When Your Priorities Change, So Do Your Fears

There are many things in life that either freak me out or just plain scare the bajesus out of me. Spiders, clowns, bugs, supernatural nastiness, to name a few. One thing that has always terrified me is the idea of being alone. I’m not talking about being alone as in a room by myself, but rather ending up living a solitary life with a bunch of cats writing My Little Pony fanfiction (ok…..maybe that’s a stretch, but you get the picture)

A year ago, my focus was on my career, my fitness, and just enjoying life. When people would ask me why I was single, I’d say “Oh, I don’t have time for one right now. I’m just happy living my life for me!” And that was true….on the outside. Inside, I was starting to have those dark thoughts of whether or not I’d find someone. Whether or not I’d ever find the happiness that my friends had and, if I did, would it be while I was still young enough to have kids. I was scared to death of never knowing what true happiness felt like. On the outside, I presented myself as being happy as can be with life and all it had to offer. On the inside, I was bitter, insecure, and absolutely devastated that I was 26 and didn’t see marriage and kids on the horizon anytime soon.

And then, just like that, my whole world turned upside down. I found the man who is the very reason my heart beats. My priorities changed once I met and fell in love with Cameron. Sure, my focus was still very much fitness and career driven, but I was making decisions based upon OUR future. I accepted a job in Merrillville so we could move in together, we started planning our wedding, and he prepared me for the training that would come for my next season of competition. Life is brilliant, and I couldn’t be happier.

As my priorities changed, so did my fears….in a way. I was still fearful of ending up alone. I wasn’t fearful of ending up alone because I didn’t find someone—I was fearful of being left behind in the event something happened to Cameron. I had a nightmare the other night that caused me to wake up in a cold sweat and throw up several times. In the awful dream, Cameron called me and said he wasn’t feeling well, so he was going to go home from work early. I told him to keep me posted on how he was feeling, that I loved him, and that I’d be home in a few hours. He then began telling me how much he loved me, how amazing I was, and that I deserved so much. The next part of the dream was me getting home, finding all the lights off, and no dogs barking. I opened the door, turned on the light, and found him on the couch with our wedding picture in his left hand……and a gun in the other. The nightmare then fast forwards to the funeral, where I am handed a folded up flag as I stare blankly at my husband’s casket. And then, thank God, I woke up.

For those of you who don’t know, Cameron is a Marine. Not only that, but he is a combat veteran who has been deployed multiple times to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. He’s endured trauma that I can’t even begin to comprehend, from personal injury to losing his best friends in combat. As a result, he has PTSD, as many veterans do. Veterans with PTSD are more vulnerable to suicidal ideation or attempts.

Cameron has had both. As a mental health professional and a future Marine wife, this scares me more than I could ever express.

I’m a sociologist at heart. I nerd out about statistics like it’s my job……but the statistics regarding veterans and suicide? Those make my blood run cold. They always were shocking to me, but they never were more than statistics until I fell in love with my Marine. Roughly between 17-22 veterans commit suicide on a daily basis, according to most statistical reports between 2011-2014. A recent study found that among OIF/OEF Veterans, those with subthreshold PTSD were 3 times more likely to report hopelessness or suicidal ideation than those without PTSD. This has become my absolute biggest fear.

He is my whole life, my whole heart, and I am determined to help him keep his demons at bay. He has not had another PTSD episode since July 4th, and he is very much aware of my fears. Since he and I have been together, he has lost multiple friends to suicide. Each time, my heart sinks into my stomach and I can’t help but sob because this has become all too common. I refuse to let the love of my life become a mere statistic.

Veterans are more than statistics. It’s time we started giving them the praise, the help, and the recognition they deserve.

“So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?” “She rescues him right back.”

Every little girl dreams of finding her Prince Charming. The hopes, the dreams, and the expectations perpetuated by every single fairy tale we were exposed to as children followed me well into adulthood. After graduating from college, I began my professional career and daydreamed about the day my prince would come.

And then I became married to my career…….and fitness.

My fitness journey took me from overweight to an NPC Bikini Competitor. I posted several weight loss transformation pictures throughout my journey on my Facebook page. One afternoon, I saw my cousin Angie tag me in a status thanking me for being an inspiration to her. She also tagged another competitor named Sunny, so I sent him a friend request because I was new to the world of competition. A few days later, I received a friend request from a guy who had Sunny as a mutual friend……and he was attractive, he was single, I was single, I accepted. Little did I know that clicking that “accept” button would change my entire life. His name was Cameron.

It’s no secret that I have a love of proper grammar, spelling, and the Oxford Comma. Cameron’s first message to me was a Strunks & White joke about how grammar saves lives:

“‘Let’s eat, Grandma.’ and ‘Let’s eat Grandma.’, grammar saves lives. Hi, I’m Cameron.”

I smiled so big, and of course responded with an equally sassy response applauding him for his clever opening line. After a few messages, we exchanged numbers and began talking nonstop. Aside from his good looks and dreamy blue eyes, I was instantly drawn to his humor, his mutual interest of fitness, his passion for life, and his love of God. However, I was definitely skeptical. He seemed too good to be true, so I kept pushing off meeting until we finally agreed to meet at my gym for a workout.

He was an hour late, and I was beginning to think he was going to stand me up. He sent hilarious picture messages of buggies and his responses to them (which happened to be Robin Williams screaming “WHAT YEAR IS IT?!”). I was able to get my cardio in before he arrived, then quickly touched up my makeup so I didn’t look like a sweaty mess when he arrived. He texted me and said “Here!”, and so I walked out and stood by the front doors of the gym to wait for him. I, naturally, gave him a hard time about being late, and tried my hardest to keep him from seeing how nervous I was. Pictures didn’t do him justice! I showed him around the gym, and then we got to work with our epic CrossFit workout that was on the docket. I can’t tell you exactly what the workouts contained, I can’t tell you how many times my legs felt like they were going to fall off, I can’t tell you how many times I had to readjust my ponytail……but I can tell you the amount of times I got distracted because of watching the handsome man in front of me lift heavy things–38.

He pushed me to keep going. He didn’t let me wimp out just because I couldn’t feel my limbs anymore. He pushed me off a box when I sat down. You know what I did? Imagined him shirtless. In fact, he was getting agitated that he couldn’t take his shirt off in the gym. I jokingly told him to tie it up like a country girl. He did. I dropped my kettlebell. Not sorry. When we finished the workout, we decided to go get lunch. We laughed about our pasts, our workout fails, and how his brother thought that Alpha Delta Pi was a fraternity. Then, we went to PetSmart so I could buy Ellie Belle a new toy and get goldfish food. Then, we sat in my car for an hour and 32 minutes because neither of us wanted the day to be over.

My best friend was supposed to be getting married on July 4th, but the wedding was postponed due to issues with his fiancee’s visa. Since Cameron had already agreed to be my date to the wedding, we decided to spend the 4th together anyway. The plan was for me to come meet him in La Porte, and then we’d head to the beach. After a couple hours of finding a beach that wasn’t closed due to sinkholes or crowded beyond words, we decided to just relax, eat some steak….and drink some Fireball. One shot turned into two, two into three, and then I remembered that I don’t drink much anymore. That’s when I, realizing I was exactly 13 inches shorter than Cameron, decided to stand on his dining room chair. I lost my balance and fell into his arms—and then he kissed me. When dusk arrived, I asked if he wanted to go outside to see the fireworks. Within minutes, he was in the grasp of a violent PTSD episode. As a mental health professional, I quickly ran to his side and began trying my best to comfort him. As heartbreaking as the situation was, it was the closest I had ever felt to another human being in my life. I stayed by his side the entire night to make sure he was happy, safe, and comforted.

In the months that followed, we shared in moments of laughter and tears. When Satan and past demons tried to tear us apart, we remained strong when most bonds would shatter. After a date night in Chicago while Cameron was on business, we came back to the hotel and he started working on a report for his leadership course the following day. I perched myself on the bed and began watching one of my crazy TLC reality documentary shows. I felt him writing on my leg during a commercial break, and laughed as I glanced down to see what he was sketching on my thigh. It said “I ❤ You.” I, of course, told him I loved him too. He then wrote “Marry me?” I smiled, gave him a kiss, took the pen, and wrote “Yes.” He has asked me every day since, and my answer is and forever will be yes ❤

It’s been quite the whirlwind, and some may say it’s even “too fast,” but to them I reply–Life has no recipe. I never knew it was possible to be this happy or to love another person this much, but I thank God every day for Cameron and I cannot wait to see what’s in store as we take this next step!

Stop asking me when I’m going to [insert life event here]

I’m just a small town girl (((go ahead….try to not hear “Don’t Stop Believin'” in your head right now))) and with that comes small town expectations. I graduated in a class of approximately 132, and many of the friends I grew up with are in serious relationships, engaged, married, and/or building families.

And then there’s me.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me the plethora of “When are you going to….” questions related to all aspects of my life. 90% of them are from people who assume that since I’m 26, single, living at home, and married to my job that I’m just miserable all the time. The truth is that, aside from my age, those are all things I’ve chosen for myself.

“When are you going to move to a place of your own? Aren’t you tired of living at home?”

I work in Elkhart, which is significantly bigger than my teenie town of Ligonier. There are some really nice areas of the city, but there are also very bad parts. Affordable housing in good areas of town are hard to come by, so I CHOOSE to live at home. I love my parents dearly and living at home during the start of my professional life has allowed me to grow a lot closer with both of them. Plus, I work for a non-profit agency which means I get paid far less than I should for the work that I do, so the money saving aspect is pretty fantastic. Truthfully, I love my job so the pay doesn’t bother me nearly as much as what people think.

“When are you going to settle down? Maybe you should stop being so shallow and overlooking good guys that are right in front of you.”

This one grinds my gears to no end. First off, my job makes the dating scene difficult the vast majority of the time. Second, since when did having standards make me shallow? While it’s not everything, I think physical attraction is a very important thing in a relationship. It’s a very primitive thing as we look for mates with good genes to pass along to future offspring. All that aside, the reason I’m attracted to men who are physically fit is because it shows me that they care enough about their bodies to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fitness is a HUGE part of my life, and ideally I’d like a partner with the same passion. The other major things I look for are:

  • Intelligence/Education-I’m college educated and consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual. I would love to find the same in a partner.
  • Morals-Knowing right from wrong isn’t hard for most, but there are the select few that just don’t get it.
  • Open Mindedness-I tend to clash with close-minded individuals. I have friends and family whose lifestyles vary from the societal norm. I refuse to let these individuals leave my life and so I need someone who will accept them for who they are and not what they are.
  • Stability/Career-Building a career is a beautiful thing. I want someone in a field they’re passionate about that they see bettering themselves in for years to come.
  • Sense of Humor-I’m sarcastic, goofy, and I snort when I laugh. I want someone who is on par with my sense of humor.

I highly doubt the fact that I know what I want makes me shallow, considering the bulk of my qualities aren’t even related to physical features. As for when I’m going to settle down, that’s God’s timing, not mine. I’ve got prospects, but I’m not putting all my eggs into one basket. My relationship with Cameron taking a fiery downward spiral kind of wrecked my ability to easily put my faith into a “could be forever” sort of thing. I’m not going to rush into something or settle simply because those around me are pressuring to do so. I’d rather marry later than my peers than be both married and divorced before 30.

“When are you going to stop taking all that stuff? You’re already skinny enough and you should be proud of where you’re at, not trying to lose more weight.”

This one is simple: AdvoCare products make me feel great, help me cut body fat %, and build glorious muscle. So…..you know…..never is the answer to that question.

“When are you going to have kids? If you wait until you’re married, it may be too late.”

Just….what the hell, people. Stahp. Just staaahhhp.

You get the picture. The bottom line is that this is my life and I’m happy with the way things are going. I firmly believe that when the time is right, each of these questions will be answered. Until then, stop hounding me. If you’re over the age of 50, I may just start hounding you with the “When are you going to plan your funeral? You know you’re getting up there, right?” response.

You Keep Singing That Song….I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

I got bored yesterday while waiting for the Miss Indiana pageant to begin streaming online (by the way, congratulations to the beautiful Miss IU Terrin Thomas on being crowned Miss Indiana! HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOSIERS!!!) and began browsing some old music videos on YouTube. I had a flashback to high school semi-formal when I saw the music video for Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel”, because everyone would grab their date and dance ever so closely.

Newsflash, people. It’s not a love song.

It got me thinking about some songs that are played or remade to have a meaning that’s completely different than originally planned. I was quickly able to come up with several and, as a result, this beautiful little nugget of blogging was born.

 

1. “LIPS OF AN ANGEL” – Hinder

The true meaning of this song has been debated, but it sure as hell sounds like a combination of infidelity and the inability to deal with the one that got away. I have heard this song played at proms, semi-formals, and even at a wedding as a FREAKING FIRST DANCE (irony–the marriage ended as a result of a cheating husband.) It’s catchy, it’s smooth, and the singer’s voice drops panties. It’s not, however, a love song.

Unless you’re cool with the whole cheating deal.

 

2. “WHAT HURTS THE MOST”- Rascal Flatts, Cascada (Remake)

With lines like “It’s hard to deal with the pain of losing you everywhere I go, but I’m doin’ it.” and “And not seein’ that lovin’ you, is what I was tryin’ to do”, this song seems like the quintessential breakup song, right?

WRONG!

Cascada turns it into a complete techno-breakup masterpiece which, I’m sure, is the last thing Rascal Flatts wanted. If you watch the video from the original version, you’ll come to discover that it’s about a young girl who loses the love of her life in a car accident after NOT telling him she sees him in her future when he asks. Tear jerker. Not gonna lie, I bawled like a baby when I watched the video. I love this song, I love the beautiful lyrics, and I hate when people post it after being dumped.

 

3.  “SEMI-CHARMED LIFE”- Third Eye Blind

This song used to come on U-93 when I was a kid and I’d sing it at the top of my lungs. A little bit of my childhood died when I found out what it was about…..Crystal Meth. Doing meth, having sex, and passing the hell out.

The end.

 

4. “PUMPED UP KICKS”-Foster the People

I have to admit, when this song came out I cranked up the radio. It’s catchy, but I never really listened to the words…..and then I did, and immediately regretted the decision.

Dude….we were all jamming to a song about a kid planning a school shooting.

The song was inspired by Foster’s experience with high school bullying and bassist Charlie Fink’s cousin, who survived the Columbine Massacre. Have fun singing along now, y’all.

 

5. “GUNPOWDER & LEAD”-Miranda Lambert

I love this song. I love to sing it, I love to listen to it, and I love that people think it’s a “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned” breakup song.

One of the lines is “His fist is big but my gun’s bigger. He’ll find out when I pull the trigger.” I knew from the first time I heard it that it was about domestic violence. I assumed everyone else understood that, but then someone dedicated it to her “dumbass cheating ex boyfriend.” at karaoke. *facepalm*

6. “JAILHOUSE ROCK”-Elvis Presley

I was obsessed with Elvis as a kid, and “Jailhouse Rock” was my favorite. I thought it was about musical inmates coming together and singing about their misfortune.

Nope. Nope. NOPE! Sex behind bars. Please observe these gems of lyrics:

“Number forty-seven said to number three:
You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
I sure would be delighted with your company,
Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.”

“The sad sack was a sittin’ on a block of stone
Way over in the corner weepin’ all alone.
The warden said, hey, buddy, don’t you be no square.
If you can’t find a partner use a wooden chair.”

“Shifty Henry said to bugs, for heavens sake,
No ones lookin, now’s our chance to make a break.
Bugsy turned to shifty and he said, nix nix,
I wanna stick around a while and get my kicks.”

……..sweet baby Jesus…….

7. “YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE”-Traditional (and Johnny Cash version)

This is on 90% of Johnson & Johnson baby product ads. It’s precious, and my mom used to sing it with me all the time:

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.
Please, don’t take my sunshine away.”

Adorable, right? I didn’t know this until recently, but that’s just the chorus. The song in its entirety is actually quite depressing.

“You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away

I’ll always love you and make you happy,
If you will only say the same.
But if you leave me and love another,
You’ll regret it all some day:

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away

The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
I was peeping through the bars.

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away”

 

8. “CRASH INTO ME”- Dave Matthews

This song is, by far, one of my favorite DMB tunes of all time. I can listen to Dave for hours on end regardless of what his songs mean; the man is magic.

The first verse makes this sounds like a sweet love song:

“Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock, and sweet you roll.
Lost for you, I’m so lost for you.”

By verse 4, things start heating up:

“Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show your world to me
In a boys dream.. In a boys dream”

And then by the last verse, shit gets creepy. We realize that this isn’t a lovesick Romeo singing about his Juliet….it’s about a perverted  stalker/Peeping Tom:

“Oh I watch you there
Through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
Wear it so well
Tied up and twisted
The way I’d like to be”

 

9. “TUTTI FRUTTI”-Little Richard

My grandpa always listened to the oldies station when I was a kid, and this song always made me dance when it came on. Much like Jailhouse Rock, when I found out what was behind this song–my childhood died a little more. Not only is it about some guy getting it on with a girl, but multiple girls–they both know what to do (clearly, professionals) and they all drive him crazy. “Tutti frutti, aw rooty” was not the original lyrics of the song, before it got picked up to be recorded. Here’s what Little Richard sang live:

“Tutti Frutti, good booty
If it don’t fit, don’t force it
You can grease it, make it easy.”

Folks, we all danced as kids to a song about anal sex.

 

What should you take away from this? Simple. The next time you hear a song and you think to yourself “Wow….this would be a good song for [insert occasion here]”, for the love of everything that is sweet and holy–listen to the lyrics. You don’t want to look like an idiot when people realize your first dance is a song about rape, infidelity, or a stalker. Love, Rachel.

Speed Dating

We live in a society that expects everything to be fast. Fast food, fast delivery, fast cars, fast internet. Unfortunately, I’ve come to discover that this also applies to dating. When I refer to speed dating from here on out, I’m not referring to the “sit across the table from a stranger and gauge their interest” speed dating.

I’m talking expedited relationships.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m a firm believer of dipping your toes in the water before you jump in. I rarely kiss and never (except for that one time) indulge in carnal relations on a first date. I take time to get to know someone before making a decision if I want to have a legitimate relationship. See, I don’t want my life to be like that of a Sim. You know, meet a guy, fall in love, get married and have a baby all within a few hours. I want that fairytale ending as much as the next girl, but I want to take the time to be 100% sure my prince charming is exactly that.

So where am I going with all of this?  I have numerous friends/acquaintances/people on my Facebook machine who are all kinds of “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but be my boyfriend–I love you maybe?”

Forgive me for that….but I had to.

Remember said ex and leather-faced whore from a couple posts back? They’re going to be a prime specimen of WTF-dom when it comes to speed lane couples. I can understand the puppy-love-drunk highschoolers who are madly in love with their boyfriend of the week. Ok, no I can’t. I still think it’s ridiculous but who am I to judge? I was there once too. Anyway, I don’t get on Facebook much anymore because of work, but every time I do, said couple (aka: her posting to him) fills my news feeds with wall posts like “I love you. Just thought you should know.”, many of which contain the wrong uses of your-you’re. For Christmas, he gave her a promise ring….because 3 months is evidently the new 1 year mark. Did I mentioned they moved in together? A regular Cleaver household this duo is turning out to be.

true_story

Before someone out there in blogland gets their panties in a bunch, let me be clear: Not ALL fast paced relationships are bad. My best friend Tabby met her husband Matt in the summer of 2010. From the get-go, I could tell this was forever. They began dating that August, moved in together in October, and were engaged by March. They are an example of how fast sometimes means “When it’s right, it’s right” Neither one were the habitual daters in the past and Matt already had a failed marriage under his belt so he knew what he wanted. They work. They’re perfect for one another.

They’re also the exception.

Why is it that everyone seems to be on the fast-track to the altar? I mean, yes, I would love to be married by the time I’m 30, but I also don’t want to rush perfection. Have I found a man I can see myself spending the rest of my life with? Sure have.  He’s amazing. Plain and simple……but gone most of the year.

And that’s ok.

I still have a lot of life to live, a lot of places to go, and a lot of lives to change before I take a stroll down the aisle. Rushing things is the reason why so many young couples end up in divorce court. Take the time to get to know one another and take the time to get to know yourself.

What’s meant to be will work out perfectly.

Deep Down, I’m Still the Pink Ranger

As I sit here sipping my Venti 8-pump, nonfat, no water chai latte at Starbucks, I can’t help but think about what the next few weeks are going to bring. Lots of life changes for both me and the ones in my life I love most. It seems like only yesterday I was a stupid, naive 18 year old drama queen preparing to graduate high school. Now I’m a 23 year old driven, ambitious post-graduate who can’t seem to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life, only that I want it to be something big. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same people by my side for most of my life, and life as they know it is changing just as quickly.

In 2 weeks, my best friend of almost 18 years will be getting married. Words cannot describe how thrilled I am that she is going to be marrying the perfect guy for her, even though I’m sure he probably drives her absolutely batty sometimes. Most people would assume that being friends with someone since age 5 would automatically warrant the Maid of Honor/Best Man title, but I was beyond honored when she asked me to stand beside her as she said her vows. It’s strange to think back over the past 18 years & everything we’ve been through now that we’re both adults and starting our “real” lives.

Tabby and I became friends on the first day of Kindergarten. I was in my Power Rangers obsession phase (as was the vast majority of my peers) and flat out told my teacher I wanted to be the Pink Ranger when I grew up. Unfortunately for me, everyone else wanted to be the Pink Ranger at recess….but Tabby agreed to be the Yellow Ranger so I could be the Pink. From that moment on, we were best friends. For the next 3 years, we were together all the time and I vividly remember the time she got a nosebleed and I thought she was dying—-I freaked the hell out. When we were in 2nd grade, Tabby’s parents got a divorce and she moved to a different school. I don’t remember many details about this time except for the fact that my best friend wasn’t at West Noble anymore and I was all alone. We still hung out on weekends and for birthday parties, but it just wasn’t the same without her. Our Junior year, Tabby moved back to West Noble and that first day was the happiest day of my high school career. We had our fights, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed after some brief separation—after all, we were just emotional teenagers.

**Sidenote**
I just looked up to see if anyone was going into the Sbux bathroom, and this high school girl in here with her boyfriend assumed I was looking at him and is now awkwardly hanging all over the poor kid. Like I said, to be 18 & stupid again…

Anyway, I really just have been wondering where time went. One minute we’re 18 year old giggling girls going dancing at Lake Tippy Dance Hall on the weekends and the next one of us is a perfectionist college grad and the other is almost there AND getting married. She knows what she wants to do as-a-matter-of-fact: Social Studies teacher. Me? I want to be a professor/lawyer/actress/showband vocalist/trophy wife/racehorse owner/social worker/violinist/Disney princess.

I had an interview last week with the Elkhart County Probation Department, and it went well. I was one of seven people chosen to interview out of an applicant pool of 55+…..not to mention the youngest by at least 10-15 years. Was I scared shitless? You betcha, but I still gave it my all and made sure that they knew, despite my age and experience (or lack thereof), that I was the girl for them.

I believe that 90% of the world’s population aren’t bad people, they just make bad choices. That 10% consists of people like Adolf Hitler, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, Timothy McVeigh, etc. Alexander Pope said “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Everyone makes mistakes, whether we admit it or not. My goal in life is to make people understand that they’re not completely screwed over failures just because they made one or two (or fifty) mistakes AND to help them learn from these mistakes so they can become functioning members of society again.

