We’ve Moved!

We’re moving onwards and upwards, guys!

We’ve moved to a completely new site with a new look and a new post! Head over to www.bexxcited.com to check it all out. You can subscribe and receive emails whenever new content is available!

Thank you for all of your constant support here on Bexcited.me, but like a 40 year old living in their parents basement, it’s time to grow up and move on!

Xx

 

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Motivation: Chapter 2

“Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference.” – Mignon McLaughlin

Well, doesn’t that just sound encouraging and lovely? Sure does. It’s a great reminder that everything you’re doing ultimately makes a difference in your life. What a day!

Cool, but you know what else is lovely? Seeing results like NOW. This difference everyone speaks of, I want to see it happen in the amount of time that I want, in the way that I want, where I want, etc etc. And when that doesn’t happen, I get discouraged. Am I right? I’m kind of right.

We have this idea in our heads of how our life should go and we strive to make it turn out a certain way. Doing all of the “right” things to ensure that we achieve our goal. Remember the board game Life? You get to pick your house, your career, and your salary. Everyone wanted the Victorian house and to be a doctor making that wicked high $100k. Until you ended up with the literal split level house, as a salesperson, with a $20k salary.

Sure, this might seem like a crappy deal, but honestly, you really only just started the game and at least you have a house, a job, and a paycheck. Whenever I find myself thinking that everything is going wrong and my life sucks and karma is kicking me while I’m down, I sit down and think (or write it down if you’re into that) about all the good things that have happened to me.

Think of everything that has been good to you. Things like getting that last good spot in the parking lot, the bartender giving you a free drink, going out to dinner with friends you rarely get to see, not thinking about that ex for a few hours instead of minutes, putting away laundry and finally find that missing favorite top of yours and oh wow, you can wear it for the plans you have tonight.

I sometimes forget to recognize all the good because I get tunnel vision and focus on one particular occurrence that I’m waiting to happen. We all do it! We all make goals for ourselves that we want to reach. That’s a good, healthy thing! Until you start to lose sight of everything else around you. Then it’s time to step back and give your noggin a hard reset.

The past few months have been a huge lesson to me personally in this area. I had such bad tunnel vision that it started to affect me physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. When I realized that, I had to take a hard look at what was going on around me. I realized that my life may not be Victorian houses and six figure salaries, but you know what it is? F*cking awesome. It’s not perfect, in fact, most days it feels like it’s a hot damn mess. But when I just stop and focus on me that’s when things start to improve. I’m no longer living my life, making decisions, or doing things that I hope might contribute to a particular outcome I’m looking to see happen. I’m doing them for me.

I’m just spinning the wheel and moving my little yellow car along the path and enjoying whatever comes at me. I’m not paying attention to the other players and their cars. I’m not feeling left out or “behind” when I see cars filled with kids or a happy couple. I’m enjoying my time and the fact that I can play whatever music I want in my car. I can sing as loudly as I want and not feel self conscious. I can stop whenever I want to stop or keep on driving. It’s not lonely, it’s freeing. It’s exhilarating and it’s something I’ve recently come to truly enjoy. That slight change, that adjustment of perspective, and that acknowledgment that things may not be what I thought they’d be is what I needed. A step back to appreciate what I have, how far I have come, and what I have overcome to get here.

It doesn’t sound like much. It’s like, “Bex, you have a great life! You have this and that and done this and been through that. How can you think otherwise? What do you mean you have anxiety? What do you have to be depressed about?! You’re doing great!” Yeah, okay, thank you for that. I’m aware. However, when you’re sucked into the tunnel and you’re squinting your eyes on that itty bitty spot of light ahead of you, you don’t care about anything else. Not until you realize that your eyes are watering from not blinking and your head hurts from squinting at the spot of light for so long because you’re afraid that if you look away, that light will be gone completely and you’ll never find it again.

I call bullsh*t! Blink your eyes, look away, lay down and think about what you’re doing to yourself…. or myself, since I did this crap recently. I found that I work better with blinders on, not in some dank, dark, creepy tunnel. Blinders shield me from all the other bullsh*t in the world, but it doesn’t leave me in the dark with just ONE way out. We all need blinders on at some point, if we want to truly grow and evolve and become a better person. Focusing on yourself isn’t selfish, it’s self fulfilling. It becomes selfish when that’s all you start to do and you no longer empathize or think about anyone else at all or only do things if you can get something out of it at some point.

So, make that small change. Blink. Step back. Refocus. You know what you’ll see? A world of opportunities ahead of you. Start small and you’ll see a large difference in how things begin to unfold. Don’t worry about certain milestones you think you need to meet at a certain point. Get in that metaphorical car of yours and just enjoy the drive. Your life just started, make it great.

You’re not alone. I believe in you.

Xx

Change: Chapter 1

CHANGE before you have to.” Jack Welch

The first day of fall has come and gone and I feel no shame in being that person to capitalize on the timing of fall and the changes that come with it. You know, the leaves are changing colors and falling away, make room for new crap in your life, yada yada yada. But I’m noticing that the only change people seem to really be embracing these days are the return of pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween decorations/costumes. Is it really change if we know it’s coming every year?

