Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Hiking We Will Go

I've been a bit of a slacker with my blogging. I meant to post about this 3 weeks ago, but better late than never!

For Jonathan's birthday, we decided to go hiking on a day that we both had off. We looked into several options but eventually decided to travel to Sedona and do some hiking there. It was really pretty! It was also nice to just get away and to see trees and red rocks again. We enjoyed spending time together to and getting to enjoy some fresh air. Here are some pictures from our hike:











Near the end of the hike I started to get a headache. I'm sure there were multiple reasons - I wasn't drinking enough water, I hadn't eaten much all day, we were walking in Arizona heat for 8 miles or so. When we got back to our car I took some Excedrin that I keep in my glove box. Well, my headache turned into a migraine and about 20 minutes up the road we stopped at a Wendy's to eat. I was starting to feel nauseous and before I had a chance to eat my food, I ended up throwing up in the bathroom. My migraine quickly got worse and I couldn't handle any lights or sounds. Jonathan ate his dinner in the car in the parking lot and I ended up throwing up a second time (only I didn't make it to the bathroom. I was that person who puked on the parking lot. It was embarrassing.) 

Jonathan drove us home and I had to lie my head on the side of the car door holding my head super still. I was scared of throwing up again. I was scared to eat anything. I was scared to try and take medicine again (I literally threw up the Excedrin, so I didn't have anything to help combat my migraine anymore). We got home and Jonathan had to carry me to our apartment because I couldn't even handle the slightest bit of movement. He laid me on the couch, gave me a neck massage, rubbed tiger balm on my temples (that stuff is amazing), made me eat and drink a little something. I could only handle eating half a piece of toast. I tried to take a nap to sleep off the migraine, but when I woke up an hour later, it was even worse. And then I threw up again. Jonathan was so sweet and right by my side the whole night as I was lying on the couch practically paralyzed in pain. After several more hours, I finally was able to take medicine and move to our bedroom. 

The migraine started around 6pm and did not subside until around 10:30 or so the next morning. I have never in my life had a migraine last that long and have one severe enough to cause me to vomit. It was not an experience I'd wish on my worst enemy. 

Lessons I learned: 

Do not take Excedrin on an empty stomach.
Drink lots of water while hiking.
Headaches can turn into migraines; take medicine early on.
If you're going on a long hike, eat more than a granola bar. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Life, Defined by Taylor Swift Album Releases

It's October, 2016 and I had a good friend ask me, "Do you think Taylor Swift will come out with a new album?"

Since she asked that, I've been thinking about about the previous Taylor Swift albums and more specifically what they remind me of. And I tell you what, thinking back made me cry. I was one of those people who absolutely loved listening to Taylor Swift and so each album brings back vivid memories of my life.

Album 1: Taylor Swift
This album came out in 2006. I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I had just moved to Layton and had discovered the song "Teardrops on My Guitar" around the time a boy I had a crush on told me he liked a girl name Annie instead of me. I was hurt and it was the first time I felt I could truly relate to a song. Maybe that experience is what made me like Taylor Swift. I could relate to her music. She's also the person who got me starting to write my own songs, as cheesy as that sounds. I guess I never saw music as storytelling before. I was into poetry at the time, and I had composed a couple piano pieces before, but it wasn't until I listed to Taylor Swift that I realized songwriting was simply the child of piano compositions and poems. My life was changed. I got so excited the first time I heard Teardrops on the radio, because until that I just listed on the internet. I'm pretty sure one of my siblings got me her album for Christmas and it didn't take me long to learn every single song on that CD.

CD 1 reminds me of discovering a new way to express myself. It reminds me of my love for songwriting. It reminds me of my friend Trevor because I begged him to teach me how to play guitar so I could learn to play "Our Song" and being the great guy he was, he taught me how to play some chords OVER THE PHONE. He was patient with me and even though we were miles apart, he successfully taught me how to play that song.

Album 2: Fearless
This album came out in 2008, when I was a senior in high school. Naturally, this song reminds me of my senior year. It reminds me of my friend Alyssa because I got to know her around the time the album came out. I'm reminded of random memories that school year involving my friend Jennie, my high school boyfriend Andrew, high school dances, visiting friends in Layton. It also reminds me of graduating and moving away from home.

