Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eager Bride

The majority of people who know me would probably describe me as shy, reserved, and conservative.


Today I proved to myself, my fiance, and my mama Sieb (Justin's Mom) just how outgoing, loud, and over the top I am. I even let myself get embarrassed. The kind of embarrassment that makes your tummy turn left then right and then up and then down all in the same minute.

We were running late to church this morning. Service started at 10:30 a.m. and Justin rolled out of bed at 10 a.m. The church is fifteen minutes away and he didn't hop in the shower until about 10:08 a.m. I, of course, was awake early and dressed in my Sunday finest at 9:30 a.m. We had a big day today! Our first day of pre-martial counseling. Little did I know I wish I would have packed a mask.

As we ran into the church sneaking in the side door, we saw Pastor B.

I ran past him and smiled, rushing to the bathroom and trying to not look "late."

"Hey Ashley, I might embarrass you a little bit today in church!" Pastor B said.

"Ohhh great," I said. "Well thanks for the heads up!"

He shouldn't have given me a heads up. I'm not a girl who needs a warning. This is later proved in the story.

So the service started. We sing a few songs and then the sermon begins. The readings were wedding readings. And it begins.

Then all of a sudden wedding music started playing.

Oh no! I thought.

Justin and I looked at each other, smiled and then looked around the church.

"Do I have a bride in here?!" Pastor B asked the congregation.

Me, I thought.

Should I walk down the isle? Am I supposed to walk down there and that's what is embarrassing!?! Instead of walking, I opened my big fat mouth!

"Do you want me to come down there?" I screamed.

Everyone turned around. Some laughed. Some smiled. Some looked at me like I was most socially awkward individual on the face of earth. Well, truly, I probably am. after this experience.

Pastor B starred at me and laughed a lot.

"Is the Bride not coming down the isle!?!? Where is she!?" He asked again.

By this time, I was really confused.

Okay, if you want me to come down there, just say it. Don't beat around the bush, I thought.

"Maybe she will come if I play another song," Pastor B said.

So another song began.

"So where is my bride!?" He asked again.

"WELL I AM RIGHT HERE!!!!" I screamed again.

I looked over at Justin and he had his hands over his face. He embarrassed for himself and me at the same time. Justin's mom knew where Pastor B was going, "This is part of the sermon," she mouthed to me.

I wanted to get up and walk out of the church service.The true "bride" was the congregation. And we were there today to renew our vows and promises to The Lord.

"No, not you Ashley," Pastor B said. "I'll get to you later."

I sank deep into the pew. So embarrassed. This wasn't even my church, so the people there don't understand my personality. I was in for it.

So he explained about how the bride was everyone here today and what we should do to renew our vows.

Then he said, "But we do have a young couple about to get married. Justin and Ashley, why don't you stand up. Everyone clap for them and show them our love."

Oh, don't worry, I thought. I've already stood up and let it be KNOWN by all in the state of Indiana that I'm engaged to Justin.

"They are here today for their first pre-martial counseling session," Pastor B said. "So we should start now! Do you guys know what you are getting yourselves into!?"

I looked at Justin. He looked straight ahead and said, "YES!" I just starred. I was still picturing myself throwing my hands in the air saying, "I AM RIGHT HERE!" LOL

Church Fail.

When I went him to take communion, I saw people point. Some smiled. One old man pulled me aside and said, "Are you sure you want to do this?!" It aade me laugh, but I definitely was the center of the service.

I got up to Pastor B and all I could do was smile/look like a deer in headlights.

"Are you sure you want to get married here still?!" Pastor B asked laughing.

I didn't even have a response. Just that look on my face I get when I am confused.

Justin couldn't stop laughing. As soon as I told him I was embarrassed, he felt it was fair game to make fun of the situation openly.

"I wouldn't have this much fun with anyone else," Justin leaned over and said while laughing. "I wouldn't even have HALF as much fun with anyone else."

I squeezed his hand. God love him. He truly does know he is about to marry a socially awkward loud mouth.

And the best part is he still loves me.

We laughed for most of the service. Replaying my performance in my head. He leaned over and said, "I love you so much Ashley. You really have no idea."

I thought everyone would think I was an idiot, but turns out I made every one's morning. They thought it was "cute" and just showed how excited I am marry to Justin. Well, at least that's what they said to my face!

Both pastors thought my eager bride embarrassing moment was funny. Looking back, it really was.

"Pastor B," I said. "I am a woman with no preface."

I probably wouldn't have done that if he didn't say he was going to embarrass me. But then again, maybe I would have.

Looking at this day with the glass half full, at least I didn't walk down the isle to him. 

Although, I did turn around to see if any flower girls were coming. If they walked down the isle, I was sure to follow. Without a doubt.

After our counseling and lunch with Pastor B, we left with a happy hearts and full stomachs. And an extra side of lots of laughs.

I love Justin so much. He truly does love me even when I'm a fool. Or in my defense, I am just an eager bride.

Much love,

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Ticking Clock

Tonight I shared a lot of laughs with my mom and sister, Cierra. We watched homemade videos full of birthday parties, tight purple jeans, side ponytails, and big/wild hair.

Looking back, I don't even remember that part of my life. Those videos serve as a travel back in time. I am lucky for that.

Growing up, I always wanted to grow up. I always wanted to sit at the grown up table at Thanksgiving. I always wanted "grown up" gifts. And I got REALLY mad when a waitress would bring my crayons and a coloring mat for dinner. Couldn't she tell that was just way too childish for me?!

I should have taken advantage of being a kid. Of not having a care in the world. Of loving every minute of my life. Shower or no shower, I was happy. Usually no showering, because that meant I could stay at longer and play with my friends. Life was good.

