Whoa, Baby! I’m Pregnant!

Did you know that the longest pregnancy on record was a woman named Beulah Hunter, who’s pregnancy lasted 375 days from 1944-1945? Uh, can I get a great big “HELL NO”?

I am only 6 weeks pregnant and just knowing that I have to wait at least another 32-34 weeks is killing me. I am a patient person when it comes to waiting in line at the grocery store. But for this . . . I want this baby now!

Well, if I can’t have the baby now, at least I can share the story of how baby came to be (no, I’m not going to talk about that).

My husband and I went to visit our family in Long Island in early November to celebrate my uncles birthday. My cousin recently had a little baby boy (the cheeks on this kid are to die for) and she brought him over for dinner, and to breakfast the following morning. Baby boy was not a fan of us the night of dinner, but at breakfast he warmed up and let us hold him and play with him.

My husband is such a natural with kids and it warms my heart that he loves them just as much as I do. When we left breakfast, baby fever had never been so bad. Earlier this year I was fighting it, but at this point, I had been ready and I was just waiting for my husband to get on board.

So while we were driving in the car on the way home, we sat in a content silence–for him, at least. My mind was going crazy. All I could think about was that it was time. After a couple minutes of silence, I finally turned to him and said, “Will you just fertilize my eggs already?”

Part of me was joking. I never wanted to push him into something he wasn’t ready for. But I knew that I had to communicate my desires with him. I was not expecting for him to look at me and say, “Well, actually, the past couple weeks I’ve been trying to figure out a good time to say this. . .”

I instantly started tearing up. After some more discussion about us officially being ready to start trying, my husband said to me, “Is this better than the day I proposed to you?”

I told him that the day he proposed to me was so exciting and I was so happy because I loved him and knew that I wanted to spend my life with him. But hearing him say that he was ready to have children with me was different, it was deeper. I had always known that I wanted to be a mother to multiple children. Knowing that we were finally at that point in our lives was such an incredible feeling.

We got home and I immediately downloaded a period and ovulation tracking app on my phone. I went to target and bought ovulation tests, and ordered pregnancy tests on Amazon. If you are buying either tests in the store, you are wasting so much money. Buy the dip sticks on amazon, you get five times the amount for the same price as in store and they are just as accurate (if not more).

When we decided to start trying, we had just missed my fertile window by a couple of days, so we had to wait until my next cycle which began on November 18th. I started taking the ovulation tests six days after my period. On average, most people ovulate anywhere between 10-14 days before their next period. My cycles can range anywhere from 27 days to 33 days, so I wanted to start early enough that I wouldn’t miss it if it was a short cycle.

My app was predicting that I would ovulate on December 2nd, so I was expecting to see a positive line on the 1st, since your body will have a surge of LH (luteinizing hormone) levels 12-48 hours before “dropping egg”. But the 1st and 2nd came and went and I got nothing. On the 3rd I was wondering if it was possible that maybe I wasn’t going to ovulate–you know, I started to freak out a little. But on the 4th I got a positive line! Yay! I texted my husband immediately and told him it was go time!

Of course, we had already been “practicing” so it’s not like we weren’t being proactive. I’m not going to explain what happened next, most of you should already know about the birds and the bees.

If you’re not familiar with pregnancy test commercials, then you probably don’t know that some of the more expensive ones claim to get results up to five days before your missed period. So that’s when I began taking tests. Every morning I would pee into a cup, which isn’t really the most fun thing to do when you first wake up, but they say that’s the best time to test because your pee is more concentrated from holding it over night (and anyone that knows me knows that I wake up at least two times a night to pee so I guess that doesn’t really apply to me anyway). So here I go, peeing in this cup every morning so I can dip the stick into it.

The first five days before my missed period I got all negatives. The day before my period I was feeling bummed because I figured by then I would have gotten a positive if I was pregnant. But at the same time, I wasn’t experiencing any of the pre-period symptoms I normally get. I tested the day I was supposed to get my period and still got a negative, yet, I still didn’t have my period. I figured as long as I didn’t have it, there still was a chance.

When I tested the second day of my missed period, I got a very faint line. Now, I always thought I was going to be the person that once I saw a positive test I would start crying (for hours). But I wasn’t even excited when I saw it. I didn’t actually believe it, because when we had first decided to try, my Fitbit app told me that was my last day of fertility, so I had thought we had a chance then. I was testing in November (before I realized that my Fitbit was way off and there was no chance it had worked) and had gotten a false positive during that time.

