Returned

It all began on December 27th, 2018, and as of January 16, 2019, the traumatic experience of having my car stolen by gunpoint to getting my car back has been complete. Minus the lingering mental trauma, that is.

I got a call from my insurance adjuster early in the day informing me that my car was finally going to be released from impound that day. The detective and whomever processes vehicles for the police department were there and the processing had begun. What they actually did, (dusting for prints maybe) I don’t know.

After I received the call; however, I found myself growing even more anxious as the day rolled on. What was the inside of my car going to look like? Is it damaged? Did they leave any of my stuff? Are they somehow tracking my car? I just didn’t know.

Steve had to work both of his jobs that day so at 9:15pm we drove to the impound lot. One thing that we found out that bothered me was that they actually found my car on the 28th, less than a day after it was stolen. They didn’t inform me until the 2nd of January. Ultimately, I’m happy that my car was found, but if I could have been saved almost a week of stress on top of everything else, yeah… that would have been nice.

I signed all of the paper work, and thankfully as promised, the $1400 worth of charges were waved and we ended up not paying a dime.

I rode in a golf cart with the impound rep and Steve waited for me outside of the lot. It was night and the clouds were low. It was eerily quiet and as soon as my car was in view, all of the panic from the night came rushing back.

I walked up to the driver side and ran my fingers over the impound sticker on my windshield. I wondered how long it would take the stickiness to go away. I looked inside my vehicle. The door were unlocked. There was a surprising amount of things in view that weren’t my own.

They took all of the contents of my glove box which included everything except for the title (I keep that bad boy at home). They took all of the CD’s I’ve purchased in the past five or seven years. It was mostly Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Adele, and Sarah Bareilles. They took an emergency roadside kit that I’m pretty sure was only $20. They also took Steve’s gym bag.

What they left of mine: car charger, generic mio, Pizza hut supplies, jumper cables, and 2 umbrellas.

What they left that I can only assume they stole from others: Longboard skateboard, ihome charger, random blue ipod-esque charger, blue FANTA in a black garbage bag, glittery female head band, gold sequenced handbag with brand new make up in it, first aid kit, and a really cool national geographic messenger bag.

We bagged up everything that wasn’t ours and left it at the impound lot for the detective.

Overall, I think we really lucked out. One of the biggest blessings was that when they left our car, the left the keys in it. Because the police took 20 days to process it, all of our fees were waved. This was my first claim against my car insurance. They paid for my rental. I hardly used it and only had to put $15 in the gas tank the entire time we had it.

The big question is: Now that I have my car back, am I going to go back to working for Pizza Hut. The short answer is no; however, I will be working daytime hours only on Super Bowl Sunday to help out. I do miss my boss and my coworkers. It will be nice seeing them. We will see how my nerves handle things. In a few weeks I’ll have 20 hours of OT a week and that will more than make up for my work at the pizza place.

I am thankful that our car has been returned virtually undamaged. I know that with some times my emotions will settle into normalcy. Now is the time to continue moving forward. I will not live in fear. I will not let a bad situation ruin my life.

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From Mozart To A Muppet

Have you ever seen the meme’s that show ‘What I think I look at doing this activity,’ ‘What I really look like doing this activity’? Good. That is what today’s post is all about, and it’s not pretty.

As you know, I wanted to learn a musical instrument this year. I chose piano for several reasons.

1) Guitars cramp my hands.

2) There’s a nice keyboard in the loft of where I’m living.

3) My roommate is giving me free lessons.

I had my first lesson last Sunday. I knew a little more than nothing, and was proud of myself for picking up some of the basics. I learned the C-Scale and was able to do it with both my left and right hand and together. I could do it before; however, my finger positioning was incorrect. That readjustment took some time, but I eventually got it. I was so proud. Not only did I think I mastered the first ditty, I got adventurous and tried to learn the second song on my own too. I practiced every single day last week. I had this piano thing in the bag.

Mozart

I was so confident at how good I was, I recorded myself playing one of the song and sent it to no fewer than four people. I didn’t truly think I was going to be the next Mozart, but I was convinced that this was going to be EASY like Sunday morning.

I had my second lesson earlier today. As I was walking up to the piano, I might have been strutting a little bit. I was oozing confidence. I played what I had learned last week with gusto. And my roommate’s first question was “So, how do you think you did there?” And my confidence fizzled out like helium from a balloon.