PSL bath

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately on change and wonder if people are even capable of change. I’ll admit that I’m still not very sure if they can. Then I ask myself: Have I changed? Do I want to change? What would I change?  All of these go through my mind in the span of about ten seconds. Now I’ve got the rest of the day to torture my brain with the answers to these questions.

Have I changed? Some days I think I’m the same that I have always been – sensitive, emotional, hyper, bookish, hotheaded, etc. And other days I look in the mirror and think, “New girl, who dis?” I feel as if life is giving me a huge lesson in this recently and I’m doing my best to take notes because I want to pass. The test? YOU being the absolute best version of yourself while maintaining your self-respect, boundaries, and self-love. All of these terms I’m using have been introduced to me recently through a life-changing blogger I found when I was at a really low point in my life (If you make it to the end, I’ll link her blog there). I was at a place, internally, where my head and my heart weren’t getting along.

How rude

Scuse me, fellas, I have enough going on without you two butting heads. Let’s get it together, shall we? Thank you. However, I think it was necessary for this low to happen, for my heart to hurt and my head to pound, to feel utterly alone even when I have an amazing support system behind me wearing face paint, waving foam fingers around, and their chests painted with “BEX!” How else can we appreciate change, let alone embrace it and accept that it needs to happen, if we don’t look inward?

Sure, to the outside eye, I got it going on. I am blessed in so many aspects of my life, it floors me at times if I stop and think about it. Never have I thought that I would be where I am at today and I am so grateful and appreciative of the life I’ve been given and the way I’m choosing to live it. But I think that as humans, we owe it to ourselves to constantly be aware of new growth and to learn when to shed what is no longer useful to us. Like trees shedding their leaves in the fall. Fall is my absolute favorite season for the colors alone, but I think I’m more drawn to it because I view it as an opportunity for change within me, too. No need to wait for New Years to make goals for yourself.

Leaves go through a beautiful process before they shed. The colors they change into are so vibrant and seem to be more full of life in that moment even though they’ll soon get crunchy and fall away. Then the tree is left bare, without its colorful, vibrant leaves; it stands tall and strong, but exposed. It doesn’t change what it is at its core, uh, trunk, it embraces the change that is happening to it.

whomping willow shed.gif

I think using the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter is the perfect visualization here. Look at that tree, the leaves just dropped right off and what did it do? Did a little shake and relaxed. It let go of what was no longer useful to it and didn’t lose its identity in the process. It’s still a tree, it’s still standing tall and proud. It’s merely making room for new leaves, but it takes time. It has to get through the rest of fall and all of freezing winter before spring comes around and it can bloom again.

In a world where everything is instantaneous (I’m literally waiting for UberEATS to bring me food because I cannot be bothered to cook. That’s also because I couldn’t be bothered to grocery shop. Oh well!), it’s so easy to think all things will come right when we want them. If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that time is a wicked yet beautiful witch. She seduces us with the ability to bring us food, cars, dates, cleaning supplies, literally anything you want. Then curses you when you’re feeling the most vulnerable, low, exposed. As if you’re a raw and exposed nerve and she’s taking her long nails and scraping them down you slowly while she cackles and tells you that what you’re going through… can’t be fixed instantly.

Ursula

The painful realization, and eventual acceptance, of that is when it comes to the things that matter most, the universe knows you’re going to need time. Time to adjust, time to get it right, time to learn, time to… you got it, change.

Back to my original questions. Have I changed? Do I want to change? What would I change? Can people change? Yes, I have changed. I’ve always said that I would hate to look back in five years and find that I haven’t changed. That I’m still the exact same as I was five, ten, fifteen years ago. Think about it, if we don’t change and remain the same, our friends, family, coworkers, girlfriends/boyfriends… they’ll outgrow us. They’ll change and grow and leave us here… stagnant. What pain is more bearable? The temporary pain that comes with changing or the permanent pain that comes with remaining the same and watching the world change around you? It may seem better to stay the same, where everything is familiar, but is it actually familiar if everything around you moves on?

Do I want to change? I think we can all conclude together that YES I want to change. I still fight against the pain that comes with change at times. It’s difficult not to fight it. We get so comfortable in a certain way of life, even if we know it’s not always in our best interests. But this is where all my new lessons of self-respect, boundaries, and self-love come into play. Which brings me to…

What would I change? Right now, I’m trying to change how hard I am on myself and how much responsibility and blame I take on my shoulders that is not necessary. I’m trying to change how much pressure I put on myself to be at a certain point, feel a certain way, be over a certain event by a certain time/date. The whole point of this post is that change, when we truly want to change, is going to take time. That means unlearning things we’ve been learning for years and trying to learn all new ways. I always thought I had self-respect and boundaries, but it turns out that if I did, they were built out of Lincoln logs that would get continually kicked down. Now, I’m trying to build my self-respect, boundaries, and self-love out of Legos. Legos interlock and stick together, but can be taken apart when I want to make room for new changes and growth. Sometimes though, we step on a stray Lego and we are convinced it’s the most painful thing ever, we can’t focus on anything but the pain in our foot.

