Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

This weeks Weekly Photo Challenge is Forward.

There are many ways you could interpret this, I’ve chosen to blog about the next major event in my life that I am looking forward to: Graduation

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My undergraduate graduation, May 2011. San Diego State University

In 83 days I will be walking across the same stage that I walked across two years ago when I got my BA in Psychology.

On May 17th, I will finally have my Masters of Social Work, a goal I have been working towards for 6 years.

I love college and I love learning, but I will be a very happy woman when I have that degree in my hand and I can start my career.

I have been so lucky that Jeremy has supported me though college. I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to go to graduate school without him. He supported me when I quit my job to pursue graduate school full time. He has always encouraged me and been my cheer leader when I’ve been swamped with papers and exams.

He missed my undergrad ceremony by 5 days when he was deployed to Afghanistan, but this year he will be up in the audience when I receive my diploma!

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Self-Confidence

Self-Confidence.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, both in my personal life and my professional life.

I have an interview tomorrow about a prospective client. The father of the girl who needs counseling is coming in to see if he judges me to be a good fit, or maybe a good enough therapist, to see his daughter.

A year ago something like that would have given me major anxiety. I would have stressed about the interview, what questions he was going to ask me, what answers I was going to give, and all the many ways that the interview could go.

But now, here I am, a day away from the interview and I haven’t really given it much thought.

I’m not nervous becuase I am confident in who I am and what I have to offer professionally. Am I the most experienced therapist there is? No. Do I have all the answers? No. But I am good at my job, I am always trying to learn and better myself and I love working with teenagers.

I amย who I am, and I can offer what I can offer. If this father doesn’t think I am the right therapist for his daughter, then that is fine. It is not a reflection on my skills or my abilities.

In my personal life I have struggled with self-confidence when it comes to my body.

Last week I went out shopping, and I left the house feeling really good about myself.

Then I tried on a few pairs of pants in my normal size, 12, and none of them fit. I had to go up to a size 14 which deflated my self-esteem a little bit.

Then I realized that I was judging myself based on external sources. When I left the house I was completely confident in my body, but because of society’s size system and the perception that a size 14 is “fat”, I started feeling bad about the exact same body that I had just felt good about less than an hour before.

Self-confidence and self-esteem shouldn’t be dependent on external validation. It’s your own internal opinion of yourself that makes you confident.

Someones negative or positive perception of you has no bearing on your own self-confidence. That comes from you.

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The day I went shopping. I thought I looked good so I took a photo ๐Ÿ™‚

Appreciation

Last week my boss sent out an email asking all of the employees to appreciate somebody at work.

I didn’t read the email until after I had been “appreciated”. My co-worker came up to me and thanked me for always being on time, efficient and professional.

Hearing those compliments made me so happy! And even after getting the email and realizing that she probably said it because she had been promoted too, I still think she was giving me a genuine compliment and it felt nice to be appreciated.

Regardless of why she said it, it meant a lot to me, and made me realize that I should make an effort to let people know I appreciate them more.

That day I sent our receptionist a nice email, thanking her for dealing with my difficult clients. Then when I got home I told Jeremy how much I appreciate him always taking out the trash.

Just small things. Things that I think in my head, but don’t always say out loud.

Just because it’s a small action, doesn’t mean it’s not important.

So I challenge everyone today, just like my boss did, to appreciate somebody. Acknowledge the things that they do, big or small, that make a positive impact on your life.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

I decided to try something new on my blog and participate in the Weekly Photo Challenge. From what I understand, they post a topic every week and you have one week to post a picture and write a little bit about what the topic/photo means to you.

This weeks prompt is kiss

257433_213718738660658_151159518249914_708729_5466961_oWhen I looking for a photo to pick out I of course wanted a photo of me and Jeremy. We have so many pictures of us kissing, from engagement photos, wedding photos, anniversaries, holidays, and just random moments.

I decided to pick a kiss photo that had the most meaning to me, because it was a kiss that I anticipated for 7 months.

Our first kiss after his Afghanistan deployment in 2011

I love this photo because you can almost see my smile in the kiss.

Deployments are hard. There are the missed holidays, the days where you feel like your life is falling apart, the days where realize you’ve forgotten what their touch feels like.

