My story matters

Have you ever attended an event that completely changed your outlook on life? Read a book that made you really think about yourself? Heard a song that resonated with you? Last night I attended an event called Becoming Me which was hosted by one of my friends from college. It was for women and the purpose is to lift women up and they did this by having a few share their stories.

The first story was from Katie Gilligan who I’ve seen on Instagram, etc and only knew as a gorgeous woman who owns an adorable boutique. It was easy for me to assume from her Instagram posts that she is “perfect”. She always looks put together, even with two kids. Last night she shared her story and it was honestly so eye opening. It was raw, honest and messy. She shared things you wouldn’t expect to hear from someone who seems so “perfect”. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect person but it’s easy to compare yourself to others and wonder what they’re doing right that you’re not. Her story really touched me and inspired me to share my story.

I learned from the event and the speakers that even when you don’t feel important, you are. Your story matters. MY story matters. I’ve been abused. I’ve been raped. I’ve felt unloved and looked for it in the wrong places. I’ve done drugs and drank alcohol trying to numb the pain. I’ve had an eating disorder for over 12 years. I’ve hated myself, blamed myself and wished I were someone else. After my miscarriage I have changed. I’ve grown. I don’t want to be the person I’ve been, I want to be better. Sharing my story is the first step in my journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Advertisements

My little apple seed

A baby is growing inside of me. When I look down at my belly, I cry. I have never felt more blessed, excited or happy for anything in my life.

I’ve really been struggling with my fears these past few days since I found out that I was pregnant. What if something I did before I knew I was pregnant hurt the baby? What if I have a miscarriage? I know it’s common for a lot of first pregnancies. But then I remember that God is in control. He gave me this baby for a reason. He answered my prayers and blessed me with this little angel because he knew I was ready for it. Gods plan is so much bigger than I can even comprehend. If he believes that I am strong enough to grow a tiny human inside of me, then I know that I am. I cannot live my life in fear and I know the importance of being happy and excited for what is to come.

I have had nothing but pregnancy on the mind since I found out. I’ve focused on the baby inside of me every time I go to eat something, every time I feel like I’m about to throw up, and every time I smile. In 9 months, I will be holding my baby in my arms smiling at their little face and wondering how I got to be so lucky. As far as symptoms go, I haven’t really felt too much. Nausea, gas, bloating a fatigue mainly. I slept for ten hours last night, then came to work and have slept another five hours or so, on and off.

Thinking back on these last five weeks or so, I laugh at how God planned this pregnancy. I had been to Florida 3 times total. Once for a wedding, and twice because of my Neene passing away. Little did I know that I was pregnant every time I went. I felt bloated, ugly and gross each time I was there, but just blamed it on the heat of Florida and my love for food. I’d been peeing SO OFTEN but just figured I’d grown a weaker bladder. I have had NO energy, one day I slept until 4:30 pm just because I had nothing to do and I was so tired. Just this past Monday I had run some errands with my mother in law and told her how bloated I was feeling.

My period was ten days late but I figured it was the stress of work and of my Neene dying, little did I know, there was a little babe inside of me. My sister in law urged me to take a test, so I went to the store on Wednesday and purchased two boxes of two different tests and two different brands. I took the first one when I got back to work, expecting it to be negative because it was the middle of the day and I had already consumed a ton of water and sweet tea. I walked out of the bathroom and left the test on the counter, did some chores around the house and then went back. I did about thirty takes of the test.

“Is that really a positive sign?” “Am I blind or what?” No, my eyes were not deceiving me. I WAS PREGNANT!!! I called my MIL immediately, shaking uncontrollably and bawling my eyes out with happiness. I then called my mom, grandma and husband and shared the news. Everyone was thrilled! Zack was in shock at first but is now excited too. I then called my doctor and made an appointment, and to my surprise they scheduled me for an ultrasound on April 9th!

I have all four tests saved at home, and I look at them every day to relive how excited I was when I first found out. Only knowing for a few days and being this happy and excited only has me wondering what the rest of the pregnancy will be like. No amount of sickness could keep me away from being happy and excited to welcome this baby into such a beautiful family. I am already so in love with my little *five week* apple seed, and I cannot wait to see it on the monitor in a little less than two weeks! No fear.

These hands 

Where do I begin? We all know death is inevitable. Whether you’re expecting someone to die or it comes out of the blue, it is going to happen to each person regardless. It is also well known that everyone handles death differently. Some people hold all their emotions inside while others cry and babble Til the cows come home. I am a little bit of both, mainly the latter. 