Well, it was time to get real. I truly thought I was doing going. (Not doing bad is not the same as doing good in case you wanted to know.) After being slapped with the humble stick, I thought. I knew deep down what the answer was—my timing. I was consistently ahead of the beat. I also would take my time during parts I wasn’t quite sure on, and sped through the stuff I had down pact.

We did some work with a metronome (first spelling: metro-gnome). I’m starting to understand (a tiny bit) what I need to do to improve. Fixing this now, in the beginning of my studies; however, will help me down the road, and that is important. I want to practice playing music, not practice problems.

We worked on some chords. There was a name for them, major triads? (maybe… I was listening, I swear!) This week I’m to work on the beginning parts of Wild Thing by The Troggs and at my request, the chords for New Year’s Day by Taylor Swift.

I tried my best to not let my eyes gloss over at some of the terminology. It is only week two after all, and I need to give myself a little grace in the learning process.

By the end of the session, I felt more like a Muppet than Mozart. Steve did mention that Animal was a bad ass, so I guess I have that going for me. (It’s irrelevant that Animal was the one playing the drums!) So now, I’m going to practice like no one else. It’s the only way I will improve. Mozart, here I come!

Can’t Stop Me

I’ve got to tell you friends, 2019 has been the best yet. Sure, my car is still sitting at the Metro Impound Lot waiting to be processed, but the initial police report is stating that it is undamaged. I am hopeful that I will hear back this coming week with a more solid time frame of release. As soon as we get the car back, my student loan is going to take a large hit (the total will be BELOW $30,000!) We are in the home stretch, and paying debt has never felt so good or been so motivating.

I was leery going into a living situation that involved a roommate, but I think Steve and I both agree that it has truly been a blessing. We have a nice sized bedroom with a perfect alcove that fits both my work and personal computers that I have simplistically decorated with twinkle lights. There are also books everywhere, which means it is perfect. Double vanity, Jacuzzi tub, and 10 foot walk in closet. We share the communal living spaces and the cleaning responsibilities. I take care of his dog while he is at work in exchange for piano lessons.

If you’ll remember way back to the beginning of this month, one of my goals for the year was to learn piano. I had my first lesson last Sunday and I will have my next tomorrow. I have also managed to practice for at least 30 minutes every day. I have only really been working on the C-Scale and a simple tune, but I am getting close to perfecting the next song in my piano book, because I am an over achiever.

For a moment I let doubt creep in, telling myself I’m too old to learn an instrument. Well, that’s a load of crap. Will it take me longer than if I started as a kid? Yeah, most definitely; however, that just means that I need to work a little harder, and over the years, my dedication to what I believe in shows in my work.

That was just one goal on my list. From yesterday’s post, I am now up to six books read this year thus far and passionately on the right path there. But what about my other goals?

This afternoon, I got in touch with Molly Margaret from https://esquescript.com and signed up for a Brush Lettering class one Saturday in February! There is still room if anyone in the Nashville area wants to learn a dying art (all supplies are included for the brush lettering class!). I took one after school calligraphy class when I was in elementary school and I am so excited to finally get back to this.

Also, on Monday 07 January 2019 I transferred out of the department I worked in for more than four years and took up another job within my company. It is nothing like what I know, and my first week of training has been overwhelming.

When I first started with this company I thought that they had made a mistake hiring me. Nothing made sense and I was filled with dread. I didn’t know what to do. It didn’t take long for those feelings to come back as I finished up my week one training.

Granted, week one is general new hire orientation giving you a brief overview of the company and an idea about what your job entails. However, it doesn’t go into depth as to my day to day job. That training starts next week. I had to talk myself down out of a brief panic. I took some time to do some deep breathing and chose to let the stress and worry go.

The energy from the new team is really great. I love my managers involvement. She is so very supportive and wants to see everyone succeed. She knows that I eventually want to get into coding, and she is already recommending me free classes I can take within the company and has guided me down the best path of how to obtain my certificate. Having a leader that wants to mentor you and see you succeed is a new change for me and I am very thankful for it. I want to make her proud.

Mentor and related words pinned on cork board.

With the projections of paying off debt this year, finally putting money toward our retirement, and saving up for (if not going) England this year. My relationship with my husband has never been stronger. We are unstoppable when we are together. I love sharing this life adventure with him more than anything. I love you, Stevie.

I Like Big Books, I Cannot Lie

In 2018, I participated in the Good Reads reading challenge. It was my aim to read two books a month every month and by New Years Eve 2018, I would have read 24 books. As some of you know, last year I crushed that goal and ended up finishing the year at 65 books read.

