Friday, August 16, 2013

The Most Me

I wrote a post here in July of 2011. I was in a place of wanting to figure out myself and what I wanted out of life on a deep level.

From Spring 2011 onward, I went through about 10 months of lots of soul searching, lots of guilt, and feeling pulled in so many different directions. I wanted to figure out what truly made me happy and what made me feel the most "me." I had reached a point where my faith did not sit right with me anymore and I wanted to live a life without that to see how that felt. I can only say all of things because this has been something I have been really thinking about over the past two years and I now feel compelled to say it out loud---via the blog world.

The worst part of this choice is I felt estranged from everyone for quite some time. My family was always my family and accepted me as such. But, when I ventured away from strict Christianity, I felt guilty if I talked to any of those former friends, and I just wasn't ready to have any of "those" conversations.  Consequently, those friendships vanished. I had to start from scratch, which was lonely. It felt awkward for a long time--like I was in limbo between my former self and who I was becoming. I

I now no longer feel like my former self and "what I was becoming" are two separate worlds. I've begun to connect with a few old friends again because I finally feel right in my own skin. I feel like myself and I can finally talk about it. I still feel like I may disappoint people or draw uncomfortable comments/conversations. I will never be "okay" with that fact, but I am comfortable enough because I have finally gained enough confidence in myself. 

I cannot say I have it all figured out in the least, but I feel happier in the process. I am figuring out my spirituality and faith day-by-day as I continue to strive for what makes me feel the most "me." Looking back on that quote I posted 2 years ago, speaks volumes to what I've been doing over the past 2 years--letting go of the life I had planned in order to figure out what is ahead of me. It's that simple.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Life Update 4.5: Sister's Wedding #2

When I got home for the wedding (a mere week before the big event), I found out that my sister had planned just about ZERO decorations for all the extra tables at the reception. Cards, gifts, guestbook, cake...all the extra junk. 

Over the months leading up to the wedding, my sister kept complaining about how my mom kept buying "unnecessary" paraphernalia for the wedding. {Something very characteristic of my overly prepared mother.} I got to play the middleman as they complained commented about each other. Oh, the joys that can only come from a sister's wedding.

Nevertheless, we barely had anything left after decorating for the rehearsal dinner {that my sister casually asked my mom to do the DAY before} and planning for misc. reception tables.

....that awkward moment when your mom reminds you that she is a genius and always right....yet again....

Fortunately, I was there to save the day with my creative flair (utilizing a majority of the "unnecessary" stuff my mom bought). I don't have the final pictures of the decor, but here is a little taste. Also, a link to the post of Shutterfly guestbook I had to have rush delivered for her special day! 

Sign for guest book and ceremony seating

This banner hung on the mirror above the gift table
{Mom, I realize you did most of the work on all the decorations, but I like to continue to take credit when it's not my own---just to keep up with tradition}

The sisters & mama before she walked down the aisle
It was a beautiful wedding with great touches added by my intelligent, hilarious, creative sister. She even had my oldest sister perform with her modern dance group!  Hair, make-up, and spray tan brought to you by my sister's pocketbook--beauty care is always best when paid for by other people.

I, of course, cried through my maid of honor speech--yet totally nailed the jokes. VERY proud of myself to this day because I'm terrible at public speaking.  We danced to a live jazz band and I successfully got Jaylen (my 5 year old niece) to dance with me. You can check out real photos from the night via the photographer's website. 

Dancing, drinks, family, and celebration = a perfect affair.

My snookered sister at the end of the night...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Life Update 4: Sister's Wedding #1

One of the most exciting events of the past year has been my sister's wedding.

I got to play maid of honor...which honestly didn't require much work. I still feel guilty by the fact that I didn't do much. I blame it on the fact that I live all the way up in Seattle AND was in my first year of insanity teaching.  Other times I like to tell myself that my sister is just a very independent and decisive person who likes to make decisions for herself. The jury is still out on this one....

I did get to plan her bachelorette party that ended up being perfect for her. {I'll happily pat myself on the back for this one since it was a surprising success.} Good to know I actually know my sister pretty well.  Here's the invite made on Tiny Prints--the printing website I like to use when I am willing to pay a little extra for cute and high quality items.

This format worked perfectly as people could casually linger in for drinks or choose to join later in the night. Or--for the lesser friends--choose to leave early {BOO!}. This allowed for more people to join and for the right people left at the end.

We started at one of her favorite places for drinks then headed over to Famous Dave's for some BBQ. Being theatre folk, all of her friends had great movie choices as gifts for Alyssa. Surprisingly enough, she didn't get any doubles OR movies she already owned! I wish I took pictures of the goody bags I made, but they included these sunglasses. My mom questioned this purchase, but as you can see I hit a homerun among her friends...

