Monday, December 29, 2014

Ask Yourself, Are You Ready?

"Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you any closer to where you want to be tomorrow."

I am a New Year's resolution girl. I don't necessarily stay up at midnight on New Year's Eve and right them down on a sticky note, and I don't tend to pick silly things that I will immediately break come the middle of the month in January. But I am a goal setter. I am a list maker and a reflector. I  spend the last couple weeks of December looking back at the year, from what goals I set for the current year, to where I was then compared to where I am now. And then I set some new, healthy, smart goals for the next year. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I do really well, but no matter what, I find a lot of comfort in the reflection and goal setting process.

At this time last year, I was about six months into writing this blog and had about ten regular readers. I was making an effort to find ways to get it out there, to share my posts on other sites, like Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and Twitter. My audience has now grown immensely and I just hit 32,000 page views - 32 THOUSAND. One of my posts has been published - published for real, like, in a book. My blog has an average of 2,000 page views per month; that's over 50 times a day that someone is opening my blog! At this time last year, I was sitting in my office at Cascade Woods Apartments in Aloha, where the only part of my job I didn't hate was having dinner at the end of every day with Stacey and Blake. I hated it so much I was considering leaving the company (amazing how things work out and I was only a few weeks from another promotion that would progress my career and make me much happier than leaving would have) and was actively seeking employment.

2014 started with family drama (doesn't it always) when my cousin tried to get me fired for writing this very blog. Because he's crazy. The family drama has continued through the year, and will likely carry on for many more years, but what has come out of this year for me, is the realization that I can pick my battles. I spent hours making my family tree with my therapist and finding all of the ways in which my family is completely fucked up - and learned that all of those things are out of my control. I cannot control that my family fell apart, and I cannot make them piece it back together. The only thing I can control is the way I react and the way I respond. And for me, that has meant retreating, not attending family parties. What I have learned is that making a choice to create that physical boundary between myself and the people who have hurt me is the healthiest choice, one I needed to make for myself. So, despite that the drama continues, I have finally been able to move on from it and let it go. I can't change it, so there is not use in continuing to be upset about it.

My goal for 2015 where it involves my family is to continue to feel my feelings and speak my truth, and to continue to make guilt-free choices involving who I speak to, what I attend (and don't), and what relationships I maintain (and which ones I sever). But I would like to talk about it less. I talked about it a lot this year, both in therapy and in public on this blog forum, I am ready for it to take less of my time. I've healed enough to stop being stressed about it, and I've let it go enough to talk less about it. I have finally been validated in my feelings and my decisions, and that validation was all I ever needed, when it came down to it.

In 2014, I transferred properties three times, and I moved three times. I'd like to believe that moving as frequently as I do is the nature of my business, but I think mostly it's because I am out of my damn mind. I started the year working in Aloha, then transferred back to Vancouver in January; I just transferred buildings up here again in October. In January I was living alone in a two bedroom apartment near my job site, where I had signed a 13 month lease with no intention of moving. Unfortunately my upstairs neighbor flooded my apartment and I had to move in April; I moved to a one bedroom on site at the building I was working at. Then in August, I transferred on the same property into a two bedroom and got a roommate. The roommate was a big step for me in my need for control. But it's been going really well. I am saving a ton of money every month, which has eliminated a lot of my life stress, and she's never home so we're not too much in each other's way.

My goal for 2015, regarding work and moving, is to stay in one damn place through the summer. I know, it is most likely wishful thinking, but I did commit to 12 months at the building I am at now, which puts me into September - and as long as I work here, I should be able to continue living where I am living...and I don't believe my roommate intends to rush out any time soon, so fingers are crossed that I can just stay put for the next nine or ten months. At which point, I have set a big goal: I want to move out of Washington and go somewhere new. I just wrote about this last week, but I do believe that now is an ideal time for me to pack my things, take Juno, and hit the road for another state. My company has properties everywhere and my options are not limited, so why not? Now is as good a time as ever to take a leap! I want to plan to visit both Boise and Denver, which are both high on my list of possibilities, in the spring and really make a good decision for myself.

In 2014, I did much better at communicating my feelings, being open, being honest with myself and other people, and I was definitely rewarded for it. I developed stronger friendships, better relationships, and treated myself better. I was finally able to find validation of some past feelings, and I finally learned to say "this is what I want, so this is what I am going to do," and to keep my own best interest in the forefront. My goal for 2015, regarding speaking my truth, is really just to continue to do so. It takes practice and commitment to stand up for what you want, and it takes energy to stand firm in your choices. I need to keep practicing, to keep working, and to keep committing to the choices I make for myself.

In 2014, I started (and ended) a great relationship with someone I was friends with first. I don't normally do that, the friends thing. Usually my emotion (and sex drive) complicates a friendship from the beginning. I tried something new. It didn't work out, but I think we have a salvageable friendship at this point, and if nothing else, I learned a lot about what I want and what's important to me. Next year, I am challenging myself to take more risks, to think less and act more, and to remember that what I want is valid, no matter how crazy it may seem.

2015 is going to be a good year; I'm determined to make it that. It will be one of successes and failures, change and stability, growth and learning. I intend to push myself out of my comfort zone and tackle new challenges, because I'm bored with things the way they are. In 2015, I intend to put myself first and to never underestimate my own abilities.

Because after all, in 2014, I accomplished my lifelong dream: something I wrote was published, in a book. Which must mean I am ready to take on a new life dream.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let My Bad Shit Take Care of Your Bad Shit

Sometimes, I think that the reasons bad things happen to us, is so that when something bad happens to someone we love and care about, we know how to be there for them. Because after our own bad shit, we can truly empathize with someone else; we can know how they feel, understand what they're going through, and help get them to the other side.

