I wish there was a countdown: House Update!

“So how is your house coming along?”

To answer the question everyone kindly asks: the process is moving slowly, but the house itself is not coming along—there’s no house to speak of yet.

Six weeks ago, we were ready for permits and blueprints. We had even received an email telling us they’d be ready soon and we should schedule a meeting to come in and sign off. Well, we went in for that meeting on Jan 6, but were notified that they forgot items on our blueprints and that they would need to go back for edits. However, our sales rep still had us come in because there were things we could sign off on in the meantime. It was annoying, but any progress on our house at this point is good progress.

Turns out, the fact that we added the sunroom went over someone’s head and when the words, “you didn’t get the sunroom, right?” were uttered, I felt my blood temperature spike for a brief moment. However, it became clear how incredibly numb we’ve become to the house situation and its many road bumps, because it barely affected us past the initial frustration.

“It is what it is.”

A couple rays of light

Not all house-related news is what we’ve become accustomed to. In December, we were informed that, due to the grading necessary on our lot, the builder would need to add a basement walk-out to stay up to code (aka free upgrade for the Woodwards-to-be). To add another level, we learned in our last meeting that it isn’t just going to be a standard door leading out; it’s going to be a sliding glass door! Which means that, way down the road, when mommy has to move her home office to the basement because the babies have taken up all the bedrooms, she’ll have plenty of natural light! Yay!

Fast forward a few days to an email asking for us to call our sales rep (this can’t be good). Turns out that, because the builder now needs to add the walk-out in a certain location, but we decided to remove the standard deck from the back of the house, we were in a cosmetic pickle. Originally, we chose to forego the back deck because our plan is to create a nice patio off the back of the house. However, if we had simply left the house without a deck or stairs, going in and adding those things down the road would be much harder and if they added stairs, not a deck, they would be super steep. So our rep was advising us to add the deck back on.

Safe to say, the back of our house now has a sunroom, basement walk-out, and a 10′ x 10′ deck. I always wanted the deck, so I’m thrilled.

In the meantime

We’ve been keeping our spirits high by taking this extended period of time to track down furniture. One of the challenges with buying a home for the first time is figuring out how to furnish it—more specifically how to afford furnishing it. We had our apartment, which was a combination of items we had previously, hand-me-downs, IKEA furniture, and Home Goods splurges. Truth be told, I loved our first apartment and everything in it. Was it my dream space? No. But it was comfy, it was quirky, and it was ours.

However, as we begin our lives as a married couple, there is the obvious desire to upgrade in our new home. After 25 years of living in someone else’s home or in a space you can only do so much with (due to building restrictions and on account of being young and broke), we’re ready to turn this house into what we’ve been aching for. Of course, that all still comes at a price and, let me tell you, furnishing an old, small apartment (with help from family) is not the same as a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with a formal living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast nook, family room, and a sunroom. Granted, our house is not very big (fun fact: Nick and I have always liked smaller, cozier spaces—who knew!), but it’s still more rooms than we are used to as a couple!

As with the wedding, we have a strong desire to have significant savings when all is said and done. So while we want our home to look beautiful and cohesive, we still have to be budget conscious. That’s where the internet has come into play! If y’all haven’t looked into your local area’s sale groups or Marketplace on Facebook, you’re missing out. For months now, we have been scouring the wonderful world that is Facebook for local people selling furniture. We’ve found pieces that are finished and ready to go, alongside plenty that just need a little love and a fresh coat of paint. The best part? We’ve gotten great deals on all of them. So far, we’ve purchased an oak round dining table (pictures of how we refinished that below), 4 chairs to go with it (thanks Ash and Don!), a sofa for the formal living room (we got this before we moved out of our apartment), two nightstand dressers, a sofa and loveseat combo for the family room, a coffee table, a dining room hutch, a dresser for the guest room, a sideboard/cabinet, and a vintage tea cart we’re picking up today! From what I can remember of the pricing, I’d say we got that all for just under 2K. We looked at a sofa/loveseat set in a furniture store and those two items alone were like $3,500.

We’ve also been fortunate enough to call dibs on some other hand-me-downs to round out almost all of the other furniture we’ll need besides some additional dining side-chairs, furniture for the sunroom (not sure what we’re doing in there yet), additional pieces I’ll need in my office, and rugs. I have a laundry list of refinishing projects and a few more pieces to build (already did our coffee table for the family room (pics below), even though it needs to be re-stained), but the amount of money we’ve saved is simply unreal because of our unfortunate luck with buying a house.

