Thankful.

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The past week has been a complete whirlwind. I spent it in Ohio with my family preparing for Thanksgiving, cooking, cleaning, starting a second job, and lots of travelling. So I didn’t really have a moment to post anything on here.

Because of that, I wanted to go ahead and voice what I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful for my enormous, loud, ridiculous family that I don’t see nearly enough and make my life so much more joyful.

I am thankful for my wonderful spouse that makes every day exciting.

I am thankful for the talented, hilarious, kind friends that I have made.

I am thankful for the two enormous dogs that love me unconditionally and think of me as their world. 

I am thankful for the examples of the extremely strong women in my family. Especially my own mother and my dad’s mother. I am in awe of you. 

I am thankful for growing up with eight younger siblings. You all shaped me in ways that never would have happened without you. 

I am thankful for the respectful, intelligent, kind men that raised me and that I grew up with. Thank you for making sure I knew that having a raised bar was important.

I am thankful for switching over to working completely at home this year. It has done absolute wonders for my mental and physical well being. 

I am thankful for books. That I have motivation to read them, that I have time to read them, and that they exist. 

I am thankful for this blog. It’s so wonderful to have a place to channel my thoughts. 

I am thankful for the chance to embark on an enormous journey next year. I’ve never been more scared and excited in my life. Living a minimalistic life on a renovated school bus will be so different from anything I’ve ever known. 

I am thankful that even though our world is in complete shambles, a lot of us are having intelligent conversations and working hard to change what we are living in.  

I am thankful for the resources I have to help and speak about my mental health. 

I am thankful for wonderful coworkers and a fantastic boss. 

I am thankful to have chances to make my body and mind better every single day.

 I am thankful for rainy days, clear nights, coffee, libraries, hikes, vinyl, hard cider, clove cigarettes, quiet mornings, bonfires, dogs, old movies, music, plaid, Doc Martens, long drives, and the month of October. It truly is the little things. 

I am thankful to you, for reading this and giving me a reason to keep writing on here. 

 

Thank you for reading this. I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments that you have…What are you thankful for this year?

 

 

Becoming Their Forever Home

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“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” 

Milan Kundera

Nothing is more incredible to me than the unconditional love and companionship of a dog. I have never experienced a love quite like the one I experience from the two puppies I have. Whether you’ve just taken them home or they’ve been in the family for ten years- you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

For anyone looking for a furry friend to take home, I wanted to share a few thoughts/tips for you on the subject.

Adopt or Shop?

Personally, I believe it’s a great service to adopt a dog from a local shelter or pound. Even if you’re looking for a specific breed, they have specialized shelters for different types of dogs all over the country. These dogs have a much more difficult time finding a home, and you are still able to find the personality, size, and breed that you want. My retired racing Greyhound is a rescue (I could do a whole separate blog on why you should adopt a Greyhound, in fact I may do that later on). He is a wonderful, sweet boy and I am so glad we made the decision to rescue him rather than going to a breeder for something else.

Now I may get some flack for this, but I also don’t believe it’s the end of the world if you decide to go to a breeder. If you want a puppy that has a longer lifespan, or a very rare breed of dog, that may be your only option for finding one. We weren’t planning on getting my second dog from a breeder, but I have a cousin whose Golden Retriever had Goldendoodle puppies and I couldn’t resist them. He will probably be the only dog I purchase that way though- rescues will be our main focus from now on. We are actually applying to rescue a Corgi at the beginning of next year! (Eeek!)

When you do finally pick out your pup, I’d highly recommend bringing any other dogs in the house to meet it before you bring him home. I would also say the same thing about any kids the dog will be around. Most of the time it will be outlined very clearly what the dog will do well around, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure everyone gets along!

Your New Best Friend

If you really need a rundown on why dogs are fantastic, I have some great reasons to consider adopting a pet. For someone like me, with heavy mental issues and no children, it has been an amazing source of joy and peace to have dogs around me. They give me something to nurture and snuggle endlessly, which is very important. Dogs also make excellent bed warmers. They are perfect to keep next to you, especially in the winter. If you need motivation to take a walk/run, your dog definitely needs the exercise- take them with you! Also, no matter what size/color/temperament that you want- there’s a dog that will match up perfectly.

Here’s my two balls of joy-

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Please share your dog stories/pictures with me, I’d love to see them and even share them on a future blog post if you’d like!

 

 

A Letter to Myself at 9

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Kristen,

I wanted to share some thoughts with you now that I’ve had 14 extra years of experience. It’s too bad you can’t actually read this at nine years old since I’m going to be giving a lot of advice-but maybe it’s better that you learn everything the natural way.

At this point in your life, things are absolutely perfect. You’re a chubby, awkward, imaginative, active kid with a passion for flowers, reading, becoming an international spy AND ballerina, and violin. You have four (going on five!) siblings, a dopey, wonderful dog named Bailey and two amazing parents. I envy you at this point in your life- I can’t really remember a better time to be alive.

