2015 in Reflection

I wrote a reflection on my year in 2014 (2014 in Reflection) and, looking back, to see when and where I was in my life at each month in the past is a very powerful experience. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change and directions in Life can alter. This time last year I was preparing to begin a new career, was steadily becoming more infatuated with a new relationship, and the worst loss I had to cope with was that of a broken heart. 2015 brought about a whole new level of craziness that only reinstates Peonies ‘n Mint’s tagline: I am truly blessed to have loved, lost and gained so much.

While looking back at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, I have to laugh. I made a list of 15 Goals for 2015 and actually succeeded in quite a few of them throughout this year. How I was successful with each strike off the list may not have been completely planned, but it was a success nonetheless! My only “failures” were not running a timed race every month, not going Paleo for an entire month, not learning mixology, and not seeing Miranda in concert. Thankfully, these are options I can make goals for in 2016 if I choose; 2015 was not my only shot!

Overall 2015 was very eventful::

January: I began work at Heartland in a new career path of real estate. This path took me to enrolling in real estate classes and ultimately passing the state examination to receive my real estate agent license by mid-summer.

February: Referring to my goals list in 2015, I chose to continue working and volunteering with Susan G. Komen after leaving Shadowland and no longer being in the event planning business. I was asked to be head decorator at a gala called Pink Tie Ball held on Valentine’s Day where over $18,000 was earned for research and treatment of breast cancer. I also helped decorate for the Little Black Dress event at Shadowland in October 2015 and will be on the event committee for Pink Tie Ball 2016.

May: I lost four friends in 2015, and May marked the passing of the first. My best friend who has been my Harry Potter-premier partner and country concert comrade since kindergarten lost her mother unexpectedly. Jamie, whose home was like a second dwelling for me growing up, went to heaven following complications with a minor surgery. Jamie was a highly intelligent woman and one who gave me a lot of advice during my drama with X. I looked up to her fondly. And though the loss was painful enough, my heart hurt most for Granger, who is my best friend and daughter of Jamie. Every person handles grief differently, but it seemed as if Granger simply did not want to handle the grief at all. My heart still hurts for my friend as she and her family continue to struggle with the loss.

June: The second friend lost was Army. And though I might scoff at calling him a friend today, back in June that is exactly what I considered him. I never thought him and I had a future together; we were far too opposite in personality and beliefs. However, Army was someone I cared for and his family was some of the best people I have had the pleasure of meeting. The sudden and unexpected break up left me in tears for a few days, and then mad at anything male for a few months.

In retrospect, it was quite the blessing to lose Army. Not only did I come to the realization that my heart could continue to mend after another heartbreak, but I learned I could love people differently with every relationship I came in contact. I also broke out of a very gloomy and God-forsaken viewpoint after this break, something of which I can never fully thank Army for granting me the opportunity.

July: I ventured on a spontaneous road trip with Teeth in July and it ultimately ended our friendship. Though we are back on speaking terms, Teeth now lives in North Carolina and our conversations are very limited and usually spoken within group texts with the other two girls from the 2014 cruise, Saki and Toto.

August: June and July led me to the most pivotal change in 2015: my participation in House. While being disgusted with men and dealing with the after effects of a broken friendship, my life was a bit gloomy. I was questioning a lot of things and I felt as if the only way for me to break out of the darkness was to force myself into some light. And so one Tuesday evening I chose to branch out and join a Bible study group full of individuals I had never met and at a church I had never attended.

I have not looked back since.

House has become a firm foundation in many aspects of my life. Not only has it reignited my heart to be open to God, but it has provided me with some of the strongest friendships I’ve had to date.

September: Speaking of House, September is the month I attended a bonfire of a fellow “Houser”, roasted stale marshmallows, and met Wilbur. Wilbur has quickly become one of my best friends. My feelings for him grow stronger every single moment I spend with him and, at least right now, this is all I’m going to share about our relationship. I’ll keep you all updated in the future…

October: I moved in with M at the very beginning of October. We painted and pounded and were pleasantly surprised when the vintage apartment went from being “a place” to “our home.” Living on my own is not the same as going away to college and living in a dorm. It’s been an eye-opening experience, but one I am loving every minute! 2016 will be a great summer what with living only a minute from Lake Michigan and the beach, and living right downtown has been perfect with remaining active in the community and keeping up with friends.

