Being Present

The topic of truly being present in life is one that has been discussed on every blog, every magazine, and every self-help book that has been published within the last decade. And today I clicked on a link posted by a Facebook friend that lead me to yet another article about being engaged in what is going on and being present in life. If you wish, you can read that beautifully written blog post by clicking here. As I read the blog post I realized that I, like most people who have grown up with technology, struggle with truly being present. My mother will be the first to tell you that my attention has a tendency to be on my phone 85% of the time her and I are together. And that is a bit of a problem.

I started thinking about how much time I spend on my phone looking at other people’s lives and experiencing life from the point of view of someone else. In those moments instead of my story reading “Courtnei/she went to coffee with so-and-so” it reads “Ingrid went to coffee with so-and-so,” and that’s just not cool. I don’t want the pages of my story to be filled with moments that I wasn’t even a part of, moments that have nothing to do with me (except maybe give me a bad case of FOMO). Even as I type this I find myself opening and closing a tab for Facebook just to scroll for a few meaningless minutes through miscellaneous postings.

Now there isn’t a problem with social media and wanting to see how your friends and family that you only see every now and then are doing. The problem is when you find yourself NEEDING to check any social media platform. When you find yourself constantly refreshing your feed to find out what so-and-so is doing or how many likes that #nofilter selfie you posted (which was actually heavily filtered) got. It’s when you start living your life just so you have something to post about online. There’s nothing wrong with posting things online for others to see, but when that becomes your primary motivation for doing anything, it’s time to pump the breaks. When you find yourself watching live behind the screen of your camera then you need to set the phone aside and take a breath.

If you can relate to any of the things you just read you, like me, need to remember what being present in the moment looks and feels like. It’s time to put the phone, tablet, laptop, etc. away and focus on the people who are right in front of you. It’s time for eye contact and to actually listen when someone is talking to you. When you put the phone away and out of sight then you can truly focus on what the person you are with is saying to you, rather than only half-hearing what they’re saying. If you only half-listen to what the people in your life are saying you’re going to find yourself saying that wrong thing at the worst time. You’re going to find yourself nodding when you should be shaking your head profusely in disgust at whatever horrible thing your friend is clearly disgusted about. So maybe if you put away all of the distractions and told yourself to stop worry about what your favorite youtuber is doing on snapchat, you can focus on having a meaningful interaction with the person across the table from you.

Spending time living life through a lens or a screen means that you miss all of those small moments to connect with the people around you. You may think that stalking your best friend on social media makes you a great best friend because you’re in touch with everything she posts, so if she were upset or having a rough time you would obviously know. But see that’s the trick with social media, people only post what they want you to see. When I’m having an awful day I’m not likely to post it online because who wants to hear about that? Who wants to be the person who overshares their actual feelings online? Definitely not me. And not only that, I don’t want to post a sad depressing post only to find out that no one truly cares if my day has been horrible. A majority of the people you know online are only going to post the good stuff going on in their lives, and if they post about something bad it’s most likely really bad or something that’s #sorelatable that they know someone, somewhere will comment on it.

So, in honor of the completely cliched “new year, new me” saying, I am going to try, not to be a new me, but to be a present me. I’m going to try and live in the moment and not let myself get distracted by other people’s moments. I’m not going to go crazy and quit all of my social media, because I do enjoy editing and post pictures on Instagram, live-tweeting my favorite show, and checking-in on family and friends that I’m not super close with. I am, however, going to cut back on how much time my eyes are on my phone screen when there’s an actual human being across from me or next to me. I’m going to live a fully engaged life and be truly present in the moment. I’m going to take time to have meaningful conversations with friends and focus on what they are saying rather than what picture from this evening am I going to share with my other friends. I’m going to take time to nurture my current relationships and cultivate new ones with people at my work and any place else I am stumble across someone. And I am going to take time for myself, time to focus on doing things that I like to do instead of wishing I was doing what they were doing. Spend more time reading piles of books, writing things that mean something to me, learning about my faith, myself, and my ukulele, taking pictures of beautiful moments that are just for me to keep, and singing along to my favorite pop hits when no one is home.

So if you’re like me, I think it’s time to make 2016 a year that doesn’t flood your time hop, but one that fills your heart with special moments that last forever. Time to sit back and enjoy the life that you have been given and thank God for all of the candid moments, like the one captured in the picture at the start of this post.