A lot of the things you have and enjoy at this point will stay with you throughout adulthood. You still read about 2-3 books a week, your parents are still incredible, Mary is your best friend, plants are something you still delight in, you’re in Virginia for the time being, and you are passionate as ever.

On the other hand, almost everything has completely changed. You have eight siblings at this point- four ridiculous, amazing brothers and four lovely sisters. Most of the family lives in Carrolton, Ohio now (long story), Mary goes to college in Steubenville, Ohio, and David is in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Air Force).

I hate to tell you this, but Bailey passed away about a year ago. He lived an extremely long, happy life and you loved him until the very end. Mom and Dad have a new dog who looks like him- a big meaty head, sweet as pie, and always happy to see you.  You have two of your own dogs as well- a retired racing Greyhound named Whiskey and a Goldendoodle named Mr. Snuffleupagus (you probably don’t even know what one of these is at 9, oops).

Oh did I mention, you’re also MARRIED. For two years now, to be exact. Your spouse is very handsome, innovative, has the best laugh in the world (I know that’s always been important to you) and he loves you dearly. I know you said marriage wouldn’t happen until at LEAST age 30, but when he came along you couldn’t help yourself.

You never did become an international spy/ballerina. I know you said you’d never give up on those dreams, but let’s be honest, you don’t have the body or stamina for that much dancing and being a spy would cause too much anxiety. You work in something called social media, which I am sure at your age you have never even heard of. You absolutely love it and you get to work at home! It’s fantastic.

I will not tell you that things stay as easy and wonderful as they are at nine. You are going to get beaten down by a lot that life throws at you- public school, boyfriends, anxiety, depression, college…But you always stand back up. Never once did you actually stop trying to make things better for yourself, and even during those very, very dark times you had other beautiful people in your life to do it for you. When you get up, you hit back. You share your experiences with others, you write, you research, and you love those close to you even harder.

I never admit this, but I love you more than I realize. You make mistakes, but you quickly learn and rarely make them again. Now again, I know you can’t see this at nine, but I am going to offer a few pieces of advice anyway.

Boys are going to treat you like dirt. Yes, most of them, and even if they don’t some of them will expect too much of you in return for their “niceness.” Don’t give any of them anything you don’t want to, and if they try to take it from you anyway- get loud and make them hear you. Also, you’re going to want to wear thick, sparkly teal eye shadow in the near future- I’d advise against it. Over the next decade, you will actually become a Democrat- you’ll understand this more later on.

You actually stop playing violin at about age 15, and you will really regret that fact at 23. Try and love your body more than I know you’re going to. You’ll never be a size 2 with perfect proportions, and you’ll have to learn to accept it. Spend as much time as humanly possible with your extended family, trust me when I say that they won’t always be as close. Also, maybe don’t be an idiot and start smoking at 19.

There’s so much more I could say to you, but at this point I think it’s better that you brave this on your own. I love you- stay strong out there.

Love,

You at 23.

 

Me Too.

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#MeToo

If you spend anytime on the internet, I am sure you’ve seen many allegations against famous people by men and women that have been assaulted by them. There is apparently a lot of controversy in these news stories, with the countless comments of-

“Innocent until proven guilty.”

“I’ve loved him and been a fan forever, he couldn’t have done this.” 

“These girls just want attention/money/fame/etc.”

“This is a witch hunt, there’ll be no men left to perform.” 

I have a few thoughts on this. It’s fine if you disagree with me, but this is something I won’t change my mind on.

A few years ago, I found myself at a police station, shaking, scared and crying while telling the cops that I had been sexually assaulted. It was humiliating, horrifying, and it made me relive the worst day of my life over and over again. A very good friend of mine insisted that I go, otherwise I never would have set foot in that building. The police officers were trying to be as nice as possible, but the conversation was extremely disheartening.

“There’s no way to prove it at this point.” 

“What were you wearing?” (Yes, really.)

“Even if this goes to court, it’ll probably be worse for you than it will for him.” 

“This happened in your home? Why did you invite him in if you didn’t want that?” 

This is why I am completely enraged when people question celebrities who didn’t come forward 10, 15, 20, 40  years ago. Many of these women were taken advantage of by men of endless power at a very young age. Ridiculing their decision to wait is ridiculous. I never would have told a single soul had it not been for a friend.

As for all of your heroes going down, I can’t say I feel the least shred of sympathy for them. Kevin Spacey went down because of Kevin Spacey, not because of anything else. Sure, they might be talented people, but that’s no excuse at all. Think of all the talent we are most likely missing out on because of the assault and pedophilia going on in Hollywood.

I would rather see all of Hollywood torn apart than to have these men running free allowed to do whatever they’d like. They made a decision to hurt other human beings and are suffering the consequences. I really used to enjoy Woody Allen’s movies, now you wouldn’t catch me at one if I was paid to go.

