Life Lately: What I’m Thankful For

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Hey, guys. It’s been a while. If you think I didn’t notice, believe me: I did. But sometimes, you can have grand plans for things — like this blog — and life will just get in the way. That’s certainly what happened on my end. I have a plethora of saved blog posts, series I planned to launch, and a schedule I had hoped to keep to.

And then, well, life just got too busy.

But you know what? That’s okay. 

It’s something I’ve had to preach to myself often during this blogging journey. I find myself frustrated that I, quite frankly, haven’t made the time to get this little platform of mine to where I’d love for it to be. But then I remember that the reason I haven’t been as diligent about setting aside time for the blog is because I’ve been so busy doing other things, things that I’ve deemed as a bigger priority. All year, I’ve been trying to focus on balancing what’s work and what’s fun, what’s necessary and what’s a bonus, what’s rewarding and what’s stressful. I never wanted to look at this blog as a job, something I had to do. So, yes, sometimes, that will mean I disappear for a month. It means I’m not quite so good at that blogging planner my best friend bought for me. It means I won’t post as much on Instagram.

That’s perfectly, 100% okay.

So anyways. Long rambling reasoning for my temporary absence aside, here I am.

It’s Sunday morning, and it’s a little chilly outside, at least for Arizona. I haven’t opened the windows yet, at least. The tree outside our apartment is finally shedding some leaves and turning a proper orange; I’m loving it. Currently, I have a pumpkin candle lit and some pumpkin creamer in my coffee. It’s finally feeling like fall.

So, naturally, I decorated for Christmas last night.

Before you all jump on me with “it’s too early!” or “Thanksgiving first!” — I just gave you all examples of how the pumpkins have decidedly not left yet. I just added some Santas and a Christmas tree to the bunch.

Needless to say, the holidays are my favorite time of year. Christmas is my number-one favorite, but Thanksgiving is a close second. Partly because I always go home. Partly because there’s stuffing and mashed potatoes. Mostly because it gives me a chance to look back and reflect on what I’m most thankful for this year.

This year, I’m thankful for the little lessons.

I’m thankful for the growing pains. It’s been a year of transition in some ways. The boy is hard at work studying for the CPA exam, and at some times, that’s been a little taxing on both of us. On top of it, there’s definitely been moments when I’ve unfairly taken my own stress out on him, whether that’s with snippy words or general disinterest. But we’ve continued to learn and grow through the more challenging seasons, and in the end, we’re learning to love each other better. I know this is a natural progression of a relationship, and I know that we are stronger for it. For that, I’m ever so thankful.

I’m thankful for distance. I won’t lie — it’s hard to have your best friend live several states away. It’s hard to not be near the majority of your family. There are times I wish I could just show up at my Grammie’s house, or call up the Shining Twin and demand a chips and salsa-fueled Friends marathon. But as I get older, I realize that there’s a level of effort that goes into maintaining relationships over distance. This is something I used to take for granted, especially when it comes to my family. Yes, family will always be there, but you’ve got to work at it like any other relationship. I like to think I’m getting better at managing the distance. Who knows if that’s true? But I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.

(And, of course, this isn’t to discount my friends & family that are here. I’m of course so thankful for the immediate family that is nearby; not everyone’s so lucky to have their parents, siblings and brand-new niece less than 30 minutes away.)

I’m thankful for stress. This sounds weird, I know. But I mean it more of this way: I’m thankful to have a job I care so much about to be so stressed about sometimes. Granted, it’s not always stressful. It’s less often stressful than it is not, really. But there are certainly times, as with anything we care about, where pressure mounts — whether that’s to hit a deadline, to prove you can do it, or just to get the job done. However, I do think that a lot of my own pressure is self-inflicted, and I know for a fact that I do it because I want to excel in this position I love so much. Ultimately, that’s a wonderful thing.

Three simple things, and three big lessons I’ve learned this year.