As many of you have read, I had an ex-boyfriend die in a car accident several years ago. It was tragic and devastating, and there are days that my heart still aches for him. I think about him all the time, I talk to his friends because they make me think of him, and I have learned to only look back on our happy moments, not the break up.

Being "the ex" to someone who dies is a whole other level of confusion, because sometimes, things end badly. You have bad feelings. You say bad things. You may even have had a horrible final conversation in which words were exchanged that you probably didn't really mean. But you never think that there will be a day you can't take those things back.

Until that day is today. Until you realize that the last conversation the two of you had was negative and mean, hurtful, and a little painful.

One of my girlfriends is now in my boat. Her ex boyfriend passed away this week. And I can honestly say, I understand her grief. I have shared a similar experience and can talk to her in an empathetic way that (I hope) she finds helpful and comforting. There's a reason bad shit happened to me, and she is that reason. Because now I can help her. She wrote this last night, and it is eerily similar to what I wrote when Zach died. I am so proud of her for writing it, for feeling her feelings, for expressing herself, and for letting her heart be vulnerable.

So proud, I had to share her words:

He used to always tell me that you never really know what never means, so don't say it.  I think about that any time I think I am about to say "never."
He and I did not end well and people know that about us.  We did briefly have our time of getting along and being friends after we broke up, but then over time we drifted... then we had a pretty public Facebook fight that I ended up deleting and then I ended up unfriending him.  I don't regret that decision, it was right for me at the time.  But I never (there's that word again) thought that would be my very last interaction with him EVER.
I am extremely close to his family.  His brother is my My Best Guy Friend.  Momma C and I talk regularly over Facebook.
The news was so strange to take in at first.  Momma C messaged me in the middle of the night this very vague message that instantly worried me.  I wrote her back when my son woke me up and then again first thing in the morning and then I didn't hear back from her.  I messaged My Best Guy Friend out of worry even though I wasn't sure how worried I should be.  He hadn't heard anything.  I spent the day with increasing worry as I didn't hear back and I just KNEW it was bad.  My Best Guy Friend finally wrote me, said he was with his parents but that he would call me later.  Turns out I was teaching a group at the time he was planning to call--a total blessing in disguise.  Then My Best Guy Friend had to work and couldn't call.  Momma C got to me before I heard from My Best Guy Friend.  She apologized about not responding and explained that it was important to talk to family first, which I completely understand.  Then she told me "He is gone."
I went through all sorts of feeling.  Initially it was shock.  Then I got mad.  Then after my husband asked me multiple times how I'm feeling because he couldn't figure me out I finally burst into tears.  Of course that's around the time My Best Guy Friend called me.  And instead of being a strong friend to him, he ended up consoling me and I just kept saying "i'm so sorry."
It is such an amazing coincidence that I had plans to meet my parents at the beach.  I posted some pictures with "beach therapy" as the title because that's truly what it was.  I cried a lot over the weekend, but over time I felt soothed and relaxed.  By the time I got back home the random spells of tears stopped coming.  It's interesting to feel the transition that happened.  I have worked so hard to get over the bad times with him that I realized that I have completely forgotten about the good times we had.  People have messaged me stories and pictures and some of those happy memories have reminded me that I really loved the guy once upon a time.
No one has ever made me as angry as he has made me.  But it's time to let go of the anger.

She makes such a valid point about the necessity of letting things go. What I learned in losing Zach, is that it is unhealthy to focus on the negatives. Of course there were negatives, that's why we broke up. And of course there were bad times, there are bad times in every relationship. But there were also a lot of good times, and you have to make a conscious decision to focus on those moving forward, so that you don't bog yourself down with guilt. 

Being "the ex" to someone who dies is hard. It's awkward. It's confusing. People are weird at the funeral, and you feel an array of extra emotions that no one else is feeling. But at the same time, being "the ex" to someone who dies is special. It's something you have, just you, that nobody else has. It is your chance to have and experience more feeling, more emotion. It's important and heartbreaking and gut wrenching. It's an opportunity to let go of your bad feelings, your frustration and anger, and any negativity you've been holding on to.

Sometimes, bad shit happens to us, and the best thing we can do is to turn around and help a friend get through the same bad shit later. We can be a shoulder, be a sounding board, be a support. We can listen, empathize, offer advice and love. When bad shit happens to our friends that we've been through too, we can really step up and help them focus on the good, instead of on the bad. 

Because in the end, all that really matters, is the good shit. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Aren't Vampires Suppose to Catch Fire in the Sun?

I ran into my aunts this weekend at a holiday craft bazaar.

In a normal family, that would be literally, no big deal. In a normal family, I would have walked up and said hi, made some conversation, and maybe even spent some time with them at the event.

In a normal family, I would not have to debate whether I pretend I didn't see them, or to hide, or to walk up and punch them in the face.

In a normal family, running into your aunts at a craft bazaar is in no way a blog-worthy event.

I think it has already been established that my family is not a normal one.

Yesterday, I looked up from a craft table where I was admiring some bracelets, to see my aunts walking my way, my grandma in between them. And since I saw them before they saw me, I had several choices. Since my gut reaction to seeing someone I hate (and who hates me in return) is to duck and cover, I chose to walk the other direction and pretend I had not seen them. I didn't want to see them, or talk to them. or even walk past them pretending to not even recognize them.

For the record, it has been long enough since we've spoken, that not recognizing them could be a plausible argument.

In any case, I chose to hide and pretend I hadn't seen them. But then a few minutes later, I was trapped in a hallway where I was going and they were coming, and there was only one door. Shit! I was going to have to walk past them. Eye contact might even be made! FUCK!

