Friday, October 28, 2016

What's Making Me Happy - 10/28

Y'all, Y'ALL, autumn is finally, finally here, and I just love everything about it.

First off, I am obsessed with the colors of fall trees. Here's some I snapped this week.

(Note: This happiness is subject to change when I realize what fallen leaves mean for our yard.

Second off, I love a good fall bonfire. And last night, we had one for my brother's 31st birthday party. Also, if you're not using a washer drum for a firepit, you're doing it wrong.

And, AND to pay homage to my love of fall, I got this print for a steal at Kirkland's today. It was $5!! I'd eyed at the start of the season, but couldn't make the price work, but when it went 75% off, it had to be in my home. HOW DID KIRKLAND'S KNOW I LOVE ALL OF THIS?!?!? 

(While meant for fall, don't be surprised if this is a year-round decoration.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

What's Making Me Happy - 10/21

It's been a minute (or months) since I've taken the time to write this regular post. Excited to get back in the swing and share some happy things with the world.

First of all, I think writing this post about how I've been and how I am now was a really great part of the week. It meant sharing some things that I've typically not, but putting that honesty and authentic "stuff" out there was a better feeling than I anticipated. Then, hearing from amazing family and friends with words of support just reinforced that I'm fortunate to be where I'm at.

I've read some really awesome books this year, but this one has been one of the best. It was particularly well-timed as far as when I got it from the library. I read it an evening, and it was just magnificent. The next day, I even went out and bought a copy, so I could have it to mark down all the best passages (and/or the whole book). And then, a group of women I regularly meet with at work decided to read it together. I'm excited to delve into again and to discuss it with some really great people.

And with October having no Royals baseball, I've been feeling especially nostalgic. I finally had the chance to check out the film about the World Series this week. Last night, as I watched, I was a happy teary, ugly crying mess of emotions. Sometimes I can't even believe the last two years happened. I even watch the games and worry they might turn out differently. But they don't, and we were really, really there. I'm bummed we don't have this same fun in 2016, but the memories and joy from the last two postseasons are guaranteed to keep me happy for awhile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The summer before sixth grade, I fell in love. I don't honestly remember the details of how it all happened, but the Houston Rockets swept me away as they defeated the New York Knicks in seven games to win a NBA Championship. As my sixth grade year began, I was head over heels for NBA Basketball. Somewhere along the way, I was even able to talk my parents into buying me a Hakeem Olajuwon jersey. As I think back to my sixth grade days, the best days were the days I rocked that jersey to school. With my new love also came my full immersion into the game. I meticulously monitored stats, watched games and memorized rosters. The NBA was my jam (#seewhatididthere), and even though it was an unlikely and solo infatuation for me in the small town of Auburn, Kansas, it was my thing. 

Along the way, my love dissipated. I moved, there was middle school, high school etc. I still took time each summer to write the picks of the NBA Draft in my Grant Hill notebook, as well as final conference standings and playoff results (and in fact to this day, I still name the NBA teams alphabetically when I can't fall asleep), but I didn't feel as comfortable sharing my love with everyone anymore. 

(Keep this story in mind. This transition will make no sense, but I promise, it's connected.)

Truth be told, when I started blogging, I knew this was the post I would always write, but I just didn't know when I would be ready. I think I'm ready now.

The last four years have been really, really awesome in so many, many ways. I could go on and on and on about this. However, they've also been really tough, particularly the last two. 

I've come to realize and know I've had anxiety my whole life. I never called it that. I just thought that my reactions and worries were what everyone had. Doesn't everyone worst case scenario and disaster plan oftentimes to the point of tears and panic? Doesn't everyone think of every possible outcome to have total control and preparation? Doesn't everyone just spend their days controlling all they can to avoid surprises? Doesn't everyone have a crippling fear of failure that leads to overworking and often unreachable standards for success? I do, I do, I do. . . For me, I can check ALL. OF. THE. ABOVE.

Two years ago, with the aid of my then fiance (now husband), I started to realize my emotional "stuff" wasn't the healthiest. This had been exposed by some professional "funk," and after some reflection, I realized the time had come to maybe get some help.

So, I got the name of a therapist. I had the name in my planner for weeks before I finally worked with my fiance to make the first appointment. And then work got busy, and I had to cancel. I never rescheduled.

Fast forward to a year and a half later, and I knew I needed help that was beyond me. For all my love of having things under my own control, I was also my own worst enemy. However, I couldn't find the courage to make the call. I traded chores with my husband (he scheduled for me, while I ran some errands), and I got the therapist on the calendar.

Nine months ago, I went to my therapist for the first time. It was utterly terrifying. I had to own and name all my struggles. I had to talk about my weaknesses, my failures, and all the stuff I just didn't have figured out. Y'all, it was hard, but I committed to getting better for myself and all those I love.