I was really strong in the beginning of the year and then from September through November, I did not read a single book. There was a lot going on in our lives during those months. We were both working two jobs steadily, and we were faced with decluttering our lives and moving in November.

I made a huge push for the final couple weeks of December and got my momentum back.

I spent some time discussing it with friends and contemplating on whether or not I wanted to do a reading challenge for 2019. It did not take me long to decide that the answer was an absolute yes. Trying to pinpoint where I wanted to place my goal this year was a little more difficult.

With a fairly long inner monologue, I settled upon 52 books for the Good Reads 2019 reading challenge; however, I have a not so secret goal of reaching 100 books read this year.

Why?

1) Because I want to challenge myself. I never want to get too comfortable. I want to push myself to always improve.

2) But why 100?! The truth, is that I told myself years ago that I was going to do the 100 book challenge in a year and then stopped reading after 24 books. I went on to not read a single book for several years because I saw myself as a failure. How silly is that! How many people even read 24 books in a year? 10? 5? Yes, I failed the challenge, but no, I am not a failure.

3) So, with more confidence than ever this year, I’m going for that 100 mark. And I am pretty damn excited. I may not make it… but what if I do? That excites me.

The road so far…

We are now ten days into the new year, and I can happily report that I have already completed five novels and on top of that, I am part way through another five. Let’s do a quick review:

Read Books:

1) Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas. This was the final novel in the Hathaway series (5 books total) set in England. This novel focused on the youngest of the siblings, Beatrix. After allowing the book to settle in my mind, I think her book was my favorite. She was the most vibrant of the siblings with her love of animals and all things a proper lady shouldn’t like (or at least not discuss publicly). From innocence to deception, this book goes to show that everyone deserves love, and weird girls are more fun than what society produces.

2-4) The first three novels of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. These were all light reads, full of mystery and humor. I spent the first many years of my life in New Jersey, and in an odd sort of way it felt like home.

5) The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. This is the first book that Alice and I read for our 2019 Badassery Book Club (BBC for short), and it was also my first Slaughter book. I had a hard time putting this book down. I found Slaughter’s method of building up this mystery and then dropping off to another character for a quarter of the book both frustrating and brilliant. Her work is dark, and brutal, but memorizing at the same time. I will definitely read more of her catalog in the future.

Currently Reading:

1) I’m listening to the audio book for Alice Feeney’s novel Sometimes I Lie. I’m about 65% of the way through, and I like it well enough. I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out the big mystery (which I’m not sure is very mysterious) so we shall see how it concludes. I do enjoy the time jumps between: then, now, and before.

2) Janet Evanovich’s 4th Stephanie Plum novel. I could use a little more Grandma Mazur; however, I like the bounty search, Lula, and the predicaments that Stephanie gets herself into.

3) Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I am reading this book in 30 minute increments when I wake up in the morning several days a week. I’m about 50 pages in, and as you can tell from my previous posts, I’m definitely getting a lot out of this book. I want to always continue to improve myself, and part of the way I do that, is to really get to know myself. This book is helping.

4) England 8th edition by Rick Steves. If you don’t know already, my husband and I are going to England either late this year or early next year and I want to read about all of the places to see and what to do so that I can plan our dream vacation. This is the other book I read a little bit before work a few times a week on days I don’t read Robbins stuff. Yes, these two books will take me at least 2 months to read, but I am enjoying them both tremendously.

5) Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Some say you save the best for last. This 912 page book came recommended by my BBC partner in crime Alice, and I am devouring my first true TOR fantasy novel. After I got through the first 60 or so pages, I’ve really struggled to put it down. To say I’m blown away isn’t saying nearly enough.

I have several books in the wings just waiting to be read, and I have never been this excited to read in my life. Trying to balance reading with walking, rowing (machine, not actually on a boat), and learning piano has been a fun challenge.


What are your reading goals this year? What was the best book you read last year? Any recommendations?

Happy Reading!

What’s Your Reason?

Reflections on the beginning of chapter three of Awaken The Giant Within.

“Human beings are not random creatures; everything we do, we do for a reason.” – Tony Robbins

What is my reasoning for what I do and who I am?

I have always struggled at figuring out why I wanted something, or why I wanted to do something. My typical answer was “I just do.” Sure, it’s not very elaborate, more like the queen of being vague.