The worst part is seeing my younger siblings and wishing I was a larger part of their life. I can't believe how fast they have grown up. We watched Cierras 2nd birthday and now her next bday she will turn 18. I just can't even believe that...We watched Devin's first bath and he is going into high school next year.

I love them so much.

It makes my heart hurt to think I chose partying with my friends over spending time with my family. I guess you live and learn and that is what makes us who we are today. I just hope they always know how much I love them and how much I want them to succeed. I want them to know life is never easy and people are mean. You have to love yourself first. I'm not the best example of loving yourself first, but I am striving to be that person. I want them to know they turn to me for anything, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night to cry during a hard break up. Boys lie and so do girls, so be careful with you give your heart too. But love all and be loved. I will always be proud of you and who you become. I will always, always cherish all of our laughs and look forward more memories in the future.

Moral of the story, choose your time wisely. Invest your time in things that you can look back upon and really smile about, even if that means staying at home with your family to make homemade videos.

The ticking clock will not slow down.

Much love,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Biggest Loser, No Really

Tonight I met with my personal trainer. His name is Steve. When I saw him walking around the club prior to meeting him, I assumed he was shy and very dedicated. He is definitely dedicated, but he is passionate about what his job too. He does not to help people and the pay check is the bonus for doing what he loves. He is very outgoing and motivating. He is exactly what I need. Because I couldn't handle a shy or mean guy.

Meeting Steve was the only good night of my evening.

We talked about my current habits, my goals, and my expectations. I told him I wanted to be healthy. In the past, my plan was, "Well, if I want to lose weight I will just stop eating or binge." Now, I want my lifestyle to be like a health plan. I want to actively go to the gym and eat the right foods, which aren't available on the dollar menu. Sigh. Goodbye McDonalds, Hello Meijir Organics.

He asked if I had a goal date. And secretly I do. My wedding. But I didn't want to be that person who just loses weight for an event. I want to be that person who loses weight for myself.

"So, you mentioned you have a fiance. When is this wedding?!" Steve asked.

"May," I replied.

Just four months away.

Wow. I have my work cut out, I thought.

He laughed and then said, "So you dooo have a goal date."

So then I did a balance test and I was wobbling like a drunken fool. I truly think lack balance in my genetic make-up. But he said controlling my muscles and getting stronger will actually make me balance better. I'm up for the challenge.

Then came the moment of truth. The scale. The weight. My enemy and fuel for a serious addiction that has controlled much of my life.

"I don't want to look," I said.

"Well, then don't. I will write it down and you can look when you are ready," Steve said.

I looked. I knew I shouldn't have. Steve saw I looked too.

"This scale actually weights 5 lbs heavier, so if you step on that other scale you will get a more accurate answer, but this is hooked up to the machine that records all of your progress."

Progress, I thought. Well surely I can't get any worse than this. The scale said 224 lbs, which would be 219 on the "accurate scale."

Percentage of body fat was next. I said I didn't want to look again, but I did. I really should have never looked.

39.47% body fat.


Deep breathe.

"I take these things with a grain of salt," Steve said seeing my eyes swell up. "But this gives us a starting point."

And it does. This is the beginning of the end. Today marks the last day that I will ever see 224 on any scale. The only time I want to see that number is on a check with my name on it.

So I am reminding myself of the advice and support you have all given me. And it works a little bit, but I'm still pretty depressed and shocked. But more so, I think I am motivated. I think I am ready to become a better, healthier person.

I have dropped below the yellow line. If I continue down the path I am traveling, I will not be the biggest loser. Every week will be approached as a day dedicated as my last chance workout. I have this chance. I have to take it. I can afford the gym (barely). I can make time to go (even though some days its hard to drag myself there). And I can do it.

Thank you so much for your support and words of wisdom. You will never, ever know how much it means to me and how often I repeat what you say to me when I am sad and unmotivated.

Much love,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rule Number One: Always Breathe

On my first day of my scuba lecture, my professor told me the number one rule for scuba diving: always, always breathe. The rule seems simple enough, but we go our entire lives jumping into water plugging our nose. We jump off the diving board and hold our breath as our bodies flip into the cool water. So really its not as easy as it sounds, especially for someone like me.

On Wednesday, I had my second day of scuba class in the pool. I bought a new swim suit that would certainly keep my boobs from falling when jumping into the pool and swimming every stroke in the water. I was a little late, so I was the last person to jump in the pool.

“Ashley- jump in and do your laps with your goggles and snorkel,” Carol, my instructor, said.

Sure. I’ll jump right in and have everyone wait on me. And watch me. I know some boys were probably thinking they were going to get a free show, but not today.

I jumped in and the snorkel went underwater. I choked on the water and came up hardly breathing.

“Ashley, you need to attach your snorkels to your goggles,” Carol said.

Glad she watched me the whole time. Let the games begin.

The student instructor came over and helped me attach my goggles to my snorkel. Then I took off like a kid learning how to swim for the first time. I went underwater a bit and held my breath. If I were in a cartoon, this would be the part where my face turns blue. I couldn’t figure out how everyone was doing this while holding their breath. Oh wait, rule number one. Always breathe.

I came up to the surface grasping for air. Carol probably didn’t realize I needed Snorkeling 101 – everyone knows you could breathe through a snorkel; in fact, the snorkel was developed so you could surface dive and breathe while slightly under water. I can hear you now, “Only Ashley…” Haha and I know it’s true.