Lego step

But you know what happens after that? The pain goes away and we continue building and eventually we forget that we ever stepped on it. That’s how growing and changing will feel at times. Like the most painful thing you’ve ever experienced, but once you do, it’s more rewarding than it is painful.

Can people change? I’d like to think that if I can change and embrace it and go through the necessary pain and acceptance of it, then anyone can. Whether or not they see when it’s time to change is a whole other discussion. There are some people who just won’t change like emotionally unavailable people, narcissists, sociopaths, etc. As much as we have all had one of the above in our life and probably cared deeply for them and loved them, they will continue to be just who they have always been. Someone who lacks empathy, self-respect, boundaries and self-love. Let them build with Lincoln logs. Let you be a tree that stands tall and strong through change.

What are your thoughts on change? Do you think you’ve changed?

Whatever you’re going through in life, know that you are loved, supported, and you are not alone.

Xx

P.S. That blogger I mentioned earlier? Find it here. Natasha has incredible insight on self-respect, boundaries, self-love, etc. With her words, she helped me through my most recent changes and for that, I owe her a huge thank you. Go give her some love, too, and while you’re at it, give yourself love.

Reality Checks: Chapter 1

“There are two ways to face the future. One way is with apprehension: the other is with anticipation.” – Jim Rohn

I have no idea who Jim Rohn is, but my friend gave me a gift recently that has all of these  fun and inspiring types of quotes in them and she handed this particular one to me yesterday. After reading it, it just hit me how strange life can be and how it can give you something you didn’t even know you needed.

The future is always so unknown and changing with every choice that we make or don’t make. And yet, we manage to stress about it and overthink it and over-plan it and think that if we don’t hit some “milestone” by a certain time, then we’re not “adulting” correctly. Doesn’t that just sound so exhausting? If we’re doing all of that, then we truly aren’t focused on ourselves and making sure we’re happy, healthy, and really living.

I recently hit a point in my life where I was forced to finally face my reality rather than the twisted and manipulated version I was trying to sell myself. As if I was one of those late night infomercial people trying to sell myself a knife that cuts through soda cans. Yet,  it’s late at night and we’ve been staring at the TV for so long that our couch cushion has taken on the form of our own butt and we convince ourselves,  “Why yes, I do need this knife.” We completely disregard the fact that we have a perfectly good (and sharp) knife set sitting on our counters already and we truly have never, ever come across any opportunity in which we need to cut through a soda can, but we convince ourselves anyway. We tell ourselves that if we get this knife, then our lives will change in some manner for the better and we’ll be happier.

That’s not the reality, though, is it? The reality is that we order the knife and if it even gets to you without a complicated mess, it’s never what you thought it would be. While it can slice a strawberry and a carrot and a chicken breast like no other, it doesn’t slice easily through the can. It hacks away at it as if you’re trying to bring down a fully grown oak tree… or the Whomping Willow (Seriously, surprised it took me this long to incorporate any Harry Potter into a post. You’re welcome). We end up staring at the knife in disappointment, telling ourselves that we did this to ourselves so we have to fix it. We find a way to justify it to ourselves. Why do we constantly do this? How do we stop?

Face your own damn reality. For me, it was finally facing the fact that a relationship in my life was not yielding nicely sliced soda cans. It was giving me hacked in half, will probably cut your finger if you pick it up, soda cans. And I was telling myself that if I changed the way that I held the can or held the knife or if I cut it vertically rather than horizontally that it would yield the result that I wanted. I told myself everything but the reality: this knife is no longer bringing me what I want in my life. Do I want to live continuously trying to make a knife work the way I think it should rather than accepting that it just doesn’t and probably never will?

It’s a lot tougher to think that and accept that thought because it means that we can’t control it. It’s so easy for us to blame ourselves because if it’s something we are doing incorrectly then it is something that we can change. It makes sense that way. “Oh, this isn’t working because I’m doing something wrong so I will just figure out a different way to do it and then it’ll be fine!”

Okay, say it is a user error. Say you figure out that you were holding the knife wrong, the can needs to be secured so it’s not rolling away, and if you do it when the sun is at its highest point in the sky on the third Thursday of every month then there is no way it can go wrong. So you get trained by a world class chef on how to handle a knife, you secure the can, and you wait until the third Thursday at high noon. You’re full of optimism because how could it possibly go wrong now?! You’ve prepared and you’ve thought of every scenario that could make this go wrong and tackled it. The only logical conclusion to this is that the knife will slice easily through the can, right?

So you slice… and the knife slips and you end up cutting yourself. COOL. Reality check: it’s not about YOU. It was never about you and it will never be about you. It’s the knife. It doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to no matter what you do differently. And what is it called when you do the same thing over and over again but expect a different result? Insanity. And we aren’t insane, are we? No, I didn’t think so.

So what did I do for myself? I put down the knife. Several times. Don’t get me wrong, I kept picking it back up and seeing if it would work… often. It just didn’t make sense how something made to do a certain thing and yield a certain result wasn’t doing it. It’s why we continue to try. We’re in the habit of trying and not giving up because it feels uncomfortable and wrong to just stop trying. We’ve grown accustomed to this knife being able to cut through fruits and vegetables but not soda cans.

It’s not that it’s not working, it’s just not working the way that we wanted or expected.

