...I am not okay...

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"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." - Norman Cousins

 

I don't even know where to start. I haven't posted anything in a while because I knew this needed to be my next post but I was somewhat dreading it. The reason I started this blog is to have a creative outlet but I also want to inspire people. I hope this post touches at least one person and lets them know they aren't alone. Here goes nothing...

My whole life I have always felt different. I never wanted to play outside when I was younger. I always had my head stuck in a book....usually a book that was not age appropriate because I thought I was a grown up. As I got older my relationship with my family became rocky. I haven't spoken to my dad in many years and I have struggled with all the other members of my family. I got divorced this year and something in me snapped. I realized that I had been living a lie my whole life. I tried to portray this image of someone that had it together all the time, someone that was happy. Inside I was dying. To the outside world I seemed fine. People didn't know that I struggled with so many terrible thoughts and emotions. They didn't know that I hated the woman I saw in the mirror or that I would walk into a room and feel like everyone was judging me. I would come home every day and cry for hours. I had been doing that for years really and no one knew. I pushed nearly everyone out of my life for fear of being found out. I even pushed away my husband. For years I lashed out at him because I had so many issues I had never dealt with.  I wasn't prepared to deal with the fact that I had terrible anxiety and I couldn't fight it on my own.

In September I went to the doctor after sharing some of my problems with friends. I told my doctor that I needed help with anxiety. After years of trying to fix myself I was on the verge of giving it all up and running away to start a new life where no one knew who I was. She prescribed me medication. Yes...medication. I know for a lot of people that carries a stigma. It did for me. I was scared I would change too much or I would feel hollow. But the exact opposite happened. I felt free from all of the emotional burden I had been carrying around. I stopped crying. I stopped feeling sad and lonely. I stopped analyzing every conversation I had with other people and fearing their judgement. I have NEVER felt so good in my life. I have many things I still want to accomplish and a lot of relationships I have to continue to work on but I am making progress. That makes me happy. I almost feel like I am getting a second chance at life. I am also very lucky that I have several people in my life that have been so supportive, including people I work with. I honestly work for some of the best people I know. They have been there for me when I thought no one else was and have accepted me and guided me. I am so thankful for that. It is so important to have people in your corner that want to see you succeed no matter what. We all need that.

I wish I had done this years ago. I regret that. I wonder a lot what if I had? How different would life be if I had stopped being scared and pushing people away? Would I still be married? Would I have stayed in college the first time around? Would I have lots of friends? I can't change the past though. I can only go forward and learn to take control of the present. I live day by day. I try to be a better person than I was yesterday. I am by no means perfect but I know now that is totally okay. So yes, I am not okay but I am learning to embrace that. I hope I can touch just one human being's heart with this story. I want you to know you are NOT alone. Don't be ashamed. Take back control of your life. Trust me....you won't ever regret that decision.

xoxoxo,

Jo

Home Chef Pt. 1

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I have been wanting to start cooking more...actually just cooking period because I don't now. I have a few health issues that could be solved by taking better care of myself so I decided to make a change. I kept seeing ads for all kinds of meal delivery services. I checked out a few of the most popular ones and landed on Home Chef. I liked the price and the selection of meals. Nothing seemed too crazy and it all sounded like stuff I would enjoy eating. I signed up with a code I got off of Facebook so my first week was only about $30. For that I got two dinners (2 servings each so for me it was actually 4 dinners), a smoothie kit that was also 2 servings, and a fruit basket. One dinner was maple butter pork chops, broccoli mash, and roasted potatoes. The second dinner was grilled chicken with garlic and herb wasakaka sauce, sweet potato, and cucumber salad. The smoothie was a mango-kiwi smoothie and the fruit was 2 Fuji apples, 1 grapefruit, and 1 mango. So far I have had the smoothie kit which was pretty good. I actually messed up and forgot the mango both times so I think it could have been better had I added that. The second meal was the maple butter pork chops (pictured in my featured image). When I tell you this is the best meal I have ever cooked I am not kidding. It was so delicious and filling and, most importantly for me, gluten free. The recipe card said it would take about 30 minutes to make. It took me way longer but it has been a while since I have been in the kitchen so that might be why. There were minimal steps though and the only ingredients of my own that I had to provide were salt and pepper. I also didn't have to have any crazy kitchen utensils which I liked. So far I am giving Home Chef a 10 out of 10.