So I figured this one was just a false positive as well. I waited until I had to pee again, and tested on a second stick. That one also came back with a very faint line. When I saw this one, I just said, “WHAT?!”

I peed on a third stick and that one also had a faint line. So now, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, maybe I’m actually pregnant.” Now was the time to bring out the digital test. The Clear Blue. You know, the one that claims to be the best, earliest detection of pregnancy? Well, that one came back negative. My heart sank. I was confused. So I called my primary doctor and asked to come in for a test. I scheduled for the next day and went in around noon.

I peed in the cup and waited in the room for the Doctor. She came in and began asking me questions about how long we’ve been trying, am I taking prenatals, etc. She didn’t give me an answer right away, so I was thinking that it was most likely a negative. I told her, “I don’t think I’m pregnant, all the lines were so faint and the digital one was negative.” She then said, “Well our test is getting a faint line as well.”

I blinked. “So, does that mean I’m pregnant?” I wasn’t sure if maybe I was reading positive for some reason that had nothing to do with being pregnant. So my doctor told me that if the test was showing positive for HCG, then I was pregnant.

To be totally sure, she wrote me a script for blood work and I went to the Urgent Care down the road. They said that the results would probably get back by the end of the day, so I eagerly awaited near my phone. I even called before closing but they hadn’t gotten the results. It was killing me to wait. I wanted to know for sure before I told John. I didn’t want to say, “I think I’m pregnant”. I wanted to say “I am pregnant!”.

But I went home that night and took two more tests using Early Response (the one with two lines for a positive) and they both had faint lines on them, but clear enough that they were there. So that night in bed, I handed them to John. He looked at them, looked at me, then looked at them again. I waited, letting him try to figure it out on his own (he’s a smart guy). He finally looked at me again and smiled.

I told him that I went to the doctor that day and was waiting to hear back about the results from the blood work. We were both excited, but I think we still had our doubts. So the next morning around 9am, I called the doctors office again to see if the results came in. My doctor was in with a patient so I had to wait for her to call me back about fifteen minutes later.

When she did, she confirmed that I was pregnant!

Again, I thought I would cry, but I think I still just couldn’t believe it. Immediately I called John and told him the great news. He was so excited! We immediately began wondering how we were going to tell our parents. We had talked about it the night before and decided to get ornaments for his parents to put on the tree, so I told him I would go to the mall and pick them out that day. I also ordered shirts on Amazon that said, “From Fur Mama to Baby Mama” and “She’s eating for two, I’m drinking for three” for John and I to wear when we told my parents.

I am literally the worst person at keeping secrets, so having to wait almost a week to tell our family was killing me, and then when it was time I was so excited it was making me sick.

Once we told our parents though, it was fair game to tell everyone. We tried to tell as many people as we could in person before we posted it online. Especially since it is so fun to see peoples reactions. We also called some of our family and friends who live out of state to tell them.

I’m six weeks today and it still feels so surreal. I still have a couple pregnancy tests left and I’ve been peeing on them occasionally to see if I still get two lines. It’s like I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that there really is a little person starting to grow inside me.

In two weeks I go for my first ultrasound. Everyone says that’s when it really sinks in. I can’t wait.

2020 Reading Challenge

I probably don’t have to convince most of you how important reading is or list out the benefits of it. However, I’m going to do that anyway because I think they are just so important.

The benefits of reading go far beyond what I am going to list here. I could talk about books all day–which, for those of you who know me, wouldn’t be a surprise, especially since I worked in a bookstore.

For me, reading is on the top of the list of things that bring me joy. I love a good book that has compelling characters that take you on a journey with them. I love to be able to feel with the characters. If a book makes me cry, even better. I don’t want to read a book that doesn’t make me feel something, or force me to think outside the confines of my own views.

One of the top reasons to read, is that you can learn something new everyday. For most adults, once we leave school, we aren’t actively learning anymore. We get jobs or start on a path in life where we know what we know and that’s all we do. Some of us become stagnant. I don’t know about you, but I hate that feeling. With reading, you can learn something just by sitting on the couch and cracking a book for fifteen minutes each day. Whether it’s a history book, a self-help book, a fantasy novel, or even a children’s picture book, you can learn hard facts or be exposed to new concepts.

