Hello, 2018!

We made it.

2017 chewed us up and spit us out. January grabbed us and twisted our mental capacity and patience nearly to our snapping point. February hit us hard, but we’ve since (mostly) been on the downhill slide of chaos since November.

So, here’s where Blake and I are, after all the madness and change that’s engulfed us the last few months.

We’re still living in Grand Island (about 25 minutes away from Hastings). We’ve been working with a realtor in Hastings and seen a few houses on the market, but are anxious to see what the spring brings before committing to anything.

I’ve started my job at IdeaBank in Hastings. It’s been good so far, I’m only in my 3rd week, and still getting acclimated. Though, I’m already busy working out details on some of the new processes and support I hope to integrate here.

Blake is still with SiteOne. Late in December after he resigned, his company offered him a new role in sales based out of the Grand Island store. He’s currently shadowing the current sales representative, and spending much time traveling between Lincoln and North Platte making contacts with clients.

Fozzie and Jack are getting by. The cold temperatures in the area have keep us all inside, and for Fozzie, that means being a little wound up.

With the other major changes settling down, we’ve made preliminary baby steps toward wedding planning. And I mean baby steps, nothing confirmed or established yet! We’re both happy to have capacity and time to put towards making plans.

So, things have been going well overall. We are adjusting and settling into our new area and enjoying seeing some faces more, but are missing those that we aren’t seeing as often.

Hopefully we see you all soon! Please come visit soon (though you may not have a bed with us)!

And, of course, New Zealand and Australia were beautiful. I’m still working on photos, but here’s a few of my favorites!

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YES!

I continue to surprise myself in 2015.

I was accepted to grad school. Even applying was an achievement, considering the steps it required: studying for tests, gathering portfolio pieces, and obtaining recommendations from professors and professionals. I already have done so much in 2015: I am now ordained and have wed some of my best friends, I left the country on a cruise, I’m in the middle of building a garden in my back yard, I’ve discovered my new favorite brewery in Kansas, I’ve been admitted to grad school. I have already planned two big trips across the country with friends.

And I accepted a new job a Swanson Russell.

After Tuesday, I will be leaving the comfort of the Wick alumni center walls and enter the world of advertising agencies. I have never been drawn to demanding lifestyle agencies portray, but surprisingly, I’ve never felt more comfortable about it.

Only two months ago I had a conversation with a friend about the reasons I wouldn’t switch jobs for another three years. Between my health uncertainties, my endless medical bills and deductibles, and being solely responsible for my mortgage, it’s scary to think about stepping out into the unknown.

The events leading up to my acceptance are nothing short of fate, and as I’ve learned, coincidences don’t happen. I believe there are greater forces as work, if you are open to seeing and hearing the signs. From the timing of the first contact with me, to the following weeks of anecdotes driving me to evaluate my professional status, I was continually guided back to this position. I consulted friends who had worked with my future coworkers. Conversations with unknowing colleagues answered questions they didn’t know I had. One in particular was initiated by me sharing an update about my garden. Their response was a story about a patio project he finished, only later realizing he needed to switch jobs for a fresh perspective. I asked if he thought he made the right decision. He answered, ‘with out a doubt.’

These things I thought I’d push off for years are coming so easy to me right now.

A couple of friends know how I’ve been obsessing about a recently purchased CD, spurred by a concert I went to. I will listen to it repeatedly for hours at work, and every trip I take in my car. I realized that the lyrics are echoing my recently found philosophy, with some of my favorite lyrics being: the thought of arriving, kind of feels like dying  |  If we get to see tomorrow, I hope it’s worth all the wait  |  Gathering new strength from sorrow, I’m glad to feel alive  |  construction getting louder, paving over yesterdays  |  I pause and take a breathe and bow and let the chapter end

Not only this, but the title of the CD has become my 2015 mantra: YES! <<check out some videos>>

The very beginning of this year, I was consoling a friend who has been feeling lost in life. My advice was to start saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, and trying things out. Even if he hates it, he is still one step closer to finding what he loves.

Some of the biggest hesitations I still have about switching jobs really boil down to the benefits I receive. Particularly, the retirement plan. After the initial offer, I called my friend to soundboard my thoughts, and realized that I can’t make my decisions on where I visualize myself in 40+ years dictate where I am right now. I reopened this conversation yesterday with her husband, with him echoing this thought: there is so much life you will experience between right now, and in 20 years when I am his age. So say yes, jump in, and start trying it out now.

