Happy Birthday, Planet Earth

I can’t even believe there are only a few days of left of 2017. This year literally just FLEW BY!

As far as years go, this one was definitely a good one. Of course it had its lows – all years do. But it also had so many highs!

  • Mitch and I got engaged!
  • We welcomed little Otis into our family
  • My parents took my sister, Mitch and me on an amazing Europe trip to Italy, Croatia and Germany
  • I turned 30!
  • Mitch and I celebrated our engagement with all of our closest family members

The list really does go on, but those are my little highlights.

I’m generally not a resolution-maker. I pretty much suck at sticking to goals, so my mantra has been, So why make them? But if there’s one thing that 2017 has taught me, it’s that it’s damn important to have goals for yourself.

Earlier this year, my fiancé quit his job as an Executive Chef to work in sales. Left the only occupation he’s ever known since 15 years old to work in an industry he didn’t know anything about. Why did he do it? He made great money as a chef; he actually took a pay cut leaving the restaurant for this sales position. But he made the switch because of his long-term goals. Knowing we’d be hoping to start a family soon after our wedding, he assessed his lifestyle and knew he’d never get to see his kids if he stayed where he was. He had no employer-paid benefits, no 401k. Great income, but no other benefits, and no room to grow or promote [not that he’d really have wanted to]. He started his workday at 8 am, and ended it anywhere from 9-11 pm. When the sales opportunity presented itself, he really weighed his options. And it wasn’t for several weeks and countless conversations with both of our dads and his mentors through school that he finally decided he would take the new job.

Now that, THAT is #GOALS.

The last several weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want for myself out of life, and, more specifically, what I want to gain from 2018. There’s nothing like realizing that I might be pregnant at this time next year to get me thinking, Am I getting everything I want out of life?

The answer is NO, I’m not.

I hate working an office job. I hate that I have to go to an office for work, every single day, from 8 am to 5 pm. I hate that in order to make it to the gym every day, I have to get up at 4 am. I hate that I have to squeeze doctor appointments, vet appointments, errands, etc. into tiny little one hour windows during the workday. I hate that getting my dogs exercised can’t happen until 8 pm because that’s the only time I have available right now. I HATE ALL OF THAT. But I’m the only one with the power to change anything. So with that, my 2018 goals..

In 2018, I want to launch my blog. I want to be generating an income from it, even if it’s not enough to live on [yet!]. I have 365 days to work towards this goal, and I know I can do it! If that means taking days of from my current job in order to work on my blog and my social media accounts, then so be it. I will regret it until the day that I die if I don’t work toward this goal. I’ve had dozens of people tell me that I should be a writer, that I could be a full-time blogger and make money doing that. So why not? Why shouldn’t I make every effort to make that avenue work for me? I love writing! I love word vomiting about random topics and knowing that it actually relates to people out there. I love that the internet can make a platform like this an option for income! I may not have a college degree, but I am an intelligent person with enough business and professional savvy to be able to put myself in the right direction.

This next year, I want to focus on a healthier, more balanced ME. Cutting down my alcohol intake the last couple of months has been a huge help in this department [stay tuned for a blog post about this!], but I really want to get to a point where fitness and eating healthy just become a part of my day-to-day routine without even having to think about it. I know myself, and I know it’ll take a while. With a wedding in late September, there are definitely going to be lots of festivities involving unhealthy food, drinks and decisions, but it’s all about balance and knowing how to prepare yourself for it.

I want to spend more time getting into hobbies and things I enjoy. My blog will definitely be one of these things – writing is a huge hobby and passion of mine. But I also love to paint, draw, craft. I’ve recently gotten really into flower arranging and making wreaths. I love home decor, rearranging furniture, and moving wall fixtures around. I love to decorate for the holidays! [I was so lazy this year and didn’t decorate at all]. Sometimes in life we just need to enjoy the little things that make us happy.

