Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

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Someone asked me a while ago how travel has changed me and what I’ve learned from it. Honestly, I couldn’t answer that question until recently.

I spend a lot of time by myself especially when I travel. It’s both by choice and occasionally, it’s just because that’s how things pan out. Traveling alone primarily started this year, so it’s only been about six months, but it’s allowed me to really find and get to know myself because it’s opened me up to so many different experiences. You become so much more aware of what’s happening around you because you don’t have any other option but to adapt and to try to make friends. You learn to rely solely on yourself and you’re more exposed than you would be if you had someone to cling onto. It’s almost like a fish out of water scenario, and it’s tough at first but then you learn how to breathe.

People always ask me why I travel by myself. They’re surprised that I’m confident enough to go at it alone. I’ve been ‘flying solo’ mainly because it’s too difficult to link up with someone who is financially prepared and has the time available to do so. There’s also the element of people in general, and the fact that they are often unreliable. The reality of it is that most people I know aren’t as driven as I am in the travel aspect. When I set my mind to something, regardless of what it is, I will accomplish it. I’ll do whatever it takes to see it through and I’ve always been this way. So when I told people I was going to go to Australia ALONE in May, everyone kind of knew it was really going to happen.

I wasn’t really alone though. I ended up spending two weeks with the most amazing person I have ever met, and he showed me things I never thought I would get to see let alone experience. This is when I had an epiphany: when you travel, its not just about where you get to go and the things you see; ultimately it’s who you spend your time with and the company you keep.

The people you meet on your travels can change everything. I didn’t realize this until recently. That coupled with your overall outlook. You can go to the shittiest place on earth, and if you choose to get something out of it and to have a good time and to be open to the things that happen, it can end up being one of the best experiences of your life. The reason I’ve fallen in love with the places I’ve gotten to travel isn’t necessarily because of the cities themselves, but because of the people in them.

All cities are pretty similar in my opinion. Yes, you have your slight differences – but city life is about the same anywhere you go. New York City is fast paced and packed and just overwhelmingly huge. Chicago is a little more laid back, but I think the people are friendly so you get more of an ‘at-home’ feeling when you’re there. Sydney is practically run by Asian food restaurants and can be insanely expensive, but at the same time has some of the coolest hidden places. At the end of the day though, they’re all just places with large quantities of people and big buildings.

I normally spend a lot of time in bars because I’ve found that it’s easiest to meet people there; the atmosphere is pretty much made for that. However, when I spent two weeks in Sydney I only set foot in a pub maybe twice. I met significantly less people there than I did in say, Chicago when I spent an entire weekend doing an Irish pub crawl, but I didn’t really feel like I missed out on anything. I got to see more of Sydney than any other city not only because I had a fantastic tour guide, but I wasn’t hung over every day. This allowed me to pack everything into a 12-14 hour day, every day.

Don’t need alcohol to have fun, CHECK!

This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but six months ago it was tough for me to even imagine. I loved it though. I probably had more of a daily routine/schedule when I was in Australia than I do at home. I got up earlier and was able to get more out of my days. It was fantastic (this was after all the jetlag subsided of course).

Honestly, what really gets to me after all this traveling is coming home. I’m aware that ‘real life’ is much different than vacation, and it’s normal to feel like you’re coming down from a really great high – but it never ceases to amaze me how much my ‘home’ doesn’t feel like home anymore. Every time I leave it feels more foreign than the last place I had been traveling to. It’s not because of the actual places themselves though, it’s because of the people.

I am confident enough to believe that you can build a home literally anywhere and that it is possible to be happy there, as long as you’re happy with the people around you. This isn’t to say that I don’t love my friends or anything. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t have them in my life. I’m just aware that there are a lot of people in this world, so how am I supposed to meet them if I only stay in one place? I have yet to satisfy my wanderlust. The closest I have come to doing so was with this last trip. I know exactly why though. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from traveling has been..

Home’ is people, not a place.

 

 

Let’s Date! Or Not.

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Summer will be here soon and for some reason I feel like I need to find someone to spend my time with. The more I think about this though, the more ridiculous it sounds. How do you even meet people anymore? Everyone gives me shit about liking online relationships – so here I am – shallowly browsing Tinder. Honestly, I think the best thing about this app is when you find people you know. You feel obligated to swipe right, just to see if they did the same to you, so you can awkwardly have a conversation about how equally embarrassing it is to find one another on a dating/hook up app. Whatever.

I just finished writing an article for OTH and I ended up coming across this model’s blog. Her last entry was about her really sad and tragic love story. Why do the good ones always have to be so fucking depressing? I might as well just quit now because I swear to God, if I ever end up in the ideal situation I will automatically know that ONE OF US is going to die. Nicholas Sparks, you’re an asshole.

But seriously – I have three cats – why do I even need someone? I don’t. The company is just nice, I think. (Oh – and having one person to sleep with is kinda cool, too.) I’ve been single for almost a year now and I do really well on my own, so why does it feel like I constantly NEED to be searching for someone? This is fucking stupid.