But after all of that, there is the homecoming. And it’s beautiful. To know that you’ve made it through one of the most challenging experience a couple could face.

To feel them in your arms again, to feel their lips on yours, to be complete again.

I think a homecoming kiss might be the most emotional kiss a person can have. It was certainly mine.

4-Year Anniversary

Today is mine and Jeremy’s 4-year wedding anniversary!

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I’ve been thinking for a while of how to document this day. Should I write a post about how our marriage has grown in the last 4 years? Reminisce about my favorite memory from our wedding day? There are too many choices!

I decided to write about the moment I was 100% sure I wanted to marry Jeremy.

To warn you, this story starts off a little unromantic, but I promise it has a happy ending…which I’m sure you can tell by the wedding photo above lol.

Jeremy and I had been dating for 6 months when he proposed. It wasn’t a huge surprise, we had been talking about it for a few months and picked out the ring together.

But announcing our engagement, setting a wedding date and having a ring on my finger made it all seem very real and kind of scary.

I’m not the kind of person to follow my heart or be spontaneous. I make smart, well thought out decisions that I predict will help me reach the goals I have set for my life.

I will be honest and say that I had doubts. I worried about if we were compatible enough, did we want the same future, could I really promise that I would still be in love with him in 30 years?

I read a few books about marriage, how to know if he is “the one”, what emotions and doubts other brides have gone though, etc.

So many people say that if you aren’t 100% sure you should marry someone, then you shouldn’t. But I think it’s normal to have some fears. Marriage is a HUGE deal, it’s a major life choice. I think being a little worried is normal, it means you are taking it seriously and understand what a life changing experience marriage is.

In the end, it wasn’t any of the books that I read that made me realize I was 100% sure I wanted to marry Jeremy, it was one little thought.

I briefly thought about telling Jeremy that I wasn’t ready and wanted to wait, and then I thought about how he would feel hearing that and the possibility that he might not want to be with me.

That was all it took, just one moment of thinking about life without Jeremy.

To be clear, I didn’t marry him because I was afraid he would leave me, I married him because thinking about not having him in my life made me realize that I don’t want to live my life without him. I realized that he is the man that I want by my side today, tomorrow, and every day after that.ย That was all the certainty I needed, realizing that I don’t want a future without him.

So when I walked down that aisle on February 14, 2009, and saw Jeremy’s smiling face as my destination, I was 100% sure that I wanted to commit myself to that man for the rest of my life.

I can’t know for certain that I will still love him in 30 years. I can’t know that we will be compatible when we finally become parents and I can’t know if we will always want the same things in the future when we are old and retired.

But what I do know is that he is the partner I want in my life, and I am willing to work though whatever challenge come our way because a life without him isn’t a life that I want.

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Weight Loss Motivation Cycle

I vacillate between two opinions when it comes to weight loss.

#1: the “if other people can do it I can do it” phase where I am inspired to other people weight loss and tell myself that with dedication, eating healthy, working out and staying motivated I too could be an inspirational ‘before and after’

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#2: I like to call this phase the “Marilyn Monroe”, whereย I should learn to love my body the way it is.

What’s wrong with being a size 12? I have never been a skinny girl, I should start to accept my body the way it is instead of trying to meld it into what is socially acceptable.

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I normally go through these phase in 2-4 month cycles. I decide to motivate myself to lose weight, I keep it up for 2-3 months, then I get tired of missing out on all the foods that I love and go back to my old ways, telling myself that I am just fine the way I am.

Today I went through both of these phases in one day.

Jeremy and I have been eating healthy and working out for the last 3 weeks and I’ve lost 3 lbs. I was depressed about the lack of progress after giving up all the foods that I like…and I was majorly craving Girl Scout cookies lol.

But then Jeremy was amazingly supportive and helped me brainstorm ideas to keep on track. He is very disciplined (something I am not) and is in very good shape (another thing I am not) lol.

After a long discussion we finally decided that I will be started the Advocare 24 Day Challenge, in the hopes that losing weight and seeing results right away will keep me motivated in working towards the healthy lifestyle we are trying to live.

I think one of my challenges in losing weight and staying motivated is that I’m not really that unhappy with my body. I always tell my clients, that people only change if they are uncomfortable enough with the way they are now. If your okay with your life, then you have no motivation for change.

