Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Best I've Ever Been.

You know what they say, the night is always darkest before the dawn. And my night was dark. And it was long. But now, here I am, in the dawn. And it's bright, and it's beautiful and it's wonderful.

I just went and scrolled through my recent blog posts (the ones for the last year and a half, two years, because I haven't blogged much in a long time) and what I thought I knew was confirmed – I was in a bad place. Ever since about junior year of high school, I've battled being angry and insecure and sad and really just struggling.

I mean truly, if I think about it, anyone probably would have felt that way.

My parents divorced between my freshman and sophomore year of high school and my Nana, my best friend, died my freshman year. I got cut from the varsity cheerleading team my senior year and I had really identified myself as a cheerleader up to that point – it's just who I was. Immediately following high school graduation, my Granddad got really sick and had to move to Columbus with only us to care for him which caused a whole shift in our family and in the relationship I had always known with my mom. Junior year of college, he died and my mom got so sick I thought she also might die – a combination of stress and real health issues; she now admits she thought she was going to die too. And then finally, things relaxed a bit.

But you know, even when when outside things calm down, after they have been that stressful for so long and also when you're a senior in college, it takes awhile to bounce back. Last year, I handled a normal load of college classes while also holding an on-campus job, an internship and running a full-time business. There wasn't much time for me to relax, even though things were looking up.

Then, this summer happened. 

In the spring, my mom got engaged to a guy who had all but been my step-dad for the last five years, Donnie. Right away, he began making his bachelor pad (he had been divorced 25 years at that point) into a home for all of us. I didn't skip a beat and moved my entire room at Butler which I loved, to his house on the lake. If my mom and dogs were going, I was going too and my room at the lake would be much bigger than what I had at our other house. I actually moved in before my mom did. Of course, it's taken some getting used to for all of us, but this home is so peaceful and happy and light and I have always felt welcome. Plus, hello, it's on a lake and what is not to love about that?

For about the first six weeks after graduation, I'll be honest, I was a total bum. I still ran my photography business, but I drank too much wine and I did too little. It was probably necessary in the whole story, but not productive that's for sure.

Then, in July, after the wedding, I decided it was time to do something about myself. I had gained a lot of weight and wasn't doing anything about it and plus I was working from home all day every day, not really having much personal interaction besides with Donnie who is retired. So I hired a trainer. I started going twice weekly to this really amazing trainer who has now become a great friend. I lost some of that weight, I started to feel better, I had a set friend date twice a week. It was a great start.

Soon after that, my best friend moved home from an hour away and we've started having weekly girls nights with a bunch of really fabulous girls I once was only acquainted with, but have come to love. We also started a book club with basically the same group. I finally feel like I have a huge group of girls to hang out with all the time.

And, just two weeks ago, I accepted my dream starter job at Toyota Material Handling – I'm the Content & Communications Administrator. Now, my degree means something and I know I didn't waste my time busting my booty for four years at Butler. Now, I have the start to a fulfilling career and a steady paycheck.

I feel like, since May, I've been progressively getting better. Every single day, I'm excited to wake up and excited for what lies ahead.

Right now, life is so good and not just for me, but for everyone in my family. My mom is happy, my brother is living at home with an amazing job, my step-dad is thrilled to have us here and we are a real family who for once, is all doing well.

Life is good and I couldn't be more thankful. Actually, I think I might just bust all over the place with happiness, so be careful.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

I graduated.

Well, you guys, yesterday was the day. I graduated. 

Yesterday, I walked amongst around 500 of Butler University's finest to accept the thing we've all been working so hard and waiting for: a diploma.

And it's kind of weird. Like, for all my life there's been something next. After kindergarten, there was first grade. After high school, there was college and now, after college, well I'm just not sure.

My degree is in integrated communications which is the fancy way to say Public Relations and Advertising. It's a degree I love. It's basically like, I got a degree in working with people, making them happy and helping. It's perfect for me. But, as of right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.

I know a lot of people leave college without a job lined up; I'm certainly not the only one. And, I have a photography business that is growing by the month and I just stepped into the world of Mary Kay. My possibilities are endless, but that's kind of what's weird. Like I feel like I just stepped into the world's largest Forever 21 and I don't know what to look at or where to go first.

Yet, even though there haven't been this many unknowns all at once, there have been many unknowns in my life and I've made it out mostly unscathed so I know it will all work out.