To the world, Ella Kate Willingham is a 102 year old woman. She was born in 1913 and raised four of her own children, followed by numerous grand children and great grand children. Can you imagine? Living one hundred and two years. All the things she has seen and experienced? It completely blows my mind. 

To me, Ella Kate Willingham is my Neene, my great grandma. She helped raise me, took me to church, drove me to school and cooked for me. She is the strongest, most beautiful woman in the world, to me. 

I remember staying at her house on Lake Weir Avenue eating tuna sandwiches and watching Madeline. I remember one time when she drove Jordan and I to Osceola Middle School and totally ignored our yells that a speed bump was coming up so she proceeded to catch some air in her champagne colored Corolla. 

When my friend Morgan and I would hag out at her house, she would let us use whatever sewing supplies we wanted so we could make our own “fashion” pieces. She always had Reese’s cups in the fridge for snacks and oatmeal on the stove for breakfast.

Because of her, I have a high standard of food. Her recipes are out of this world. Whether it be her gooey butter cake, pound cake with fudge frosting or her crescent cookies, I could literally lick the plate clean. Her fried chicken, candied carrots and peas were phenomenal too. Oh, and we always mixed bacon into our oatmeal at her house, too.

What I admire most about Neene, is her selflessness. She lived to make others happy. She would always ask me what I wanted to eat, if I needed any money, what I wanted to do. She always put me first. There was a point in my life when I lived with her for a while and that woman never missed cooking a meal for me and making sure I was up and ready for school. She has always only wanted the best for me. 

Neene is my favorite person in this world. If you didn’t know that, then you don’t know me that well. I plan to name our first daughter after her: Kennedy Ella. When I look down at my wedding band, I am always brought back to a flood of memories of Neene because it was her wedding band originally. 

I’m crying as I type this because of how hard today has been. My mom texted me this morning and let me know that Neene wasn’t doing well. She was unresponsive and mom said it’d be best if I came home. I wasted no time packing my bags (not sure what clothes I brought with me… It was all a blur), loading the car and grabbing a dog to bring with me. I rushed through goodbye with my husband and hit the road. Through the 8 hour drive I was just a mix of emotions. One minute I’d be singing along with the radio and the next I would be bawling my eyes out. 

Every mile a memory.  

Seeing my Neene laying in that bed was absolutely heartbreaking. The strongest woman I have ever known, someone who’s lived 102 years, is lying in a bed with her eyes closed on the brink of going home to be with the Lord. My heart aches, my eyes are sore and my head is throbbing. I want what’s best for her, but I can’t help but be selfish. She’s my Neene, My great grandma and my hero. Why can’t she be that for my kids, too? Why does she have to leave me? Every time I come home she is the first person I visit. Even though the past few times she hasn’t been all there, she has always known who I am and asked me how I liked the Carolinas. 

Death is inevitable but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Being here in the same city as my Neene is definitely better than being in Charlotte, 8 hours away. I just hope my memories of her will help me through this difficult time. 



Invest in people who invest in you. 

I saw this quote on Instagram @thealisonshow and immediately fell in love. It seems that things are always delivered to you when you need them and I needed this quote. 

I have always been a million people in one body. Does that make sense? Probably not so I’ll try to explain. I can be a people pleaser and a me pleaser, independent but shy, an extrovert yet introvert… The list goes on and on. When I took the Myers Briggs personality test in college, I wasn’t surprised to find that I am not just one of the personality types. I have a little bit of everything thrown into one person.

One thing I pride myself on being is a good person. I have been a bitch, dishonest, legally wrong, sinful and hateful. I have done things I am so ashamed of and I’ve lost little pieces of myself along the way. But I have grown so unbelievably much. I look back on the things I’ve done and can only be thankful for them. They got me to where I am now, physically, mentally and emotionally. When I compare who I am now to who I was five years ago, it’s apples and oranges! Then, I was outwardly happy but inwardly depressed. I bundled all my emotions up until I couldn’t hold on to them anymore. I was boy crazy, unconfident and always trying to buy my happiness.  

I have also lost friends and disconnected with people I thought I’d be attached to my whole life. I’ve healed relationships and started fresh with others. When you look at your life in a five year span, it’s a little nerve wracking to see how much can change in what seems like a small amount of time. 