But we learned a lot of tricks and skills. For example, we had to swim across three lanes without our goggles. Find our buddy and put our goggles on under water, clear the water out of my mask, put my snorkel on, and come up to clear the snorkel. I have some serious practice to do, but I am excited. I really am going out of my comfort level on so many levels. I am making myself proud and the encouragement from everyone has been so rewarding.

Thank you all for believing in me and pushing me to succeed—even if that means jumping into a pool with complete strangers to learn a skill that will allow me to conquer fears! J

Much love,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Summer I Realized I'm Not Superwoman

I always think when I drive. My mind never stops running. There is a song that reminds Justin of me and the lyrics say, "It scares me to death when she thinks and drives." I don't drink and drive, but thinking, yeah that is hard to control when I'm driving.

Rainy days like this remind me of tears. Which makes me think about sad events and my past. The rain doesn't always do this to me, but when I'm driving and its raining -- that is usually where my mind wonders.

Today, I drove home and thought about how I used to be a different person. I know a lot of people say that because things happen. We move away. We go to college. We find new friends. We keep old friends. We travel to new places. We stay at home. We have bad break-ups. We have great relationships. But really looking back, I sometimes think of how different I really was prior to the summer before college when two of my friends, Corey Shaffer and Rick Girod, passed away in horrible car accidents.

I sometimes think of myself as having split personalities. Imagine the "devil" and "angel" on my shoulders. On one person on my shoulder is the girl before the accidents. The "crazy" girl. I wanted to go sky diving. I wanted to be a NASCAR driver. Heck, I got enough practice driving around in my big blue van jumping railroad tracks back home. I partied a lot and didn't really care about the hangover --- it doesn't last long, right? (wrong) I was carefree and did what I wanted without taking into consideration danger of myself or others. I always had an agenda: to have fun, no matter the consequences. I cared more about going out than staying in with my family. Looking back, I wish I was around more for my brother and sisters. I can only hope that my younger siblings look up to me and cherish me in their life, as much as I value them in my life.

On the other shoulder is more who I am today. I'm still outgoing and fun, which makes me seem "crazy" to some people; however, I am fearful, yet thoughtful. Driving in a car terrifies me. I've gotten used to it being in a long-distance relationship and commuting to school, but it was really hard at first. My parents couldn't travel anywhere without me having an anxiety attack. Considering my mom lives in Muncie and works in Fort Wayne- you can only imagine how anxious I was with her driving in a car almost 3 hours a day- on a busy road that the news always reported accidents on. I worry a lot more, especially about things I can't control -- like the world ending in 2012 and tornadoes in the summer. In high school, "crazy" Ashley went parasailing. Now, the thought of falling in the sky over the ocean makes me want to stroke out. What if the cord breaks? What if they dip me into the ocean and a shark bites off my lower half!?

So now, I sit somewhere in the middle. Some days, I think I'd go parasailing again. Most days, sky diving still scares the piss out of me. But I've gotten better at the driving thing. Flying, now that is still a work in progress.

But I know that the quote "Live everyday as if it were your last" is very true- we never know when our last day on this Earth will be. Not even the Facebook application that predicts your age and how you will die can confirm your fate. I refuse to use that, on a side note.

I think of those boys all of the time. I think about how my life would be different if they hadn't passed away. I think about how the lives of my friends would be different if they didn't pass away. But I've recently learned that I need to stop thinking about "what if" and focus on "what now." They were both incredible people. Big hearts. Beautiful smiles. Bright futures. Their death made me realize that I am not Superwoman. It made me fearful of death, something I never thought of prior. I was just a kid about to go to college. Death wasn't a possibility, was it?

I know that everything happens for a reason and things like this are hard to understand and explain. I think I'm still trying to figure out why this tragic event happened to these two beautiful people at such a young age. But it can take a lifetime to truly understand something like this. One thing that does comfort me is knowing that my step mom wouldn't be healthy and well without the donation of a pancreas from a complete stranger. So maybe, for no other reason at all, they were taken from this Earth to save the life of someone else- who wouldn't be there if their death never occurred.

So what now? I have a lot of major changes in my life about to take place. Graduation. Marriage. Big Girl Job. Babies (in the future -- my fur son is enough for now). Its time to start living and update myself on the resolutions I made a few weeks ago. Being excited to change and eager to learn is always easier with a new year, but I need to remind myself of this stuff daily. I need to start a new chapter in my life with a new pen and fresh piece of paper. A new outlook on life and different perspective on the events that occur in my life. I should always remember to smile. Most importantly, I should never forget the value of time.

So for now, I'll stay in my scuba class. I'll look out the window during a storm instead of packing all my belongings in case a tornado comes tearing through my town. And I'll always, always make time for my friends, family, and loved ones -- those who are here now.

And for those who are gone, my Angels in the sky, I'll think of them daily. I'll do things to keep their memories fresh. I will talk about them. I will blog about them. And for my amazing Grandpa, who passed away my freshman year of high school, I'll have a picture of him on my wedding bouquet when I walk down the isle. In a locket. I'll carry it close to my chest, so he comes alive through my heart on my special day.

"But patiently, you slipped away from me, Oh God I want you back, Oh God I miss my friend, But so patiently..." O.A.R. ---- R.I.P Corey Shaffer and Rick Girod

Much love,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Good Life Choice

When Justin and I moved to Indy, our apartment complex promoted that it had a "24 hour fitness room." I suppose the word "room" should have given it away that this was nothing more than two cardio machines and a total gym from 1982. There are no TVs or music playing over head to keep your mind off the burn. Needless to say, if one other person is in the room, its crowded. It was really hard for me to stay motivated there and want to go back.

One of my best friends has a membership at Lifestyle Family Fitness. Ashley kept telling me to come with her, but I kept making up excuses.

