Sunday, December 30, 2012

And So It Goes

Below is my New Years blog post from last year...

So, did 2012 test my character and all that I learned about myself in 2011? I think it is safe to say yes is an understatement. This has been the hardest year of my young adult life. I have been hurt, scared, disappointed, confused, and lost more than any other time in my life. There have been more tears shed in this one year than in the last five combined. And yet, here I am. Still here to write about it all. What a blessing!

I went in to 2012 with the expectation that it would be a hard and not very pleasant year. I didn't think I was being a pessimist by thinking that, more of a realist. And now I can say to myself: I told you so. While I knew it would be tough, what I didn't know was how rewarding the life lessons would be this year. Part of that is because I hadn't fully learned how to learn from them yet. If there is one thing to point to from this year that made it possible for me to get through, it is without a doubt the fact that I learned to look at my life with the following question always in my mind: "what am I going to learn from this?"

What am I going to learn from this?

- I had multiple failed dates in 2012. I learned what I want in a partner. I learned what I don't want. I learned to slow down, let things happen naturally, and relinquish some control.

- I went a few weeks (or more) without talking to some of my closest friends. I learned that friendships can't be taken for granted, that there needs to be equal give and take, that it isn't always easy or fun, but that true friends will always be there for you as you grow and learn in life.

- I made myself incredibly vulnerable to the one person whose opinion of me meant more than
anyone else's. I learned that being 100% myself, letting every true part of me show, and standing up for how I felt can be the answer and solution when a friendship is on the rocks. This person is now my most trusted confidant, my steady rock, and the one person who has seen the deepest, darkest parts of my soul and continues to love and accept me.

- I started going to counseling. I learned that I don't have to do or know it all, I don't always need to be strong, and I still have a lot to learn about myself. I also learned that I have within me the strength and determination to be the best me, and I'm getting closer every single day.

- I lost my job. I learned so much in the weeks leading up to the conversation, and have learned a lot in the last week and a half. Sometimes things don't work out how you planned, but I learned that they generally work out just the way they're supposed to. I wrote about some health issues I was having a few months ago. I had blood tests, heart monitors, EEGs, EKGs, and MRIs. I learned that my body is as healthy as can be, but that I didn't know how to handle my job-related stress. I learned that this stress was likely being caused my the fact that I was spending 8+ hours adapting my personality to my workplace. I learned that I am a round peg trying to fit into the square hole of development. Since losing my job, I have learned that I am not alone, that I have an amazing support system, that I am not my job but I am my passion, that I am going to be ok.

- I rediscovered my faith. I still have doubts and questions, but there are a few things I am sure of: God loves me and has a plan for my life, prayer works- God may not answer how you want him to, but he listens and the more you lean in to him, the more he will provide. Two people came into my life this year (ok, one was last year...whatever) who lit the spark I needed to work on this area in my life. I truly believe God put them in my life for this purpose, and I am so very thankful for them.

I learned all of that and then some. It was a hard, hard year and my character was definitely tested. And now I'm going into 2013 with a much deeper understanding of myself and the world I live in. I'm not naive enough to think that there won't be challenges ahead, but I do think this year will be the year I get to celebrate and enjoy all of the life lessons I've learned. I am starting the year in a truly happy place, and think it is only going to go up from here.

I have to say, this year would have been so much harder than it already was if I didn't have the most amazing friends and family. I've never felt so blessed!

With that, I wish everyone a happy new year! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ain't No Sunshine

There is nothing worse, for me personally, than feeling weak. And lately...I have felt really, really weak. My body isn't functioning right, and as of right now, there's nothing i can do about it. And that is scary. And frustrating. And stressful. None of which lends itself well to helping me feel better.

I have been having dizzy/lightheaded episodes on an almost daily basis for over two months. I waited close to a month before going to get it checked out. I wanted to rule out as much as I could on my own before going to the doctor. I monitored my caffeine intake, my alcohol intake, my sleep, my eating patterns. Nothing clued me in to what was causing the symptoms.

The first thing my nurse practitioner did was run a bunch of blood tests. This ruled out iron deficiency, vitamin d (and maybe e?) deficiency, and anything related to glucose. At my next appointment, she sent me to have an EKG to get a baseline for my heart in preparation for a 48 holter monitor, which I did that same week. I pushed the button on the holter monitor a good 3-6 times per day for those 48 hours to record when I was symptomatic. Good news came back - my symptoms were not linked to any irregularities in my heart.

The next week I flew out to Houston for a leadership conference. My lack of symptoms on the plane confirmed (in my mind) that the issue is not an inner ear/vertigo problem. Good.

The last two weeks have included a sleep deprived EEG and an MRI. I will hear the results of these tests tomorrow. But today... I feel weak. I feel as though my mind and my body are operating in two different worlds. It is taking me an uncharacteristically long time to process and put complete thoughts in place. I am shaky, dizzy, and weak.

On top of this all, I am stressed. Life is stressing me out, and I feel weak to it. My biggest fear is not being able to handle my life, and right now...I don't know how to handle my life. I am in a constant battle between how I feel and what I actually do. My brain and my heart are not connecting - they are driving down two totally different roads. What I know in my mind to be "right" does not match up with what I feel is "right for me".

I am in a place so foreign to me. I am in a dark and lonely and scary place. And I want so badly to be able to just push the pause button on life. To make everything around me stop, just for moment, so I can pull myself together and get healthy - mentally and physically. I am straining my body and my mind right now, and I just want to be able to stop. Stop stressing, stop worrying.

I have always had such a strong sense of self, and have known where I want to go and what I want to do. And right now, I am so lost. And yet, I'm not actually allowed to be lost. I have jobs. I have responsibilities. I don't get to just be lost. And for some irrational reason, that doesn't seem fair to me.

So tomorrow I will learn if any of this is connected to my brain. I'm not sure what I'm hoping to hear, it's an odd situation. On the one hand, I want to have a healthy brain (of course). On the other hand, I don't want to walk out of that office without an answer.