It took me a long time to figure this out, but I wouldn’t set standards for myself, because if I didn’t set any standards or goals for myself, then I wouldn’t have to worry about the disappointment, I wouldn’t have to feel guilt. I was taking the easy way out. I also wasn’t living to my fullest. For far to many years I told myself that just existing in this world was enough. Just existing is not enough.

Robbins says on page 53, “Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.” I was living my life one sided. I avoided pain by numbing. I ate my emotions (the good and the bad) for decades. I spent more time playing computer games than sleeping or working for more than a decade. I let life move on without me so I could avoid the trauma from my childhood. I dug a proverbial hole so deep I had given myself no hope at climbing out of it.

I allowed the weight of my debt (mostly student loans) to consume most happiness in my life. I never felt as though I deserved to travel. My debt was suffocating.

It is easy to talk about this now because my past is no long an open wound. You cannot talk about these thing when you’re bleeding out. My past pains and choices are a part of me, but they are finally scars. I’ve been able to move on over the past couple of years.

When you try to change yourself, whether it be your person, environment, or situation, it is hard. I knew I wanted to change, but every time I tried, I was met with frustration and overwhelming doubt. I knew I wanted to change, but I couldn’t bring myself into action to change because the wound was still too fresh. I just couldn’t get myself to do it.

Robbins pinpointed where I was faltering: “There is one elementary reason: they keep trying to change their behavior, which is the effect, instead of dealing with the cause behind it.” I’m not going to lie, I was also procrastinating. I knew I should change (needed to change), because at some level, I believed that taking action in the moment was going to be more painful than just pulling it off (Robbins, 53).

That being said, I saw a therapist, I stopped (mostly) with self-hatred, and started setting standards for myself. Almost immediately I started seeing a change. I chose to take control of my life instead of allowing society to dictate what makes a woman beautiful, or smart, or funny. In May of 2018, I read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and my husband and I started turning our finances around. We took control of our financial future and are currently control our money instead of letting our money control us. And guess what? In less than six months, we will be debt free. I don’t know a lot of people that can say that.

“A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.” – Seneca

So I’m not going to lie, I’m a worrier. I overthink, over-analyze, and over-plan about everything. As I continue to take control of more aspects of my life, I feel less anxious. I almost never (I cannot say never her) stress about money anymore, and it is a glorious feeling.

There are so many more aspects in my life that can be improved; however, my husband and I have created a very solid foundation for ourselves and I have found that it keeps getting easier to not only set goals, but accomplishing them. Why? Because I have powerful reason’s why.

Financial freedom.

Retirement.

Travel (England or Bust!).

Adoption.

Owning a home.

And the list goes ever on and on…

Seeing Through The Dark: Part Three

I took a few steps back into the driveway of my last delivery. My body began to shake uncontrollably and I began to sob…

I went back to the house of the strangers.

I banged on their door.

I counted to thirty, because that seemed like a respectable amount of time.

I knocked again.

Nothing.

I put my hands in my hoodie pocket, and my fingers wrapped around my phone. They had only asked for my keys and my money. I still had my phone.

With unsteady hands I called my husband. He was on his way.

I tried the door again, the woman finally answered. To the best of my ability, through endless tears I told her what happened and she ushered me into her house. The kindness of strangers is real. I asked for a glass of water. She brought me soda. Her nearly deaf husband kept offering me pizza.

Unsure of what to do next, I called my boss and told him what happened. He told me to call the police.

I googled the number for the non-emergent police. I wasn’t physically injured so I didn’t feel as though 911 was necessary. I got an automated system. They gave me a number to call. Memorizing that, while shaking, crying, and people trying to understand what happened, was a small miracle.

A woman answered.

I told her the story. She thought my car was just stolen. I told her about the men and the guns. Her voice quickened and asked me a different set of questions. She wouldn’t let me get off the phone. They had sent officers to my location.

There were two of them. I don’t remember their names. Tall, close to scalp haircuts. At least one of them had a redish tint to his mustache. They were nice enough. They were telling me I was fine like it was no big deal. I think they were trying to keep me calm and levelheaded, but it kind of annoyed me.

Once they were finished asking me the same questions as the woman on the phone, they told me a detective was on his way out and we needed to wait fifteen minutes for him. His name was Lukas. He was very thin and young. In his 20’s for sure. Can you be a detective in your 20’s? I guess so.