To wrap it up

In the end, I know I’ll be grateful that our house wasn’t done before the wedding. For me, if we aren’t moving in April, I wouldn’t want to move until after we get back from our honeymoon anyway. I’ve always known deep down that would be a lot to handle and we will simply have to manage as we have managed the past year and a half. These delays not only give us more time to slowly find, build, and refinish the right furniture for us, our new home, and our wallets, they give us more time to save for the days post-wedding, honeymoon, and settlement—something that has been instrumental to us thus far.

I hope to say that, later this week, we sign off on blueprints and our house moves to construction, but regardless, we know it’ll get there eventually and it’ll be worth every minute of this process. To hear my fiancé—as someone who, for most of our house hunt, considered a house to be nothing more than a structure and property—call it the “perfect house” the other day, on our long drive to get furniture in PA, was sheer perfection.

We’ll get there… and our appreciation for it will be tenfold.


Now here are some pictures of the furniture we’ve refinished/built already!

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Dining nook table and chairs before!

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After stripping and sanding (easily the worst part of refinishing). You can see the chairs mid-painting in the background!

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Table after! Never got pics with the chairs, but I’ll post one down the road!

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Time for my first house-related build: family room coffee table!

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Just a girl and her (borrowed) miter saw

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Coffee table during

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After! Color still needs redoing (too red), but it’s almost there!

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It’s that time of year

For the past few days, I’ve thought about this post. I’ve pondered which reflections and promises would fill the field. I thought about different approaches, different levels of transparency, and have decided I’m going to simply start writing and see where my typing takes me.

Each year, I welcome tomorrow with open arms. I love every chance for a fresh start, because I believe we should often give ourselves that luxury—and not just at the start of a new year. My version of a “fresh start” is a partial clean slate—allowing you the peace of mind of knowing you can put certain things behind you and start anew. With that said, I certainly believe that this should not be done before taking some time to reflect.

Reflection

2017 was a good year for me. It had many ups, plenty of downs; but most of all, it has been a year of preparations and change. I’ve taken many opportunities to sit down and reflect personally, but—in short—it has really been a transformational year. I find myself this morning, feeling grateful for both the good and the bad, for they are leading us into 2018 with such a sense of optimism and excitement.

This new year will be life-changing. Of course, we are getting married in June, but even prior to that, we get to celebrate our incredible love with our family and friends. In March, we get to welcome a new member of the Kreischer family into the world, officially making me an aunt to three beautiful children. Over the next few months, we get to see the loose ends of our planning come together to culminate in the best first day of the rest of our lives we’ll have to date. Then we’ll get to go on a trip of a lifetime on our honeymoon while we’re riding the extraordinary high of newlywed bliss. Somewhere around that time, we’ll get to move into our long-awaited, first home together—a moment we’ve been dreaming about and working towards for a year and a half now. We’ll finally get to host a dinner with family and friends, light a fire during the holiday season, and see our lives start as husband and wife in a place that is, finally, ours.

And that’s just the first 6 months of the year—we’ve got plenty more in store.

Step up

So now to the part of the post you’d expect: the resolutions. Some are small, most are ongoing, and some are going to be a real challenge. So here goes:

I resolve to continue my journey towards a healthier lifestyle. I have been working at this for quite some time now and don’t intend to stop. I am so proud of my progress thus far and know this resolution will be pivotal throughout 2018 and beyond.

I resolve to spend more time caring for myself. This is going to be the most open-ended resolution because self-care comes in many forms. This resolution is geared towards the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental facets of my life—it’s a great time to take care of me, so I can be there for the people I love.

I resolve to spend more time listening to my thoughts. This certainly piggybacks the above resolution, but my tangible solution is to spend more time journaling. I find myself quite proud of the progress I’ve made in the ways of blogging, but I still feel like I could do more with writing in my personal journal, especially since I bought myself 3 brand new journals (all from the same company, since they are just so darn pretty) and they are just waiting for me to fill the pages. I believe everyone should find a way to address and release their thoughts, whether that means talking to people, talking to themselves, writing, or some other form of communication. Our minds are powerful, but even they need a decluttering sometimes.

I resolve to step out of my culinary comfort zone. In our efforts to eat better and incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into our diets, one of my resolutions is to try cooking more meals that don’t exactly sound appealing at first. When we used to do Blue Apron, there was always one meal that, had I seen it on Pinterest or in a cookbook, I would have skipped over because it was too far out of my cooking (and eating) comfort zone; but I almost always ended up being pleasantly surprised, so I’d like to incorporate that into our cooking at home.

