Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Do You Say To Taking Chances?

Today I'm home sick. I have left my couch long enough to make it to my bed and that's about the extent of my day. I have watched an unsettling number of episodes of Numb3rs and a Lisa Ling documentary series on Netflix. However, as I sit here watching quite possibly my twelfth hour of television, I am so grateful for the decision I made to become my own boss!

I had a plan for leaving my job to work from home. I needed to be at X level in my Scentsy business, I needed to be bringing in Y amount from my Etsy business, I needed to have Z amount in the bank account and THEN I could do it because I would have it all figured out. As it turns out, sometimes plans are just plans and they may never see action.

When I recently left my job, neither X, Y, nor Z were where I had intended them to be but I made a conscious decision to get them there. I knew this was my ONE chance to take my life into my own hands. I had to ask Zach to trust me and give me a little time to prove that this would work. Thankfully, he obliged....begrudgingly but he obliged. I realized that there really may never be a perfect time for someone to take a risk on their future. Your own X, Y, and Z may never be where you "need" them to be to change your life and less than a month after leaving my job I certainly wouldn't try to tell you that I'm there yet. But I'm on my way. I'm getting there. On my terms, on my schedule, with only myself to answer to and that is a pretty cool feeling.

In the last month there have been a couple of times where I had to remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing. I scrolled through the employment ads and thought wouldn't it be EASIER to just apply to a few of these and go back to what I know? Wouldn't it be SAFER to just conform to the 9 to 5? Wouldn't my outcome be GUARANTEED if I just did what everyone around me was doing? Probably. Maybe. Sure. But would I be happy? Would I be doing what I wanted with my one life?

In the last year I have told myself constantly "this is my ONLY life." Finally, whether I was prepared or not, I'm living it. Sure, I have a long way to go. I have a lot of real work to put into this chapter of my life to get it where I want it to be but if I don't take that chance now, when would I?

So today, I'm grateful to my boss for letting me stay home and rot my brain away with Netflix. I promised her that tomorrow I'll get something accomplished.

"But what do you say to taking chances? What do you say to jumping off the edge? Never knowing if there's solid ground below, or a hand to hold, or hell to pay...what do you say?"
-Celine Dion

Friday, September 18, 2015

On North West

I’m not one for celebrity gossip. Sure, I can’t stop myself from checking out the trashy tabloid covers as I stand in line at the grocery store, but “Did you see what Miley did?” and “Guess who just got divorced?” are rarely found in my daily conversations. In fact, our limited cable channels has its upside as I don’t often even have the opportunity to delve into the private lives of those in Hollywood.

Recently, however, as I scroll through my social media pages, I’ve found myself unnaturally (for me, atleast) irritated at how many articles I’ve seen with baiting titles such as “You won’t believe what North West did at Kanye’s fashion show!” or “Wait until you see how Kim reacted to North West’s tantrum!”

The titles alone have been enough to aggravate me but, alas, I’ve also opened several of these articles and read the entire story. Did you know that a two year old’s behavior was front page news worthy? You guys, it IS! Extra! Extra! Read all about it! A toddler with one thousand cameras in her face who is being asked to sit still for the entire length of a fashion show is acting like a toddler with one thousand cameras in her face who is being asked to sit still for the entire length of a fashion show!

In the last article I read, and I mean that as both a timeline reference and in that it will be the LAST article I read, the author referenced North West’s “infamous meltdown” at last year’s fashion show. I’m not kidding, they used the word infamous in reference to a toddler not enjoying sitting still while The World’s Most Beautiful People walked in front of her. DOES THIS KID NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF HER FATHER’S BUSINESS?! Get it together, North!

Listen, I’ll be the LAST person you meet to ever stand up for Kim Kardashian, and Kanye? Yikes, don’t even get me started there. No, seriously, don’t get me started. He’s a nightmare of a human being. But the kid? She’s a kid.

Is North probably a little more spoiled than your average two year old? I’m going to guess that, yes, she probably is. Is North allowed to get away with more than my nephew will be allowed to get away with over the next few years? I hate to make assumptions but yes, probably so. But people, she’s two. She’s a baby. She’s a baby followed by paparazzi with bright flashing lights yelling her name as her mom carries her to the car. She’s a baby who is taken to the kinds of events that my neighbors in Central Indiana couldn’t even dream of attending, much less think of toting their child to!

