Monday, January 26, 2015

Oh, January...

Dispatches from Southern California... Day three: the wild indigenous population of... oh wait, never mind. ;) Eh hem, let me try that again.

Hello from California!

It's January and, as planned, I managed to make it out west to see my family. I'm having a really nice visit, even if my flight here was terrible. And I mean TERRIBLE. Worst flight I've ever been on. The turbulence was seriously gross. I almost lost it on more than one occasion. The whole bumpy ride gave my Dramamine a major work out. Here's hoping the flight home on Saturday isn't as nasty. If it is, I may never get on a plane again.

Anyway, even though it's only January, we've had a seriously HUGE year, so far. Visiting my family is only icing on an already awesome cake. A cake that's going to get even more awesome when we can finally take a bite. Is that vague enough for you? Ha!

At the end of last year, my husband was asked to go on a business trip to Utah. He left January 3rd and was gone through the 17th, so two weeks. Let me just say right now, I was not at all prepared to be alone. In 36 years of life, I had never ever been alone for more than two days at a time. Not when I lived at home, not with my ex-husband, and now not since I've been together with Matt. I had no idea how I would handle it and, as it turns out, I didn't handle it at all well.

In other words, I pretty much did nothing. I sulked for a few days, watched a lot of TV, and generally wiled away the days until he came home. I'm a little bit ashamed of that right there, especially considering I had planned to finish my novel. As it was, I only wrote on one of the 14 days. Though I made 5,000 pretty good words, I was still pretty bummed about not getting it done. Also, my husband was working like a crazy man (like 90 hours a week) while I did nothing. That's pretty ugly, right there.

He had a good trip though and LOVED Utah. It snowed while he was there on two occasions, was densely fog on quite a few others, but overall, he loved it. That's almost more snow in two days than he's ever seen, and was certainly a better quality of snow than we get in Texas. And, the people there really took a liking to him... as if there was any doubt! He came home both tired and pumped about work. He took a week's paid vacation and was back to work last night.

On the job front (for Matt, not for me), there's more good news to share but I can't right now. I may not be able to for a while, but lets just say it's all good news! I'll share when I can.

One week after he came home, it as me who left. By the time January is over, we will have seen one another for about 7 days. That's a bit divergence for us, considering we've never been apart that long. I laughed on our third trip to the airport in as many weeks and told him, "We're quite the jet setters right now, eh? Too bad we're not jetting anywhere together!!" We had a good laugh about that. And, if things go according to plan, there may be more air travel in our future.

So yes, the new year as brought us some pretty big things so far. We may be in for the biggest year of our lives so far. Thank God, we need some change and good tidings right now!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cheers, 2014

I wrote a post about the year, but I couldn't bring myself to leave it up. I want to start the new year on a positive note and while lots of good things happened during 2014, so did a lot of bad things. So, I took it down. It's hanging out in my draft box, where it belongs. I wrote about my year's ups at Thanksgiving. Not a whole lot has changed since then. So, in terms of how this year was, you can read my Thankful post. On last year's downs, I'm choosing not to dwell.

Instead, I'm going to make a plan for the new year that will very likely be disrupted by real life happening. That won't deter me, I'm going to do it anyway. Ready?

Finish Love's Daughter (Book 1), start Love's Daughter (Book 2), and finish my NaNo novel Going Home.

That's it. That's my whole plan for the new year. That's as far as I've gotten because, well, I have no idea what this year will bring. None, zero, zip. A lot of things could happen, but I don't know when or if they will. Planning for maybes is painfully anxiety inducing for me. Since I already worry obsessively about those things I can't control, I'm choosing not to plan for things that haven't happened.

I'm also not making any resolutions that will set me up for imminent failure in 2015. No weight loss goals, not going to promise myself a gym membership, none of that. I need 2015 to be awesome and, sadly, the statistics on new years resolutions are pretty abysmal. Setting myself up to fail seems like a pretty crappy way to get a new year off to a good start.