The Mean Reds Are Horrible

This is a piece I wrote back in January as a pitch for the online magazine Hellogiggles, but since they never got back to me about publishing it on their website I figured I would just post it on my own blog. So enjoy loyal readers and friends!

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend who was complaining about feeling down in the dumps, but she wasn’t able to pin point why she was feeling this way or how to get out of this funk. I instantly thought of the scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, tells Paul Varjak (V-a-r-j-a-k) about the difference between the blues and the ‘mean reds’. For those of you who haven’t watched this cinema classic I suggest you close your browser window, open up Netflix or YoutTube and enjoy. But in case you can’t open up Netflix or YouTube at the moment for one reason or another I’ll give you a run down of how the two feelings differ. When someone has a case of the blues, they’re sad but there is a reason behind that sadness. This sadness is usually fairly superficial, maybe you’ve gained weight or your favorite T.V. show went on hiatus or the weather is gloomy. Regardless of the reason, there is always a reason behind this slump. The ‘mean reds’ on the other hand come on for no apparent reason at all. All of sudden you feel like you’ve been hit by a wave of sadness and fear. And if that doesn’t sound horrible enough, to top it all off you have no recollection as to where this wave of despair and anxiety has come from or why it’s choosing to hang around.

Now that you know the difference between the two, raise you hand if you have ever experienced the ‘mean reds’ before? If you actually raised your hand, I’m truly sorry for any embarrassment that may have caused you, but I’m going to guess that a majority of the people reading this article have felt this way at some point in their life. It’s frustrating because there is no rhyme or reason to this onset of anxiety, fear or sadness. And because we don’t know why, trying to fix it and make ourselves feel better seems utterly impossible. This, of course, leads to frustration because we don’t understand it and just want to feel happy instead of horrible.

What I just described is a vicious cycle and typically it feels like things won’t get better, they will only get worse. For me, this frustration is probably equal to the frustration I feel when trying to explain Game of Thrones to an outsider. I get irritated, confused, and my words start to become just noises, making it even more impossible for them to understand. The frustration this creates inevitably makes everything else escalade, causing me to feel even worse and ashamed for feeling bad about something I can’t put my finger on or quantify to someone else. And in our culture we have a bad tendency of looking down on people who are having a bad day, feeling afraid or anxious about life and quite honestly that needs to stop. We are all humans and life can be terrifying at times, and sometimes for no reason at all.

When you find yourself feeling how I have described, you need to do one thing first: let yourself experience those emotions. You need to take a moment, or ten, to just let yourself feel whatever you need to feel and get it out of your system before you can start trying to help yourself feel better. I suggest taking time away from the chaos of your life. That means close your laptop, turn off your phone, and just let yourself feel all the feels you’re feeling. When you try to ignore your feelings or push them away too soon without truly experiencing them, they bottle up and a few days later you’re most probably going to explode, which doesn’t  sound pleasant, am I right?

Now once you’ve let yourself feel what you need to feel for however long you think is necessary, I suggest no more than a few hours at the absolute most, it’s time to cheer yourself up. Try thinking of something to do that will make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. This could be a number of things; watching your favorite TV show or movie, listening to some Taylor Swift while singing at the top of your lungs (come on, we all do it), watching funny adorable animal or child videos on YouTube (I suggest three-year-old explains Star Wars) or just getting out of your house for some fresh air. Now if none of these seem to help you get over that mean red feeling of gloom and doom, try talking to someone close to you, someone who would bury a dead body with you no questions asked. Just talking through your feelings can help you discover if maybe there truly is a cause of those ‘mean reds’ that are being particularly nasty that day. Do whatever works for you, there is no perfect prescription that works for everyone (except maybe Taylor Swift), because we are all unique and feel things differently. And that, my friends, is 100% okay.

So next time you are feeling a case of the mean reds come on just remember that it’s okay to feel that way, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it happens to everyone once in awhile. Like our favorite pop star of the 2000s tells us ‘everybody has those days.’

Being Christ-like

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely” – Roald Dahl

The above is one of my all-time favorite quotes and something that I firmly believe in. If you think good thoughts you will look and actually be a happier and lovely person. If you think good things you will also, most probably, do more good things. But after a chat with one of my closest and best friends I started thinking about this quote and my responsibility as a follower of Jesus Christ and it’s got me in the writing mood, so here we go.