And there have been some dark days. In touching this anxious beast that has always been my comfort, I've opened up some wounds. I've had to learn how to rewire my own brain. I've had to reset my defaults and power through the pain of the mistakes I've made along the way. I've had to come to terms with a lot of regret and when I didn't live as fully and happy as I could. Taking on myself has been the hardest, scariest thing I've done, but it's also been the bravest and best.

Last week, I walked into my therapist's office and told her for the first time in nine months, "You know what I realized? I'm actually good at what I do." Self-doubt and Imposter Syndrome has so consumed me the last four years that I've forgotten how to feel and say that to myself. I've craved external validation, said "Yes" to everything in a quest for fulfillment, and never quite felt like I was enough. As I finally said these words, she smiled because she knew this all along, but she also knew that I had to go on my journey to get there.

I can't tell you that I'll ever be "cured" because I know anxiety will always be there. Yesterday was an off day, as my sternum (where my anxiety rents space in my chest) was inflamed, but I've come to know that these days happen, but they don't have to be the norm. Today I'll try again and see if I can get it right.

So much of my thirty third year was working on me. I started at a really rough place, and I had to claw through this year to get back to where I knew I could be. As the year has gone on, I've become more comfortable naming how I'm feeling. And I've been so fortunate to have family and friends who have affirmed my experience and loved and supported me all the same. If you are one of those people who's done that, thank you a million times over.

As I thought about my thirty fourth year, I realized I wanted it to be something special. I didn't want to make myself a list of goals I couldn't reach (#classicandrea), but rather I wanted a theme to signal my forward progress. 

As I reflected and thought about what that could be, I thought about that Hakeem Olajuwon jersey. When I think back on where I'm at and where I've been, NBA lovin' 12 Year Old Andrea was one of the most authentic versions of myself. I didn't care what other people thought, rather I only cared what made me happy. And that's the version of me I want to be again.

So, my present to myself for my 34th year? A #34 Hakeem Olajuwon jersey. I found it on eBay (at a price I'm quite sure was lower than what my parents paid 20+ years ago - owe you for that one, Mom and Dad), and when it came in the mail this week, I squealed with excitement. Putting that jersey on felt as awesome as I hoped it would be, and it felt good to be comfortable in my own skin again.

The hashtag and accompanying theme for this year is #hakeemthedreamyear. I don't know what that means, or what this year holds. But what I do know and believe is I have the tools, resources and community to manage whatever comes next. Hakeem had the power to take down the Knicks (and the Magic in 1995), and I have the power to take on whatever comes my way.

So, #34, let's do this. For once, I just can't wait to find out what might be next.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016 Reads - #97 - 100

And just like that, I've read 100 books. So, there's that. . . 

Present Over Perfect is so, so, so great. I've heard the "buzz" from a lot of folks, and I was so excited to finally read it. It's beautiful and great and all the things I hoped it would be. It's about just what it says - Embracing imperfection. I got it from the library, but loved it so much I went out and bought a copy to own and read all over again.

Leading Imperfectly was also fantastic. It was a perfect (#seewhatisortofdidthere) read to couple with the first one of this round. This one was also about being authentically you. I especially liked it because the author has a higher education background, so the examples and stories were particularly relevant. Highly recommend this read, too.

Family Pictures was the "Lifetime Movie-esque" read I needed. I love Jane Green, and I dug this one.

Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen was a classic read. It was written in 1972 and given the issues it discusses, you can really see what a monumental book it was back then and even now. I don't remember how this landed on my radar, but I'm glad I checked out.

Onto the next 100. . . 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016 Reads - #85 - 96

It's been a minute (or three months) since I blogged back. So, here's a dozen of things I've checked out recently-ish

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self would have totally been my jam in my twenties. Now that I'm in my thirties, I hate to say it didn't land like it would have back then. It was interesting to hear the advice women would give to themselves based on challenges they'd found along the way and a good reminder of how we don't always have to have it all figured out.

Truly Madly Guilty was so great. I'm officially on the "I need to read new Liane Moriarty as soon as it comes out" train. This one was masterfully written. The story is about an incident, but she leaves out just enough details that you don't know what happened, but you NEED to know. This meant I read this in about a day and a half. I think this is my favorite LM book yet. 10/10 - Highly recommend.

SuperBetter came to me via a colleague recommendation. It focuses on how we might "gamily" life to be healthier and happier. It was really, really interesting. The book had lots of challenges to complete throughout, and while I did some of them, I probably need to do another read-through of the book to really get all I can out of it and to implement techniques.

A Dog's Purpose is actually going to be a movie soon, so that's neat. The book is told from the perspective of the dog, and if you like dogs, you'd like this read. Also, it has many #feels.

On Grief & Grieving was a book I read for work. Truth be told, I was worried it was going to be a terribly saddening book when it actuality it provided me with a lot of insight on the grieving process. I found it made me more comfortable with grief which I guess is a good thing.

