A Very Merry Un-Carrie

Someday, I would like to write about relationships the way Carrie Bradshaw does. I would like to pose those brilliant questions she poses; I would like to make the brilliant comparisons she makes; I would like to be able to sit at my perfectly styled desk writing words that touch the masses while wearing some amazing outfit with shoes to match.

I also wouldn’t mind her closet. Another post, another day.

For now, I settle for relationship lessons in the gym at ungodly hours of the morning.

Very un-Carrie.

When it comes to relationships I am not an expert. I literally have zero advice about men: how to woo them, how to date them or how the hell to get them to stay with you once you’ve done said wooing and dating. I’ve always been the girl guys looked at as “the friend”: the kind of girl who spent Saturdays watching football with the boys, making inappropriate jokes and hearing “if I was 30, I would totally marry a girl like you!” I was the girl guys asked for advice on how to “score a date with the hot friend” and watched while her pretty friends experienced all that “relationship shit”. Everything I learned about relationships I learned from happy hours with my girlfriends, watching Sex and the City and a few pseudo-relationships that lasted about 3 months max where I remained more closed off than Pandora’s box.

If this was an article written by Carrie, you would have stopped reading and turned off your computer by now, only after removing me from your blogroll. I know, trust me: Carrie Bradshaw I am not but a gal can dream.

Kyle and I have been dating almost 4 months. We’ve spent a total of 6 days together, and in 3 weeks he’s coming to visit me in Atlanta for the first time. He will be here for 6 days. For those counting, that will be 4 months and a total of 12 days spent in the same state. My travel schedule is about to get crazy, his work schedule is about to get crazy and this might be the last time we see each other this year. To fill those empty days when we can’t hold hands or watch a movie on the couch, we rely on FaceTime to get us through. We are not in an ideal situation, and we know it. But right now this is our reality and we’re trying to make the best of it.

I have a sneaky suspicion Carrie would have considered “long distance” a train ride to Brooklyn.

Yesterday, I was wrapped in a towel, standing in the locker room of the gym after my work-out. I went to bed late, because Kyle and I were having a “date” via FaceTime, working on his new blog venture and I was tired. As I started the process of doing my hair, one of my gym friends walked in and mentioned how hard it was for her to get up that morning for her work-out.

“Oh trust me, I get it,” I replied, “but I had to get my ass here: my boyfriend is coming to visit in 3 weeks and I have to look good!”

“Wait, what do you mean ‘visit’?” she asked, “your boyfriend doesn’t live here?”

“No. He lives in California. Los Angeles to be exact,” I said, “I haven’t seen him since July and I’m excited to show him around Atlanta. He’s never been here!”

“So you’re doing long distance?” she said, and I could hear that little bit of judgement in her voice, “I could never do that. It’s like, pointless to date someone you never see.”

I would like to write this girl a post-it note that says “I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“We make it work,” I said, “we care about each other so we find ways to overcome the distance.”

“I mean, if I were you, I would just scale it back. Keep it casual. Clearly you can’t get serious with him: he doesn’t even live in the same time zone!”

Can someone get the license plate number of the unsolicited advice bus that just hit me?

“Thanks for your advice, but I’m just fine in my relationship. I hope you have a good week!”

I dressed and I left, but couldn’t get our interaction out of my mind. This is not the first time I’ve heard negativity coming from people regarding the distance in my relationship; like it’s some curse to be thousands of miles away from my significant other, like I’m stupid for even attempting to make my relationship work when the distance “clearly makes us doomed for failure”.

Carrie would say: “Do we need distance to get close?”

I couldn’t help but wonder: do people better identify with your relationship when they can compare it to one of their own (no matter how off their comparison might be)? I spent a lot of time watching from the sidelines, playing second string in the dating lives of others. I supported relationships I didn’t understand, gave a lot of people the benefit of the doubt and said: “do what makes you happy.”

Carrie would say: “life gives you lots of chances to screw up, which means you have just as many chances to get it right.”