I resolve to take things one step at a time. This is my final resolution and it is the most important. We are busy. We have a lot going on and, though it may not seem this way, we didn’t plan for all this stuff to be happening at the same time. However, things are what they are and we need to roll with the punches. My to do list is scary big, but all I can do is take it one step at a time. Things will get done when they need to, other things won’t. Either way, all I can ever do is take one step forward.

In conclusion

2018 is going to be one for the books. It will not be without its challenges and disappointments, but simply knowing what we have planned, alongside the promise of everything that is unplanned and unknown to us at this time, has me truly feeling so light and optimistic. There is much work to be done—in more ways than one—but, I know I have the best family, friends, and fiance in the world to help me through.

To all of you, I wish nothing but happiness in the coming year. I hope it is a year of self discovery, love, strength, and positivity. However you plan to ring in the new year, do so safely and with an open mind and heart.

Happy New Year everyone! Much love!

It’s a House Update!

I have a brand spankin’ new post for a topic I haven’t touched on in quite some time. In addition to my fitness endeavors and our wedding 7 months from Friday, my fiance and I are also building a house (we like things busy, apparently). It has been an incredibly long journey, but we are almost in, to me, what feels like the home stretch (pun slightly intended). There’s no house to speak of as of yet, but when you are talking about a process that has lasted a year and a half so far, these last 5–6 months are, in fact, the home stretch in our eyes.

From the start, I began to see that Nick and I might be a different breed of home buyers. To preface, I consider myself a financially conscientious person in general. I don’t feel confident making financial decisions—especially one like buying a house—without all the answers. Though that trait has made our process a tad more difficult (and us more annoying to others), I’m so grateful for it because I feel like we’ve learned a lot about what it means to purchase a house as an informed buyer.

For example, when it came to our mortgage, we didn’t feel like we were getting all the answers we needed. The issue for us was that we needed to be entirely sure we could comfortably afford our payment—we have no interest in being house poor or strapped. Unfortunately, it took a lot of arm twisting to get the level of attention we needed to move forward, but it ended with a 3 hour meeting with our lender to go through everything in a way we could understand. Granted, we ended up going off on tangents and even having a beer when business was done, but we left feeling so confident in our route, which ended up changing for the better during the course of the meeting!

But the great news is that, on Monday, we met with our Sales Rep from the community to make our final selections and release to construction! We had already gone through a lengthy process of choosing structural and non-structural upgrades, so that list was buttoned up nicely by the time of our meeting. All that was left was for us to sign the paperwork locking in the upgrades and to choose our cabinets, countertops, carpeting, etc.

The process wasn’t entirely done because we’ve chosen to upgrade the flooring on the first floor; so, last night, we met with the flooring company to walk through that process. After bombarding the rep with all our questions, we were able to (rather quickly) decide on a hardwood. Let me tell you something: I never thought I’d fall so in love with a flooring sample. That’s what a year and a half of dreaming about a house will do to you!

We still have a few more details to iron up, but the final steps before they begin digging are in motion. Right now, they are working on getting permits and drawing up the blueprints. Once we go in and sign off on everything, they can start digging (though they will likely start after the holidays). From there, we sit back, relax, keep saving, and watch the construction of our first home.

**Spoiler alert: it gets sappy here**

I can’t say buying a home has been a good process; but right now, we are certain it will be worth every failed attempt, false hope, angry phone call, and meltdown. It will be a house filled with firsts, for us as a couple and for our future family. It will be the house we will work every day to make a home to us and our children—to have it mean to them what my childhood home did to me. I can’t wait for the first time we walk through that blue door onto our handpicked hardwood flooring, the first time I get to bake something in our new, bright kitchen, our first dinner at the dining table we’re going to build together, the first night we cozy up by the fire with a hot cup of tea, and so much more.

So yeah, you can say I’m excited. The day that ground is broken will be a day of celebration for us. And we are, finally, almost there…

Something to be thankful for

Today, on Thanksgiving, I’d like to do a post you’d probably expect: one that is dedicated to expressing all the things I am grateful for this year. As 2017 begins to wrap up and we head into the holiday season, I find myself in awe of how much has happened, how things have changed, how I have changed, and all the many blessings in my life. So I figured I’d share. This year, I am thankful for:

My job
When I chose my profession, I did so with the intent to love what I do. My job certainly isn’t always easy and there’s a lot resting on my shoulders; but the opportunities I’ve received and the lessons I’ve learned from working at MKJ have been immeasurable. I am also grateful to work from home so that I can more efficiently tailor my schedule and find greater work-life balance. I went away on vacation last week, as many of you know. Normally, I would have felt dread at having to come back to reality and, with that, work. But for the first time in my life, I was at peace with coming home and sitting down at my desk Monday morning. That makes me feel pretty lucky.