I guess my concern is that this is of concern to us. We’re living in a world where Donald Trump is running for President and a Miss America contestant was bashed for her career as a nurse on daytime television. Priorities, folks, get some.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

8 Things I Learned From My Rescued Pets

 Patience – Okay, I won’t say I’ve mastered this one. This is more like one of those things they CONTINUE to teach me because they certainly continue to test it! Potty training, the rare accident in the house from the dog that is now 150% potty trained, cat scratches on your shoes no matter how many inviting, scratchtastic toys you place around the house, somebody always under your feet….you get it, right? They test it. Every inch of your patience, they’ll test it. How you learn to handle those tests is the gift they give you. How your patience continues to grow, that’s the important thing.

2.      Perspective – Did you know that according to the ASPCA, the Midwest has the highest number of puppy mills in the United States? Did you know that in an article published by WTHR News in 2014, my home state of Indiana ranked number 5 in the number of puppy mills under scrutiny with the law? Did you know that there is currently no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” hence the continued issues of trying to figure out who can get away with what? Did you know that a large majority of those cute and cuddly puppies behind the glass at the pet store came from one of these puppy mills? Did you know that you can find 100% pure bred dogs in every shelter around the country? There was a time that I didn’t know these things. There was a time when I never questioned where those puppies behind the glass came from, where I never dreamed you could find anything but a ‘mutt’ at the shelter, where I didn’t know how close to my home those puppy mills were. When you delve into the world of rescue your perspective changes in a way that will never allow you to close your eyes to these horrors again.

3.      Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover – Sure, that’s an easy one, right? You learned that one in Kindergarten, didn’t you? There’s a whole new world of judgement, however, when you own a dog. Some of the sweetest, most loving dogs I have met through rescue have been, I’ll say it, the UGLIEST things I’ve ever seen! I’ve met deformed dogs and scarred dogs, mangy dogs and skeletal dogs. I’ve also had my face kissed by dogs I would have been scared to approach before I joined the world of rescue; dogs whose heads are bigger than mine, whose faces look ever grumpy, dogs whose breeds I had heard horror stories about.

4.      If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All – Again, that’s an easy one that you learned right around the time you learned not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, though, I think we need to send our adults back to Kindergarten to learn these simple ideals once again. When I rescued Juno, our pit bull, I knew I would come across some negativity. I wasn’t blind to the continued negative image of bully breeds in our media; I knew I would catch it at some point. The first time that someone spoke negatively to me, though, about my little darling was absolutely heartbreaking. Didn’t they know she was my family? Didn’t they know that I loved her every bit as much, if not more, than they loved their own dog? It’s hard for those of us in rescue, specifically those of us who choose to advocate for the breeds that need it the most. We are questioned, doubted, and sometimes even harassed over our love for these breeds. Many of us have learned through these unkind encounters just how important it is to go back to Bambi 101 and channel our inner Thumper.

5.      Comradery – Have you ever been driving down the road and witnessed that sly little wave between passing motorcyclists? They have no idea who they just passed but man, they own a bike too so they MUST be cool! There’s that same sense of community between those in rescue as well.
“Is your dog from a rescue? Mine too!”
“Yea, he is. Did we just become best friends?”

6.      Spay/Neuter Your Pet – I always knew you should spay or neuter your pet but mostly because I thought it was gross if your dog humped my leg or you had to put a diaper on your female in heat. Have you ever researched any of these numbers? For instance, did you know that in the United States one shelter pet is euthanized nearly every thirteen seconds? Or, and this is a good one, have you ever Googled how many kittens can come from one single pair of mating cats? Sure, we will probably never see that number when we take into account the ones who have still births, the ones who die after birth, etc. but the knowledge that it’s even possible is enough for me! I never knew the true importance of spaying and neutering until I saw for myself what it really means.

7.      Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – (Or your blood, sweat, and tears) We have all seen some kind of heartbreaking video circulating on the internet that shows a sweet little puppy in deplorable conditions with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all felt sad, maybe we’ve even teared up or better yet, shared it on social media so others can see it too! That’s great, it is, there is and always will be a need for these things just to be seen to begin with but that’s not where it ends. It wasn’t until I donated money, volunteered my time, and opened my home up to a tiny litter of orphaned dachshund puppies that I realized how much more there is that we need to be doing than sharing a video on our Facebook page.

8.      Unconditional Love – Yep, the most important of all that they’ve taught me. I’ve told this story and I would tell it a thousand times again if only it would encourage one person to stop at the shelter. When I met my cat, Salmon, he was being carried into the vet clinic I worked at in the arms of a Good Samaritan who picked him up off of the side of the road. He was dying, that much was obvious. The stranger placed him into my arms like a baby and I rushed him to the back for immediate care. I never intended to keep a cat in my home but that moment that I took Salmon into my arms I felt with the most certainty I’ve ever had that we had to save him and that he was, without a single doubt, meant for me. He was mine just as if he had been placed on this earth for me and me alone. Is that crazy? It just might be but hey, that’s the kind of love a rescuer gets to feel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To The Twenty-Something Who Doesn't Have It All Figured Out

Dear Twenty-Something,

Are you overwhelmed yet? Are you lost yet? Have you woken up and wondered what the hell you’re doing? Have you had to start over? Have you doubted yourself?