At this point, I had another several options: blow off my grandma and stoop to their level, walking right by as if I didn't know them, or stop and say hi, which was the right thing to do being that my grandma was there too. So, with my heart racing and no desire to do so, I walked right up to the three of them, gave my grandma a hug, and said hello - just to her. I introduced her to my friend and asked her what she was doing up here in Vancouver, and after what seemed like an eternity (time slows down when two insane bitches are staring at you awkwardly not saying hello), told her I would see her soon and walked away.

Running into my aunts was inevitable at some point. In a ten year span is it really possible to not see someone who is genetically related to you, no matter how hard you try? But it was a good reminder of the moments when taking the high road actually becomes much more gratifying than running away and stopping to someone else's level. I could have hid from them, and I certainly could have just completely ignored them. I wanted to. But I also did not want to stoop to their level when it involved my grandma (even though they've spent their share of time discussing all the ways I mistreat her); my grandma did not deserve to be ignored just because she was in shitty company.

I have spent far too many years being hurt, sad, and angry by the way this family has unraveled. Seeing them was really a very good reality check that I have no reason to be hurt, sad, or angry anymore: these two women may as well have been complete strangers. I don't know them. They don't know me. I don't know where they live or what they do in their free time or on holidays. I don't know anything about them. They don't know me. They don't know what tragedies I have faced in the past six years, or the strength I have acquired after each one. They don't know that I am successful and happy, or that I am proud of myself for living the life I do. We don't know each other. And we don't need to.

I will always approach my grandma to say hi if I see her in public, regardless of how awkward other people make it. So go ahead and read this (I know you do), print it out and read it to each other over dinner, and try to find a way of twisting it into how I'm the bad guy. The reality is, you're the bad guys. You have successfully taken my grandma, my family, my support, away from me and have made me redefine all of that. I have spent several years attempting to find connection and to heal, and have only recently been able to let go of my intense feelings of anger, hurt, and honestly, hate.

You did that to me.

It is important to live your life in the company of people who care about you; people who support you and lift you up. For me, this has meant redefining what family means, rethinking what family is, and even reevaluating who belongs to mine. And it's been an uphill battle. It's been a series of stressful family events, a string of missed holidays, and a lot of hurt feelings. Because people in my family have hurt me, I've turned around and hurt other people by not showing up to holidays or by saying hurtful things. It's been a hard cycle, but in the end, I think it was inevitable. And running into these two strangers yesterday - two strangers who are blood related to me, who used to love me, who used to support me and lift me up - was the reminder I needed that I am living my life right.

I might even show up for a holiday next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Think I Hear Life Calling

I just got a new tattoo; technically, it's two tattoos, actually, but I got both in one sitting, and with the intention of them being seen as one piece. On my left forearm, I got the word free, in simple, pretty, wispy writing. On my right forearm, I got a hot air balloon, with a bird cage in place of the basket. The message with this tattoo, is a reminder that I need to always focus on being free, and not being caged or stuck in one place. I pride myself on my ability to make a decision and go with it, without having to consider what anyone else wants me to do. This is a new thing for me, and I have spent a significant amount of time working through my inability to choose for myself - the fact that I am now succeeding in following my own heart, is a big deal for me.

A few weeks ago, my therapist and I were talking about seasonal depression, the fact that I hate the rain, the fact that I have always lived in Oregon/SW Washington. She asked me, if in ten years I wake up and have never moved out of the state, would I regret that.

My immediate answer was, yes, of course.

If I never leave Oregon (or Vancouver), I will regret it. I don't want to live here my whole life. The more I think about it, the more excited I get about other places. The more it rains here, the more I complain about it, the more I wonder why I've never left before. Why I didn't to to college out of state, why I didn't move somewhere new when I was working for Old Chicago. I wonder what it is that holds me here. And the obvious answer is, my family. I have a huge, loving, fun, great family, and the majority of them live here in the Portland area. It would be hard for me to move away from my parents, my cousins, the toddlers. And yet, in my recent efforts to do what it takes to make myself the happiest, and to satisfy my own wants over anyone else's, is the physical proximity to my family enough reason to stay here?

Honestly? No.

When I took my most recent promotion, I committed to 12 months at the property; that will carry me to next fall. I am considering a move within my company, out of state, when this time commitment expires. I think it would be good for me to pack my stuff, buckle the cat into her crate, and hit the road to somewhere new. My homework in therapy this week is to Google 5 pros and 5 cons of living in my top choices: Phoenix, Boise, Denver, and Montana (I haven't narrowed down a city in Montana at all yet, nor have I looked up our properties there). So that's where I'm starting. Right now, it's an idea. A thought. Something I'm considering carefully. Something I'm listening to myself about.

If I never leave home, I will regret it. And I don't want to wake up in ten years and realize that I have those regrets. I am a free soul. I can go wherever I want, do whatever I want. I deserve to be happy and fulfilled, and I definitely deserve to choose my own adventures.

Whether it's moving out of a city, out of your state, out of the country, or whether it's something else entirely, I encourage you to think for yourself, and look for what satisfies your heart.

And then do it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I'm #AngryTyping Right Now

I make it a point to, for the most part, keep my professional life out of my blog. I think it's important that I don't log in at the end of a long day and complain about my job. The reality is, for the most part, I do like my job. I'm good at it. The mix of paperwork and customer service, along with the little bit of allowance to be a hard-ass bitch when necessary, is a great fit for my personality. But if I were to blog every time I had a hard day in the office, this blog would be a daily rant about the perils of property management.

Which actually, could be pretty entertaining. #bookidea.

Anyways, so in general, I keep my work rants to myself (and bitch about them to my coworkers).

That said, I was floored today after an interaction with a resident. Floored! My jaw hit the ground, and I was actually at a loss for words. Not because it was out of the ordinary or anything - this shit happens on the regular in my office, but just because I finally had this moment where all I could think was, what in the holy fuck is wrong with people?!?!