However, I actually miss having someone to just come over and hang out with and play video games and watch movies and just BE with. I like looking forward to text messages and smiling at stupid shit that normally wouldn’t matter but now it makes my day. I kind of miss having a relationship. How counterproductive. “I want someone to be with so I can just get restless and then break up with them because I need my independence”. I don’t have time for this shit……EXCEPT THAT I DO. Ugggggggggghhhhhhhh.

This whole dating thing is annoying. I feel like one of the hardest parts is finding someone you actually think is attractive. From there, you have to talk to them and try to get to know them (usually as fast as humanly fucking possible – JUST TO BE CLEAR! “Let’s play 21 questions, 15 times!”) Hang out with each other a few times – maybe even on dates, if you’re lucky. And then talk, talk, talk, talk, talk – talk some more.

That’s just the beginning. So you decide, okay, something could happen with this person. I’m into them. Now for the mental anguish!

NOW you have to mentally kill yourself over and over again and decide if you should sleep with them now or later. What did THAT text mean? Are they as into me as I am them? Is this serious or just a fling? It’s been three hours, what are they doing? They’re read receipts are on and they looked at my snapchat but they haven’t responded. Maybe they’re getting uninterested. What if I came on too strong. What if they never talk to me again. WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF..

Okay, so you get past the awkward self conscious phase and you two are definitely into each other. Things are going well, and you’re attached at the hip. You’ve never been more in love and this is the best year of your life. You can’t imagine things without this person. This has to be THE ONE.

Things start getting comfortable. You’ve moved in together and he stops doing the dishes and expects you to make his lunches before work every day. Why is this happening? I don’t have a ring. Everything is now about finances and “why aren’t we having sex everyday?” You don’t do this – you NEVER listen anymore. I want to hang out with my friends….god, why can’t I have my space? I just want to be my own person. Enough is enough, I’m done!

Confused yet? Me too. I literally just had an entire relationship with myself in a blog post.

…you know what, on second thought, I’m good with my 3 cats.

Pros and Cons of Being Female

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CONS
1. All them feels. Emotions are a bitch for no fucking reason. Like, calm that shit down. So unnecessary, and yet we drown in them.

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2. PMS. That shit is mostly a lie by the way. We snap at you because you’re being stupid, not because we are hormonal. Cramps, however; not a lie.

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3. Boobs. You have to worry about having them. Or not having them. Or getting fake ones. Or wondering if people will think your fake ones are fake or if you can pull them off as being real.

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4. Hair. WHY CAN’T WE JUST WAKE UP LOOKING FABULOUS?!

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5. Make up – is expensive! And men, don’t even lie, if we didn’t look airbrushed you would find a reason to bitch. ‘Natural’ beauty..yeah, OKAY.

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6. Peeing sitting down. This is like one of THE MOST inconvenient things. You either have to squat, make a toilet paper seat cover, or hope to fucking god you don’t get herpes from that seat.

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7. Vaginas. The maintenance..is just ridiculous.

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8. Shaving. More maintenance. Guys can let their facial hair grow or not grow. Our legs though..those are expected to be smooth and stubble free always.

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10. Babies. We destroy our bodies to pass on men’s legacies. Fuck you guys. You had to do absolutely nothing, and most of the time that’s exactly what you do.

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PROS:
1. Boobs > Everything. They get us out of speeding tickets, we get served faster at bars than men do, and they’re just convenient in other ways as well.

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2. Looks > mostly everything. Seriously though. If we dress all cute and sexy, free drinks! Not to sound arrogant (BUT IT WILL)…I get what I want a lot. Why? Because I use what I have to my advantage. And why the hell not?

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3. Brains. Or lack thereof. I can act like a dumbass, but you’ll think it’s cute as long as you find me attractive. This means I’m going to pretend to be stupid A LOT. (And if I do act intelligent, your mind is fucking blown.)

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4. Sex = weapon. Self explanatory.

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5. Emotions. We are actually allowed to be emotional and express our feelings because that’s what is expected of us. We milk this for all it’s worth too.

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6. Babies. You didn’t pop anything outta your vagina; you don’t get 6 weeks of maternity leave. I get to be paid for spending time for the ball of fun I just created and have some kind of motherly bond and yadda yadda..children.

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7. Hoarding. We are literally expected to collect shit. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, whatever the hell else we can think of.

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8. “Weaker” sex. We can act helpless and people (men) will come running. This is a very effective technique, especially when we are secretly being lazy.

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9. Alcohol. “Girly” drinks are acceptable. And let’s face it, they’re good as FUCK.
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Me for Me

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It took me a while to come up with a good topic to write about for this one. I’m really good at writing about things that revolve around facts and information, but not so much in regards to things that are emotional – so I picked something that was a little bit of both.

Lately, I feel that people’s perception of women, their bodies, and what is considered ‘beautiful’ has become fairly skewed. This is such a huge topic, but we can even use my recent experience as an example.

I’ve started working out about five days a week because I decided that I want to get back to looking really toned. I posted a picture on Facebook of how I looked this time last year when I lived back in Texas for some motivation, and I also wanted to see what people’s responses would be, so I could figure out what kind of angle I wanted to take on this.

