life & love

LEARNING TO LET GO … AND FIND A NEW CAR

RIP car

This week, I thought I’d start things off a little different, and by different I mean crashing my car.

I thought I was off to a good start Monday: I was well rested, relatively cheery in the morning and was even wearing a cute outfit. I was convinced I was going to have a great day. Until a deer jumped the guardrail and ran onto the highway.

I saw the deer instantly, and when everyone around/in front of me started braking, I did the same. Problem is, I was too focused on what the car out front was doing that I lost track of the car directly in front of me. So even though I saw the car out front stop dead on the highway to avoid hitting that stupid deer, I did not see the car in front of stop to avoid hitting the first car. Oops.

I think the whole thing happened in less than 30 seconds. I can’t say for sure because I was so in shock about what happened that I couldn’t even figure out the poofy balloon thing was that was coming out of my steering wheel. I remember touching it and thinking, what am I feeling? What is this? What happened? It was only after realizing it was the airbag that everything came into focus.

I’m already a high stress anxiety prone individual, so needless to say I dissolved into a fit of hysteria that prompted the sheriff’s deputies to call the squad. I think I really freaked te EMT out, it was something about the way she was looking at me and her tone of voice. I wasn’t hurt, just really, really freaked out about everything.

And when I looked at the front of my car and saw how mangled it was and all this crap that was spilling out of it, oh yeah, and the smoke coming off it, I just lost my shit completely.

I think I was half losing it because I was involved in a trauma that psychological distress is common with, and half because I was worried about my car. I knew it was totaled, and the thought of having to face my parents and explain all of this and go through the process of getting a new car was too much for me to handle.

I don’t know how many times I told my parents I was sorry about the car. Cars are expensive enough without having just put four new tires on mine.  I also kept obsessing over the crash, asking over and over again if it was really my fault or if it was the people who stopped on the highway who were more to blame. I don’t know if I wanted my parents to tell me it wasn’t my fault or if I wanted them to yell at me and say it was.

I can’t handle the idea of letting them down or screwing up in any way, like ever.

It took my mom telling me that she “didn’t give a f**k about the car” before I finally believed the hours of my parents telling me all they cared about is the fact that I wasn’t hurt or in the hospital. I could have sworn they would be pissed about the car, but they really weren’t.

Accepting that fact and just letting go of what happened seemed impossible. But the more my parents told me they didn’t care about the car, the more my friends and coworkers told me the same thing and shared the stories about the times they totaled their cars, it got easier to accept.

I’ve always had a hard time letting go. I obsess over things and once I get started I can’t stop. I replay things in my mind from years ago wondering how I could have changed the outcome, or just replaying them to make myself feel bad for the stupid thing I did. It’s … unhealthy.

I could probably benefit from taking a note out of Queen Elsa’s book and just let it go. (Frozen anyone??)

I’m trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been doing a lot of deep breathing and thinking positive thoughts. Not sure if it’s working yet. I guess I’ll find out the next time something stressful pops up.

Until then, I’ll have searching for a new car to keep me busy.

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life & love

OUR PUPPY TURNED 1! WELL, SORT OF

Jordy's birthday

Exactly one year ago today, this amazing pup came into our lives.

It all started when I went on an assignment at the local animal shelter. I was working on a feature story for the newspaper about a pair of volunteers who had been working hard to turn the place around. I really only went to interview them at the shelter because it seemed convenient for the two of them, plus it would make for a better photo.

When I arrived at the shelter, the guy at the front desk told me it would be a few minutes before they were ready. To keep me entertained, he suggested I go walk around the kennel. And me being the animal lover I am jumped at the opportunity to get some puppy time.

And that’s when I met Jordy (who just jumped on the couch and gave me a big kiss).

Jordy came running right up to me when I walked in the door. It was his turn to have his cage cleaned, so he was just roaming around the kennel like he didn’t have a care in the world. I couldn’t help but melt a little inside when he jumped up and licked my face.

I can’t lie, I was in a vulnerable spot. My family dog, Lexxie, who I am convinced was the bestest cutest most loving and wonderful dog to ever exist, passed away around Christmas. And I was absolutely still not over it when I went to the shelter. But, again, I was only going to the shelter for the interview.

