An Untitled Rant

Life sucks sometimes. It just doesn’t make sense.

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about a then 20 year old guy finding out he developed type 1 diabetes during college spring break.  I’m talking about a spirited soul dying in a freak accident on the fourth of July.  I’m talking about a Mom jumping off a bridge.  I’m talking about getting a phone call telling you the girl who snuck you into your first bar may stepping into the ring of the biggest fight of her life.  A friend who has persevered through so much.  Who is recently married.  Who is BEAUTIFUL and YOUNG, and FULL OF LIFE.

What am I talking about?  I’ll tell you what goes through all our heads whether we want to admit it or not.  I’m talking about the things where all you can really think in your head is “WHAT THE FUCK, GOD?!  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!”

And you know what the worst feeling is?  Having to swallow your pride and accept the cards you are dealt.  Even in the worst moments in life, you have got to know that God had the blueprint of your life before you were even created.  Do we throw curveballs in those blueprints?  Sure.  However, I truly believe that we all end up where we are supposed to be one way or the other.  So what do you do when this shitty shit happens?

You saddle up, sister.

You give God your grace, your hope, your life.  You give God your all.  You also prepare yourself to put in work like you never have before.  Work you never wanted to be a part of.  You start poking yourself 20 times a day to be sure your body is where it needs to be.  You huddle around old high school friends and celebrate a life that abruptly ended, and maybe even reevaluate your own.  You make the conscious decision that the addictive, toxic traits that were fueled by excuses end with you.  You prepare yourself for the fight of your life.

You listen to KB the rapper because for some reason Christian rap really reaches you.  You pray.  You pray like hell.  You get your hands dirty.  You make changes, go through challenges, and throw everything you have into kicking whatever shitty thing that has happened to you straight in the ass.  You don’t go down without fights.  You don’t get knocked down like that.

POSITIVITY breeds POSITIVITY.  Negative thoughts do the same.  How are you viewing your life?

I can speak on this personally.  Even thinking about the negative “what if” or “what could” will only make you feel like shit.  God doesn’t want you to feel like shit.  He wants you to have faith and trust in HIM.  Trust me, I know it’s not easy. You may be filled with anger, sadness, shock, denial all within hours.  I feel like that now.  I’m mad.  I’m so mad.  I’m mad this bullshit happens in the first place.

And right there, there’s the negativity I was just talking about.  Instead of being mad, I’m going to be grateful.  Grateful for Jesus, my family, my friends, my life.  Grateful for really smart kids who grow up to be doctors.  Grateful for modern medicine.  Grateful for every stupid, dumb, shitty thing that happens in life.  Want to know why?  I’m grateful because time and time again, God proves that after every storm comes a rainbow. I know God’s will for any life is never meant in vain. I know God will lift our beautiful (and kind of a smartass :-P) friend’s heart, body, and life.

Until I can prove this on paper, I’ll be praying a lot.  I ask you to do the same.

Sorry for this rant.  I know it’s full of run ons, comma splices, and curse words.  This is real life, though.  I would also like to say that I have no idea what your shitty life thing is. I’m not trying to say I understand, or that I can remotely relate.  9 times out of 10, I can’t.  I can’t relate to something I’ve never experienced.  I just hope people know that I can be here to listen and say “that sucks.”  And I love you.

I’m going to quit typing now.  But I will copy and paste this from my favorite song:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever you would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

 

-Elaina

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I drove 286 miles, heading to the town who made me who I am.

I drove 286 miles to a place known for ducks and beards.

I drove 286 miles to find something.

I drove 286 miles for a realization.

 West Monroe, LA

West Monroe, Louisiana.  Population: 13,802.  A place you smell upon entrance.  A place the nation knows for a dynasty.  A place you can only truly understand if you grew up there. West Monroe was the hometown that took me under her wing for over 15 years.  My first date, first kiss, first wreck, first a lot of things all happened in the eight mile span that makes up the place.  West Monroe offered a refuge for so many moments in my life. West Monroe seemed like home.  For a while, I believed it was.

I anxiously awaited going back to my hometown.  I needed it. An emptiness kept growing inside me.  Like a carpenter to wood, tiny fractions of my heart kept falling in my stomach.  I assured myself my heart would be filled if I could just get back, if I could just get home.  I needed the wholeness.  I needed the escape.

As I drove into the town, I felt my heart flutter and sink at the same time.  I took the long way in.  I passed the house where my father lived, and parked my car in front of the house that used to be my home.  While I visited family, laughed with old friends, drove around the town reminiscing on memories, my heart started to break even more.