Transition, it was an album my roommates and I bonded over. Freshman year I didn't know anybody and roomed with strangers. I remember fondly singing Taylor Swift songs with my roommates, who are now some of my closest friends. I am reminded of the new experiences of college. I'm reminded of working on developing my songwriting. I'm reminded of starting counseling and trying different prescriptions to combat depression. I'm reminded of Creamery ice cream and FHE and figuring out who I was.

Album 3: Speak Now
This came out in 2010, the year I met JulZ. That was a fun year. I lived with Kacie, Alix, and JulZ and I have a lot of great memories from that time. This album is probably my favorite Taylor Swift album. It could be partly because of the memories I have tied to it. I am reminded of Brynlee, Kacie's niece, and all the fun we had with her. I'm reminded of adventures with my roommates. I'm reminded of walking 25 minutes to get to campus each day. I'm reminded of talking to my parents on the phone more and working on saying "I love you" to my family more frequently. I'm reminded of working really hard in school to get straight A's (which some semesters I did, and some I didn't). I'm reminded of my friend Spencer and a little girl we were mentors for. I'm reminded of helping out at a kindergarten once a week. I'm reminded of gaining more confidence in myself and learning how to mature.

I also hold on to this album because it helped me get through a horrifying experience. The summer before I met JulZ, I went on a date with a guy I didn't know very well. The date went well and he asked if I wanted to watch a movie at his apartment that night. A million red flags went up, but unfortunately I ignored all of them. His roommate was lying in the living room with a girl on top of him. They didn't even acknowledge the fact we walked in, and the guy I was on a date with said we could just watch the movie in his room. I wasn't being very smart, and I agreed to go back there. I can't shake this memory, because it broke me. The movie ended and when I got up to go home, I was completely thrown off guard. He kissed me hard, without my consent, and pinned me down underneath him. His hands went places they shouldn't, and even though things didn't escalate past that, I was horrified. I got home after my roommates were asleep, and I locked myself in the bathroom and just sobbed. I felt scared and dirty and broken. However, thanks to amazing roommates, the power of the Atonement, and classes that kept me distracted, I was able to recover and move on with my life. I vowed I would never allow myself to be in a situation that like again. As ridiculous as this sounds, I got rid of any clothes that were even slightly immodest because I so badly wanted to be a better person and redefine myself.

What in the world does this have to do with Taylor Swift's 3rd album? Maybe it doesn't. But all I can say is I listened to that album countless times as I was going through the whole "redefining myself" process. And the next two years were really good years for me. I really did feel like a new person and I was learning to be more comfortable with who I was.

Album 4: Red
I never bought this album. It came out while I had a serious boyfriend and he bought it for us to share. We were usually together anyway, so it didn't make sense to have two separate copies. I didn't like this CD quite as much because it started to stray away from Taylor's country roots. My favorite songs to listen to were "Begin Again", "All Too Well," "Stay Stay Stay", and "I Almost Do". My boyfriend would always skip these ones, but when I was listening by myself I'd listen to them over and over again. He preferred the more upbeat, pop songs. It wasn't that I had anything against the other songs. But part of me felt like I only liked them out of loyalty to Taylor Swift. Like, I loved all her other albums, so I forced myself to love all the songs on the album Red as well.

This album is hard for me to listen to now. For several reasons:

1) The obvious reason. It reminds me of that boy and that relationship. And even though I'm married now to somebody wonderfully perfect for me, that relationship was a huge part of my life.

2) I felt like Taylor Swift wasn't being as true to herself. I started feeling uncomfortable watching her music videos. I can't explain it exactly, other than I didn't feel like she was quite as sweet and innocent anymore. Almost like her focus turned into what would make her most popular and successful rather than focusing on singing from the heart and holding onto her innocence. I don't mean to judge her or put her down, because there are hundreds of celebrities who are 1000 times more provocative and self centered and crazy. But I guess I felt a little disappointed is all.