Eventually the volunteers showed up and I followed them to the office for the interview. We chat for an hour and I don’t think much about the cute puppy I met in the kennel, until it’s time for the photos. The photographer suggests we bring some dogs out and have them interact with the volunteers, then the volunteers asked if I wanted to pick the dogs, and guess who I picked? Yep, I picked Jordy.

When it came time to put him away, I was really starting to get sucked in. He was just SO cute. He was only three months old, he was super loving and quiet and he just seemed, I don’t know, perfect?

The more I thought about it, the more I started thinking, why not? Why not just adopt the puppy? In seconds the volunteers convinced me it was a great idea and I’m on the phone with James trying to convince him. A few minutes later, I was filling out the adoption paperwork and wondering if I was out of my mind.

The more I spent time with him, the more sure I felt about my decision. James loved him immediately, and we both couldn’t wait to move into our new apartment and become a little family together.

It pretty much turned out to be everything we thought it would be, and by that I mean it was freaking amazing.

It’s hard to think a year has gone by since we adopted Jordy. We’ve had our disagreements (he ate my shoes, ate my underwear, ate a hole in the wall, etc.), but overall I think James and I agree that it was one of the best things we’ve ever done.

Since Jordy was adopted, we’re not sure when his birthday is. So we decided to celebrate his adoption day as his birthday. We got him this cute little “Birthday Boy” scarf and a happy adoption day puppy pie.

Jordy basically inhaled the puppy pie. I think he enjoyed his little birthday celebration, I mean, look at that smile! I know I sure enjoyed it (:

Now that we’ve hit that milestone, I’m looking forward to what the next year holds for me and my puppy. I’m sure it will be as exciting, loving and sometimes frustrating as the first. I can’t wait.

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life & love

I SWEAR I’M STILL HERE

choose happy

Hello, Internet? This is Em. You know, the girl who writes this blog. Well tI just wanted to let you that I’m not dead, as evidenced by this very post. So you don’t have to worry about me.

K? We good?

I know it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted anything, but i just haven’t had the energy. I really haven’t had the energy to do much of anything other than dragging myself to and from work these days, and half the time I feel like I’m going to fall asleep at any moment.

Basically I’ve been in a … funk, I guess, for lack of a better word. It’s been coming on for months and it finally reared its ugly head a few weeks ago and I basically had to admit to myself that I was probably depressed.

You might ask why a 23 year old girl who has a kickass apartment. loving family, amazingly supportive and good looking boyfriend with a stable job, and a not so shitty job herself could be depressed. Well, it happens, and it happened to me.

I used to wonder if I suffered form bouts of depression, now I guess I know. And that’s sort of a depressing fact.

But the good news is, the days of laying in my bed alternating between binge watching House and 30 Rock are over. After a long talk with my best friend, my mom and James, I’ve realized that nothing is going to change until I do something.

So starting about a week ago, I started exercising again. It’s amazing what a little cardio and yoga will do for my energy and my mind. I’ve also tried to come home every day with at least half a smile on my face, a whole one if I can manage. I’m trying not to dwell on things that are out of my control, and focus on the things that are.

I also scheduled a doctor’s appointment to find out if this is scary real or just real enough to make life shitty for a few months before it all just fades away and I’m OK again. I’m a little nervous about that part, but it seemed like the right decision.

Anyway, I’m not writing this for the attention I’ll almost certainly get from concerned friends and coworkers, but just because it’s another way for me to just deal with it, to call it what it is and do everything I can to not let it control my life.

Today, I’m choosing to be happy. Hopefully it’s not a superficial happy where I just pretend, but true happiness.

I came home and was happy to see my dogs. I’m happy at the prospect of seeing James when he gets home, and for hopefully kicking some butt at our cornhole game later tonight. So I think I’m off to a good start.

It seems like a good strategy for every day, to choose happiness. It’s a very mindful thing. I think maybe I’ll try it again tomorrow …

Photo by Paper Coterie.

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life & love

RECHARGING MY BATTERIES

relax

My father raised me with certain ideas and principles about what it means to be a good employee.

