A Different Kind of Independence Day

independence day domestic abuse

I’ve been quiet in this space for a while, taking an unintentional hiatus through the last months of this school year. I think I’ve had such a hard time writing anything because in my heart I knew the words I needed to write, but I was too afraid to let them go out into the world. Today, it’s time.

I moved to this city in a mix of excitement and feelings of absolute terror. I was lost in the beginning stages of a completely unhealthy relationship. The “I’m so sorry” and “It’ll never happen again” sayings were plentiful and I believed it. I didn’t see the push to move here as the isolating move that it was- I couldn’t have. And I was silent about it, unable to tell anyone what was happening. In public we had the perfect relationship. In public, he treated me like the only woman in the world. I felt ashamed of myself and it got worse as time passed and his words and actions made me feel more small and insignificant.

After moving here it all became more frequent and more severe. He became a man I no longer knew, but would fight for all the same. His actions became unspeakable, and yet I stayed. I stayed and fought for too long. And he controlled and hurt again and again until I finally was able to stand up. To drive away and not go back. To tell small pieces of what happened to close friends. To live again.

Now, I refuse to live in the shadow of his abuse. I refuse to live in this city in fear or seeing him or being reminded that he had that kind of control. He doesn’t have it anymore.

I do.

I moved here because of one of the greatest opportunities I could ask for. A prestigious program that allows me to get this master’s degree while still teaching the children that I love. I am in a city full of beauty and culture and am surrounded by people who I love and who love me back.

I may have come to Chicago partially under the worst of circumstances, but now, a year later, I’m ok. This city is not his. I am not his.

This is mine.

#HappyIndependenceDay

#HappyAnniversaryToMe

Coffee Date | On my heart

coffee date

Join me for a bit, won’t you? I suppose it’s time for a coffee date to do some explaining and some chatting. As I sit in this airport on my way from Atlanta to Idaho, I could use a good cup of coffee and some time sitting comfortably, so let’s just imagine we’re there instead, ok?

If you follow me on social media, you know I’m on Spring Break right now (teacher perks!) and I took some time to travel to Atlanta to visit friends and today I’m heading home to Idaho to see my family for the rest of the week. Then I’ll be heading back to Chicago to finish out the school year! This trip has already been a whirlwind, and it has been the most healing, healthy thing in the world for me. After being sick for almost a month, I’m finally feeling like I’m on my way to healing and feeling better.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being busy is nothing new for me. I thrive off of being busy, but maybe I’ve taken on a little too much lately. I’m now working 6 days a week teaching. I absolutely love teaching and working with all my kids, but of course, this is a job that doesn’t end when the time clock officially says it does. It begins at least an hour beforehand and usually allows me to leave about an hour after- only to go home and continue the planning and preparation there. It is the best job, and I know I am lucky to have it, but oh, it is exhausting. Pile all of this on top of grad school classes and attempting to keep up with that, and I’m wiped.

If we were having coffee, I’d admit that I’m feeling like it’s all a bit much. Emotionally, it is tiring because as much as I do and as much as I feel like I am working as much as I can, there is so much more to be done and so much that I simply can’t do. There is a certain type of guilt that comes along with that that I try to ignore and logically know shouldn’t be there. Then again, we all know that sometimes feelings don’t follow logic.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being in Atlanta these past few days has left everything in me pulling me back toward this city. From the climate to the culture, this is my city. This is where I became an adult and while I am grateful for the opportunity to be living in Chicago now, I’m just not convinced that Chicago is for me long term.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you in on the fact that I’ve been thinking a lot about the different relationships in my life lately. I’ve been in my element with my people here in Atlanta, and it has been beautiful. These are the people that I can skip the small talk with and get straight down to what’s on my heart and what I need to talk through. These are the people that get it, and get me on every level. Of course I have good friends in Chicago that I love dearly, but it’s not quite the same. My Chicago friends are some of the best people I’ve ever met and I am lucky to have them, but again, it’s just a little different.

Now, it’s important for me to know what’s going on in your life as well. How are you, really? What’s been on your heart lately?

7 Things You Never Have to Justify to Anyone

7 things you never have to justify

Especially for women, it seems everyone always has an opinion about our lives. From our money to our bodies to our feelings, the general community seems to think we own them an explanation of our actions and decisions. The thing is, these decisions and actions are ours and ours alone, and we just don’t have to justify them.

We don’t owe anyone an explanation.