At some point, I finally accepted that while it’s weird or foreign to not have the knife, it’s less stressful and better for me to just realize it’s not what I want anymore. No matter how difficult it was to break the habit, it was better for me if I did.

What does any of this rambling monologue of mine have to do with the quote I started out with? Well, I’ll tell ya. *cue lasers and dramatic music and echo* The future (future) (future)! We keep certain habits, even when they’re bad for us, because at least we know what’s coming. We are comforted by the same results, even when negative. So when we stop, we’re faced with a fuzzy, out of focus future and we suddenly feel like we’re trying to pick up toothpicks off the floor with chopsticks. We get tunnel vision and see only the toothpicks and the chopsticks. We are apprehensive about how it’s all going to unfold when things look this strange.

Stop. It.

No, seriously, stop it. Take it from someone who just had a refresher course in this. Stop. Breathe. Good. This is where we need to change our perspective and realize that we can still get what we want. It doesn’t have to be scary, it’s just new. New is good. Try not to feel apprehensive, embrace the anticipation of what is in store for you. Remember what you learned from the past and take this time to do things differently. For instance, watch reruns of Friends on Netflix until it asks you if you’re still watching (Yes, I’m still watching, why are you asking me? Why do you care? I’m here for good, Netflix.), rather than infomercials at 2am. Now, put down the chopsticks and grab a broom. Sweep up the toothpicks and throw them out. Then pick up the phone and call for Chinese food. Put those chopsticks to better use.

And remind yourself that the future is supposed to be fuzzy and out of focus. If we zero in on one specific thing constantly, we miss the other things that happen around us. Who knows, maybe the knife gets recalled because the one you got was from a defective batch. So they send you a new one and this time… it works exactly as you wanted. But even if you continue on without a soda can cutting knife, you still have the perfectly good (and sharp) knife set you originally had and it’s working exactly the way that you want and expect. You finally realized that you didn’t need to cut up soda cans anyway.

20 Years Strong!

***Hello, beautiful people, just beware that this is going to be a long post. I’ve got 20 years to catch you up on. Also, please be warned that there may be some graphic or disturbing photos ahead. You can stop reading or scroll past them. Do you, boo.***

This is going to be difficult for me. I have made one “big” speech about this before, but that is all. Outside of talking to my friends or individuals about what I’m about to share or the occasional social media post, I really haven’t delved deep into this. I hope you have your floaties, kids, this is about to get deep.

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Baby Bex, Age 5

Look at me! I’m seriously so cute. What about that is not adorable? The sneakers, the scrunched up socks, the oversized t-shirt and toothy smile. I’m the epitome of youth and innocence and as soon as this picture was taken I probably ran off to terrorize my two other sisters. As the middle child, I wasn’t so much the peacekeeper they stereotype the middle to be, so much as this bundle of energy that occasionally exploded. I was rambunctious and happy. I feel like early on I always knew that I was different from my sisters. I wasn’t built like them even when I was younger and I certainly didn’t (and still don’t) look like them. My poor dad has four daughters – not a son in sight. I like to describe myself as the Winnie-the-pooh sister. Everyone I know will say, “Oh, you were not!” and that might be true, but it still holds a somewhat accurate description. I was taller, yes, but…. let’s say… huskier. Not chubby, but I could definitely hold my own.

Shortly after the above picture was taken my world turned upside down. Not to be dramatic or anything, but it was true. Okay, there is a little drama, but that’s what makes this so good! My older sister, Kylie, who was 7 at the time, and I were hanging out outside at our dance studio’s yard. The studio was situated on this estate and had two buildings, the dance studio and the owner’s house and a hill you could sled ride down. We were waiting to get all dolled up to get pictures taken in our dance costumes and we were killing time outside. When we turned around at one point we saw the owner’s dogs, two Rottweilers named Zeus and Scar.

We never had a dog growing up, just a cat, so we weren’t entirely familiar with dog protocol and when you’re 5 and 7, anything above a freakin’ chihuahua looks huge. Imagine how we felt when their backs came to our middles. I could be exaggerating but that’s what I remember. I don’t remember a lot of this coming up, so I’m going off of memory and flashbacks and photos I’ve seen. However, I remember being terrified of these huge things and remembering that they just looked vicious. (This is NOT an attack on anyone who loves Rottweilers, this is my completely biased opinion. Duh. Get over yourself.) So, we did what any scared little girl would do – we ran. Picture Winnie-the-Pooh trying to run away from bees… that was me. I was uncoordinated and not fast and wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I know that one went after me and one went after Kylie. They thought we were playing with them and while they were normally calmer when apart, when together the two kind of fed off each other’s energy. They quickly got aggressive and I can’t remember if I fell or if one just caught up to me, but what happened after changed my life.

Thankfully Kylie made it inside the house safe and sound. Seriously, whatever I tell you after this, just know that if it weren’t for Kylie, things would have gone way worse. She was my guardian angel that day. I wasn’t so lucky, however. To the dogs, I was a toy; something that reacted when they bit and clawed and tossed me around… until I got boring. Only when I fell silent did they let go of me. Also, Kylie knew something was wrong when I didn’t come in with her. She hunted down the owner and they came out to try to find me. All I can remember is looking up and swearing that who I was seeing was in this long gown and she was talking to me so calmly and telling me it was going to be okay. I told my mom this and she said that it just wasn’t possible and that it was my personal guardian angel watching over me.