That’s what it’s about: doing what makes you happy. Or, doing something difficult for a short amount of time, all in the name of long term happiness. There are so many different types of relationships out there and we are not meant to understand them all, nor should we stand in judgement of what works for someone else, just because it doesn’t work for us. Maybe the fact that I will have spent a total of 12 days with a guy I’ve been dating for 112 days is weird, and no it isn’t for everyone but it’s no one’s to understand but mine. Dating would be a much easier place if we all just focused on what made our friends/family happy and not our preconceived notions of what a relationship “should” look like.

Now I’m no expert, but my girl Carrie would say…..

The Stages of a Bad Hair Day

I have to confess something to you: my hair doesn’t always look like this:

unnamedPick your jaw up off the floor, I know it’s quite shocking to find out I don’t have a beauty team surrounding my mane 24/7, ensuring it looks beautiful at every turn.

Sarcasm: my defense against everything.

Fun fact: I am pretty weird about my hair. If it’s straight and I see one small curl or wave I re-straighten it. If I’ve curled it and I see one curl start to fall, I stop and redo it.

I am a freak about my hair, it’s true.

On Friday, I woke up the worst way possible: with a bad hair day. I’m not sure there could possibly be anything worse for a girl than a bad hair day. It really throws your whole day off and no matter what you do, everything you put on looks like shit because your hair won’t cooperate.

So, my day went a little like this:

 WOKE UP, LIKE YAY FRIDAY!

“Dear God. What has transpired here? Were monkeys trying to pick bugs out of my hair last night?! My bangs are askew and my hair has more wave than the Hawaiian North Shore. Please don’t tell me today is going to be a bad hair day. Maybe if I brush it?”

BRUSH MY HAIR AND….

“Oh perfect, just the look I was going for: flat hair with a side of ‘I need a dye job’. I’ll give the straightener a try….”

ATTEMPT TO STRAIGHTEN ALREADY FLAT HAIR AND….

“WHY HAIR? WHY DO YOU HATE ME?! AND WHO KNEW THAT MUCH GREASE WAS JUST A STRAIGHTEN AWAY!? AND HOW IS IT POSSIBLE MY HAIR LOOKS WORSE? NEED DRY SHAMPOO STAT.”

ENTER, DRY SHAMPOO…..

“Well that did absolutely nothing.”

DO I HAVE TIME TO CURL MY HAIR?

“Nope, and even if I did, there’s not much that can save me now….not even a statement necklace. WHY ME? WHY TODAY? FRIDAY IS SUPPOSED TO BE A HAPPY DAY….”

SCOUR PINTEREST FOR “BAD HAIR DAY FIXES….”

“This is hopeless. Only one thing left to do…”

WHEN IN DOUBT, TOP KNOT IT OUT…..

“And the top knot won’t even hold the way I want it to. I have to leave for work in 10 minutes. It’s hopeless at this point. Screw it, I’ll just suffer….and avoid all mirrors at all costs.”

AND THEN, YOU GO INTO THE BATHROOM AT WORK AND SEE YOURSELF AND IT’S LIKE….

“There is nothing to be done. I need a haircut like yesterday, my color is more faded than Spicolli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Looks like I’m staying in tonight. Maybe I’ll watch reruns of The Hills.”

LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM BAD HAIR DAYS:

Also? Lauren Conrad always has perfect hair. Even when she doesn’t….she does….

Jerk.

I Am the Queen of Me!

This queen is Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me. Amber was one of my first blog friends, my first blate, my writing partner in crime. From across the miles, our friendship has grown over our love of our Boxer babes, a good cup of coffee and our love of writing. She’s also taught me everything I know about Instagram.

Today, Amber is straight guest postin’ you right into your Friday. Enjoy her words!

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I bought a rhinestoned headband while at a country concert with absolute sureness it was just what my wardrobe was asking for. I’ve worn it twice since the purchase, so proud of the statement it makes: bold, brave, wild in a cowgirl kind of way.

The first morning I dawned that beloved, bedazzled headband, Jason laughed while he told me it was a fashion statement. 

Of course it is.
I said. Of course it is dear man.

He ran his fingers over the stones that graced the top of my forehead. He said, It’s like a headdress. A crown of sorts. Are you some Egyptian queen? 