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I didn’t find myself experiencing the escape I was looking for. I found myself crying on the floor of a home that wasn’t mine. Then it hit me – the realization.

I had cemented my feet in the ground, looking back.

Life is progressive. It’s meant to propel forward. Why was I hitting a wall?  When our past steps into our lives, it stops us dead in our tracks. Frozen in time, my soul became flooded with a whirlwind of emotions. My mind became engulfed in thoughts and memories that I will never have back.

For the longest time, I would go to my hometown in search of something that I now realize I’d never find. There’s a vulnerability and an innocence I left in that town. A naive security. There’s a love I lost there. A relationship that will forever be cloaked. Each trip home, I’d try to remove that cloak. I’d look for the normalcy I once had.

It’s scary to forget someone. It’s hard to let pieces of your heart go, which is essential in progression. Our hearts mend, but they are forever changed. I think that’s the hardest part of progression: moving on.  I couldn’t realize it at the time, but I was being my own carpenter.  I was chiseling away at my own heart because I couldn’t let go.  No town, no person was going to give me the wholeness I desired.  I needed the strength to take off the decay.  I needed to make the decision to let it go.

I never stop thinking. I daydream about my future, I remember my past, I think of my accomplishments, I open the wounds of failures. I dissect as much as I can. I believe it’s my twisted way of progression. For me, I know there will be set backs. There will be hurt. There will be regret.  That’s life though, isn’t it?  I know that I have these moments of pain to experience the moments of happiness and love I didn’t know I was capable of.

I don’t want to walk through my life blindly. I want to keep pushing forward. I can’t do that when I keep glancing back. It took my past stepping in and reminding me that I am the one who controls my happiness.  The happiness and wholeness I kept looking for can be found nowhere but  inward. I realize that now.  I remember that now.

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The next time I go to West Monroe, Louisiana, I can drive in with a new appreciation for all she offered to me.  I can be thankful for the memories, life lessons, and growth she provided.  I can appreciate the newness she holds.

Other people make you happier, they can even make you better. Other places can offer you a calm. However, no one, place, or thing can make you happy. That is your responsibility. When there’s an inner peace in your soul, life will show you how to make that love larger.  To me, that love and peace is what home is.  Your home is inside of you.  Your happiness is inside of you.  Once we’re lucky enough to find that place and person who make it better, we plant our roots there.  It’s not a building.  It’s not an other half. It’s not a town.  Your home is in you.

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I know 2011 will chip away at a lot of things through life.  August is hard.  October is hard.  The mistakes I made between those times are hard.  As much as I wish I could erase those parts in my life, I know they brought me to where I am now.  I know I am a stronger, better person for the trials life has provided me.  I know I can make it through anything.  While there may always be a solemn memory of people, places, and events that have occurred in my past, I know God is pushing me in the direction I am meant to take.

Choose happiness.  Choose inner peace.  Choose to not plant your feet in the wrong direction.  Make your home strong and only allow it to grow stronger.  Keep progressing. Life will show you exactly why the path is paved in the direction it is.

Our Happily Ever After.

My usual alarm buzzed, but my eyes had been wandering the ceiling for the past hour.  I assumed I would be full of nerves, excitement and worries.  However, I was unusually calm.  I quickly hopped into my workout clothes and headed to the gym for my usual Saturday morning run.  Nothing was particularly different about this Saturday, except for the fact it was our wedding day.

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My house was occupied by bridesmaids and blowup mattresses.  I quietly crept back inside, trying my hardest not to wake anyone.  As I sat on my bed preparing myself for the day, it hit.  This was it.  This was the day.

I spent the last eleven months of my life organizing, crafting, fighting, worrying and working as hard as I could all for this 4 hour event.

Weddings will turn even the most level-headed  person into a monster.  “The most important day of your life” will quickly suck the sanity out of you.  As a bride, you’ll pin, and think, and overanalyze, and stress, and argue with the people you love the most.  Over what?  Nothing.

I spent hours debating over a stamp.  A STAMP.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the details that you’ll forget what you’re actually doing here.  You’ll forget the meaning of the day, the event.  You forget that the stamps, food, dresses, flowers are but a mere second in what you and your soon-to-be husband are starting:  the rest of your lives.

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So as I sat on my bed, I chose to remember what the day was about.  And you know what?  Everything was perfect.

All of you know I don’t write unless I think I have something worth saying that is meaningful to more than just myself.  I’m making an exception with this post.  April 12, 2014 was the most important day of Ryan and my relationship.  It was a day filled with happiness, plus or minus some bridezilla moments.  It’s something I want to remember forever.