We ended the night at a live improv show. My sister has been involved in theatre since she could talk and used to coach a teen improv group, so it seemed appropriate. Luckily, she has some loud great theatre friends and drank just enough liquid confidence to end up on stage as part of a skit. She turned into an actress even on her walk to the stage....

It was an amazing night with my sister and a great start to my week home for the wedding. I attended a few kickboxing classes with her over the week that thoroughly kicked my butt... However, I learned how exhilarating it was to punch and kick something--definitely some anger management I'll use during the school year. 

Come back tomorrow for pictures and details about the wedding and reception!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Life Update 3: New Creations

I've made a handful of random things over the past two years. Here is yet another review with pictures...please excuse the fact that I obviously don't have an expensive camera or quality photography skills.

Clock for my classroom

Chocolate Whoopie Pies - Superbowl 2012
Bacon covered cheese ball made for Superbowl 2013

A few cards I made this summer. I LOVE to make homemade cards and definitely need to tap into this creative part of myself more often. It's so exciting to pop these in the mail and send my creation to someone special.
Very excited about this one. Picture & quote display in my studio apartment.
I call it my Happiness Wall

Far away view. Excuse the mess & the poor photo quality...

Wall Display made of shoe boxes, a lid, & some scrapbook paper--displays my items collected from traveling

Alcohol Bouquet - August 2012

Close up of Connor's Birthday bouquet

Beer Cake - Connor's birthday 2012

One of my favorite people to make things for is Connor--of course {my dad is the 1st favorite though}.

I've made a few great cards and a "52 things I love about you" on the back of playing cards book that I definitely need to take pictures of...

Edward's Profile - Christmas 2012
Wine & Painting Class - December 2012 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Life Update 2: The Boy

I briefly introduced the really great boy via this blog two years ago.  He's obviously become a staple in my life and definitely helped me figure myself out over the past two years. 

His name is Connor and he's originally from San Antonio, Texas. He {unfortunately} loves the Spurs NBA team and fantasy football.  I've gone from hating his drafting sessions to him teaching me how to score in fantasy and potentially having my own team this year....

He's very smart--a biochemistry & economics major who attended Wake Forest in North Carolina. He's also very handsome and hilarious and I still can't get enough of him two years later. We're sometimes opposites and sometimes exactly alike.

Fourth of July 2011 at a lake in Eastern WA
He loves metal & Southern Rap.
I love country & singer/songwriters.

He loves the San Antonio Spurs.
I love the Phoenix Suns.

He needs to be reminded of something if it is further than 30 minutes away.
I am a planner.

He loves talk radio and podcasts.
I'd rather poke my eyes out.

Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands - 7/11
Sea Hawks Pre-Season Game - Fall 2011

Christmas Party 2011
UW Graduation June 2012
Cabo San Lucas,  Mexico - June 2012
Christmas Party 2012
US v Panama - World Cup Qualifier Soccer Match - May 2013
Victoria, BC - June 2013
We both 
...think he's funny... karaoke soccer our dogs to cook to drink to play video games
...aaaaand happen to really like each other. 

{Don't more cheesy blog posts. Just had to get this one out of my system}

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life Update 1: The Dogs

Over the next few days {or whatever it ends up being}, I am going to post pictures with some life updates simply because I feel like it's compulsory after being absent for two years.

My favorite part of my life--and the aspect that takes up the most time/patience/money--is our two dogs.

Connor adopted a dog a year and a half ago. His name is Edward Norton--a beagle, pug, dachshund mix who is about 4 years old. He loves any small prey animal--squirrels, birds, flies, anything that moves. He loves people and loves attention. He will happily jump onto anyone's lap and practically shakes his hind end off when people come over.

He absolutely loves to cuddle and even gets to sleep in the bed under the covers in the winter. He has a lot of stylish clothing--puffy vest pictured below--and even supports the Spurs with his collar. For the record, Edward is not very photogenic, so he's about 50 times cuter in real life.

I adopted Russell almost 5 months ago.  I've decided {with some help from google image} that he is a Beagle & Manchester Terrier mix. He's about 18 months old and can very much act like a puppy. He has much more energy than Edward and often spins in circles for a few minutes when he wakes up each morning. He prefers to chew his toys instead of getting pets--his favorite toy is pictured below.

I swear he's just now finding out that being pet can be enjoyable, so he's starting to enjoy humans more. He LOVES to drink water--especially when he comes from the toilet {...we're working on that}. He's also much less stubborn than Edward, so I've been able to teach him many more tricks over the past few months. 

We try to take Russell and Edward almost everywhere we go and have found many restaurants around Seattle that will allow dogs. However, Russell is still learning to not try to kill other dogs when he's on his leash....  I often find myself walking by shouting over the barking, "I promise he's really friendly!"