November: The last loss of 2015 and one that continues to haunt me in my dreams sometimes: Saki’s cousin and a friend of mine, Brandi, lost her life tragically to Lake Michigan after being washed off a pier. Brandi was a strong supporter of the Right for Life, which her and I worked together with during college. Her loss hit a spot deep inside me; she was only 24 years old at her passing. It’s incredible how much losing someone can hurt, but death of a young friend is even more painful. I’m still working out why God decided to take her when He did, but I believe it was for the best reasons. I am proud to have called Brandi a friend, and I am happy to know I will see her sometime in the future.

December: December has been wonderfully uneventful thus far. There has been quite a bit of holiday joy: work holiday parties, Christmas light viewings with Wilbur, enjoying the Star Wars VII premier, gift shopping with friends, small game nights to enjoy Christmas movies and treats. I hosted a Christmas party for House on the 11th which was a hit. I made all the food myself and coordinated a White Elephant Gift Exchange — all of which I am happy to report was a success. I am enjoying the lead up to Christmas with those closest in my life, and I wouldn’t want things to be any different than they are right now.

As for Firsts in 2015, I had several:

  • First career shift
  • First full year with no school or homework
  • First time dating someone with no religious affiliation
  • First experience with the pain of death in my life
  • First venture away from my home church
  • First time joining a group I had no connection with (House)
  • First consideration of switching my church membership
  • First Ultimate team weekly activity
  • First trivia team weekly activity
  • First spin class
  • First time going to a movie alone
  • First friendship sparked via the blogosphere (Hillary)
  • First spontaneous road trip

Life is good and I am happy.

Next up for the end of 2015: Christmas Day celebrations, New Years Party, MSU taking on Alabama, and receiving a little Christmas bonus from work.

What I’m looking forward to in 2016: family vacation to Disney, new goals and aspirations, three weddings of some very close friends, lazy summer beach days, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and everything else the New Year brings to me life!

Reminiscing on Love Lost

You guys know this story well enough from me: breaking up sucks. I never much thought about how much it would hurt while I was in my relationship with X, but now I know. It is even worse when you’re still in love with the person and you realize you need to break up. It’s not always because you’re not in love anymore, you know?

A dear friend of mine is on the verge of sparking her relationship again with her ex (for the ninetieth time), and though many can see how perfectly wrong he is for her, I also understand where her mind is right now. I’ve been there. I considered getting back with X, remember back to some of my May posts? For some reason though I saw the errors of my thinking before I acted, thought better of why we broke up to begin with, and decided to look towards my future as a strong individual rather than depend on someone else for my happiness. I moved on. Now I am the most independent I have ever been, I love my life entirely, and I am surrounded by fantastic people who tell me my worth daily. It  amazes me to look back and reminisce on the love I’ve lost and the loves I’ve gained…

It started with me dating the “perfect” guy. He was kind, sweet, funny, and charming — essentially everything I could have wanted in a guy. Let’s not forget to mention he was my best friend and my most loyal confidant going on four years. We meshed so well.

The first couple of years we were constantly laughing, cuddling, watching fast car movies, and making Pinterest dinners together. We had a total blast. His imperfections were endearing to me and I was completely and utterly in love.

I spent a lot of my free time from schoolwork planning our future together, both in my head and out in the open. I mused at wedding plans and where we might live post-graduation. I thought about the future more than I lived in the present. I played the love-smitten girl well.

It wasn’t until we became engaged that I began to see our relationship in an entirely different light. Have you heard that expression that women marry a man thinking he will change and men marry a woman hoping she won’t? In retrospect, I think this is where my mind was. I found myself trying harder and harder to connect with X on our differing views. I started to become weary. I started to become cynical. I kept thinking that it was just a hiccup in our relationship due to “wedding stress.”

Until one day, it hit me: this was not just a hiccup. X and I were different. Too different. We wanted different things in life, we held different expectations of how life should be. As this revelation overcame me, I knew in my heart that we had always been different. The faults in him I once found endearing now ate at me. The way he allowed his mother to treat me, his constant pressure to move the wedding date later, his decision of no longer wanting children, his lack of interest in applying himself at school or work, his obsession with pornography… these had created a distance between us, a chasm that was widening at an alarmingly rapid rate.