That being said, I’ve mentioned how crazy wedding planning can be.  A lot of my wedding was DIY.  I remained as budget conscious as possible when deciphering what was and wasn’t worth the costs.  My opinions and tips are written throughout the documentation of this crazy, awesome day in hopes that I may save some future brides a headache or two.  Let’s get started then.

 

 

Once upon a time, in a magical place called New Orleans (just kidding, but not really)..

A streetcar passed as my sister and I walked into the St. Charles Street home of Pam Pickett.  Decorated with all things New Orleans, the home truly reflected that of a Mardi Gras Queen.  The French doors opened to a bright, sunny day.  I felt at home instantly.

The Bridal Party spent the day in hair and makeup.    My family and friends dropped in to visit throughout the day.  My aunt joked she’d never seen me so calm.  I couldn’t help it.  I was in bliss.  I planned my last few hours as a Mitchell to be nothing but wonderful.

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The boys were a bit more adventurous.

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And by adventurous, I mean they ate.  Something I only dreamed of doing.  I caught myself day dreaming about the amazing spread of sandwiches, finger foods and fruit across the table from the hair and makeup.  Reality quickly caught up with me though.  I had a dress to fit in.  So I stuck to almonds instead.

Choosing bridesmaids was one of the hardest parts of our wedding aside from the treacherous guest list.  Because I have been lucky enough to become friends with so many different groups of ladies throughout my life, choosing bridesmaids was very difficult for me.  I knew my choices.  It was either a bridal party of four or 14.  I ultimately decided to go with my family.  It was perfect.  I know a lot of girls struggle with this decision.  I would recommend a smaller wedding party to anyone.  Your friends love you no matter what.  Everyone joined in on the fun parts (like the bachelorette), but they saved money on a dress.  Win/win.

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Before I could blink, it was time to get dressed.  My sister, aka best maid of honor in the history of the world, sweetly surprised me with a charm of pammy and me.  It was a bittersweet moment.  A wedding without a Mom is very weird.  There’s a piece missing.  Like other moments I’ve experienced in the almost three years she’s been gone,  there will always be a small piece missing.  While I already knew she was watching, the charm was the perfect reminder of my constant angel.

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Though my mom wasn’t there to help with the dress, I had both my sisters.

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My “something old” was a ring given to me by my grandmother the night before I graduated college.  The ring was purchased by her mother as a right hand ring.  I always loved it growing up and was so surprised when she gave it to me.  I loved the ring being a part of the day.

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It took me about an hour to get all my gear on.  It took Ryan about 15 minutes.

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Next thing you know, I’m treading through the back scenes of Audubon Park to have an ever so original “tap on the back” first look.  It’s a fairly new tradition not everyone is comfortable with.  I had no doubts about doing a first look because I honestly thought I was going to cry like a baby.  Surprisingly, there were no tears.  All I had was a really sweet, intimate moment before the crazy hit.  Doing a “first look” allowed Ryan and I to get all formal photographs out the way prior to the wedding.  We didn’t cut into any “fun” time by having to take photos, which was great considering we only had a 4 hour wedding and reception.

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I decided to keep the colors of the bridesmaids and groomsmen natural.  I wanted the wedding to correlate with the location.  I wanted everything to be “swampy.”  The groomsmen wore navy suits with a pink Brooks Brothers tie.  The bridesmaids wore the crinkle chiffon collection of Amsale in the style of their choice.

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I put all eggs into my flower basket.  I was dependent on the flowers to add the pop of color.  New Orleans’ florist Meade Wenzel exceeded every expectation I had difficultly set out.  I cannot express how thrilled I was with the end result.  She knows what she’s doing, and it was comforting to be able to trust her opinion and taste.  The flowers were more than I imagined.  She’s a great choice for anyone in the New Orleans area.

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The flower girl dresses were one of my favorite parts on the wedding.  I found the dresses from UK-based clothing store called Monsoon.  They were inexpensive and the perfect fit for a rustic wedding.

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In order to choose what to spend a lot of thought and money on and what not to,  I tried to think about what I found important at prior weddings I attended.  Flyers weren’t one of those things.  I created my program from home.  Another one of those Pinterest saves the day DIY projects.  OH:  Shoutout to the groomsmen.  They printed and folded them on cardstock before the wedding!

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God couldn’t have provided better weather for our big day.  The ceremony was held outside the Cajun Ballroom and Swamp Exhibit at the Audubon Zoo.  After being escorted to the exhibit via the zoo trains, guests sat at the picnic tables, and family sat in chairs for the ceremony.  Bella Musica provided our beautiful music.