When they brought me inside, I was just a mess, but I was alive and that’s what was important. I was obviously in shock and not sure what was going on. It was first reported that I was a 9 year old boy that got hurt. They finally got word to my parents and they rushed over. The extent of my injuries is still something I can’t believe I sustained. My head had the most of the serious injuries and so did my neck. They were dogs and so they played like dogs. Deep gashes in my neck resulted in my carotid artery sticking out and my scalp peeled back. Bites and scratches were everywhere else and my right ear was just dangling on my shoulder. My dad tells me that he would just continuously tell me to squeeze his thumb. My mom tells me that I was trying to sit up because I had to go and look pretty for my pictures and I was going to be late. I guess I was saying I had a headache. I can’t remember much, but I do remember being put into the helicopter so I could get flown to the hospital and that a blonde paramedic was telling me that my mom couldn’t come with me because of the weight issue. Apparently that upset me so I started crying and saying that my mom wasn’t fat and that she could come with me! Don’t take me away from my momma, people!

My first surgery was hours long and I ended up being so swollen and unrecognizable that my mom thought I was a little boy when she saw me and walked right by my room! Thanks, Mom! I swear, though, my look is so versatile because I still looked so cute! LOOK AT THIS.

The cheeks, the chin strap of the bandage, the slitted eyes… UGH, I’m overwhelmed by how cute I am. I had a very long road ahead of me. My scalp was a disaster and it was affecting the rest of me. They thought that they could salvage the skin on my head by doing treatments in a hyperbaric chamber, but it didn’t stick. Next step: skin graft. They took the skin from my buttocks and used it for my head. Now, the only insult that I will ever say “Yeah, you’re right” to is being called a butthead. I am technically a butthead. Somewhere in there they also removed my left lat muscle from my back and had to temporarily use it for my head. For what? No idea, but I just know that I no longer have it and it’s the perfect excuse to never be able to do a pull up.

However, now I was dealing with trying to recover the use of my left arm and the doctors were saying that they highly doubted I would have full use of it ever again. The above photo shows that I could only lift my arm that high. I wouldn’t be able to lift it past my shoulder. Then my skin graft was a giant scab that itched like crazy. They would have to cut away the dead skin and I would have to start fresh a lot. I would go to bed with socks taped on my hands so I didn’t itch it, but I was determined sometimes and I would dig at it until I was bleeding. I had stitches and staples and I was uncomfortable and everything was out of my control.

I was five years old. I wanted to be with my sisters playing outside and running around like the rest of the kids my age. Instead, I was in a hospital going from surgery to surgery, being told I couldn’t sleep this way or that, I had to take this medicine and then go to therapy, on and on and on. My parents tell me that I handled it pretty well. Not perfectly, mind you, but pretty well. They are the best people in the entire world and I am absolutely blessed to have gone through it all with them. My mom would hunt down green Jell-O for me at 2 in the morning and my dad would be the absolute best at just being strong and there for me.

The doctors decided that the best route would be skin expanders for my head. The skin graft worked, but I was left without nerve endings where they put the graft. And since it was such a large area, it also left me without being able to grow my own hair. I say they should have used a man’s butt to skin graft because I know for a fact that those things are hairy AF. Alas, they decided that the skin expanders would be my best bet to minimize the area that was grafted and maximize the area that would be able to grow my own hair.

These pictures aren’t pretty, I know. Feel free to not dwell. But just look at how little I had to work with and how amazing the doctors were and all that they did. The expanders look uncomfortable, but they weren’t. They were these small balloons that they would gradually increase with saline until they stretched it as far as they could. We did this a few times until they couldn’t stretch it anymore or they’d risk tearing the skin.

BOOM! Check out the one above on the left compared to the right. I mean, you can’t deny that it looks SO much better. I started with practically just bangs and the doctors managed to give me hope that I could look normal… somewhat. At this point, I proved the doctors wrong and regained 100% use of my left arm, stopped picking at my scabby booty, and was well on my way to getting better. I still had a long way to go, though. As great as these expanders were for me overall, it took a toll on me emotionally, mentally, and physically. I tended to get angry and lash out easily and frequently. I couldn’t dance for the longest time and every time I wanted to go play, it was with my mother warning “Be careful of your head, Boo!” I felt like the ugly duckling for a long time as I got older. I was now the girl who was always wearing hats because I didn’t like showing off the scars. I was sitting out in gym because I couldn’t participate, although it meant I got to read so I didn’t hate that so much. Wearing a swimsuit was embarrassing because my scars and skin graft were angry looking and purple.

However, I didn’t often let it get me down. Did I have my moments? Oh, hell yeah, I still do! But I’m alive and I’m grateful for that alone. My parents and sisters were so awesome at making me feel like I wasn’t some breakable doll who got special treatment. I was grounded and punished when I was naughty and I fought with my sisters and ran around and did everything that I possibly could and even got back into dance.