2018 is going to be my year to get my finances in order. That means no more spending money willy nilly [as much as I love and adore a good shopping excursion!]. Time to hide my credit cards for emergencies only and keep to only spending money that I actually have [this will be super hard for me – I only use my credit cards because they have so much more spending incentive]. But after next September, it’s not going to be just me, my lifestyle and my income anymore. Our eventual growing family will mean we’ll need a bigger home, and with my spending history, we definitely wouldn’t qualify at this point, LOL. New year, new bank account history.

I want 2018 to be the year that I am more present and involved in my relationships. I am extremely organized and need things to be planned out, but when it comes to my friendships, I am the opposite. I am lazy and don’t want to put much effort in because, truth be told, I love being by myself. But relationships are so important. They need energy, they need to be nourished, and they require effort. For some reason I get anxiety about reaching out to people and organizing something because, god forbid they say no *eye roll*. I amaze myself sometimes with how ridiculous I can be about certain things.

My hope for 2018 is that I can release myself from my past. It’s silly, but I have a hard time letting go of instances, events, negative conversations, bad influences, etc. For some reason, my mind really holds on to memories, most good, but some bad, and it really effects my day-to-day life. Out of nowhere I’ll remember something and it’ll either trigger anxiety or anger, neither of which is pleasant to live with. I don’t want to forget the things in my past that have shaped me, but I’d like to get to a point where they’re just distant memories and don’t carry emotions with them anymore.

My final goal for 2018 is to finish things when I start them. I am notorious for starting a project and neverfinishing it. I’ve been working on getting my insurance license for almost 2 years now (I know, I know.. insert monkey-covering-eyes emoji here. I get horrible test-taking anxiety), so that will be on the top of list of items to achieve near the beginning of the new year. Last winter I started painting canvases for our guest bedroom – I completed one, but not the other. I want to finish those, too. And since we’re talking completing projects, I’d really like to achieve everything on this New Years list this year. There’s no reason not to – everything is attainable as long as I’m not lazy!

I hope all of you had a wonderful 2017! I wish you all the best in 2018 and hope all of your resolutions, hopes and dreams come true. You deserve it! Let’s all push each other to be the best we can be and to reach all of our goals. We can do it!

Hello, God. Are You There? It’s Me.. Sarah.

Our world is a complete melting pot of cultures, traditions and religions. So many of us see these varieties as a good and wonderful thing, but unfortunately there are still so many humans out there who don’t. It’s truly mind-blowing to me that in a world where we’re all so exposed and information is so easily accessible that people can still be so close-minded toward other people’s beliefs.

I try really hard not to be one of those close-minded individuals. I don’t necessarily keep myself up-to-date on politics and trending news stories, but I’m open to discussion and everyone else’s opinions. I don’t particularly enjoy a conversation that has the potential to turn heated, but listening as an innocent bystander with little-to-no input is a great way to educate yourself.

Religion is one of those sensitive topics that I tend to shy away from. Not because of its debatable nature, and the fact that there are so many different ones out there, but because it has always just made me uncomfortable.

My sister and I were baptized as babies, but have barely set foot in a church since then. My mom was raised in a very religious home where she and her five siblings went to church every Sunday and were also involved in catechism. As much as she hated it as a child, she appreciated the morals and values it gave her. She tried to encourage my sister and I to feel the same, but since it wasn’t a part of our life, we resisted. The thing I’ve learned about religion and church is, generally, you’re either a part of it from birth and it’s a part of your lifestyle, or you discover it because of some major life event.

Having not been raised in a religious home, I’ve never really believed in God. It’s always seemed a bit silly to me that people can credit so much of their life to a being that we have no real proof of. Getting a great grade on a test, or landing your dream job, or meeting your soulmate – to give all of the credit to another when you’re the one who put the work in and the steps in to get to that point? That’s the logic [or lack thereof] that I’ve always struggled with. Why wouldn’t you want to take all the credit for getting yourself to these major chapters of your life?