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I had mixed emotions on the festoon lighting at first.  Now I’m so happy I got it.  The lighting was a small detail that added so much to the venue and feel.  Well worth it.

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How precious were the ring bearer and flower girls?

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The man who gave me the wedding of my dreams.  I’m so thankful for my Dad.  We’ve been through so much, but he’s always been there for me, giving me sound advice.  My stepmom is such a blessing to the three of us.  She’s actually a photographer.  She took some beautiful bridals for me.  I was lucky enough to have two photographers at my wedding.  One of my best friends, Caitlin Hebert and Ms. Staci’s assistant, Wade.  I’m so happy with each.  I’m also glad I was able to have traditional photographs as well as photojournalistic.  I know a lot of people don’t have that luxury.

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The ceremony was exactly how Ryan and I imagined.

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For the past few months, we’ve been attending a church in New Orleans called the Harbor.  We’ve truly found our home.  It’s the first church where we both know we’re supposed to be there.  James Welch, the pastor at the Harbor, was our officiant.  He was hilarious, minus that part where he dissed Johnny’s Pizza.  I can’t say enough about the awesome things happening at the Harbor.  I’m glad Ryan and I are becoming members.  I know big things will come from the love happening at Harbor every Sunday.    I’m very thankful James was willing to be a part of our day.

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But, let’s get to the only part of a wedding that everyone else cares about: the reception.

 

Ryan and I danced to “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5.  It’s about as corny as a love song as we could go.

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The rest was, well..just a big party

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One of the best parts of the reception was Alex Harvie.  Alex paints events live.  We now have our night hanging in the house.  You can see the finished product on my instagram.  It was the best wedding gift we could ask for from Ryan’s Parents.  Plus, Alex is a really cool guy.  Highly recommend him!

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Speaking of people this wedding wouldn’t be possible without..

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..and my grandmothers, aunts (including Mrs. Judy), friends.Mrs. Pam Pickett who was practically my new Orleans live saver/wedding planner.  My sister.  My thank you list would break the internet at this point. I haven’t gotten the chance to say thank you to every single person who took the time out of their lives to be a part of the beginning of ours.  The amount of friends and family who travelled from all over really was incredible.  We know we are so loved and supported.  We couldn’t be more thankful for you guys.  We wouldn’t be who we are with you.

Of course, we had a Kappa Delta toast.

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…and majority of family members were on stage at some point.  Including my new niece, Kate!

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It’s not a New Orleans party until there’s a second line.  We ended the night with a big second line out of the exhibit to the trains.  It was such a fun send off.  I decided to DIY my second line handkerchief using a fluer de lis stamp.  Probably my favorite arts and crafts projects of the entire wedding!

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THE Bobby Hebert even led a chant.

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Notice all these amazing photos?  They’re all from the eye of the ever-talented Caitlin Hebert of Caitlin B. Photography.  Caitlin is a photographer in the New Orleans area who is PHENOMENIAL at all she does.  Check out her website.  I am so lucky to call this girl my friend.  I loved how she captured the night as if it were still in motion.  I 1000000000% recommend Caitlin to anyone looking for a photographer in the area.  You can see all the wedding pictures she took here.

I’d also like to thank the entire staff at the Audubon Zoo.  Vivian and her team were so accommodating and helpful throughout the entire planning process.  Thank you guys so much for everything.

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It’s a night we will never forget. We love you guys!

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-Elaina (now Fischer)

 

P.S. If this novel wasn’t enough, check out the video from Elizabeth Shaw and Drew Guillory.  I met Elizabeth and Drew while working at the Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge.  They’ll probably both win an Oscar one day.  So glad they were able to capture the day.  Awesome videographers for the Baton Rouge/New Orleans Area.

 

 

 

 

 

Photography: Caitlin B Photography (shown); Albritton Photography (West Monroe, LA)

Videography: Elizabeth Shaw, Drew Guillory

Florist: Meade Wenzel

Venue: Audubon Zoo

Ceremony Musician: Bella Musica

Reception Band: BRW

 

 

I do.

I find myself knee-deep in party favors and contracts these days.  All the clutter collected on my back table is for April 12, 2014 –  my wedding day.  Tonight was no different until I decided to take a “break” and visit the world’s best procrastination tool: Facebook

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I immediately noticed two articles that multiple friends shared.  One titled  “23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23,” the other titled “24 things to do instead of getting married before you’re 24.”  Due to circumstance, and the fact that I’m indeed engaged and getting married at the ripe old age of 23, they felt like must reads.

Each article hit the same topic in different perspectives.  I couldn’t help but find myself laughing. I could’ve written those blogs verbatim two years ago.  Well, let’s get real.  Mine would’ve leaned more towards the 23 one, but that’s beside the point.