Now the Roald Dahl quote doesn’t exclusively mention Christians, it is to everyone. It says that if you think good thoughts that you will look good, basically. But if you think about the quote from the perspective of a Christian it can mean something a bit differently. What I’m getting at is that if I think about Jesus and actually think WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), rather than just wear the bracelet, then will people be able to see his light shining through me? If I act Christ-like will people see his power and greatness through me? Is that how this is all supposed to work? I honestly don’t have the answer.

Yes, there are probably a few verses that I could quote here that tell me that yes, that is exactly what I should do. But then again there are verses that tell me not to wear that poly-blend shirt I have. I’m getting off track, so let’s back track. The idea that in order for people to see Jesus through or in you, you first have to act how Jesus would. But for starters, that is hard, like really hard. Jesus was and is perfect, not perfect in the sense that his clothes were never wrinkled or his sandals were never dirty. Jesus was perfect in the sense that he never had an impure thought or was unkind to anyone he came in contact with. Now, for me, the no wrinkles and clean sandals is a bit more easier to keep under control than always being kind and thinking pure thoughts. And it isn’t that I don’t want to do those things it is just difficult sometimes. It is difficult to be kind and smile at the person in front of you at the checkout who has clearly never used a self-checkout before. It’s difficult and I am not always successful at it, that is for certain.

So being Christ-like isn’t exactly an easy task, but if someone is being Christ-like in the moment how can you tell if they are truly filled with the spirit and love of God or they’re just a nice person? This is where things turn to grey. I can help others and be kind all day long, but will people really see Jesus’ love shining in me or will they just assume I’m a nice person? How do I get them to realize that I am filled with the love of my Savior without verbally telling them? Because if I tell them I helped them with their groceries because the Holy Spirit moved me to it seems like I’m making a joke of it and I’m not sincere. Is telling them ‘God Bless’ or ‘Have a blessed day’ as I leave their company good enough?

I don’t have the answers to these questions; if I did they wouldn’t have been in here. For the time being I am going to go to the source (The Bible) and try to figure things out. But for now I will continue to try my best to let the light of Jesus and His love for me shine out of my face like the light of a thousand suns by loving and helping those I come in contact with however I can. And I’ll get back to you on whether that is enough.

#koalabearsnydrome

Okay so I probably have you pretty curious as to what this blog post is going to be about. You may think it’s going to be a confession post about my addiction to eucalyptus plants or something similar to that. Or you may think it is going to be an informational piece about koala bears. Both of those assumptions would be incorrect, because this blog post is going to have very little to do with actual koala bears, and more to do with something I witness them doing in basically every photograph on the internet. So please, bear with me and carry on reading this post, I promise you will understand the title by the conclusion.

As people get older friendships start to fade until you no longer have any clue when the last time you saw a certain friend was or what said friend is doing with their life, aside from posting on Facebook every few days. You no longer spend your weekends chatting with friends or going out to the bar with a group of friends. You get a boyfriend or girlfriend who soon turns into a fiancé, who then turns into a wife or husband and that’s that. No more girls’ night out or bro time. Okay, that might be a bit extreme, but those nights just don’t happen at the same frequency as they seemed to when you were single, in college, or simply dating your S.O. And I suppose that is just the natural progression of life for most people. But I don’t like that, I don’t like it one bit.

Now my feelings towards this natural progression of human relationships may be due to my current singleness, but I think I know myself better than you, and I say that I would feel this way regardless of my current martial status. Now I am not saying that all married people do this, nor am I trying to shame my own married friends for doing this. I am just saying that I don’t like it. See, when I become close friends with someone I get attached very easily. If we like the same things, laugh at the same jokes, listen to the same music, and hate the same celebrities I am going to like you and you are going to be one of my friends. You don’t get a say, it’s just going to happen. And the more we have in common or the more I enjoy your company the more I will cling to our friendship like Rose to that door in the ocean (which she definitely could have shared with Jack, COME ON NOW). I don’t mean to be clingy, and I promise I am not a stage five clinger, I stop myself before you need to seek a restraining order. I just really enjoy human interaction, and if you are a dear friend of mine, I prefer interactions with you than the countless other humans who happen to walk this earth.