Reading doesn’t just teach you new things. While you are learning, you are also enhancing your memory, boosting your analytical thinking, and expanding your vocabulary. There is a reason that reading to (or with) your child at bedtime is such a big to-do. Reading with your child has more benefits than just calming them down enough to fall asleep. You are exposing them to everything listed above.

As for you, wouldn’t you want to give yourself all the benefits that reading has as well? I have noticed that in the past year-or-so, I am more forgetful. As a teen, I could read books and still remember them to this day. Now, I’ll read a book and a couple of months later, I can’t even tell you the story. Maybe that’s just part of being an adult and having to remember and be responsible for more now than I had to as a teen. But reading helps me keep my mind active in a good way.

My favorite part about reading is how therapeutic it can be. When I’m feeling really stressed or bogged down by life, I have certain books that I will read because they make me feel better. There are books where reading about the characters is like going to visit an old friend. For me, the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas is the “old friend”.

There are also books that can help you get through certain situations. One book I started reading, How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, by Andrea Owen, was very enlightening. The first few chapters go in to explain how most people are their own worst critics and that the first step is acknowledging when you are being too hard on yourself to the point where it’s not productive.

To me, that was life changing. It’s amazing how you can take a negative thought and stop it right in its tracks by saying, “I hear you, but I’m not listening to you.”

This year, I haven’t read nearly as many books as I wanted to. So that’s why I’m now planning my ‘2020 Reading Challenge’ list. You should too!

You can find thousands of different reading challenges online if you Google it. For me, I like to tailor my reading challenges specific to my interests and goals. Up until this past year, I’ve pretty much been reading only Young Adult Fantasy/Adventure novels. I refused to accept that I am an adult and venture out of the YA category. Also, YA Fantasy/Adventure is just so fun!

But this year I have read a few Mystery and Fiction novels. So my goal for next year is to expand my horizons by reading books from different genres. If you want to do the 2020 Reading Challenge with me, my goal is to read at least this many of each type of book:

  1. Fiction (2)
  2. Mystery & Thriller (2)
  3. Historical Fiction (1)
  4. Sci Fi & Fantasy (2)
  5. Horror (1)
  6. Non-Fiction (2)
  7. Memoir & Autobiography (2)
  8. History (1)
  9. Science & Technology (1)
  10. Poetry (1)
  11. YA Fiction (2)
  12. YA Fantasy/Adventure (2)
  13. Middle Grade (2)
  14. Best Seller (4)

All together, that’s 25 books. That’s one book every two weeks. We can do this!

Now, if you want to do a reading challenge, but mine doesn’t seem like one you’d be interested in, there are a ton of different reading challenges you can do (just click the link).

If you don’t have one already, create a Good Reads account. You can download the app for mobile phones. In Good Reads, you can set a reading challenge for the year and log all the books you read. It will keep track of them for you.

I love Good Reads because you can look up books and it will give you a summary of it and all the information such as author, publication date, publisher, etc. Good Reads users will also leave reviews, so if you’re not sure whether you want to read it or not, check the star rating (out of 5), and see what people are saying about it.

If you see a book that you want to read, you can put in on your ‘bookshelf’ and sort it as “to be read”. You can also sort books as “currently reading”, and once finished, “read”.

If you have friends with a Good Reads account, you can follow them and see what they are reading. It’s like Facebook, but for book nerds.

Okay, maybe not totally like that, but you get the gist.

Follow my Good Reads account. The link is on my homepage.

Do you also plan on doing a reading challenge in 2020? If so, what guidelines are you following, if any?

On Friends and Growth

“You are who you associate with.” – Allen Look (Dad)

In high school, my dad gave me a lot of advice. Back then, I vaguely understood some of it, though as the years would go on, the more relevant it would become to me. One of his pieces of advice was, “you are who you associate with”. In high school, I guess that would have made me a “nerd”. It’s actually kind of funny, because I recently reconnected with a group of my high school friends for a Friendsgiving, and we were all referring to ourselves as nerds. For us, it doesn’t have a negative connotation when we say it. Being a nerd is awesome.

Since high school, I have found myself friends with people of all different kinds of personalities and cliques. I have befriended jocks, stoners, preps, basically any type of label you could think of. It has raised the question in me, if I too, am all these labels. It couldn’t be, because there is no way in the world I would ever be considered a jock. So while people might look at you from the outside and make their own assumptions about who you are based on who you are with, that doesn’t necessarily paint a realistic picture of who you are on the inside.