This was the picture I posted, and my caption was, “I got fat in Ohio. Ughhhhh! Well this is my new goal: to look like I did in Texas”. These pictures were not supposed to be used in comparison to each other, but rather as a “This is what I used to look like, and I want to get back to this”.

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There were a wide range of comments. Most of the women were very supportive. Some offered excuses for why I might not be on my A-game, some even reprimanded me for calling myself ‘fat’, and two could relate to my struggle but offered optimistic advice. The men mostly cracked jokes or cat-called, but there was one douchebag who called me anorexic and completely missed the point – although PROVING my point. We’ll talk about that gentleman later.

First and foremost, I know that I am not FAT. I am a healthy weight right now and probably about 30lbs of that is on my chest. However, I also know that I am not as physically fit as I could be or have been before. I’m aware that muscle weighs more than fat, so you cannot make this statement based solely on weight alone. (I’m not though.) I’ve gotten lazy and out of shape. I eat things I shouldn’t because I travel often, and it’s finally caught up to me. I also stopped smoking, which added to a few pounds I’m sure. I am not fat, but rather…..soft.

Fitness, to me, has always been a form of self-improvement. I work out for myself. I use it for regulation and routine in my life and as a goal to keep working towards. Working out helps me reach my goals of not only looking better, but achieving a healthier lifestyle overall. I feel better when I am active, I get sick less often, and I am generally happier all around. Not only that, but it’s a huge stress reliever.

I understand that I will probably not look like that picture above again easily. When I lived in Texas, my significant other was gone constantly and if I wasn’t at work I was in the gym. It became an outlet and a support system for me. I was probably there 6 days a week, multiple times a day: I had a trainer, normal workouts with a friend, and group classes.

I know that I probably won’t be able to put into it what I did before – but I’m at least going to try. My goal this time was to cut back on cardio and work in more weight training to see what it does to my body. When I was working out before, I did an incredible amount of cardio and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the result was that I became very thin and lean.

However, being thin and lean DOES NOT mean that I am anorexic. I’ve dealt with those comments a lot (especially when I was 18-19), and it’s always been really surprising to me. I’ve never actually taken that full-on approach before. I have tried it, I’m not going to lie to you. But not only is it super unhealthy – it’s pretty miserable. It was really just me yo-yo dieting, if anything. Like I said above, I use my body for regulation and routine. I will always have control over my body, even when I’m not in control of other things in my life.

I could never understand the anorexic comments though. That’s why when someone commented on the photo above and said the girl on the right looked anorexic and too skinny I was like, what?! I’m NOT a ridiculously skinny person. I have a smaller frame, but I have meat on my bones, especially if you compare me to other girls who model like I do.

This is when I realized it though: in COMPARISON to other women, I feel like I am a ‘full figured’ model. I’m curvy and natural looking. I’m nowhere near as skinny as the women I’ve stood next to in photo shoots. And let me tell you, there is nothing more embarrassing than posing and having a photographer tell you to “suck it in”.

It’s not meant to be offensive – it’s something that comes along with modeling. It has to do with the mechanics of it and how your body looks at certain angles, but honestly it’s still shitty to hear. So here goes my train of thought: if I’m being told to suck in, then that means I have something TO suck in, which means I have something to improve or change about myself because my stomach isn’t as flat as it could be. I want to look as attractive as possible. Being attractive is what we’ve been led to believe is important, right? People tell me I’m already skinny but sometimes I don’t see it because not everything is to MY standards. A lot of people have a distorted image of themselves anyways, myself obviously included.

But what exactly is attractive? What’s considered beautiful?

Scientifically, symmetry (more specifically facial symmetry) is actually a key component of human perception of attractiveness. So what are our choices if we don’t have a perfect face or money for plastic surgery? Work on our bodies of course!

We compare ourselves – at least I do – to people who are considered the media stereotype of attractive. Celebrities are mainly the ones who come to mind. They’re broadcast across our TVs every day and we willingly subject ourselves to it. You know, I too would probably look fabulous if I had someone doing my hair and makeup every day and picking out my designer outfits. Us ‘normal’ people have to do the best with what we’ve got.

We really just need to stop comparing. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be someone smarter, prettier, richer, or skinnier than you. Oppositely, there will always be someone dumber, uglier, poorer, and fatter than you as well. It really comes down to accepting yourself for who you are and being comfortable in your own skin. Something that I can’t even confidently say I am able to do yet.

I’m learning though. The more time I spend on my own, doing me for me, the more I appreciate myself and my own company as well as who I am as a person. I know I have a lot to offer and image isn’t everything. It’s just so unfortunate that our physical appearances have become such a big deal. We have allowed ourselves become so superficial.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect on this subject either. I have an idea in mind of what I think is attractive in men – what I would imagine my ultimate guy to look like. However, I always surprise myself with the men I actually find myself with. I have no ‘type’. There’s either chemistry or there isn’t. It’s pretty straight forward and simple actually.

