Springtime Reflections

Springtime Reflections

I love spring; it’s my favorite season. It’s beautiful, colorful, scented, and hopeful. The feeling that the air is warming, the sight of the lengthening days, affects us all. Spring fever is a reality. Mother Nature is reinventing herself, and as tenants of her domain, we wish to do the same.

Spring is a time of year (rivaled only by autumn) when the weather and temperature are pleasant, for the vast majority of days. Spring has something autumn does not: hope and promise. Autumn is the time of year where the Earth takes off her makeup, takes a shower, and gets into bed, leaving us with her often-cruel younger cousin, winter. Spring is the awakening of the Earth, and the time during which she gets ready for the day, which stretches before her full of possibility.

Spring cleaning is an excellent practice for starting fresh. It’s good to get all the dirt, dust, and general grime out of the house when winter is over. But don’t stop there – clean your car, or downsize your wardrobe, or throw out the things you kept because they might be important and turned out not to be. Doing a deep clean before the real heat sets in will allow you more freedom, because all the cleaning to be done for the rest of the season won’t have to be as in-depth.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us without allergies. If you are one of the fortunate allergy-free population, take advantage of the warmer weather to enter the domain from which you were barred for so many months: the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun with the lingering chill of winter in the air. Smell the grass being cut and the flowers in the breeze and the oncoming rain. Look at the growing verdancy, the blossoming colors, the little animals tentatively leaving their holes to go about their business. Take pictures. Touch flower petals. Breathe. Enjoy.

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Monthly Goals for April

Monthly Goals for April

Hello! It appears another month has begun, and you know what that means. It’s time for the monthly goals for April!

I don’t know that this is a goal, per se, because the tickets are already bought, but I’m going to Portland, OR the last weekend in April to visit the boyfriend! I’m so excited; I’ve never been further west than Houston, and that only happened last Christmas. I love traveling, exploring new places, and learning new things. If you have any recommendations of things to do, see, eat, or drink in Portland, please leave a comment down below!

In the last week of March I lost four pounds. I don’t know if that was because I’d been bedridden from a bout of bronchitis where I didn’t eat very much, but I’m happy about it and proud of it. I’d like to lose two pounds a week this month. I’ve been eating like crap in the recent past, and I’ve been noticing the difference in how I feel. It isn’t worth it, and I have to remember that.

I want to look at my phone less, pay more attention, listen better, and read more paper books. My phone and laptop are crutches I use to escape being social, and I need to realize that not only do people like me, they want to hear what I have to say. I like to be listened and paid attention to, so I’d like to do the same for the other people in my life.

These are a few of my April goals. Hopefully I meet them. If not, I’ll try not to beat myself up about it. Happy spring!

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Today is Ben and my fourth anniversary. It’s funny; on the one hand, I almost can’t believe we didn’t just get together, because I’m still so crazy about him. On the other, it feels as though I’ve always known him, and when I didn’t, I was just waiting for him. (Not that my whole life was spent waiting for him, but a part of me was waiting.) Anyway, here are four things I’ve learned about love in these four years. I hope they help you in your journey, wherever you are.

Communication is non-negotiable.

I know, I know. It’s such a cliché: “communication is key.” But it is, it is absolutely non-negotiable. While it would be awesome to know automatically what your partner’s needs are, it’s not realistic. We’ve gotten pretty good at communicating, I think; we’ll make sure to bring things up before they become a huge thing that leads to a fight. This way, we have discussions and occasional disagreements, and not fights, whether small or knock-down, drag-out. You’re not a mindreader, and your partner isn’t either. Say what you want and need, as clearly as you can, and be sure to require the same.

Change is inevitable.

It always strikes me as amusing when someone asks me, “But how can you stay with one person for the rest of your life?” This question assumes that people are always exactly the same, that they don’t grow and change. While at their core your partner is not likely to change dramatically, their experiences and learning, with and without you, will lead them to become many different people during your lives. You’ll change, too, and that’s good! People should grow and learn and change. Hopefully, you’ll learn and grow and change together, or in ways that are complementary.

Love is work.

By “work,” I mean that it takes conscious effort. It takes effort to meet someone’s needs. Sometimes you can’t give 100%, and that’s okay. Sometimes one partner has to give a little more – 125%, while you give 75% – but, ideally, it will eventually even out. Don’t fall for the “love is 50%-50%” lie. Love requires 100% from each of you. Sometimes you or your partner gives more, but it always adds up to 200%, because there are two people giving their all.

You are complete.

You are already complete. You are a whole, wonderful person. You don’t need another human being to make you into a “complete” human being. For lack of a better example, if you’re single and murdered, your murderer is still charged for the extinguishing of the life of a whole and complete human being. Don’t consider yourself “incomplete” without another person. It’s unhealthy and dependent. You need to be your own person, so that you can fully and wholly enter into a union. Would you want to be in a relationship with half a person? Acknowledge that you are your own, complete, whole person, and you can more fully love someone else.

Of course, I’ve learned more than this in four years. But, I believe these are the four most important things I’ve learned these four years. I hope they’re helpful, or enlightening, or validating.

Happy anniversary, love.

The Italian Dream

The Italian Dream

I want to live in Italy. I don’t really care where, as long as it’s near an airport and not too far from the coast. It would be easy to do soon, given the boyfriend’s job, if I found a job myself. I am, by virtue of my mother’s lineage, eligible for an Italian passport and dual citizenship, which would make the whole thing so much easier.