He gave me paperwork about identity theft and his card. We were free to go. Steve guided me to our truck, and we drove back to the store. We were still on the clock. I retold the story to my manager and the other drivers around me. We cashed out for the night and then left.

Almost a week later, on January 2, 2019, I got a phone call from Detective Haslip. The good news is that they found my car. Whomever took it left it around 11th Avenue South here in Nashville. The car was unlocked and the keys were inside. The detective told me that it was brought in undamaged. Small miracles.

He told me that they needed to process my vehicle for prints and that they would wave the storage fees with the car being held (that was nice of them), and that all I would need to pay for is the towing fee. He quoted me $65-$75, my insurance company believes that it will be more.

Tomorrow it will be a week since I received that call, and I still have not received my car back. My insurance representative for my claim called the impound lot… there is no record of my car. I haven’t been able to get a hold of the detective since. I will try again tomorrow at the one week mark. Hopefully I will get some answers.

Yesterday, I started a new position within my current company. It’s a virtual position, so thankfully a car is not a necessity. My new manager is amazing. I told her everything that has been happening and she was able to authorize 20 hours of overtime a week for me; which means I will be making more than what I was making with my regular job and Pizza Hut before, and I only have to do one job!

The downsides: I don’t get to see my husband as often. We were delivering pizzas on the same nights so we could see each other in passing. I actually really liked the people that I was working with.

Why the extra jobs? We’re paying off our debt lightning fast! If you’ve read some of my past posts, you know that England is in my future.

This experience has taught me many lessons and has made me a stronger person. I knew from the moment I saw the gun that I was done delivering pizzas. I want kids in a couple years. I need to be alive for this.

I won’t lie to you, there was some serious anxiety that came in the following week. I struggled with the dark, being outside at all, and more especially, when vehicles would slow down and pass me on the road if I was out walking my dog. I am still struggling. I am very observant of my environment. I am getting better.

Let me make this last statement crystal clear:

Yes, I was a victim of armed robbery, but…

Experiencing Evil: Part Two

Being who I am, my first thought was, “I bet they are lost and need directions. I sure hope I can help as I’m not super familiar with the area.” My second thought was: “…well fuck.”

The street light was flickering. The rain and wind had completely stopped. It was cool but not chilly out. I placed my hand on the trunk of my car to steady myself.

Three doors of the dark sedan opened in quick succession. Three black men in their late twenties exited the vehicle. Their height ranged from 5’9-6’1. They weren’t that much taller than me. All three work dark wash jeans, a black hoodie and all three were carrying guns. I am not particularly for or against guns, but I can honestly say I’ve only been around them twice in controlled circumstances. I moved my hand off of my trunk and stood as still as I could.

The world around me silenced, it was deafening, and strangely serene at the same time. The driver was the only one of the three that approached me, and the only one that spoke.

“Give me your keys. Give me your money.”

I look at his face. His eyes are dead, blank. He was looking directly at me and I’m not sure he saw me at all. There was no jittering, no rage, nothing. And that terrified me.

“Give me your keys. Give me your money.” he repeated.

The man from the shotgun position had moved into the driver seat. He was taping his hand on the steering wheel. His hoodie was up, but I could see that the sides of his face were concave around his cheeks. His eyes bulged slightly. He was on edge. Was this his first time too?

“Give me your keys. Give me your money.”

I could see his mouth moving, his words rippled through my mind. They still weren’t making sense. He had to of been getting impatient, but his eyes were still dead. Worried that I was studying his rounded face with a 5 o’clock shadow too much I looked down. His gun was still there, threatening me. Existing in my presence without my permission.

“Give me your keys. Give me your money.”

I leaned toward him a little. I could see the man that had exited the back seat. He had lost his footing climbing out of his car so quickly. It might have been amusing in any other situation. He regained his composure and moved to stand next to my drive-side door. MY door. MY car. The newest car we had ever owned, and it was paid in full. Get away from my car. Is this real life? He stepped closer to me.

“Gimme your keys. Your money.”

I looked down to my feet. My right hand was empty. My left hand was holding onto an empty pizza bag. I was trying desperately to comprehend the words that were coming out of his mouth. Why wasn’t I getting it? I hand him the empty pizza bag. He takes it from me and drops it on the ground.

“Gimme your keys and your money.”

I get it. I start patting myself down. Why I started at my shoulders, I couldn’t tell you. I got to my back pocket and heard a clink. My keys. I really didn’t want to give them to him. He didn’t work for this car. The title wasn’t in his name. My keys. My car. Dead eyes stepped closer again and spoke slowly.

