Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breaking Through

Better late than never, amirite?
Today's prompt for the Runners Tell All linkup is "most memorable running experience."

This is hard to qualify. What makes something the "most" memorable? I don't know. I remember a lot of things, and almost every landmark experience in my running journey, which I'm just shy of 10 months into. That's on purpose: I document things. I do this because I always want to remember the big moments — and especially the little ones that don't seem all that big until you try to look back on them years later.

I remember the first time I ran any distance without stopping to walk. It was 1.5 miles and "my trainer" (a.k.a. former running buddy, the guy who helped me run my first steps on December 26, 2013) and I were ecstatic at the end of it. Until then, I'd have to stop a few minutes in every time we struck out.

I remember my first race. I remember my first five-miler. I remember my first 10-miler. I remember my 5k PR.

But one running moment I look back on so often, particularly when I'm running and my legs feel like they're carrying the weight of the world, or when I'm running into the wind that won't relent, or when I almost stay inside because it looks like it might drizzle, is the first time I ran three miles.

It was January 26, a Sunday. It was late in the afternoon and my trainer came to my hilly old neighborhood for this run. We mapped out a route on the main road, which rises and falls in decent-sized hills like a camelback. Feeling daring — I'm not sure why — and determined, we mapped a three-mile out-and-back course. The longest I'd run to this point was just a little over two miles.

It should be noted that when I first started running, exactly one month earlier, I didn't think I would ever be able to run three miles. My trainer wanted me to sign up for a February/March 5k to keep me motivated; I laughed in his face.

We set out and the snow followed right away. The wind wouldn't give us a break. We made it out to the turn-around, me trucking along at a 11:30 pace, ready to give up around mile two as he charged up the hill. He started to tell me a story to distract me from how cold my face was and that my fingertips were starting to go numb. I begged for a break.

He told me I would get one rest for the whole run — we were already halfway through! — and to use it wisely. I was tempted to use it then and there, but we were about to reach the top of the hill. I know I'd recharge a bit on the downhill and wanted to save my rest, if I needed it, for the next uphill.

Soon enough we were passing the big white planter in front of my old apartment that always indicated the end of a run, and I ran right through that line. I hadn't stopped once. On the course I'd never run before, the hilliest one we could find, with snow and wind whipping into my face the whole way, I'd just run my longest distance, hadn't stopped once, and hit a mile mark one month into running that I was sure would take me a lifetime to reach. I didn't stop smiling for days. My trainer was so proud of me, and I was pretty damn pleased with myself too, if I do say so. It was a small achievement in number, but a huge one in every other respect.

This time next week, I'll have run a half marathon. Thanks to some unrelenting chaos over the last few weeks, I've pretty much blown my training plan. I've trained up to 10 miles (which everyone seems to say is "all you need" to run 13.1) and have felt strong in my long runs. I'm nervous and wavering in my confidence. But I know how to pace myself, fuel myself, and forgive myself (sometimes). And even though the length of this race is more than quadruple the distance I ran on January 26, I know that on race day I'll use that oh-so-memorable running moment to motivate myself. All the way to 13.1.

Speaking of next week, don't forget that Tuesday, October 28 will be the last Tuesday of the month! That means it's time to link up your training goals, progress, success stories, questions, and tales of woe with Tracy and me on Training for Tuesday! ICYMI, here are the Guidelines for Harmonious Linking. Grab a button and share your training stories about your yoga practice, lifting regimen, next race or triathlon, attempt to touch your toes and anything and everything in between!

Are you in?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Forearm Stand & Other Kick-Ass Things

It sort of feels like ages since I've been here. I guess that's what happens when you pack everything possible into one weekend. And while I missed everyone on Friday, no offense, it was worth it. Because for the first time in weeks, I can say that my weekend finished as strong as it started. You know that lately I've been in kind of a funk and there have been things going on over here that have kept me at Stress Level: Midnight (please get it) but this weekend was finally free from all of that kind of thing.

10 Awesome Things That Happened While I Wasn't Here

1. I kicked my weekend off a day early with a Thursday night happy hour with some coworkers. One of our number will be leaving us at the end of the month so we're trying to get all our laughs and pickle-back shots in with the time we have left.
And we eat and drink like such ladies!
2. My grandparents who I just visited in Cape Cod made a surprise trip down to NJ this weekend and were staying at my mom's house. My friend C and I stayed at my parents' house for the weekend too so I got to spend time with my grandparents, parents, and my uncle and one of my brothers who came down for dinner Sunday. It was, in a word, delightful.