So while he may have been referring in part to being perceived a certain way based on the people you keep around you, there is also a deeper element to this. What about the kind of people around you really draws you into a friendship? Is it the way they treat other people? Is it the way they treat animals? Is it their work ethic? The way they are there for you instantly if you need something? Maybe you’re both kindred spirits and hate the world together.

There has also been a study by Yale University and the University of California at San Diego that shows ” good friends are often genetically similar, and can share as much as 1% of the same gene variants. In genetic terms, that’s a lot. As close as, say, fourth cousins.”

Have you ever had a friend that you felt so close to you wished you were sisters or brothers? Well, fourth cousin is pretty close, right?

In high school, I had a good group of friends. Over the years we ranged from 8-12 close friends in our group. By graduation, we had formed the core group of us that were in it for the long haul. As of last week, I hadn’t seen most of them since our sophomore year of college. It had been almost seven years since I was in the same room with five of my friends. For a while, some of them had been living out of state. So this year we all got together for a Friendsgiving and it was amazing. It was like not a day had passed since we saw each other.

A month ago, I went to Mexico with my husband to celebrate the marriage of our friend, Nichole. I was the maid of honor in her ceremony. Nichole had lived in NY for a couple years and we became very close friends. A few years ago though, she moved back west to New Mexico. We had gone from seeing each other at least once a week (sometimes almost every other day), to barely even talking. That’s not because we don’t care. Neither of us are very big into texting or talking on the phone. However, we do visit each other and have been on vacations together. Just like with my high school friends, it feels like not a day has passed when we get together.

Recently, I had made two more friends who I became very close with. Ellie and Ashley. Both of them have since moved out of NY as well. I don’t talk with Ellie everyday, but we do talk on occasion. Ashley and I have become weekly pen pals, which is something I haven’t been unsuccessful in maintaining with anyone else.

In college, I had two roommates who I became very good friends with. One of them now lives on the other side of the country and the other lives an hour and fifteen minutes from me. Though we don’t talk all the time, we also can hang out and randomly reach out to each other and feel as no time has passed.

There is something about these friendships I have where we don’t have to talk everyday or see each other all the time. There is a deeper bond, a respect for the other person, a love for them. We may not always be able to interact with each other, but I’m always wishing them happiness, success, and would instantly be there if they needed me.

Luckily for me though, I do have friends that live close by. I just hope that they stay and don’t leave NY like the others.

I have made many friends since graduating high school, meeting my husband, going to college, and getting different jobs. I have friends through my husband that have become family to us. I have friends from college that are fun to hang out with and talk to. I have friends from jobs that have opened doors for me into new hobbies and interests.

I have loved writing ever since I was a little girl. When I worked at Barnes and Noble and met the writing group that had been meeting there, I instantly shoved myself into that group. Now they have become a second family to me. We celebrate birthdays and holidays together. We support each others writing and real world successes. The best part is that we are a group of people of all ages.

For me, hanging out with people outside of my peer group is very important. You miss so much when you limit yourself to being with people just like you. Having friends who are older or younger, with different interests and hobbies exposes you to so much more.

Having the right group of friends around you can be one of the driving factors in your success. Like I have mentioned in my previous blog post, you may have to let go of some friends in order to be a better version of yourself. Some friendships just don’t work. That doesn’t mean they are bad people or have any ill-intent towards you. It just means that their interests and your interests no longer align. And that’s okay.

You’ll find that as you grow, others around you might not be growing at the same pace. Some flowers just bloom faster than others.

Some friendships though, are toxic. Maybe these friends are causing problems with other friends, talking behind your back, putting you down. Maybe they just are negative and being around them is like being around a dementor. You need to let go of these people. If you had a friend in a toxic relationship, you would probably tell them that they need to get out of it. It’s the same for toxic friendships. Get out.

One of the toughest things about letting a friendship go, is standing your ground. Chances are, if you let go of a friendship, some of the friends you have kept are still friends with this person. They might try to convince you to be friends again, or to hang out with them in a group setting. If that is something you are not comfortable with, don’t let them guilt you into doing it.

True friends will understand that things are different. You will have to understand that too. You can’t tell anyone who they can or cannot be friends with. But you should never force yourself to hang around a toxic person to make anyone else happy. If they are asking you to do that, they aren’t a true friend.

Starting this journey, I have distanced myself from some friends and cut others out completely. Do I miss the way things used to be? Yes.

No one ever said growth would be easy or comfortable. Sometimes, I might feel like I need a little push to keep my eyes on the horizon and what I’m aiming for. Here’s a song that I like to listen to when I’m feeling down.

