any DNA with any child, ever, actually; and because I do not have any desire to be a mother, well, basically, I have zero DNA connection to the future. I will not share a special bond with a child, one of those bonds only family can have. Quite frankly, that hurts me.

I have always, throughout my childhood, called people my sisters, brothers, cousins, relatives…that are of distant association. I have claimed people as my family by choice. Just because there is no bloodline shared, does not mean that a family by choice is any less meaningful.

It does, however, raise some questions.

I’ve been asked on multiple occasions why I call my friends my sisters, or why I call my friends’ children my nieces and nephews. I know that not everyone can understand why I am quick to call myself Aunt Calli, or why I am not more of a home body and yearn to spend time with those I am close with. It is simple – I want a family.

Before we all jump to the conclusion that my ovaries are on overdrive, that is not what I mean. As I have stated before, I honestly do not feel that I am going to be a mother. Again, this subject could be its own blog post – about how people shame women who don’t want to be mothers, for feeling as if something is wrong with people who don’t choose to have children, etc. I will be writing on this at a later date as well. No, I do not have a maternal instinct, a desire to raise a child of my own. But I do have a desire to be an aunt and still play a role in children’s lives, especially to those children that are being raised by my friends.

I have a huge heart. I place my family, boyfriend and friends in the utmost regard. Though I am human and sometimes make mistakes, my friends should always know that I love them – if not, well, now you do.

And I love your children. I will always vow to be the “cool aunt,” the one that takes them for a weekend and spoils them rotten, the one that remembers them on their birthdays and wants them to join us when we spend time together (though forgive me if in the future I also want us to spend time without kids 😉 ). Just because I am not choosing to be a mother myself does not mean that I dislike children. That is absolutely not true, and will never be true. Period.

I see my relationships as a privilege, and will always take my title as Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt, seriously.

So. In conclusion, should you feel that your child needs an auntie, by all means – I will be more than willing to adopt them into my tribe of nieces and nephews, and I will love them dearly! But for now, I have two lovely nieces (both named Aurora, ironically!) and two lovely nephews – (you guys know who you are) – and though I don’t get to see them/their mommies nearly as much as I would like, I am so happy to be a part of their lives. Thank you for understanding, and welcoming me into your family 🙂

Love,

Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt

Domestic bliss?

It’s been 4 months since I have last blogged.

In the words of Charlie Brown, “Oh, good grief.”

I really need to get better at this!!!

Well. Since Friday morning my boyfriend and I re-signed our lease for another year of living together, and ironically, he turned around and left town until today, what better time to write about our first year of living together?

Now, I know plenty of people out there who do not agree with living together prior to marriage. That is a perfectly reasonable belief, and I would not dare to judge anyone that holds that belief. However, there are also plenty of people that think living together prior to marriage is a good test of the relationship. I am one of those people, and as such, I ask you to reserve judgment on my boyfriend’s and my decision to live together.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

For privacy purposes, I will refer to my boyfriend as “S”.

S and I have been together for a little over 3 1/2 years at this point (3 years, 7 months and 10 days, to be exact…but who’s counting?). It has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, pretty typical. We moved in after about 2 1/2 years of dating. Though we had discussed doing it sooner, the timing wasn’t exactly right between work, leases ending, and just not feeling ready.

Let me tell ya. As much as I love living with S, there are a TON of things I have learned in the past year. And that is what I am going to focus this entry on – things that I (really, “we,”) have learned in the past year.