In the mean time, and even beyond, I am focusing on the good. I am putting positive energy and thoughts around me. For the last five days that has meant being intentional about finding (at least) one thing each day to be thankful for, and to dig into my gratitude and truly experience it. So while my mind and body are in a state of chaos, my heart is so full of gratitude.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekend Project

This project has been in the works for over a year. I acquired the corks last summer knowing that I wanted to use them for a table top, among other things. However, it took until this summer to finally get the perfect table! Even then it wast easy: my coworker actually handmade the table from scraps from our warehouse. This is a truly one of a kind table! Awesome...but also makes painting complicated. It was made from a mix of finished and unfinished wood. Made sanding an interesting task ;)
Anyhow...this was so much easier than I anticipated! I had read a few other blogs on how to paint wood, so I knew the most important part was to rough it up - especially the finished wood. I knew going into this project that I was going to love the imperfections. If I didn't maintain that attitude, I'd be disappointed with the end result. So I did my best with the sanding, just worked it until most of the 'shine' on the finish was gone. I used a tack cloth to wipe up all of the dust.

Luckily, the lady at Sherwin Williams understood my project and was able to choose appropriate paint for it, including self leveling paint. I did a really fast prime job, just because I was impatient and wanted to get to the fun steps. I also knew that once the corks went on, the actually table top wouldn't be visible except a little bit peeking through the corks, so I was able to get that part done easily. I took a lot more time on the edges and legs. I only did one coat of the primer, but two (plus additional touch ups) of the green.

And that's where I am now. I'll update with the final product once I have the corks on it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Letters

 Dear Readers (I always laugh when I write that...)So...I didn't write a major update last weekend like I promised. I'm sorry! This weekend?? Let's hope so! I'm telling you, this is one heck of an adventure. I want to share so much with you! Soon. Soon. Soon. Dear Packers, Thank you for beating the Bears. Not only does that make me proud (how many times did Cutler get sacked?) but it also gave me an easy 16 points in my Pro Pick 'Em league. Which I really needed because last week I chose a bunch of underdogs...oops. Dear Grand Your of Europe, June may be 9 months away, but I seriously get more and more excited every day! And maybe a little nervous. But I honestly don't mind making these kind of massive online payments, because I know it will be worth it. Dear Mom & Ginny, I hope you are having a fantastic little out west road trip! Dear Self, Seriously. Go get a massage. You deserve it.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's Letters

Did I mention I'm now living with 5 high school boys.
Dear Life, kjsdklfjsdlkjflkdsjlf. That's about all I have to say. Dear Friends, You know who you are. Thank you for your encouraging texts and messages about the beginning of my new adventure. It means so much to me to know you support my decision and understand my excitement for this opportunity! Dear Self, Don't let history repeat itself. You're being confronted with two situations that you have been in multiple times, and will be in again. You can't change the situation, but you can react differently than you have in the past - learn from your mistakes and do it better this time. Believe in yourself and don't let anyone run you down. Dear Mother Nature, I am so excited to see cooler temperatures in the forecast! I am anxiously awaiting the beauty of another Wisconsin Autumn! ....However, the allergies that are preceding the wonderful season? Not.So.Much. Dear Readers, (Who am I even kidding with this one?) Massive posting to happen this weekend. SO MUCH to update on. I'm officially the guardian of 5 high school boys. Ups, downs, and all the has been one heckuva week!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Music Monday

I spent a decent amount of time in the car this weekend. That means I had a lot of time to listen to music via my Regina Spektor & Josh Damigo Pandora station. I had heard both of these songs before this weekend, but they both struck a chord a little differently this time. (For different reasons)

First...Jay Brannan "Beautifully"

This song is just so...beautiful. Sad, honest, raw, and beautiful. I heard it three times while driving and after the second time I bought it on iTunes. The lyrics are below.
Every time he goes, she dies
Every time she comes, she cries

He was her long, bright future

In the middle of a wrong, dark road
He loved her, but he wasn't too sure
If he could return the love she showed
When she said, my love extends
Beyond the realm of being friends
He kissed her head
And quietly he said

It's not that you're not beautiful, you're just not beautiful to me

She said, how beautiful do I have to be?
When I look in the mirror, you're the only thing I see
And I have loved you beautifully

Well, ten thousand tears passed by

But she never let him see her cry
And he called up down one night
He said, let's get in the car and just drive

He talked a lot about loneliness

But why, she didn't know
And some song about Memphis
Was playing on the radio
She said, let's stop the car and slow dance
Won't you just give me a chance?
He took her hand
And hoped she'd understand

It's not that you're not beautiful, you're just not beautiful to me

She said, how beautiful do I have to be?
When I look in the mirror, you're the only thing I see
And I have loved you beautifully

Well, she'll burn that bridge

And build a house
And swallow the smoke in her mouth
She'll feel the burn
And then make the choice
To put the fire in her voice

It's not that you're not beautiful, you're just not beautiful to me

She said, how beautiful do I have to be?
When I look in the mirror, you're the only thing I see
And I have loved you beautifully
It is tragic, but lovely, isn't it?

The other a bit different. "Beautifully" resonated with me, because I have been (maybe still am) the girl in the song. This one, I just love. I didn't particularly love the original, but this cover is just amazing. Plus, it is just so much fun to sing along to in the car!

Without further ado, Obadiah Parker "Hey Ya"
{Ok, I guess Blogger doesn't allow two YouTube videos in one here's the link. I hope you go watch it, you will not regret it!}

Yup. That just happened. My favorite line? "Okay, now ladies! Now we gonna break this thing down in just a few seconds. Now don't have me break this thing down for nothin'. I want to see ya'll on ya'll's badest behavior!" Just perfect. Don't you agree? :) 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday's Letters

This song has a hold on me lately...

Dear Life, Things are about to get real crazy. I may even need to write SLEEP in my day planner, just to make sure it actually happens. But with everything on in the next few weeks, I just have one request: don't fly by. While it is going to be a madhouse up in hurrr for a little bit, I want to relish in it. Relish in the fact that this is my life, and I'm blessed and healthy enough to be living it this way. Dear Warrior Dash, BRING IT. By 1030am tomorrow, if everything goes as planned, I'll be a warrior. Dear Family, I can't wait to see you all at the Flying Pig Ranch! Dear Self, Remember to breath, be honest, and laugh. You can get through anything if you can do those three things.