Just shy of two years ago, I met my fiancé. He was raised like my mom was – church every Sunday in a religious family. Both sides of his family are actively involved in their respective churches, pray before every meal, and discuss God and Jesus openly as if they are there hanging out with us at every event. The first ten family events I went to were incredibly uncomfortable for me. Standing in a circle, holding hands, and thanking somebody else for the food we were about to eat felt completely absurd. And I felt like such a fake for quietly partaking in these traditions to which I felt absolutely no connection, and in fact almost felt slightly repulsed. I’m not sure repulsed is the right word – that makes it sound like I was going to be sick. I think the word I’m looking for is standoffish. I was completely out of my element and didn’t have a single person on my team who could relate to me. My fiancé is not actively religious, but as a man who was born with an upbringing of faith, it still comes naturally to him.

Fast forward to today – through nearly two years of family get-togethers where hands are held, God is thanked, and Jesus is given credit for all positive occurrences in life. And it was at my nephew’s 9th birthday this last weekend, my fiancé’s dad giving a prayer before dinner, when I realized it no longer felt awkward for me. I now murmur “amen” and feel appreciative for the food that’s laid out in front of me. I don’t know if I necessarily have God to thank for it, but I am much more grateful for it than I was before.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully immerse myself in religion. I can get on board with the prayers at home and discussing it with family members, but I am still a bit off-put by the Sunday congregation tradition. If God is so loving and forgiving, does He really need everyone to take time out of their busy lives to gather all together in a church every week? That seems a bit selfish to me. Plus, [and I know this is so incredibly close-minded of me, BUT], I find the crucifix symbols all over the churches to be extremely disturbing and not at all peaceful or conducive to a “family” environment.

As a person who unfortunately battles anxiety, I am always looking for non-medicinal ways to help combat my stress flare-ups. I’ve cut out caffeine, tried acupuncture, massages, seen a chiropractor, and recently decreased my alcohol consumption to a glass of wine a week, if that [I used to have a glass a day or every other day]. And about two months ago, during our trip to Europe, I had a bout of anxiety so bad that it was starting to border on a panic attack. Halfway across the world from home and everything familiar to me, I did the only thing I could think of, and I prayed. I asked God to please remove my stress; that I understood the reasons for it but that I needed to stop dwelling on the things causing it. And I don’t know if it was a placebo effect or a God of some sort, but I actually felt a real sense of peace after and could feel the stress leaving my body. And it felt really, really good. I began to see why people [so many people, in fact] put religion so high on their priority lists.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this post. Maybe because a couple of my friends posted some really uplifting stories on their social media feeds this week in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and it really got me thinking about this season and how so many people will be thanking God. And while I still think we should all take more credit for the hard work, dedication, time and love we put into our lives, maybe I’m finally learning that it’s okay to thank a higher being, too.

Please note, these are all my own opinions and I in no way disagree with or dislike any religion or belief system on this planet. I completely respect each individual’s right to practice and follow what they wish, and, in fact, encourage anyone to do so. I apologize if this post offends anyone – I don’t mean to hurt any feelings or put anybody out. I just felt like expressing how I was feeling on the subject.

My Recent Obsession with Podcasts

Okay you guys, I know I’m a liiiiiiiittle bit late to the game here with this – but I recently got SUPER into podcasts.

Like, I haven’t listened to music in my car or at work in a week [which for me is major because I love music, and I especially love jamming to it in my car].

If you’re already into Podcasts, then you know my sudden addiction. You get it. You get me.

If you’re NOT, you need to drink the kool-aid.

I’ll be honest, I’m really not into watching TV. All the shows end up being kind of the same and I truthfully just get bored sitting around and staring at a screen. BUT, there was a short segment of my life that I got into the Bachelor [judge me] and watched maybe three seasons of it before I just couldn’t do it anymore. One of those seasons was Kaitlyn Bristowe’s, and I’ve been a bit of a fangirl ever since.

Kaitlyn recently started her own podcast, and has been promoting the F out of it on her IG stories for the last couple of months. I decided to give it a whirl [what could it hurt?] and ended up getting hooked on it. I just love her realness, and I love her sense of humor and how well she just vibes with other people.