Basically, this woman in her early to mid fifties comes into the office and asks my assistant manager why she has a balance of six dollars on her account from the prior month. He pulls her account up and reviews it, and essentially, last month she simply did her fucking math wrong and was short on her utility check six bucks. No big fucking deal, just add six dollars to your new check, right?


She proceeds to argue about how she keeps meticulous records and carries on about all the reasons it must be our fault that she wrote the wrong amount on her check, and how she can't wait to move out of this place when her lease is up because I suck at my job and so does everyone else, and how the grounds look like crap with the leaves blowing everywhere, and the way that maintenance does everything they can to fuck her life up, and oh whoa the fuck is me and my sorry bull shit. So my assistant manager prints her account ledger to review with her where the - very simple and six fucking dollar - mistake was made, and lets her know she can simply write her check for an additional six bucks. No big deal, right?


She then proceeds to yell - full on yell - about how much she hates us, and goes storming out the door, muttering four letter words about how my assistant manager and everyone else in our office are nothing but dirty slutbag whores. But not until she has turned on one heel and SLAMMED the door to the office on her way out. And I am talking the type of door slam that someone does when they walk in on their boyfriend fucking someone else. The type of door slam only a toddler having a psychotic episode would muster. It was insane! She slammed the door so fucking hard, something fell off the door.

Again, it was not the instance that got me thinking. This honestly plays out in my office about once a week, with someone swearing or yelling, or threatening, or slamming the door. I usually laugh as they walk out, send them a notice letting them know they violated a lease policy about acting aggressively in the office, and go about my day. But today I just really started thinking more about it. About who the FUCK thinks it is acceptable to behave like a tornado for no fucking reason. Since when are we such an entitled population of fucking ass holes, that we think it is acceptable to fly off the handle on an innocent bystander? We, as people in general, take no responsibility for our own actions and simply place all the blame on other people instead of on ourselves. We do not admit fault or guilt, but instead make excuses. And then, after we are complete and total dickheads, we turn around and slam fucking doors! Because goddammityouwillfuckinghearmewheniammad!!

Today was one of those days that I left work feeling not just defeated as a property manager, but as a human. Today made me sad for mankind in general. Today made me embarrassed to be a living, breathing person existing among other living breathing people who act in a way that anyone with a soul would find offensive.Today was a reminder that we are surrounded by arrogance, by people who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. And it pissed me off.

I think I'll slam a door. Because, noise makes a point.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Puddle Stomping. Because, MUD!

They say that the definition of crazy is the act of repeating the same behavior over and over, expecting a different outcome.

Sounds almost like the definition of tradition, where we repeat the same thing over and over, right? Except with traditions, we expect the same outcome repeatedly, as opposed to a different one.

Honestly, they both sound a little nutty.

But, I am a girl who likes tradition. Traditions - specifically family ones - make me feel warm and fuzzy, remind me of what it was like being a little girl in a huge family, and let me get excited for holidays and birthdays, as well as the wintertime in general (which, with my disdain for Oregon's rainy climate, is welcomed). Call me crazy, I like a good tradition.

Prime example? The Sauvie's Island pumpkin patch, where my family has spent a rainy, cold, weekend October morning since the dawn of time. Or at least since I can remember. Our parents would bundle us up, put us in our boots, and head all the way there, where we could check out the animal barn, maybe have some corn on the cob or a hot chocolate, and take a bumpy hay ride out to a field, where we got to pick out our perfect pumpkins. This has long been a favorite family tradition of mine, because it's one that kicks off the holiday season, and because my cousin Stacey and I always had such a great time together, planning the day (except those couple of years we hated each other's guts, but we just leave those days out).

When we were younger, the whole family would go, and we would always head back - wet and muddy - to BBQ at Grandma and Grandpa Stacey's house. We'd change into dry clothes, eat chips and hot dogs, and play in the back yard or climb the honey tree. Every year, we never missed it, and every year, it was my favorite thing about the fall. Stacey and I had a strange love of puddle stomping (okay technically we still do), and it seemed to be the one day that the whole family had nowhere else to be, so we could spend hours on end together.

Stacey and I have made an effort to continue this tradition into adulthood, even when it's just her and I. It's still a great day, always. The past few years, it's ended up being just us and Blake, her parents and my mom, and we've continued to enjoy our cold, wet, muddy days in the animal barn and on the tractor ride. And it has continued to be my favorite fall tradition - one that Blake and I talk about, because I hope he has the same love for it.

Blake has been to the pumpkin patch exactly four times in his three years of life. The first year, we tried a new patch; he was a newborn and I spent the day with him in the front pack (I love to wear babies), and the way he now describes this trip is, "that day I throwed up on you, auntie." The next year, we went back to Sauvie's Island, because we missed it; and at about 14 months old, he came running from the barn and for the first time, shouted "VERONICA!!" And then proceeded not to say it again for about a year. Last year, I bought him a bag of popcorn the size of his whole body and said he could carry it but to wait to open it until we were in the car - he dumped half of it in the mud after not listening to me. And this year, on the tractor ride, he says "This sure is bumpy...if we all off, do you think they'll leave us here??" I love seeing the way he enjoys it, and the way he remembers things from the year before - he remembers there was an animal barn and a tractor from the year before, and I love it.

I am a girl who likes a good tradition. But I am learning that what I really like the best about those traditions, is feeling like I have a complete family, a place where I am always loved and supported and taken care of, and a group of people who want to make an effort to be together. I appreciate so much that my mom's family still has that - it doesn't happen as often, and there are sometimes people who have to miss it, but overall, we still all make that effort to be together, to be laughing and having fun, and to be a family. I am just so eternally grateful for my mom and her family, my cousins and their babies, and my role in our big, loud, fun family unit.