 PS) If you haven't checked out the blog below, you're missing out. Ashely is an extremely talented writer & photographer. Her blog cracks me up on a pretty regular basis. And she hosts this lovely Friday's Letters link-up, so what's not to love? :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bumpy Ride

How often do you reevaluate the priorities in your life? And how do you decide which priorities go where? I think I may be at a pivotal point in my life journey. Up until this point, I have tried to be all things for all people. Depending on how I measure it, my success rate is anywhere from 30%-90%. It is higher if I look at my ability to say yes to the greater majority of opportunities as a success measure. The lower rate is if I look at my involvement in those opportunities qualitatively. What do I mean? Let's look at what my involvements (priorities) are:

PR/Development Director @ HPFC (full-time)
Barista @ Copper Rock (part-time, mostly just Saturdays/Sundays)
Resident Director @ ABC (full-time...ish. live-in position. boys haven't moved in yet.)
ABC Student Affairs Committee (one meeting/month)
ABC Board of Directors (one meeting every other month...I think?)
MPC Strat Plan Task Force, Moderator (two meetings/month plus work between meetings)
HPFC Marketing/PR Committee, Staff Chair (one meeting/month plus work between meetings)
NPD Planning Committee, Co-Chair (one meeting/month plus work between meetings)
AFP, Vice-President (one - two meetings/quarter)
Rotary Ambassadors, Co-Chair (one meeting/quarter)

On top of all of that, I'm also in Kiwanis, Rotary and PEO. I volunteer at the concerts on Thursdays. I play on the bags league (which will soon be the skeeball league). Oh, and I do have friends and family to see and stay connected with. And then there's this whole faith thing I'm trying to work on. Wait...what did you say? Yeah, that's right. Somewhere in there I'm also supposed to find time to just enjoy being me.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love absolutely everything I am involved in. And I love being busy, I don't know anything else but busy. However, I think I am officially over-committed.  I am a few months over 24 and I feel like I am in a staring competition with burn out, just waiting to see who blinks first.

Here is where my struggle comes in. I do love being so involved, but I know that I'm not giving all of these commitments my full potential. It would be impossible for me to do that. It is also impossible for me to cut the list down to only one commitment that receives all of my attention. However, it is possible and quite frankly, necessary, for me to narrow down this list to something more reasonable. If we look at that list above, and add in the couple other things I mentioned - Kiwanis, Rotary, PEO, volunteering, leagues, friends, family, faith and myself - it appears that I am being pulled in 19 different directions. Whaaaat? 19 directions. One girl.

But what stays and what goes? How many directions are too many? What is the perfect number I am looking for? And then there is the most daunting question: how do I cut things out and face disappointing the person/people I originally said yes to? Yup. There's the heart of this whole mess. I fear disappointment more than I fear burn out. I say yes when I should say no, just to avoid disappointment.

I need to refocus, adjust my priorities, and reclaim my life. I need to make sure that I can say I am truly proud of the work I do with each commitment in my life. To give anything less than my best isn't fair. And it isn't worth it. I am going to need to learn to say no and, in some cases, to step down. I am going need to confront disappointment and stay strong.

Here we go, folks. The ride is about to get bumpy.

Of course Pinterest had a picture for this blog post...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Life as an RD, Part 1: Embarrassing

I'll have to laugh myself to sleep tonight
 It looks like I get to begin my journey of documenting my life in this position a little earlier than expected.

Here's the scene: I'm in bed, reading. It's getting to the point where I'm ready to turn the light out and call it a night. But then I hear car doors slam and voices that sound fairly close. I put down my book and focus on the noises. Was that the front door? Is that a phone ringing? Where are these voices? They're getting closer, I duck down out of sight. And then I hear an "Excuse me?" I pull myself up just enough for my head to be in the window "...Yeah?" They go on to explain that they're former students here to pick up their mail, so I say I'll meet them around front.

After awkward introductions and a stumbling conversation, they're out the door with their mail and I'm back in bed.

Lessons learned: lights off. blinds closed. pajamas.

Oh, and apparently the doorbell doesn't work. And there's a phone in the foyer. Both good to know.

I hope they didn't leave and immediately text the returners to tell them how awkward I am...I swear I'm normal in the morning.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Foodie Post

I don't cook very often. I also don't eat out very often. I just tend to eat a lot of raw foods. However, I was inspired yesterday and decided that I wanted to give chicken parmesan a try. I bought most of the ingredients last night, but lost my inspiration. This morning I went to the farmers market and bought merlot noodles (yum!) and knew I would be making the chicken parmesan. Enter life (and TMI). I got home from the farmers market and spent the next 3 hours unable to be away from a bathroom for more than 5 minutes at a time. Stomach flu? Food poisoning? I don't know, but it definitely took away my appetite. I still wanted to make the chicken parm though...especially with the thought of those merlot noodles so fresh in my mind! So I made it. And tasted a bite. Delicious. I look forward to eating it for lunch this week since I obviously won't be eating it tonight!

merlot noodles by dalla terra

chicken parmesan, with merlot noodles and fresh mozzarella

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear US Venture Open participants and organizers,  THANK YOU. Thank you so much for participating in and organizing such an amazing event. 800 golfers, 100+ volunteers, and countless other supporters all came together for a day of golf, networking, fun...and fundraising. Over $1.85 million was raised to fight the root causes the poverty in our community. I can't explain how proud I am to have taken part in such an event. Dear hormones, You suck. The end. Dear Mother Nature, This rain was so needed. And you won't hear a single complaint from me about the drop in temperatures. Bring on jeans, sweater and boots weather! (I'm so ready for fall!) Dear weekend, It's on. Yoga, farm market, block party volunteering, and volleyball are just the beginning. The real task: get the house ready and organized. Scholars move in in t-minus 21 days. BOOM. Dear self, What's meant to be will always find a way. Promise yourself to always remember this - through the good and the bad.



Today, I feel thankful.

I stopped at Copper Rock this morning on my way to work (as I usually do). However, instead of making my regular drink, a 16 ounce iced americano, I poured a 16 ounce dark roast coffee. Why the change? Well, because it isn't 100* anymore. It is a crisp low 70s when I leave my house in the morning. That tells me summer is on its way out and fall is finding it way in. I love the changing of the seasons.