Every person has their own opinion of what’s attractive. Big breasted blonde bitches (BBBB) seem to fit the Barbie stereotype for some. Other people like athletic women, some like ‘alternative’ chicks. Some do like the tall, super thin runway models. Thankfully I think that exotic looking women are making a comeback. Apparently I qualify as exotic. I totally disagree with that statement, but whatever. It’s what I’ve been told. I also think natural women are making a comeback. It’s more widely accepted now to be muscular and athletic or to be curvy.

**Side note: This has gone in a weird direction that I didn’t anticipate, so I’m just going to go with it because quite honestly, I’m mad it’s taken me like three days to write this. ALSO CAN I JUST POINT OUT — that most of the women in Game of Thrones are curvy and natural looking? And they are so sexy! Plus, boobs. Come on. Boobs > everything**

I guess it truly all comes down to the individual person and what they perceive as being attractive. Fuck society. You can’t please everyone and you never will – so you might as well at least make yourself happy. (And there’s no need to ridicule others because they don’t look the way you think they should.)

So I’m going to do what makes me happy – whatever that is. It might change constantly until I figure it out – but so be it. I’m doing this for me.

 

My Experience with Egg Donation (repost)

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Note: This was actually something that was posted on another site, but I figured I should also have it here because this is my blog.

First, I want to start off by saying that I know this topic is not one that a lot of people agree with, so I would appreciate it if you read this post with an open mind and objectively, rather than subjectively. You are allowed to have your own opinion as I am mine, however, keep in mind that I actually went through this and this is from my experience.

The decision to donate my eggs was based purely off of selfish reasons (financially) at first, but has become much more than that since then. I had heard about egg donation from several sources and had always contemplated whether or not it was something I would actually be able to do. It was appealing from the money aspect, because at the time, my boyfriend and I were hard up for cash. We were drowning in debt and it was incredibly stressful. I was (and still am) only qualified to work minimum wage jobs which didn’t even pay the bills so it led me to look for other ways to make some money.

I went on Craigslist, of all places, to look at some of the postings seeking donors. There were several agencies, all with postings talking about how you could make $4,500+. So, I filled out a few applications with personal information, including family history, just to see if I would pass the initial screening. Genetic disorders usually disqualify you from donating. Thankfully, other than breast cancer, nothing is prevalent in my family.

I received an email back from an agency called The Donor Solution, which requested more information, including pictures that they could add to their database. I also received a phone call from one of the women from the organization who answered any and all of my questions, along with just having general correspondence to get to know me better.

Just because I was added to their database did not mean that I was guaranteed a cycle. Potential recipients could view my profile, similar to a Facebook profile (or ‘Eggbook’ as my college professor so affectionately put it), and decide whether or not they wanted a child who might have some of my characteristics. I have been told that potential recipients may choose you if you look similar to one of them, or in my case, they might have just wanted a ginger! I’ll never actually know, because the entire process through this particular agency is anonymous. There are other agencies that give you the choice to let the potential offspring (if the cycle is successful) contact you once they turn 18, but I still think I would have opted out of that because it puts even more of an emotional aspect to it. When it’s anonymous, you won’t even know if the woman successfully conceives of not.

I received a phone call several months later, letting me know that someone had chosen me to begin a cycle. I was then contacted by a psychologist and a psychological evaluation was done to make sure that I would be able to mentally handle the cycle, and to make sure I knew that once the eggs were separated from me, they were no longer mine. This particular topic was discussed with me from a legal perspective as well, when I was also contacted by an attorney that had been provided for me.

I signed a bunch of documents relinquishing ownership of the eggs, as well as a statement of understanding – making sure I knew that if I did anything during the cycle to disrupt/cancel the cycle that I would not receive payment. Obviously negligent behavior is not acceptable. People are paying thousands of dollars to have this procedure done and it’s an emotional rollercoaster. (It costs anywhere from 10k-25k per cycle with an egg donor.) They will still compensate you depending on where you are in the cycle ONLY IF the cycle is canceled due to something beyond your control.

The next step was to find a lab and have an initial blood test done. This was a screening to see what my hormone levels were normally and for a drug/STD test. From there, I went to the Austin Fertility institute for my first ultrasound, which is also where I finally got to meet the doctor.

Honestly, the physician and his staff really set the pace for the entire cycle. They were wonderful. They were with me every step of the way and I could not have gotten luckier having them for a first time. (What hospital/clinic you go to is dependent on what clinics the agency works with in the area. Don’t quote me on that, I just know it can be different every time.) The doctor did every single one of my ultrasounds and continued to reassure me and let me know that I was doing a great job. I took it seriously though. This is my body, and injections are a huge part of the cycle. It’s not joke, so I don’t feel like it should be treated as such.

Each cycle is approximately 6 weeks. They take you off birth control, and then put you back on. You have to be on the pill for at least two weeks so that they can sync you with the recipient female and then they take you off once more. From there, the cycle continues with hormone injections and almost daily (or every other day) blood tests and ultrasounds for monitoring.