So, today (and most days) I am thankful for the traditions I grew up with, the ones that were important to me as a kid that are still important to me now, the ones that change a little over time, the ones that stay exactly the same, and the ones that are starting out as new ones. Happy Thanksgiving to the family I love the very most!

Jingle My Bells

I've had a hard time finding the holiday spirit this year; I've been stressed in a new position at work, my family cancelled our big Thanksgiving, I am not celebrating with my dad's family, and I've just been feeling quite *blah* the past few weeks.

In discussing this lackluster holiday spirit in therapy this week, I learned that following the loss of someone important, anniversaries of that loss are prone to affect you psychologically, likely forever. We talked a lot about how my holidays have looked over the past five years since losing Grandma and Grandpa, and it was actually really interesting to see that no matter what else has been going on in my life - good or bad - I have had a rough time getting through the month of November in one piece. And based on what I've learned about the psychological effect of loss on the brain, I most likely always will. So be it. 

And yet, despite that I have been in an overall bad mood, I am still reminded of all that I have to be thankful for this year. Because in all honesty, my life - even when I'm stressed or sad - is pretty damn good. My world is full of love and support, and I can recognize that I have so much to be happy about, even when I am feeling sad. 

I am especially thankful this year, for a new level of financial independence. I moved in on site at my property, got a roommate, and then followed it up with three pay increases. I finally have a cushion, a fall back, some wiggle room. I have been able to help people out when they've needed it, or treat my staff to a nice lunch when they earned it. I have been able to buy a new car, pay off some medical bills, and even take some vacations. I finally feel like I am not on the verge of financial breakdown with something as simple as a flat tire, and that is a huge relief - and one that I am really damn proud of and grateful for. 

I continue to be thankful for my family, for all of the love and support I get from them. There is no shortage of love in my family, even though I have had to grieve the "loss" of what my family used to look like. I am grateful that through the past year of therapy I have been able to adequately grieve and move on from those people who used to be a part of my family and my life, who never will be again, It feels so comforting to know that I am no longer angry and that I have processed these losses in the most healthy way possible. Additionally, it feels even better to know that the people who I choose to allow into my life, have my back, love me, and will support me with the decisions I make for myself. Goodbye and good riddance to those who don't, right? 

I find myself more and more thankful for Kattie and Rachel - my girlfriend and my wifey - almost daily. It is so hard as an adult to make such awesome friendships, and the longer I know them, the more amazed I am by each of them. They make me a better, stronger, healthier, more stable person. They're supportive, they're genuine, they're encouraging, and they're always there - no matter what - when I call. Plus, they celebrate Man Candy Friday with me, so there's definitely that! 

I am thankful for so many things in my life this year - for new and continuing relationships, for new, strong friendships, for lessons learned, moments I'll always remember, dates, trips, vacations, lazy days. In a season that I seem to struggle to stay positive, it makes it a lot easier when I am able to reflect on how much good I have, and really, just to take a second to be truly appreciative of those things. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fuck Yourself This Christmas

Last I checked, I live in America. Last I checked, America is a free country. I mean, don't get me wrong; I'm not jaded enough to think we live in the best country in the world anymore - there's a lot of fucked up shit going on in America, and I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets better. But whatever your political agenda may be, we can all agree that we are technically, a free people.

Every year, as I scour the shelves for "holiday" cards to send to my residents that do't depict Santa, or show a manger, or have the word God or Blessed in the sentiment, and that don't say Merry Christmas, I get fucking pissed. And this year, while trying to plan a holiday movie night event for the property I work at, as I search through lists of Christmas movies looking for one with no religious Catholic/Christian tones, I am - once again - fucking pissed.

This. Is. Fucking. America.

Since when can I not utter the word Christmas in my office?!

I fucking hate political correctness. Hate it. I hate trying to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas "just in case" I offend someone. Guess what - I don't actually give two flying fucks if you are offended! I celebrate Christmas. If I wish you a Merry Christmas, that simply means I am thinking of the season and hope you have a good fucking day. Be a normal person, say thanks, and move the fuck on! If you want to live somewhere that people don't celebrate Christmas, move to - I don't even know...the fucking MOON?! It' Christmas. It's a holiday. I didn't invite you to go to church with me, didn't tell you I'd pray to my Catholic God to try and spare your heathen soul - I simply said, Merry Christmas. Fuck, I don't even go to church. I don't pray. I am pretty much the same heathen you are - so get the fuck over yourself, and stuff your political correctness right up your politically correct ass!

This tirade isn't even really just about Christmas. It's the whole thing. It's the being politically correct in general. I fucking hate it. I don't care about who I offend. I celebrate Christmas, but I wouldn't be offended if I were wished a Hannakuh - I'd just say THANK YOU! It's like when I sneeze and someone says, bless you...I don't tort back that I don't believe in religion. I just say THANKS!

It's the whole fucking thing. It's the people who walk into my office and are mad that I don't speak another language - you know, I had a guy yesterday say, "But your name is Veronica; you should speak Spanish." Oh, okay because that's not a fucking ignorant thing to say?! It's the people who live at my property who argue that they don't have to abide by the rules of their lease because it's in English and they don't speak English (side note, if you don't understand what you are signing, you probably should not fucking sign it). I'm sorry, learn the fucking language of the country you move to. If I moved to Germany, I wouldn't be so fucking ignorant to think I don't need to learn German...I'd fucking learn to speak German! It's the people who are offended by Halloween decorations or Trick-or-Treaters, or who are mad our office is closed on Easter Sunday. You know what? Fuck off. I don't care that you don't celebrate Halloween; I don't get mad at you about it. Don't try to ruin my good time. I don't show up outside of a Catholic church every Sunday morning with a picket sign because I don't believe the Catholic church's pro-life agenda - I just don't. fucking. go. You don't want to see kids in Halloween costumes? Stay home. Keep your kid home from school for the day. You don't want to see anything Christmas related? Blindfold yourself from October through January and get the fuck over it. You live in America, where Christmas is a commercial holiday, and you're going to have to grow some and deal with it.