Now this problem I have with clinging to friendships more than other people do makes letting go of friends extremely hard for me. This is especially difficult for me when nothing really happened to end that friendship, our lives just started heading in different directions (your’s probably down the isle and mine…well not) and then BAM no more time for our friendship. I find it hard to accept that we can’t be friends anymore because of life; that just seems ridiculous to me, so when this starts to happen I cling even more. I text, call (maybe), and force my friendship upon you in a very loving manner. And this, my readers, is what I am referring to as the ‘koala bear syndrome,’ because whenever I see a picture of a koala bear they are always clinging to a tree, their mother, or whatever celebrity is holding on to them. Now, I am aware that koala bears are not the nicest marsupial in the outback, but just go with it. If I like you, in any capacity, I will cling to you like a koala in a tree and I am sorry if that bugs you but that’s who I am. #dealwithit

I guess the whole point of this blog was to maybe make people who have this same problem, koala bear syndrome, feel better about it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to make a friendship work at all costs and holding on to the ones you love most. The only time this is problematic is when you cling to someone who really isn’t good for you, which can be hard to decide. If someone makes you feel ashamed for wanting to spend time with them or constantly shuts you down when you try to make plans or talk to them, you should find another eucalyptus tree to cling to and call it a day.

Leave a comment below if you suffer from this new syndrome so we can cling to the knowledge that we are not alone in our eucalyptus trees.

To A Younger Courtnei

Dear (Younger) Me,

Well hello there younger me, I have a few words of advice and encouragement from an older, but not quite grown up you. First and foremost you need to stop worrying about everything under the sun. You are a smart girl, and you don’t need to stress about school, tests, and American History quite so much. You will learn everything you need to know and do above average in school all on your own accord. So please stop thinking that you need to cram for that econ test during choir, mainly because that never works and it makes you sing off key. With that being said, don’t stop trying to do well in school because you should try and you will succeed, just know that there are other things you can spend your evenings doing. Try your best, and don’t stress…I’m pretty sure that’s half of why your chin acne is so horrible. Oh and that will get better, but not disappear entirely. (Sorry)

You should know that the boy and popular kids who made most of seventh grade a living nightmare for you won’t matter a few years down the road. And please don’t let what they do get to you because it was and is stupid and they are not worth your time. Focus on the people at school who do genuinely care about you and don’t try to make you constantly feel like the biggest loser on the planet. And don’t worry, no one will remember when your livejournal account got leaked and your crush found out about your obsession with him. Well, you will remember, but you won’t cringe quite so hard about it in the future.

Speaking of boys, STOP WORRYING ABOUT THEM! You spend so much of your teen years worrying about crushes and not having a boyfriend and it is not worth it. All you do is make yourself feel like there’s something wrong with you, that you aren’t good enough for anyone and NEWS FLASH: you are not perfect but you are damn sure good enough for anyone who wants to be a part of your life. You need to stop worrying about what other people think, especially boys, and just be the best you that you can possibly be. Life isn’t a waiting game, so please stop waiting for prince charming to sweep you off your feet like he does in your favorite YA novels. I know it’s hard to accept yourself when so many people in your life don’t seem to, but trust me you have a lot of friends and they will still be your friend after you truly unleash your inner nerd. Also, going back to the crushes thing, stop having crushes on guys you do not even know! They will not live up to your expectations and if they haven’t noticed you after a month or so they definitely won’t notice you after a year of admiring them from afar. You do not need a guy to make you feel special or loved, you have plenty of friends and family who love you, focus on them and you will be so much happier. Don’t forget to focus on yourself and love yourself, it’s not easy because you tend to pick at yourself because you don’t think you’re pretty, smart, or any other positive adjective. But you are all of those things in your own way, you may not be movie star pretty but that doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. Always listen to what Ms. Johnson says when it comes to boys, she’s usually the voice of reason and will tell you, in the nicest way possible, when you are being ridiculous. But then again, she did tell you that you would end up marrying Brad and that didn’t happen…so maybe take what she has to say with a grain of salt. ;)

If your friends treat you like garbage, dump them. Seriously, you do not need friends who make you feel less than, you need friends that lift you up and make you laugh. Luckily you have a good handful of them, so focus on those friends even if they aren’t “popular” because popularity in high schools means absolutely nothing once you leave it. The handful of friends who truly get you, are the ones you’re going to be friends with for many years to come. And once you get to college that number of friends will increase and you will meet some people who will be your forever friends. So dump those few friends who always leave you in the dust or make you feel like an idiot for trying or caring. Spend as much time with your family as you can because they are the people who will always be there for you and you’re going to need them in the future quite a bit more.