I will always believe someone who has the courage to come forward, in any situation. If it turns out that someone has lied, then OK. But I won’t start out by not believing someone who is speaking out about something so horrific and personal.

If someone you know mentions that a man or woman has hurt them, please take them seriously. Be willing to listen. Be there for them. This is not something that should ever be taken lightly.

I really don’t want to go into too many details with my own experiences, but I wanted to share enough to let everyone know that it is FAR more common than you think. Be sensitive. Domestic violence, assault, rape, molestation, etc. is everywhere. Both men and women can be victims or abusers, and I truly believe that taking down those in the public eye is a huge step for awareness and working on the root of the problem.

I would love to hear any thoughts you have on this. I know this is a sensitive topic, so please be respectful. Thank you for reading!

Hands

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Recently I came across a poem I had written probably four or five years ago, and I experienced the rare feeling of enjoying something I had written. I wanted to share my work with everyone, so here’s an extra mid-week post with my poem Hands.

 

Hands

When asked about my favorite part of you,
I replied ‘hands.’
You looked at me, confused but curious.
“Not eyes, not a smile?”
No. Hands.
They’re the busiest part of you,
Used to create, and for some, destroy.
One hand could be used to bring peace to a community,
And another could simply raise up and destroy lives.
They are used to pray, to praise, to show, and even to speak.
When someone holds you and uses their fingers to reach out and touch,
It should be a sign of their surrender and trust.
They connect to your mind and carry out any action you desire.
However, it’s not just what they do,
It’s what they are.
Hands are maps,
Veins course through them and twist and turn like gnarled branches,
But they all lead back to your heart.
The sandpaper calluses, the wrinkles that come with the years, the scars…
They all tell stories, however beautiful or horrible they may be.
They are honest,
And no other part of you could accomplish what they do.
So when you hold my hand,
You are doing more than just that.
I am trusting you to guard my heart as well,
And to be as honest as your hands.

 

I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you have below! Thanks for reading this!

College?

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Here’s a fun subject that most people around my age (18-25) feel passionate about: college. The money, the stress, the need for it…It comes up frequently in my conversations, so I wanted to share some thoughts on it.

It is a wonderful, glorious opportunity. It allows you to get better jobs, more respect, and ideally knowledge in a subject you’re passionate about. Learning is such a beautiful experience for those who want it. However, I have my doubts on how absolutely necessary college is.

After high school, I immediately left home to go to a four-year college about an hour away. As an extremely anxious, introverted person, I couldn’t have picked a worse place to go. It was too expensive, it was filled with people that I could not relate to in the SLIGHTEST, and it caused the most horrific nervous breakdown I’ve ever experienced. I think if I had waited a few years, or started at a community college where I could have been closer to home and saved some money, I would have been way better off.

If you have the means and the desire to go, that is an amazing thing, and I commend you for it. However, a lot of us truly don’t. It doesn’t make us less motivated workers, dumber, or worth less. There’s a lot of negativity, especially from older generations, on not going at all or even waiting a few years.

Now, if you’re one of those lucky individuals who has everything figured out and knows that they want to be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/etc…Obviously you need a degree for that, and your hard work will absolutely pay off. My English degree probably wouldn’t have had the same effect.

Ideally, I would have loved my choice in school and gotten my masters in English Literature and Education like I wanted to. But at this point in my life, I know I do not want to teach children, and my debt would have taken far longer to pay off. (I stayed at this school for less than a year, and four years later I’m still sending them payments every month).

Now that I have my mental health a little more under control I could definitely see going back. Either taking online classes or attending a community college would be wonderful. It would help me find better jobs and more connections in the fields I work in. One day I am planning on taking steps towards a degree again, but I am not in a huge rush.

For kids like me, the worst decision I could have made was going to a four-year school I knew nothing about right away. There truly isn’t any rush to it, and I wish I had taken the time to realize that. For a lot of people, the unknown is exciting, but for others it’s really not. If you decide to stay at home and work, travel for a few years, etc…Please don’t feel that you are a lesser person. Your mental health and your ability to pay for food and rent every month are more important. In this day and age, there’s a lot to be said for having a great work ethic and starting from the bottom.

At this point in my life, I see no point in spending 100k on a degree that would probably do nothing for me. If I come into serious money later on, I’ll go back just for the learning and the experience of it. This was purely written to let those of you who dropped out or couldn’t go know that you aren’t losers. You are doing what you can and that is all anyone can ask of you.

If you’re like me and you’re passionate about learning, you’ll find a way to do it no matter what. Read. Travel as much as you’re able to. Research. Talk to people. Take in everything you can and you’ll always be learning.

How was your college experience? Do you have any thoughts on my views in this post? I’d love to hear them in the comments!