3. C and I stayed in South Jersey for the weekend so we could attend all four sessions of Erin Motz's three-day workshop at Princeton Yoga. I've been looking forward to this retreat for MONTHS and it finally arrived!

4. I got to meet and chat with Erin for a couple of minutes each day, which was awesome. I've recommended her videos to a lot of you, so some of you may be familiar with her teaching style and personality. She's just as cool and down-to-earth and friendly and funny in person and she gave us four really incredible sessions.
5. I got to take a picture with my favorite yogi. #fangirlingtodeath

6. I thiiiink I'm officially one bad yogi. The reason I like Erin's videos so much and wanted to take class with her so much is because her yoga philosophy is so similar to my own, but I felt intimidated by yogis for so many years because it was not a popular view of yoga. Yoga should be for everyone — it's not a secret club or society, you don't have to know everything before you walk into a class, and you don't have to have any interest in drum circles or breath of fire to benefit from yoga. You CAN like those things, of course, but the point is that yoga is for you, and your practice should be your own. That's what I've always believed and that's what Erin teaches. I can get on board with being a bad yogi.
7. Thanks to an errant comment by Erin in one of Saturday's workshops, I totally changed up my pigeon pose and it's working even better for me and my tight runner's hips than it ever has before. Oh my GOD it was life-changing. Or at least practice-changing :)

8. Sunday's session was about arm balances and inversions, and though I've got a great grasp on crow and headstand, I have a certain "fear of flying" when it comes to more complex arm balances and inversions like handstand and forearm stand. I've never attempted handstand as a yogi, and my one and only attempt at forearm stand ended with me nearly clearing the tabletop in my swift tumble to the ground. GUESS WHO HIT BOTH POSES ON SUNDAY? (I did, if that wasn't clear.) They both still need work, but I definitely got strongly into the postures. Highlight of the weekend.

9. After three straight days of intense workshops, new poses, longer holds, and double sessions, I'm feeling the sweet, sweet DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in my abdomen. It hurts, but it hurts so good. It hurts in a way that says I earned it and I kicked ass to do it.

10. I'm halfway through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and it is glorious.

How was your weekend? What kind of trouble did you get yourself into?

{Linking up with Biana}

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How I Do: My Monthly Budgets (Part II: Personal Spending)

So I've shared Steps 1–5 of how I write my monthly budgets, and gave you a basic run-down of my money philosophy. (I should have added a debt-management section to my budgeting post, but I didn't think of it because I no longer budget debt payments in. Want another post on that/how I paid off my CC debt? Let me know!) Today I want to talk about how I come up with my allocated amounts for monthly personal spending. That is, the money I spend after my bills are paid and my basic minimum savings goals are met. From gas to groceries to my extensive legging collection, here's how I budget, part two:
For the purposes of this post, we're going to look ahead to November. I haven't finalized my budget just yet — sometimes the previous month's events inform the next month's budget — but it will be set in stone come November 1. Rather than actual numbers I'll use percentages to illustrate what I'm planning to allot for each category next month, so keep in mind that the percentages used below are percentages of the total amount budgeted in Monthly Spending.

Step 1. Assess my remaining balance for monthly spending. This is the number I come up with after I go through Steps 1–5 explained here; after I budget for rent, utilities, car insurance, cell phone, and minimum savings. Simple pimple.