Hormone injections are something that happen the last week and a half into your cycle. It’s two to three times a day, always in your stomach. I had never given myself shots before, but you get used to them pretty quickly. They don’t even hurt that much after a while. You are educated on the dosage and how to administer them yourself before you even leave the clinic. I even had to watch training videos. I was on Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the formation of follicles on the ovaries and Luteinizing hormone (LH), which supports egg maturation and triggers ovulation. Once you hit a certain stage in your cycle, you start another injection as well which prevents you from ovulating early.

This is when it gets a little uncomfortable. Normally, your ovaries are about the size of a mandarin orange. The fertility drugs make them swell to the size of grapefruits and about three days out from retrieval, it becomes apparent just how quickly things are working. This is called superovulation. Think of an ovary as a honeycomb. Each individual compartment has the capacity to have an egg inside the follicle. Normally, every month you produce only one egg. However, the fertility drugs make you produce multiple. Typically, they aim to retrieve at least 10-15 eggs. Every ultrasound appointment is used to measure how large the follicles are and once the majority of them reach a certain size, that’s when you’re given a trigger shot which basically gets your body ready to release the eggs. The trigger shot is called HCG and it makes you release the eggs.

During retrieval, they take the ultrasound probe with a hollowed out needle and go into each ‘compartment’ and essentially suck the eggs out. Retrieval happens right before the follicles rupture, or release the eggs. It’s about a 30 minute procedure and you are under anesthesia for it. In turn, these follicles or compartments can then fill with fluid and if they’re too full or swollen it’s called hyperstimulation because the follicles can leak into your abdomen. Sounds really rough, but with proper medication and monitoring it can be avoided.

Unfortunately, after my first cycle, I ended up with a mild case. I looked like I was three months pregnant for about 2 weeks. The normal recovery time is about two days, but like I said, this was my first time and the doctor had no idea I was going to produce as many eggs as I did. My first cycle I produced 35 eggs, and my second cycle produced 28. I am ridiculously fertile. If I decide to keep doing this, the doctor is going to dial my hormone dosage down that way I have less of a chance of hyperstimulating and my recovery time will be shorter.

Up until now all of this has been really scientific and has all been procedural. Like I said, I went into this with a rather selfish mindset because I was concentrated on the financial aspect. However, during my last appointment before my retrieval (also coincidentally my 23rd birthday) I was greeted in the doctor’s office by a small gift bag and a card. Becky, who had been managing my cycle had been giving the recipient couple updates on how everything was going. The recipient female was so excited that she and her husband had purchased me a gift and even written me a card.

Before I even opened it, all the nurses had gathered in my exam room to watch me open it and I felt my face turning red. (MIND YOU – I had a ridiculous amount of hormones raging through my body at this point, but I didn’t cry until after everyone had left because I hate people watching me and I certainly don’t want to cry in front of people I don’t even know.) But inside was a sincerely heartfelt card which read:

“I’ve been trying to think of a way to convey my deep sense of gratitude for your amazing gift. We’ve been told so many nice things about you and feel extremely fortunate to know that you’ve been able to help us. We are so extremely excited to bring a child into this world that we could love and cherish. It’s been a difficult journey for us and we’ll always be grateful for what you’ve done. We promise to always love and cherish our child. We want to thank you from the bottoms of our hearts and wish you all the happiness in the world. Please take this gift. I feel it symbolizes the gift of a child that goes on to infinity”.

And then I opened a Tiffany’s box with the prettiest sterling silver infinity necklace. (Which I now rarely take off). It was honestly the most meaningful gift I have ever received from someone I have never met. This is when the realization of what I was doing hit me. I had begun on this journey for financial gain but it was so much more than that. To be able to give something to someone that they cannot give themselves is priceless. This made it real; this was something AMAZING.

I’ve been asked by several people how I feel about potentially having children out there that I will never know. First of all, I make myself feel better by saying I’m helping repopulate the earth with gingers. That’s more or less a joke, but secondly, I’m helping people who can’t do this on their own. Third and foremost, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these children are wanted. They’re wanted so desperately that there’s no way they could lead a miserable life where they are not loved. It’s not like giving away a baby for adoption at birth, and it’s not like an abortion. This child is wanted. This process is not cheap, and these people aren’t ungrateful. I cannot think of a better reason to do this! The financial compensation just became a plus.

This is also why I realized that I want to be a fertility nurse. This process is fascinating and it’s something I agree with and whole heartedly believe in. This experience has honestly changed my life. It was never meant to, but it has. And I am thankful for that. It’s given me more direction and I would do it again in a second. I’m very grateful that I got to help someone become a mother, which is something that I also would love to be eventually. I think every woman deserves that chance.

Pay It Forward

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I’m really glad I don’t have a lot of money, because I would end up giving that shit away.

I’ve always had a really bad spending problem. I know this because reading back through old journal entries from years ago, even when I was 13-14, I would always write about things I purchased. Literally. I would go to the mall and buy shit and come back and write about it (like owning new things was the highlight of my day). You would think I would be really materialistic, but honestly I’m not. What means the most to me are things like pictures and handwritten letters; little mementos from life experiences and my journals. Everything else I could get rid of – and I often do. I’m constantly cleaning and throwing out shit I don’t need or use. I give away clothes and I like being clean and organized. Clutter irritates me.