"Oh that's okay," I said. "I have p90x at home!" Yeah --- covered with DUST!

But finally we went together. She told me I had a seven day free trail pass I could use. But as soon as I walked in the door, I realized how much I miss working out in an actual GYM! Going with her was a good life choice. Better yet, a GREAT life choice.

Of course, I joined the gym that night. It cost $34 a month, which of course made me sick to think about. But hey, no more Starbucks trips daily. And no more McDonald's for dinners when its late. All the money on unhealthy expenses will now be going toward a healthy investment.

The gym also has a pool, so I can practice for SCUBA class. It also has free workout classes I can attend. I also get three personal trainer sessions to get me started --- a $15o value, for free!

I think watching other people working out hard is also key. You see the look in their eyes. The determination. The tears. You hear the moans. The grunts. The loud sighs. And it makes you work harder too. You learn new moves and different approaches to machines and weight lifting. You make friends who are also making healthy options in life.

I can't wait to see where my weight loss journey will take me.

Much love,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Pressing Question, Answered

Every single day, I get asked the same question. Often, multiple times a day.

"So, how are the wedding plans coming along?"

From the bottom of my heart, I understand that people probably care. They are interested in what we are doing. Or maybe they are just trying to start a conversation.

But really, the question stresses me out. We aren't made of money, so thinking about the wedding causes a financial meltdown for me. Justin does a good job now and our parents are helping out as much as possible, but we are doing everything as cheap as possible. I don't mind being cheap either. I don't want to begin the rest of our lives together with $30,000 in debt for ONE day.

On top of that, my main focus right now is school. And between work and family and Justin and Bandit and searching for jobs and updating my resume and working out; I just don't have the time to sit around and think about the wedding plans all day.

And really, its about the marriage. At the end of the day, it won't matter if we served lobster or fried chicken. It won't matter if our colors were marine blue or baby blue. It won't matter if we had white roses or yellow roses. What matters is understanding that the importance of this day: my commitment to Justin. Our marriage. Our future. Our love.

So here is EVERYTHING that I can think of that we have done:

- The wedding date is set: May 15, 2010

- The ceremony is at Justin's church, First English Lutheran in Richmond, Ind. and will PROBABLY start at 3:30 (maybe 2:30)

-The reception will immediately follow at Elk's Country Club in Richmond, Ind.

- The bridesmaid dresses are ordered--- here is a link:

- The flowers are so THANKFULLY being done by Justin's Aunt. We will definitely be having white roses and some of them are dipped in the Marine blue color. She did a great job on my bouquet and I trust her with all my heart.

-Our party favors are ordered, both for the reception and rehearsal dinner

- I have my dress and after 12 months I paid it off ---- no it didn't cost $1,000--- it was $400 and I LOVE it --- its simple :)

- Our DJ is a married couple who does the middle school and high school dances in Richmond

- Our cake will be a cupcake wedding cake in a square setup-- I tasted them with Jeanie and
they ROCK!!

- Our theme is the Dallas Cowboys

- Our photographer is Joe Huber, who does amazing work, and he is bringing a friend. So we will have two photographers there to capture our amazing day together. Thank you again Joe for being a part of our special day.

- I have no clue what the center pieces will be like, but I'm not worried

- We don't have a caterer booked yet; however, we think we have a lead that will cut us an AMAZING deal

- We don't know for sure what hotel, but we will be getting a block of rooms discounted for our guests travelling from out of town

-We have a wedding Web site:

-Justin and his groomsmen don't have their tuxes yet

-We don't have our scriptures picked out, but we have two beautiful ladies ready to read: Gina Grant and Amanda Strickler :)

- We start marriage counseling with the pastor at the end of the month

- Our rehearsal dinner will be pizza and beer or a cookout.

- I am designing all of the wedding invitations and programs, etc.

-Our quote is: "I want to spend my whole life laughing; laughing with you."

-I am still trying to get Bandit into the wedding party

- I will probably wear flip flops under my dress

- Nicole is doing my hair and make up :) I have my hair style picked out and its beautiful -- she is going to practice on me when I go visit her in March! <3

And here we are. Sunday evening. Nothing else will be planned or updated until the end of the month. So when people ask about my wedding plans, I am going to direct them here for all the answers. Because half of the time, I forget what I have left to do or what is 100 percent completed. The best part is I am not worried. I am not stressed. Everything will fall into place and I am just thankful I am not a bridezilla-- Justin is probably thankful of that too.

Much love,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I woke up this morning thinking someone stepped on my stomach in my sleep. But Bandit slept in his cage, so I knew it wasn't him during the night. Then it hit me. Mother nature. Why wouldn't I start my period and have cramps the day of my entry skills test for scuba diving?! I was so bloated that none of my jeans fit.

So I did what every woman in need to cramp reliefs does...went to CVS! I got orange Gatorade, Ibuprofen liquid gels, salty chips, and new hair products. Oh, and a five hour energy. It worked. But I still had the constant thought in my head, "What if I end up being known as tampon girl because I get out of the pool and my string is hanging out?" I think this is a fear every single girl has while on her period and swimming. The infamous white string. Swimming with a pad (or diaper, although babies do it) just isn't effective or sanitary. Moral of the story, guys should be happy these concerns don't go through their head prior to a trip to mass of water.

Either way, I did what I could with what I had. From a previous blog, you are aware that I don't have a swim suit devoted to swimming. I simply have a wet suit and a "fashion" one piece swim suit. So, being day one, I took my "fashion" swim suit because I didn't want to come off "die hard" -- I had to joke about or at least inform people of my wet suit before I actually put it on for class. This fashion swimsuit will add humor to the story later.