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Then it hit me.  January 8th, 2012.  The one moment when my entire life changed before I even had time to know it was happening.  Under a well-lit Palace Cafe sign stood one very tall, very handsome man who I wanted nothing to do with.  The next moment was an impromptu change of plans in my night.  The next 730 days were a compilation of moments that created an impromptu change in my life.

So why do you get married before you’re 24?

You get married before you’re 24 because you are lucky enough to meet the person that makes every terrible moment in your life make sense.  You get married before you’re 24 because you’re given a gift in the form of a person.

This person isn’t like the rest.  This person doesn’t judge you for your past.  He doesn’t get angry or disgruntled over your mistakes.  He carries the burden of your biggest regrets, and only respects you more for growing.

He sees your best even when you can’t.  He supports your dreams and tries everything possible to make them come true.   He knows all the stupid things on your bucket list, and only minimally makes fun of you when you get to scratch off #7 because you finally got to see John Mayer live.  He signs you up for half-marathons because he knows you’d never actually do it yourself.  He trains with you and runs next to your side because he believes in you.

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He pushes you.  He sees your potential, and he won’t let you settle for anything but your best.  He’s your rock.   He calls you out when you are wrong.  He acknowledges when you are right.  He doesn’t keep score.  You don’t owe him anything.  He knows every flaw, and loves you for each one.

You get married before you’re 24 because God let someone come into your life when you were at your absolute worst.  God gave you someone who showed you what is important.  God gave you someone who teaches you to forgive yourself when you aren’t sure if those you hurt ever will.

You get married before you’re 24 because all those major goals and all those things that seemed so important before you met him seem miniscule without that person next to you.  You get married before you’re 24 when you completely lose yourself in a person.  Your life is no longer your own.  Both your lives are for one another.  Messy, scrambled skeletons perfectly build your life together.  You get married before you’re 24 when you would have it no other way.

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You get married before you’re 24 because the thought of settling down and getting old and cooking and kids and diaper changes and adulthood isn’t scary anymore.  It actually sounds pretty good.

I mean, that’s all we’re looking for in this life isn’t it?  Someone to share it with?

Newsflash:  we don’t get the choice when we fall in love.  It just happens.   When you know, you know.

Like one of my favorite quotes from a rather great movie:  You get married before you’re 24  “..because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

I love you, Ryan.

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The Fear of the Known

You are sitting at your desk on a Monday morning.  Emails are flooding in, your phone is ringing off the hook, and you cannot help but have an internal panic attack of whether or not you locked your car in the sketchy (yet only affordable) parking lot.

As you sit in the chair that you will leave a total of four times in the next 8 hours, you think “This is it?  This is why I was in such a rush to get out of college?”

Well, the good news is that you are not alone.

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I cannot begin to count the amount of times I read Post Grad Problems on twitter and think “MY LIFE.”  It is true.  Most of us had dreams of graduating the four (or more) best years of our lives, being hired by that psychology or public relations firm (because there are so of those) and sitting comfy in our corner office, overlooking the greatness of all we thought we would be.

Ha. In this economy? That dream is a pointless one.  It’s a hard, brutal truth.  While I cannot decide whether to thank older generations or political leaders for the mess we will eventually be cleaning up,  I still choose to go with my overly-optimistic mindset I mentioned in my previous post.

I graduated college in August of 2012.  I began looking for a job in May of 2012.  Thank you, JESUS that someone gave me a heads up.  I am also thankful I had people in my life who were generous enough to give me a job.  I was unemployed for a whopping seven days.  Even though it was only a week, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Why would I lose my mind?  Because, from the wise words of my father “There’s nothing more dangerous than a bored woman.”

So true.  Which is why I knew I could not stay at my first job.  The people, location, and leaders were amazing.  I inherited an entire new brain of information in 3 months I was there.  While I felt so grateful to be in the position, I knew I wasn’t in the right place for me.  So when the entry-level “dream job” I had applied for back in June was offered to me, I made a very tough decision to leave.  Out of all the break ups in my life, breaking up with my first employer was, and will be, the saddest one I have ever gone through.

However, I know I made the right choice for myself.

I love my current job.  The people, being downtown – it’s a post grad dream.  But there has got to be a but, right?..

…BUT…

Do you ever wonder where your current job will take you?  My head is full of these big plans of success, but I have no idea if I am heading in the right direction to get there.  Add the pressure of being in a fairly new city, maintaining a social life, a relationship and financial responsibilities, and we have ourselves one very full plate.