3) Lastly, my life was a complete mess at the time and I lost myself. This album just fills me with regret, guilt, and pain. I tried to keep it a secret from people at the time, but after I graduated from college until about January of 2014, I struggled. That vow I made a few years prior, where I'd never "be in a situation like that again" was broken. Multiple times. I don't want to talk about details; I don't think they are necessary. But suffice it to say, I made some really big mistakes. And even though I've never admitted it before, in hindsight I see I felt trapped in that relationship. I felt like I had to marry this guy because nobody else would want me. I cried a lot. I felt scared I'd say something wrong when I was around him and that he'd blow up at me. He would coerce me into doing things I didn't want to do and if I didn't comply, he would make me feel guilty. He'd constantly play the victim and after nearly a year and half of that, I ended up a broken soul. I struggled with church, wasn't temple worthy, and even though I felt so incredibly lost and distant from myself, I felt I was too far gone.

In summary, the album Red brings back way too many hard memories that haunt me.

Album 5: 1984
Honestly, I only know the songs from this album that played on the radio - "Blank Space", "Shake it Off", and "Style". I might have heard one or two others once, but I never bothered to buy this album because I knew it was even more in the pop direction than Red was. Some people love that, but not me. I didn't feel like the lyrics were as good/meaningful anymore and I didn't want to listen to the others songs and just be disappointed. Maybe one day I'll listen to the songs on this album, but no guarantees.

So what does this album make me think of if I haven't listened to the whole thing? Well, it came out in 2014. I was roommates with Jenna, working full time as a director for Ology, and I was working on gaining back a testimony. I was meeting with my bishop frequently and working on developing my desire to live the gospel to the fullest. 2014 was a huge growing time for me. I was figuring out what I wanted and sincerely trying to be happy and confident with myself again, but so many hard things happened that year. That was the year Trevor died in a car accident. That was the year my mom called me and told me she and my dad were divorcing. That was the year I found out my mom was in love with someone else. That was the year I tried dating again and was broken up because, in his words, he needed to focus on himself. But ya know what? As hard as those things were, life went on. I survived. And not only did I survive, I regained my strength and I'm feeling pretty good about how things are now.

Now we are in 2016. I am far from the person I was in 2006. And 2008. And 2010. And 2012. And 2014. It's kind of crazy looking at all those years and seeing how much things change in such a short period of time. Part of me wishes I could erase several of those years, but at the same time, I know things happened within those years that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not a perfect person. I have so many areas of my life I need to work on and improve. But overall, I'm feeling happy and I'm feeling more confident with myself. I can look in the mirror and say the words "you are a good person" without feeling like it's a lie now. That's a huge deal.

So I guess now the only question that remains is the one from the beginning of the post - Will Taylor Swift release a new album this year?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Birthday to Babe!

Guess what? Jonathan had a birthday last week! Unfortunately his birthday fell on a weekday that we both worked, which was quite unfortunate, so we went hiking a few days before his birthday (that'll be a separate post) since that's something he enjoys doing. Anyway, he kept saying how he didn't really feel like his birthday was coming up. I think this is partly due to the fact he has been super busy, and partly due to the fact he doesn't want to be 29 yet.

I decided to surprise him. He loves decorations, so I decorated the living for him with streamers, giant fish, balloons, a banner, and some spirals:


I did this the day before his birthday because I wanted to throw him off guard. Plus, I last minute found out I didn't have to teach that night so I was able to spend the evening with him. I got to see his reaction when he walked in and it made me happy. :) We had a mini birthday party (just the two of us and the kitties, haha) and I had a few gifts for him to open. Nothing too fancy nor expensive (because we're poor), but they were all things that very much remind me of him and he got so excited each time he opened a new present:


We had some dessert and went walking together and it was just nice to have the evening. What he didn't know was I had another surprise for him. I still wanted his actual birthday to feel special!

So the background story: Sometimes we walk around Hobby Lobby looking at the fun stuff there. Every time we walk down this one aisle he mentions that we should get glow in the dark stars. I kept saying no, because that's something you put in a kid's room. Well, I bought a TON of glow in the dark stars and while he was at work on his birthday, I spent two and a half hours putting them on our ceiling. There were about 200 stars, and I organized them into about 8 real constellations, and 3 fake constellations (plus random stars here and there). I tried to take a picture, but it looks dumb when the lights are on and the camera wouldn't pick it up when the lights are off. You'll just have to take my word for it that it looked awesome.