Ambition
Allow me to be a little narcissistic with this one for a minute. Most of my greatest achievements, big and small, started with being ambitious—allowing and pushing myself to be inspired enough to make changes for the better and then shooting for the top. Ambition isn’t always easy to come by, so I’m proud of myself for finding it in the ways I have. I’ve been able to accomplish quite a lot this year and to find myself constantly taking advantage of my ambition is certainly something to be grateful for.

Answers
This year, I found answers regarding my health that I’ve been searching for for years. I won’t elaborate much since I’ve done a number of posts on the topic already (and there will likely be more to come); but learning about my condition and finally getting a diagnosis has lifted such a weight off my shoulders. I’ve since been able to more efficiently work towards alleviating my symptoms, take stronger precautions, find a community of people going through similar experiences, and learn more about the condition itself; all of which has given me a strong sense of peace as fear dissipates.

Friendship Redefined
This has been a big year for friendships. When I was growing up, I had friends in many circles: school, dance, drama, etc. That meant I had a lot of friends in general. When I went to college, it was a similar deal. But when I graduated, was no longer around people on a regular basis, and moved to a new state, I began feeling lonelier—the numbers had dwindled. But this year in particular, I’ve found new value in the friendships I have created, and especially in the ones that have stood the tests of time and distance. There have been so many moments where I’ve taken a step back after spending time with my friends, either physically or virtually, and thought to myself, “how incredibly lucky am I to have these unbelievable people in my life?” I may not have the quantity anymore, but the quality is higher than ever and only getting better.

Two incredible families
Nick and I have an incredible support system in our lives and it’s one we continue to be grateful for. Family has always been important to me, but it wasn’t until college that I truly learned that family was everything. As an adult, I’ve gotten to know my family members as human beings and vice versa. We don’t always get to be together, but at least for me, our bond gets stronger with each passing year. I marvel at how the two of us are surrounded by so much love and support on both sides—I don’t know how we got so lucky. We wouldn’t be where we are right now without our families; their love and support is absolutely worth celebrating.

Bumps in the road
This year has been filled with a number of bumps, potholes, and even one or two sinkholes. But at every turn, we are reminded that everything happens for a reason and it’s because there is something bigger than us and our temporary sadness or frustration at work. Our housing situation is the perfect example. Because our first house fell through last year, we moved in with Nick’s grandparents while we searched for a new one. Because we moved in with his grandparents, we have been able to work towards saving enough money for our new house, wedding, honeymoon, and beyond. Because our second house fell through, not only did that give us more time to save, it led us to the house we are finally releasing to construction in two weeks—a house we both love more than any of the others we almost bought. Our house-hunting failures were hard and they left us feeling horrible at times; but, each bump was just lifting us to something better and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities they’ve given us.

The love of my life
Here’s where things get sappy (but not too sappy; I’ve got vows to write and don’t want to use up all my best material). Everything that happened this year—the good and the bad—all of it happened with my best friend and partner by my side. My fiancé makes the worst days bearable and the best days better than my dreams. He brings such a pure light into my life on a daily basis and I’ve spent this entire year thinking how I can’t wait to marry him on June 9, 2018. I am grateful for him each and every day (whether I do a good job of making that apparent or not) and he is the greatest aspect of my life.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving today. Take some time to reflect on what you are truly thankful for and, if it involves the people in your life, make sure they know it.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Featured image by:
Jessica Bristow

Everything Irie

Good morning and happy Saturday everyone! It is a beautiful and brisk morning here in Delaware—certainly a stark difference to the mornings I’ve had the past week! Nick and I returned home late Thursday night from a lovely almost-week in Jamaica!

The trip began early Sunday morning; and by early, I mean early. We woke up at 1:30am to start our travels, which began with a very cold trip to the airport in Baltimore. Let me tell you; there’s nothing that gets you excited for an island vacation much like standing in a freezing airport parking lot waiting for the shuttle.

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Alas, we made our way to Jamaica via two flights and a bus ride, which eventually got us to our hot, humid, and beautiful destination. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, the Secrets St. James in Montego Bay, which was a new experience for us both. The moment we got off the bus, all stress was lifted as we were greeted with a hug and a glass of rum punch. We had some time to kill before our room was ready, so we had our first meal and warmly walked around the resort.