1. Your definition of success/ your career choice. It’s yours, not theirs. Just because success to some means a corner office and a downtown high rise apartment doesn’t mean you can’t be just as successful in your one bedroom apartment doing a job you love.

2. Not looking perfect every day. No need to apologize for not having on makeup or not getting dressed to the nines all the time (or any of the time, for that matter). Sometimes makeup and real outfits just aren’t going to happen. It’s ok.

3. Your relationship status. Single and lovin’ it? Yay! Single and minglin’? Yay! In a relationship and so in love? Yay!

4. Crying. You know what? Your emotions are valid. You’re not crazy for crying; you’re not over-emotional. It happens, we’re human.

5. How much you are eating. You’re hungry? Great, eat something. Feel like a burger? Great, eat it, even if the girl next to you is ordering a salad. Feel like a salad? Awesome. Eat it, even if the girl next to you is chowing on some wings. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, you’re good!

6. On that note- your weight. I’m all about the body positivity around here. Skinny, fat, in between, whatever. Own it. Work it. You’re awesome.

7. Being a basic ….. you know the rest. I could write a whole post solely on why this whole hating on women for liking the same things as other women is dumb. Especially because many of the things that are considered “basic” are things that make us feel good- like Starbucks, manicures, and leggings and oversized sweaters.

What other things can you think of that we just don’t need to justify to anyone anymore?

Weekly Wishes | The Return

weekly wishes

Today is Monday and Monday is for goals.

Now, I know I can and should make a really good excuse for why I’ve been away from blogging for a while but the absolute truth is that other priorities have come up and blogging has just fallen to the wayside. Busy is an understatement. Tired doesn’t even come close. But content- yes, content works. Things are going. Life is moving. And while some things are difficult, I am happy that I have been given this life to live. I can’t promise that I’ll be back to blogging steadily now. I will say that I’ll try!

This past weekend was the most wonderful. I traveled down to Kentucky to visit a college friend and had fun brunching, getting our nails done, and celebrating St. Patrick’s day with her co-workers there! Now I’m back in Chicago and ready to go back to work tomorrow. Only a few more weeks till Spring Break!

Anyway. Goals, right? Let’s set some.

|ONE| Blog at least one more time this week. Starting with something!

|TWO| Get to the gym 3 times this week! I only went once last week because I’ve been sick but I feel like I need to go to kick out this last bit of sickness!

|THREE|Take my vitamins every day. I slacked off on these too while I was sick (counter-intuitive, maybe) and lost the habit, so I need to be better about this again! I always have more energy and feel better in general when I take vitamins.

I’ll keep it at that for this week.

What are your goals for this week? Let me know so I can cheer you on too!

Taking Stock | Currently

taking stock currently

Just popping in before the weekend to check in with myself, and you, by taking stock of what’s going on right now. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

Currently:

Making : craft preparations for next week. My classroom is about to have lots of pots of gold hanging in it!
Cooking : Nothing, I’m about to hop in my car and head to Kentucky for the weekend!
Drinking : Hot tea & honey. My throat is still a bit sore from being sick.
Reading: The Reason I Jump. Excellent book, especially for those of us who care for and love children with autism.
Wanting: to be able to breathe regularly through my nose again!
Looking: Forward to more spring weather! It’s finally bearable to be outside and my soul is so happy for it.
Wishing: For these next few weeks to FLY. I can’t wait for spring break and seeing my family!
Enjoying: Sweet moments with my kids. They may drive me wild some days but they are the brightest lights in this world, and I try to consciously be appreciative of the time I have with them.
Waiting: For the dryer to finish so I can pack up those clothes and take some with me for the weekend!
Wondering: What kind of fun Laura and I will find this weekend!
Loving: Everything having to do with #fireworkpeople. I am so lucky to have found this incredible community of women. 
Hoping: For a smooth day for my co-teacher. I hate missing work and leaving her alone in the classroom! She is more than capable, I just know it’s not the best feeling.
Needing: To do my taxes. Oops.
Smelling: The new air freshener I put in my room the other day. Fresh linen smells just make my day!
Wearing: Yoga pants and a sweatshirt, I should probably change…
Following: Along with currently events thanks to the Skimm
Noticing: How much better my mood is in general when the sun is shining. Ahhhhh.
Thinking: About my weekend to-do list before the weekend has even started… Oh boy.
Bookmarking: Lots of blog posts on Bloglovin’ that I haven’t had time to read but I want to go back to!
Giggling: Over texts and puppy pictures from the family. The best.
Feeling: Pretty darn good about life.