16oz Three Peaks Roast
I put in a 15 hour day yesterday. Woke up at 530a, got dressed & ready, out the door and on the road at 6a. After a stop at Copper Rock (northside) for a 20oz iced americano and peanut butter flax seed bar, I was off to Green Bay where I spent the next 8 hours at beautiful Oneida Golf and Country Club. I worked a par 3 hole - chatting away with golfers, making bets with US Venture Bucks and enjoying the perfect summer day. I then made my way to Van Abel's in good 'ol Hollandtown. The 17,000 square foot tent was abuzz with excitement from the day's events and anticipation for the night's speakers: Nancy Lopez welcomed Jack Nicklaus to the stage. But at the end of the night, the real reason for the 15 hour day came down to this one number: 1.85 million. That's dollars raised, folks. One.million.eight.hundred.and.fifty.dollars. All being matched by the JJ Keller family foundation. All being designated to grants for organizations fighting the root causes of poverty. All staying in our community. (Speechless and teary-eyed over here)

800 golfers + 120 dinner guests + volunteers = $1,850,000
This golf outing started 27 years ago and made $48,000 in their first year. Don't ever underestimate the power of a few people working hard for a great cause. The Schmidt and Keller families could move mountains if they put their minds to it. I'm convinced, and in awe of their dedication.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday's Letters

Who doesn't love an amazing cheese plate?

Dear Kiwanis, You were a little too political for me today. First the joke about no chickens in Appleton. Let's all just agree that the defeating vote on that was about fear of change, not fear of chickens. Then, 10 happy dollars were donated in place of the dinner that said member would have been having at Chik-fil-A if Appleton had one. I don't really care if you do or don't eat at Chik-fil-A, but wanting to eat there and voicing it BECAUSE of their anti-gay remarks is NOT OK. (However, this gives me some comfort!) Dear life, As much as you confuse me, I really am pretty darn happy right now. Dear peanut butter flax seed bars, Stop being so good!!!! Dear Chic to Chic, Thanks for the great deals! I'm loving my new threads and will definitely be making you a staple in my shopping routine now. Dear Copper Rock, I work 7a-4p tomorrow...please be gentle with me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Letters (Inner Bitch Edition)

Dear Getting in Touch with your Inner Bitch calendar, I love you. That's all. (as you can see above, this week was a real winner as far as calendar quotes goes) Dear Point in Time Count, I am glad you're over so I can work on getting my sleep schedule back to normal. On a more serious note, we found four people sleeping outside on Wednesday night and that is four too many. But it proved to be an eye opening experience for many volunteers. Dear life,  Sometimes, you're a little too much for me handle. I got some good advice last night that I plan to use to make you a little simpler: stop thinking so much, everything doesn't need to fit in a perfect little doesn't exist. Dear self, Let's make this new chapter in life the best ever. There are some good things coming up and there isn't anything to do but enjoy them.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday's Letters

 left:the amazing dinner, prepared by Cena chef & assistant//
top right:hot day for a golf scramble at Reid//bottom right: Patti's amazing dinner party

Dear Mother Nature, Thanks for the much needed rain & temperature drop! I really wouldn't mind this for another whole week :) Dear Mom, Thank you again for helping me unpack and get a little more situated in my new place! And for the sweet garage sale find for my closet. You rock. Dear EF College Break Trip, I cannot wait to book you within the next week! Eeee. 30 days in Europe with a group of strangers? signmeupnowbeforeibackout. Dear Life, Sometimes you confuse me, and throw curve balls that I don't understand. Let's work on better communication, ok? Dear ABC Scholars, I cannot wait to meet you in a few weeks! I'm ready for a life changing year. Dear Otis, Thanks for being such a perfect puppy to dog sit for a week. It was sad saying goodbye. 

Click below to check out the blog that inspired me to start doing Friday's Letters &  to blog more regularly!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Throwing Caution to the Wind

THEY'RE HERE!!!! 2013 Trip Details for EF College Break!!

Here are my top two choices:
Oh, my gosh. I am so ready to book this trip! I just don't know which one to choose...

Here are my thoughts:
  • Not worried at all about the price/length difference. I mean, $500 and 5 days? No sweat off my brow there.
  • The Panorama tour includes Dublin. BONUS.
  • Grand Tour includes an extra day in Amsterdam, more Italy cities, and Madrid. BONUS.
So, basically, I need to decide between three days in Dublin, or extra cities in Italy/Spain. Thoughts, anyone??

Although I still need to decide which trip I'm going to take, I think I have decided on leaving in June (22 if I choose Panorama, 24 if I choose Grand Tour). The boys will all be done with school and back home or with their host families, and I will have a few weeks to decompress and get ready for this trip. I still need to figure out which airport makes the most sense for me to leave from - but that really just comes down to price. I am comparing Madison, Chicago and Minneapolis. 

The other important decision: a backpack. This isn't a rolling luggage or duffel bag kind of trip. This is a "keep-it-light-because-it-will-all-be-on-your-back" kind of trip. Yup. I get to live out of a 4lb, 4,400 cubic inch backpack. Probably this one:

Osprey Ariel 75 Pack - Women's 

Wow. I know it isn't for another year, but I'm already so excited. And.So.Nervous. I've started really talking about this with people, which I think makes it feel more real than it ever has. I'm really going to do this. I am going to travel around Europe with a group of people that at this point are complete strangers. I am going to throw caution to the wind and leave the comfort of my home, my friends, my family, my regular daily routine and I am going to travel. I can't wait to see new sites, walk new terrain, smell new smells, and meet new people. 

I have been seriously thinking about this trip for a little over a month now. I first posted it on Facebook back in June (actually, exactly a month ago from today. that has to be a sign, right?!). At first I was met with hesitation when I would bring it up to people. The most common question: what about your job? I hadn't really thought through that detail, and really, I still haven't. But when I found this article last week, I decided that the lingering questions I had about actually taking this trip were pointless. I need to do this. And I need to do this now.

And I'll leave you with this: "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." -Christopher Columbus

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Makings Of...