After roaming around and taking it all in, we were checked in and escorted to our beautiful room to get settled and ready for the evening. After a welcome dinner for the Stihl group, we ventured to one of the bars with our little dinner group before calling it a night at around 9:30—it was a long day and we were ready to pass out.

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Monday morning had an early start, since Nick had to attend the one and only meeting for the Stihl distributors, so we got up, had a delicious breakfast, took a walk where I got to meet a lovely parrot named Bob, and then parted ways. Nick’s meeting lasted about an hour and a half and I started my alone time with a bath, followed by some relaxation by the pool and the beach. After we reunited, we spent some time together at the beach and played a few games they had out.

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Monday night was the first of two excursions: a tour of the Great Rose Hall, slated to be haunted by its former owner, Annie Palmer, who was given the name the White Witch. It was a rainy night, perfect for a tour of a haunted mansion. We were thoroughly impressed by the excursion, though finding our group’s confirmation was a hassle and a half. Throughout the tour, they had 5–6 actors who portrayed the slaves and, of course, Annie Palmer herself. I was grateful for the “witches brew” we were given to sip on throughout because they certainly got me a few times. Unfortunately, there were no other spirit encounters besides the ones in my cup!

Tuesday included our usual breakfast, followed by some time at the beach before heading to our second and final excursion: horseback riding! Nick and I were at the end of a very long line of horses, which wouldn’t have been a problem had the man in front of us known how to get his horse into gear. We had very energetic and eager horses that were stuck behind one ready for an afternoon nap!

Nick’s horse, Socks, was very much ready to get going… and did! We come out of the gate and all of a sudden, I hear Nick attempting to calm his horse, before trotting, then galloping past me. Safe to say she was a leader, not a follower. Although slightly terrifying for Nick in the moment, it became one of the funniest moments of our vacation and we were able to enjoy the rest of the ride through the rainforest (though I think I enjoyed it a tad more since my horse, Dimitria, and I bonded quickly).

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It was a rainy afternoon by the time we were finishing our ride and it continued to rain through the night. We had dinner at their French restaurant, Bordeaux, and actually ended the night with Harry Potter and room service, which came just as my eyes were closing for the night. But I made an exception for my pasta dish and held out a little longer!

Wednesday was our final full day in Jamaica and it was the only sunny day from start-to-finish. By the time we got up for breakfast, the skies had cleared and stayed that way. We spent the entire day and early evening by the beach, playing games by the pools, having delicious food and drinks, and enjoying all the relaxation the day came with. We ended the night with a farewell cocktail reception and dinner at their Italian restaurant, Portofino.

Overall, we had a wonderful time. I was afraid it would feel like we just got there and didn’t have enough time, but it was not that way at all. I think because we were on an all-inclusive resort with only two shorter excursions to take us off the resort, it felt more balanced between down-time and activities. And while I was impressed that they had as many dining options as they did (and certainly wasn’t complaining about the unlimited access to food and drinks), I think Nick and I are both in agreement that we are more the exploring type when it comes to traveling. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to another all-inclusive location for a quick getaway where relaxation is the goal. I also think it would be great for groups!

This was the first time I came back from a trip feeling truly at peace with having to come home. For most of my previous trips, I dreaded that final day because “reality” often meant stress, heavy workloads, and more stress. Instead, I felt content and even excited to come home. I knew that I was coming back to an incredibly busy month in terms of our house, wedding, and life in general, but it was a true testiment to how happy I am with where things are for my future husband and I. Our trip was beautiful, fun, relaxing, and so very needed—a deep breath of fresh air. It was also the last vacation we will take as two unmarried individuals!!

Alas, we are back, well rested, (super) ready for the holiday season, and even more ready to get the plans moving along for our honeymoon in Thailand!

Leavin’ on a Jetplane

Coffee: check
Blanket: check
Candle: check
Sunrise: check

Ok, we’re ready to go. It’s ironic that I started my post that way considering today is all about the laundry list—which, I might add, actually includes laundry! Granted, every single day of my life includes a to-do list, but today, we are getting ready for… VACATION!!!

Nick and I both value travel in our lives; it’s a passion we both share and wish to make a priority as often as we can. We’ve both done a fair amount of traveling on our own before meeting one another, but our first vacation together took us to Aruba in 2015, which we did as inexpensively as possible (and it was incredible)!