It’s probably why I started my first job when I was 15 years old, working in the ice cream parlor my grandparents owned. Dad thought it was a good idea for me to start making my own money. Working would teach me responsibility and give me some character. It would make me appreciate my life and my belongings more, you know, to see how hard I’d have to work to pay for all those nice things I had. Plus, working is a major part of life, so why not get startd sooner rather than later? Right?

Dad logic can be legit, but it can also be kind of intense.

Just because my grandma was my boss doesn’t mean I got any special treatment. In fact, I made sure I didn’t. I wanted to be treated like any other employee, which meant that I had to act like I was one. And that meant working my ass off to prove that I deserved to be there.

When my grandparents sold the business, I stuck around with the new owner for about six months before some scheduling problems no longer made it a good fit. Rather than just quit and enjoy my free time, I went straight into my next job as a hostess at a local restaurant. Four months later, I fulfilled my dream to to become a camp counselor at the local YMCA Day Camp I had been attending since I was 10.

And no, I didn’t quit the hostessing job. I did both.

I should have known then that I was a workaholic. I worked 40 hours per week at camp from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., then had just enough time to go home, clean up and be at the restaurant a few nights of week for an additional 20-25 hours.

I did that for three years during the summer. I was exhausted, but I liked it. There’s something about working that makes me feel, I don’t know, good.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good employee. I show up on time, I don’t make excuses, I get my work done and I do it with a smile. I also hardly ever call off sick, even when I probably should. If I’m not dying, I should be at work. That would be some more of dad’s logic kicking in.

The unfortunate consequence of all this non-stop working and borderline psycho mentality about never having a day off has been that I also rarely put in for vacation time. And that’s probably not good.

Last year, I didn’t take a single day off work until the end of August. And even then I only did it because it was a use it or lose it scenario and I figured I why not just give myself a mini birthday vacation?

During that week off, I realized how much I needed to get some separation from work to just… relax. I’m already a high stress/anxiety prone kind of girl, I’ve known it for years. Being a workaholic AND a high stresser pretty much means I am never relaxed. It’s sad really.

So this year, I put in some time off a little early and started a five-day weekend today. I slept in, enjoyed my breakfast while reading the news, took my time getting ready and spent some quality time with Jordy. Now I’m about to clean up the apartment and plan out some crafts/blog posts I want to write in the upcoming weeks.

And to think that last Friday I nearly reached across my editor’s desk to tear my vacation request slip up. Seriously, the psycho stressed workaholic in me nearly did it. I was panicking over how I was going to get all my work done in just three days when one of those days I don’t even get to play reporter. I didn’t think I could do it, and I was willing to sacrifice my vacation (i.e. my mental health rehabilitation period) so that I could work more.

Man, I am a piece of work sometimes.

But I didn’t do it. Because wanting to tear up that paper seemed like the very confirmation of the fact that I needed the time off.

So far my mini vacation is off to a good start! I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the rest of these five days plays out.

Mostly this post has been a way for me to get all of this off my chest, and face the fact that I can be a little crazy when it comes to work and that it has to stop.

But I hope it’s also a reminder to you that we all need to recharge our batteries every once and awhile. Don’t put it off and make yourself crazy. Take a few days to soak up some sun, smell the flowers, sleep, play with your dog, smile, laugh, and just be you. Who knows, it could be just what you need.

Photo credit: Colour Moon

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life & love

ATTEMPT NO. 7350 TO CUT BACK & SAVE MONEY

who doesnt like money

Apparently it didn’t take too long to break my promise to blog two to three times a week. Last week was a lonely week on Adventures with Em, and for that I am sorry.

I could probably rattle off a few good excuses for you, like the fact that I was so tired I thought I was going to fall asleep at the wheel on Monday or that I had a jam packed weekend with the family, but I’ll save you the screen time.

Hopefully this week will be more productive, but I’m guessing it’s going to take some time before this little adventure of mine becomes a habit.

But enough about that.

I was recently inspired to take a long, hard look at my budget and the current state of my checking & savings account. Although what I found did not horrify me, I certainly could stand to do a little less spending. Especially in a few key places.