Back to the quote, it seems lately I have been in a funk about being the one to reach out to others. I get down on myself when I realize that instead of a mutual friendship where you’re both investing time in trying to plan something to do together, I have been the sole planner. This is in no way in regards to every relationship, just some. And it sucks. Why would you waste your time with people who don’t seem to care whether you’re in their lives or not? 

It ties in to all of my friendships as well, though. I have some friends whom I go days and sometimes weeks without speaking to, but I know that if I ever needed them, they’d answer in a heartbeat. We don’t need to communicate daily because we are that close. I don’t get upset if they don’t text me back right away and I don’t call them until they answer. There are friendships that mean the world to me, where we understand and respect each other unconditionally. 

If I have something I’ve been beating myself up about, I reach out to Aida. If I feel sad and miss home, I call Aly. When I need to laugh and reminisce on high school times or remember an old song, Ashley is my girl. I have some of the best friends in the world. They get me and never let me down, no matter what we’ve been through. Realizing this makes the quote a little more real. 

Invest in people who invest in you.

You shouldn’t have to work at a friendship. It shouldn’t feel like a tiresome job. Instead, it should benefit you and make you feel great. Time is so precious, why would you want to waste it on someone who doesn’t care to use their time on you?

Just some food for thought on this snowy Tuesday. 



Friendsgiving

I was randomly thinking about my relationships with people in the past and present. How they got to where they are and why some ended. Something I’ve always known, but maybe never really started doing accurately until maybe the past two years, is that communication is the most important thing in any relationship.
I used to hold my emotions in until I just couldn’t anymore. I wouldn’t tell my mom when something upset me, instead I would keep building up more and more frustrations until we had a huge fight. Mom and I fought like sisters because I couldn’t ever figure out how to communicate with her. To this day I hate that I acted so bratty towards her in the past but I can’t take it back. I can only move forward knowing what I know and attempt to react differently in the future.
Every person has a different communication style. Some people tell you how they feel with just a look. Others will tell you flat out that they’re mad at you while some will change their exclamation point to a period in a text if they’re pissed off. Subtle things that you either notice or don’t, can really affect the way a conversation is going to go.
One of the biggest things I’ve been trying to glue into my brain is the people cannot read your mind. If you’re upset, SAY SOMETHING. Don’t expect your boyfriend to get that you’re not really “just tired” but upset about something he said or did. It will get your relationship nowhere. When Zack and I started dating, his ex girlfriend started a lot of drama in our relationship. Calling, texting, cyber-bullying me, etc. Sometimes I would tell him how I felt, but others I would just mope silently and expect him to know what I was upset about. I expected him to make me feel amazing without realizing that I had to first make myself realize that I am already amazing.
Openly communicating doesn’t necessarily mean complaining about every tiny, inconsequential thing that irks you. It just means being honest when you should (well, you should always be honest obviously… But do it tastefully) and taking a step back to really think about whether or not it’s something that should be brought up.
I’ve come so far from the type of person I used to be. I no longer get my panties in a bunch over stupid things that shouldn’t bother me. I try to keep an open mind and see both sides of every situation. When I’m upset or feeling depressed, I talk about it. Nobody can read my mind but me, I can’t expect everyone to know when I need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen (or an eye to read because I rarely call anyone). I’ve realized the importance of reaching out to friends and loved ones when you’re in need.
Think about your friends and family and what you know about each of them. You’ll be able to pick out their communication style and what they need as an individual. It really is quite beautiful when you think about it.

IMG_4441

Obsessed dog mom

As most everyone who knows me knows, I am obsessed with my dogs… Since this is my second post about them, it should be a little obvious. Scout, Thatcher and Irving are more than just small-medium-large balls of fur, they are my kids, models, snuggle buddies, kissers, best friends and biggest fans. When I walk in the front door, whether I’ve been gone a day or for five minutes, they act like I’ve been gone a year.
You never know the true meaning of unconditional love until you have a dog. One minute you’re yelling at them to stop chewing your shoes and the next they’re smothering you with kisses. Watching them experience different things for the first time is relatable to experiencing them yourselves. Today, Charlotte got some “snow”. I say “snow” because it was mainly just ice. Thatcher and Irving have never seen snow and watching them this morning was just as fun for me as it was for them! I made sure to take a lot of photos.
I can’t imagine life without a dog. “Man’s best friend” my ass. They’re MY best friends. I talk to them, rely on them and take care of them, just like they do for me. When I come home from a long day at work, I look forward to their numerous kisses and cries for my attention.
Zack thinks I’m a weirdo, which I very well may be. He laughs when I ask him to take a photo of me with the babies and when I take selfies with them. People think it’s hysterical that I have an Instagram for Thatcher but love it nonetheless. Life without four-legged furry friends would be one without unconditional love, licks and happiness.
Hug your furry friends close!