So, I got to campus. I was a little nervous still, questioning my abilities as a swimmer. Ironically enough, body issues were near the bottom of the concerns. I just wanted to pass the entry skills test of: 200 meter swim, 25 feet under water with one breath, and 10 minute water treed.

I thought about maybe tripping on ice or running out in front of a car to avoid taking the test, but those weren't logical decisions. Or healthy either. So, I just kept walking and chuckled at the desperate thoughts I had while walking to class.

Finally, it was the moment of truth. I went into the women's locker room and made a friend with the first girl I saw. Maybe a clinger move, but I needed a buddy- gotta get selfish early; don't want to be picked last like the fat kid in gym. Side note: I can say that because I really was the fat kid who got picked last in elementary school. (She ended up being my buddy, her name is Abby in case you hear more about her and my scuba excursions later). Moving on.

I looked in the mirror only once. I didn't really care. I have a smile on my face and my body will be in the water most of the time anyway. So I made a decision to not let my body win (Thanks again Brad King.)

Although, I still went in a bathroom stale and changed. I didn't feel comfortable stripping down for Abby after just meeting her. I mean, we at least need to have dinner first or maybe even Starbucks.

The first task was to swim 200 meters or 300 meters to accomplish a skill needed for the exit exam. My goal was to go big or go home.

I decided to go first and jumped into lane six. A guy was already swimming in lane six, but we shared. No biggie until I realized my fashion swimsuit would not work out as planned. I jumped into the water and out came my boobs. Really fast. For an instant really. Then I pushed the girls back in their place.

Wow, I thought. With all these boys with goggles, I know one of them saw my girls. Minor issue. Nice to meet you too.

So I laughed and kicked off the wall to begin my journey. Out they came again. So I had to make a plan. I would breast stroke. Funny considering the nature of the situation. And every time I made a stroke, I pulled my top back up. So really, I was working twice as hard. I know they probably slid out a few times when I did the "regular" or "freestyle" stroke-- not sure on the lingo yet, but whatever. Not the first or last pair they will see. Typical moment in the life of Ashley Bedwell.

But I did it!! I did the 300 meter swim, swam 45 feet (I needed 50 feet to pass the exit exam, but 25 for today) under water with one breath, and treed water for 15 minutes--- all with a swim suit malfunction and a smile on my face.

So I'm excited. I am even more excited that I walked around in my swim suit without questioning how I looked.

I just let it all hang out; yes, pun is intended here. Well hopefully the tampon string wasn't hanging out. But we can't worry about everything now, can we kids?

Much love,

Oh, I'm Just SO Busy

I had a mid-college crisis (I hope this means I won't have a mid-life crisis) and transferred to IPFW to pursue a new dream of becoming a dental assistant. Previously, I was going to school to be a journalist then an elementary school teacher then a psychologists then a high school guidance counselor then a public relations professional. I seemed so inspired by everyone and what they did. I was constantly asking questions. What was your program like in college? What did you do right after graduation? Do you find your job rewarding? What inspires you? What is so challenging about your job? I would ask these questions to complete strangers, often tables I was waiting on a Scotty's Brewhouse or Arnold's Drive-In. I loved their responses. So I changed majors like the changing of the seasons.

And before I knew it, I was sitting in a lecture hall in Fort Wayne, Ind. The lecture hall was massive with more than 200 students. She started her lecture the first day.

"Look at the people beside you," she said. "Look at the people in front of you and behind you. Half of them won't be here by the end of the semester. This is a hard class; one that requires people to take more than once to pass."

Sold. I'm out of here.

But I still went to the required lab, don't ask me why. I was even more sold that this wasn't for me after he told us we needed to know every single bone and muslce in the body, the function of it, and also had to spell it correctly when idenitfying it. By the look on my face, I'm sure he knew I wasn't coming back. I imagine I looked like a deer with a learning disability caught in headlines on a snowy country road.

But the semester wasn't a complete waste. I had a stress management class that really changed my outlook on life. My professor reminded me of the kindergarden teacher on "Billy Madison" -- I am not sure if she ate glue, but she she probably metitated on front desk while classes were in transition.

She was a short blonde haired woman in her late 40s. She wore glasses. She spoke softly and clearly. She had a smile on her face 98% of the lecture, even when she told us that her ill mother passed away. She was the definition of calm. But she wasn't always that way and she made it her goal to open up our eyes about our current lives and how we can live less stressful lives heading into the future.

In order to do this, she referred to an inspiring man, Richard Carlson. He was the author of "Don't Stress the Small Stuff: And Its All Small Stuff." I say "was" because he passed away due to heart failure on a plane home. A tragic story for a man who had a lot of life to live and save.

One of his rules was simple. When people ask you how you are doing, don't respond by saying, "Oh, I'm just so busy!"

Everyone is busy. Our world is busy. I don't know a single person who isn't busy in one way or another.

Furthermore, responding like that just puts a damper on the conversation. People are then forced to ask you what is going on and thats when you go off, "I have three tests this week and I work 15 hours in 2 days. Then my roomate ate all of my food, so I need to go to the groccery store. And lord only knows, I don't have time for that."

I laugh typing that, but really I know I've said that before. More often than not. I mean, really, its easy to feel bad for yourself. One semester I was working almost 40 hours a week, taking intensive classes that required outside participation at events and projects, and trying to make time my family/friends/Justin. Its never easy. But it can be done.