A tired puppy.
Left and middle: Otis very excited to be going to a play date with his friend, Pooter. 
Right: a tired Otis (top - after dog play date, bottom - after walking the Bret Younger 5k)

So far, the dog sitting week is off to a great start. A wonderful puppy play date last night, a 5k walk this morning, and an afternoon of naps.

Other things accomplished today: 
  • installed a window a/c unit (with the help of my wonderful mom)
  • went to the farmers market and enjoyed cheese curds, mini donuts, and a bucket of mimosa...thus negating all of the good work I did with the 5k walk
  • pulled a tick out of poor Otis's leg. Not sure where or when he got that, but it definitely gave me the heebie geebies! He was such a good sport about it and sat still while I  attempted to get a grip on it & pull it out. Ick, ick, ick!

Oh, and Otis has been farting all afternoon while we have tried to nap. I bet you really wanted to know that, right? 

PS) I'm so happy we are getting some rain! Let's hope the humidity goes down a bit. 

Friday, July 13, 2012


You can't say no to those eyes.
Dear Otis, I'm so excited for a week of long walks, head tilts, and nightly cuddles with you! See you at 630 tonight. Dear weekend, you're jam-packed with plans but I am looking forward to it all! 10k walk, a day at the beach, golf and fancy dinner with friends...and just a few hours of work thrown in there too. Dear Mother Nature, please stay relatively mild this weekend, I want to enjoy all these outdoor activities I have planned! Dear calendar, two things: 1) SLOW DOWN. 2) if we could find a way to add some free time to you in the next few weeks before school starts that would be great, ok? Thanks.

I have decided to attempt to blog my adventures of dog sitting for the next week. The main reason is  so I have somewhere to put all the adorbs photos that I'm going to capture of the Doctor (the cute Boston picture up there, also know as Otis). The other reason is because I want to work on blogging more regularly before the school year starts. The ABC Scholars will start to move in at the end of August/early September and I want to document my first year as the Resident Director. What better way to do that than a blog? So between now and their move in date, I'm going to try to work on finding my "blog voice" and really getting into this thing. I love writing, and I'm sure I will have plenty to share throughout the year as I'm living with 5 (maybe 6 now?) high school boys. Plus, I think it will interesting to compare all of my "before" thoughts, feelings, fears, excitements with what actually happens during the year. (Right now my biggest fear is losing all of my friends because I'm basically kissing my social life goodbye. Uhhm...)

I feel like I have so much to write about today, but am going to save some of it for later blog posts this week.

And we'll end with this little pictorial of my summer so far:

top left:mustache party (go on...)//top middle:living the high life//top right:the Poots&me//right:ladies in 'staches
bottom left:mojito (the drink of summertime)//bottom middle:Stacey&me//bottom right:ladies happy hour

Oh, and...


Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday's Letters: The Beginning

Well, well, well. My first "link up" is here. Do I get to call myself an official blogger after this? :)

To my loyal followers, (all 2 of you, I think...) Welcome to Friday's Letters! I've been wandering around the blog world a bit lately and a few of my favorite bloggers participate in this. I like the idea, so I'm going to give it a try!  

Dear Friday, Perfect timing! This week was getting to be a bit more than I could handle, so your presence is refreshing. Dear Mom, Seriously. What would I do without you? You're the best. Whether it is lending me some time on the sewing machine, letting me vent, or giving me much needed tough love - you are always there and I couldn't be more grateful! Dear Otis, I'll never get sick of you curling up in the curve of my legs while we sleep. Is vare nahce. Dear Jess, I truly admire your strength and ability to be so positive despite the many reasons you could be crumbling! Love you, girl. I'm so glad we get to spend Thursday nights together all summer! Dear Summer, I'm loving you so far. Let's keep it on the up & up!


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Universe Conspires

NOTE: I didn't share this post until today (June 1) because my job offer was contingent on the background and reference checks that were completed this last week. But I got the OFFICIAL offer/acceptance last night and still couldn't be more excited! :) 

Those of you who have known me well in the last two or three years know that I have this weird thing about books. I happen to find and read books that have a very distinct parallel to a big decision or life event that I'm about to experience. A few years ago it was Eat, Pray, Love. Last year it was Happiness Project. (Story here) This year, this month, it was The Unlikely Disciple. I knew fairly early on in the book (which, like the other two, found me...I did not seek them out!) that I was going to be changed by reading it. However, I thought for sure that the book's impact on me would be in my faith journey. The Unlikely Disciple is about a Brown University student - journalism major, liberal, raised by Quakers. Kevin decides to take a semester to attend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" at Liberty University. He does this as a means to write a book about Evangelical Christians. Throughout the book, Kevin's own thoughts and beliefs are tested. He has put himself into a situation that challenges every ounce of his being and teaches him more about himself and the world around him than he ever expected.

I am about to put myself into a situation that will challenge every ounce of my being. And if I am so lucky, it will teach me more about myself and the world around me than I can even imagine. This morning I accepted the position of Resident Director for Appleton's A Better Chance Program. Before you go all, "Hold the phone!" or "Shut the front door!" on me...I am NOT leaving my Housing Partnership position. Take your sigh of relief and let's move on.

A Better Chance is a program that recruits incredibly talented and intelligent high school students from disadvantaged school systems and brings them to Appleton to live and go to school. There are 25 A Better Chance programs throughout the country, and Appleton is unique in that is not a prep school or boarding school. The students live in a house owned by and located on Lawrence University's campus. They have a cook that comes in every day to make dinner and tutors that work with them every night. And they have a Resident Director. Basically, I am going to be something between the House Mom and House Big Sister for 3-8 high school boys.

I am taking a position that is going to give me the opportunity to mentor a group of high school students. I'm going to be their sounding board, mediator, disciplinarian, and hopefully...their friend. I remember high school fairly fondly. Although the last two months of my senior year were some of the worst that I've experienced in my life, when I look back at those four years I have a lot of amazing memories. I went to see Titanic at Appleton North earlier this year, and I had to hold back tears while they did the curtain call. My memories of high school theatre still bring me to tears. The camaraderie and family that I had with my peers in theatre is unmatched anywhere else. And I have a feeling that students who participate in sports know that feeling. I remember spending weeknights studying and doing homework at Copper between conversation, of course. I remember weekends that blur together, full of all sorts of adventures. I may not have ended high school in a happy place, but those four years were amazing. And now I get to watch a group of boys go through them. I get to be there for the amazing memories, the late night studying, and the rough moments. To say that I am honored to have this position is an understatement.