And then don't be mad when I send you a Christmas card with the sentiment "fuck yourself" scribbled in it. Because by the time I am ready to write my Christmas cards, I am already just fucking pissed that I had to dig for one that was written in six languages, that also didn't have a picture of Santa or an elf or a reindeer or a present or a stocking on it, and that didn't say Merry Christmas inside, and that basically was a plain white, blank sheet of paper, on which I can write nothing but "fuck yourself this Christmas."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Got Me With #NoFilter

Every so often, you meet someone amazing, and you become friends. Good friends. Great friends, even. You find yourself talking more and more, to the point that you are spending hours a day talking to this new friend; you're clearly ready to move on from the current property you manage since you've got this much time on your hands, but you talk non-stop. Eventually you find that on those rare days that you don't get to talk as much, you miss your friend. As time goes on and you continue to talk more, you find that this person is one who really understands you; he picks your brain, he makes you think. He compliments your mind and your personality, and he encourages you to take chances. He's an amazing friend because he makes your entire world a better place to be.

At some point, your friendship begins to cross some boundaries, to step over some lines. You and your friend are spending more time together, you're kissing, you're sleeping in each other's beds. You're spending whole weekends together, and you're starting to meet each other's friends. You're jealous of the other girls he talks about (and you've written off the other guys you were talking about), and you surprise even yourself with the amount of time you're spending thinking about his arms, his eyes, his lips. You find that he's someone who really gets you - he hates dogs and doesn't want to have kids, and his family may just be as fucked up as yours. He wants to travel, likes to read, and loves the beach, just like you. He slowly becomes the safety net that lets you be vulnerable like you've never been, and he lets you make plans to calm his impulsiveness. And then out of nowhere, despite your fear of rejection, your fear of having your heart trampled, your fear of letting someone into your soul, you finally admit to yourself that you're falling in love with your friend - and your heart skips a beat when he reciprocates the sentiment, and asks you to be his more-than-friend - doesn't even ask really, just makes a statement.

And in that moment, you don't think you could be any happier.

Until you get happier.

He takes you to the beach and spends the weekend laughing with you, ordering fancy drinks with you, letting you paint his fingernails hot pink...letting you all the way in. He goes out of town with you, he meets your family and doesn't hate them - hell, he even says great things about them (something you rarely even do). He continues to make you think, continues to push you to your limits when you're scared. And you believe that you're doing the same for him - that when something scares him, you're able to help him see through to the other side of his fear, that he feels the same support you do.

Truth be told, part of what makes you feel so safe, so secure, is that you were friends first, and you know each other. You know the way each other thinks; the way each other's minds work. He knows that you're a control freak and that living with someone else is your biggest fear, and you know he's impulsive, and that he wants to move away and take a lot of big risks. When you're just friends, those things don't matter. They're not a big deal, and you tend to make fun of each other about them. But suddenly, when you're in a relationship, trying to find a groove as a pair instead of two individuals, these things start to play a role. They make you question whether you'll ever be able to heal from the last time you moved in with someone, and you wonder what it would be like to go somewhere new together, somewhere neither of you has ever been. And you lay in bed next to him at night, wondering if he's wondering the same things.

That's the trouble with love. The trouble with love, is that the things that never mattered, maybe kind of matter. The trouble with love, is that you have to compromise and you have to consider someone else - what they think, how they feel. And suddenly, the fact that someone wants to live alone or move away, or the fact that one of you is scared of commitment or afraid of letting go, all start to be more important. The trouble with love, is that individual realities sometimes don't mesh, can't connect. Sometimes there is an inequality of feelings or of passion, that makes one of you unable to take the leap. Sometimes one of you isn't ready for shit to get this real; sometimes, honestly, neither one of you is. The trouble with love, is that sometimes love is a real bitch, that does nothing but give you several amazing months with someone, only to eventually not be enough. And then there are the times that it gets particularly painful - the times that you spend making a friend, being a friend, having a friend, only to ruin it by falling in love with your best friend. That's the real trouble with love; the real trouble with love is that it is so big that it has the potential to wreck everything in its path when it doesn't work. To work on maintaining that friendship if the relationship can't succeed, takes an immense and selfless effort - on both sides - and sometimes that won't be enough (though sometimes it will).

Every so often, you meet someone amazing, and you become friends. Good friends. Great friends, even. And in the midst of building your friendship with this amazing person, you often let your feelings grow, let your guard down. Eventually you realize that your capacity for love is there, and that your ability to be passionate is there, even though you're terrified, even though you're guarding it. My advice? Don't guard it. Don't protect it. If you're in love with someone, tell them. Be brave. Be willing to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Be open to their new ideas, the way they make decisions and the way they think. Let yourself be passionate; put it all on the table. Communicate openly, be honest, and let yourself love - and be loved - the way that feels best to you. If they're impulsive, relish in that; take a leap with them even when you normally wouldn't. If they're nervous or protected, watch for those moments where they let it all out in front of you, and know that it means they trust you more than anyone else. Because in the end, you'll want to be able to say, I let you all the way in. I was scared, but I didn't let it stop me. You got all of me, #nofilter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't Let the Monkeys Run Your Life

I'm scared.

Of a lot of things.

When people ask me what I'm most afraid of, I always answer the same: monkeys and outhouses.