Then in 2016, we went on an incentive trip for Hustler (NO, not the magazine—Hustler Turf Equipment). Each year, if Nick’s family business meets a certain quota for sales, some companies will offer an incentive trip as a “thank you.” That trip took us to Puerto Rico and, though we hit a few snags along the way, we were really able to salvage it and have a wonderful time. Later that year was a road trip we took down to Memphis to visit one of my oldest and best friends and her (now) husband.

This year, however, a trip wasn’t in the cards for us. When it comes to the incentive trips, Nick and his brother alternate each year, so in early 2017, it was their turn to go on one. Because of the myriad of things Nick and I are saving for (house, furniture, wedding, honeymoon, tiny humans—the list never ends), spending the money on a vacation was unnecessary and impractical. But, we received word a few months ago that they were likely going to meet the quota for another company and get their incentive trip.

After a year and a half of not having a single break longer than a 3- or 4-day weekend, tomorrow we head to Jamaica, courtesy of Stihl! It’s a quick trip and the weather is slated to be poopy the entire time we’re there, but we are determined to make the absolute most of it. It’s all-inclusive, save for the two excursions we chose, so we’ll relax, eat, drink, and salvage whatever nice weather comes our way!

For me, this week is about finally getting a break from work, planning, to-dos, and all the other items constantly eating away at us. I went to bed last night at 8:30. EIGHT THIRTY. I’m pooped. Nick’s pooped. I’d say we need some time to be together and recharge. I know we are coming home to the throws of final major planning for the wedding, having our home details finalized and the house actually started, as well as the holiday season. This is my “power nap,” if you will.

Whether or not it actually happens, I will say I’ll try to do a recap post when we get home to share the details of our trip! Send prayers and well wishes for some sunny days and an unchallenged sunny disposition!!

MXXIII

I have a little time before I need to get moving for the day. I’ve got a second cake tasting up in Wilmington, followed by a floatation therapy session afterwards. I was going to do the house update post; however, I do not think I have enough time. So if you follow me on social media, the title likely gave good indication of what my topic is.

On Monday, October 23, I got my second tattoo.

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The go-to question for a new tattoo without obvious significance is, “so what does it mean?” Well, MXXIII is the roman numeral for 1,023.

I’ve known I wanted the tattoo you see in that photo for years now. I’ve been talking about it recently quite a bit, but never had a push-comes-to-shove moment. On Monday morning, I woke up and thought to myself, what better day to get my 1023 tattoo than on 10/23? So in a wave of impulse, I made my way to the tattoo shop after work—it was exciting, exhilarating, and a very powerful moment for me.

But what does it mean?

There’s a phenomenon where many individuals find themselves looking at the clock at a certain time every day. They don’t plan to, it just happens. For many people, 11:11 is common and so is 9:11. For me? It has always been 10:23. I not only see it on clocks, I see it in my everyday life. I’ve been in stadiums where the clock is stopped at 10:23 left in the quarter. I’ve seen it in movies in the background. Heck, I did a mud run a few years ago and out of every single number I could have had, mine was 10230.

It’s always felt special—it’s always felt like mine. So a long time ago, I got it in my head that 10:23 was going to really mean something one day. Something significant was going to happen at 10:23 or on 10/23 or I’d glance around and see 10.23 somewhere. It would be my sign to pay attention to the moment.

Over the years, I put a lot of pressure on that number. I got my hopes up, often got crushed, and even swore to give up on it. But deep down I knew I always wanted 10.23 to happen organically anyway—I didn’t want to have a hand in it. But, as time passed, the number began to take on a different meaning.

10.23 is everywhere for me. Maybe there will be one defining moment, so clearly related to it. But at the end of the day, life does not boil down to one significant event and 10.23 is no longer about living for a singular day, minute, or moment.

It has become a symbol of hope and my ability to have faith in the intangible. It’s a reminder each time I see it that this is my life and it’s one worth paying attention to. So, I had it tattooed on my wrist…as a permanent reminder that every moment I spend breathing and loving and having faith is monumental.

To add another level, I got it in roman numerals. I could have done “10:23,” but wanted to pay homage to my time in Rome—a truly defining time in my life and one I will never forget. Only as I was getting ready to leave to go get the tattoo did I realize I studied abroad in the year 2013…

(In case you missed it; take a look at the numbers which make up the year.)

Some people may roll their eyes at my justification or the tattoo itself, and that’s ok. It’s concept is far out there, but that’s also the point and, more importantly, it’s mine. We all need a little reminder every now and then to slow down and pay closer attention to the details of our lives. I’ve simply chosen to get my most common and eye-catching reminder tattooed on my wrist…

 

Off-kilter Connection

This morning, I followed my usual routine: woke up, went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth and washed my face, got dressed, grabbed my coffee, and sat down at my desk. Before moving my cursor to the top right-hand corner of my browser to restrict Facebook for three hours, I did my typical 5 minutes of browsing.