This experience is sad and it hurt so many people and despite the physical scars, it left us all with a lot of emotional ones, too. Yet, this experience ended up being as good as we could possibly make it. I know that it made us all stronger, not just me. My parents had to see me like that and I hate that it happened. Worse than that, my sisters had to see me like that. I never wish that on anyone. I may not be able to be an olympic swimmer or do a pull up on my own, but I’m healthy and alive and everything I’ve been through has made me a stronger person. I feel like we all have the one thing that truly tests our strength in life and mine just came super early.

What bothers me the most is seeing or hearing anyone moan or complain or try to cover up some imperfection or scar. Scars can be such a beautiful thing if you let them. They tell a story about your life and what you made it through. I’m still self conscious about my scars, but I embrace them so much more now than I did before. There is a lot more to my story than just this, but it’s “just this” that I’m celebrating today. 40 surgeries, 20 years, three sisters, two parents, and one me. That’s quite a lot to be thankful for!  Twenty years ago to this day I was hurt. Twenty years ago I almost died. Twenty years ago I survived.

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2015 at Kylie’s wedding

Books Chapter 1: Jodi Ellen Malpas

**Disclaimer: I apologize if this reads all over the place. I’ve watched way too much Gilmore Girls recently and seem to be channeling their way of talking.***

Yesssss! *rubs hands together gleefully* Books. My favorite topic since I was about 3 when I decided that I should read my books instead of having my parents read them to me. It was torture in school when they made you read out loud. All of the other kids read much slower and stumbled over simple words. I excelled at something for once! YAY!

I was reading Stephen King’s Carrie when all the other kids were reading Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. Granted, I never picked up another Stephen King novel again. I think that 12 years old was a bit too young for that type of novel. *shrugs* Oh, well! It’s not my genre of choice anyway. I doubt you’d even have to guess it, but I shall pause for effect so that you might indulge me. *pauses* *looks around* *examines manicure* *notices manicure is shitty* *looks up* You good? Yeah, thought so. It’s romance. DUH.

I may not have gone through a “I want to be a princess” phase (although, if I did, I wanted to be Megara from Hercules. She was so sassy and strong, yet sensitive. Excellent combination in my opinion), but I love romance. I love the typical boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, event happens that almost separates boy/girl, find a solution and live happily ever after. I love the predictability of it! For me, it was a means of escaping the real world and diving into another that, no matter what happened in the middle, all worked out in the end. So, after so many years of bingeing on romance novels, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite authors/books/series with you. Because you care obviously.

Today’s guest: Jodi Ellen Malpas. I’ve finally figured out why I’m practically stalking her on FB and Twitter and hoarding her books as if they’ve been blessed by a high priest or some other awesome thing I can’t think of right now. SHE IS THE UK VERSION OF ME. Well, she’s what I hope I’d be like if I were British. Yes, I do wish I were British from time to time.

From my “stalking” (JK, Jodi), I’ve noticed several similarities between the two of us. *Sidenote: I realize these are generic and a stretch to connect us, much like a horoscope, but IDGAF. Let me live.* We both are brunette, we both enjoy wearing Converse, we both have a tattoo on our right foot (NO I AM NOT BEING CREEPY IT IS ON HER WEBSITE I SWEAR), we have two boys (okay, fine, mine are cats and hers are humans, but you still have to take care of them and love them), and wine is something we enjoy. I have no idea how old she is because she looks freakin’ good, man. She’s a hot momma. Also, we both enjoy the more “Alpha male” type of guy.

To be completely honest, her style of writing in first person is not a particular favorite of mine, but only because I like to know what everyone is thinking in books. However, the plus with first person is that it feels a little more realistic since you have no idea what everyone is thinking IRL. I stumbled on her first trilogy in 2014 and since I was horrible at adulting, I was half unemployed and living at home, so I stayed up until 3 in the morning reading her books from cover to cover.

Her first series, This Man, was something I seriously could not put down. I was back to my high school self of having a book everywhere, even places you shouldn’t want to read at. I believe I even debated bringing it into church with me, but thought that God might smite me for bringing “smut” into His casa. But I digress. What intrigued me the most with her characters was that the girl was sometimes frustrating and annoying and the guy was overbearing and controlling. I kept thinking that this does not happen in real life, duh, but at the same time, it totally does. A girl (Ava) does fall for a guy (Jesse) she shouldn’t and then has issues figuring out if he’s good for her or not. I had for these books what Ava had for Jesse – kind of a love/hate relationship. I was going crazy over the back and forth between the two and couldn’t imagine putting up with a guy that would dictate what I should wear, who I could speak to, how much I could drink, etc. Yet, I loved that he cared so deeply, even if he was a bit neurotic with his methods. Although, now that I’ve thought about it some more, if a guy has a good sense of style and can actually pick out a decent outfit, that part I would not mind on some days because that would mean I could sleep in an extra five minutes.