But I'm also scared. These are teenage boys! Most of them will be new to the school, to Appleton, to Wisconsin. And it is on me to help them adjust and make good choices in their first few weeks of school. Choices that will likely determine their success for the school year and in the program. I always talk about wanting to be a mom. Well, here's my chance. I'm skipping quite a few steps and years, but I'm about to take these boys under my wings and hope for the best.

The thing about this whole situation that gets me the most is that it all happened in a matter of 4 days. I saw the posting on Tuesday, sent an email to the director, got a call Tuesday afternoon to schedule a Thursday evening interview, and was offered the position this morning. Talk about a whirlwind! But when something feels this good, and this just know. This is where my life is taking me. And while it requires some major changes, I am very excited to see how the year unfolds.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Best Me

"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy."
- Max Ehrmannz
I printed this out and have it folded up in my purse. It will always be with me.

I've received some great advice lately. While the circumstances that have brought this advice to me are unique to me, I think the advice is sound and can be helpful to many people.

Here is what I've been doing lately:
- Thinking/writing about the changes that have occurred in my life in the last few years that I don't have any control over. How can I be ok with that?
- Thinking/writing about my personality type, what it means, and how I can be ok with it.
- Intentionally spend time alone. Notice how I feel.
- Focus on moving towards an internal locus of control (vs external). In other words, stop personalizing every little thing.
- Take risks and step outside my comfort zone.

I'm not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. I'm not in a comfortable place. But I am starting to feel like I am right where I am supposed to be. I said at the beginning of 2012 that this would be the year that my character gets tested, and I would need to stick to the things I learned about myself in 2011. Well, so far that has absolutely been the case. And although it was a rough start, I am feeling like things will come together, just as they're meant to.

So here I am. I'm working on becoming the best me possible.  I like to think I'm already a pretty good person, and in general, I do know who I am and what I want. The things that I'm working on have a much greater affect on me than those around me. Over thinking and over analyzing things hurts me more than others. Taking things too personally hurts me more than others. Those are the things I need to change to become the best me possible. For me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simple Things

Someone asked me recently what simple things make me happy or smile. What a great question! It is so easy to overlook the simple things, especially when life starts to get overwhelming. So here are some of the simple things that brighten my day...when skies are grey ;) 

When the perfect song comes on the radio. 
Bonfire/game nights with my roommates and friends. 
Driving down country roads with the windows down and my radio up. 
Waking up to the sun shining in my window. 
A good hug from someone I care about.
Random hand squeezes. 
Good conversation.
Looking through old pictures of happy memories. 
Grilling out with friends and family.
Spending Saturday morning at the farmer's market and then relaxing with a good book.
Getting a text letting me know someone is thinking about me.
Thursday night concerts in the summer.
The sunshine.
A fresh rain.
A successful shopping trip.
Squeaky cheese curds.

Always remember the simple things....and smile :) 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Work in Progress

Sometimes I wish I could learn lessons without having to live through them. Why do I need to go through something so difficult to realize what I should have known all along? I have been out of college for almost two years now and I feel like I have learned more in these two years than I did in my 17 years of school prior. And I have struggled far more as well. And I still don't feel complete. I'm still not exactly who I want to be, and I'm still making mistakes that I should have learned from.

There are a couple of Pins (duh) that describe how I'm feeling right now.

 I've learned a lot of lessons in the last few months. Anyone close to me has seen the struggles I've been through and has also likely had a hand in helping me through them, for which I am incredibly grateful! But now I'm at a point where I shouldn't be making some of these same mistakes again, but I am and it is SO frustrating to me. Why am I putting myself into a position that I've been in before and had negative results? Why haven't I really learned from this? These have been my thoughts recently. But then I stopped to really look at what was going on. Did I make the same mistake? Well, yes. But did I handle it the same way? No. That realization helped me. Habits are hard to break. I'm probably going to keep making some of the same mistakes over and over again just because I've made certain things habit. It is going to take time to break those bad habits and retrain my brain. But in the meantime, isn't it important that I recognize I have these habits and that even though I am not as in control of them as I'd like to be, that I am able to respond in a different way? That sounds like progress to me. Ideally I just wouldn't make the mistakes anymore. But if I'm going to make the mistakes (and trust me, I am) then at least I know that I handle them in a healthier way.

I like to think that I'm in a much better place than I was 2 or 3 months ago. I've done some soul searching and I've had some people close to me give me much needed tough love. But as evidenced by my mistakes and missteps, I'm not quite where I want to be. My past self is still a barrier to reaching my true self, and that's a tough pill to swallow.

I'm so grateful that I have friends and family by my side for this journey. And I'm grateful that they stick with me even when I do stumble and make mistakes...and then make mistakes again.

So where do I go from here? One of the biggest things that I've learned in dealing with these mistakes is that the best way to get through them is be HONEST and stay POSITIVE. Lying to myself isn't going to help anything. And no one likes a debbie downer! Both of these took time to learn, but that's where my progress is seen. When I screw up, I own it and I confront it. Pushing it aside is just as bad as lying. But I'm not going to dwell on it either. Shit happens. People make mistakes. We're human, no one is perfect. What matters is how you deal with it...and I'm choosing to learn from my mistakes and stop being so hard on myself. I take things very personally, but beating myself up over every little gaffe is just going to bring me down and make change even more difficult. So instead I'm going to focus on what can be learned, what I can do differently next time, and how this can help me become a better person.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

 I remember going to Chicago in middle school with my cousin to visit a friend. Her family was very religious so we, of course, went to church on Sunday morning. I was at the point in my church education that I was either just starting, or just about to start spiritual quest (our fancy way of saying confirmation). I remember a specific conversation I had in the car after the service. I admitted that I had trouble making it through an entire church service without looking at my watch, wondering when it would be over. I felt guilty for not being able to give my undivided attention and let myself get lost in time. I think the general response I got was, "pray about it."