If you get anything out of this letter just remember to be you. Do whatever makes you happy and who cares what everyone else thinks of you. In a few years times the only people left from this time of your life, are the friends who never judged you for being obsessed with Harry Potter and the loudest singer in the choir. Everything will be fine and you will grow up to be an awesome and strong person with lots of dreams, the determination to go for them, and people who will lift you up rather than bring you down. So stop stressing about the future and enjoy the present.

Love,

An Older & Slightly Wiser You

If I Could Turn Back Time

Writer’s block is a struggle that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks. I’ve had a handful of interesting topics that I want to write about, but as soon as I sit down at my computer and start typing the words that flow from my fingertips don’t live up to my expectations. Everything that I seemed to be typing just didn’t sound as eloquent or meaningful as I wanted it to. But, one must carry on and push forward and when you don’t like any of your prompts at the moment you search for someone else’s. So, bear with me as I tackle this one.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we could rewind and not go on that horrible first date or not wear that poncho to school? I have pondered this question numerous times, mainly because I have a tendency to do some rather embarrassing things to myself (mostly in high school). For example, if I could go back in time and stop younger me from embarrassing myself in front of my crush of the moment or stop myself from sending that “secret” admirer letter to another crush, I would probably jump on it. Now this isn’t necessarily to save face with guys that I no longer see or talk to, it is more to save myself from cringing at the thought of my high school love life (or lack thereof).

Most of the moments that I would consider preventing from happening are minor moments in my life that cause me to have first hand and second hand embarrassment simultaneously. Other moments, ones that have caused me a significant amount of pain, emotional and physical, I’m not too quick to change. I wouldn’t want to go back and change my first experience with heartbreak, not because I enjoyed the pain but because I learned a great deal from it. After my first real boyfriend broke up with me (yes I will admit that he did the breaking) I was completely devastated. My world came crashing down around me and I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces or do anything other than cry…a lot. During this process I learned how to bounce back from a blow like that, and how to be happy on my own. Also, I was able to go back through the relationship and think about the things that bothered me about it, both of my own doing and my ex’s, to figure out what I want in a relationship and what I don’t want. It was a learning experience that I am glad I went through because I’m a lot stronger and have a bit thicker skin now.

Another event that seems like I would want to erase from my past is my car accident last February. Now don’t get me wrong, I wish that it hadn’t happened because of fairly selfish reasons: my grandmother. If there were a way for her to come back into my life I would jump on that opportunity in no time whatsoever, but there isn’t. And if it was her time to go to Heaven, I really can’t argue with God. So let’s pretend this magical power does not extend to keeping people from passing away and merely extends to things that have happened to me alone. Which, in the case of my accident, would be a great deal of hospital visits/stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and time. I have had to make a lot of adjustments to my life since my accident, I have missed out on different opportunities because of my physical limitations at the time. But you know what, that’s okay because I am so much stronger than I was. I appreciate the little things in life, like having lunch with my mom or watching a movie with a friend so much more. I treasure every single person in my life so much more because this could all be over tomorrow and I just want to enjoy my time with all of the people I love and care about. I have a great deal more confidence in myself and what I’m capable of handling, because if I can rise up from what happened to me I can handle anything else life decides to throw at me with help from the big guy upstairs. Which is something I wasn’t very aware of prior to this incident.

I guess the main thing I’m trying to convey is that if I had the chance to go back and change my past, I wouldn’t. Everything decision you made was what you wanted to do at the time, no matter how cringe worthy it may seem now. Every action, every word spoken and every decision made formed you into the person you are today. Now if you aren’t happy with the person you are today, focusing on past mistakes and replaying them in your head isn’t going to help you change the person you are today. You have to make a conscious decision to learn from those past mistakes and refuse to make them again. We need to learn and grow from our trials and tribulations to discover who we want to be.

The Aftermath Of Dying

Now the title of this blog is a bit on the morbid or depressing side, but I promise that it is worth a read. Then again I’m the one writing it, so my opinion might be a little biased. But nonetheless I think you should plow through and see what exactly I have to say concerning the aftermath of dying.