Friends can be an asset or an obstacle on our path to ‘there’. Let your friends walk beside you. But don’t be afraid to walk ahead of them, and if they try to hold you back, then maybe they aren’t the friends you need. #sorrynotsorry

Yale University and University of California at San Diego Study
Releasing Attachments to Friendships That Hold You Back

Dodged a Bullet-Journal

I know what you’re thinking. You saw the title of this post and immediately thought, “Ew. Journaling?” But hear me out, this isn’t the kind of journaling that you are used to hearing about. I promise I’m not asking you to sit down before bed each night and write about your feelings and what you did during the day. Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. It’s actually been proven that journaling has powerful health benefits such as reduced stress, mood boosts, sharper memory, and stronger emotional functions. If you’d like to read more about the benefits of journaling, check out this link: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2018/07/5-powerful-health-benefits-of-journaling/

The kind of journaling that I am going to be talking about today is called bullet journaling, and no, it does not involve guns (if you find yourself in need of some lead therapy, please go visit your local gun range). The reason that this type of journaling is called “bullet” journaling, is because this is a system where you tend to write in short or fragmented sentences using bullets, dashes, dots, or even a star if you wish, to mark the beginning of a sentence or note.

This journaling method was created by a man named Ryder Carroll and is intended “to help you track the past, order the present, and design the future. The Bullet Journal Method will show you how to go from passenger to pilot of your life through intentional living.” He wrote a whole book on it, which you can find in most of your local bookstores or on Amazon.

I started using the bullet journal method last year. I noticed the more I used it, the more productive I was. I became more aware of when I was accomplishing my goals and when I was not reaching them. One thing I like the most about the bullet journal is that I can write out my goals and the things that I want to achieve, and I don’t necessarily need to go back and mark them off. Sometimes, just writing them down and leaving the journal in a place where I can see it everyday helps to remind me what the goals are. So if you are someone who doesn’t like to journal everyday, this would be good for you. You could do it once a week if that was what pleased you.

Also, there are many ways to decorate bullet journals. Some people use stickers or write in calligraphy. Others keep it simple with just a black fine-tipped pen. Some people have buckets of accessories for bullet journaling, while others have just the journal and their favorite pen.

For me, I have a twenty pack of fine liner colored marker pens (pictured left), and a fifteen pack of Mildliners (pictured right). Mildliners are basically highlighters, but milder. Whoa. Did I just blow your mind? I also use a dotted moleskin journal, rather than a lined one. The dots help me if I am trying to draw a straight line or make a box, but aren’t overbearing like lines can be.

So what do I do in my bullet journal? What is the magic that helps me keep my shit together even when I feel like I’m falling apart? Well, first, at the beginning of each month I create my ‘monthly goals’ spread.

This is a time for me to sit down and reflect on what I want to work on or achieve in the upcoming month. In this case, for November, I wanted to work on eating healthier and eating in smaller portions. It’s very easy for my husband and I to get caught up in the “let’s go out to eat” cycle, where we find ourselves going out WAY more than we should be during the week. Not only are we spending money we should be saving, but we are eating less healthy meals, and restaurants tend to serve big portions.

I also wanted to be more active. Being a web developer, I spend a lot of my time sitting at my computer. Hours and hours a day. Right now, I work from home since I am in the middle of the course, so I have been walking outside or playing with my dogs for little breaks. I’ve also been attempting to get to the gym more. I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’ve been failing at the gym part. Rather than beating myself up about it though, I know that I am in a really busy time right now with the holidays, my final project for the course just starting, and trying to maintain a clean living environment in my home (haha, that’s another blog for another day).

My third goal was to post to my blog on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. So far, I have been keeping up with this goal. I have found that the more I blog, the better I feel. Blogging is almost like journaling in a sense. My previous blogs have forced me to face some of the things I was going through and to deal with them.

My last goal was to watch less TV. Since I’m home basically all day, it’s really easy for me to turn on the TV while I work for background noise. However, doing that distracts me from my work and sometimes I’ll find myself sitting and watching the TV for an extended period of time. Instead of using the TV for background noise, I have started listening to music instead. I absolutely love music. I love a good song that can connect you to a memory, a feeling, a mood, or a dream. I find myself singing along and even (gasp) dancing around the house sometimes. And it feels good. My current favorite song is Higher Love by Kygo. Now, I have loved the original version of this song forever. I also loved the cover by Grace Grundy. But this version with Whitney just touches my soul in all the right places right now.