Besides, last year's resolution is still relevant. I think I did a pretty good job making it work for me in the past year, even when it took me well outside of my comfort zone. Here's last year's resolution:

Take chances when they present themselves, even when I'm afraid, to try to dwell less on things that I cannot control, and to accept the possibility that when things don't work out it could be a blessing in disguise.
I listened to my own advice. I took chances, didn't take others, and made choices that were best for me even when I was afraid. The only part of that resolution I failed at this year was to dwell less. I'm working on that with my therapist, so I suppose that at least I'm trying. So, this year I'm keeping to that resolution. It seems like it could be particularly relevant with all the things we have coming up. Lots of things I can't control to worry over.

But my priorities in the coming year will be to write more and get these books finished. It's cheating a little bit, since I've already written almost 60,000 words on one of those projects, but I figure finishing that should be a good way to motivate myself to finish the others. For better or worse, whether they turn out awesome or not, I'm going to get them done and put them out there into the world in 2015.

So, cheers to you, 2014. You were one hell of a ride.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Lights: Granbury Historic Town Square

Matt and I lived in Stephenville for ten and a half years now. Sadly, it's only just now, when we're on the verge of moving away, that I've discovered that I'm absolutely in love with a neighboring town, Granbury. One of the oldest historic towns in Central Texas, they have an adorable town square. It's also filled with Bed & Breakfasts, old churches, historic hotels, an old opera house that's still in commission.

Earlier this year, I went with my friend Robin to the Harvest Moon Festival in Granbury. Tonight, Matt and I, along with some of his friends from work, went to see the Living Christmas Cards. A huge display of Christmas card-like backdrops, each card has actors who play out the card's scene/theme. While what we saw of them was neat, I was really most impressed with the decorated town square. Unlike Stephenville, Granbury does their town square up with tons of lights. It's absolutely beautiful.

We had dinner in a little chicken place (Babe's) off the square, then went to see the cards. I have a really hard time with crowds, so I couldn't stand long in the crush of people around each card without my anxiety going berserk. Since it was almost impossible to see them from the back when you're 5'5", I spent more time looking at the square than at the cards.


The lights strung to the top of the court house come from each of the four corners of the square and there's a huge star on top of the clock tower, though it's impossible to see that from this angle. The lights can be seen from miles away, all over town. So pretty, I had a hard time really finding a good angle, but I love how it looks through the tree branches.


Each of the four corners in the square has a huge christmas tree. Each of them have a different color theme. While I didn't get a picture of all of them, I thought this one was really pretty. Here in town, our tree is tiny and far less lit by comparison--if you want to see it, I shared a picture on my Instagram

All the buildings in Granbury's town square, or most of them anyway, have christmas lights and all of the street lights are hung with pretty wreaths. Many of the windows have pretty displays with Christmas trees and lights, and snowy scenes. It really is a sight to see.


On the way back to the car, down a cute little street where the old buildings have wrought iron stairwells to the second floor on the outside, we came upon this little boutique all lit up for the holiday. I just love how it looks! And, in case you're wondering, it's just as cute on the inside. 

I'm happy that I got to see Granbury's town square all lit up for Christmas, even if it's for the first and last time. I'm particularly grateful because my darling husband, who went out of his way to take me there, is sick. He also had to work tonight--he's in the middle of 12 shifts in a row. So, he gave up what little time he had to rest--and recoup--so that I could see the Christmas lights and cards. He's an amazing man. I'm so thankful for him and all he does for me.

Next year, I hope we're somewhere just as lovely. While I look forward to the challenges that moving brings, I'm sad that I've only just begun to discover what my own back yard has to offer. Between now and then, I'm going to work to enjoy it as much as possible!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

O Christmas Tree...

I have a confession to make... my Christmas tree has been up since Halloween.

Like, I literally took it out of the box and put it up on Halloween. It came in August, and with Matt encouraging me to put it up in the middle of October, I only waited as long as I did because I was self-conscious about having a Christmas tree in my living room before the beginning of November. When Halloween got here, I figured it was close enough.

I let Matt pick the theme this year because for the past two years he's been gracious about our tree being decked out in pink and teal. He never complained about having a pink themed tree, he just smiled and told me it was pretty. This year, he wanted something different which meant going on a hunt for new ornaments. A bigger problem than it sounds since he wanted the theme to be clear, white, and silver. You can't just buy a big ol' tube of white and silver ornaments. You have to buy them individually or in smaller (more expensive) boxes.

I tried to get him allow me to add green ornaments, or some small red accents, but he refused. He wanted what he wanted, so I made it happen. It didn't come out too bad, if I do say so myself...