Last month I started and finished binge watching the MTV show Teen Wolf and in a scene during season two the characters deal with a particularly nasty villain. I won’t go into the details but he is bad news and he’s out to get revenge for whatever happened in his past by controlling one of the main characters that is now this weird psycho killer lizard thing because his werewolf bite didn’t go well. One of the main characters, Stiles, is then tortured by a group of hunters for someone’s location (I forget who’s, probably Jackson’s or Derek’s), and is a little beat up when Lydia comes to his door. Now Lydia isn’t entirely sure what’s going on but she wants to try and save her ex-boyfriend, the psycho killer lizard thing. Now, Stilles is convinced that she will most likely die if she does this and he says something that has kind of stuck with me. He tells Lydia, who is being inadvertently suicidal, that ‘death doesn’t happen to you, it happens to everyone around you.’ And that, my lovely readers, is what this blog post is about. But if you want to talk Teen Wolf, I’m down for that too. (Also note that this may not be exactly what happened, but it’s what I recall.)

As someone who has unintentionally knocked on death’s door and had him tell me ‘not yet,’ I feel I am able to shed some thoughtful light onto this topic. When you die (sorry if that was a spoiler, but everyone does die at some point) you inevitably leave this planet, but the manner in which you leave depends on your set of beliefs or lack thereof. So essentially nothing horrible (again this depends on your beliefs or lack thereof) happens to you exactly, you just move on to whatever’s next on the agenda. Yes you leave loved ones behind, but for those of us who believe in heaven (and unfortunately hell as well) we have the hope that we will get to see loved ones who have taken this road before us once we reach our next destination. Now the time leading up to your departure may, unfortunately, be an unpleasant one but once your heart stops beating you’re (hopefully) free from that pain.

After you depart from Earth for wherever your beliefs lead you, for me that would be skyward towards heaven, your loved ones are still stuck on Earth. And what’s worse is they’re stuck on Earth with an empty feeling, with tears running down their face and adjustments to make. These people have to figure out what their next step is now that you’re gone, they have to find a way to cope with the loss of you from their lives and that is the hardest task to do. I’ve lost two very important people to me throughout my life and it’s not a pleasant experience in any way, shape, or form. You try to carry on with your life, pretend like nothing has happened but then something will happen to remind you of that missing person or something will happen to you and you want to call and tell them about it, but you can’t. There have been numerous times since my grandma passed away that I have wanted to pick up the phone and call her, but I can’t. She isn’t here anymore, and it’s not hurting her, it’s hurting everyone who was around her, who cared about her.

Now I’m not saying that you can by any means control your departure time from this planet; right before you were born you received a round trip ticket for Earth. Unfortunately none of us knew the exact date of arrival and nor do we know the exact date of our departure. We just know that some day it will inevitably happen. What I’m trying to say is don’t try to trade in your ticket for an earlier departure. If you’re sick or hurt or depressed don’t give in, don’t let those feelings of unbearable strife get to you. As much as it hurts it will get better and there will be moments of relief and joy, especially when you surround yourself with people who care deeply for you. But you may sit there and think what is the point of living if I feel this miserable or I’m in this much pain now? Why should I carry on? Well the answer is simple, because death doesn’t happen to you, it happens to everyone around you.

The Winds Are Changing

Well in case you have been living under a rock (which I assume none of you have been unless you’re a starfish like Patrick on Spongebob), a new calendar year has begun. And with every new year comes new starts, a chance to change the things we didn’t like from the previous year and somehow make this year better than the last. Now I don’t necessarily think you should wait for January 1st to roll around for you to change something you don’t like about yourself or your circumstances (see my post called ‘The Green Light’ for my thoughts on that), but it is a good time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. It’s a nice starting point for those of us who have to start things at the beginning of the month or day or week. So if you are in desperate need of a push, starting something new or changing something old January 1 is a good time to start.

But, to get to the point of this blog post in particular: change; both personal and professional. 2014 was a big year for me, and not necessarily in a good way. I faced challenges that I never imagined I would have to overcome, at least not until I was 80 and practically withering away. I have dealt with a wide range of emotions and struggled to keep a smile on my face every day. But you know what? I did it. I made it through the year and am stronger than I was before, maybe not physically just yet but mentally and emotionally. And throughout those challenges I learned quite a bit about myself and those who surround me. I have learned that things will and do inevitably get better and having a sour attitude about the present won’t help me get through it quicker. I have learned that I have the strength to overcome the greatest odds as long as I stay positive and keep my chin up. I could go on about all the things that I have learned, and I will in an upcoming blog post on the anniversary of my auto accident, so keep an eye out for that on February 23rd.