Once I do my monthly spread, I do a ‘habit tracker’ spread.

My habit tracker shifts from a monthly goal focus, to a daily goal focus. These are things that I want to be doing everyday that I either forget to do sometimes, or have trouble achieving due to lack of motivation or just I HATE DRINKING WATER. Ahem. Sorry, I don’t know where that came from. Yesterday when I took this picture, I put an ‘X’ in the water slot just to show you how I mark when I either do or don’t achieve that goal.

This habit tracker changes twice a month. I usually do fifteen days at a time. Halfway through the month I like to stop and see where I am at and adjust it accordingly. Some other habits I’ve had over time have been ‘write at least 500 words’, ‘sleep at least 6 hours’, ‘shoulder stretches’, or anything else that I want to do. You can make the tracker as long or short as you want. If you want to track what you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed you can do that too.

If you are trying to get in the habit of something or break a habit, a really good book to read is, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. It’s really insightful and quite interesting.

After my habit tracker, I like to do an ‘important events’ spread, or some kind of monthly calendar where I can write down what events or appointments I have coming up.

Sometimes I make it look like a calendar. Sometimes I just list it out. It really depends how I’m feeling when I make it. That’s the beauty of a bullet journal. You can do it however you want and don’t have to do the same thing twice.

I keep all of these events on my phone calendar as well, so technically, there’s no need for me to write it out here. But again, sometimes just writing them down on paper helps to manifest them in my mind.

These are just a few of the types of spreads I’ve used over the past year to help me. The possibilities are literally endless for what you could do. I have done spreads for books I wanted to read during the month with a star rating and review. I have done spreads for the Christmas gifts I was getting for everyone. I did a spread for tracking my period–girls, this is actually a very helpful visual and it’s really neat to see your pattern, especially if your cycle isn’t always the same length each time.

If you want to learn more about bullet journaling, feel free to ask me any questions. There are tons of videos on Youtube of people showing you how they bullet journal and giving ideas for spreads. There are books you can buy that also give you ideas for spreads you can do. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Google ‘bullet journal’ and you will see that mine are very simple compared to some of the ones other people do. If you like to color you can decorate your spreads and make them beautiful and artistic.

If you are going to try bullet journaling, I would recommend trying to commit to it for at least a month. When the month is over, reflect on how it has impacted your life. Do you feel like you’ve been more mindful? Have you achieved more than you did the previous month? If it was successful, share your experience with other people! You never know who could benefit from it!

Experience With Me

As humans, we are capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions. Some of the basic human emotions are joy, excitement, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, and grief–just to name a few. However, many people operate under the belief that expressing any negative emotion such as sadness, anger, fear, or grief makes them weak. They believe that allowing themselves to feel these emotions is somehow a loss of control or a waste of time. But does it? Is it? I don’t think so.

Did you know that elephants also experience many of the same emotions we do? Not only do elephants feel joy, fear, and grief, but they also feel stress, compassion, rage, and love. They grieve the loss of loved ones when they die, they cry at reunions, and celebrate birth.

Aside from humans, elephants are one of the most emotionally intelligent animals (chimpanzees and dolphins are also up on the list).

In my last blog post, I mentioned how I thought it was important to experience emotions. By this, I mean that it is important to allow yourself to face these emotions. To feel them. To acknowledge that they are there. What is the point of being the most emotionally intelligent species on earth if we try to suppress some of the distinct qualities that actually make us human?

Now, just like most things, too much of something can be bad. Knowing how to experience these emotions in a productive way is very important. Whether that means giving yourself a set amount of time to reflect on why you are feeling sad, or talking about it with a good friend, or even going to counseling to work through the emotions.

When elephants are sad, other elephants in the herd can pick up on that. Sometimes they will also start to exhibit sadness as well. Or, they might console and comfort the sad elephant. Sounds kind of like us, right?

So, we are letting ourselves experience these emotions. Now what? We have cried, or sat in a dark room alone, or talked to someone, or even laughed it off. But what comes next?

We go forward. Be like a shark–they can’t swim backwards or stop suddenly.

So this is where the journey really begins. We’ve decided to walk this road, to experience these emotions, and to let the negative ones go.

There are exciting things coming in my future. I will soon be finishing my web development course which will lead to finding a job. I am committing to eating healthier and exercising more. I will give myself the love, patience, and support I would give to any friend trying to better their life.