HE LOVED IT! He was so excited. We kept them up, and he still gets all giddy at night when we turn the lights off to go to bed. I admit, I like them too. It's fun sleeping "under the stars". :)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hair Challenge

The last few weeks I challenged myself to be kinder to my hair. This meant keeping heat tools to a minimum, and washing my hair every other day instead of every day. It amazed me how many different hairstyles you can actually do without a flat iron or curling iron. Additionally, it amazed me how many hairstyles look fine with hair that's been "washed" with dry shampoo. I didn't take pictures of myself each day, but I have my recordings from when I taught. I took screenshots from my recordings so you can see what I ended up doing:

This first picture gives you a glimpse of what my hair looked like when the pink was still there. This day I kept my hair natural. I have a few framing layers that were going a little bit crazy though, so I pulled them back in a half pony tail.

This was the next day. I didn't wash my hair, so this was just my natural hair with some dry shampoo.(You can't really see the pink in this because the quality of the photo is so terrible, but the pink was still there -- just looked more like a rose gold)

I took a shower and braided my hair. I slept in the braids with the intent to have my hair curly the next day. But when I woke up, my braids still looked fine, so I decided to go with the Pippy look. It took me 0 minutes to do my hair in the morning, which meant extra sleeping time. :)

The next day  I just undid the braids and wore my hair curly. That was an easy hair day too, because undoing the braids took 20 seconds.

And of course, you've got your basic pony tail. That's a hairstyle that requires no hot tools.

This day I cheated. I did use my flat iron to add some curl to my hair, but I didn't do it everywhere. My natural has a tad bit of wave to it already, so I just played that up. And I added this little braid for added interest.

My go-to 3 minute hairstyle is a bun on top of my head. If my natural hair is not cooperating, or I want a quick hairdo that keeps me cool on hot days, I go this route. I use a hair elastic to put my hair in a pony tail, then I split the pony tail into two sections and twist them together. I wrap that piece in a bun shape, and then use about 3 or 4 bobby pins to secure it in place. Easy peasy.

This is another go to hairstyle I'll use if my natural hair isn't cooperating. I can't do a single braid going straight down my back (I'm still working on mastering that skill... it just always comes out as a failure). I usually opt out for this side braid instead because it's fast and easy. Sometimes I'll do a french braid, but I'd say 9/10 times I do a dutch braid instead. I usually pinch and pull at my braid to make it fuller since my hair is generally pretty thin.

This is what my hair looks like when I undo my loose side braid. It's not super curly, but it adds just a little bit of wave. Best part, no hot tools! All I did was add a little dry shampoo.

There were a few other days where I repeated hairstyles. I slept in braids another night, and did a half up pony tail another day too, I believe. But I'm glad I challenged myself to be kinder to my hair because 1) It made me appreciate my natural hair rather than despising it like I usually do, 2) It got me thinking outside the box. Instead of repeating the same two hairstyles, I tried to experiment with other styles that work with my hair, and 3) I learned that it IS possible to wash my hair every other day and not look disgusting (my hair gets greasy and oily fast, which is why I couldn't stand skipping a day of washing it). 

Any female friends out there reading this, I challenge you to take this next week and be kinder to your hair too. :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Random Updates and Thoughts

The reality of Phoenix weather is starting to hit me. I read and hear people talking about how much they are loving the cooler weather and seeing the leaves change colors. But it's still 100+ degrees here and the cactus and palm trees look exactly the same. Part of me is a little bit sad because I love fall! It's my favorite season! But I keep reminding myself that it will cool off eventually and I'll be loving the weather come December/January when I don't have to deal with snow. It's just weird to see a temperature reading of 104 when it's mid September.

We had a really unique experience last week. On Friday night we went to the LDS Gilbert temple and volunteered to do cleaning! We were there from 9:15pm-midnight. Including Jonathan and myself, there were about 27 volunteers. I had no idea what to expect. We entered the temple, showed our recommends, signed a volunteer check-in sheet, and then went downstairs. There was a room with bins of different sized white scrubs and little white booties to put over your shoes. We changed into scrubs (Which are so comfortable, by the way! I need to go get me some scrubs to lounge around in!) and then we all met in a room where a housekeeping "team" gave a prayer, spiritual thought, and then explained how things would be working. We were split into 4 different groups and followed one of the housekeeping team members for further instruction.