I’ve always been the romantic type. There are times when I want my life to play out like a book/movie and I admit to getting disappointed if it doesn’t. *curses and shakes fist to heavens* I get that kind of vibe when I read these books. Jesse is the god-like specimen that Ava knows is not good for her, but how do you stay away from someone who just wants to take care of you? What girl does not want the guy to pamper you and protect you and want you around? Granted, he takes it really effing far for me personally because I would need “me” time. But, he knew what he wanted and fought for it. Even if he was a bit crazy with his methods, he fought to keep Ava in his life. I don’t care who you are or what you do, but when a guy fights hard for you, it makes you feel good.

There’s just something about reading these types of things to me that is so enjoyable. I know that it rarely happens in real life, so it’s good to escape to a fictional one where the guy just goes all out for the lady love. The characters are just so intense in everything that it makes it so intriguing to find out how they’d handle each situation. Although, I hate that Ava continuously walks away or purposely does stuff to make Jesse lose his shit. But in her defense, he kind of deserved it at times. By the end, they managed to function together in a way that made them stronger and yet still be themselves. I find that endearing.

I think that Jodi managed to write two very intriguing series that took real life and how a girl might want her life to go and mesh it into gold. It’s got everything! It’s got highs and lows and drunk girl nights and social events and parental issues and childhood horrors and *breathes* overbearing but endearing guys and supportive best friends. Jodi is releasing a new book come September of this year and I am on edge already. Why, oh why, must she make us wait this long?!

If you ever do read her books, please let me know your thoughts. Even if you don’t read them, following her on Twitter and Facebook is so much fun. She’s so interactive with her fans and posts loads of photos and fun shit like that. *sigh* I’d kill to be able to hang out with her for a day. Jodi, what do you think? Care to hang out and drink wine? Also, what’s your view on the Oxford comma? I need to know!

UPDATE: Guys, I’m freakin’ out. I woke up to a response from Ms. Malpas herself! Seriously, it’s the coolest thing. Also, I was so lame in my response to her and also my initial message to her contained a typo. How embarrassing! Anyway, check out the pic below of her response. She thinks I’m brilliant. Eek!

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Travels: Chapter 1 Nashville, TN

I celebrated my birthday recently and I turned the dreaded 25 years old. Not that 25 is old, but it’s that age where you’re like, officially an adult. Or you’re supposed to be, I guess. You can no longer really use the excuse, “I’m young! I’m finding my way so excuse me for messing up.” No, you’re now 25 and should have at least a quarter of your shit together. You’re a quarter of a century, girl, start adulting in life.

I’m proud to say that I have a majority of my shit together and a lot of it happened way before I was 25. However, I’m resisting the transition into full on adult. *cue quarter life crisis* I’m joking.

However, to celebrate this birthday, my boyfriend (Thanks again!) booked us a trip to Nashville for a nice long weekend. I loved Nashville when I visited three years ago and have always wanted to go back. I was super excited and even made arrangements to meet up with country morning radio hosts, Big D and Bubba. Look them up, they’re amazingly entertaining.

Once we got there, we started to really think about what we wanted to do. I’m horrible with planning and hate making decisions, but I’m always down to do anything and try anything. Boyf, bless him, made a list of different types of restaurants and places that we should try to see. So we fit as much in as possible!

Restaurants/Bars

Bakersfield – upbeat, funky atmosphere, Mexican restaurant, lunch/dinner. Food was delicious!

Merchant’s – hipster-ish vibe, great for brunch/lunch, yummy apps that are perfect to share, interior was beautifully decorated

Puckett’s – BEST BBQ PLACE I’VE EVER BEEN TO, had incredible live band there, highly recommend it.

Bar Sovereign – speakeasy vibe, low lighting, intimate atmosphere, fun homemade drinks

The Southern – amazing brunch, best fried chicken and waffles I’ve ever had, huge bar area, great atmosphere.

Jackalope – brewery/bar, good beer, several musicians performing live, had games like Jenga, Battleship, and Candyland to play while drinking.

Party Fowl – sports bar type of restaurant, had amazing wings, excellent beer selection

Kayne Prime – steakhouse, classy atmosphere, excellent food and wine, makes you feel pampered and fancy. Best spot for a birthday dinner.

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Ambience at Kayne

The Patterson House – speak easy type of vibe, bar is behind a curtain and where they sit you is where you stay, you get the bartenders undivided attention and the drinks may take a few minutes to make, but they’re so good it’s worth the wait.

Biscuit Love – breakfast spot, fun diner feel, very fast service, food was to die for

Etch – classy restaurant/bar, good drinks, had excellent tempura mushrooms, good for drinks and appetizers

Entertainment

A guitar place that Boyf visited had loads of vintage and used guitars. That was cool to see all the different types of guitars and amps and bass’ especially for the musically challenged (me).

My first strip club visit was to one that would have been ranked low on the list. However, I was fascinated and so glad that I went because now I know two things. 1: there are better strip clubs out there and 2: I now know that if I practiced enough I could do things with my ass while in a full split that I didn’t know was possible.

The mall. Yes, I know that I can go shopping at home, but this Nordstrom was better than ours and I got a lot of cute clothes, okay?

Zanies. Steve Rannazzisi was performing and he was incredible! So funny that my cheeks started to hurt from laughing. The place is smallish, so the audience was close to the comedians which allowed for more audience interaction. It was amazing! 10/10!