Here’s what I love about podcasts [in no particular order]:

It sounds silly but it really humbles you as a person to listen to other people talk about their lives – the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. For me, it’s made me stop and think about my own life and how I treat and interact with other people. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a very selfish person [like, more than necessary at times], and to hear other people share life experiences really makes you reflect on your own. It has 100% made me want to be more engaging in my personal relationships and expel more energy on them. More often than not, I am lazy and just won’t text people because, as an introvert, even that sort of interaction can be draining. But, no more! Suck it up, Sarah. Time to put some real effort into the people and things that matter.

The guests on each podcast show can open up the door to thousands of other podcast channels. Through Kaitlyn Bristowe’s channel, I discovered one other lady power channel that I love, and through this other one I have found THREE more that I’m excited to try! Granted, most of these are total feminist channels [big shocker there], but there are a couple that are more health-related that I am so stoked to listen in on [especially because I’ve recently gotten on this total health kick and have become extremely interested in learning about nutrition and how the things I put into my body are specifically effecting me].

In contrast to being a good life lesson, podcasts can also be a really nice escape from reality. The channels I’ve been listening to are all celeb hosts, and some of the things they talk about are so ridiculous and so hard to wrap your mind around as just a common “normal” human being. I love all the stories about Hollywood and the crazy things that famous people actually, truthfully do.

Some of them are actually educational! [Let’s be honest, probably most of them]. I’m just listening to the feminist ladies of Hollywood with a voice, ha]. But seriously, some of these episodes have had guest speakers who travel around the world and speak at seminars about health, sex, relationships – it’s truly fascinating and has actually opened my mind to a bunch of topics that I normally wouldn’t find interesting or take any interest in on my own.

You don’t really have to listen to any of the episodes in order once you find a channel you like. I personally have a weird OCD where I feel like I have to listen to them in order, but so far none of them have ever presented a topic that required a prior episode listen.

Every episode of a podcast channel is different. While there are always some similarities [one of the channels I follow has the same segments every week, but they have different guests and the topics vary], they are, overall, completely different subjects every time. While I still love music, everything starts to sound the same after a while, and, if I’m being perfectly honest, nobody has released anything GOOD lately. Listening to podcasts has been a nice break from the repetitive sounds we’re getting out of the music world right now.

I think the best thing about podcasts is: there is something out there for everyone. I’m not kidding, you guys. There are hundreds, thousands of topics, channels, hosts. If you like a celeb, you’ll probably discover that they have a podcast channel.

I feel kind of dumb because all this time I thought podcasts were so lame and so archaic [like talk radio – does anybody really still listen to talk radio? nobody in my generation, at least]. I had this notion that podcasts were all just old men droning on and on about politics and science and that it was basically this big ol’ snoozefest. But, I stand corrected. I am loving the channels I’ve found so far, and if you aren’t into podcasts yet, this is my friendly nudge to get you going. You won’t regret it! And, bonus, if you hate reading but like to be educated, this is the best of both worlds.

If you’re curious about what I’m listening to on the Apple Podcast app [don’t judge me – I love the super feminist ish]:

Off the Vine – Kaitlyn Bristowe
LadyGang – Jac Vanek, Becca Tobin + Keltie Knight
Girlboss Radio – Sophia Amoruso
The Great Love Debate – Brian Howie
Straight Up with Stassi – Stassi Schroeder
Sex With Emily – Emily Morse
Brandi Glanville Unfiltered – Brandi Glanville

If you guys are already podcast fanatics like I am, please send me some ideas! I would love to branch out my repertoire more!

The Peter Pan Complex [Sac Is The New Neverland!]

Before I turned 30, I was actually ready to turn 30. I couldn’t wait to leave the decade of my twenties behind. It’s not that I hated my twenties, it’s just that it was the decade that, for me, was made of poor decisions and setbacks. I went to four colleges before I realized that school wasn’t for me, I dated idiot after idiot, I partied a lot and hung out with the wrong crowd.. I mean, nothing out of the ordinary for a younger twenty-something.