Have you heard of Mint? It’s a website/app that compiles information from all your checking & saving accounts, credit cards, assets, loans, etc. and shows you detailed information about your spending habits. It also shows you your net worth.

I am proud to tell you that as of March 25, 2014, I am worth a grand total of -$41,889.11. Note the negative sign. Thanks student loans!

In reality, I’m  not in that bad of shape. I was able to save up a nice rainy day fund while I was living with my parents after graduation. The thing is, I haven’t added much to it since I got my own place.

But that’s about to change. Here are three ways I can start banking some more cash by making minor changes to my lifestyle:

1. Stop going out to lunch: I’m a sucker for a Panera bagel and smoothie combo, and ever since we got one 10 minutes from my office I’ve been struggling to stay away. The temptation to sleep in an extra 15 minutes by sacrificing packing a lunch is taking a toll on my wallet. If you don’t have time in the morning (I usually don’t), try packing your lunch the night before. Usually this starts with making sure the kitchen is stocked with lunch foods and snacks. I catch myself going out to lunch more often as a result of not going to the grocery store to buy what I need.

2. Start taking advantage of the community gym: One of the perks of moving into my apartment complex is that it came with a pretty nice gym. It has all the ellipticals, treadmills and free weights a girl could need. And how often do I go? I’ve probably only been a handful of times in the 9 months I’ve lived here. What’s more, is I recently started paying $80 a month to attend 3 yoga classes per week at a nearby studio when my free gym has two free yoga classes per week and the Lululemon at the mall has free classes on Sundays. My excuse was that the free classes didn’t mesh with my schedule, but if I can make it work, I could get the same amount of yoga time for free. Then, if I want to kick it up a notch, I could supplement with maybe one or two classes per week at the studio for just $40 or $60 per month. (It’s so logical it hurts my brain.)

3. Set a realistic shopping/entertainment budget and DON’T break it: When I first started using mint, I was living at home with my parents. I could afford to spend a little more on things I wanted, like clothes, going to the movies or having a few drinks with friends. But now that I have rent and bills to pay, I no longer have that luxury. And yet I still cling to it. I scaled back my shopping budget in Mint, but I still seem to get a notification each month that I’ve busted it. Maybe it’s OK to spend a little more than what I have scheduled, maybe not. Either way, I need to set a realistic goal and stick to it. If that means my shopping budget is killed three days into the month, so be it. Money never gets away from you faster than on a shopping spree that loses control, and it is SO easy to convince yourself going just a teensy bit over budget is OK. We’ve all been there. Being stricter with myself is a start, but staying out of temptation’s way is probably a good strategy too. That means less time spent at the mall, and more in the great outdoors or finding new places to go with friends. And instead of going out to the movies, I know there’s an overflowing queue of movies on my Netflix account just waiting to be watched. That’s not to say I’ll never treat myself with a new pair of shoes or tickets to see my favorite band when they come to town, just that once I hit that ceiling that’s it until next month.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on paying off my credit card. I already invested half my tax returns on that front, which felt very financially responsible of me.

I’ve always prided myself on being smart with my money, it’s just time to be smarter.

How do you save money? Feel free to leave your tips/advice in the comments. I’m sure we all could use some extra inspiration to keep us off the path of empty bank accounts (;

“I mean- Who Doesn’t Like Money?” print is by artist Chris Piascik.

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life & love

GET MOTIVATED WITH THESE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES

just do things

Whether you’re tackling your next big project at work, convincing yourself to try something new or even just draging yourself out of bed in the morning, we all could use a little extra motivation to keep us going.

And if you’re like me, you need physical reminders. Most of the time it’s not enough for me to simply tell myself “You got this!” I need an outside third-party member to remind me that I don’t suck. I guess I don’t trust myself enough to believe it when I say it in my head, even if I do it, like, a gajillion times.

So I started pinning inspirational quotes to a board I so brilliantly titled “Words to live by.” If I’m ever having a bad day, I just go there and look at all the inspiring/motivational messages and suddenly I get the kick in the ass I needed to tread on.

In case you are lacking motivation today or just need a quick pick-me-up, feel free to browse my ever growing collection: www.pinterest.com/emilymaddern/words-to-live-by/.