  1. Do not move in together until you are absolutely ready!! This is probably the MOST important thing I have learned. There were many discussions had about the logistics behind moving in together, whether it would be weird having him move into an apartment I had been living in for the past year, whether we should find our own place to make our own, etc. SO many discussions. In the end, however, we made the decisions that fit US best. I am so glad that we made the time to plan this out, and didn’t make and sudden decisions.
  2. You WILL have an adjustment period. Prior to us moving in together, I was a little terrified that it would ruin our relationship. I thought that we would be around each other so much that we would get on one another’s nerves, that we would never get any alone time, etc. At first, it was a little weird getting used to living with him – I would be lying if I didn’t admit to that. However, pretty quickly, it became something exciting and new. Not having the hassle of alternating where to spend nights and weekends was fabulous! Getting to decorate our place together and make joint decisions was great!
  3. Privacy and personal time still exist, though not as much as you’re probably used to. I think this was the hardest adjustment for me. Growing up as an only child especially, I’m used to having a lot of time for myself – choosing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and not having to really share much space with anyone (other than my parents of course). Over the year, however, I have still managed to maintain some independence – I have friends over to hang out, and don’t necessarily spend every waking moment with S. He has shows he watches on his own, while I watch my own shows as well. We spend time reading, and going out with our friends, and it works out so well. Don’t get me wrong – we definitely spend quite a bit of time together! – but we are able to enjoy our own activities as well. I think being able to enjoy time together AND apart in our mutual living space has made this such a great experience so far, and has strengthened our relationship.
  4. There WILL be an increase in arguments. Constructive arguments are not a bad thing, especially when they are more of a discussion and less of a yelling match. Lucky for us, we both have different personalities and are able to work together to find a solution relatively quickly. Arguments you didn’t even think you would have, like what brand of food to buy, how to clean things in the apartment, which way the toilet paper roll needs to be facing, organization methods, etc. – ALL are things that come to light when you combine both of your lives together. As long as you are willing to discuss things, not let the little things get the better of you, and most of all, compromise, then you will be good to go!
  5. Financial transparency is required. Super un-romantic discussions about paying bills, grocery shopping, shopping habits in general, savings, and other money-related areas are all going to be laid out on the table and dissected piece by piece. It is fair to say that while living apart, many couples probably don’t discuss these things as thoroughly. While it is not the most romantic and lovely conversation to have, it IS something necessary. If you are unable to make it through these discussions without coming up with a compromise or solution, it is not going to be pretty.
  6. Through all the ups and downs, you have a best friend to come home to. I think that for me, as a super social person, I enjoy living with someone. In my experience with roommates (although I can’t say that I have the BEST track record…), it’s a person that I grow to have a special bond with, get to know on a personal level, and create some great memories with. Though I have never lived with a boyfriend until S, I can say that there is definitely a difference between just having a roommate and living with a significant other. With having a roommate, there’s an expiration date – you know that living with that person won’t be permanent. However, with a significant other, there’s an understanding that you’re putting faith in the relationship, that you both think that it’s going to last for quite some time, even possibly forever, and that makes it an even more special bond.
  7. Speaking of roommates – do not think of living with your significant other as just having a roommate. This isn’t necessarily something that we did; only on occasion do I refer to S as “my roommate,” and even then it’s as a joke. Really, just because you literally share a space with them, they are technically considered a roommate. Romantic relationships are outside the boundaries of a majority of roommate relationships. If anything, the romantic level of the relationship should increase rather than fizzle out and digress to a roommate-status relationship. Should you find that living with your significant other feels more like that, it’s probably time to discuss that. But, that’s also not something to fear or prevent you from making the decision to move in together! The possibilities for romantic gestures increase tenfold when you are sharing a living space. Surprises such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes, making dinner, bringing home flowers, and other endless ideas, are ways to keep the relationship alive and show that living together can be super romantic
  8. Just don’t expect it to be romantic 24/7. Having unrealistic expectations when it comes to living with a significant other can dampen the relationship. I will admit, I somewhat expected more romantic gestures than I probably should’ve. Dammit, Hollywood, please stop giving us these silly notions…flowers, chocolates, wine, jewelry..are typically NOT things that are going to happen on a weekly, or even monthly, basis. This could be a whole different blog post honestly – romantic expectations from partners can differ between relationships. Everyone is different; some partners are very good with romantic gestures, some overdo it, and some don’t do anything. Hey – whatever works for you! But communicating when you’re feeling neglected, or wanting more romantic gestures or surprises, is something that can save everyone a lot of heartache.
  9. You will get to know that person inside and out – and they will get to know you in the same way. Definitely. You will get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, VERY fast. But that’s one of the wonderful parts of living with someone! You get to bare the parts of your own heart and trust someone with that completely. They will see you in times of weakness, sickness, heartbreak – and in times of pure joy, excitement, and every possible emotion. You will share yourself with them, and they will do the same. It’s incredible, actually, the things you learn, and continue to learn, as time goes on. It’s only been one year for us, and the little nuances I’ve learned about S are so numerous I couldn’t even tell you half of them I’m sure. Regardless, it’s something special that you really couldn’t experience otherwise.
  10. You will learn which things actually matter, and which ones to let go. This is probably an ongoing truth for us. I am a nit picky person, and I think a lot of people can attest to that fact. I alphabetically organize my bookcase and movie collections. I have my closet and clothes organized a specific way. I clean things in a certain manner. Everything has its place. And for S, that’s not always the case. It’s perfectly natural for everyone to have different ways of doing things; however, if you have different tendencies when it comes to these small daily tasks, sometimes it can cause irritation to slowly build. There are times when I completely lose my shit just because he didn’t unload the dishwasher the right way; and then I realize that he didn’t mean to personally offend me by doing so. Just one of the many examples I can come up with in our year of living together. Eventually, it’s exhausting to argue over tedious things such as this. It doesn’t benefit anyone, and it does more harm than good. The small things are not worth losing a big thing over. Once you realize this, it’s easier to let those small things go. You learn that if you want it done your way, you can do it yourself. (And yes, I do unload the dishwasher most days 😉 ).
  11. Last, but not least….you will learn that it will make or break your relationship. For some, the sound of the key in the door begins to sound like nails on a chalkboard; you dread that person coming home. For some, living together highlights the ways in which you are not compatible, or makes you realize that you are better off as friends. Thankfully in our case, I am pretty certain in our choice to live together. Like any relationship, we are by no means perfect. We have our ups and downs, we fight and make up, and we work together as a team. We give one another space when needed, and spend quality time together as well. For us, I think living together was the perfect choice, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings our way 🙂

That’s a wrap! Now I’m off work, and get to go home to my man. 😉