“Give me your keys. Give me your money.”

I reach into my back pocket and hand him my keys. I pat down my other pockets. My “bank” from working at Pizza Hut. I had $10 in my pocket. I reach in, grab the neatly folded money (A five dollar bill and five ones folded in half and folded again).

“It’s only ten dollars,” I whisper. “It’s all I have on me.” I pat myself down for good measure one more time. He snatched it out of my hand with his gun hand. He hesitated. “Everything I own is in the car.”

With those words he nods at the other men. Two men get into my car, start it, and peel out making a u-turn and following the dark sedan down the road and out of my life.

The license plate had a dirty cover and the lights knocked out. I couldn’t read the plate. I tried to. I was also too afraid to keep staring. I didn’t want them coming back.

I stood at the side of the street. No one had driven up or by where I was during that entire exchange. I shrugged lifting my arms up in disbelief. I stood there. Silent, processing what just happened. Is this real life?

I leaned down and picked up the empty pizza bag they left me. They’re not cheap and I knew my boss would want it back (because thinking about someone else, something else was going to be easier than what was to come). I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I was miles from the store.

I took a few steps back into the driveway of my last delivery.

My body began to shake uncontrollably and I began to sob…

To be continued in: Seeing Through The Dark: Part Three

Before: Part One

I wasn’t sure if I was going to publicly write about this subject; however, after several weeks of contemplation, I just wanted to get the whole story out there instead of reliving the experience every time someone asks. If you have a sensitivity to language or guns, please proceed with caution.

Any street, Any neighborhood, Any city

Christmastime had come and gone, faster than ever. I worked on Christmas eve and after work my husband and I went across town and spent a lovely evening with friends and family. Christmas day was quiet as my husband and I celebrated together. It is not often that we have days off, and this was much needed quality time together.

Wednesday, I went back to my main job (full time), and it wasn’t until Thursday December 27, 2018 that I went back to work at Pizza Hut (part time side hustle to pay off that pesky debt). Steve and I work at the same Pizza Hut, and he works all of the same days as I do (plus one) so that we can still see each other.

I was dragging getting back into the swing of things, but I was happy to see my husband and my co-workers. The delivery board was lit up, and I was excited at the potential tips for the night even though my shift was short (6-9:30pm). There was an order ready for me. I dispatched myself and hit the ground running.

I knew the apartment complex I was going to so I didn’t need to pull up my map program. Those are always my favorite deliveries because that meant I could listen to podcasts or audio books as I drove. I was getting paid to listen to entertainment, it was excellent.

The rain had just ended and I didn’t get stiffed on the tip, so I was flying high. There was a little traffic, it is Nashville after all, but I made my way back to the store in good time. It was a good thing too, because there was a double (two orders near each other) ready to go. I quickly dispatched myself, gathered all of the orders and lugged them out to the car. I was on a roll. I consider it a success if I can deliver three to four places within an hour.

My first delivery was about a mile from the store. I always love delivering to excited children. Some of my favorite experiences are when their eyes get big and they’re all “You’re a pizza girl! I’ve never seen a pizza girl before! That’s what I want to be when I grow up! (No you don’t kid, no you don’t.)” That was what awaited me at my first delivery. It was good because the woman signing the credit card receipt crossed out the tip line so hard that it nearly ripped the paper. No tip, cute kid. Moving on.

There was a light breeze and it was fully dark. The silence that surrounded me was rare, but the feeling of serenity abounded. When you’re focused on a goal, it’s amazing when the hard and tiring things almost appear to become easier.

I got back into my Focus, locked the door, and punched in the next address. Delvin Drive. I wasn’t far. Four of five minutes max with the stop signs. I sighed as I knew I would have to listen to the driving directions instead of my book, put my car in reverse, and I was on my way.

When I arrived at the house on Delvin Drive, I sighed as I noticed how funny they parked in their driveway. I knew I would have to park on the side of the road. I rolled past the house, flipped a u-turn, and pulled up in front of their one story home. I knew I had delivered here before, and grabbed my phone. Last time I had to call them because they couldn’t hear me knocking. They had one of those glass backed iron doors before their regular door, and it is really difficult to make sufficient sounds.