After a few territorial spats over the first month or so, they've become good friends. Russell is definitely the annoying little brother, but Edward tolerates him well.  I swear he misses Edward when he's not around! I could post dog pictures for days, but I'll leave you with this one--Russell posing showing his Husky support with his UW tag. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Alyssa's Wedding Guestbook

Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.

9th Grade: The months and years after State

As I reacquaint myself with the {now much more involved} world of Blogger, I began reading through old posts. It is strange to think some of those thoughts came out of my head. Some of the things I talked about honestly seem like they were written by a different person.

I was going through endless reflection and soul searching post-break up (Spring 2011) that I think I was an entirely different person then.

Regardless of any of that brain dump, I realized that I never finished the "3-part series" that I started about my friend's death. You can read about it here--Part 1: 9th grade: The day before State and Part 2: 9th grade: The days and weeks after State. I am going to attempt to finish this story.

The months and years after this life-changing event--the suicide of a friend--were somehow always defined by that event in some way. Whenever things got really difficult or I would find some insecurity I had harbored, it drew back to the fears I'd created surrounding this event. It shocks me to this day that I allowed myself to be defined by that event for such a long time.

My love for helping people work through their problems led me to choose Psychology and Family & Human Development as degrees in college. I wanted to fix people. I wanted to figure them out and fix them all so that people wouldn't have to hurt anymore.

You can imagine how this seeped into my relationships--particularly romantic ones. For a long time, I dated guys who I was ultimately just not that into and just wanted them to need me. Ew...that feels gross to say out loud. Over time, I moved on to guys who pushed me to be a better version of myself. Still to this day I am reminding myself to love for what is instead of how I think it should be. You can ask my boyfriend that I don't always do this very well, as he often reminds me that I've told him I accept all of him. {In these moments, I begrudgingly remember...}

The happy part of this drive to fix people was that my Human Developmental program at Arizona State required me to work in a developmental preschool on campus. It was in this classroom where I discovered I loved children...who knew? Soon enough, I zoomed off to Australia and took an internship in a special education preschool.  If you would've asked me in high school if I thought I was going to grow up to be a teacher--I would've laughed. I was convinced I was bad at teaching anyone (mostly because of failed attempts to teach an ex-boyfriend calculus). Anyway, I am rambling. Moral of the story was to say that all these life events lead me right to where I am today--helping young children with special needs find their potentials.

I'm glad I waited to end this little series because I obviously hadn't reached a point in my life where I could fully process this difficult memory and its effect on my life. It is also kind of astonishing to see how this event, in part, led me to where I am today in such a positive way. The best part of writing this 3rd phase in the story 2 years later is that I no longer feel defined by this event.

Please hold your applause.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm baaaaack...

I forgot I even had this thing. In September 2011, I deleted myself from the online world. Closed down my Facebook and stopped reading my Google Reader blogs.

As I was doing all my soul searching that summer, I realized I was comparing myself to everyone I was reading about online. It was such a vicious cycle day-after-day. Everyone else seemed to be having more of something that I wanted.

"Sally lives a perfect life--beautiful children, loving husband, immaculate house with infinite time to make endlessly adorable DIY home decor."

I mean, come on, no one really lives like that. I have finally reached a point of maturity where I can recognize that. Thank goodness. It really is quite a relief. I am now back in the Facebook world and finally looking at things in a new light--wow, I actually have the job I went to school for and a great life and managed to have no children.

High five to myself.

Something happened to me this summer--or maybe slowly over the past two years--that has drastically changed me. Maybe that's just called growing up, but it feels so good. I am definitely living the time of my life right now and feel more myself than ever before. I feel like I am who I want to be (yet still a work in progress) and feel okay in my own skin.  I feel like I have mellowed out significantly--to the point where I can't imagine how insufferable I was to deal with before now.

Thank you to everyone that has stuck it out with me.

I started a real job last year as a preschool special educator just south of Seattle. I earned a real paycheck along with real stress. At my lowest point, I even had to take some over-the-counter pills to help me fall asleep because my mind would constantly race about my classroom. However, by the end of the year, I would just start planning behavior plans as I was laying in bed and would fall instantly to sleep. Glad I mastered that one.

Over the past few weeks, I have been searching preschool and special education blogs as inspiration for next year. I feel like I have a much better shot at being the teacher I want to be next year than I ever had last year. In all honesty, I can't tell you what happened most of last fall. My mind has literally blacked it out. My students survived through the end of the school year with no major injuries, and learned how to sing a song about toothbrushing. Success.

One blogger talked about all the different hats she wears as a special educator, and that really struck me. Another relief that I am not the only one who feels like I have to walk in many different shoes throughout each day--sometimes two different shoes at the same time. I spent most of the year wondering which pair of shoes I needed to wear at which different much so that I never stayed in one pair of shoes long enough to feel like I broke them in.

Point of this story--> I am going to focus on unravelling these different roles I need to play as a teacher and a special educator over the next year via this blog. Feel free to join me on the journey.