Would I like to look hot in a bikini when I go to the beach? Yes. But since I don’t go to the beach that often and I think I look good in clothes, it’s not a huge motivating factor for me.

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But I’m hoping with Jeremy supporting me and investing my hard earned money, I will be able to break my cycle and make it more than 3 months of being healthy. My goal is 6 months, then a year and ultimately a lifestyle.

“It took more than a day to gain it, it will take more than a day to lose it”

The Little Things

When I married Jeremy I knew he wasn’t romantic. He has never been the type to surprise me at school and serenade me with a love song on a guitar. He rarely brings home flower and or surprises me with gifts.

But I’m okay with that, because I love him for who he is and I appreciate the other ways in which he shows me he loves me.

I may not get surprise vacations, but he is faithful, respectful, kind and honorable. And in little ways, he does show me his romantic side.

This last week I was incredibly moody thanks to mother nature, it seemed like everything Jeremy said irritated me…for absolutely no reason. The joy of being a woman I guess lol. I wasn’t feeling appreciated or loved, even though he was acting the same as he always does.

But then he did two little things that made me realize that I am indeed married to a truly wonderful man.

Jeremy has been working on a new project of his for the truck and needed to go into work to use the welder. He decided to go in on Friday night since he didn’t want to see anybody from work or get roped into actually doing real work. So he left around 3pm and I asked him if he could bring home dinner when he came home since I was craving Chipotle. Around 6pm he came home with dinner and I enjoyed the yumminess of a chicken bowl. Then he said he was going back to work…I was confused, I thought he was home for the night. He said that he didn’t get to finish what he needed to but he came home anyway because he knew I wanted Chipotle.

Insert my “awwww” feeling. He drove all the way back from work just to pick me up Chipotle because he knew I wanted it. He didn’t make a big deal out of it, it wasn’t meant to be a romantic gesture, that’s just how he is.

My next “awww” moment came this morning. Yesterday morning Jeremy had gotten up early to go into work and finish his project so I woke up alone. Well, I actually woke up to my cat. My cat and Jeremy have a mutual hatred of each other, so when Jeremy is in bed with me the cat leaves us alone and won’t wake me up to feed him. But with Jeremy gone yesterday morning the little devil woke me up at 7:30 am and I was not happy, as I had wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning after not going to bed till midnight that night.

I told Jeremy about it of course, just to complain. Then this morning when he woke up to go golfing he fed the cat for me so he wouldn’t wake me up ย (this is a big deal if you can understand how much Jeremy hates this cat).

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It’s little things like that which make me fall more in love with my husband every day. He isn’t one for big romantic gestures, but I never doubt his love and commitment to me because he is always showing me in small ways that he is thinking of me and that my happiness is important to him.

And to me, that means more than all the flowers in the world, because he does all these little things without making a big deal about it or trying, it’s just who he is. And I love him, exactly the way he is.

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Me and my cat, Sir Lancelot. Or, as Jeremy likes to call him, The Devil Cat, aka Shit Head lol

Ready for Civilian Life

Jeremy and I started talking about life post-militay tonight. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty excited about it.

When we got married I was completely fine with him being career military or getting out after his contract was up. When he decided to reenlist the first time I was leaning more toward reenlistment because it would mean a steady income while I finished graduate school, but I was open either way.

While his choice to stay in or get out is a joint decision, I’ve always left it in his hands. Yes, as a married couple his choices do affect me and we make all decision together, but I’ve always viewed it as his career. He is the one who has to go to work for the Marine Corps every day, not me. So I was never going to put any pressure either way.

Now he is 100% set on getting out in 3 years when his contract is up and I am thrilled.

I love the military, and it has given Jeremy and I so much over the last 6 years, but it also takes a lot of sacrifice. I am ready for all the things that military life has prevented us from enjoying.

I’m ready to buy a house in Wisconsin, settle down and not have to worry about moving unless we choose to.

I am ready for my husband to be home with me every night and not have to worry about having to say “good bye” ever again.

I am ready to be able to plan our future! To buy plane tickets more than a month in advance and plan vacations that aren’t last minute.

I am ready for Jeremy to get to go to college at University of Wisconsin and have a career that he loves

I am ready to get a job and be able to start my career and move up the ladder without having to worry about PCS orders and having to quit

I am ready to have babies! (not really something the military is preventing, just our personal choice to achieve all the goals stated above before we have children)

I am ready to be the wife of a veteran and not the wife of a Marine.