I giggled, sort of shy, appreciative of his dry sense of humor. Yes. Of course, I’m a queen. [insert a handful of snickers here] Not the Egyptian kind, but I am the queen of me.

It got me thinking -how those off-hand statements always do- that I’ve not always been a queen of me.

With the high school along my commute back in session, I see hundreds of students making their way into campus while I head in to work. They remind me of my own teenage days: filled with endless concerns about what everyone thought of me, worried about my fashion choices, balancing between me and them. I reflect on high school and am proud of how I stayed true to myself, found myself among all the hormones and angst, but, when I’m brutally honest, I know I struggled with being boldly me.

I spent years feeling less than because of my not-so-flat abs, my inability to dance (or be qualified for cheer), my place among the boys as a “little sister”. I wanted to be one of the cool girls -beautiful, acne-free, beloved by teachers and boys (and girls) alike. I wanted to be a risk taker socially, academically, relationally, but I didn’t want to draw the attention that such boldness attracts. I was involved on campus in a wallflower way. In student leadership I helped with logistics, worked devotedly behind the scenes, and realized that I was more shy than bold -wallflower.

I was more of a princess -caught in a tower like Rapunzel- than a queen. 

College broke my habit of growing on the edge. It was filled with friends who encouraged me to bloom closer to the center of the room, though shy tendencies remained. My style was middle of the road because I wanted to fit in but not to stand out. My opinions were center of the pack because I wanted people to like me. I wrote in secret, without much sharing, because I was unsure of how my words would be received. I bloomed in a bed of flowers that looked beautiful, partly because of our sheer number. I was encouraged to step out, enjoy my differences -share them, in fact- but it wasn’t my time.

Like the royal family, I needed a space to open in which I could shine, could graduate from shy princess to fantastical queen. Marriage, a career, blogging, and the wild adventure that’s life made a retainer in which I did so. Encouragement from my family, husband, and the blogging community says it’s okay to be bold, to be brave, to be me. The community that rallies around to cheer me on consistently has gone straight to my head, affording me a confidence and braveness that’s bolder than even my high school hormones could have dreamed.

No longer a wallflower. No longer a princess. Simply, a queen. I am the queen of me.

Do you want more Amber? Of course you do. Connect with her here:

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Are You Living Your Dream?

This is what I looked like in college: blonde, drunk and not afraid to jump in front of a camera for an appropriate photo. I worked in a bar during this time (part time, mind you), I had class twice a week and I paid for maybe 2 bills: my cell phone and my car payment. Oh, and my boobs looked fabulous.

I, by definition, was living the dream.

Behind this hammered-and-it’s-probably-Tuesday sexiness is a girl who knew what she wanted: a girl who had a dream. I never changed my major in college, which I hear is rare. I didn’t always go to class, but I always had tenacity and drive when it came to my future….and drinking on week nights. On the side, I wrote, I planned, I schemed side projects to help me get one step closer. I often did this with a drink in my hand, and a few times I did it while I was supposed to be writing a paper for one of my classes.

My boobs still looked fabulous.

I had my fun, did my partying, made my memories, took 2 years off to try the whole “work/adult” thing, went back to school and real life hit. That was the worst part about real life: the responsibilities grew: I went from working part time to having to work full time, from paying 2 bills to having more bills than I knew what to do with and from getting drunk on a Tuesday night after class to, well, not doing that because now my hangovers last 2 days. I never lost sight of my dream. I never took an internship or a job that didn’t somehow get me one step closer to achieving it. I didn’t always have a solid plan, but I always knew where I wanted to end up.

Finally, I made the big decision to move to Atlanta to keep pursuing my dream. I packed 3 boxes full of clothes and DVDs, sent Tessa my flight info and boom: dreams were finally starting to become reality. I worked my ass off for a year and a half at a low paying, entry level job; Warner and I slept on a mattress on the floor of the one bedroom apartment I shared with Tessa. I took side projects to make extra money and I waited.

I never lost sight of my dream. I never applied for another job until the right one came along.

Then, finally, my break. I was 27 and my dreams were coming true. Today, at 30 years old, I can write this and say that I’ve been living my dream for 2 1/2 years. It took a lot of struggling, a lot of time and a lot of booze but no one can take my dream away from me.