What are you walking toward on this road? What goals have you set? Are they similar to mine?

In my next blog post, I will talk about bullet-journaling and how it has helped me be conscious of my goals.

Let Go With Me

Did you know that humans can have 12,000-60,000 thoughts in one day? That’s a lot of thoughts to fit into a three pound lump of jello. According to studies, eighty percent of our thoughts are negative. Let me say that again. EIGHTY PERCENT of our thoughts are NEGATIVE. Why? Psychologists say that thinking about the things that hurt us help us feel that our pain matters and that what happened wasn’t for “no reason”. That the bad things that have happened to us are part of our stories, and to think about them is to remember who we are, even when they are no longer relevant.

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” – Ralph Marston

What do we do with all these negative thoughts? How do we rewire our brains to stop thinking negative thoughts eighty percent of the time? First, we have to be aware that we are having these negative thoughts. In my previous post, I mentioned an exchange I had with an old co-worker where I realized for the first time that I was living in these negative thoughts. Then I had to ask myself why. Why, Shelby, are you having all these thoughts? Why are you so negative? What is the root of these thoughts? Then, I had to consciously make the decision to change my way of thinking.

So, here I am. I have brought my demons up from the darkness and here they are. Do you have demons too? Have you pulled them from their comfortable nooks and crannies in your mind? Have you forced them into the light, too? If you have or are trying to, I commend you. It’s no easy feat.

But what do we do with our demons once we rip them from the darkness?

We let them go.

It won’t be as easy as just letting them go, though. They will come knocking. They will want to wiggle their way back into those comfortable places in our minds. They will rake their poisonous claws down the walls you erect to keep them out. They will do anything to get back in. Sometimes, they will win. They will get back in. But you’ve kicked them out once already, you know you can do it again.

Negative thoughts trying to get into your mind

Letting go of these negative thoughts is going to be one of the more challenging changes for me. I tend to lean more on the feeling of insecurity than anything else. Luckily, I have some good people around me who are great examples of what a positive mindset can achieve.

One person who I am so inspired by has worn many hats in the past few years. He has worked so hard and achieved so much. He spent several years running on four-five hours of sleep at night because his schedule was so full. But he never complained (at least to me). He was always positive. Always going. Always improving, learning, and living. It literally baffles my mind how much he does. So when I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be, I think about him. I think about his drive and motivation. If I could have even a fraction of that, it would be a step in the right direction.

My husband is also a great support system. He’s seen me at my worst. He’s seen the broken down mess that this girl can become. But he still loves me. He still supports me. He still believes in me.

One of my most prominent fears is the feeling that I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough for this job. My writing is not good enough for this novel to be published. My form is not good enough to be doing this in a gym full of people. My body is not good enough. I am not good enough.

My husbands voice in the back of my mind as I write this.

I woke up this morning and made the conscious decision to be positive. I listened only to upbeat songs that made me feel good in the car. I made a point not to speak negatively at my chiropractor appointment. I chose to be happy about the frost on the ground because it means that winter is coming and that means ski season is upon us! And look how cute my dogs look sitting on the frost covered leaves! *Sigh* They’re so beautiful.

I am realizing that the more I try to think positive, the more I feel positive. All these negative thoughts I’ve been letting myself think, I need to let go. These ideas that I am not good enough, or that I’m somehow incapable. It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to happen right away. I mean, if it was as easy as flipping a switch, no one would be sad, right? Besides, I’m also a big believer in allowing ourselves to feel emotions. I’ll get more into that in another blog post (it involves elephants, because elephants are amazing).

If you chose to walk with me in my last blog post, I’m honored that you are here with me now. If you too have been dealing with demons of your own, take my hand. We can fight them off together.

If you’d like to connect on other media platforms, you can follow me on Instagram and Goodreads. Links are on my home page.

Read more about the statistics mentioned and how negative thinking is dangerous.

Walk With Me (An Introduction)

Did you know that the longest ‘motorable’ road in the world is the Pan-American Highway? Spanning 29,825.817 miles (48,000 kms), this highway links almost all nations in North and South America. That’s a lot of road. A lot of places to see. But I think some of the longest roads we travel are the metaphorical ones we walk. From the our first breaths to our last, we are constantly on a journey from “here” to “there”. If we could measure our life experiences in miles, would you be more inclined to walk the road?

The Pan-American Highway

The Road So Far . . .