I think I spend more money on being able to experience things, actually. Traveling has been a huge one recently, as probably everyone knows. Airline tickets and nights in hotels as well as food in places I just ‘needed’ to try. I can’t complain about that. I also spend it on other people. I’ve been known to buy my close friends things for no real reason. Someone accused me recently of buying my friends. I never really thought about it that way and I couldn’t really understand what they meant, but maybe that was why. I just like giving things to people.

What I really get the urge to do with my money is give it away.

My professor today was talking about how some of his students were sitting at a table in the campus center selling little trinkets to raise money for AIDs research. They’d already raised almost $1000. I kept thinking how awesome it would be if I just walked up to them and doubled their money. For no real reason, other than the fact that I could. It would be a nice thing to do, and it would be totally unexpected; a 24 year old white female student to just hand over $1000. I don’t make a lot of money, but I have it – and I could just give it to them.

It made me think about how I used to raise money in elementary school. I would go door to door asking people to donate anything they could for Pennies for Patients, a charity that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The goal was to raise as much change in a three week period as possible, and I was able to collect several hundred of dollars. I think I was probably 12 or 13. I didn’t know anyone with Leukemia. I had no firsthand experience with this disease – but I could do something good for other people. I could help them and I loved doing it.

Probably for the same reason that every time I see a ‘homeless’ person on a street corner, I feel compelled to give them money. The thought even goes through my mind that MAYBE I should just make bags that have some basic necessities like toiletries and some non-perishable food items and keep them in my car just in case. I want to be prepared when I see someone who needs help. ( …hold on, what?!)

Honestly, now that I’m writing this out, it sounds kind of stupid. I don’t want anyone to think that this post is about me explaining what a nice person I want to be, because that’s not it at all. I have no problem admitting that I am still greedy and selfish. I have the option to give away all my money, but I don’t. I spend it on myself instead. I am wasteful and I constantly buy things I don’t need and overspend on the things I do – but I promised myself that one day,  I am going to do something incredible.

But how do you pick who to donate your money or time to? What exactly is a ‘worthy’ cause? I keep seeing a video on Upworthy that’s gone viral over the last two days. A guy hung an offensive sign on himself that read, ‘Fuck the Poor’ and people reacted defensively. However, when it read ‘Help the Poor’, no one even stopped.

People willing to help ARE out there. What prompts someone to actually make an effort though? Does it have to be a cause that affects them personally? Maybe it’s just that they’ve heard that when donating to charities, the actual beneficiary of the majority of the money isn’t who they claim. It’s interesting how people react to certain things. When 9/11 happened, we came together as an entire nation. When natural disasters occur, we feel compelled to help. Why does something tragic have to happen for people to respond? Why must it always be negative before people come forward? That’s my biggest question.

Part of the reason I really want to get into nursing is so that I can go on humanitarian missions and help vaccinate people. We all know how important health insurance & health care have become lately, but what about those people who don’t have an option? What about those third world countries that literally have NO healthcare? There’s just something really rewarding about doing something for someone that they can’t do for themselves. (Whether this is actually a selfish thing is totally debatable – but I’d like to think it’s not.)

I think that’s why random acts of kindness are so amazing. They’re completely random and indiscriminate. I want to be someone who helps facilitate these. I want people to know that good things happen just because; there doesn’t have to be a reason behind doing something nice for someone. You don’t have to be a victim for someone to reach out to you. I think it’s really important that people know this.

These are the types of things that have the potential to touch people in a positive way. They make people think. Things that people can’t explain make people think. I want to do things for people where my motive can’t be explained, other than I do them because I can and I am able. I want to do things for people that make them want to pay it forward.

 

My 24 Day Challenge (Intro)

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I’ve decided that I’m going to *try* to do the 24-Day Advocare challenge. It’s a 24 day program that is designed to help you lose weight AND/OR get off a fitness plateau if you’re on one. I’m not really interested in losing weight, but I want to look better. It’s a common misconception that if you weigh less then that’s the only time that you’re losing fat – but that’s not true. Muscle weighs more than fat, and with me doing crossfit I’m going to weigh more at the end of these 24 days than at the start. So I’m just not going to weigh myself.

** More info on the challenge here **

I got the kit in the mail last week and decided that I would start today. So I went to the gym this morning, and then promptly went grocery shopping after. I’ve already come to two conclusions: 1) I need to actually GET UP earlier so I can get all these meals and stuff in, and 2) Eating healthy is fucking expensive.

Let me elaborate:

So, I woke up at 9am this morning so I could drink my pre-workout (this forces me to actually drink some form of water, because I am awesome at being dehydrated) and make the 10am class. Well, by the time it was over it was 11 – and by the time I was done buying groceries, it was like noon. I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet, so there went my ‘routine’ for today.