Amongst those reflections, I took some time to think about my professional life and what I truly want to do with my life from this point onward. And to be quite honest, I do not have a clue. When I left college back in December of 2012 I was 100% positive that I was going to be a teacher until the ripe age of 75 or something like that, but now I’m not quite so sure. I love teaching and working with children, it’s a truly rewarding and exciting experience. But part of me isn’t sure if that’s the path I want to take anymore. Our time on this earth is so short and there is so much to explore, and being a teacher doesn’t exactly allow me to truly explore all of the wonders of this world that God has for us to see. So, many career choices have been floating in my mind and I plan on using 2015 and this time off from work to dig deep down into my soul and decide what would make me truly happy. It may sound silly, especially because I have a college degree in education, but what’s the point of life if you’re not happy with it? Why would you want to spend time on this planet feeling miserable and stuck?

While reflecting on my career aspirations I thought about this blog and the content that I have been putting out on the Internet for the world to see and read. I have to say I am fairly proud of the posts that I have written and hope that they have helped shed some light on different struggles everyone in their twenties has at one point or another. But since I am not Yoda or Professor Dumbledore, and my wisdom is still limited to my twenty-four years of experience, I would like to share a few different things on this blog. Now before you start to worry I will still be posting doses of wisdom on here, but I will mix it up with personal posts and some lifestyle posts. I feel like my blog needs to be more of an extension of myself or I will inevitably lose interest and I don’t want to do that. So look out for some book reviews, DIY, thoughts on being 20, travel dreams, and personal entries about how the struggle is real.

So until then, make every day brighter than the one before.

P.S. follow me on bloglovin by clicking the button below! It would make my smile as wide as Russia if you did that and you would never miss a blog post! So it’s a win-win.

Wanderlust: noun; a strong desire to travel

image found on weheartit.com

image found on weheartit.com

As I sit on my laptop this evening I find myself struck with an intense case of wanderlust. I have a tab open showing me airline prices to fly to London from Grand Rapids, MI. I have another tab open searching for travel books about Europe. And previously I had tabs open to various blogs about backpacking and traveling through Europe, a map of Europe and my lovely Pinterest board dedicated to traveling. So yeah, this case of wanderlust is one of the most intense I’ve experienced. Why? Why do I suddenly feel this urge to back a bag and go somewhere I’ve never been before? And, why is traveling simultaneously one of the most expensive and rewarding things one can do? So many whys and the answers are all unclear. Okay, maybe they aren’t unclear but they’re complicated to say the least.

For starters I could tell you that my need to travel and see new places is largely due in part to the fact that I have been relatively homebound for the past ten or so months. Since my accident (long story short: traumatic car crash, lots of broken things, lots of surgery, lots of recovery) back in February I haven’t exactly been able to go too many places. Until the last few months I haven’t felt comfortable going out in public because I was usually confined to a wheelchair if we were going to be walking long distances. And being in a wheelchair just made me feel uncomfortable, it made me feel like people were looking at me and that I was constantly in the way and I did not like that feeling at all. So instead I stayed home and watched or read about other people’s adventures. In the last few months I have been able to use a walker, which still brings a bit of unwanted attention to me and I still get super self conscious because of that, but it is still a lot more tolerable than a wheelchair. Things are more accessible for me and it’s not a huge inconvenience to go somewhere like it was previously. That’s the bottom line, I didn’t want to inconvenience people because a wheelchair is heavy. So now that I have less demanding equipment I want to make up for lost time and go go go, but I still have a little bit of recovery before I’m ready to fly solo.

I can also tell you that my great desire to travel and go on an adventure as of late has to do with the books and movies I tend to watch. I want to be like Bilbo Baggins and go on an adventure! So many book and movie characters just drop everything and go, and I want to be able to do that. Looking back on my life I have plenty of stories to tell and memories but they all take places within the comfort of the mitten state, minus a few trips to Chicago, Florida, Missouri and DC. And that is a bit depressing. God gave us this entire planet to inhabit and I have explored the absolute smallest fraction of it. I am wasting this wonderful gift God has given us and when I get to Heaven one day what stories will I be able to tell? If my grandma happens to spend her spare time watching the Courtnei Channel up there she is probably dying of boredom as I type. Sorry grandma, I’m trying to liven things up! There’s so much to explore and if we weren’t intended to explore it why would we have legs? Think about that for a moment.