Getting Naked & Silos, Politics & Turf Wars are by the same author and in the same format. They were both really interesting. The author writes these as leadership fables (fancy way to say a story about a workplace), and it definitely gave me some nuggets. I've also recommended these ones to quite a few people given their helpfulness.

The Undomestic Goddess was a predictable read . . . in a good way. I needed something to get back in the swing of reading, and a Sophie Kinsella was just what I hoped it would be. It's a cute read and a fun read, and it's not going to change your life, but it's worth checking out.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was a really wonderful memoir about getting older and going through life. Historically, Anna Quindlen books have been a lot to handle for their drama (see Every Last One), but this one brought about some really great thoughts and reflections on aging.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel was a read because I hadn't read a comic in awhile. I love all things Snow White, so I was destined to love this. The difference in this re-telling is it's set in the roaring twenties. It was really creative and beautifully illustrated.

Brady, Brady, Brady was about The Brady Bunch. I didn't anticipate it was anything that was going to set the world on fire, and it wasn't. It was interesting, and i learned a few things about the series I didn't know before, but nothing to write home (or here?) about.

Death by Meeting was so fantastic. Meetings are problematic in a lot of ways, and this book offered such a great spin on how to get the most out of them. I'm trying to figure out how to integrate some of the techniques mentioned in it, and I'd absolutely recommend to literally anyone who has to lead and/or participate in a meeting in life ever.

Monday, October 10, 2016

thirty three

As you can see, I've been mostly terrible at blogging for the last two months. I can assure you've I've been happy and read books (aka the things I mostly post about) since then, and I've thought about posts, but between buying a house, moving into a house, and all the excuses, I just haven't actually sat down and put my thoughts out into the universe.

That said, as the sun sets on my thirty third year, I'm reflecting on a whole bunch of things. I read an article a few years back about how a study found that thirty three is most commonly named as your happiest year of life. If I'm being honest, I'd say that this was in the back (and front) of my mind heading into this year. Would 33 live up to the hype? I was particularly hyper-sensitive to this because 32 was a bust in a lot of ways. I needed a good year for a lot of reasons. And y'all, all things considered, this last year was just what I needed. In fact, here are 33 things that were especially awesome about this trip around the sun.

  2. Dustin and I bought a house. (And yes while this list is in no way in rank order, the Royals do beat out home ownership for most awesome happening of all.)
  3. I have a wonderful new nephew - William Davis.
  4. I found a therapist who has done wonders for me and the anxious life I often lead.
  5. I finally watched Gilmore Girls in its entirety (still confused how I missed this in all of my previous years).
  6. I started a new job and got to navigate the adventures of remote work.
  7. I got to experience the epic World Series parade with my dad, brother and sister-in-law.
  8. I read more books than I ever have, and I adored so many of them.
  9. I started blogging-ish.
  10. I got to spend some quality time in Texas (my second favorite state) with some of my all-time favorite co-workers.
  11. I have a new coffee mug rack in my house that just makes me the happiest when I see it. Also, I drank lots of coffee.
  12. I got to go to NYC for the first time.
  13. I got to see Good Morning America live.
  14. I won first place at the Johnson County Fair for my cross-stitch work.
  15. I got to spend lots of time talking "dream goals" with my dear friends Amanda and Jenny.
  16. Ecto Cooler was re-released and a delicious piece of my childhood was rekindled.
  17. I got my Starbucks Gold Card.
  18. Full(er) House returned to my life.
  19. I got to eat the anniversary cake that was in my freezer for an entire year. This conveniently coincided with celebrating our first wedding anniversary.
  20. I enjoyed wedding cake on four additional occasions which conveniently coincided with four really awesome family weddings.
  21. I found some really neat volunteering opportunities that were a good use of my strengths and skills.
  22. I tapped into my creative energies and made lots of neat stuff.
  23. This year's Johnson County Libraries Used Book Sale (aka best day of the year) was my best haul yet.
  24. I was able to remain connected with some of my oldest (and best) friends.
  25. I attended another amazing Royals playoff game (ALCS Game 2).
  26. I got to spend lots of quality time with my family.
  27. I got to celebrate my mom being a cancer survivor at another wonderful Light the Night Walk.
  28. I got to see my dad enjoy retirement (and help us out with all kinds of house "stuff" as we get settled).
  29. Grey's Anatomy is still the show that makes my week. Also, I rewatched the whole series and still loved it all just as much as the first time through.
  30. I took some fantastic daytrips and weekend trips with my husband who is my favorite travel buddy.
  31. I did an extensive overhaul of my closet, donating about 50% of what used to be there and now have a far more manageable and enjoyable wardrobe.
  32. McDonald's implemented all-day breakfast. Also, in case you haven't heard, biscuits are finally on that menu.
  33. I ended a year feeling pretty darn good about the year that was and optimistic of the year that's to come.