I guess I have to get up earlier. I like doing a fasted work out though, so my ass either needs to get up at 5am and make the 6am class, or I just need to accept the fact that I won’t be doing fasted anything anymore. The challenge comes with a daily schedule that tells you when to take what etc, so I just decided to combine the morning and the afternoon for today since I’ve already fucked it up. Oh well, live and learn – plus it’s only day one. I just should have thought this out better.

I took before pictures, but I don’t feel like posting them because I feel like it’s absolutely necessary to look as fat and unhappy as possible, so you get the most awesome results by the end. And no one really needs to see me all gross and unhappy without the result pictures to follow. Deal with it.

Moving on to point number two – I picked up what I thought was a weeks worth of fruit and vegetables for a little under $20, but after meal prepping everything when I got home, I realized I had MAYBE three days worth. What the hell.

I also went out and tried to find fresh “free range” chicken, because the 10lb frozen breasts you get at the store that can literally feed four people at a time are disturbing. Can you imagine the amount of antibiotics in that shit?! No thanks. I’d rather just omit meat all together, but let’s be realistic here. I’m not dumb enough to try to convert to vegetarianism AND do some program at the same time. That’s really just setting myself up to fail considering I don’t have much experience with either of those things to be able to do it and stay healthy. Being anorexic is not what I’m trying to do here. This is going to result in a lifestyle change and I want to be safe about it.

I also attempted to find some fresh eggs. Locally, my city has decided that people are not allowed to own chickens within city limits, so this makes it slightly difficult to find eggs that haven’t been ‘tainted’. Luckily, I was able to find some. This made me think back to when I tried to do this before though, and I just have to point out how food labeling is incredibly misleading. (I’ll do a separate post about that later though.)

So…5lb of chicken tenders later, I paid another $20. That’s like $40 for just one week (but remember, my fruit and veggies didn’t even cut it so I have to go buy more). And the only protein I bought was chicken. So let’s say after everything is said and done for 3 meals a day, for 7 days – I’m paying like $65 or so a week. Multiply that by 4. $260 a month on groceries for ONE person. That’s without snacks or anything else. How can a family of four afford to do that?!

Let’s not even talk about convenience. I need to set aside an entire day just to be able to meal prep for the week. Not only that, but buying fresh produce also means more trips to the store. In order to be less wasteful and to save money, I really need to know exactly how much I will be consuming in a week. That’s gonna take some careful calculations. And I get to carry around a cute lunchbox with me when I go to classes two days a week now and cross my fingers I can find a microwave. Score! Or I can go to the cafeteria and spend more money on an overpriced salad.

No wonder our nation is so obese. You can eat conveniently and cheaper if you consume things that are terrible for you. You also get more of them. Seriously though! People from other countries come over here and are surprised at how big our portion sizes are. We don’t even notice it now, but when you talk about restaurants to other people the most emphasized thing is “How much do you get? Is it worth it for the money?”. The fact of the matter is, that if you are not active enough to be burning off all those calories – you don’t NEED to be consuming as many.

Now let’s talk about what I’m paying a month for fitness. I go to a crossfit gym, and I get a discount for being military but I’m paying $100 a month for classes I can attend every day. But I’m thinking about trying to get a trainer to help me with my form. If I do that once a week, that’s another $20. So $180 a month to work out, and that doesn’t include access to a treadmill. Thankfully it’s finally starting to be nice outside, so I can run outside BUT STILL. I need to run. I know crossfitters will yell and me and say that I don’t need to, but to achieve the results I want – I need to incorporate cardio AND weight lifting. Plus, running is kind of therapeutic.

So I guess being physically fit and healthy depends on how badly you want it. It takes determination, discipline and hard fucking WORK. (Oh, and money. It takes a lot of money.)

I’m definitely not saying that it’s not worth it, because it certainly is. But I can understand why people have a hard time with it. It also needs to be understood that not everyone is well educated in this area. Most people don’t even know where to start when it comes to losing weight or changing their lifestyle.

This is kind of why I said I’m going to *try* to do this 24 day challenge. Hopefully, I’ll learn some things doing it and once I come up with some kind of routine it’ll become easier and easier to STAY healthy.

We will see how it goes! Wish me luck. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

I <3 my iPhone

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So, I had to edit my last post. Turns out I was wrong about a few things. There. I said it! I was wrong. I approached things emotionally instead of logically (like women do, AMIRITE?) and it kinda came back and bit me in the face. Lesson learned. Unfortunately, lesson learned the HARD way, but nevertheless – I know what I’ll be avoiding from now on. All them feels.

Anyway, what I really want to talk about, is how awesome I think my iPhone is.

It was brought to my attention recently that you can text iPhone users anywhere in the world for free – as long as you are able to iMessage them. This is a huge thing for me, because having dated someone in another country long distance almost 10 years ago – I had phone bills that were over $1000 at a time. Ridiculous, I know.