I’m not always grateful. Sometimes I get fussy when I work so hard that I spend more time at my desk than at home with Warner. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am when the bags under my eyes resemble luggage and my nerves are fried. But I am living my dream. I’m doing something not many people can say they’ve done. I’m a success story.

Are you living your dream? Are you working towards it? Never give up. I’ve learned nothing comes easy; nothing is handed to you, especially when you’re achieving dreams. Our stories are written in those moments when we feel tired and beaten down; when we’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to our dogs because it’s all we can afford. Never give up because hard work pays off, because good things happen to good people.

Because you deserve to be a success story.

Dreams look different to everyone: one of my best friends from middle/high school dreamed of being a mom. Today, she’s pregnant with her third child and married to her high school sweetheart. She’s living her dream. Another middle/high school best friend dreamed of being a dentist. Today, she runs a practice with her father. She’s living her dream.

I never thought I would take the route I took to achieve my dream. We all know I don’t always feel quite at home here in Atlanta, but this city gave me my dream. Today, I’m taking a moment to be grateful. I’m grateful to be living my dream. I’m grateful to be a success story.

Take a moment today and ask: are you living your dream?

No One Hands You Happiness

happinessDo you want to know what happiness is? Look no further than this photo. I have Chipotle and wine in my hands and I’m wearing a football related t-shirt, which I have paired with THE MOST COMFORTABLE PANTS KNOWN TO MAN (thanks Ashley!). Let’s not discuss the fact that this is how most of my weekends look, or the fact that I’m probably not wearing a bra in this photo. Irrelevant. Sure, that’s it.

Oh and the wine was on sale.

I posted this to my Instagram on Friday, after what had been a very bad week. This Chipotle/wine/football ensemble was seriously the highlight of my entire week, and yes you’re probably thinking “oh, she just had a few things not go her way; Ashten is dramatic.”

No, I was dealing with lawyers. That’s how bad my week was.

I found myself really digging to find some good things amongst all the shitty things we had going on and I was losing sleep because of it.

(Anxiety is a BITCH.)

This may or may not have resulted in a very late night phone call to Kyle, where he grumbled a few “it’s going to be ok’s” before sending me back to my dark room and my thoughts.

I had a thought, as I sat there in the dark, trying to make heads or tails of the situation Tessa and I were in: no one hands you happiness. There is no “happiness vendor” at any stadium or field I’ve ever been to, I’ve never been to a store that sells happiness, nor have I ever seen it offered as a sponsor option on a blog I love. Happiness isn’t given to me because I am a nice person who works hard and tries to give back to her community when she can; I have to work for it (sometimes I have to work harder than others) just like everything else. Happiness, I’ve learned, isn’t something I’m entitled to, nor is it something that can be provided by a third party. If I’m not happy with myself, the idea of happiness is almost unachievable from anywhere else.

Although, let’s face it, the USC Trojans bring me LOTS of happiness when they win.

I mean, duh, right? Of course we have to be happy with ourselves before we can be happy in other aspects of our lives, right? I know I’m not writing anything you haven’t read before. But, often I find the phrase “if I could just have____, I would be so much happier!” come out of my mouth, especially lately. It’s like I’m counting on someone walking up to me and handing me happiness. For example:

“If I could just have an extra $1,000 a month, I would be so much happier!”

“If I could just have season tickets to USC Trojans football games, I would be so much happier!”

“If I could just have a private jet to fly me to all the USC Trojans football games I have season tickets for, I would be so much happier!”

And then this quote came to me:

This is one of my favorite quotes, in case you were wondering.

I’m the captain of my happiness. (and Warner is my first mate) I steer the course of my life, and I get to decide where my happiness comes from. No one will walk up to me with a basket filled with happiness and tell me to have a nice day….nor will anyone likely walk up to me and hand me another $1,000 a month and tell me to have a nice day….(which is a bummer). There’s no store I can walk into that sells happiness on their shelves. It’s my job to steer my life in the directions of happiness, and when I hit rough seas, my job as the captain is to adjust my sails and keep going.