So my new goal is to be aware of the way I respond to people when they ask, "How are you doing?" Because usually when people ask that question, they just want a simple reply, "Great!" or maybe a friend of great "I'm good!" or maybe a distant neighbor of good, "I'm doing okay!" Also, never respond with bad. Its just debbie downer. Simply just say, "Well, I've been better, but I'm working on it!" Then if they are concerned, they can ask you why. Now, I'm not saying keep eveything to yourself and bottle everything up. Thats not healthy either. But have a friend that you vent so not everyone is your source of ventihalation, ha-ha.

And while the urge to say, "I'm horrible" seems obvious after you got a flat tire on the interstate and then got a parking ticket while you ran inside to meet a friend for some meter change, it just isn't worth it. I promise. Maybe instead of saying you are "horrible" -- just tell your story and let other people feel bad for you. Or laugh. Because one of the best qualities one can have is the ability to laugh during times of trial.

Much love,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Congratulations- You Just Won A Free Trip to Africa!

I have determined two things in my life. Well, more than two things, but two things specifically related to the work force. Everyone should be required to work in retail and the resturant business.

Kaila works in the customer service department (i.e. the complain department) at Best Buy. I am shocked to hear the stories she tells me. People get so rude and scream and cuss her out because they didn't pay attention to their warranty or recepit.

One story really stands out for me. A man came in and his TV was broken. I think it was something outragoues, a 52 inch or something. His TV was still under warranty, but they didn't have any in stock. For that reason, he wouldn't recieve a new TV for two days. Just two days.

He freaked out.

"How am I supposed to go two days without a TV?" he asked Kaila.

Really sir? Two days. Some people don't have even TVs. You snaky face, probably have TVs in every single room, including the restroom.

Kaila, who remained claim the entire time, explained that was the best they could do because none were in stock at this location. Still, he was outraged and couldn't believe a business would function without a fully stocked store. Sigh. People are out of control.

"I really just wanted to tell him- CONGRATULATIONS-- You just won a FREE exclusive trip to Africa where hardly anyone has a television and the majority of people are dying from AIDS," she said. "I am so disappointed in our country and how selfish we are."

I laughed, but I couldn't agree more. When did Americans become like this? So materialistic. So selfish. So rude. So unappreciative.

I was reminded of this story today when I was shopping Victoria Secret. Before anything even happened, I did what I always do when I see someone. Predict their life. She was in high heels pushing her baby around. I bet that was comfortable. You better believe I'll be in sneakers if I'm pushing my kid around the mall. Anyway, she had her fur coat resting upon the stroller. Of course. She really could star on "The Real Desperate Housewives of Castleton."

She pulled out perfume and it wasn't in the box. She had the receipt, but the lady explained to her that she couldn't return cash back for the item because it wasn't in the original boxing.

"I would like to talk to manager!" she screamed.

"I am the manager," the cashier said. I loved it. I absolutely love that the lady was being a dick and the lady she didn't to talk to was right in front of her face.

"Oh really? You are a manager?" the desperate house wife questioned.

"Yes, mam' I am," the cashier said.

"Well, this is ridiculous. You guys are the only ones who sell this perfume. Why can't I return it!?" the desperate housewife asked again-- which the cashier had already told her the reason why she couldn't accept the item.

"Mam' we can't accept that item because its not in the original box and we can't re-sell it," she said politely and with a smile on her face. She did good. I bet that smile just get the lady off even more. Kill em' with kindness.

"Well, can't you send it back to the manufacture without a box?" fur coat housewife asked.

"No, I'm sorry we can't. And I couldn't accept it anyway because its part of our return policy to be in the proper box," the manager said.

"Well- well this is ridiculous," she screamed.

The desperate housewife threw the perfume into her purse and screamed to all of the customers in the story, "This is the LAST TIME I'll ever shop at Victoria Secret again!!!" Like we really card. I just got some gifts from my bridesmaids for $3.75 -- you better believe I'll come back.

And she marched out, huffing and puffing the entire way.

Well, that went well. I'm sure they don't want people like you coming back either, ha-ha.

In terms of the restaurant business, I've been a waitress for more than six years. I love it, but I hate dealing with rude customers who think the world revolves around them.

No, I didn't cook your food, so if you don't like how it taste, please don't take that out of my tip. If we are busy, your food will take awhile to come out. In fact, there are other people in front of you. Please be patient. Don't snap your fingers at me either. I see you starring me down like a hawk in the sky searching for a great dinner. Please keep in mind that I only make $2.13 an hour, so your tip is really how I get paid. If I give you great service, please be mindful that 20 percent is appreciated. I could write plenty of blogs about the ways I and other waitresses have been treated. Its kind of ridiculous. Also, leaving your number on a napkin doesn't mean I'll call you. In fact, its sometimes like stripping. "I don't date my customers." LOL. Other girls could be different though.

Just be mindful, patient, and appreciative- by doing so, you will have a great dining experience and retail excursion. I promise.

And who knows? You might even be surprised with a special treat or extraordinary service. One time, Justin, Kaila, and I were eating dinner in Florida and the restaurant was slammed. But we didn't complain because we understood. And we were grateful to be eating some great seafood. The waitress was so pleased with our attitude that she gave us all a slice of Key Lime pie. Yummy. A nice reward for doing what everyone should do.

Much love,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just a Face

I like to look at people, listen to them talk, and observe their interactions with other people. Then my imagination kicks in and I develop a storyboard of their life.

Justin and I will go to the mall, not to shop, but to people watch. We find a busy spot in the mall with an empty bench and grab a cup of coffee. We sit in silence, observing all the types of people traveling through the frantic mall. Young people, old people, middle-aged people, infants; they all have a story. I like to predict it.