So, needless to say, when I finally felt like my world wasn’t so tilted anymore, when I felt like I had finally gotten myself on the straight and narrow, I realized that I was ready to leave those years behind me.

But why did it take me so long to finally get my ducks in a row? There are a couple of contributing factors.

First, my generation is taking longer and longer to settle down with a significant other [if we ever do]. As admirable as it is that people want to be successful in their own life before joining forces with another, the longer we wait to settle down, the harder it is to intertwine another life with ours. We get accustomed to doing things our own way, coming and going as we please, eating how we want, getting comfortable in our day-to-day routines – suddenly adding another person to the mix is freakin’ hard.

Another reason it took me so long to grow up was because of this area I live in. I love Sacramento, I really do. I’ve never called anywhere else home, despite living in San Luis Obispo for a year, and Chico for two [college]. It’s a great place to raise a family, and once you do finally grow up, it’s a pretty safe and comfortable place to settle down. BUT, that said, there are a LOT of people my age in this area who have absolutely no desire to better themselves or to get ahead in this world. Like, way too many. Most people my age are comfortable with their job as a club promoter, bartender, server or cocktail server somewhere in downtown Sac. They are easy jobs and they lend so well to the party lifestyle. I’ll be honest, I totally understand the appeal of going out to the clubs every night, and going out boating with friends every weekend. I lived that life for many years! But I got over it. I eventually got burnt out on the whole same-thing-different-year lifestyle. The thing that blows my mind is that people are STILL living that life. People well into their thirties and even forties continue to act like they are 21. I know there are people in every city and every town who fall into this category, but the amount of people in Sacramento who are definitely too old to be living the way they do is a tad bit scary. And these people are reproducing – even worse.

I’m not saying that we all shouldn’t have fun every once in a while. We definitely should, but while acting our age. We should also want better lives for ourselves. Let’s take San Francisco, for example. YES – it’s totally a party city. There are lots of clubs and bars and a huge nightlife. BUT, everybody who can afford that lifestyle is either in school and working, or has a great career that pays handsomely. People are motivated, and while they do live a bit of that Peter Pan lifestyle, they also all actually want to settle down. AND, most SF residents have roommates. So you’re never really totally alone. You’re already accustomed to sharing a home and a life with somebody.

It may have taken me a while to purge myself of my party mode, but I guess it’s better late than never. I do not in any way regret my twenties and the decisions I made – everything I’ve done and everyone that I’ve met to this point in my life has shaped who I am in some way. That said, I’m also happy to be done with that chapter of my life, LOL. The party life is definitely not for me. I’m happiest when I’m cuddled on the couch at home with a glass of wine, my fiancé and Miss Bella. Cheers to that!

True Life: Living With Anxiety

I’ve always been a bit of a nervous personality. Growing up, I was painfully shy. The slightest bit of attention would make me so embarrassed and cause me to retreat into myself [the slightest, you guys. I’m talking, like, when the teacher calls roll on the first day of school, and I turned red AF because two people turned to look at me when I said, “here”]. It was extremely hard for me to make friends – people thought I was mean [or later in life, a “bitch”] because I’m not overly friendly or outgoing. When I see people I know in public, I avoid eye contact and duck and hide in hopes to avoid them [<– seriously, though, does anybody else do this? WHY do I do this? I KNOW it wouldn’t kill me to say “Hi” and chat for a brief moment – sometimes I look at myself and think, “you have issues” LOL].

When I went away to college, I discovered alcohol [due to my shy and introverted nature, I was not invited to parties – shocking, I know], and the glorious gift it gave me to knock down that shy wall I’d had up my whole life. I had no problem talking to strangers, making friends – it made me braver, it gave me confidence, and I liked that. But the thing about alcohol is, it’s a mask. And it’s temporary. And the bottom line was, it made me do things that I wouldn’t normally do. And in the harsh light of day, the anxiety and guilt that riddled me from my decisions the night before was sometimes more than I could handle. It still is.