Step 2. Look at my calendar for the month. I start by filling in the definites like:
  • Trips/vacations/day trips that require substantial extra driving
  • Birthdays, events, parties, etc. that will require me to buy a gift, provide a host/ess gift, bring a dish or bottle of wine, buy a new dress, etc.
  • How many weekends are in the month, since I tend to spend more freely on weekend days
  • Doctor appointments that will require copays
  • A deadline to register for something or to receive a certain price on something (like the yoga retreat or a race)
In November, I have (so far) planned:
  • A baby birthday party. I've already bought the gift so there's no expense here, but it may impact my usual weekend spending.
  • A Pub Run. My local run shop hosts group runs weekly and pub runs monthly. I haven't been in a while, but since I'll be done with half marathon training, I may go to this one. It's minimally spendy, but it would be a night of eating out and a drink or two, so it's good to keep it in mind.
  • Two chiropractor appointments. I generally see Dr. Magic every other week, but I might start trying to push it back to every three weeks. I have a new bed on the horizon, so we'll see if that helps. Either way, I'll see him for sure on the 5th and then either the 19th or the 26th.
  • A football game. Not majorly spendy; it's my cousin's college game, but tickets and snacks have to be categorized.
  • A "Girls' Night." My mom's BFF and her two daughters (my age) and I like to get together for wine and some food but mostly wine every couple of months when we can all get on the same schedule. Looking forward to this one for sure! I'll probably bring a tray of spinach-artichoke dip (my go-to) and a bottle of wine, so I'll need to remember I'm buying ingredients and the hooch.
  • An upstate blate. Gas, tolls, and eating out/drinking expenses anticipated here.
  • Thanksgiving. Can go either way — it might be a no-spend day, or I might have to run out for emergency hooch if the bar runs dry or something like that. I'll also have to count on some driving and tolls.
  • Black Friday. My mom and I like to go to a few stores at midnight, but only as long as they aren't out-of-control crazy. If someone throws a punch, we're outta there. Luckily the last few years that we've gone and hit Kohl's (moms of America's favorite store) and Target (my Disneyland) there's been no violence and not even any insane waiting. I've made a few wardrobe scores in the past but I like to get as much Christmas shopping done here when I can.
  • Races. I may do one of these; I likely won't do both. It's a spendy month as it is, but I want to keep myself in check after the half. We'll see.
Step 3. Look at my shopping lists. I pretty much don't buy anything right away, unless its a simple purchase I can always justify like gum or food. But when it comes to clothes, shoes, accessories, running gear, or superfluous beauty-category things (like nail polish, or lipstick when I already have plenty of both), when I start to want something, I put it on a list I keep in Google Drive (so I can modify easily and see it wherever I am).

When it comes to things I use up and need to replenish, I also keep a running list of when they start feeling light. I don't have the space to "stock up" on things, but I like to buy things like toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, paper towels, tissues, vitamins, body wash, deodorant, and the makeup I wear daily like tinted moisturizer and concealer before I urgently need them. So in looking ahead to November, I'm in pretty good shape. October was a three-paycheck month for me and also happened to be the month I started to run out of things, so I did a big Target trip and picked up a bunch of what I needed.

I try to make trade-offs with non-essentials. I don't need new boots, but I really, really, really want them. But I also want to have some fun in the running apparel section. So when it comes to these categories where I can really end up adding to my budget, I trade off: One month I'll let myself shop for shoes and clothes, and the next I'll freeze my clothing spending and treat the runner in me to some new swag.
Step 4. Start plugging in numbers. There are a few that remain pretty consistent. My grocery budget generally works out to be fairly minimal, thanks to cooking at home, freezing meals, and planning ahead. And committing to not buying junk food helps too. My gas budget starts in the same place every month, and then grows depending on whether I have a road trip or something that month. Same for general expense; I'll increase it if I know I'll have to pay for parking or something like that.

This part is important: I track my spending. Every dollar I spend is recorded so I know where my money has gone. It may seem daunting to you (it actually takes about 15 seconds, tops), but I can assure you I'll never over-draw my checking or over-charge my credit card. And I'll never miss if a fraudulent charge is made on my accounts either.
Anyway, as I mentioned here, I've been tracking my spending with a super simple iPhone app called iSpending for a few years now. (You can also try Mint.com or YNAB!) This is important because it's pretty much impossible to create realistic numbers when you have no idea what you spend. I can tell you, my "dining out" budget is less than half of what I used to spend, and I still eat out plenty. The thing is, you WILL be surprised by how much you spend monthly on certain things (coffees out, gas, groceries, bar tabs, bank/ATM fees, cabs, clothes, makeup... whatever) when you first start tracking it. And that's when you start to make some changes in your budget.

So these categories are generally based on the knowledge I've gained about how much I spend in a typical month on what. Occasionally I'll even look back to the same month last year and see how things looked then.

Step 5. Debate with myself and commit to the numbers. It's not always easy to look at my budget and say "Okay, I cannot spend ANY money on XYZ this month." But in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn't be hard. I have my needs met. I don't ever NEED to buy clothes or nail polish or fruity hand soaps. Just look at how great Cait is doing on her year-long shopping ban. This is cake.