And on a surface level, that's very true. I am actually very afraid of monkeys, and I am very, very afraid of outhouses. I would argue that I have good reason for both of these insane fears. For one, I was attacked by a monkey at a California zoo as a baby. A small monkey bolted over to my stroller, where it proceeded to head butt me and steal my bottle right from my hands.

Yes, that really did happen.

Then when I was 19, I had an incident in an outhouse that involved a pitch dark night and a stranger's poop. At the end of the story, I rode home in my friend's truck, naked and wrapped in a blanket, after shedding all of my clothes on the side of the highway. Needless to say, I now only use outhouses in the broad daylight, I don't shut the door and therefore make someone stand guard outside, and if there is any (and I do mean any) other place to pee, I use it.

Yes, that also really did happen.

People who don't know me well, get that answer. I'm afraid of monkeys and outhouses. And they move forward, not knowing me, thinking that I have two ridiculous stories ending in entertaining fears, and I move forward, letting them think that that's it.

But then there are the people who take the time to know me for real, who know what I am really scared of. The people who have sat with me and a bottle of wine for hours, the people who have invested in me, the people who have been by my side when I've needed them; these are the people who know that my fears go beyond monkeys and outhouses. These are the people who know I am afraid of losing control and of letting someone all the way in.

Those are my real fears, the ones that really give me a run for my money.

I'm afraid of losing control. I talk to my therapist about this one twice a month, on average, more often when I am dealing with a lot of change at once. I have come far enough to recognize it, to feel what triggers it, and to be aware of it...and also to sometimes have a laugh at myself for it. As an example, I recently decided to get a roommate, and I rented half my apartment to a girl who was moving out of her parents' house for the first time. This was ideal for me, because I have furniture and appliances and dishes and decor...and she doesn't. So essentially, our apartment is furnished with my stuff, with the obvious exception of her bedroom. Recently, she acquired a chair. A chair that sits at the dining room table. So, as anyone else would, she put her new chair out in the dining room, and now we have three chairs at the table - two that I bought with the table, that match...and one random one that doesn't. And this chair has become my nemesis. When I am doing dishes, I stare at it. It bothers me. Not because it's ugly, but because it bothers me that someone else's stuff is in my dining room. Now, mind you this person pays rent, is a legal lease holder on our shared apartment, and has every right to buy a chair and put it wherever she wants. And I'm not mad about it by any means; it just bugs me when I think about it. Because really, I just don't want anyone else to have any control over my life, and somehow this damn chair seems to trigger a time in my life where someone else was controlling my entire existence.

And yes, I realize this makes me sound like a total psycho.

I am also afraid of letting someone into my soul far enough that they could hurt me. People do that, the whole hurting other people thing. Sometimes they even do it intentionally. I've had people hurt me on accident, and I've had people hurt me intentionally. And it's definitely the intentional hurting that stays with you; the fact that someone would maliciously seek out a way to cause you pain. But they're out there, those people. So I feel the need to be cautious.

Unfortunately, that need to protect myself, to protect my heart, often gets in my way. And it gets in my way in ways that I don't see coming at first, sometimes not until it's too late. Sometimes I don't even realize I have my emotional arm up, that I am still guarding some part of me, that's I'm keeping my distance. And it's always the worst when someone you care about has to be the one to point it out, like there's someone out there who is working hard enough to get all the way in, that they're the one who notices when you're making it impossible.

Regardless of how scary it is, there comes a point in your life that you have to let your past shit go. When you have to look your fears in the face and say fuck it. When you have to let your roommate buy a chair you don't like and stop looking at it with dismay on your way out the door in the morning. When you have to look at that person who is working their hardest to know you, and make the choice to let them in. Fear will always be there, trying to hold you back, trying to keep you down. Are you going to let it win? Are you going to let your fear win? Or are you going to make a conscious decision to do what you know feels good, despite any fear of failure or heartache or anything else?

It's okay to be afraid of ridiculous things, like monkeys or spiders or public bathrooms. It's even okay to be afraid of real things, like falling in love with someone you could love forever or moving into an apartment with that person, or even walking away from the things you know and trying something new. Fear is a normal thing, a healthy thing. But it's not okay to be controlled by your fear, and it's not okay to let your fears control your life.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I still have no intention of hanging out with any monkeys...

I'm just never gonna be ready for that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crazy Brain is a Crazy Bitch

"It's called a breakup because it's broken." I don't have any ex boyfriends out there who I am still pining for, who I wish I was still with, or who frequently cross my mind (or my path) for any reason. Each of my individual relationships ended for good reason, at a good time, when they were no longer benefiting my life or making me a better person. I have had relationships end because they were simply not satisfying any longer, because they were boring, because of cheating and lying, and because of abuse that I was no longer able to tolerate. I have also had relationships end simply because one of the two of us had lost interest or were not ready for an adult relationship. Across the board, though, each of my relationships was - and is - over for a reason, and I am not left with any regret or wonderment over the classic, what if.

None of the guys I have dated in the past are a staple in my life presently. And I feel that with most of my friends, that statement reigns true. Very few people I know (or have known) maintain relationships with ex boy or girlfriends. Because, it's called a breakup because it's broken. There is a reason you are no longer with this person, so why would you continue on some feeble effort to maintain some weird friendship after a romantic relationship did not succeed? For most of us, we don't. We wash our hands, we say goodbye, and we move forward as best we can, attempting to heal from the wounds in place well enough to be successful in the next relationship we find ourselves. And even in the instances where a friendship does remain possible, that friendship is only possible because you were able to get out before you got too far in; before you got to that point of no return. 

So, knowing what we know about how people generally feel about their exes, what is it that continues to make us jealous of those exes? Why are we jealous over a Facebook post or a Snapchat, and why are we nervous or uncomfortable running into someone's ex? Why do we care what they're saying or doing, what they're texting or emailing? Knowing that we are the one in the current relationship, the one making our partner's life better, why does it matter so much what their ex is doing?