It feels like I am punching the gas of my drive and determination while my position is in neutral.  Like the gas in a car, I fear that if I keep punching, I will eventually burn all my fuel that makes me what to succeed.

My fear may seem like a fear of the unknown, but the future is not what scares me.  The future keeps me going.  Knowing I have the opportunity to better myself and others every day is exciting to me.  The constant change of life keeps my curiosity enough to where I will always look forward to my next step.

My fear comes from the thought that I’m not taking those opportunities as they are presented.  I read countless articles on becoming a better leader, achieving goals, helping others,and making a difference.  I want to do those things.  My question is: How do I do these things and maintain proper responsibilities and relationships? Better yet, how do I do all these things while working an entry level job?

Since majority of us share this feeling, here’s my advice.  Yeah, I completely realize I have no room for advice giving, but I’m doing it anyway.

1.  Figure out what you love.  Regardless if it has anything to do with your current job position.

I love exercise, I love my boyfriend, I LOVE the film industry.  I also love to travel.  How does this factor in to selling hotel rooms?  It doesn’t.  And that’s okay.  Knowing what you love is the first step in the right direction of figuring out exactly what you want to do with your life.  I do know that my current position allows me to balance all the things I love to do.  The job gives me better opportunities to travel.  I’m also learning a ton about sales, which is a field I could see myself in the future.  This brings me to my next point…

2. LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

You have a job.  I don’t care if you had to move back to your home town.  I don’t care if you are working completely under your intellectual level.  There are literally millions of people who would happily take that job you complain about on a daily basis.  Look back at your past jobs.  You learned something at each one.  Each position we hold is preparing us for the future.  Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we should make the most of that time.

3.Figure out your priorities.

Some of us want to devote our lives to our career.  Some of us do not.  There is no problem with either.  The problem develops when you do not know what matters to you. It all goes back to the whole “you can’t have everything” phrase we’ve heard our entire lives.  While it is great to work towards having it all,  the truth is it will not happen.  For me, I know I want be in a position that allows me to balance my work and my personal life.  If in ten years from now, I want to go to my kid’s peewee football game, I want to go to my kid’s football game.  I know that in some positions the balance between work and family is impossible.  A lot of jobs I think I would LOVE fall into that category.  But I know my priorities.

Not having everything is a good thing.  It allows us to see through the fog of our future.  We also are able to find people who share similar interests.  So, my next piece of advice?

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4. Get involved.

Getting involved is easier said than done.  I have now been a resident of New Orleans for six months and have yet to join an actual club (and no, your self-made “supper club” with college friends doesn’t count).  Trust me, I know that it can be awkward to bust up at a meeting where you’re the new kid.  But think about it, you’re only the new kid once.  I love to run.  I love beer.  I’m going to a running club that ends at a local bar this week.  Similar interest, new people, more fun.. it’s that easy.  Try it!

My next piece of advice is probably the most simple, yet the one we all do the least..

5. Ask questions and listen to the answers.

Asking questions is kind of like running.  I hate the thought of doing it, but once I do I am glad I did.  For some ridiculous reason, asking questions used to make me feel incompetent, like I could not do my job.  I ran into this problem recently.

We work with a very complex computer system at my job. Last week, I could not figure out how to insert certain data.  I mentioned this to my boss, and next thing I know she has some woman from another department coming to help me.  Irritation does not begin to explain my feeling.

I don’t know why, but I found it offensive.  So dumb of me.  A woman with over 15 years of experience wanting to help me and I’m offended?  Once I got over myself, I learned so much.  I now have a friend I can call if I have questions.

If you’re lucky enough to be asked on a lunch, go.  Ask as many questions as you can think of, and genuinely listen to the answers.  Don’t be afraid you’re being annoying, either.  People love to talk about themselves, especially when you’re interested.  Plus, people like listeners.  Listening can also be beneficial to you.  Another person’s experiences may help make your curvy career path a little straighter.

and last, but not least..

6. SET SOME GOALS!

No, seriously.  Write them down in your notebook, bulletin board, whatever.  Check them out every day.  Oh, they change?  Cool.  Scratch out the old one and pencil in the new one.  Having a goal gives purpose to the mundane tasks we do.  It gives us a way to monitor the progress of our journey from very entry level to only a little entry level.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did it.

The point of this post?  A warm message telling you to hang in there.  We’re all in the $13.00/hour boat, might as well make the most of it, right?

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Until Next Time.

-Elaina

Retrospect.

Would’ve.  Could’ve.  Should’ve.

Anyone else realize how much three words can weigh down your heart?