I don’t think I’d like to stay there indefinitely, but then again, maybe I would. It’s a discussion I don’t need to have yet. I would love to live there, in “sunny Italy.” I would be alone much of the time, but I could make friends, whether citizens or expats or both. My Italian language skills have increased by leaps and bounds, and I know if I lived there I could even speak passably. My reading, writing, and aural comprehension are decent, I think.

I can only think of three jobs as a native English speaker with elementary-intermediate Italian skills that could help sustain us: tutoring, nannying, and/or freelance writing. Of course, if we wanted to stay longer, I would inevitably learn more of the language, and could perhaps get a regular job, but I think we’d eventually end up returning to the States.

Have any of you lived abroad? What did you do for a job? What did you like about it? What didn’t you? Let me know in the comments!

Lifestyle Change (Hopefully with Weight Loss!)

Lifestyle Change (Hopefully with Weight Loss!)

 

This is me today, at a weight I am not proud of achieving. I had, over Christmas and the new year, lost twelve pounds. Ten are back, unfortunately.

Like I said in a previous post, I was always a skinny kid growing up, to the point where, to me at least, it was a big part of my identity. So gaining 100 pounds in the last three years has been devastating, to say the least. It’s so funny, because three years ago I thought I was fat, with my healthy BMI and 29-inch waist. I now know I was not at all fat, especially because even now I’m not.

Me in 2016.

But yesterday I began, with two friends, a lifestyle change. I will be exercising five times a week, whether on the elliptical, with weights, doing floor exercises, or just walking the dog till we’re both exhausted. I will eat less dairy and avoid excess sugar; no soda, fast food, red meat, or white breads/pastas/rice; more fruits and vegetables, especially the latter; and protein at every meal. I also have added one lemon water to my morning.

I’m trying to learn to love my body as it is, as well. While it isn’t my ideal of what I “should” look like, I am starting to realize that it is still beautiful and capable. I’m also trying to forgive my past self. I’m trying to forgive the woman who fought her mental demons so hard she forgot to care for her physical being, or was too tired to do so. I’m trying to forgive the woman who, in boredom or distress, turned to food for comfort. And I will continue to try to forgive, because I know the days will come when, for whatever reason, I miss a workout or eat something “bad.” But, I hope they will be few and far between.

I just want to look in the mirror and be happy about the appearance of the woman I see again. I want to feel beautiful and womanly and dainty and capable again. I want things to fit me more easily.

I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know what the results will be. I’m hoping that by telling all of you that will help me to stick to the plan. But, I hope when I check in again, I will be healthier, stronger, and more fit. Ideally I will be thinner also.

I love you. I’m trying to love my physical body, too, as I am. I’m getting healthier for me, because I do love me.

If you have any tips or tricks, please leave them in the comments – I’d love to hear them!

Perfection and Contentment

Perfection and Contentment

“I’m never satisfied.”

It’s not just a line from Hamilton. It is also true for me. “I’ve never been satisfied.” Something in me is always reaching for more, more, more. Sometimes “more” means it is reaching for something different, and sometimes it is reaching for something better. But it always means that I am constantly on the lookout for the next thing.

It is truly a gift to be able to be content with what one has. If I, for one moment, could be satisfied with my life, with my situation, I would know a small peace. Peace and contentment are what I long for most, I think, and they are what most eludes me.

But there are benefits to a lack of satisfaction. It means I am always striving to better myself, whether by learning, gaining experience, or anything else. I always want more – more knowledge, more experience, more practice, etc. It means that I am always improving not only myself, but the things I create. I’ve never gotten further than fifty pages in writing a novel because I am given to editing and re-editing much too early in the process.

Discontent can mean perfection, or, more often, for me, it means perfectionism. Perfectionism isn’t great because when something is nowhere near the arbitrary par one has set for oneself, one (when one is me) tends toward giving up instead of realizing that not everything can be wonderful, and often things are the opposite of wonderful, at the outset. I’d be more content if I realized this fact, and let myself be bad at things without giving up on them entirely without trying more than once.

I need to be productive. I am a human being, and all human beings have that need – the need to feel as though they matter to something, someone. But I also need to learn to let go. Let go and let things fall as they will.

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have a lovely little emotional support dog named Brie. Brie is the light of my life, and I didn’t know that I could love a non-human being as much as I love her.

Brie is a rescue. I’ve told her story many times, so I won’t get into too much detail here. Brie lived the first year or so of her life on the streets of Puerto Rico. When we adopted her, she was nine pounds underweight, had hookworm and mange, and had almost no fur. The day we adopted her, she kept coming up to me, and I loved her immediately. Now, she’s the prettiest, cutest dog in the world.

Brie’s Petfinder listing picture.

Brie has proven to me that rescuing a dog is the only way to obtain one. With help from my parents, I nursed her back to health. I trained her. I spent the majority of each day alone with her for the first two months we had her. I was most likely the first person to consistently love her.

Today, this dog sulks when I travel without her, plays with me, and naps with me. She is the sweetest little thing in the world. When she goes to the vet, regularly the vet asks if they can “steal” my dog. Absolutely everyone falls in love with her.

Brie this summer.

I’m not saying that a dog bought from a breeder cannot be beautiful, or sweet, or good, or loving, or all of the above. But, I also know that the fact that my dog came from a horrible situation and had my devotion when it came to her health, behavior, and love, has made her immensely grateful. Given her circumstances, it is amazing that she has turned out as happy, healthy, loving, and sweet as she is. But, she has, and she is worth almost twenty years of waiting and months of nursing and training.

If you’re debating whether to buy from a breeder or adopt a dog, I would strongly encourage you to adopt. Besides the ethical issues, a rescue will likely be the best dog you’ve ever had, and grateful and loving to you. All you have to do is put in the love, time, and work.