It’s Cold Around Here, #FrostyVoxBox Review

frosty review

This winter has been so cold. #NewsFlash However, the Frosty Vox Box has helped make things a little cozier and more comfortable around here.

I received a variety of products to review in this box, including: Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover, Rimmel Scanaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner, NYC New York Color Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum, Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea, Boots No7 Protect & Perfect ADVANCED #getadvanced, McCormick Gourmet All Natural Thyme, Fruit Vines Bites Strawberry, and the EcoTools Sleek + Shine hair brush. Woo!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember me using a lot of these things while traveling home for the holidays. The eyeliner, lip color, and hair brush all went to good use the day of my flight. They had me travel ready in no time! I used the Serum the night before and my skin felt fresh and ready in the morning!

IMG_20141220_114650

 

Now, I’m not beauty blogger (though I wish I had half their skills!) but this eyeliner is EVERYTHING. Since trying it here I’ve used it just about every day and plan on buying the same brand again soon. I’m in love. It glides on smoothly and stays right where it should. I haven’t had any problems with smearing or fading since using it! I can make the lines as thin or thick as I want. I love that it’s so versatile. I can wear it to work and then make it much more bold when going out with friends!

I also threw the fruit vines in my carry-on. They made the perfect snack on my layover! Instead of having to buy expensive and not-so-tasty airplane or airport food, I was able to just grab these babies and wait until I got home!

IMG_20141220_203804

 

To top it all off, I was also given tea by celestial seasonings. My favorite tea is their honey vanilla chamomile, so of course I had to do a little taste test to see which one I liked best! I liked the minty-ness of the candy cane tea but I have to say- I think I’ll stick with my favorite! The taste wasn’t great in my opinion, but others may like it!

And there we have it! The good, the bad, and the delicious!

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% mine!

You are beautiful, I believe it.

 

you are beautiful

Can we be real for a minute here? Of course. I’ve been working on being more transparent around here, and I think today is the perfect day to step a little outside my comfort zone and do just that. When Lauren announced this link up, I just about cried. It touched me because that day I was in a difficult place, and there have been days since that have been just as hard. When Lauren announced this link up, she wrote “i challenge you to stop the voice in your head that tells you are worth nothing, that tells you you are fat, that tells you you are stupid or whatever it says, and tell it to shut the *&#$ up.” So I’m taking up that challenge today. I hope that you will too.

If you’ve been reading around here for a while, you know that after a long relationship, I went through a break up a few months ago. It wasn’t pretty. It went back and forth for a while, but ultimately ended with me in a dark place, and him him continuing with his life as if I were never there. Talk about ouch. Now that I’ve had time to step away from it and do life on my own for a while, I feel like I’m in a better place, but there are still days when I’m back there. Hurt, low, and feeling anything but beautiful or wanted.

Today, I’m going to challenge that.

Today, I’m working on believing I am beautiful. I am worth loving and capable of being loved.
I am worthy. I am smart, and kind, and caring, and try my best to pour out love on everyone I come in contact with. I am hard working and have accomplished so much- my traveling, my education, the relationships I have formed. I am proud of myself for who I have become.

That right there is enough to make me beautiful.

And my body? That one is harder. However, I know that this body is worthy and lovable as well. Because this body has done so much for me. These legs have run 5ks, walked dirt roads to help a baby be born in Uganda, walked across graduation stages, and they carry me to do the work I love every day. This stomach processes the food that gives me energy to survive, to be excited and love on my kids everyday, and keeps me going. These arms have hugged and held loved ones, puppies, and new babies. They have lifted the elderly in need of assistance, my friends, and boxes to move myself across the country multiple times. This face (acne and pores and all) smiles and speaks and sings to my kids each day, shows them my feelings, and helps them learn skills they will need all their lives. And the booty? Well, I just like the way it looks, haha. Too much? (Sorry mom)

Writing about these things and thinking about my body in this way feels oh-so-good. My body is so good to me and so beautiful.

Today I challenge you to look at your body and your whole self in this way. Not only is it good to realize how beautiful you truly are, but it’s good for your whole self to feel better about your body and beauty. 

You really are beautiful. You are so worthy of everything. You are such a great addition to this world and such a bright light to so many people. I believe that. I hope you do too.

Linking up with Lauren in the name of love.