In the same way, I could tell I was getting on his nerves as well. The job I took following graduation did not meet his standards of pay, I was becoming more extroverted as I aged, I wanted to step up our faith values, and I openly criticized his mother — I mean, for good reason but I do realize now that I was putting down his mom, the main women in his life since he was born. It didn’t seem I was a good match for X.

I was exhausted from attempting to reach over this gap in our relationship with no bridge to help. I tried to toss him a rope, but there was no one on the other side of the chasm to catch it. I was no longer growing in this relationship, and neither was he.

Then one day I thought, I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.

That thought made my heart sick. Here I was with a beautiful ring on my finger telling the whole world how happily in love I am and strutting around with more wedding Pins than should be allowed on a profile, but I knew I couldn’t move forward.

It wasn’t fair to either of us.

But I was so torn.

X was still, with all his faults, my best friend of over eight years. I cared deeply about him. I loved him. I bounced around a lot of feelings and thoughts: Maybe we can get through this. Maybe he will change. I can’t live without him in my life. This is because the hardest part of breaking up with someone you love is convincing yourself that you need to do it in the first place. I knew in my heart this decision was for the best, but I couldn’t face the looming levels of pain I expected to consumer me if went ahead and called off the relationship.

To this day, our break up is not one of which I am proud. I wish I could have handled it a million different ways. With months worth of bottled anger at my expectations not being met, though, it’s no wonder I handled things the way I did. (Word of advice: communicate. Always. Don’t save your words for an end-all fight.)

In the aftermath, I felt like a criminal for my behavior. Not only did I feel shame, but I lost a piece of myself in that break up. I lost my closest companion, my Good Morning and Good Night texts, all my crazy inside jokes. I lost four years of my life and what I thought was my entire future. I was intensely lonely and distraught. A song on the radio, his favorite drink being ordered by your bar neighbor, or a simple note hidden away in a book suddenly brought back all those memories of the good times.

I felt crippling doubt as well. For months following I would have the urge to text X about my day, to share a happy moment or ask for advice on a tough subject. It was like reliving the break up over and over again. There were weeks I couldn’t eat, months I couldn’t sleep.

And then… I realized that the way I felt was totally normal. Sometimes the right decision is the most difficult. Neither side was willing to compromise our ideals for the future meaning we truly were not meant to be. The reality versus our expectations was crushingly plain. I couldn’t fix my feelings, but I had already fixed what I could by ending my broken relationship. I know now that it was the best decision for myself, and I can move forward knowing I had a wonderful first love which opened my eyes to relationships in my future. I now know what I want and what I deserve.

And I have to hope X will be as happy and understanding of what our time together meant someday as well.

Breaking up with someone you love is terrible, and it’s scary. It is necessary, however, to be able to move into a happier stage of your life. I want everyone, especially my friend, to know this: it is easy to think you’re the only one going through a rough break up when you’re heartbroken, but you are not alone! So let your heart mourn, but have faith that better things are right around the corner.

Clear Head > Lonely Heart

Love and hope are powerful emotions, as is a fear of being alone. Have you ever been in this type of situation? You know, the kind where your heart aches to be with someone, so you just choose the closest person without even stopping to think why this person deserves to be in your life. There is a strong temptation to allow for more heartache by entering the wrong relationship simply because the heart is crying out. The truth is, though, you’re smarter than your loneliness. If you are finding yourself in a situation like this, it’s time to tell your heart to “shut up” and let you think. Thinking is going to allow you to analyze what is right and wrong, and hopefully act in the best manner.

This post is dedicated to one of my best friends, we will call her Saki, who is going through a similar situation. She broke up with her boyfriend of five years a few months ago and she’s questioning her position in life now. There are days when she wants to give up and go back to her ex, and then there are days where she’s willing to move on and goes out on dates. She’s confused. She has heart ache. She doesn’t know what is the right path for her.

Saki and I had a conversation about this topic recently and it brought me back to a few relationships I had put myself into in the past. I think we’ve all been there — those relationships where we know deep down that something isn’t right but we continue with the facade simply because 1. It is what we know, 2. It is what’s most convenient, or 3. It is what is preventing us from being completely on our own.