So now we're going to fill in those numbers on what's coming up this month.
Category Breakdown 
(Check here for a refresher on how I categorize purchases.)
  • Clothes/Shoes - I have one pair of Ugg boots... that I got when I was 17. They are in bad shape. I thought a lot about whether I really wanted Uggs, what with their price, and I decided that I really do. And that's the only wardrobe purchase (other than running gear) that I'll likely make until January. (Unless I find some Santa patterned leggings, maybe.)
  • Dining Out - I'm going to try and keep this to a bare minimum this month. I'll have some T-giving leftovers to help out and will meal plan to make sure I always have lunch. (This category is so simple to reduce drastically when I have a spendy month to keep things balanced.)
  • Entertainment - Not sure if this is an everywhere thing or an around here thing, but Thanksgiving Eve can be a dangerous night. I keep it light since I'm not a big drinker.
  • Gas - I'll have some longer-than-usual drives to make, and I've left wiggle room while I adjust to a (hopefully) new gas tank.
  • General Expense - I pay for Spotify (so I can listen when I'm running/driving without killing my data, mostly) and am hopefully getting a new car in the next few weeks. The registration fee may be in October; we'll see how the timeline shakes out.
  • Grocery - Pretty standard. Leftovers and the extra dishes I'll have to make should cancel out.
  • Beauty - Time to finally get a haircut! I haven't had one since March and my ends are looking shabby. Plus I need to pick up a new spot treatment soon (any recommendations?).
  • Health - Simple stuff that I'm running low on.
  • Homeware - Can't think of anything I need or will need. I'd love some new candles, but I do have more than enough and I know they'll be pouring in for Christmas, because when people ask what to get me I only tell them "candles and tea." 
  • Car Maintenance - New car should mean nothing here for a little while.
  • EZ-Pass - Usual replenishment in time to pay some tolls for holiday driving.
  • Gifts - Christmas shopping! 
  • Donations - Since I'm planning to have a new bed (FINALLY) by the end of October, I'm scheduling a pick-up of my old mattress and box spring so they can be donated to charity. I probably won't get around to this until November.
  • Medical - As noted, two adjustments and a pill refill
  • Blog - Trying to keep it low to balance out the expensive month, but I'm planning to sponsor one or two great blogs next month.
  • Running - I'll need some gloves as it's gonna get chilly next month, and I'm leaving room to register for a race, if I decide to.
  • Other/N.C. - I need a new winter coat, and I'm counting this as a one-off expense rather than a clothing one. Mostly because I'll probably cry if I see a number that high in my Clothing category, to be honest.
And there you have it: How I write my monthly budgets! I love talking about this stuff, so feel free to ask any questions about how I do XYZ or float ideas around about your method of budgeting. I'm an open book!

A few final thoughts on monthly budgeting:
  1. This probably looks like a lot of work, and like I have a major you know what up my you know where. Now that I have my system down, it doesn't take me long at all and it all makes perfect sense to me. I'd rather take a few minutes to do this (rather than comb through statements later trying to figure out where my money went) but you may be different. I'm not telling you to do it my way — I'm just sharing my way.
  2. I rewrite my budget every month because my spending changes every month by category. Some people put the bulk of these categories in one big "personal spending" pot and can keep their budget the same every month. Find what works best for you!
  3. My budget spreadsheets used to look a lot different. Personal finance is personal, so as you grow and change, so will your finances and needs. Be open to adapting and changing things up to best meet your needs.
  4. Yes, I go over budget sometimes. It happens. Of course, I try to minimize, but there's only so much you can plan — and only so much I want to plan. When I go over budget in one category I try to pull back in others, but the fact of the matter is that I'm human and humans err. Budgets are not fool-proof.
  5. That said, budgets are a great guide. I don't let mine control me, I still spend my time how I like to. Things come up that you can't control, but having a budget helps me know I'm making good choices and being responsible and setting my present and future self up for success and security.
  6. Question: I know this is not a personal finance blog, and I don't intend to turn it into one, but would anyone be interested if I started doing monthly budget posts? I would share my budget for the coming month as well as how well I stuck to the previous month's budget, sharing the breakdown similar to how I did here. Just a thought — any takers?
Do you have a budget? Would you start one using a method like this? Happy budgeting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Steam and Tea

There aren't a lot of things about life and the world that I'm sure of. I mean really, really sure. Not "sure" like I'm 99% sure I heard or read it somewhere or "sure" like it makes a lot of logical sense to me so I say it with a lot of confidence and hope it makes a lot of logical sense to other people too. I mean sure in a "death and taxes" kind of way.