Lot 48

Oh, hey there! | Weekly goals

weekly wishes

***tap, tap*** Hello? Does this thing still work? Yes? Ok then.

This is me acknowledging that I’ve been absent from this space for a while, and trying to do better. It’s been a whirlwind few weeks around here, and some time away from blogging has been quite needed. However, I feel like I’m ready to come back. Kind of. Maybe. We’ll see. Let’s just say I HOPE to be back to blogging regularly but I can’t really promise anything. But today is a snow day for me so I’ve got extra time and motivation to do some writing.

I wanted to make sure I popped in today to set some goals for this week and get myself back to business! I know I thrive off having this structure and these goals out to reference every day!

|ONE| Blog twice this week. May not seem like much, but it’s more than I have been! Time to get back to it.

|TWO| Catch up on emails. I am admittedly the actual worst at answering emails and getting back to people. Not because I don’t want to, but emails somehow just fall to the end of my list. Even important ones! I’m working on getting better at this and hopefully this week I can catch up!

|THREE| Make something creative this week. Anything. I just know I need some color and some calm in my life and that’s a good way for me to get it.

I’m going to leave it at that for this week! Short and sweet and doable!

What are your goals for this week? Are you super sad about the Seahawks losing last night? Me too. Are you happy because you’re a Patriots fan? Well, I guess we can still be friends. But maybe not until tomorrow when I’ll have had a chance to get over it.

 

Travel Tuesday | Why I Travel

Why I Travel

I talk about travel a lot in this space- both traveling that I’ve already done and the places I’m still dreaming about going. I haven’t yet, though, talked about why I travel and why I just love it so much. So that’s what I’m going to do today. These are just a few of the many, many reasons I travel.

It changes me. My perspectives, my thoughts, my world view. Sometimes I visit a city and the way of thinking so different that it makes me see the whole world differently. I come back with new thoughts and feelings that I never would have had without travel. I learn about myself. Who I really am and what I want and need in this world without local society telling the answers to me. I have to find the answers on my own. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

I meet so many people. Seriously. Especially with solo travel. You would think it would be more lonely but it’s the exact opposite! People are almost always willing to help out, have a conversation, and teach and learn a little more about this world we live in. Sometimes those conversations are almost purely hand motions and broken language, but those are always fun anyway.

It’s hard. Yes. It poses a challenge to me that I thrive off of. A challenge in the best ways. Travel forces you to be a stronger, more confident, and even more independent, person. There is no way to prepare yourself fully for the experience but to do it. It’s so worth it!

I feel the most free while traveling. There’s something about a long plane flight and new place on the other end that makes me feel like I’m free. Free to explore, to dream, to learn, and to be.

I grow so much. Every time I go on a trip, I come back a different person. I mature in ways that are impossible when you stay in one place. Travel forces you to become more yourself and come into your own. There is so much to be said for people who have lived and loved in multiple places. I know I’ve learned so much responsibility and flexibility on my trips. It’s just what needs to be done.

It makes me appreciate more. I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given. The work that others have put in to get me where I am and the work that I’ve put in. It makes me more appreciative on this time on Earth. It’s short, but it’s long. Travel also shows me what’s really important. Money and physical things mean so much less after some experience.

Why else do I travel? WHY NOT?

I have no reason to NOT want to see more of the world. Quite simply, I enjoy it and it makes me a better person. Now, where to go next?

Let’s Make a List: 2015 Goals.

2015 goals

You all already know I’m all about goal setting. Weekly, monthly, yearly, long term, all of it. So on this second Monday of the year, I’m going to set my yearly goals for 2015.

Last year, I set 14 goals for 2014. I’m pretty proud of myself for reaching all of them. However, this year, I really want to focus more on my word of the year and my work. So I’m setting 5 goals. 5 goals that I feel are important and attainable and things I really want to do. Of course, I want to accomplish and do more than these things, but these are the main goals for this year.

Goals for 2015

Word of the year: Strong

|ONE| Take a real vacation- Like, longer than a weekend. Relaxation included.
|TWO| Focus on health in all aspects. Physical, mental, emotional, all of it!
|THREE| Explore Chicago- I’m going to be in this city for at least another year and a half, so I might as well explore and find out all the best spots while I’m here!
|FOUR| Save save save. As much as possible.
|FIVE| Speak kindness into those I meet. I just feel like this is so important. I want to be a source of positivity and goodness.

So there it is. 1 word. 5 goals.

This year is going to be great! I can already feel it. I am excited to take on this year and everything it will bring. I know I need to be focusing on what is to come and not just the things I want right now. Hence the saving goal. But also the vacation goal- it’s been earned!

What are you goals for this year? What can I do to cheer you on and support you? Let’s take on this year together and make it the best one yet!