A few months ago, I went through the whole dating thing. (Most of you know this, and most of you know I’ve pretty much decided to quit looking, focus on work, and let the future happen when it’s meant to happen..) However, during the spring and beginning of summer, I found myself in a few different dating relationships. And as each new person entered my life, my ideals of love and a blossoming relationship seemed to dwindle every day. The dating game is difficult. You begin building this relationship with someone and it breaks, so you begin with someone new and it breaks too. With each new stumble your heart grows a little bit tighter. Trust becomes harder to earn, the will for commitment decreases, and love becomes a distant dream. Everyone needs someone sometimes. However, when you go through a number of someones trying to find the right one, sometimes the appeal gets lost and you JUST. WANT. TO. BE. DONE.

As this appeal is lost, the heart grows lonelier. With each new failure it almost seems as if the heart beats faster and louder. There are so many other factors that magnify the cry of your heart also.

One big factor is the media, such as seeing your friends post cute little statuses about how in love they are and engagement announcements and baby photos and etc… I mean, really? I’ve heard multiple people in my life ask, “Why is my love life nonexistent when that girl from high school is already happily married?! What’s wrong with me?”

Another factor is reputation. Dating numerous people makes others talk. Go on too many first dates, you’re too picky. Meet people in a bar or club, you’re a floozy. Date a number of people at once, you’re a player. It doesn’t matter if everything you do on your dates is innocent, people always think the worst. No one wants to be thought of critically, so clinging to the first person you begin dating who isn’t a psycho might seem ideal.

Personally, I don’t like the dating life. I’m all for meeting new people and socializing, but I like commitment. I like having one person to always be able to confide in, and spend time with, and just enjoy knowing they’re mine. I like being in a relationship, and I miss that component in my life. That ache in my heart ended up hindering me more, though. I began dating someone who was emotionally unavailable. Not only did I enter into such a relation, but I allowed that person to drag me along for three months with no commitment plans. That’s not what I wanted in my life! I didn’t want to go week by week wondering if the guy was back with his ex-girlfriend, or feeling ridiculous because I hadn’t heard from him in days. I wanted someone who wanted me. Wanted me for me. Yet I clung to the first person I saw a glimmer of hope in and wasted the beginning of my summer!

As for Saki and her ex, she’s gone the entire summer bouncing back and forth with him. She knows he’s not good for her, and that they’re not meant to be, but it’s what she knows. She is questioning whether it is better to be with someone wrong for her rather than be by herself for awhile. Is trying to force love better than being lonely? This is a question she asks herself daily.

Yes, being lonely sucks.

But being lonely takes too much time to deal with too.

I finally figured this out when my “summer fling” broke up (I say that loosely because he never wanted to commit so I don’t really classify it as breaking up) with me for the fourth time for no reason at all. That is when I stopped listening to my lonely heart and began thinking with a clear mind.

Yes, I was lonely, but did spending time with this person actually end that loneliness? No. Actually in all honesty, he made me feel lonelier. I knew what I wanted in a relationship and I knew I wasn’t going to have that commitment from this person, but I still chose to hold on. Knowing this caused me to be annoyed and cast blame on myself. I singled myself out; I isolated myself in my own mind. I don’t know if I’ve ever been lonelier.

So I started thinking with my head, rather than my heart. And guess what? I’m pretty smart. I realized the type of potential I have for a relationship. I rediscovered how caring and loving and patient and pleasing I wanted to be to someone else, and how I wanted those things in return. I concluded I deserved more.

We all deserve to be in a relationship with someone who prioritizes our needs and desires amongst their own. Relationships are meant to be a partnering of two people. You give and you take. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s those relationships where the couple can work through disagreements and come out on top that actually work.

You know what you want in a relationship. If you don’t, figure it out before you try to enter into one. The heart can be a great judge sometimes, but it’s not always the most rational — especially when it comes to a lonely heart. Look at the healthy relationships around you and pinpoint what makes them successful. Look at your past, and decide what worked for you and what didn’t. This is something I’ve been doing for awhile now and I’m truly happy with my life at the moment. I’ve quieted my lonely heart by focusing on the positive friendships and family relations in my life, I’m continuing to bring my all to both my jobs, and I’m not worrying where my “soul mate” is or what he’s doing or why he’s not presently in my life.

So that’s my advice, guys: Think with your mind for awhile and make a clear approach to the type of successful love life you want to have. And most importantly, don’t settle for anything less.