A young couple sat in front of us on New Years Day. Just leaned over and said, "They haven't been together that long."

I smiled. The girl had her legs wrapped over his stomach. He was holding her close. They both have wide smiles and were laughing and sharing text messages. He was rubbing her hair and starring into her eyes when she talked. He wasn't look at other girls as they walked by because he had the one he wanted right beside him. I smiled again thinking about that, which is usually how all relationships are in the beginning.

"Oh yeah, I would guess less than six months," I said. "That's when you stopped acting like that."

We laughed. He said something whitty, but I forget now. I was starring at the young couple so happy and in love.

I also let my imingation run and make up stories for people's lives when I'm working at Med One. I could make millions writing stories about what people tell me and the way people act when they are sick and pissed off at the world. But the best is listening to them when they think no one is listening. Or watching them when they think no one is watching.

Despite our efforts to control annoying people who scream on their phone in the lobby, people still disclose personal information and frustations while sitting in a crowded room.

Sometimes its good news, "Little Sally didn't break her arm! Everything is great because the doctor said she can still try out for softball in two weeks!"

Other times its hard to hear, "They are sending dad to the emergency room because they think he is having a heart attack. An ambulance is on the way."

I always try to picture who they are talking to. Perhaps a mother, a father, a son, a daughther, or a friend?

But last night I wasn't prepared for the news an elderly lady told me while signing in. She actually told Jami first and then Jami told me to get her registered and back ASAP. In front of everyone. Why?

Her husband died just four hours ago. What do you even say? Everything is so fresh. For once, I just couldn't imagine what I wanted to. I wanted to change the entire situation. I wanted to write her story differently. But her eyes were red and swollen. And her tears were real. Her story was already written.

"Honey, I'm going to get you registered really fast and get you back there, okay?" I said.

"Thank you," she said with a soft voice. She gave me a faint smile a tear slide down her fragile skin.

It just makes you wonder about life. And people. We can't tell a story just by looking at a face. There is more to know. There is more to see.

Much love,

Monday, January 4, 2010

Like Mom

I believe 100% that my mom is a super hero. No one can do anything like my mom. She doesn’t have to save lives wearing a tight red and blue suit to be a hero; she just has to be herself.

I got thinking of mom when I starred at my bed yesterday morning. The blankets were thrown across my bed, bunched together like someone was resting underneath and hiding from the world. My mom makes beds better than anyone I know. I can never get the fitted sheet on correctly during my first attempt. When I finally master getting the fitted sheet on the bed, the blanket is never smooth. I remember coming home from school and I would look at my bed to tell if mom was in my room or not. She would always make the bed when she ventured into the danger zone. I think I had orange carpet, but my clothes (both clean and dirty) covered the floor entirely so I really don’t remember what color my carpet was. We had sticky “gak” stuff stuck on the ceiling. We tried to get it off by turning my baby sister’s bed vertical and trying to climb up it to the ceiling. It didn’t work and we broke her bed. I don’t know if mom knows that’s why the bed broke or if we are the ones who broke it. I think we blamed our cousin. Sorry mom. Looking back, maybe I should have listened to her or taken a free lesson on bed making 101 – she is a pro.

My mom also wraps Christmas presents the best. I really didn’t get the gene for present wrapping. I think a class of kindergartners could do better than I did. If I couldn’t figure out how to wrap it, I just crinkled the ends so it looked like a tootsie roll. People are going to tear it apart anyway, that is my thought. But mom takes the time and makes the presents look well-prepared. She rocks.

My mom used to always wear the most beautiful perfume. I have no idea what it was called, but it was in a red bottle. I would wake up in the morning for school and her scent was still fresh in the bathroom. I remember trying to climb up on the bath tub and on the counter just so I could grab the bottle. A few times I actually made it. Then, I would spray it on me. I felt just like my mom.

My mom’s voice, though often soft and hard to hear, is one of a kind. She has a way of calming me down when I am frantic. She has a way of reminding me that I am beautiful. Best of all, I believe her when she says it.

My mom has compassion for everyone and everything. She truly would give the shirt off her back to anyone of us kids. She wouldn’t even question it. Growing up, she taught me the importance of being considerate to everyone else’s feelings. Often if I complained about what someone said or did, she reminded me that maybe they were having a rough day. Surely, they didn’t mean to come off rude, mom would say. She gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and she understands the importance of forgiveness. I hope growing up I can remind myself to be compassionate and forgive people, just like mom.

Looking back, I know there are times when I was an absolute brat. I yelled at the top of my lungs (from my room because you know I didn’t have the courage to say this to her face) when she grounded me for my wrongdoings. Sorry mom. Looking back, I know she was just trying to teach me life lessons and discipline. I never thought I would ever tell her, “Thanks for grounding me, Mom! That’s the best thing you ever did.” But really, it kind of was. I learned all of my actions came with complimentary consequences. She also taught me the

In psychology courses (which I majored in for about four months), they taught approaches to personality and cognitive development. Some believe in nature and some believe in nurture. I think I lean on the nurture side, which thinks everyone is born as a blank slat and we are products of our environment. We didn’t have the biggest house on the block or the fanciest back yard, but we had love.

A house full of love is better than a house full of luxuries. I’m so glad I learned that at an early age.

Much love,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Kept My Promise

Next Monday, I will sit in a classroom with no one that I know. On top of that, I will be required to wear swim suit in front of these strangers. Deep breath. Okay, here we go.

Justin and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods today to try on swim suits. This is really one of the most tramatic days in a girl's year. We can only hope there aren't cameras in those fitting rooms. I swear a movie could be made about girls trying on swimsuits. Can you imagine all the breakdown scenes? I'm sure I would win a grammy for my perforamnce today.