I often have to be strict with myself about fighting the urge to write when I should be starting my day, but this morning, as I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw an article that genuinely made my heart skip a beat.

I’ve shared my story of vestibular migraines and have no qualms about continuing to do so when a good post comes along. This morning, an article popped up on my newsfeed: Vestibular Migraine Linked to Increased Anxiety, Say Researchers, from Migraine.com (of which I am now a member). Simply seeing “Vestibular Migraine” was enough click bait for me; I clicked, I read, and took a deep breath of fresh air.

In addition to referencing recent studies about the link between migraines (specifically VM) and anxiety, the author shared personal experiences that I really connected with. Despite the relief I feel in knowing what’s going on in that head of mine, there are things that make me anxious and even embarrassed. No doubt because I’ve had situations in the past that escalated because the people in my life simply couldn’t relate.

One of my biggest fears, referenced in the article, is driving. Vestibular migraines are sporadic—the triggers aren’t always the same and sometimes, things just…happen, without rhyme or reason. I am incredibly fortunate to work from home and Nick does most of the driving when we go places. I’ve limited my driving distance at night to no more than 15 minutes and often try to avoid it all together. But one area that still gives me anxiety is when I need to ask someone I’m going somewhere with if they could drive.

There’s nothing worse than feeling like someone is going to think you’re making it all up. My condition isn’t always tangible—it’s sneaky. I have four of my bridesmaids coming next weekend and I had to ask them—the girls who are already traveling hours to get down here—if someone would drive us. Is there a good chance I’d be fine driving? Absolutely. But do I want to take the risk? Absolutely not.

There was another point in the article that piggybacked another source anxiety for me: perception. When it is apparent, VM can often look like I’m unbalanced, uncoordinated, and frankly, drunk. We went to a rehearsal dinner where I had a glass of wine. My vertigo kicked in and I fell backwards out of nowhere and had to grab onto my friend. Then I continued to lose balance just standing there talking to the group. I must have looked like I had 7 glasses the way I was rocking. It’s one thing when you’re in a social setting—yes, it’s embarrassing, but not the end of the world. But what about when I’m in a professional setting? What happens if, heaven forbid, I was in a vertigo-induced car accident that looks like something else? That goes beyond embarrassing.

Right now, I’m afraid of driving. I’m afraid of people’s perceptions. I’m also afraid of what struggles I may face on our wedding day and when we start our family. I’ll have to figure out how to bend down to pick up my child. I have sensitivities to sound; what will happen when I have a screaming baby? If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that I need to roll with the punches and try to find humor in the stumbles. Today, I found a community. I don’t know anyone personally with VM, so to share any sort of connection with others with migraine is incredibly comforting.

I got a welcome message just a minute ago; granted, I’m sure they do it for everyone, but it felt really nice. One of the comments even gave me a next step to manage my anxiety: a medic alert bracelet. I pray it never comes in handy, but I’ve done some additional searching and it comes recommended to those with VM. I know it would bring me a sense of peace to know it’s there.

I’m very excited this morning. I can’t wait to dive in and share my experiences with people who will understand and learn about the experiences of others. This turned into an incredibly dragged-out post and morning, but I feel really grateful and highly optimistic.

Until next time… ❤

Rise and Shine!

When I was younger, I had the mentality that being a “night owl” was inherently cooler than being a morning person. All the coolest people I knew at the time were night owls. I fought for a long time to transform (and trick) myself into one and in time, learned it would be a fruitless endeavor.

Now, as an adult and seeing the personal benefits to getting up early and starting the day right off the bat, I embrace and love that I am an up-with-the-sun kind of girl. I feel my absolute finest first thing in the morning (once I actually get out of bed and know there is a promise of coffee in the near future). I am happier, more productive, and often find a beautiful dichotomy of motivation and calm.

But I made a small discovery the other day that I don’t know quite how to interpret: I am a morning person, feeling motivated, peaceful, and happy… if I am alone.

The other day, I was up before anyone else, which is a normal occurrence. I started my routine, noticing the sunrise and the sounds of the morning coming in the open windows. I got my breakfast and coffee, freshened up, and sat down to begin working, enjoying every peaceful minute… and then everyone began waking up… and with more energy than I would have liked.