I had a great mom growing up. Well, I have a great mom now too. (She's the same one I had growing up, in case that wasn't clear.) But I've also always been pretty independent, partially, I believe, because due to circumstances beyond our control (ah, divorce) I wasn't always able to be with her. I did a lot of taking care of myself as a kid and teenager and now, obviously, as an adult. Sure, I still call my mom to whine about my scraped palms or ask her if you're supposed to bake a lasagna covered or uncovered. (I still don't remember and have to ask mom every time, so don't ask me.) But for most of my life, it's been me taking care of me — and I like it just fine that way.

I also got sick a lot as a kid. This was, I firmly believe, due to an undetected gluten intolerance that I didn't fully realize until I was 23 (the source of many stomachaches and migraines for a little Italian girl who basically lived on bread and pasta) and high levels of anxiety that always manifested physically. So suffice it to say, we learned a lot about home remedies in my years as a kid.

All these things are connected, I swear. Just bear with me.

When I get sick now — whether it's a virus (rare, knock on wood), a migraine (more frequently than anyone deserves, though significantly less since I started seeing my chiropractor), a stomachache (I'm mildly lactose intolerant and I have an addiction to cheese, life is hard), or just a general under-the-weather feeling (stress doesn't stop when you're an over-scheduled, over-analyzing, over-extended Type A with OCD and anxiety) — I pretty much want to be left alone. I'm not a great patient and I don't need to subject anyone else to Sick Alyssa. I also am pretty gross when I'm sick, so there's that too.

So all of this boils down to a few simple facts I've learned about being sick. (I can never remember if it's feed a cold, starve a fever or the other way around, and Googling is much too hard when you're sick.) Through much trial and error and more than enough practice, I know this much to always be true:

(Unless you're gluten-intolerant,) There's no fix for a rumbly stomach quite like pastina. My mom used to make it for me with an egg and a little bit of grated cheese. (Not recommended for phlemy sicknesses, for obvious reasons.) Cooked in chicken broth instead of water with a little bit of salt works too. Best when eaten piping hot out of a gigantic mug like the ones they use on Friends. (I have four in my cabinet; I live alone.)
These days I swap out the pastina for brown rice and use the chicken broth since I always have it on hand. When you're not about to be waited on and aren't up for preparing a pot of soup yourself, this second best thing ain't half bad.
For some, there's no way to cure a migraine. But a hot shower for as long as you can stand it followed by a strong mug of full-caf tea is the best treatment there is. This may seem redundant of the two that will follow (spoiler alert) but the difference is the importance of the caffeine. The only thing really separating OTC migraine meds from regular OTC pain killers is caffeine. You could take an ibuprofen with a shot of espresso and get pretty much the same effect. So go for the caffeinated black tea as soon as you step out of the steam.
For absolutely everything else, stand in the shower under hot water until it runs cold. Heartbroken? Take a shower. Hungover? Take a shower. Nerves killing your stomach? Take a shower. Need to reset? Just take a long, hot shower. I think this works for physical and mental ailments like nothing else. We can all agree we get the best #deepthoughts in the shower, right? Indulge in your shower thoughts and let the steam and the heat scare away pain or frustration or that god-awful way the smell of vodka seeps out of your pores and makes you feel the worst kind of drunk all over again the next morning.
When you get out of the shower, find yourself a book that makes you laugh or cry and make a cup of tea. Caffeine optional.

Nothing fancy here. Simple enough right? But I'm telling you, unless you're struck down by Ebola, this is all you need to feel better next time you're sick.

I'm linking up with Melissa for her very own and very fabulous October blogging challenge today.
Making Melissa
What are the home remedies you swear by?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Too Little, Too Late

Happy Monday, friends.

Here's the part where I tell you you're excused from reading the rest of this post if it pleases you, because from here, I have no idea where we're going.