You never know, it could help (:

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life & love

FOUR GOOD HABITS I COULD PICK UP FROM MY BF

good habits

So James and I have been living together for almost a year now. We talked about the whole cohabitation thing for quite a while after graduating before we decided to go for it.

I think we were a little afraid of moving in together straight out of college because 1. we were trying to get on our career paths and didn’t want any distractions and 2. we didn’t want to end up killing/hating each other.

When we did finally decide to take the plunge, like probably everyone else on the planet whose ever moved in with their beaux, I panicked. I had that moment of realization that moving in with my significant other meant I was about to learn all the weird, gross things about him that have so far he had been able to hide from me.

Luckily enough, James doesn’t seem to have many gross habits to hide. There are little things here and there that make me cringe or driver me borderline crazy, but nothing that truly disgusts me. Except maybe that one time when he confessed that he was referring to my cookie sheets as “chicken trays.”

Actually, the longer I live with James, the more I realize that he actually is a pretty solid roommate and that I’m kind of the gross one. It is with this new enlightenment that I started to consider all of the good habits he has that I c̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ should pick up.

Here are the top four:

1. Brushing my teeth twice a day: For whatever reason, my parents never really forced the whole brushing your teeth before bed thing. Whether it’s because they didn’t do it themselves or they just didn’t think it was a big deal my sister and I always got away with just brushing in the morning before we left the house.

James on the other hand NEVER misses this nightly ritual. I often find myself guilty after we both crawl into bed and his mouth smells minty-fresh and mine… well, doesn’t. I’m proud to say that I have only had two tiny cavities in my 23 years, so I don’t think I’m necessarily doing anything wrong. However, I think I could positively say I’m doing something better if I commit to brushing before bed. Starting today I’m going to try to make this part of my before-bed routine. I’ll keep you posted.

2. Cleaning the apartment at least once per week: I have a hard time understanding that just because the apartment isn’t disgusting doesn’t mean it couldn’t benefit from a little tidying up. I typically only channel my inner Mr. Clean when the dishes have piled up for days, I can no longer see my floor because it’s covered with dirty clothes, and the level of dust on the bookshelf would put an asthma patient into a coma.

Whenever James requests that we “clean this place up a little bit,” I respond with a loud, overly-exaggerated groan and something about how he’s a psycho for thinking we need to wipe down the counters and vacuum every three days. I sort of changed my mind about this on Sunday when I came home from yoga feeling super fresh and relaxed and decided to legit clean the apartment. I felt even better after I had finished and realized maybe James had a point.

3. Stop making excuses to skip working out: I’ve never been big on hitting the gym. Outside of gym class in middle school and all the walking I did up and down the hills of Athens, Ohio, I pretty much never did anything that could be considered exercising. Usually I defend myself by saying I clearly don’t need to exercise because I’m not getting fat, but that could come back to haunt me some day. Also I’m sure I’m not what anyone would call “healthy” even if I’m not overweight.

So this year I decided to turn over a new leaf. I still didn’t like the idea of going to the traditional gym, so I signed up for a free trial at a yoga studio 15 minutes from my apartment. Turns out I absolutely love it. And yet that doesn’t seem to be motivation enough to keep me going. I often find myself coming up with excuses not to go: I’m tired, I have a headache, I don’t have time. But of course, James goes pretty much every day without fail unless he is seriously sick/injured. I don’t know how he does, but I hope some of his motivation rubs off on me soon.

4. Be more optimistic: I can be such a hypocrite sometimes. I’m always telling my friends & family to stay positive, keep their chins up and hope for the best. Do I ever take that advice for myself? Uhmmmm, that would be a no. I find myself going negative all the time. I claim that this is simply “realism” when in fact it’s good old fashioned pessimism.

James’ bright and happy outlook on everything can be a little exhausting sometimes. Like I just want to punch him in the face every now and then. But overall, I find it inspiring and find myself wishing I could look at things from his perspective. It’ll take some brain training to pick this one up, but I think I can do it with a little support from James. I might tell him to suck it when he gives me his pep talk, at least at first, but I’m sure that will fade with time.

What about you? Have you picked up any good habits from your girlfriend/boyfriend/just friend?

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