I picked out three swim suits. One pieces, which I think I have worn only two of these types of swim suits in my entire life--- they aren't flattering. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to put them on. No kidding. I really couldn't fit it over my huge thighs, so I put in on my head first and then tried to pull my legs up to my head. I really looked like a circus entertainer in the room trying to tease my body into a swim suit that was too small for me. The scene was funny, I'm sure. But the fact of the matter is I was trying on a size 40. And I didn't fit. I completely broke down. I just sat there on the ledge with tears pouring down my face.

"Baby, where are you?" Justin asked.

"Here," I could barely manage to say.

He walked in and saw me cuddle up on the ledge. "How do you even put these on?" I asked.

He laughed and told me a technique. The most obvious I'm sure. I'm reallly the only person who wouldn't figure out how to put on a one piece swim suit.

I squeezed it on. The fat on my thighs was popping out. My back fat could slap Chuck Norris in the face 40 times.

"Oh," Justin said. "I get it."

He knew right then that the reason I didn't want to take the scuba diving class was because my fear of my body. Getting in a swim suit in front of complete strangers. It was embarassing, especially looking like I do.

"I love you baby,' Just said then wiped the tears off my cold cheeks. "I have an idea, I'll be right back!"

He came back with men's speedo trunks, again the tight kind. Even worse. I couldn't even pull them up past my knees. A size 36. Really, Speedo? I wear a size 32 in jeans and I couldn't wear a men's 36 or a women's 40. Wow.

So I cried. Justin gave me the sweestest look and said, "You can drop the class babe. I really understand everything now."

He is so loving and understanding. I don't know what I would do without him. Honestly.

On the way home, I kept thinking about which class I could take. Maybe a communications class. Maybe a pscyhology class. Maybe a cooking class. I didn't really know, but I knew I was going to drop the class ASAP.

I started searching for classes online and Justin came up to me.

"Wait, I have an idea," he said. "Go to"

Great. First of all, I have horrible luck with eBay purchases. And second, I was depressed and sick of his ideas. God love him, but I was just about ready to jump into traffic.

So we searched up ladies wet suits. I was embrassaed just thinking about it. I'd be the fat kid who got picked last in gym class. But he told me how two girls in his class wore them and they are really cool. But he looked over and saw my sad brown eyes, full of tears. I looked like a girl who had never smiled in her whole life, weeping with fear and sorrow.

"You have a few days to think about it," he said.

"Maybe I'll take that personality class," I said.

"No you really don't want to do that, you will hate it," Justin said. "Take something easy and fun!"

Like what, scuba diving? Yeah that worked well for me.

Then I thought of you. I thought of my readers. I thought of everyone who inspired me to keep dreaming and keep believing in my abilities. I've recieved so many e-mails and messages from people who have told me how I inspired them. Would you be inspired by my decision to not take a scuba class because I couldn't fit into a swim suit? I thought I made a committment to not let sizes and numbers rule my life. Justin reminded me of that when I was crying and then I heard him say it again in my head when I was thinking about the situation.

So, this was a test. I was supposed to be put in a situation where a number would control my decision to do something.

I got up and ran to the computer. Screw it, I'll order the 2x and be happy. I have to take this chance. I'm sick of this fear and negativity weighing my down in life.

I ordered my 2X wet suit and it will be here in 3-8 business days.

I'll post pictures. And I promise, I'll be smiling- not crying.

Much love,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lighten Up

I think now, more than ever, people are so uptight. Sorry, but I find myself wanting to tell people at least five times a day to "lighten up."

Justin and I went to a Pacer's game on Wednesday night. I had to work, but I got my shift covered. He won the tickets from a drawing at his work. We had great seats, just 19 rows up from center court.

I was having a blast with Justin. I actually kind of felt special walking down to the court instead of up where I would have sat otherwise. The people next to us knew someone Justin worked with and they were really fun. The guy actually went to high school with one of the players on the Grizzlies and knew another guy from his high school that played in NFL, who was sitting in row one.

The seats in front of us were open, until the Northface Family of 2009 walked down and sat in front of us. The "American Family" consisiting of mom, dad, one male child, and one female child. UGG boots included. Here is where the story really begins.

My fiance is funny. The guy next me to was funny. My friends were up in the nose bleed sections stalking me and asking if I enjoyed the popcorn I was shoveling in my face. The answer was yes, but of course I laughed. And guess what? My laugh is loud.

I guess the mom didn't like my loud laugh. She turned around and looked up at me and covered her ears after I laughed. I didn't see this happen. Thankfully. But the guy I just met noticed this occur. He saw her shitty face and did something that made me love him forever, even though I don't know his name. Well, I think it was Scott? Who knows? Anyway, he leaned forward and blasted a machine gun laugh so loud that Ashley Bedwell was proud. Then the little boy grabbed his ears and looked at his mom like we stole his hotdog and blood was pouring out of both ears, damaing his $200 fleece jacket.

The happy family got up and left. They left a sporting event because we were laughing loud. If someone can't be loud at a sporting event, where the heck can they be loud? People are yelling the whole time. The music at timeouts and halftime shows is loud. The drunk guy cussing at the ref was loud. But I laughed. Scott laughed. They left.

Lighten up.

I would bet that your living room has a televsion. And guess what? You can control the volume from your couch. So perhaps instead of spending $125 a piece on tickets to a loud sporting event, you should consider being a debbie downer and staying at home. Or simply get over yourself.

Let people smile. Let people laugh. Let people be themselves. As long as they aren't running around naked or causing you physical harm. Then you can leave.

Much love,