Terrible iPhonography and mess aside, the tree is really pretty (and not nearly as yellowish as these pics look--thanks terrible lighting!). Matt says it's the prettiest tree we've ever had which I take as a compliment because, well, I shopped for the tree (it's an unlit Treetopia No. 2 Pencil Tree), ornaments, and embellishments. I put it all together. I'm happy with it.


Now Christmas just needs to get here. I'm dying to open those presents. I've been staring at the tree for a month and a half now, it's time for Christmas to get here already.

In the mean time, I've been watching a lot of corny Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime. They're all adorable, if clearly low budget. Well worth a watch if you like fun holiday romance--I try to avoid the sad ones, I can't deal with sad.

So what about you? Is your Christmas tree up? Do you have a theme? The tree at home (at my folks house, is ecclectic which I love but don't have enough ornaments collected to pull that off myself). Whatever the case may be, I hope your Christmas season has been nice so far!



***

PS. We've discussed it next year, and if Peyton Manning doesn't retire this year, we're going to do a blue and orange Broncos tree. This girl loves the Mann!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful

I've never been one to spend a whole lot of time counting my blessings. It's so much simpler to complain about hardships than to stop and remember that there are good things happening in my life, too. Maybe it's because when you (when I) acknowledge all of those things that're good in my life, it becomes harder to see or complain about the bad or hard things.
But, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving (let's not talk about its origins, okay, that bums me out) because it gives me the perfect excuse to talk about those things I don't usually see, or believe, or acknowledge as blessings.

So this year, I'm thankful that...
My mom is cancer free: This has to be the thing I'm most thankful for this year. My mom was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma early this summer and, thank the Lord, they caught it early enough that it was small. She had surgery, had radiation, and is now cancer free! I love you, mom.

I've finally grown brave enough to seek therapy: After years of doubt and worry, I finally started getting therapy in May. It's helped me so much, I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner. My therapist is a wonderful lady, who I like, and who challenges me to see myself as I really am.

I'm married to the most amazing, inspiring, accepting man: I love you, Matt. Thank you for all you do for me and for us. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. You truly are my hero.

That amazing man got a great promotion this year:Yes! He was promoted to leadership at the company where he works. This is big, and it's meant he's busier, but he loves it so much it's hard not to be happy even when he's working long hours.

I got into a Ph.D Program this year: I was accepted into TWU's Ph.D program for Rhetoric. A great honor not everyone gets and I was hugely honored to be among those granted acceptance.

I was brave enough to know it was right for me to go back to school: This was a pretty big deal. I thought it was the right decision, but after they accepted me I realized I couldn't go. First, I don't have enough financial aid left to finish it. But really, the biggest reason was that I wasn't doing it for the right reasons. So, I made the difficult decision to sit it out. I'm so thankful that I did, and for the support of everyone around me.

I'm warm, safe, and comfortable when so many people in the world aren't: I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I'm in a good place with my marriage, I've graduated with my MA, my life is really good. I don't have a job outside the house, but otherwise, I'm in a good place.

I'm able to work full-time doing the thing I love most, writing: Hopefully, something will come of it. I've been working away over here, with several projects more than half done. Let's hope for a published book in 2015!

When I look at everything and I realize how lucky I am, it really hits me that all of the problems I have (none of which are coming to me right now, after all that thankfulness) are seriously first world problems. I'm healthy (even though I'm overweight), I have a strong marriage, my dogs are healthy and happy, I managed to make it to 36 without incident. I'm in a good place, I have much to be thankful for. I hope you do too.

So tomorrow for Thanksgiving, Matt and I are staying home and sharing the day together. My family is 1,500 miles away and Matt had to work a lot this week so we're not going to see his family or our friends in Waco. Instead, we'll have a nice meal at home together. But just because it's just us doesn't mean I don't go all out. I'm making a ham, green bean casserole, hash-brown casserole (per request), stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pie. We'll have a lot of left overs, as always, but that'll feed us for days afterward! Thankfully, I won't have to do much cooking this weekend.

Wherever you are, what ever you're doing this year, I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. Please take a moment to think of those less fortunate and to count your blessings, whatever they may be.  Happy Thanksgiving!

image via: Lil' Luna