Like everyone, I have a story. I haven’t shared my story in depth with too many people. I mean, how do you work “My dad fell out of a window and cracked his head open and died when I was two” into a conversation? It’s kind of a mood killer, right? It makes me uncomfortable. When people respond with, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, I don’t know what to say. Usually I respond with, “Well, I was so young that I don’t really have any memories of him so it doesn’t really bother me any more…”

It gets weird for everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not insensitive to it. In fact, it effected me a lot more as a child. When I started school, Kindergarten to Second grade was the worst. I remember other kids talking about their dads, or meeting my friends dads, or hearing kids talk about how they missed their dads who were away for work or vacation. All I could think was, “Well, I miss my dad too, but he’s not coming back”, so it all felt very unfair.

It even effected the way I viewed religion. My grandparents used to bring me and my sister to church with them every Sunday. They had us on the weekends so that my mom (a single mother), could do her college work, go to work, or have some time for herself. I remember listening to the pastor telling us to pray to God. Pray to God and he will answer your prayers. So I did. Every Sunday at church and any other day of the week that I was thinking about it, I prayed to God to bring my Dad back. Every time.

Eventually I began to believe less and less in God. After all, why would he take away my Dad? At seven years old, I had stopped believing in God and that there was any hope that my Dad would come back.

Even though I grew up feeling like there was a hole in my heart that would never be filled, I never felt unloved. My mother gave my sister and I everything we could ever want (within reason, of course). My grandmother (who lost her first husband and her only son) and Papa was always there for us too. She is one of the strongest women I know, and even though she has lost so much, she never fails to stay positive and give love.

At ten years old, my mom met the man who would eventually become my dad. As you can imagine with any blended family (he also had two daughters of his own), things were rocky in the beginning.

I don’t think my dad realized what he was getting into when he ended up living with five girls. We even had three cats who were all female. Poor guy.

Middle and high school passed fairly normally. I was never a straight A student. I didn’t apply myself. I hated homework. I absolutely could not understand math or science. But I loved to write and read. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones who taught English. Actually, one of my favorite teachers was my Chemistry teacher. Even though I almost failed the class, he still didn’t hate me for it. He still respected me just the same as the top student. Can’t say the same for my Geometry teacher though . . .

Any-who . . . I graduated high school and a month later met the man who would eventually become my husband. I had dated in high school, but I was never in an actual relationship with anyone. I attempted relationships, but a week into it I would panic and cut it off. Always one week. Looking back on it now, I think part of it was because I wasn’t ready for anything serious. I also cared too much what other people thought and as soon as someone commented on my “relationship” I would bail. Also, I had a crush on the same kid from sixth grade to twelfth grade, so I had to be available at any point just in case, you know?

So one month after John and I had met, we became “official”. I went home that night thinking, “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE”. Because as far as I was concerned, I had just signed our relationships death warrant by becoming official. Well, eight years later we’re still going strong so that tells you all you need to know. I also knew this one was different when we passed the dreaded one week mark and almost a week after that I had a friend tell me that John was “an asshole and would get me in trouble”. All I have to say about that is we’re all assholes when the occasion calls for it. I also haven’t been arrested . . . yet (but I got close)! But that’s a story for a different day.

Since I’ve been with John, I have gone to three different colleges, obtained two Associate degrees, worked at nine different jobs, gotten two dogs and one cat, and am now currently in a full-stack web development boot camp.

The Road Ahead . . .

This past year has been one of the toughest years I’ve experienced. I’ve done more standing and staring at the forks in the road than I have done walking. I have lost myself. I have lost friends. I have lost sight of what it means to live. I have looked in the mirror, hated what I saw, and cried.

I realize that these past few months I have become a version of myself that is negative and unmotivated. It hit me one day, when an old co-worker said, “How are things going?”, and my response was the same it had been the past FIVE (at least) times. “Just living the life.”

Everyone knows that’s the universal cover up for “I hate my life”. At least in my neck of the woods. It was then I realized that I couldn’t come up with ONE positive thing about my life to respond with. Not. One.

I don’t want to be that person that drains the energy of the people around me. I don’t want to be the person that is always complaining. So I’ve decided to adjust my sails.

I hope by sharing my experiences that I am able to connect with you. I hope that there are parts of my story that resonate with you. I hope that you might choose to walk with me on this journey and in turn find parts of yourself that you’ve been missing, or heal pieces that are broken.

Our paths will never be the same, but these roads are long and we can walk beside each other for a short while, at least.