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Weekly weekend wrap-up: Jobs and battlefields

August 25, 2014

Ameliorer la Vie

If you follow me on Instagram (@alifelesstraveled) then you already know that Friday afternoon I was offered a job after almost 3 months of searching. I will be working for a health services non-profit in the Northern Virginia area. The best part is that I start work after Labor Day, which I can enjoy my time with my parents for my birthday weekend. Sometimes things just work out in the best way. They get into town on Wednesday afternoon and I can't wait to show them around DC. Since they have been here a few times in the last few years for my dad's conferences I am trying to find things/places that are new to them.

Apparently we moved to Virginia when it is having the coolest summer weather in years, which coming from Central Florida where summers are brutal and humid, is a welcome change for us. This means we have been trying to spend our weekends outside and exploring the area. Sunday we hit up 2  civil war battlefields about an hour away in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania. I like that we are able to take Kavalier with us to the parks, he always comes back home all tuckered out from all the walking.

Wednesday Confessions

August 20, 2014

Vodka and Soda

I confess that I have been consumed by the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri. One of the side effects of being a temporary housewife is having too much time to read articles and watch videos from the area. I have contemplated writing a blog post about my feelings about Ferguson, but I'm not sure yet.

I confess that since going to see Guardians of the Galaxy I have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop. All of the songs are from the 1970's but so damn catchy.

I confess that I'm so excited that in a week my parents are coming up to spend my birthday weekend with us. I am grateful to have such a great relationship with them.

I confess that after reading #GirlBoss I am re-motivated to get serious about freelance writing again. I did it after college for a while and it was a good way to make side money.

Letter to my 18 year old self

August 14, 2014

Dear 18 year old Denise,

Right now you are about to begin your freshman year of college four hours away from the only place you have ever lived. I know you are a mixture of excitement and fear for what this new journey holds for you. I thought I would impart some wisdom to you to use along the way.

Enjoy every minute of your freshman year at Florida State. It will be one of the most exciting years of your life. Please trust me on this one. You will learn more about yourself than you did all four years of high school. You will make great friends and one of them will be a bridesmaid in your wedding and you will be in hers.

Don't leave FSU for your first love. Trust me you will regret it years later and that relationship won't last anyways. You will end things shortly after graduating from college.

Learn to embrace your looks. Yes, you are skinny and insecure about it. It didn't help having an older sister who all your guy friends lusted over. But college is when you will start getting attention from guys. You will start to hear that you are cute much more often.

Don't stress because you are not sure what to major in. You are just beginning to learn about yourself. Your 32 year old self made a career change and it was one of the smartest things she ever did. Remember that the majority of 18 year olds have no idea on what to do for a living.

Just say no to the body glitter. And the crop tops.

Why I love thrift shopping

August 12, 2014

I was admittedly late to the thrift shop game. My older sister went through a thrift store phase back in the late 90's and I am pretty sure that I shook my head at it. Now I couldn't imagine my life without my weekly thrift store trips. Scouring the racks in a thrift has actually become more like true retail therapy for me, a place to go when my mind is heavy and needing to relax.

Thrifting is like an ongoing treasure hunt. Every time you walk into a thrift shop you don't know what you will find. In a regular store you have the advantage of pre-selected outfits placed on mannequins to help guide you, in a thrift store you have to dig into the racks to see what great finds are mixed in with the rest of the clothes. I once found a good condition Michael Kors top for only a dollar in the middle of a rack. Nothing beats the feeling of finding a great piece while thrifting.

Thrifting is not only a way to save money, but for someone on a budget it allows you to be able to afford designer clothes. I tend to only really buy brands that I wouldn't normally be able to afford. Rich people's trash is many times my treasure. Living in the DC metro area I see more of the high end  donated and on the racks. It is no secret that this is one of the more expensive parts of the country and you can see that reflected in the diversity of people shopping at the thrift stores here. You can also experiment with your personal style, without breaking the budget.

For those of you who thrift, why do you love it?

What my dog has taught me

August 04, 2014

About this time five years ago we started seriously talking about getting a dog. T did not grow up with a dog and couldn't wait. I grew up with a poodle/Pekingese mix named Fluffy who the family got when I was 9 years old, hence the name given to the dog. I loved having a dog in the house and can without a doubt say that I am a dog person. We ended up rescuing our dog Kavalier in November of 2009 and this month my boy turns 7 years old.  In honor of Kav's birthday I thought I would share some of the life lessons he has taught me in the almost 5 years of being a dog mom.

What it means to be responsible for another living thing.

I don't have kids or plan to have kids.  My husband and I are everything to Kavalier. We are his world and he depends on us for everything. You can't continue to live an "all about you" life anymore.

How to eat with gusto.

Kavalier is always happy for meal time and enjoys every last morsel of his food. I often joke to people that if I left an open bag of dog food, you would find Kavalier eating until he got sick. He just loves to eat period.

Show love to those you love always.

Kavalier never misses an opportunity to shower his parents with kisses. We could be gone for a just a few hours and he is still excited to see us return. It can be easy to get busy with life and forget to show love to those we care about. It is nice to get a reminder to not do that.

Accept others as they are.

When we moved up to VA Kavalier suffered from a bout of anxiety due to the move. He was used to his own fenced in yard and our house. To say there are more people packed in a smaller place up here is an understatement. When we would take him on walks at first he would get anxious and make his little whine noises, I sometimes got the "What is wrong with your dog?" looks from other pet owners and I confess it would embarrass me a little. With a little computer research and a visit from a dog trainer, we were able to figure out ways to ease his transition and now he is doing better on walks. Kavalier may never be one of the many dogs up here that shows no emotion when encountering another dog on his walk, but I love him exactly the way he is.

We don't choose the ones we love.

I was initially resistant to the idea of getting a big dog. The idea kind of freaked me out. I was worried how a small skinny girl like myself could handle a big dog.  5 years later, I couldn't imagine life without my 65 lb. lab mix.

I don't know and it's ok

August 01, 2014

I have to be honest and admit that I have been in a mental funk the last couple days. Despite this not being my first venture into the world of unemployment (or funemployment as it sometimes called), I was stuck in a pity party of one. I did have the bright spot of a phone interview on Tuesday for a non-profit position that would be a great fit for my skills and background. I paced around my apartment trying to give the best answers possible to advance to the next round. For some reason I can't stay still when I talk on the phone for interviews, it must be my nerves or something.

Tomorrow marks exactly two months since we (ok Ty) pulled up the UHaul to our new place after a long and draining 13 hour drive from Orlando. That is just 60 days, which when you put into perspective how long it takes to settle into a new place and make a new life for yourself, isn't very long.  A quality phone conversation with my mom also helped but this truth into my view. Funny how even at almost 33 years old she stills knows how to calm my worries.  Sometimes I really miss having my old best friend in my life but as I have grown into adulthood my mom really has become more of a best friend to me in many ways. Today I am grateful for having that in my life.

I have also been reading Carry On, Warrior (great book by the way) which has helped shift my pessimism about the uncertainty in my life to making peace of where I am in my life at this moment. I think this quote from the book does a good job of describing how to embrace these periods in our lives.

“I think one of the keys to happiness is accepting that I am never going to be perfectly happy. Life is uncomfortable. So I might as well get busy loving the people around me. I’m going to stop trying so hard to decide whether they are the “right people” for me and just take deep breaths and love my neighbors. I’m going to take care of my friends. I’m going to find peace in the ’burbs. I’m going to quit chasing happiness long enough to notice it smiling right at me.” ― Glennon MeltonCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed