Removing negativity

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Such an easy thing to say, yet for me, it’s one of the hardest things to do.

Growing up, my personality has always been extreme. Whether happy, sad, excited, angry, or tired, I always experience the strongest parts of these feelings. It’s something I have always struggled with. I jump to conclusions, display my initial reactions, and I let my feelings overtake my actions. I really doubt that anyone I know would describe me as “calm” or “thoughtful.” To me, this is a shame, because it’s all I’ve ever strived to be, but particularly in recent years.

Being someone who experiences the more extreme ends of all feelings, I tend to dwell on negativity, yet I don’t really do anything to fix that. While I am constantly reaching for peace of mind and positive influences, I don’t always really see them, and I tend to let things affect me way more than I should. To put it more clearly, I take everything personally, and I mean everything. I drive myself crazy reading too much into situations that have nothing to do with me. I get mad at Dom for silly things, and then I think about these silly things for the months following. I keep people around who I don’t particularly connect with or enjoy knowing. I remain friends with people who refuse to understand that a child changes lives in a good way, and so Dom and I have grown and changed in ways we love and appreciate. I hold on to parts of the past, present, and future that I don’t want to hold on to because I feel guilty letting them go. I feel like I constantly have to show up, put forth effort, and even if I leave these situations feeling like shit, at least I tried, right?

Wrong.

And lately, I have been asking myself, “what’s the point?”

As a part of something I have been practicing lately (for several years, actually), I am doing a lot of self-reflection. I read a blog post the other day that discussed happiness and six different ways to reach it. One of the points deeply resonated with me, and part of it read, “You have no obligation to keep anyone in your life. You have the right to choose who you want close to you. Choose those who uplift you, support you, and surround you with good vibes.”

Immediately, I thought of a girl I knew who I am no longer friends with. She was my “best friend” for several years, yet every time we spoke, I left with a sick feeling in my gut. Being friends with her felt like it was more out of obligation than enjoyment. It was all about what was on paper. There were few moments in our friendship where I felt like I wasn’t being put up to something, being judged, or held to standards I couldn’t and didn’t want to fill. After years of being friends, I couldn’t do it anymore, and I cut ties. Abruptly. I probably could have gone about this in different ways, but I think the timing felt natural to both of us, and we were both ready to move on with our lives to parts, places, and people that all brought us more happiness than we received from being friends with each other. After reflecting on this experience yesterday while practicing yoga, I knew what I needed to do in life: cut ties with the negativities around me. The people, the situations, the moments, the past.

While I’m sure this journey towards my greater goals and happiness will be a long one, the first step is finding what brings me those good vibes and holding onto whatever that is for dear life.

So discover, find, and grasp, I will. And this time, I won’t let go.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder

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Oh boy.

In just a few short weeks, Dom will be leaving me solo with Isla for four weeks. Being a military wife, I knew this was coming. And I really shouldn’t complain. One of my best friends just had a baby roughly two weeks ago, and her husband is deploying to Afghanistan at the beginning of September for nine long, trying months. But it still sucks.

When Dom was in Afghanistan from June 2012 to March 2013, I was furious any time anyone even missed their boyfriends who were gone for a weekend. I actually had a photographer I used to work with several years ago message me right after Dom left saying that she “knew exactly what it was like” because her boyfriend was “going to visit his family in Australia for two weeks.” I wanted to kill her. Didn’t she understand why that was inappropriate to say? She really thought we were in the same boat? But everyone deals with grief differently, and all she was trying to share with me was kindness. And maybe sympathy. But I find myself holding the same anger when friends have significant others deploying to places that aren’t dangerous, yet they act like it’s the end of the world. If there’s a Starbucks there and you aren’t in a combat zone, I’m pretty sure all is well.

When Dom left the first time, we didn’t have Isla. I was heading to grad school and really stumbling to find my path. I was trying to understand what was next, and a month after he got home, we got pregnant, and it all fell together. I have never been happier, but I also haven’t had to deal with him leaving for long periods of time…until now.

All of this had me thinking about military relationships versus civilian (or “normal,” for all you who aren’t military) relationships. I think that significant others of soldiers really have to have special traits to get through the things we deal with, whether that be training, long days and late nights, or deployment. Both we and our children will go through incredibly long periods of time without seeing (and sometimes, without even talking to) our spouses, fiancés, etc. We deal with troubling times and difficult or dangerous situations constantly. We exhaust ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

That being said, I would still take my military relationship over a “normal” one any day. The struggles make us stronger, the time apart makes us wiser, and the distance makes the heart grow fonder.

But sometimes, it still sucks.

Nostalgia

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The funny thing about long-ago heartbreak is that even years later, an old wound can resurface down the line and make you remember everything you thought, with time, you would forget.

I am the kind of person who hardly ever forgets, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.  I remember my first kiss when I was 12 years old in vivid detail, and I will never forget pulling away from my old house in my red, ’98 Ford Explorer while my (now ex) boyfriend and one of my best friends cried in the pool parking lot across the street.  I will never forget the way his face looked or the slump of his shoulders as watched me drive away.  (At the time, I had no choice, but obviously this led to bigger and better things, but we’ll get to that.)  I remember how horrible some girls from school were when they wore t-shirts to commemorate the event.  Even now, I have never heard so much hate and hurt in someone’s voice as when he told me that story.  High school can be a mean, trying time.

That all being said, hardly ever forgetting gets me into trouble mentally.  It means at any random part of my day or week or year, any variety of my old memories pop up, playing like a movie in my head while I’m held down at gunpoint and forced to watch.  That moment happened this morning when I was feeding and rocking my 4 1/2-month-old baby girl, Isla, back to sleep.

All of a sudden, as if a panic room full of my deepest, most intimate memories exploded, several different things came back to me.  I remembered the day my ex-boyfriend gave me a promise ring, and I remember his frustration when his little brother (now a grown man; talk about sobering) told me how much it cost over dinner with his family in their home.  I remember “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” playing on the radio when we were driving his dad’s truck to a baseball game, it started pouring rain, and it spun out of control on the highway.  Talk about irony.  We almost got hit by a semi truck going 70, and I perfectly remember the fear in his eyes not from the fact that we almost wrecked and could have died, but from the fact that he almost hurt me.  I remember the first awful fight we got in outside of Chick-fil-A when I came back to visit him in North Carolina after moving to Ohio.  I remember bawling and shaking on the floor of my parents’ sun room while my mom held me after he broke up with me a month after I moved.  I remember him telling me, almost a year later and while we were both with someone else, that he still loved me.

Many of these memories may sound painful, but they aren’t.  There are many more I remember and could share, but I will keep those to myself.  When these explode in my mind, it’s incredible to see that even though some are sad and are some of my worst or most hurtful memories, I smile when I think of them.

Experiencing the art of truly loving someone when you’re young is wonderful, naive, and awful.  We are usually left vulnerable, afraid, and confused.  That being said, we are left open; open to love, open to new things, open to new people.  Had I not gone through these experiences, I never would have been led to my husband, the greatest man I have ever known or had the opportunity to know and love.

The fact that these memories all popped up when I was holding my baby girl had to say something.  They followed a dream I had about the same boy, but that isn’t what brought them to my attention.  As I played this movie in my mind, all I could think was this:

I hope Isla finds young love.  I hope it is a whirlwind; that it consumes her.  I hope she has her heart broken…maybe even more than once.  I hope she remembers these things for years to come, and I hope it all leads her to the person she is supposed to be with.  I hope she remembers even the saddest of memories fondly.  I hope she laughs when she thinks of that person, and I hope she smiles and wishes them well.  Mostly, I hope she lives a full life that contains happiness, sadness, hurt, excitement, sorrow, recollections, and nostalgia.

Because what else could you wish for your baby girl than a life as full of happiness as your own has been?

Getting to know myself

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I would like to get to know myself.

I know what you may be thinking: you are you every single day, so how do you not know yourself already?

This is both a simple and a complicated question to answer.

Simply put, I know who I am. I know what I want out of this life. I know the things I love, and I know the things I dislike. I know my faults, my mistakes, and my regrets; I am learning my strengths, my goals, my faith, and the structure of who I want to be. I understand the ways I wish to change; I am learning the ways I can achieve this.

More complicated: For years, I have always worried about what others thought. Not necessarily what they thought about me, but what they thought in general. What is important to them? Should that be important to me, too? Do I have to like the things they like, care for the things they care for? I was always bogged down by ways to impress others and caught up in people for the wrong reasons. I looked for who I should be and how I should act in ex-boyfriends, old friends, boyfriends’ past loves, my heroes, my enemies, and more people than I need to name.

Let me be clear on one thing: I am not a “weak” person, so to speak. I have a strong personality, a lot of spirit, and a loud mouth. I know what I think and I am not afraid to say it. I am emotional through the way I care for or about things (sometimes too emotional). I have faith in my friends and my family. Sometimes, I even have an immeasurable amount of faith in myself. I wish I had more faith spiritually (this is something I am working on). Despite my strengths, I am still overly-influenceable. I have found myself time and again altering the things I like or suddenly liking different things because others liked them. In my 24 years, there are a few things I have found passion for that are all my own (yoga, reading, music, and being a mother and wife, as examples), but there are countless things that I like (even find myself saying I love) because other people liked them first and introduced me. There would be nothing wrong with me liking this things after discovering them (even if through a different person), but liking them just because someone else does isn’t the way to go about things. There is nothing more I can do but to look back at the times I have caught myself doing this and laugh. Of course, at the time, I never knew I was doing these things for someone else (hard to believe, right?). The teenage (and young adult) mind is a very moldable thing, but I truly believe I found a liking for these things because I had “discovered” them through people I loved. In high school, I even went so far as to go to a church I couldn’t stand (two churches, in fact) because my boyfriend at the time went to one, and a friend at the time went to the other. (Growing up in North Carolina, going to church was actually a trendy thing, and I know so many people who have faith or identify as a certain religion because their friends liked going to church, not because it personally resonated with them.) These churches I went to weren’t even a religion close to mine–I grew up Catholic (though I always found Catholicism hard to connect to), and these were Southern Baptist churches (where being black is a crime and being gay is an abominable sin)–yet I would force myself to connect if it meant being popular or being “happy.” (Little did I know, I wasn’t truly happy. This would come later.)

Recently, I gave birth (an awful, traumatic experience), and while I struggled through 30+ hours of labor, an emergency c-section, and a follow-up of over 6 weeks of painful recovery, followed by a MRSA infection and the flu (which cycled through my whole family), I recovered, and I have recovered as, quite possibly, an altogether different person. There is something to be said for the moment you look into your daughter’s eyes and know that, in all aspects of the phrase, everything has changed. This particular aspect of new parenthood hit me hard, and it has hit me hard for weeks now. Many people say that being a parent makes life difficult, days long, nights unbearable, and patience thin. I have found myself experiencing quite the opposite. I won’t go so far as to say that we don’t have bad days (we do) or that I have had some magical life-altering experience (I mean, I have, but that’s what happens when you become a mom), but something about being a parent has made me feel that things are more freeing. Life has more possibilities. Through recent yoga practice and meditation, I am starting to feel as though I have finally reached a place in my life where I can find out who I am and be exactly who I want to be.

I want to read more. I want to practice my yoga more devoutly. I want to understand God, and I want to work on my spirituality. (That being said, I don’t think I could find a particular religion that could cover the full basis of that I believe or what I am capable of believing, so I am working on finding the parts of various faiths and religions that do resonate with me. It’s a start.) I want to work on my meditation, and through this, I want to understand the parts of the world that are important to me. I want to better know my strengths and believe in myself. I want to stop doing things for show (this is the most important part). I want to be the kind of mom and wife that I would be proud to know, and I want to do this with selfless, forgiving love. Most importantly, I want to get to know ME.

This may take some time, but there is no time like the present, right?

This week (and things like that)

My oh my.  What a crazy week it has been!

After some long talks and a whole lot of thinking, Dom and I decided a few weeks ago that I would apply for jobs.  Being 22 weeks pregnant, this may seem a little crazy, but future plans and endeavors caused it to make a lot of sense.  So for the past few weeks, I have been applying to jobs basically nonstop.

And what do you know?  Last week, I had two interviews for the same job (plus a few other interviews for different jobs), and I got the job I wanted by Thursday!  I start tomorrow.

On top of this, we heard a lot of good news about the future, picked out the color we are painting the baby’s room, received a nice lump of cash, Dom’s parents are coming in town this Thursday, etc, etc, etc.

There really isn’t a whole lot of complaining I can do right now.  The only thing really stressing me out (other than being nervous about starting a new job) is the start of Fall semester (my second semester) of grad school today.  I seriously can’t wait for this program to be over.

Overall, life is pretty good, and I can’t do too much complaining.  Very excited to see what the future has in store!

Saturday

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On Saturday at 10am, we had an extra ultrasound appointment scheduled to find out the gender of Baby Basilio.  For those who know me, you know how impatient I am.  After a fellow military spouse told me that you could find out the gender at 15 weeks (which was extremely surprising and hard to believe), I called that day and scheduled an appointment at a 3D/4D ultrasound imaging company.  I figured knowing the gender was one way to make this experience more “real,” and I couldn’t have been more correct.

Before 10:30am, we shared such a sweet, sweet moment when we found out we were having a baby girl.  This was both what we hoped for and what I thought she was all along, and we couldn’t have been more excited.  Nothing could have made this moment any sweeter, and we celebrated by going to The Children’s Place and buying a tiny little outfit for our tiny little lady.

Pregnancy is a funny thing.  It can change you completely, and for us, it has.  I silently laugh to myself often when we’re in a public place and I find myself more excited to dress Baby Basilio up for Halloween than to go to our college’s homecoming with our friends.  Things that were so important suddenly aren’t, and drama and people that I once felt so tied to are no longer a concern.  I don’t know how having a tiny person inside of you can do that, but for me, it has.  Dom and I feel more like a family than ever before, and some of my favorite moments are when he kisses my belly at 5am before he leaves for work.  I might be delirious and out of it, but these are moments I will always remember.

We are in for a long ride, I know, but there is something so sweet about having all your wishes come true.  One of my favorite feelings in life (so far) is knowing that everything we have been through was worth it.

Patience, parks, and lopsided pigtails

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Today I was lucky enough to be able to get lunch with a friend I’ve had for nine years.  We don’t see each other often, but things are always the same when we do get around to hanging out.  I haven’t seen her since April 2012, so among plenty of news and excitement, there was also my pregnancy to celebrate.

Officially, I have been pregnant for 13 weeks and 5 days.  Her first question when seeing me was “do you feel different?”.  Since the pregnancy, this question has been sprung on me a lot.  I would like to say that I do feel different, but in all reality, everything is the same…except for the fact that in not so many months, I will bring a small human into this world.  Kind of unreal.

I read a lot of blogs.  Mostly, they are about crafting, recipes, homemaking, and sometimes motherhood.  One of my favorite blogs is a combination of the four.  Her posts are glow-y and wonderful and full of the excitement of being a mom, but when she was pregnant, she had a blog post that really resonated with me.  It talked about her fear of not “being enough” for her baby; the fear that her baby would need more than just her.

I, too, have this fear.  I am not the most patient person, I struggle to survive on little sleep and much frustration, and I can have a pretty bad temper.  I often wonder whether or not I will be a good mom; whether or not these are things I will just “get over.”  After nannying for quite awhile, I know that I can put up with a lot, but I was always able to go home by 6pm.  With motherhood, there is no 6pm for 18+ years.  Do we really have the patience for that?

In the midst of all this, my attention is also drawn towards holidays.  Birthday parties.  Parks.  Deep belly laughs.  Lopsided pigtails or tiny baseball caps.  Family walks and one-of-a-kind moments.  With so much to look forward to, my fear is subsided.

And we have so much to look forward to.

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