The food arrived on a Friday. You get charged the week before and you have until you are charged to edit your menu. They have about 13 meals to choose from each week which includes a different smoothie kit and the same fruit basket. They have gluten free, soy free, and vegetarian options which I love. The cost is $9.95 per serving for almost every meal. Very few are more and the smoothies and fruit are $4.95 per serving. You can get 2, 4, or 6 servings per meal. When it arrived the box was insulated with a thick pad. There were a TON of ice packs and plastic inside so everything stayed cold and fresh. I didn't like that there was so much trash after unpacking since I live in an apartment and had to take everything to the dumpster but that is really my only complaint. I have read several reviews that say the food wasn't fresh but my experience was the complete opposite. The recipe card even tells you within how many days to cook each meal so it doesn't go to waste. I will definitely be getting another order soon. I think I am only going to start out doing it once a month so I don't get overwhelmed. Luckily you can easily skip as many weeks as you like and they make it very easy with the Home Chef app. I will keep you guys posted on future meals and if I continue to be a satisfied customer. In the meantime if you want to try Home Chef out I have a link where you can get $30 off.

Until next time my lovely readers,

Jo

...maybe you can't DIY

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I decided to try a DIY project since I am usually really bad at recreating recipes or projects that other people make look so great and easy. I searched for hours for something that I thought would be easy and cute. I found a video on Facebook for sprinkle chocolate ice cream bowls from Delish.com. You essentially melt chocolate chips then blow up a balloon to a small size. You dip the balloon in the melted chocolate then in sprinkles. You're supposed to let it set in the fridge or freezer then when you pop the balloon you're left with a bowl for your ice cream. I followed the directions exactly which was frustrating because the video made it look easy and cute. It was difficult and somewhat messy. I let the chocolate harden and to my dismay when I popped the balloon I couldn't get it unstuck from the chocolate no matter how hard I tried. I kept breaking off pieces of the bowl because I was having to hold it to peel the balloon which kept ripping. I decided to try spraying the second balloon with coconut oil Pam spray to see if it would make the balloon come off easier. It still didn't work. Needless to say I was really disappointed since I wanted to have a successful easy DIY to share with you guys. I am still searching for something else to try but if you have any ideas feel to free to share them with me. Or if you have tried this particular DIY and got it to work please share your secret.

Until the next DIY fail,

Jo

You can do it yourself!

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In my previous post I told you that I would explain more about my choice to drive to Bloomington. The trip was about 14 hours each way. I can't tell you how many times someone asked me, "Why don't you just fly?" or "Who do you know there? Is it a man?" For the record I don't know anyone, man or otherwise, in all of Minnesota. I decided to pick a place where I have no ties to once again prove to myself that I can do things on my own. The drive was the best part of that. I had never driven more than 4 hours on my own. I was nervous as hell. I survived though. I proved to myself once again that I am stronger than I believe. I've struggled with my confidence pretty much my entire life but since I got divorced I promised myself that I would do something about it. I am almost 30 years old and I feel like I have missed out on so much in life because I didn't think I could do it or was too scared of what people would think of me. Now that I have what feels like a second chance at life I want to do things differently. I want to enjoy myself, I want to laugh and smile, and most importantly I want to see the world. I don't need a companion to do that. I can do it all by myself...and so can you! This is actually the second trip I have taken alone. In December I went to Los Angeles. I also didn't know a soul there. I did fly since I only had a week of vacation and didn't want to spend most of it driving but if I had more time I would have driven. It was the best trip I've ever taken. Even better than Bloomington since it was my first trip alone. I met a girl from Canada on my first day there and we did a hop on/hop off bus tour and ate at a couple of fancy restaurants for lunch and dinner. I had a great time and became friends with a total stranger. I never felt so free, confident, and accepted. I was in a big city figuring everything out on my own and nothing bad happened. In fact, the best thing happened. I came home with a renewed vigor for life. I told myself I wouldn't waste another second and that even if I never found someone to share my life with again I could still live a happy and fulfilled life. I am currently doing that. I have been single for one year....yes, completely single. I am finding myself. I am learning to love the woman I see in the mirror every day and most importantly I am slowly but surely following every single one of my dreams. This blog is one of them. I was so afraid to start writing but it is an outlet for me and I hope that I can be an inspiration for other women who have gone through similar situations.