So while I do apologize for not being as consistent with this blog as I might ideally like to be, I don’t apologize for the reason behind it. I don’t apologize for learning to be more present when I need to be, I don’t apologize for spending more time Facetiming than doing Instagram photoshoots, I don’t apologize for setting aside my side hustle for my main one. Life is about prioritizing sometimes, and in different seasons, different things will be important.

This blog is still my outlet, and I hope to have more time to devote to it once life calms down a little. For those who are hanging in there: thank you. I’m endlessly thankful for you, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

My Secret to Valentine’s Day: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

So, here’s an unpopular opinion of mine: I used to hate Valentine’s Day. Granted, I have grown into a bit more of a fan lately. I mean, I certainly get the appeal of it, and I’d be lying if I said that my opinion hadn’t softened now that I have someone wonderful to share it with. But as a whole, I think that while the concept is nice, the entire thing has a bad tendency to be entirely over-hyped and generally a little disappointing… and that’s a problem. A day that’s meant to show someone how much you love them shouldn’t feel like so much pressure.

(I have this same feeling towards New Years. Perhaps it stemmed from the bitterness of singledom, but even as I’ve experienced my past few in a relationship, both holidays still seem to me to just be, generally, too much.)

Don’t get me wrong. Valentine’s Day is cute. It’s nice to shower the person you love with a little extra affection. And, plus, there’s a lot of chocolate involved, and we all know that I believe chocolate makes everything better.

But I don’t think it necessarily needs to be some big, huge deal. In fact, lately, I’ve started to realize that Valentine’s Day can be even better if you step away from the hype. I’m lucky enough to be with a guy who likes to keep things just as low-key as I do. Together, we’ve started to look at Valentines Day as less of a stressful requirement and more as another opportunity to say: hey, I love you.

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So, in the spirit of the holiday I once thought I hated, I’ve pulled together a few ideas if you, too, are looking to step past the idea of a stressful Hallmark holiday, but still wouldn’t mind showing that special someone that you think they’re… well… special:

For your first Valentine’s day: Craft from the heart.
There’s nothing more meaningful than something homemade, and that doesn’t mean you need to go Pinterest-crazy, either. Last year, I made my boyfriend a jar of a hundred Hershey’s kisses – so that he could have a kiss even when we weren’t together. Plus, homemade gifts take the pressure off of “perfect” — because most of the time, they’re better with a little character.

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(It should probably noted that this jar was mostly eaten by me. We’re together a lot.)

If you’ve been dating a while: Cook… for one another, or together.
There’s a reason that people romanticize cooking for your significant other. It’s sweet, and it’s simple. Whether you order yourself a special box of Hello Fresh for the night, or you can whip up something delicious and ingenious on your own (and props to you if you can!) If it’s out of your routine, it makes it all the more special.

If you just moved in together: Lean into traditions. 
This year, my guy and I aren’t going anywhere fancy. We’re going to hit up one of our favorite casual restaurants and just enjoy being together… in one of our places. I don’t know if it’s the idea of having traditions or places we consider “ours” that made me swoon at this suggestion, but I am totally looking forward to a night further emphasizing an element of our relationship. I like thinking of things as “ours,” and I feel like that falls almost directly in line with what you should look to emphasize on Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in it for the long haul: Do something different.
Regardless of if Valentine’s Day actually falls on the weekend or not, chances are, there’s a 3 day weekend pretty close to it. Take advantage of it! Get outdoors and do something you don’t normally do — ski down some mountains, go for a hike, take a weekend trip to a cozy cabin in the woods. Whatever is up your alley, sometimes a getaway can be the very best kind of celebration.

I’ve done all of these things with or for my guy as part of our Valentine’s celebrations the last two years, and they have all made me realize the sweet simplicity of celebrating love. Sure, I think you should show your sweetheart how you feel every day, and I still think that people put too much emphasis on doing it for this one day a year. But if you’re like me, and you and your person can agree to keep it calm and quiet, I bet you’ll find that there is something pretty sweet about doing something a little extra special.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.