I am the type of person that will dwell on a situation for YEARS after the fact. Yes, people – YEARS. It sometimes takes me hours to go to sleep because I can’t shut my damn brain off. Going over and over things in my head that are days, months, years in the past. Things that I have absolutely no power to change and yet I just can’t seem to let go of.

It’s exhausting. And the stress of being stressed just causes me more stress. Vicious cycle would be the appropriate verbiage here.

Other things that give me anxiety: riding in a vehicle that is towing something, driving near a vehicle that is towing something, calling a stranger on the phone, confrontation, driving at night, trying new social things like group exercise classes, having plans change last minute, having an overly packed schedule, large crowds.. The list goes on. Some of those are bigger triggers for me than others. Most of them are mild and I can handle them easily without it interrupting my life. But some of the others have recently been the triggers of near panic attacks, which for me is absolutely not acceptable. Most people will have general anxieties, but when it hits a point where your body goes into a state of shock, it’s not okay and it’s not healthy.

When I had my first almost panic attack [I say almost because I’ve never actually had a full blown one], I was so scared because I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart started pounding excessively fast, and it became extremely hard for me to breathe. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, or almost had one, you know the feeling; where you start panicking even more because of the attack. To put it dumbly, and for lack of better word – it’s SCARY. When you finally get your breath back and sort of get your heart back under control, all you seem to be able to focus on is your heart, and how it seems to be beating unusually heard and fast.

I’m writing this post because I know I’m not the only person on this planet that has bizarre anxieties and lives with this level of anxiety every day. And what has really helped me over the last year or so that I’ve been struggling so much with more severe anxiety is talking to other people who share this issue. It is comforting to know that I am not alone.

Another thing that helps me is exercise. Running, specifically, really helps to take the edge off. The further I run, the more time I have to get my thoughts straight, and the more it puts my mind at ease. Exercise also helps to burn the extra energy that I would normally be expelling with anxious thoughts and feelings. In addition to exercise, I have been getting acupuncture for the last eight months, and that has been life changing. It may not work for everyone, but I know for myself, and how much worse my anxiety is if I try and drown it with a substance, natural medicine works a lot better for me than pills or alcohol ever will.

So why do we have so much anxiety now? Why are there so many triggers? Let’s take a trip back in time – before cars, before mortgages, college tuition and careers. A time in history where people took care of themselves as well as took care of others. People worked together as a community to get ahead in life. Nobody had to worry about making their mortgage every month, nobody had to worry about paying for school in order to get a good job. Most people were born into a trade because that’s what their parents did. Oh, I’m sure people had stress back then – there was a lot more disease, no modern medicine, women died in childbirth, people were robbed while traveling by stagecoach in the middle of the desert. But comparative to today, we have so much more going on in our day-to-day lives. Things that humans weren’t designed to ever take on, and yet with science, invention, engineering, etc., people are pushing themselves to do more and be more than we were ever designed to do.

I know travel is expensive. I know pets are expensive. I know a lot of things cost money that a lot of us cannot afford, but I think it’s SO important in this day and age to make a point of taking time for ourselves to relax and destress. Get out of town – get physically away from the things that cause you stress every day. Turn off your work devices – unplug from society. If you can afford it, get a pet. They are wonderful companions, and dogs, especially, encourage exercise and getting out of the house every day [aka NATURE – also a natural destresser!]. If you can’t afford either of those things, then walk to the closest park and plop down in the grass with a book. Or people watch. Anything that will help you get out of your head and to calm your nerves. Eventually the anxiety returns, but taking the steps to help curb it are totally worth it.

If anybody else out there suffers levels of anxiety like I do, please know that you are not alone. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and at this point, there’s only so much we can do to maintain it enough that we can function every day. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to confide in, please do not hesitate to reach out. Even as strangers, there’s comfort in knowing that someone else out there is feeling exactly the way you do.