I want to thank each and every person that reads this post or any post on my blog. I am so proud of it and love sharing bits and pieces of myself with you.

Love and light,

Jo

I have a bad case of wanderlust!

I am one of those people that gets tired of things easily. I hate having the same decor for too long, I hate wearing the same clothes too many times, and most importantly I hate being in one place for too long. Since it isn't practical to move every 3 or 4 months I focus my energy on traveling and exploring new places that aren't nearby. I recently took a trip to Bloomington, Minnesota to check out the Mall of America. I decided to drive the almost 14 hours there...I will explain why in another post later on. As far as the mall goes, it was neat to see but not some place I could visit all the time. After all, it is just a mall. The first full day there I was very overwhelmed. I had the MOA app on my phone but who wants to stare at a tiny map the whole time they are walking? I wanted to experience everything. I checked out a couple of stores and had to go back to my hotel room to change....it was so hot. I read this information before my trip but I didn't think it would be so bad. I felt gross wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The ceiling is glass and the 97 degree sun was beating down on the interior. With so many people in there moving around it just doesn't make for the most comfortable experience. The second day I made a plan. I studied the map, figured out where I wanted to go, and planned the best route. The mall is 4 floors and I believe they say each floor is just over half a mile around. With over 500 stores you can easily feel anxious not knowing where to go or which way you came from. Some stores, for example Bath and Body Works, have more than one location in the mall so you get confused. Overall it was a good experience, something I can check off of my bucket list. Would I do it again? Possibly in the future when/if I have a family. It is definitely a great place for families as there is lots to do for children of all ages.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu Mall of America. It is actually attached to the mall so it was very convenient. I never had to step foot outside if I didn't want to. There was a hallway on the second floor where you just walked right into the mall. That was the best part. The hotel was super clean and modern. I stayed in a standard room but was very pleased with it. You got to park for free, there was a refrigerator, and they provided 2 complimentary bottles of water. Most hotels don't give you water so that was nice. The hotel staff was very professional and polite. I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to visit the mall.

I don't want to make this post a novel so I will leave it at that for now. If you have any questions about the mall or hotel please don't hesitate to ask. I am happy to share more of my experience. Thanks for reading!

Don't forget to subscribe!!

XOXO,

Jo

 

Learning to move on...

So this will probably be the first of many posts regarding my life and how I have coped with the last year as far as getting separated, divorced and being friends with my ex-husband.

The first thing I have to mention is that without my job I'd probably have to be committed. I work at a car dealership. I only mention that to tell you that it is the most amazing company to work for. I honestly have people there that have guided me through the toughest period in my life. There were days where I came to work and sat in my manager's office and cried so hard I couldn't breathe. He listened, gave me great advice and believed in me more than a lot of people in my life have...way more than I believed in myself. I have been there 8 years and counting. I was only 20 years old when I started and I have made countless mistakes and thought a thousand times that maybe I wasn't cut out for it. Looking back I am glad I never gave up. I am the Business Development Manager for all four of our locations. It isn't easy. The car business is stressful. We work so hard every single day but we also have a  lot of fun doing it. Our team has grown so much in the 8 years I have been there and I am so proud when I tell people where I work.