I don’t know how many times I’ve tired to sit down and write this.  I don’t know how many times I’ve walked away.  For some reason today, right now, it’s almost like my head wouldn’t let me do anything else.  I feel compelled.

On October 3rd, it will be a year since my Mom committed suicide.  On October 3rd, it’ll be a year since I haven’t had a Mom.  It’s a pain and sadness I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put into words.  It’s unjustifiable.

People say hind sight  is 20/20.  In some ways, I wholeheartedly agree.  In others, I don’t.  It’ s perplexing.

I was one of the last people my Mom called before deciding to jump off a bridge.  I didn’t answer it.  I watched it ring.  I had a big test, and things had been so bad that I didn’t want to deal with it.  You know, there are days that I wish I would have answered that phone call.  There are days I’m glad I didn’t.  More often than not, I try and stick with my overly-optimistic  “everything happens for a reason” life philosophy.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not an emotional, pity-craving person.  None of my family is.  It’s not that I didn’t appreciate all the calls, letters, facebook posts, tweets, emails, texts.  I did.  So much.  The thought of everyone’s support is insane, honestly.  I am still amazed to this day how my town pulled together for three people.  I’m amazed my friends drove from Baton Rouge, Texas, all over just to give me a hug.  It was incredible.

It wasn’t at all that I was unappreciative.  I was angry.  And to be honest, I was angry for a long time.  I still get angry.  However, as days go by, I’m realizing  I’ve reached that “acceptance” stage of tragedy.

It’s so sad.  It’s been sad for my Mom’s friends, family.  It’s been sad for my Dad and sister.  It’s been sad for me.  And while there is this undeniable sadness I feel for everyone affected in our situation, I can’t help but feel most sadness for her.  I’m more upset for the person who loses the light.

Think about life.  It surrounds you.  It’s given and taken daily.  It’s wonderful and just plain shitty all in the same week.  It’ s fun and confusing and hard.  So hard, and yet.. It’s beautiful.   Life is beautiful.  Life is a gift.  Even on its absolute worst days, that beauty still exists in it.  We all live in such a crazy, fast paced world these days.  It doesn’t stop.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the clutter.. in all the bad.  I know this because  I used to.

While I would never wish a tragedy on anyone,  I do wish people could have the clarity that comes from a loss.  The clarity that comes from being at your absolute lowest point, and realizing that even at your lowest point, there’s still so much good in life and in yourself.  There is so much power in you.

In a year, I’ve been at my worst and my best.  I’ve been the most angry, hateful, upset.  I have been my most ignorant and most intelligent.  I’m now at my happiest.  It’s full-circle situation.

Main point, first off, no doubt, I hate to think where I would have been without God through all of this.  I am by no means the holiest of examples.  I’m still not.  However, there is not a single doubt in my mind and in my heart that there is a “Big Man” up there.  I follow him, and I know that his strength kept my head screwed on even when I was sure it would fly off.  He’s the reason  I didn’t completely lose it.

I also believe it was God who allowed me to venture into the darkest of places so I could realize my own strength.  I was “allowed”  to go into that slump so I could pull myself out of it.

Even before my Mom’s death, I wasn’t focused on the guts of life.  I wasn’t focused on the right things.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the game.  I was.  It’s so easy for us to be selfish creatures.  I don’t believe it’s ever intentional, but it happens.  It’s our nature.  In everything we do, more than times than not the first thought is how this will benefit me, how will this push me to the top, what will I get out of it.

That’s really no way to live.

I’m very disappointed in how I acted the months following my Mom’s suicide.  From the outside, I seemed fine.  My friends actually would argue that I was too fine.  In retrospect, I think the “me” mindset exploded during the months of October through December.  In my head, I was only worried about myself.  Again, looking at it now, I had been heading down this “looking out for number one” mentality for a while.  I just don’t think I had been who I wanted to be for a long time, actually.  Unfortunately, it took some time to realize that.

I hurt a lot of people.  A lot.  Nothing will ever justify that.  It makes my stomach turn to think about it.  In high school, my friends and I would snarl at the girls who “went through friends like toilet paper.”  I.E. those girls who didn’t care how she would make the other people feel because she was too wrapped up in her own problems.

I became that girl.  I was dark and cynical and so focused on myself.  I didn’t take into consideration how I was making others feel.  I was just so mad.  I would think about it all..my mom, my life.. and I could just feel my skin start to boil.

There was this thought process of “how could this happen to me?  Why did we have to become a spectacle?” My Mom knew how much I hated to be consoled, and she set me up for at least a solid lifetime of it.

Just read that.  What?  What was I thinking?  Oh, that’s right.  I was thinking about myself.