I grabbed the pizza out of the back seat and locked my car. The wonky cars made for difficult walking, so I opted to just trudge through the squishy front yard. I knocked. I waited. I knocked again. Nothing. I pulled out my phone to call them, and the door opened. I slipped my phone into my hoodie pocket and smiled at the old woman in front of me. Her husband yelled something from his seat (almost completely deaf I later learned) and I waved. The woman signed the receipt, I handed her the pizza, and wished her a great night. I backed up and made sure her front glass/iron door closed without a slam and turned around.

I capped my hot pink pen (I get so many compliments on how well it writes), put it in my pocket and started walking back to my car. I walked gingerly across the yard as to not slip and fall. I had wondered if my boss would let me go home and change if I had fallen, or would he want me to just work with the dirt.

2010 Silver Ford Focus

I reached my car. I placed my hand on the trunk to steady myself off the grass and onto the road. Phew. No falling. Yay me. I looked down at my feet. As I looked up, I noticed a dark, likely black 4-door vehicle pull up next to my car. Being who I am, my first thought was, “I bet they are lost and need directions. I sure hope I can help as I’m not super familiar with the area.” My second thought was: “…well fuck.”

To be continued in “Experiencing Evil: Part Two…

Shaping My Destiny

Today in “Awaken the Giant Within,” Tony Robbins talks about how decisions are the pathway to power, inner power, taking control of ones own life kind of power. And that starts by owning up to who you are and the decisions you are making. Life is meant to be lived, and we have the power within ourselves to shape our futures.

On pages 33, Robbins states, “the decisions that you’re making right now, everyday, will shape how you feel today as well as who you’re going to become in the future.” On a very basic level, to me, part of this is actually being kind to myself. Accepting my failures as lessons learned and growing from them instead of dwelling in victim-hood (or the land of lazy excuses, a not so far off land that I have spent far too much time visiting).

This had me asking myself: What do I want for myself? What do I want my next 10-15 years to look like? How do I get there? That last one is easy. You just start. You make a clear and conscious action decision and you chase those goals. There is a very large difference between being interested in something (“Oh, I’d like to learn how to write in calligraphy.”) and being committed to doing it (“I am going to learn how to write in calligraphy. There’s a class that meets once a month starting in February and I have signed up for it. In the off weeks between classes I will print off practice sheets and do everything in my power to master this skill in my time.”) Pretty big difference there, don’t you think? What is something that is on your “I’d like to do this eventually list!” that you can turn into “I’m going to take action and do this!”

Almost every time we’re face with the decision of powering through the hard times or giving up. This is not the time to give up or give in. No joke, I was the queen of giving up. I’d have temporary passions of all these things that I would like to do, and then I would do them for a day, a week, a month, and then they would suddenly disappear.

This was very destructive to me. Not only was I not following through with my commitments I made to myself, but I felt depressed and guilty for not being able to follow through with my supposed passions (like blogging, or writing in general). I kept telling myself that I wasn’t good enough and that there was no reason to continue. My standards for myself creatively were as low as one could go. Actually, my standard for myself was non-existent. I have ridiculously high standards for myself in a work environment or when other people are involved; however, when it was just me, I didn’t think much.

The first thing I had to do was set up a baseline standard for myself, you know what I was willing to actually accept in my life. Once I did that, it was actually harder for me to allow myself to fall back into laziness, or “slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” (Robbins, 35)

I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

– Thomas Edison

I really enjoyed Robbins’ ‘Ultimate Success Formula’ (p. 38):

1) Decide what you want.

2) Take Action

3) Notice what’s working or not

4) Change your approach until you achieve what you want.

On page 39, Robbins writes, “The way to make better decisions is to make more of them.” His statement is self explanatory. Where I’m going to take this on a person level is that I will be conscious of all of decisions. It’s hard to admit, but I struggle to make decisions. I usually let someone else take the lead and I just go with the flow. That’s not very take the bull by the horns and control your own life of me.

The most common example (and I’m pretty sure everyone already knows this about me) is that I almost never decide what type of food to eat (ie: what restaurant). I am such a people-pleaser that I will just accept where they want to go and be done with it. I always thought that I just didn’t care what we were eating, but I’m wondering if I was more not choosing to make others happy (which is in fact a decision, just a weak one).

This is easier for me to commit to because I almost never go out to eat; however, when the occasion arises and asked where I want to go, I will make a decision. I will likely be willing to compromise if it’s a place the other person isn’t in the mood for… but there are only so many things that I can control.

The following is two decisions that I can make right now that are action driven:

1) I will blog regularly. This will be backed up by daily reading, writing, and coming up with post ideas. As one of my new year goals, I decided to write every day for 15 minutes (minimum).