Our logical brain tells us, it doesn't. It really doesn't matter. I could run into all of my ex boyfriends in one day, and it would be like any other day, albeit a bit more awkward. But seeing any one of them at a party or running into them somewhere does not change the fact that they are, in fact, an ex; a person from my past who no longer matters in my present. I could get an email from anyone I've ever broken up with today, and it would have literally zero to do with how deeply content I am with the man who woke up next to me this morning. Whether someone finds me on Facebook or reads my blog, has no relevance in my current relationship. And I assume the same is true for most of us. Our logical brain knows that we really don't care what is happening in the world of our ex boy or girlfriend, and that what matters lies in our current relationship.

Keeping our logic just out of reach, however, is our jealous and/or crazy brain, trying to convince us that is does matter. Crazy brain wants to know why you're friends with your ex on Facebook, or what they could possibly be sending you in a Snapchat - I mean, come on, we all know Snapchat was invented for the sole purpose of sexting without evidence! Crazy brain wants it to bother you, wants it to drive you mad, wants it to piss you off. And crazy brain tends to be stronger, faster, louder than logical brain. Which is ultimately why we sometimes do find ourselves caring about (and being jealous of) the ex. Because crazy brain easily takes control and takes over, and because we often don't even see it coming until it's too late: until we're fully jealous over nothing.

It can be hard to reign in our crazy brain, but our current relationships - and our lives in general, really - are so much better when we get a handle on it and live more in our logical brain. Am I suggesting that I am never jealous, never crazy, never upset about something I read on Facebook? Of course not. I'm human, and it happens. But when it does happen, I have a couple of choices to make. Do I choose to let crazy brain take over and ruin our day, making it hard to maintain any sane level or normalcy? Or do I choose to get it together and remind myself that everyone has a past, and that the past sometimes makes a slight appearance in the present?

Everyone has a past. And truthfully, we all carry baggage from the past into our future; maybe running into someone's ex, or having to meet them at an event, or seeing them on Facebook or Snapchat, is just another means of the baggage we chose to accept in our partner. When you start a relationship with someone, you do take on some of their past - maybe they are afraid of commitment, or maybe the idea of moving in with you is both exciting and simultaneously really frightening, or maybe they've been cheated on or pushed around. Whatever it may be, we all have baggage, we all have triggers, and the person who takes that on, accepts it. The same goes both ways - when I take on a new relationship, I am accepting that person for their past, present, and future, and that includes the messy parts.

The truth is, perfection does not exist. And if it did, it would be insanely boring. I can't imagine a perfect world, with a cookie cutter house and white picket fence, with a perfect boy waiting for me to present him with a perfect meal day in and day out. Perfection isn't real; messy is real. Messy is passionate and deep. Messy is what you fall in love with, the type of love that leaves you tangled in the sheets, wrapped up in each other's arms and legs, at the end of the day. So maybe you have to deal with someone's ex, and maybe they have to deal with yours, but that's just a little bit of mess that connects the two of you on a level you didn't realize you could ever have.

Just remember that at the end of the day, you're with someone who is in love with you; be in love with them back.

Don't let your crazy brain win.

Money Can't Buy Time

At this time five years ago, I lost both of my grandparents, within just a couple of months of each other. It was a hard period of time for my family, and continues to be an emotional time of year for me. I miss them each individually, but I also miss the way they fit into the tight knit dynamic that is ever present in our growing family.

My mom's parents were amazing people. When we were little, they played with us, went sledding with us down their steep driveway in the snow, let us come over, fed us well, and filled our lives with memories that I still think of fondly. As we grew up and they moved to the coast, they allowed us to come visit, spend time, camp out in their yard, and bring armies of friends, boyfriends & girlfriends, and pets with us for weekends away from Portland. There was no shortage of love, quality time, or laughs in their house, and it quickly became my favorite place to spend weekends after I was able to drive and had a car of my own. 

Would you rather: Have more time, or have more money

At this time every year, I wish I would have had more time to spend with my grandma and grandpa; this one is simple, really - I would rather have more time. 

Where does money really get you anyway? Is it a necessary evil to survive, to pay bills, to feed & clothe yourself? Of course. But it is the root of any happiness? No, not at all. I mean, I suppose it contributes - without money, life would be pretty bleak, and I would argue that in the past year or so that I have finally had more of a disposable income and more ability to both spend and save, things are less stressful. But money certainly does not buy happiness on any level. 

I am far more concerned about the time I spend with people, than what I am spending to do so. I don't need to go out to dinner or see a concert, or to take lavish vacations in order to enjoy the company of someone in my life. I am often content to lay in silence in my boyfriend's arms after a home-cooked meal (yea, I make food sometimes now, it's a new thing). I enjoy long walks outside with my girlfriends or dinner at home with my mom & dad. There is more to life than things you have to pay for, and often times the ones you don't have to pay for end up being the best ones anyway. 

For the cost of half of a tank of gas in my '91 Toyota Tercel, I was able to spend years of weekends with my grandparents while they were here; I can't imagine not having those memories, those stories to think over when I visit the beach house now that they're gone. It didn't take a lot of money for me to have those weekends, to sit on the couch and watch TV with Grandpa, or to take a walk on the beach with Grandma. But it took time. Time I could have spent with friends or at the movies or at the mall. Time I preferred to spend with my cousins. 

Money doesn't buy anything as important as time. Sometimes that best thing you can do for yourself, is to make time for yourself, and then to make some time for someone else. Because in the end, you won't have any of the stuff you spent your money on, but you'll be able to find peace in knowing that the people in your life knew you valued your time with them.