I went through spiritual quest like any 8th grader does. I did my "homework" and studying, participated when necessary but didn't really get anything out of it. That summer I went to Lake Lundrgen Bible Camp with the same cousin and another one of her friends. LLBC was a pivotal week in my faith journey. I came back with a renewed sense of faith and was a self-declared Jesus Freak, listening to Christian Rock and reading teen devotional books. 

Through high school I was very involved in the senior high youth group at my church. I traveled to Minneapolis, Alamosa Valley, CO, Rockford, IL, and Germantown, PA on work trips. I spent my Sunday nights in the youth room, attended lock-ins, and did service projects. I was Youth Deacon for a year, served on the 21st Century Church task force, and helped with the Stewardship Committee. When I went off to college, I chose a Presbyterian school and my church (both local and national) gave me scholarships.

I brought a bible and a young adult devotional book with me to college, but I had long since changed my musical tastes and I no longer wore the silver purity ring on my left hand. My faith journey was stuck at a crossroad, and there it stayed. I argued with my overly Lutheran freshman studies professor, resisted my friends' urges to go to bible study or other Christian fellowships (even though I went to Young Life in high school), and took a very academic approach to my New Testament Studies course. When I was home on the weekends, I'd go to church and people would ask if I'd found a church in Waukesha. I brushed it off saying the Presbyterian church I was more drawn to was farther from campus and I was just too busy.

I have now been out of school for almost two years, and I don't think my faith has moved from the crossroad it hit back in 2006. I have had conversations with friends about my faith, especially when I accepted the call to serve as the chair of MPC's Pastor Nominating Committee. Some of my friends didn't even realize I went to church (at this point, I went maybe once or twice each month), and many asked if I was really religious. Well, that turned into a complicated question for me, especially as the process went backwards as that seems.

At first, I told people that yes, I am a fairly religious person in that I go to church regularly, try to spend at least some time in prayer each week, and the congregation at my church was like my second family. But then something changed. My weekends became busier...well, my life in general got busier. I didn't go to church as often, but I was still the chair of this committee. So then my answer changed. First it was that I didn't really go to church that often, but the congregation was like my second family and played a huge role in my development as a person. Then it morphed even further into: well, I don't really go to church but I believe in a higher power, and don't really know about all the other details. And that is where I am right now.

But I've made it a goal to get to church more often again. Why? Well, in part because we called a new pastor. A pastor that I got to know and interviewed and prayed about and for in trying to decide if he was right for our church. So I feel sort of obligated to be there to support him and support the PNC's decision. (Not that it is difficult...I wholeheartedly believe this man is what our congregation needs.) The other part is that I feel like if I can't put my life on hold for just an hour and a half each week to contemplate my spiritual being, there's something wrong.

The last few times I went to church, I was so antsy I could hardly stand it. I was fidgety and anxious and my thoughts were everywhere but there. I'm pretty sure I even checked my phone a couple of times (remember how I used to look at my watch?). This made it difficult for me to say yes to my mom when she asked if I'd be going to church. I seriously felt anxious when I thought about sitting for an hour and a half in one place without any socializing.

I went to church this morning. Just before the sermon I started to think about all of this and how I was going to blog it. I remember thinking about how I really don't know where my faith is, I don't know if I think Jesus is a divine savior or if he was just a really cool teacher dude, no different than John the Baptist or Abraham. And then Mike started his sermon and within the first three sentences he was speaking right to me. Have you ever thought that if you could just meet Jesus things would be easier? Do you find yourself questioning and doubting? Um...yes and yes. It was reassuring to hear that these feelings are ok. I don't know if I'll ever go back to where my faith was. I'm quite sure I'll never be a Jesus Freak again, but I'd like a little bit more substance to my beliefs than just, "I believe in a higher power."

My conclusion: I'm going to take time out every week possible, go to church, and let that time be for my spiritual growth and my faith journey. I suppose the whole not believing that Jesus was a divine savior cuts me out of the Christian faith, but my church is where I feel most comfortable, spiritual, and faith-full. So that's where I'm going to stay at this point on my journey.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Downside of Being an Extrovert

DISCLAIMER: This is a long post. And I talk about my dating life. Proceed at your own risk :) 

I am an extrovert. No, I am an extreme extrovert...with every fiber of my being. This serves me very well in my professional life. As part of our Monday Morning Management Team Meeting, (Mmmtm...beat-box it, you know you want to) three of my coworkers and I bought the book Strengths Finder 2.0, took the 170+ question assessment and have started delving into our strengths and what they mean for how we should be the leaders of Housing Partnership. Here are my five strength areas, with the brief description. 

Restorative: People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
Individualization: People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Woo: People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. 
Positivity: People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Learner: People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Ok. So there's the proof that I'm an extrovert. Three out of five strengths are directly related to wanting to make connections with, understand and in general be with people. Like I said, perfect for my Public Relations and Development career.

However, being such an extreme extrovert can be difficult in my personal life. For one, I have an incredibly difficult, borderline impossible, time being alone. Sitting at home without anyone around can truly lead to anxiety for me. My usual solution is to go shopping, even just to the grocery store, so I can be around people. Let me tell you, my bank account does not always appreciate this response.

I've been trying to work on this and force myself to stay home and just CHILL and learn how to deal with it. Take Saturday for example...I'd call it a mixed success. I woke up around 8ish. What was my first response? Text a friend to see if they wanted to have a chill day watching tv/movies. Seriously, Crystal? Ok. Then I chatted with JB until she left for her goddaughter's birthday. Alright, empty house now. I shoveled, realized how nice it was outside and threw out a call on Facebook for someone to ski/snowshoe with. No takers. So I was left to my own devices, with 5 hours until I needed to be at work, and an empty house. I am happy to announce: I did it. I spent those last few hours by myself, without even so much as a texting conversation with anyone. So the day started off rocky, and then I overcame my anxiety and chilled. But let me tell you, I have never been so happy to get to work! PEOPLE. SOCIAL INTERACTION.

You're probably thinking: "Crystal, not being able to sit at home alone all day isn't that big of a deal." You're right. But there's more. Let's look at how this affects my dating life. (Go ahead and groan...stop reading here if you did). According to that wonderful Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment, I love to make connections with people, I care about them, and I want to make them happy. Add that to my extreme extrovert-ism...that's an intense combination.