I literally could have paid for most of a brand new car had I not been texting and calling Scotland on a daily basis. But long distance relationships sucked then. All that was available was MSN messenger  (Skype hadn’t even been invented yet), Yahoo! or AIM – and anyone who has used AIM knows that you never used it to cam! As far as being able to call people, my options were limited there as well. I had to actually purchase a phonecard. Vonage was a company that came out for cheaper land-line service but apparently neglected to tell my mother that I could only phone another land-line, hence all my expensive bills. Damn mobiles.

Compared to 10 years ago, technology is INSANE. Now, I’m able to text Australia, England, Hungary, and Canada all at the same time, for absolutely free (minus some data). I can even FaceTime them wherever I am, as long as they have an iPhone. For that reason alone, I don’t think I will ever buy another brand of phone. This is like the greatest invention ever.

Speaking of FaceTiming, I think that’s my new favorite thing. A friend of mine has been FaceTiming me without any kind of warning lately. You’d think I’d at least get a text first asking, “Hey, are you free?” NOPE, just incoming video call. As inconvenient as this might be at times, it totally makes my day. He and I both travel a lot, so combined we could totally see a lot of the world. Plus, how fucking cool is it that you can share a moment with someone without them even needing to be there?

Obviously being with someone in person is much better than video chatting on a cell phone, but the fact that we are able to do this is mind blowing to me. You no longer need to be connected to the internet and hooked up to a webcam. I could be eating dinner on a restaurant rooftop and call someone and be like, “Look at this fucking amazing view. Look at what I am doing right now. WATCH THIS!” Totally brings a new meaning to being able to ‘share’ media.

I don’t know.

It’s exciting to me. I can’t even imagine what the next 10 years of technology will bring. I cannot wait to find out though.

In Real Life

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I like meeting people from online.

There is so much to be said about online communication. I’ve been using the internet since I was about 10; my very first experience chatting to people I didn’t know was in a chat room for some Christian singer named Rebecca St. James. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to be able to talk to people from all over the world and to make new friends I would probably never meet. This sounds really scary now actually, knowing that someone so young had access to the internet and all the ‘strangers’ who accompanied it. I never gave out personal information though – I knew better than that – so nothing terrible ever happened thankfully.

After that chat room came AIM messenger and all it’s drama, as well as its random chat rooms. Mainly, it was used to talk to people I went to school with. It’s silly away messages and things caused it to last through most of junior high. However, I started talking to a girl from West Virginia and we would banter back and forth about nothing in particular, but she challenged me intellectually and I felt like I needed to prove how smart I was – being 11 and all. She was probably my first online friend and I’m still in touch with her now actually, 13 years later, but we still haven’t met.

Then came my introduction to Yahoo! messenger when I was 13. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to go into a Lord of the Rings chat room one day and let me tell you, it has changed my life. It was there that I met people who I would keep lasting friendships with – longer than even most of the people I would meet ‘in real life’. I started talking to a set of people who taught me so many things, being all older than me. They’ve seen me go through all kinds of phases. I even had my first relationship with someone I met on there who lived in Scotland.

I have met five people from around the world so far from LOTR, and I’ll be meeting another one next month, with hopefully more over the summer. The internet has allowed me connect with SO many incredible people, and I am so thankful for the things I have learned because of it. My positive experiences have far outweighed the negative.

I am often asked, “How do you know people are who they say they are?”. My response has always been, “well, because I’ve seen them”. This is true though – I’ve never attempted to meet anyone who I haven’t had lengthy video chats with. But now I know that it’s not just about physically seeing someone.

Online communication is great for people who like to hide. Not just physically, but mentally/psychologically as well. Unfortunately, it makes having character flaws or personality disorders easier to hide. While this is a positive for some, those of us who are real and straight forward – online or not – now have to second guess everything and try to interpret what’s real and what’s not. Having online friends gives you the ability to pick and choose the type of person you appear because no one gets to actually see how you react in real life situations.

People only see what you allow them to see.

This can be true of real life relationships as well, but it’s a little more difficult to hide. Having the ability to be so selective gives you a shield. You can decide how much you let people in. You’re given the illusion that no one can hurt you unless you let them – and that is true to an extent. The ability to hide behind a screen and log off or block people whenever you choose gives you a feeling of control; something you might not have elsewhere.

My social skills in person are decent, (don’t get me wrong, they could always use improving, like the fact that I suck at making eye contact throughout a conversation) – but I can function. I’m able to form relationships with people in person as easily as I can online. Especially recently. I’ve been told a lot this year that I am a very approachable, easy to talk to person.

I prefer talking to people online, because I feel that having that kind of space forces you to slow down and actually get to know people a little more thoroughly because the physical aspect of the relationship is removed. (Mostly when talking to the opposite sex, by the way.) There’s only so much you can do from far away. While some people chalk this up to a negative, I consider it a positive. I love long distant relationships and have always been a fan of them. You get the emotional support you need, but have the freedom to live your own life and when you DO spend time together, you appreciate every single moment together. You can’t take things for granted. That being said – I have still been lied to, and I will be the first to admit that I have lied before as well. You use what you have to your advantage. We all do it.

I also believe that this allows relationships/friendships to form on a much deeper level, at least in my case. It takes you down to the most basic interaction – forming a connection through conversation.