I am in charge of my happiness. It’s my responsibility….nay, my privilege….to be the one who makes myself happy. From something as simple as an iced coffee in the middle of the day, to a good morning workout, to a quiet night reading “Gone Girl” (I’m late to join that bandwagon, I acknowledge this) in bed, at the end of the day I am the one in charge.

I have to stop hoping or counting on others to drop happiness in my lap: I have to stop hoping that if______comes along I will be a much happier person. I have to hone in on the little ways I can make myself happy and steer my ship in that direction. I deserve to be happy: in all ways, in all forms, in everything I do.

And now, the ship begins to steer a new course.

And don’t worry, I’m not the captain of the Titanic. I don’t do cold water.

How I Keep My Shit Together

For those counting: this is the second time I’ve included a curse word in the title of a blog post. Don’t be offended, dears. To be fair, you know you were dealing with a curse-loving pirate since the jump. Also? Curse words are the best.

Quick poll: who here likes to be stressed out?

I see zero hands. Perfect, you’re all playing along quite nicely.

After reading some of the comments from Friday’s post, I was relieved to find I’m not the only one who suffers from anxiety, and I’m not the only one who has struggled with talking about it to people in my life. While it’s nice to know that so many fellow bloggers/friends suffer from the intense panic I often feel  because it means I’m not alone, it also makes me sad to know that many of you have to feel the same scary feelings I do. I thought about it a lot this weekend and since I can’t give all of you hugs when that tightness in your chests start, I thought I would share some of the ways I manage my anxiety, without medication.

Or, how I keep my shit together.

60% of the time, it works every time.

Talk to ‘em HOV…..

ONE: I COMPARTMENTALIZE

I get VERY overwhelmed when I’m presented with too much information at one time. It makes me feel like I have way too much to accomplish in a short amount of time, and this is a sure fire way to give me an anxiety attack. To combat this, I take all the information and break it into more manageable parts. Then, I take each part and conquer it one at a time. It’s amazing what such a little trick does for my anxiety levels.

Bonus: this often makes me a more logical person, which almost never happens.

TWO: I MAKE LISTS

One caveat to this: I don’t write down EVERYTHING I have to do at once. I write down a list of items I need to accomplish each day. A really long list can sometimes set me off. This way, I’m not overwhelmed by too may projects at once. Again, too much information can make me panic and lists help me manage my anxiety.

Bonus: I stay focused on the task at hand, and don’t get distracted.

THREE: I DE-CLUTTER

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING makes me more anxious than clutter. This ranges from dirty dishes in the sink to boxes all over the house post-move.  I cannot emphasize enough how de-cluttering keeps me sane. I unpacked our boxes and organized my room within hours of moving, and I do the dishes immediately after cooking. Have a clean, semi-organized space really helps manage my anxiety.

Bonus: we now have a house keeper that comes twice a month to clean the house, which is SO WORTH THE MONEY, AND KEEPS ME SANE.

FOUR: I TRY TO RATIONALIZE MY WORRIES

This one is tough. When you suffer from anxiety, it’s really hard to rationalize your moments of panic but this has helped me multiple times. I ask myself:

-Can I control the outcome of this situation?

-What aspects of this situation CAN I control?

-What is the biggest part of this situation that’s worrying me?

-What’s the worst thing that can happen in this situation?

As I answer these questions, I can usually calm myself down and figure out a way to fix what’s causing me such intense anxiety. Sometimes, I can’t.

Bonus: this helps me compartmentalize.

FIVE: I HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

I mentioned in Friday’s post that I used to hide my anxiety because I didn’t know how to talk about it with the people in my life. Now, I try to be as open as I can about what gives me anxiety, and it helps me realize what gives me anxiety and what steps I can take to manage it. It also keeps me from imploding from worry and panic.

Bonus: I convinced Tessa to get aforementioned house keeper twice a month! WAHOO!

SIX: I DRINK SLEEPY TIME TEA

Sometimes when I get anxious, I have trouble sleeping. A big cup of sleepy time tea can usually give me a few hours of peaceful sleep no matter what.

BONUS: I also take melatonin and that works wonders.

AND FINALLY….

I forgive myself. Anxiety is hard, and sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop it from taking over my life. I remind myself that it’s only part of me, not all of me. It can be managed.

Do you have any tricks for combating your anxiety? Leave them in the comments…..

ALSO? DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND GOOD JAY-Z GIFS?! GEEZ.

My Anxiety Comes with Angels

It starts with a tightness in my chest. It’s a feeling of panic and dread, but also a feeling of being lost inside my own head. I feel like I’m spinning and I can’t make myself stop.

And then, I start sinking, like I’m the Titanic and I just hit an iceberg.

When the anxiety and panic subside, I’m exhausted. My head is pounding, my heart is racing and I lay there, without the ability to move or get a clear thought in my head. I just have to wait it out. Or find a life boat. Or a door to lay on in the middle of the freezing cold ocean. (I’LL NEVER LET GO, JACK!)

I’ve written about my experience with anxiety/depression before (see this post), and not to beat a dead horse but it’s something I struggle with daily. When Warner got sick, I started a hashtag (motto? aren’t they the same thing these days?), #choosejoy as a reminder to focus on the good things, to not let the bad things win. Choosing joy helps keep my anxiety at bay. Choosing joy has been my attempt to block out some of the bad.

Some days.

This the thing about anxiety: you think you’re all alone. You truly believe you’re a human iceberg, cast out in the cold seas and that no one could EVER POSSIBLY understand how it feels when that tightness in your chest starts and you know an attack is coming, or how your head feels cloudy and spinney for at least an hour as you come down from those intense “attack” moments.

There’s no way anyone will get it. You really, truly feel alone.

Trying to describe to someone how anxiety feels seems unnatural and petty; like who would ever understand that being surrounded by unpacked boxes for days on end slowly eats away at your entire being, which makes your body react with anxiety and panic? How would anyone possibly comprehend the fact that a loud, crowded bar makes your heart race and your body start shaking? No way anyone could possibly understand.

I was alone in my anxiety for a long time. I had difficulty expressing WHY I felt the way I did. I just…felt it…but I didn’t think anyone could possibly relate. When I finally started opening up about what made me anxious, I was surprised by the amount of support I received. I didn’t have to give an explanation; just a simple “I’m feeling anxious. I need to go sit for a minute” was acceptable. I felt less alone.

In the last few days I’ve been battling some pretty intense anxiety. Without going into too much detail, Tessa and I are currently trying to overcome some really big obstacles and it’s proving more challenging than we thought. I’m always worried about money (who isn’t?) and I have some more expensive travel coming up in the next few months. Yesterday, I woke up at 5:00am to go to the gym and was met with an overwhelming anxiety attack that forced me to stay in bed for another 2 hours.

I’ve noticed, however, that despite my moments of panic, my anxiety sends me angels. In the last few days of darkness and uneasiness, angels have shown up with candles and they light my way. They remind me that even though my worries get the best of me sometimes, that I am not in it alone. They’ve shown me unbelievable kindness, been a listening ear, or given me a hug (virtual or otherwise). Even something this small can give me ability to get through the rest of my day a little easier. Sometimes, with anxiety, that’s what you need: to know you’re not alone.

Angels are funny that way, you don’t always see them, but they’re always there.

I guess, in a way, I am thankful for my anxiety. Through my attacks, I’ve been shown a love and support I needed, but didn’t know how to ask for. I have angels to walk with me, so I don’t have to walk alone. Although I know how to manage my anxiety pretty well, my angels remind me that, if I can’t, there will be someone there to carry me if I can’t carry myself.

There is so much good amongst my anxiety.

#choosejoy this weekend, friends.

Still on That Independent

NOTE: Do not listen to this song without headphones. It’s got curse words and I don’t want you to get in trouble.

I love this song. I play it on repeat constantly. I love that it encourages independence and strength in women. I love how it doesn’t focus on needing a man. I love that Iggy is a bad bitch who can handle herself. (She’s also dating a guy who plays for the LA Clippers) Since I played in non-stop for a few days straight, I decided to send the link in an email to some of my friends, with a note that said “love this song, it’s seriously the anthem!”

The response I got was interesting.