Jonathan and I got to clean the main floor and we volunteered for the only two-person job available - bathrooms! You know, cleaning bathrooms doesn't sound like the most fun job, but I was very impressed with how organized everything was. There was a very specific way we were told to clean and all of the rags were color coded for different things...it was really cool. I never once thought, "gross. cleaning bathrooms...." because the bathrooms are constantly taken care of. I LOVED getting to go in the bathrooms in the Bride's rooms - chandeliers and sparkly things everywhere! :) Most of all though, I liked that I got to stay with Jonathan the whole time. Even though we weren't performing any ordinances, we were still able to feel the spirit and it was awesome.

My hair is getting really long, and my bangs were getting ridiculously annoying, so I went in for a haircut a few weeks ago. I came out with highlights and pink in my hair! The last time I got highlights was back in 2009. Then I chopped my hair short so I was back to my natural. I think I dyed my hair once with my roommates back in 2010, but then I chopped my hair short again a year or two later, so I've been with my natural hair for quite some time. Part of me was a little nervous to put color in my hair again (What if I didn't like it? Or Jonathan didn't like it? Or it looked bad?) but I'm so glad I did it because I am LOVING it!! The pink is pretty much all faded now because I started out with a really soft pink to begin with, and pink dye fades fast, but I'm liking the blonde in my hair mixed with my natural (a picture will have to come later, sorry!). I'll probably have to wait another 6-10 years before I get highlights ever again though because HOLY HANNAH hair appointments cost a pretty penny. I don't understand how people can afford to go in every 4-6 weeks.

Anyway.... in other news I put in 79 hours this last pay period! I'm a little bit nervous as to what my manager might say. I'm not supposed to go over 40 hrs/wk and I got mighty close to that. But I'm working so many more hours than last semester. It's inevitable that my time log is going to show that. Also, I'm 97.8% sure I took a nap every day this week. I don't know why little kids complain about having to take a nap... naps are GLORIOUS!

Oh, I also caught something pretty awful a few weeks ago. It resulted in about 12 days of extreme mouth pain, white pockets on my tonsils, blisters on the back of my throat, ulcers under my tongue in multiple places, and swollen lymph nodes. On top of that I had a cold. I never had a fever, but I had achy skin, runny nose, congestion, and all that good stuff. I went in to see a doctor who told me he wasn't certain what it was, but that it was probably the cold sore virus. Since I've never been exposed to it before, the first encounter results in random mouth pain. But next time, I'll actually see the cold sores. I guess? I think that's what he said? He wrote me a prescription for the pain, but after a couple pharmacies told me they couldn't fill it, I just endured the pain and eventually healed. My current health insurance is under my dad's and only works in California, so that little trip to the doctor was an expensive $185 that I'll never get back. I wanted to make sure I didn't have strep though. That's the only reason I ended up going in. I'm 100% better now, so all is good. Hopefully I don't have to make any other trips to the doctor anytime soon. Jonathan and I are in the process of getting approved for other insurance options, but that is a whole different headache of a conversation I don't feel like having.

Till next time, blog reading friends! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't Worry, I'm Alive.

I can't believe an entire month has gone by since I last blogged. I can't let that keep happening. 

Jonathan finished his Family Medicine rotation. Now he's doing OB/GYN. This time he only has to commute 20 minutes (to Gilbert), which has been awesome. Typically he works from 7-4, but there are some days where he goes and helps at the hospital instead of the clinic and so the hours are different for that. He LOVES the doctor he's with - Dr. Guzman. He raves about him every day, haha. I'm so happy that Jonathan's loving his experience though. One of his upcoming rotations is supposedly with a doctor who yells a lot and he's been feeling pretty nervous about that, so it's good that he has a nice doctor right now to distract him. :) 

A semester ended and a new one began. I was really, really sad to see the semester come to a close. I LOVED my class! They were so great at participating, they were hard working, they kept me in the loop on their progress in the course and how they were feeling about exams and such. They were the perfect class, haha. It was so hard starting the next semester less than a week later. 