Those two reasons are probably the biggest factors influencing my sudden onset of wanderlust and I’m not entirely sure what to do, mainly because traveling is so expensive. I saw a quote on one social media or another about how travel is the only thing that you buy that will make you richer. And I honestly believe that 100%. I am aware that it will not make you richer from a financial standpoint, but how many people do you know that have traveled someplace new and haven’t returned just a little bit different than they were before? I’m going to guess probably none, unless you think I meant traveled to a new laundry mat or grocery store…although those places can be life altering.

For now the way I am going to curb my wanderlust is plan a trip. Now this may or may not be a trip I am able to take, but maybe someday I will be able to do it. So until I am back on my feet and back behind the wheel of a car I am going to have to settle for reading about the adventures of others and planning my own adventure to go on someday soon. So world, you have a little more time to prepare for me, and in the mean time I’ll practice honing my Bilbo Baggins impersonation.

A Letter To My Future Husband

image source: weheartit.com

image source: weheartit.com

Hello, I’m not sure if I should introduce myself or not, probably since we haven’t met yet, or maybe we have? Well anyways my name is Courtnei and you and I are going to get married. Not right now, maybe not for another year or five or ten or fifty….okay please don’t make me wait fifty years. You are the person that is going to make me realize why things didn’t work out with my high school crush, why my first boyfriend dumped me, and why first dates are horrible but necessary to get to the second date. And I just want to thank you in advance for that, so thanks a million. You are also saving me from buying a bunch of cats and giving them all ridiculous names like button or trixy. Again, my most sincere thanks for saving me from having my dead body eaten by my cats when I die some day. Wow…that escalated quickly, sorry about that.

You are the person that is going to understand that I really hate using proper capitalization and try so hard to not use it but auto-correct likes to change i to I and it’s a pain to fix it every time so I cave. You are the person who isn’t going to judge me for wanting to own a hardcover copy and paperback copy of each Harry Potter book, in addition to the new box sets that have come out. You are the person who is going to force me to go out of my comfort zone and be assertive to that waitress that completely forgot to bring me a side of ranch for my fries. You are the best who is going to calm me down when that jackass in the black truck cuts me off on the expressway and makes me turn my cruise control off. You are the person who is going to have to tolerate catchy pop songs and my singing them at top volume when we’re in the car or really anywhere. You are going to be the person who lets me have the last cookie without having to ask for it because you know I’m self-conscious like that but really really really want that cookie. You are going to be the person that is there for me no matter what.

I am going to be the person that let’s you drive when we go anywhere because I know my driving makes your knuckles turn white. I am going to be the person that texts you to make sure your day is going well, and when it isn’t I promise to send you funny memes and gifs that will make you smile and remind you that there are only five hours left in the work day. I am going to be the person that will laugh at any joke you tell me. I am going to be the person that is willing to watch any movie you want as long as there’s popcorn. I am going to be the person that will listen to you ramble on about sports and agree with anything you say, your team is my team. (Unless your team is the Blackhawks, in which case we may have to agree to disagree.) I am going to be the person who will hug you tightly and will always smile when you open the door. I am going to be the person who will play video games with you, even though I will probably die every other minute. I am going to be the person who will always be your biggest fan no matter what.

Together we are going to go on adventures to new places. Places that are near, places that are far and places that only exist in our imagination. Together we are going to be the people who act like kids, but know when it’s time to be an adult (most of the time). Together we will figure out what the plan is and probably decide that we’re just going to wing it because life is too unpredictable. Together we will be the people who argue about the dumbest things and forget what our point was by the end of the argument. Together we will figure out who gets to be the big spoon and who gets to be the little spoon. And together we will build a relationship that people might not write songs or poems about, but one that will last and be one of the best and longest parts of our individual stories.

So I hope all that stuff is okay with you and that you’re out there somewhere. If you need directions to me, please don’t be afraid to ask someone…probably God, he won’t tell and your secret is safe with me. Until you stumble across me one way or another I’m going to be here, not waiting but yes waiting at the same time, if that makes any sense. I’ll just keep doing my own thing and someday our paths will cross. And on the day we get married, I’ll be the ginger in white…and when I say white I am referring to the dress, not necessarily the tone of my skin. Anyways, I suppose I will see you when I see you. And since this isn’t a goodbye…I guess I will just say, hello.

Sincerely,

Your Future Wife

but you can call me Courtnei