All of a sudden, after a rather hectic chase to get the cats their pills, I found my anxiety levels shooting through the roof. Everyone was up, moving around, making noise, and talking all at once. It was at that moment—a moment I’m even not a stranger to—that I realized how my affinity towards early, quiet mornings to myself actually includes heavy emphasis on the alone and quiet aspects! Who knew?

Right now, we are with Nick’s grandparents and, because we live very different lifestyles, there are a number of alterations we’ve had to make to our routine. Nick and I are usually very in sync, but living in someone else’s home with different preferences means we have had to adjust. We’ll have the house to ourselves come October, but this was a humbling discovery of mine—certainly something I know I need to work on.

We’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming recently about our new home—feeling eager and excited to plan and execute our ideas. A big part of my excitement for it is to finally be back in our own space, surrounded by our things, and working towards a new and exciting routine. None of which, I will add, would be a possibility without the graciousness of his grandparents and this unplanned time in our lives. So, in the meantime, I will hold onto the promise of our own home, try to be patient with everyone around me, and enjoy every minute I have to myself, when I have it!

Until next time.. ❤

Butter-what?

Good morning everyone!

Back in June, I shared with y’all the news of my finally visiting an otolaryngologist.  To recap, I’ve had ongoing and worsening symptoms for the past four years, which began with sporadic pain at the base of my skull, later developing into nasty headaches, then into vertigo and motion sickness. I grew up getting traditional migraines, but I found out back in June that I could have a condition called vestibular migraines. These migraines are not characterized by traditional symptoms of migraines (though I still get them every couple of months). They are, instead, characterized by the presence of vertigo and motion sickness, which happens daily.

After going through a series of tests to rule out other possibilities, I was officially diagnosed on August 2. It’s hard to put into words what a relief it was to have that closure—to get answers that will allow me to start on my new journey to learn how to live with it. I have modified my diet to cut back on the most common triggers and yesterday, I began taking Butterbur Extract, a herbal supplement known to target migraines, at the recommendation of my doctor. I was given the option of medication, but was informed that many people prefer to take a supplement every day, rather than manufactured drugs. I agreed with the sentiment.

I grew up hearing people say they had vertigo and I always said, “big deal; you get a little dizzy.” But I wanted to share what a day with bad symptoms looks like for me. Not in an attempt to get sympathy, but rather to share my experience and talk about how it is changing my perspective on some things.

The biggest challenge of the condition is that it’s sporadic. I can go from a vertigo-free day of moving around, being active and focused, to bedridden as the world spins around me for hours on end in a matter of minutes. It’s a challenge that can also be very dangerous, which has been the common concern of myself and loved ones. The other day, I went out to dinner with a friend in Wilmington, approximately 45 minutes away. I had started feeling symptoms in the late afternoon, which were only minor by the time I left for dinner. On my way home, I had the most difficult time driving I’ve had to date. It was dark and my brain was seemingly not processing things properly (doctors believe VM is caused by misfires between nerve cells in the brain, so that makes sense). Lights threw me off, shadows threw me off, and movement threw me off—not safe in a car. Goes without saying I am not driving alone at night anymore for any distance over 10–15 minutes.

On a smaller scale, other incidents include a general unsteadiness—the feeling like I am moving or things around me are moving when they’re not, loss of balance (walked into a door frame the other night—that was fun), the whole “room is spinning” sensation, increased light spots, and probably the strangest one: the sudden “falling” of my head. I will be sitting down and, out of nowhere—no prior symptoms—I will experience a heaviness in the crown of my head or forehead that will pull it forward to a drop. To top it all off, most of the vertigo-related symptoms I experience give me motion sickness, meaning I’m nauseous most of the time.

Sounds like a debby-downer deal and, don’t get me wrong, it is. But it was a lot worse when I didn’t know what was going on and now I just treat it as part of who I am while we search for the right path. I joke about it on the regular, so while it has the potential to make things really difficult and me, miserable, I’ve chosen to run with it.

In fact, yesterday afternoon, I was listening to some ambient music to get myself motivated and it began to trigger my symptoms. At first, I felt annoyed—there are a number of things VM has hit the last nail in the coffin on and the more it takes away, the quicker I am to get annoyed—but then I closed my eyes and tried to enjoy the sensation, rather than fight it. It’s not something I can do every time, because A. that would likely be dangerous in certain situations hah and B. I actually have things to do during the day, but I felt like I was already in a meditative, trance-like state—it was pretty cool.

I am eager to see if the butterbur makes a difference and I certainly hope it does. I have a number of other things to factor into my day that should help, but we have officially started the process and I am relieved and excited to see what comes of it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day! ❤