I'm a lot busier. The good news is I'm working a lot more hours! Last semester I was averaging only about 15 hours a week and this last month I've been averaging 30/35 a week. I'm teaching 3 online classes for Ology, 1 online class for Acer (our sister company), doing data analysis, and another project to help track student progress/ create study plans for struggling students. I might be doing scheduling again too, but that's still TBD. I'm so excited to be working more hours and having more work responsibilities. The only downside is I have a split schedule. I teach from 8am-11am M-TH, and then 5-8pm on MW, and 6-9pm on TTH. I get Fridays off from teaching though! 

If I'm being honest, I'm also grateful for the hours because I've been feeling pretty guilty about quitting my kindergarten job. It's come up in conversation a few times this past month and even though I know I made the right decision for me, it's been haunting me a little bit. We don't have kids yet and so part of me feels like I should be working as much as physically possible to earn as much as we possibly can. And whenever we talk about the future and things that we want -- buying a house, having kids, paying off student loans quickly, etc. it's kind of depressing to mentally see the dollar signs adding up and I can't help but wonder, "how on earth are we ever going to afford any of that?" I guess my point is that those things will happen when and how they're supposed to, but I feel better knowing I'm working hard and able to do my part financially at this stage of our marriage. I still think life is way too expensive, but whatever. 

That's pretty much how the days have been around here. I'm going to have to take pictures of our apartment now that it's furnished and mostly decorated. That'll be another post to come. Hopefully sooner than a month from now. I have a few other things I could rant/discuss/ponder/talk about, but I'm going to have to call this post good for now. I gots a math lesson to go prepare! Sorry all I talk about is work. It's....pretty much all I'm doing with my life right now.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Schedules

Hello there!

Blogging is getting tougher to do these days. I've been really busy the last week and a half. Since I am no longer committed to that kindergarten job (see previous post), I decided to create a schedule for myself with how I wanted to manage my time during the days.

I've been doing my online classes M-Th evenings and doing my data analysis, but I also put in about 12 hours last week for a project for work. I'm really excited about it because it's going to improve the online class tremendously and save me so much time in the long run. Boy, is it time consuming though!

Anyway, I've set aside a schedule factoring in that project, prep time for the sister company whose online classes I'll be teaching starting September, as well as household chores to complete each day, and putting in time for exercising as well. It was a busy week and a half, but I followed my schedule faithfully and got a lot accomplished! It was a really rewarding feeling!

Jonathan's schedule for his new rotation (family medicine) is in downtown Phoenix and he generally has to be there from 7-5 every day. It takes him an hour to get there and back, so we've been going to bed by 10 and getting up by 5 every day. Getting up at 5 breaks my rule to never get up before the sun, so I usually go back to sleep for a little bit. But since we have been going to bed so early, getting up by 6:30 or 7 isn't a big deal. I wouldn't really consider myself a morning person (partly because I have the worst time falling/staying asleep at night, so I'm exhausted in the morning), but I've found that if I force myself to get up, my day is way more productive and I feel happier. I've also found that napping is a lot easier for me these days...haha

Anyway, the semester is coming to a close and I'll have about a week and a half before the next one starts, so I'm getting super excited about having some time to decorate the house. The furniture has helped it feel more like a home, and I've gotten a lot of progress done in our bedroom and bathroom decor, but I know once I hang up pictures and such in our living room it'll officially feel like home.

Also, we had to choose between the TV or the piano in our living room and we made the call to have the TV in the back room and the piano out front. This decision has proved to be really great. Not that we have a lot of free time, but when we do we are more inclined to play the piano right there in the living room than go in the back room to watch TV. I really am wanting to get in the habit of not relying on TV for entertainment (I still watch AGT though, haha I can't give that one up). Jonathan and I used to wind down in the evenings by watching a show together, but now we go for a walk instead and it's great! It's amazing that a small change of where you put your television can have such a positive effect! It's been good for us at least, and it's getting us in good habits! If you're daring enough and willing enough to back away from TV, I challenge you to take your TV out of the living room or bedroom for just a week and see the difference it makes in your home and in your relationships with your family. :)