I recently had someone very close to me tell me that part of the reason that I may have trouble dating is because I am so freaking intimidating. Uhh...I'm just barely 5 feet tall? What's there to be intimated by? Her response: I am confident, I know who I am and what I want, I have a successful, professional career that has me already making a name for myself in this community and I'm only 23. Oh, and I'm an extreme extrovert. Well then.

So here begins my attempt to find a balance between toning down my personality (at least in the beginning) so as not to scare guys away,  but also not losing who I am. And please, don't get into the "If someone doesn't like you for who you are, that's their problem" or "Don't change yourself for a man" spiels. That's not what I'm talking about doing. I'm not making any fundamental changes. I am still going to be an extrovert, I'm still going to value people and care about them and want to make meaningful connections. I'm still going to wear my heart on my sleeve. I just need to tone it down a bit so there's room for someone else in my world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Goals...As Promised

A few posts back I said my goal was to have 2 or 3 goals done by the end of the holiday season. Well, the end is here. And I have a couple new goals!

Live With Intention. This one is based on one of my favorite quotes:
"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is." - Mary Ann Radmacher 
I know. It is a pretty hefty goal, with a lot to it. But in its most basic just means living for me. And that's what 2012 is going to be about. I'm not going to let other people call the shots in my life, I will be the only person in control of my emotions and my actions and I will have fun and live as if this is all there is. How will I measure this? I think the most important thing that will come from this goal is an increased self-awareness. I will need to be very in tune with how I'm feeling about my decisions and choices and actions. If I'm happy with what I'm doing, I'm succeeding. Easy enough.

Be Well. Another broad goal, but with little pieces that I can measure individually.
  • Eat better, live better. I saw a pin this weekend that said something along the lines of "If your food can go bad, it is good for you. If your food can't go bad, it is bad for you." That makes a lot of sense. I am lucky in that I really LOVE fruits and vegetables. And I don't need them dipped or dressed in anything. I love to eat just raw, naked fruits and vegetables. I could eat them at every meal and be happy. However, I don't do it that often. But I'm going to make an effort to revamp my diet a bit. I don't really believe in diets - I think they're hard to follow which makes it stressful and then it doesn't last long. What I'm looking at doing is changing my eating habits. I'm not looking at it as a diet, if I want to have a cheeseburger, I'm still going to eat a cheeseburger. I'm just going to be more conscious about these decisions and I'm not going to have bad options for me at home. I've already started this in some ways. I try to be local as often as possible. Yes, in some cases I mean REALLY the farmers market. But even at the grocery store, I try to stick with produce that was produces in the US. Not because I think our food is particularly better, but because it is fresher and it hasn't polluted the environment through travel from South America, etc. I have also been on an organic kick lately. A little pricier, but really, this is my health and body we're talking about...I'm worth it.
  • Start the day right. I am on day 2 of waking up a little earlier to do some core workouts. Truthfully, it has only been about 10 minutes, but I had to start (again) somewhere. It has been exciting to feel pain in my abs again. And I love that it gives me a certain boost of energy right away in the morning. I hardly needed my coffee this morning but I am not at a point of breaking that habit yet :)
  • Get outside. I stopped at High Cliff State Park on Sunday to buy my 2012 park sticker and pick up JB & D's sticker. It was a gorgeous day for January: 32* and super sunny, so I drove through the park with my windows cracked and then parked at the beach lot. I got out of my car, walked down to the beach and just took a deep breath. It was lovely. There is something about fresh air that just refreshes me. So why not indulge myself with more of that natural high, more often? I have snow shoes, cross country skis, and (soon) ice cleats. I'm set for a multitude of outdoor activities and I plan to utilize what I have! And maybe even try some new things to put those endorphins into over drive.
So there they are. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering, but these goals are going to help me build on the foundation I've started and make any future goals easier for me to follow. I'm looking forward to 2012...continuing with my 2011 goals and adding these couple. Hopefully in a few months I will be at a place where these have become habit and I can start adding more goals.

One Year

One year ago this last weekend was the first time I met the people that I now call my best friends. It was the first weekend that I decided to spend for myself - not in Madison, or up here with a visitor. I needed girl-time and was finally going to get it.

I had been looking for a book club in Appleton and finally did a Google search. What came up first was Northeast Wisconsin Women's Book Club on So I clicked the link, joined the group and then continued searching around Meetup. I found a Northeast Wisconsin Girls Night Out group. Sounded interesting enough; I needed something to add to my social life.

The first Meetup I attended was Bunco. It was being held at someone's house on Stroebe Island and I was to bring a dish to pass and my own beverage. So here I am, in my car, driving very slowly by this unknown house. I'm about 15 minutes early (what a surprise) and too nervous to park just yet, so I drive around the island for a good 10 minutes before finally talking myself into just parking and going in. I had brought a 6-pack of beer, but didn't want to bring all of them in for fear of the group judging me for wanting 6 beers. So I brought in two and my chips and salsa contribution.

Well...after that night, joining the beer club at Bazils 3 days later, and then Tuesday night Happy Hour the following Tuesday, I can officially say I was hooked. I now live in that house on Stroebe Island and continue to play Bunco (sometimes), drink beer at Bazils and enjoy Tuesday night dinner club with the ladies I met one year ago.

It is mind boggling to think about all that has changed in this last year and how much of it has to do with me finally making the decision to have a Crystal-centered weekend a year ago. In just a year, many of this ladies have seen me go through difficult times, but also some of the best times of my life. We have experienced marriage, birth, and sickness together. We've seen relationships start, relationships end, and relationships grow. For some, it is hardly believable that we have only known each other for a year; it seems like we have been friends for as long as I can remember.

It is always funny when people ask how I met my group of friends - especially my roommates. I ask if the person has ever heard of Meetup...more often that not, they say no. So I say that I was looking for a book club and stumbled upon this website, and then describe is as almost an online dating site for friends. A bit of a stretch, but really the best way to describe it. I then usually try to convince them that it is legit - groups have to pay to keep their site up, members need to join Meetup before they can see any event details, and then join the specific group to see more details.

It has been a great ride so far, with the same ups and downs you come to expect with any friendships - especially those among girls. I can't wait to see what the next year of our friendships holds!