I will miss military life, I am sure. I will miss the sense of community, I will miss the balls, and I will certainly miss the sexy uniforms lol

But I’m ready.

Now I just have to wait 3 more years…lol

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Homecoming Honeymoon

I went with a friend to her homecoming yesterday so she could have the moment captured on video. It was beautiful. I cried. lol.

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Homecomings are so romantic and emotional, and the months after you get to experience the honeymoon phase all over again.

My husband come home two months ago from his secondย tour; it was beautiful, I cried and we had a honeymoon phase. He did the dishes after dinner without being asked, we couldn’t keep our hands off eachother, etc.

But eventually life gets in the way and things go back to the way they were. He goes back to work, you go back to work, and regualr life starts up again.

So yesterday, after I left her homecoming, I came home to my husband watching golf and working on one of his many projects. We went to the gym. I cooked dinner. We watched the new Bones and I did the dishes.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a night like that. We both work and have busy lives, being ordinary and normal on a Tuesday night isn’t a bad thing.

But then I started thinking, why does the honeymoon phase have to end? It comes naturally after a deployment because you’ve spent so long apart and appreciate eachother when you finally get to be together again after months apart.

But it can also be a choice. The honeymoon phase doesn’t have to end after a few months if we each make the choice to appreciate and act loving towards our spouse.

To end, because I am a total sucker for homecomings, you should all check out these homecoming pictures of one of the pregnant wives at my friends homecoming who got her husband home. I cried…again. lol

Young Marriage

I read a blog recently call “In Defense of Young Marriage”, and it felt like I was reading my own engagement story. The negative comments from people, questioning if I was pregnant, and the general doubt that young marriages will not last.

One point that really resonated with me was her description of people’s attitude about what a young adult should be doing with their life.

Somewhere along the way, young adulthood has transformed into an extended adolescence. It is expected that I need to experiment, roam free, party…’Find myself’.

There’s two assumptions in such an attitude that I dislike. Firstly, the assumption that being young goes hand in hand with reckless and ‘experimental’ behaviour, and that anything done in these years is of no importance, but merely testing the waters for ‘proper’ adulthood. Secondly, that any of these things would be impossible with a spouse…as though by sharing my life with (my spouse) I lose my personhood. As though I have no room to learn, grow, change, adventure, explore, or anything else.

I loved the blog post and I was originally going to make this into a “young marriage is awesome” post, but I’ve decide that it wouldn’t really be an accurate reflection of my feelings.

I agree with all of the authors points, I absolutely love being married to Jeremy and don’t regret marrying him when I was 20; but I can’t categorize all young marriages as “defendable”.

In the four years that Jeremy and I have been married, I have seen many young marriages fail. I have seen many unhappy marriages and I have seen infidelity.

So while I don’t think getting married young dooms a marriage to fail, I am no longer defensive when people caution young couples to take it slow and I understand now why people had such a negative reaction to my young engagement.

The person I was at 19 is not the person I am now at 24..and that has only been 5 short years. People change, and it takes work to make sure that you and your partner grow together and not apart.

When I say ‘work’, I don’t mean fighting. I mean putting in the effort to make your marriage the best that it can be and working jointly towards fixing any crack that may appear in the foundation of your marriage.

Marriage takes so much more than just love.

So all those comments that I heard when I announced I was engaged at 19…I get it now. I understand that the people who love me were concerned about me and didn’t want me to get hurt.

Does being 18 mean that your marriage will fail? No, but it also doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to succeed.

I’ve been one of the lucky young couples who has a happy successful marriage. However, so many factors go into our marriage that it is impossible for me to put sole responsibility on age, or any other aspect of our lives.

I will end by quoting another part of the post that resonated with me, and this is a point that ย I can “defend” whole heartedly.

“Being married young is a blessing and not a trap. I am excited to learn and grow together with my husband, through all seasons of life. I am excited that marrying young will give us the chance of celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary one day, and having a lifetime of memories to look back on. I love that by marrying young I am able to grow into myself and my adulthood with him by my side…with our lives organically blossoming entwined, rather than trying to meld two separate lives together later on.”

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