Last quarter we started a professional development project where we had to meet with our boss to discuss our goals and how we were going to achieve them. Yesterday I met with my boss, Mike. I told him all I had accomplished in the last quarter (making new friends, graduating, reading a self help book, etc.) and what I planned to do this next quarter (apply for school to get my Master's degree, study for HTML certification, and focus on living a healthier lifestyle). He intently listened to my plans and then gave me a fist bump and told me how proud he was of me. It felt so good. I don't know that I could have that at any other job. Not many people can say that their boss is truly invested in them or that they take notice of the things you do to not just improve your work but also your life. I give thanks every day for my job and the amazing team we have leading our crew.

I think my advice to anyone that is going through separation or divorce is to throw yourself into all other aspects of your life. Give your job 100%. Find new hobbies or pick up where you left off on old ones. Read a book and get lost in the characters. Do anything and everything to stay busy but also do things that help you grow and find out who you really are. I know I lost myself the last few years due to all that I went through but my job has definitely helped me move on and focus on all the good that is left. There is so much life left for me and I look forward to growing and becoming the woman I always knew I could be.

Always hopeful,

Jo

Meet my cats!

As the name of my blog so obviously states, I have two cats. They are my children!! Lily is a Calico that I adopted from the Clarksville Humane Society just over 6 years ago. She was 2 years old then so she is 8 now. She is part feral so she is very weary of humans. It wasn't until recently that she finally started letting me snuggle with her...although she freaks out if I make any sudden movements. Lol. Calicos are super moody and particular. She is no exception.

Geno is the cat in the first picture. He is a short haired black cat. Most people are afraid of black cats because they think they are evil but Geno is the sweetest, goofiest cat around. As I type this he is chewing on the straw on my drink...guess I won't be finishing it. I adopted him from my vet's office, Oak Grove Animal Hospital, four years ago. He was just a tiny little baby then and I chose him because he was the wildest one of the bunch of kittens they had. I don't have kids but I feel like he is like a toddler. He doesn't wipe his feet when he uses the litter box, he likes to drink out of the toilet, he eats any and every kind of human food, and he has an obsession with knocking things off counters and tables. Does it sound like I am complaining? I swear I'm not. He brightens my day and always makes me laugh.

My cats have the biggest personalities and such good hearts. They comfort me any time I am down and I don't know if I would have made it through this past year without them. I am a big believer in adopting your pets since there are so many out there without a home. I have always loved cats too. I believe they know the true me and can sense B.S. from a mile away.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about the two lovely fur babies in life. If you have any questions about Oak Grove Animal Hospital (Dr. Bell is amazing!) or adopting animals don't hesitate to ask!

The Crazy Cat Lady,

Jo

I can't believe I'm admitting this...

So I started this blog just over a year ago...this is my first post. Yes, I am a procrastinator. I have told myself nearly every week since starting this blog "Tomorrow I'll write a post.", "One day I will have everything perfect and ready for the world to see.", or "I'm not sure I can do it. Maybe I'll just take the site down." I have used every excuse in the book. I started this blog to have a creative outlet since I was going to school at the time for Graphic Design. I have since graduated with my Bachelor's Degree and am excited to share my work. But now I have a completely different reason for having a blog. I don't just want to share my work. I want to share my life. Almost a year ago my marriage fell apart. I moved out of my home in July of 2015 and just recently got divorced in April. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. There were days where I didn't know if I would make it. Now I am stronger, gaining my confidence back, and making new friends. For now I just wanted to say hello! I hope to post once or twice a week starting out since I work about 50 hours a week. I want to share all kinds of content and hopefully inspire others with my work and my words. Thanks for reading and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter for updates!!

XOXO,

Jo