Essentially, that’s what I’m doing now. As a YCW, I help the children and teens at Bashor Children’s Home to work on their treatment so they can live a normal, productive, and crime free life once they leave our campus. Unfortunately, sometimes they wind up back on the wrong side of the tracks, but I still try my hardest every single day I’m there.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life ranging from bad romantic choices to drinking WAY too much. After my grandpa died, I drowned my sorrows with a pool of ex-boyfriends and copious amounts of alcohol. I just wanted to feel wanted so the void that he left would be temporarily filled. Unfortunately, when the next morning rolled around I was left with nothing but fuzzy memories and a killer hangover. I wasn’t an alcoholic; I didn’t need alcohol to function. I did, however, choose to drink more than I should simply so I could cut loose and be who I thought everyone wanted me to be. Bad choices. I’ve made them, you’ve made them, our parents made them, and I’m sure even our preachers have made them. You live, you learn, you let go. I still miss my grandfather terribly every single day, but I learned that filling the hole won’t make things better in the long run—-making him proud by being a successful woman like he wanted me to be is the way to go.

Will I still occasionally drink way too much and make terrible decisions? Probably. Hey, I’m still young and it happens, but I now have these kids to think about. They see me as a role model and I try to set the best example for them possible. I’m completely focused on my job right now because, until recently, I didn’t realize how much I loved it. Sure, it may not give me much time for anything else, but I’m making a difference in the lives of children who society has turned its back on…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, inside of this philanthropic optimist youth care worker—I’m still the Pink Ranger

Here Comes the Ex

It doesn’t matter how happy you are with your life or current relationship, whenever an ex gets married it just freaking blows. My ex-boyfriend is getting married on Saturday and I’ve been an angry wreck all week because of it. It’s not because I still have feelings for him, because he left me for her or anything of that sort. It’s just the fact that he’s getting married….period. I don’t know why, but it just sucks.

Michael and I met in the late Fall of 2008 through Facebook and a mutual friend and we clicked right away. We began dating around Christmas and he was with me all through my Rush experience. He embraced the idea of dating a sorority girl at first, but then during bid week started getting a little anxious—because of the parties. I assured him that he had nothing to worry about. I had never cheated and I swore to him I never would–a promise I kept the entirety of our relationship.

On Valentine’s Day, he greeted me at my apartment door in a suit with a poem he had written for me. I melted. I had made reservations at Grazie!, a fabulous Italian restaurant in downtown Bloomington, and we enjoyed an amazing dinner together before returning home to enjoy the rest of our romantic evening. About 3 weeks later, Michael and I woke up early to catch breakfast before I had to go to class. I walked out of my bathroom to find Michael sitting on the side of the bed with a solemn look on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked

“What is this….this isn’t mine” he said, holding up a condom wrapper.

“Diana was here for my party a couple weeks ago and had just returned from a weekend with her boyfriend. It probably fell out of her backpack because I know that’s the brand they use. Weird, but yes I do know. I can call her if you want”

He kissed my forehead and apologized for freaking out. After breakfast he dropped me off at class, told me he loved me, and headed back to Columbus. I had a hair appointment that afternoon, so I headed to the salon after class. I got a text from Michael saying “I can’t do this right now” followed by a text from my best friend saying “Oh my God, are you ok? I just saw”. Confused, I said “What are you talking about” only to discover I had been dumped via Facebook……he changed his relationship status without even a warning. To this day, he still thinks I cheated.

We’re still friends, and I maintain my innocence. I look at dating as a basis for marriage–if you can’t stay faithful to someone when you’re just dating them, how are you going to stay faithful for the rest of your life with vows and a legal union? It’s now become a “he said, she said” battle, with my poor best friend Jordan stuck right smack-dab in the middle of it.

As happy as I am right now with life, it makes me want to pull a stunt like Dustin Hoffman did in “The Graduate”….you know, this scene.

“Elaine! Elaine!”

As a friend, I wish him all the happiness in the world. As an ex, I’m going to try to ignore this weekend. Thank goodness Mama’s taking me shopping on Saturday so I’ll have something to keep my mind off of it. I don’t understand why I’m so torn up about this because I have no feelings outside of friendship towards him whatsoever. Maybe it’s the fact that Michael still thinks I cheated making his upcoming nuptials so hard to accept, maybe it’s because I never really got closure, or maybe it’s because it’s a slight twinge of jealousy that he’s getting married and I’m not. Maybe I’ll never know, but it’s one of the perks of being a girl: I get to be emotional over the dumbest things without much judgement.