One of the stories from cancer camp that has stuck with me, was from a friend whose son died of cancer. Two weeks prior, he purchased new climbing shoes. He lived life 100% until it was taken. Sometimes, you have to make choices for yourself, no matter how unorthodox or nonsensical they may be. You do them for you.

Maybe I will learn that I love the agency life. Maybe I will learn how much I hate the agency life, and realize how special my time at the alumni association really was. Either way, I will be making a step to a new perspective on myself, where I came from, and where I’m going. I will be one step closer to finding where I should be.

2012 was my year of tearing myself down and exploring who I am. 2013 was my year of learning to advocate and testing my strength. 2014 was my year of practicing contentment and being at peace with who I am.

2015 is a year of advancing who I can be, and saying ‘yes!’ to new experiences.

Insomnia

Here I go – my best and probably not last attempt to put together a cohesive and conclusive post on this vague topic. I’ve been saving ideas, reading articles, and even pulled out my last two weeks of notes from church on the topic. This is apparently the most important thing for me to do at 3am on a Tuesday. I joke that on my off-weeks from treatment, my body shifts to 100% ‘go mode’. It subconsciously is saying, “okay, I know you feel fine now and have so much to do. Go do it, NOW!”

I can’t shake this evolving line of thought. I think most people strive to answer this as well – what makes for a happy life?

I think our society continues to push us to want the best of everything. The most expensive clothes, flashiest cars, hottest spouses, exotic vacations, even best posts for social media. If you can’t say it better than someone else, is it even worth saying? It’s like have all become hyper competitive with everyone we associate with to the most minuscule details.

Last Forth of July, I came to the realization that Americans are offered the promise of freedom… To work as hard as we want. Which is a good thing, but also comes with a burden: if you don’t succeed, it’s your own fault. If you can’t fulfill these ‘best of’ expectations, obviously it’s because you just didn’t do a good enough job at being a person, right? It’s an exhausting concept.

There is this really inspirational TED talk from a woman who came to the US at age 13, and wanted to achieve the American dream of being “really, really happy”. Two decades later she found herself exhausted and miserable. Until, the day she surprised her daughter with blueberry pancakes.

She realized happiness doesn’t revolve around long-term success and big purchases. Happiness is an accumulation of little things you do everyday, but you have to acknowledge their importance to your happiness.

I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about what my blueberry pancake is. I’ve tried to focus on at least one good thing a day an acknowledge it’s importance to making it better. It doesn’t have to be the same thing, but something I can do to indulge myself and feel guilt-free about it, simply because I’m doing it to make me happy.

Honestly, I really love coffee. I love everything about the experience. I have four favorite coffee shops in town. I love stopping in before work. I love settling in for the day with something sweet and hot at my fingertips. I love that it’s so easy to buy an extra for someone else. I love feeling like I’m treating myself every time.

We’ve all read the articles that tell us we could save thousands of dollars a year by cutting out coffee shop trips. Well, I can think of a lot of different ways to blow through a grand that won’t bring me so much pleasure on a daily basis.

I’m beginning to have a deeper understanding of living for each day and appreciating each one for what it is. I think the people who spread ideas like “make each day better than the last” and “only do what you love” are full of crap. Some days are really good, but know that some days have to be really bad. Also, most days are just okay. Okay is good, it means nothing bad happened. Okay is simple. We all need to cut the expectations of having the best and be happy being simpler. An account I follow on twitter preaches “A matter of simply Being.”

One of my stress management DVDs from mayo exercised child-like examination. In their example, they took an office pen and just focused on the pen for ten minutes. “Don’t evaluate it, just examine the pen. Notice things about it.” This practice reminded me that as a child in my most desperate ‘OMG I’m so deathly bored’ trials I’d entertain myself by counting things. Particularly one day when my mom was getting her hair cut. I counted the number of nailhead trimmings on an armchair, something I would never have the patience or energy to focus on now.

I’ve found this to be a good practice too slow myself down and remind myself to live in the present. Being able to fully focus on one simple thing without evaluation, whether it’s something physical like a pen or an event like watching tv with my parents on a Friday night, leads to a lot less anxiety. I’m not focusing on having the best pen or best plans, I’m simply appreciating each for what it is.

I’ve decided that happiness is a vague term. An article I read claimed that happiness is too reliant on external forces. The internal feeling is referred to as bliss. Bliss is a state of mind that changes the interpretation of how you experience life. It’s a state of mind that assumes the best in any situation and gives the benefit of the doubt. It’s opening your eyes just a little wider everyday and loving everything you see. Bliss is having joy fulfilling your calling each day, no matter how big or small that calling is.

Bliss is what I’m striving for.