I focused my energies into my future.  I focused on all the places I could go.  I focused on getting the hell out of my hometown, and the state of Louisiana in general.  I started looking for things no one can look for.  I was on the adrenaline rush that comes with a tragedy.  The go and do and go and make and take and do until you are literally too exhausted to have time to be anything near remorseful.  I hid behind my goals.  It was a downward spiral.  That’s exactly what happened.  I’m so sorry to everyone I hurt during it.

I hate, and almost feel guilty, that it has taken me this long to say how badly my heart breaks for my Mom every single day.  I think about it constantly.  It is always on the back burner.  I know I am not the only one.  My mom let herself get to where she couldn’t see the light.

As many of you know now, my Mom developed an addiction to prescription drugs.  Simple prescriptions that most of you probably have in your cabinet.  Medicines that alter feelings.  While sometimes, they help.  They can also hurt.   They changed my Mom, and they took her to a place where she couldn’t see the brightness.. a place where she couldn’t see the point.

This is where I say hindsight is spot on.  Looking back, I feel stupid for not doing something more than telling her she needed help.  My Mom was loved by an entire community.  My Mom played such an important role in so many people’s life.  There was only one “Pammy.”  How was she supposed to admit she had a problem that many people face?

Every time I think about it, there’s an ache I cannot explain.  I think about major events to happen in the future for my sister, my Dad, my Mom’s friends, myself… She won’t be there.  She wasn’t there when I graduated college last month.  She won’t be there when MA graduates next year.  Boyfriends, Weddings, Babies, she will not be there.

It’s not worth it.  It’s not worth wondering if you could’ve done something. If you are worried about someone, tell them.  Be there for them.  Trust me.

I cannot begin to explain how strong and courageous I think people are for taking control of their life.  Every one of us gets in bad situations.  Whether you decide to speak with someone, take up a new hobby, or go through rehabilitation, you are the most brave of souls.  I know for a fact everyone in this world is loved.  I know that because, guess what, I love you.  God loves you.  I’m not going to try and get religious, but I want you to know that you are strong, and beautiful… You are a fighter.  You are admired.

I never want another person to lose sight of the light like my Mom did.  Your life was specifically written for you.  None of us were put into situations we cannot handle.  God doesn’t design you to leave on your own terms.  You are worth something.  You serve a purpose.  You are loved.  It makes me so sad to think that my Mom did not see it.

Leave it to Katy Perry’s song “Wide Awake”  to wake me up.  It made me realize that past the adrenaline, past the anger, past the rage, I was putting off accepting things for how they are.  By accepting, I can let go.  I am able to remember my Pammy for all the wonderful things.

I think I have the best Dad and sister a girl could ask for.  I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl.  He has been there for me through thick and thin.  I see a lot of him in me.  I’m so happy he’s so happy.  He deserves it.  My little sister is one of the most goal-driven, hilarious, and beautiful people I know.  I am so glad we are so close.  Even at five years apart, all we can seem to fight about is clothes.  That’s pretty lucky in my book.  She will always be my best friend (and my other half of my closet).

I also can’t truly speak from my heart without mentioning Ryan.  I don’t know how else to say it, but I feel like he’s been a gift, a prayer answered.  He’s been somewhat of a martyr since the day I met him.  The man is strong.  He has a heart unlike any I’ve ever met.  He also has the most amazing family who have graciously have taken me in.  They’ve made me feel so at home.  I feel so blessed God put him in my life.  We are exactly alike and polar opposite at just the right things.  He’s even somehow made me excited about running a half-marathon!  No one has ever had my heart the way he does.  I know I wouldn’t be at the point I am today without him.  I am so happy and so content with my life.  I know he has a huge part in that.  I just wish my Mom could have met him.  I know she would love him, just as I do.

I hope something can be learned from my Mom’s death.  I hope you don’t let yourself lose the light.  Realize that even in your darkest hour, that light is still shining.  It will always shine.  You just have to believe in it.

I know my sister and I wouldn’t be half the person we are if my Mom didn’t make us this way.  I know I wouldn’t have my drive if my Mom had not ever allowed me to give up on my dreams.  She taught me so much about myself.  I will be forever thankful for the 21 years she was in my life.

Be a spokesperson for all you have to offer.  You wouldn’t be who you are without all your accomplishments and all your mistakes.  Nothing can grow without your growth.  Know the amazing person you are.

Don’t let it take a tragedy to realize how truly blessed you are.  There’s always a light.  You just have to have the courage to find it.  As I’ve said before, love YOUR life.. As it was specifically designed for you.

With so much Love.

Elaina