2) I am choosing to participate in and successfully complete a 5k walk/run in 2019. This will be backed up by daily walking (minimum of 10 minutes per day), slowly jogging when my knee cooperates (made it two solid blocks a few days ago), and pushing myself to do my best everyday.

To discuss briefly my commitment to decision two, I did not want to walk today. It is not pleasant out. It is cold, and I was just dog tired. I was actively giving myself permission to “call in sick” from exercise. I wasn’t hurt (a little sore), and there was still plenty of time left in the day. (Come to think about it, I didn’t want to walk yesterday and only went ½ a mile and took 13 minutes to do it, but I did something.) I was discouraged (but not defeated) by yesterday, especially when I could feel myself giving up.

With some wonderful encouragement from my husband and a solid game plan, I grabbed my dog Kaylee and we headed out into the chilly night. She and I enjoyed the remaining Christmas lights that were still up and didn’t notice the cold with my hood up. Before I knew it, I had walked nearly 1.5 miles and it felt amazing.

I truly believe that these two decisions are going to actually change my life. And that is pretty damn exciting.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

-Helen Keller

Planning The Adventure

There may not be a place in the world that I have wanted to explore more than the beautiful country of England. I have been talking about it for years, and everyone that knows me even a little bit, knows this this is my dream. Well my friends, my dream will become a reality in the very near future.

If you don’t know, Steve and I have been vigorously paying off our debt (medical bills, credit cards, bogus taxes from a state we didn’t live in, and student loans) since May 2018. This year, 2019, is the year we will count down from three and scream: “We’re debt free!” I’m not going to lie, I’ll be saying that, and thinking: “We’re going to England!”.

There are several hurdles in our way that we intend to power through this year. Aside from getting completely out of debt (this will be the first time in my adult life), we will set up an emergency fund that will take care of us for six months in case one or both of us lose our jobs (which I don’t foresee, but better safe than sorry), and we want to fully contribute to our retirement this year by maxing our our Roth IRAs. This will start setting us up for our future. Once these items are in place, we plan to cash-flow our trip to England. As much as I would love to travel toward the end of Autumn, it is more likely we will go in the Spring of 2020. I’m not against going in the winter, but I’m also not 100% sure it is a wise decision. The official season we will be traveling will be determined later this year as we continue to progress through this process.

London, England

In the meantime, I was gifted a copy of Rick Steves England: Eighth Edition and have begun reading. I have a few friends across the pond that I am seeking advice as to what we should see. Also, Laura and Leslie, if you’re reading this… I’m ready for your counsel!

I’ve just completed the 30 page introduction and I’ve got to say, I don’t think I have ever been this excited or terrified in my life (which is also kind of exciting). In all of my years on this earth, this will be my first TRUE vacation. That means I have never planned one either.

York, England

What I know to be true so far:

I think I would like to spend an entire week in London. Besides the city itself and all of its sites, it is also a great launching place for day trips to Stonehenge, Avebury, Salisbury, Windsor, and Cambridge. The Cotswolds sound like the most heavenly place on earth and two to three days there sounds divine. Bath and York are also toppers on my list. Both of my friends are north of London, so it all seems to make sense. The Lake District sounds lovely, and hiking sounds a perfect way to spend a handful of days.

The Cotswolds, England

There is an area that really interests me which is Dartmoor. There is a “mysterious, desolate, moor-cloaked national park” that has “wild ponies, hiking paths, and an ancient stone circle.” Does that not sound enticing to you? (I would also really like to point out that I just said I’m interested in hiking in two different areas! What has gotten into me!?) If we can make it that far West (maybe I can learn to drive on the “correct” side of the car and road), I would also like to check out Cornwall.

Devonshire is also on the list, as is a couple of days in Paris to tour the Louve, visit the Eiffel Tower, and to eat French patisseries.

Eiffel Tower. Paris, France

Y’all, I have no idea how to narrow this down! I suppose that is a good problem to have. It is my desire to keep things simple and smart. Although I plan to make a very detailed itinerary, I know that things don’t always go as planned. Who knows, maybe the detour will turn into being even better than what was originally planned.

Bath, England

One thing that really stood out to me in Steves’ introduction what a quote that can be applied to any life that is opening up to adventure:

“When an opportunity pops up, make it a habit to say, “yes!”.

England (planning)… here we come!