I’m going to take a great leap and assume you’ve answered yes to at least one of those.

There’s a lot of invisible pressure on the twenty-somethings. We’re supposed to finish school and find a career and find a spouse and maybe even start having babies. All before what, we turn thirty?   Who set that pretend deadline anyway?

Chances are you’re somewhere in the middle of all of that. Chances are you finished school but now you don’t know whether or not to continue your education or jump into the job field. Chances are you’re newly married and don’t know whether to focus on your career or on starting a family. Chances are you started a career and now you don’t even know why you chose that field in the first place. Chances are you just don’t know.

And you know what? That is okay.

It is okay if you don’t have it all figured out yet. It is okay if you can’t do it all. It is okay if thirty is coming faster than you expected and you don’t have a white picket fence and a 401k. It is okay if you can’t be everything and if you forgot yesterday’s load of laundry in the washer and now you have to wash it all over again because it stinks. It is okay if you tossed a frozen pizza in the oven because that’s all that you had in you for today. It is okay if you’ve had four different jobs since you turned twenty and you’re still not entirely sure that there won’t be a fifth one. It’s okay if twenty-five passed you up and there still isn’t a ring on your finger or you’re almost thirty and baby number one isn’t here yet.

It is okay. You are enough right now. In this moment, you are right where you should be. I promise you.

All my love,
The Twenty-Something Right There With You

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Don't Stop Prayin'

Ever since my journey of faith began, prayer has been one of the most difficult things for me to remember to do. I forget to pray. Sometimes I don’t even forget, I just don’t even think about it to begin with! Prayer is a completely conscious act for me. It doesn’t just come to me naturally but recently I learned a big lesson about forgetting to pray.

About this time last year, I was praying regularly. I was unhappy at my job and I was taking it home with me. I wasn’t a good partner to Zach. I was angry and short and irritated. When my unhappiness from carrying my job home with me began to affect our relationship, I knew it was time to make a decision. Something had to give and that was not going to be my relationship with Zach. I prayed. Every day I prayed, “Lord, where do you want me to go and what do you want me to do? Lead me.” Faithfully. Religiously. I prayed that prayer.

There’s a new type of freedom when you give up and give in to God that way. When you say “My answer isn’t good enough. I need to know Yours.” In all honesty, it felt good to take the pressure off of myself and put it onto God and it paid off. I felt completely led by Him to leave my job and after praying that prayer day in and day out, I did it. I left.

After leaving, the pieces of this new puzzle continued to fall into place. Everything was working out perfectly. I couldn’t believe what could happen when you just let God take the lead! I was amazed and so very thankful. I was so amazed that I forgot to keep praying. I forgot to keep praying for Him to lead me. I forgot to keep asking Him what he wanted to do, to make sure that I stayed on the path He was creating for me.

Then one day, months down the road, after I ignored all of the signs that my path needed intervention, I woke up and everything was falling apart. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened over months of not praying, not listening. I looked around and wondered how the hell I had gotten here? It hit me right in the face; because I stopped praying. I became complacent. I had prayed. I had gotten my answer. I had stopped praying
Was winding up at this point really as simple as not praying? Yes. What if I had passed by other doors He was opening because I wasn’t listening to His gentle guidance? What if I had missed out on opportunities He had been laying out for me because I was too confident in my own self to pay attention?

So now I have to start over. Again. I left the job I was in. Again. I’m confident it was the right choice but I wish I had been listening sooner because who knows what He had been trying to tell me the entire time? So now I’m unemployed. I don’t have a set plan because I hadn’t been praying for one.

So here I am.

I spent my first day of unemployment the way one spends the first day of unemployment; with a three hour nap and a bottle of Moscato. There was also a little bit of Peach Schnapps involved but we won’t talk about that.

I called it a mental health day. I pretended that there weren’t bills that were going to need to be paid. I pretended the next month’s rent wasn’t quickly approaching. I pretended I had it all together and I wasn’t scared of this gigantic change in my life and lifestyle. I reminded myself of the moments leading up to my decision to leave my job. I reminded myself that this was the correct decision and that, above all, God would provide.

The rest, I am quite sure, will come into place. Of that I will be sure to pray.