IMG_4320

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Think ink.

I have always loved tattoos. I never expected to have 13 by the time I was 23, but things happen, ya know? Some of my tattoos are just for looks. They’re pretty and perfect to me. While others have an insanely deep meaning that I deemed necessary to mark permanently on my body. Almost everyone has suffered loss at some point in their lives. This post is about the two tattoos that I have that hold the most emotional meaning.

“Smile and the world smiles with you.” My grandpa Forrester used to say this all the time. When he passed away, I had a difficult time coping. I tried to write out my memories with him, the way he looked, smelled and sang. I remembered he always had a pipe in his mouth, a golf hat on and socks pulled halfway up his calves. He called cars “jalopy’s”, called Jordan and I “gal” and would wake up super early to go to Perkins for breakfast on the weekends (my cousin Elliot and I [the chubby ones] always wanted to tag along).
He was a strong man with incredible talents including but not limited to, creating amazing stained glass lamps and pictures and playing countless instruments. He was a WWII vet who established a full life with a doting wife and 8 kids (Kurt, Kent, Cliff, Tim, Elton, Lisa, Dennie and Celeste). He lived in a hand built cabin on a 10 acre piece of land across from Lake Weir Middle School and allowed us to tear it up on our 4wheelers, dirt bikes and golf carts. He liked homemade oatmeal cookies, chicken noodle soup and cranberry juice. His only concern, besides our safety, was that we were learning something and having fun. When I look at my tattoo, I picture his smiling eyes reminding me that smiles are contagious. I miss that man. Continue reading

Road trippin’ to Florida

I’m probably jinxing myself by typing this in the car. I typically get car sick trying to read/write while riding but oh well, it’s worth a shot! My husband and I are currently en route to Ocala, the “Horse Capital of the World” a.k.a my hometown. My best friends sister is getting married on Saturday, so it was the perfect opportunity to take a long weekend to see my friends and family.
Road trips have always been an exciting thing to me. I remember taking them when Jordan and I were kids with my dad to visit our Aunt, Uncle and cousins in South Carolina. The thrill of spending a week in a different state with our fun family was always so exciting. Growing up we would also take trips with our mom to see our Papa in Tennessee. We would always stop for Krispy Kreme donuts because Ocala only had Dunkin’ (and Tas-t-o’s… Drool). It was also on a trip to TN that we saw snow for the first time. Now, though, “road trips” take on a different meaning to me.
Road tripping these days means going home. Sure, I live in Charlotte with my husband and doggies, but Ocala will always be my home home. It’s where my mom is. Where my 102 year old great grandma Neene lives in a nursing home wondering when her favorite great granddaughter (me, duh!) will be by to visit. It’s where my Grandmommy spends time with my cousins and sisters missing me (Just kidding…but really). Ocala is where my 15 year old sister is growing up and going through high school without her older sister to help when mom just won’t understand. It’s where my friends are. The ones I can’t imagine not having in my life.
Ocala holds a lot of things for me. Taking a road trip there sends a mix of emotions spiraling through me. I feel excited, happy, sad, stressed… Just to name a few. I’m excited to see everyone, happy to be home, sad because I know it won’t be a long enough visit and stressed because I want to fit in as many people as possible and it isn’t always that easy.
Moving 8 hours away from Ocala has opened my eyes to a plethora of realizations. Family is so important. Not having my Grandmommy a ten minute drive away has had a huge impact on me! Not being able to take my sisters to school when my mom can’t really bothers me. Only seeing my friends faces on social media SUCKS! It’s hard when you have a full time job and responsibilities keeping you in place. We don’t always have time to see each other when we want to.
But moving has also helped me to grow as an individual. I am not the same girl who left Florida as a 21 year old with a Boston Terrier and a car full of clothes. I’ve matured in more ways than one. I’ve grown more confident in myself and my abilities. I’ve learned the importance of keeping up the relationships that mean the most to you. I’ve learned that it isn’t necessary to waste time trying to make people like you if they don’t.
I am almost 24 years old. In the last 23.9 years I have learned, grown and adapted to become who I am now. I’m proud of what I’ve done and gone through to get me to this point. I’m looking forward to where I go next. Well, after Ocala. Thanks for reading!

IMG_2756-0