BIG D AND BUBBA STUDIO. Oh my goodness gracious, this was one of the most exciting days of my life. If you don’t know who they are, then look them up. But just know that they’re a nationally syndicated country morning show and I’ve been a fan of theirs for years. We’ve communicated a bit via Twitter and when I tweeted at them shamelessly a few times to let them know I was going to be in Nashville, they said I should go visit. AND I FREAKING DID. I met up with them at their studio and it’s just amazing in there. Their studio is just so cool and chill and relaxed and has this friendly feeling to it. I sat and chatted with those two and Producer Patrick and we took a selfie (Thanks, Bubba!) to document this moment for all of time. I shall cherish it for life.

So, that’s basically a quick run down of my trip. I had an incredible time! It was the perfect balance of going out and seeing Nashville and trying new places and foods and drinks, but also getting to relax and sleep in and do a little bit of nothing. It was a good, long weekend with someone I love celebrating me, I mean, really, it doesn’t get much better than that!

EDIT: I finished this tonight because I was determined to post on February 29th because I won’t be able to do that again for four more years. Radical, dudes.

Motivation: Chapter 1

Let’s start off with the fact that I’ve been writing this freakin’ post for two weeks now. I tried to be motivational and put my personal experiences in here to help relate to you all, but you know what? It felt lame and it was way too long. Who has that kind of time?! I don’t – I couldn’t even find the time to finish the dang thing. So I deleted it all and started over. Life is about fresh starts, right? I mean, 2016 is OUR year!

So, you know what? F*ck it. Let’s keep it short and sweet, shall we? Let’s shall.

I realized right around Christmas that I was very unhappy with my body and I can’t blame anyone but myself, so I had to find ways to motivate myself to get back on the Healthy Train. It wasn’t enough to just hit the gym and make my rounds on the machines. Also, I hate cardio with a passion and running on a treadmill is incredibly dull to me, so no thank you.

I pestered my fit as hell sister for tips and workouts and recipes and inspirational people to follow on Instagram, etc. Once I had a base, it wasn’t so hard. I like trying new things in the gym and I like lifting weights, but I get easily distracted, lazy, and discouraged when I don’t see the results I want in about five minutes. Hello, I just did 70 million abs, why can’t I see them!? Knowing this about myself, I had to surround myself with people who had similar goals as mine. My boyfriend hits the gym frequently, so I go with him, but he wants to bulk up and I want to slim down and that can sometimes result in different workouts. It’s still motivating though! If he goes, then I’m going and I can figure out what I’m doing once I’m there. No big deal. I also chat with my friend in PA every day and we are constantly telling each other not to let a cheat day or a lazy day get us down. We vent and bitch and moan about workouts, but also tag each other in posts that are inspirational and send each other new workouts that we might get.

I recently came to terms with the fact that I’m not going to turn into some gym bunny where fitness is my life. It’s not a passion of mine like it has been for so many. I think it’s great that so many have because that means they gain experience and then share it with us! I appreciate them even more for that. It’s not for me, though and I find that I’m okay with that. I can’t continue to beat myself up for not going to the gym every day or even 4-5 days a week. I can’t let the fact that I haven’t done cardio (again) make me feel as if I’ll never look good. First off, there is nothing wrong with how I look currently. I have my health and I’ve got a great life, that’s all I need. Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve the way I look. There’s no strict way of doing it, either. I know that it will take longer for me to get where I want if I don’t always eat right, if I don’t hit the gym every day, etc etc. However, if I keep a healthy mentality through it all, I’ll have a healthy physicality, too.

I need to stop comparing myself to others, too. I won’t stop admiring others or drawing inspiration from them, however! I mean, I will constantly look at my sisters and marvel at their dedication to fitness and constantly congratulate them when they’ve worked so hard and done so well. And I know that they’ll do the same for me, even if I’m not “hard core”. As it stands, I enjoy going to the gym now. I enjoy lifting weights and ~*sometimes*~ doing cardio and I enjoy the way I feel after it. Just like I enjoy eating a majority of healthy foods and being aware of how much I’m eating within a day and trying to find a nice balance. Yet, I’m not going to kick myself for taking a night off and sitting on the couch for a full day eating pizza and binging on Gilmore Girls for the 100th time. Why, you ask? BECAUSE I ENJOY EATING PIZZA AND WATCHING TV, TOO!

This is the only life we’ve got. Even if you believe in reincarnation, you aren’t going to come back with the same exact life, so take the one you’re given and let it be the absolute best it can be. Be healthy and be happy and eat healthy and eat crappy. Do what makes you happy the most. If you’re unhappy, take healthy steps to getting yourself happy again. Surround yourself with support and love and inspiration and never ever forget to just marvel at how great your life really is. For instance, today I know I am not going to get to the gym and I know that I’m going to get home open a bottle of wine with my boyfriend and just relax for the evening and it’s going to be great. Tomorrow, though, who knows – maybe I’ll wake up and want to go to the gym while Boyf is off playing basketball. And if I do, then dang, I’m going to feel so accomplished! And if I don’t? Then that just means I slept in a little and the bags under my eyes will love me for it. It’s a win-win really.

So go and #BeXcited about life! Hashtag of the day: #BeXcitedFitness