A few friends wrote back, shocked that I liked a song that basically threw curse words at an emotion that I was “supposed” to be feeling because I’m in a relationship. I’m suppose to  listen to gushy songs about love and pleasing my man now? That’s never been my style and I’m not going to start now. Give me a bitch rapping about independence any day.

Or turn on my Jay-Z playlist and watch me go absolutely bonkers.

Relationships are funny. I don’t think I’ve truly been in one like this before. Suddenly, my life isn’t “mine” anymore. I have to share it. All of it: the good, the bad, the ugly, the scary, the stuff I struggle with and the things I’m succeeding in. Suddenly, I am accountable for the fussy mood I’m in at the end of the day when I’ve sat in traffic and I would rather slap someone than have a conversation about my day. I’m being asked to describe things about me I don’t want to share. I have to feel things, and I have to share them.

And I am NOT good at that.

This is so far out of my comfort zone I can’t even see it on the horizon anymore. This isn’t easy for me, my independence or my fear of feelings. I’ve asked myself recently “who voluntarily does this? This whole relationship thing is hard!” The funny thing is: when I wasn’t in a relationship, I wanted one. I guess I forgot how challenging sharing your life with someone can really be.

And then, on the way to get ice cream for dinner the other night I had a thought……

You see, I’m not trying to be all sappy and shit, but I do this relationship thing because I want to. I’ve seen what my life is like without Kyle in it, and while it’s full and fun and well financed and independent; it’s better when he’s in it. Do I love him? No. It’s too soon for that. I’m still working on bringing down a few of those Great Walls and we still have a long way to go. But, I will I still always crave that independence: I will still always say “I’m already in love with myself” whether I have him or not.

I will always be independent. I will always be able to take care of myself. I will always look out for myself, always take care of myself, always be able to provide for myself. I have fought to be independent, fought for freedom and worked my ass off to be successful. I am not the kind of girl to give that up because my relationship status has changed on Facebook. I want to be in a relationship. It does not define me.

The best part? He likes it. All of it. He likes that I listen to Iggy rapping about not needing love, because he knows I still got that mad independent streak! He knows I don’t need him, but that I find things are better because of him.

Praise It!

warner kissesI gotta brag on my boy for a moment. Not only does he pose for adorable iPhone pictures that make him look like he loves me, but he’s seriously rocking this new medication/food plan LIKE A BOSS. I thought I was proud of him when he masted the “sit” command back in the puppy days, but the pride I feel watching him these last few weeks can barely be put into a blog post.

Warner is doing well….so far. I’m sure we’ve all learned by now that being overly optimistic  when dealing with Protein Losing Nephropathy isn’t smart, but I am so, so happy with the progress I’m already seeing in just a few short weeks. Warner has been eating his new food (sans much bribery) with such gusto I’ve been unable to keep it in the bowl. We’ve even ventured out to the dog park in our neighborhood and played a bit of fetch not once but TWICE. Warner has been in the best mood and had the most energy I’d seen in months: he sniffed every last tree in the park and when we get home he’s hungry again. Praise all that is holy, including the USC Trojans!

Having a few joyful moments after what has been such a hellish experience with PLN has lightened my heart. Seeing him frolicking around the dog park with puppy-like enthusiasm gave me a few moments of “normal”. I slept well for the first time in weeks. We are not even close to being out of the woods yet, but it feels like we’ve found a stream and are able to quench months of thirst. And the most important thing? Warner’s quality of life is good.

This good streak we have going has reminded me again how precious life is. I can plan for the future but, in the end, I’m not in control of how life plays out: his or mine. I’ve found myself looking up and saying silent “thank yous” as of late; just overwhelmed by the gift of the time I’m being given with Warner, without the promise of more. I’m grateful for the fight in us: Warner and I. No matter how bad things get, we’ve continued to face this illness head on; we’ve remained strong and kept to our plan, no matter how many times we’re challenged.

I don’t know how much time we have left. I may never know. But we are enjoying the time we have: with lots of park time, many rawhide bones and several extra bowls of new food.

For more of Warner’s “tails”, click here!

Ps: wanna know what we did with all that extra food we had laying around now that Warner has changed food plans? We donated it to the shelter where I adopted him. Click here to check it out.