I just sort of felt the need to come here and let my fingers move over my keys as the thoughts that have been racing through my head for the past 36 hours look for a home and a sense of order. That's part of the reason I wanted to blog to begin with — so that when I felt the need to write, I had a place to do that and a sort of sense of obligation to carry out the process of putting word to page that I know is so cathartic for me.

Today though I'm not sure how much positivity is going to come out of this exercise. I clearly have no problem presenting my real self here on this blog. I make no efforts to hide my identity or hide from my real-life people the fact that I blog. But I feel very strongly about keeping private the lives of the people who never asked to be part of this experiment in over-exposure I've chosen to embark on. 

But that effort becomes undoubtedly more difficult when the very people whose privacy I'm trying respect out of the goodness of my heart are the very reason for this feeling of disfunction I'm experiencing, which is why I hadn't been able to prepare a post for today, and why I can't muster enough creativity to write something better now.

It's just very, very difficult when you have made every effort to be good to someone, and have sacrificed your own sanity and happiness countless times to try to make them happy, and then not only is that effort unnoticed or at least unappreciated, but they also then go out of their own way to make you hurt as badly as they can possibly manage. And for reasons that are truly nonexistent or at best incomprehensible to a properly functioning human being.

I'm trying my damndest not to sound like a martyr or like I've done no wrong in my life. God knows I've made mistakes, but I've also admitted to them as best I can and tried everything to remedy them when possible. And I'd be crazy to say I respond to conflict in the healthiest way every single time, but at least I try to always be better next time. And I know I'm not perfect and I've never claimed to be... but I try to keep my demons my own and not punish other people for the injustices I feel I've experienced in my life. 

And I have never intentionally hurt anyone, least of all a member of my family, for sport. Or because I feel like I've been dealt a bad hand. And if my actions or words have hurt someone inadvertently, I've apologized, owned my mistakes, and tried to make things better.

So it makes no sense to me that I should be approached with a complete opposite intent. It makes no sense to me that there are two particular members of my family who hurt the ones they love for fun and then still expect any degree of love and support from those they've wronged, especially without ever admitting culpability. I know life is not all about what you do or don't deserve, but I know damn well that no one deserves to be abused in any sense by a person they love. Or anyone at all. And yet, my attempts at removing the sources of abuse from my own life have resulted only in more abuse — primarily, unnecessarily hostile chastising for putting myself and my safety before the happiness of my abuser(s), people who seem to be by all accounts incapable of happiness by their own doing.

I love when I hear people say "blood is thicker than water," as if it's meant to suggest that family ties and a bloodline give a person some special standing or privileges to treat another however they want without repercussion. But quite frankly, I find that absurd. I have friends who have no bloodline obligation to be kind, generous, compassionate, and helpful to me but who choose to do so anyway. And I have family members who think they don't need to be those things because the simple fact that we share lineage ensures I will always be around, ready to take another round of slurs and slights.

And I love it also because most people have no idea what they're saying. The full proverb they're quoting is: "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb." Which actually means the exact opposite of what they're trying to say. The proverb tells us that the family you choose — your friends, the family members you mutually nurture relationships with, the spouse you choose — and those ties you decide to strengthen are stronger than those you simply enter into by happenstance at birth.

I've spent a very long time shrugging off my own needs because of a sense of guilt I have — a guilt that does NOT belong with me, to be sure, but that I shoulder anyway because of my highly sensitive nature — for other people's unhappiness. But their unhappiness is not my fault. And I can't keep letting toxic influences impede my own happiness and goals in life. Right?

I'm 25 years old. Fully capable of determining what kind of influences I want in my life. What I find so ironic is that people would line up to tell me to "dump that asshole" if I were dating a person who treated me the way these family members do. But because they're family, I'm supposed to forgive and forget. But please, someone explain to me — how do you forget an endless pattern of destructive behavior that shows no sign of stopping? And how do you forgive someone who is unapologetic and unable to admit any fault?

You can't. Or at least, I can't. Not anymore. And I think I've earned the right to have some say-so in who I let be a part of my life, even though others may disagree. In this respect, I have to remain strong enough to put myself first and take care of the only person I am guaranteed to have for the rest of my life. Moreover, strong enough to handle the backlash that undoubtedly ensues when you tell people... it's just too little, too late.

The holidays should be interesting this year.

If you've made it here to the bottom, thank you for reading, kind soul. I guess I did need this space more than I thought. And now you know where my mind is these days.