We've got a busy summer 'round here with at least three photo shoots a week, Drew's cousin's wedding, my mom's wedding & me trying to rock out a Mary Kay business, so I'm actually in no rush to find traditional employment. It just makes me a little unsettled without it.

So if you think of me, say a little prayer for peace, because not waking up in the middle of the night wondering would be awesome.

ps. I'm hoping to do more writing this summer, so hopefully you'll see me around here more. 

Until then!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Sugar Overdose

I don't even remember when it started, really. Probably two years ago.

This fog inside me that could not be lifted - this utter exhaustion I could never overcome. And after such a long period of exhaustion, I got depressed. I got frustrated thinking my roommate probably just thought I was the laziest person in existence - only getting out of bed for scheduled obligations, like class and photo shoots and retreating back there as soon as I returned. I got sad that I could no longer cross off my to do list like I used to and ultimately, sadly, I got fat, because I barely had the energy to go to work and class, let alone workout and make proper food for myself.

I went to the doctor last summer and he wanted to test me for Fibromyalgia and some other auto-immune diseases, but I had, had so many expensive tests that all turned up negative, I was skeptical to take such a drastic measure. Plus, I wasn't sick, I was just tired.

I went to a natural healer in a town nearby mine and complained of being tired and she'd always chalk it up to a virus that would get better soon, so I'd wait, never actually getting the energy I wanted.

Finally, about three weeks ago, a girl in one of my classes told a story about being gluten intolerant and how she had been so tired before the diagnosis, her mom just thought she was a lazy kid. "Ok, I thought, maybe I'm gluten intolerant too".

 So, I started researching and asking Facebook if anyone was gluten free. Miraculously, a girl I know from church messaged me saying she had just gone gluten free at the recommendation of a holistic nurse here in Indianapolis and felt amazing.

I made the appointment.

I called and did the usual, "hi, I have these symptoms, can you see me next week?" To my dismay, she told me she was booked up a year and a half in advance and could only get me in on cancellations. AND the two dates she had the soonest were days right before two very important weddings in my life - one out of town and one being my mom's. So, the soonest I could get in would be July 14. I felt discouraged again.

Hours later, I called her on a whim asking that if maybe she had a cancellation sooner she would let me know. and a miracle happened .... she called the next day saying she had a cancellation the next week and could I be there. "Um, yes, no matter what is on my calendar, I'll be there."

At that point, I was suffering from all day stomach aches that could not be relieved and kept me in my bed even more than usual, if that was possible.

It wasn't long after I arrived that the diagnosis was made: Candida Overgrowth.

I'll be honest, many less qualified people had told me I probably had Candida Overgrowth, but I was so afraid of the diet, I didn't want to believe them. And plus, it had to be something more.

Nope, just simply too much sugar causing yeast to grow in my body at a rapid rate which made me exhausted, my body inflamed causing sore joints, depression & anxiety and more.

So, we did the holistic treatments (which I'll save for another day ... it's a long story, but I KNOW it worked) and she sent me on my way with strict instructions to have absolutely zero sugar for the next 25 hours - not even toothpaste - and then the Candida diet. 

The Candida diet Excludes this: 
 - Dairy products (excluding unsweeteened yogurt which is allowed )
- Yeast products such as bread, baked goods, pastries, crackers, beer and wine.  (Ezekiel bread and pasta products which are of sprouted grains are allowed) 
- Substitute lard, Crisco, margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils, sunflower oil, soybean, cottonseed and corn oils with EVOO
- Fruit or juices (except berries)
- Peanuts, peanut butter & other seed (nuts & nutbutters are permitted as long as they're roasted)
- Mushrooms
- Marbled meats, all processed meats, bacon, corned beef & ham
- potato chips & all fried foods
- all simple sugars - sucrose, fructose, malt sugar, honey, date sugar, molasses, turbinado sugar
- Condiments such as soy sauce, catsup, mayo, bbq sauce & MSG
- Leftover food in general
-Regular coffee, instant coffee & teas of all sorts including herbal teas

... Whew! ...

So, it kind of seems like I can't eat anything but I can. I eat a lot of meat, vegetables, eggs, berries, almond milk & butter & ezekiel bread. 

And, would you believe me, the sugar addict, doesn't even really miss it?

ok, let's be real, I miss wine.

But honestly, it took about four days of "cleaning out" and I feel absolutely amazing. I have energy I haven't had in years. I haven't had one day of achy joints. My clothes already fit better. My stomach is not bloated.
oh, I added a probiotic too.

All this after one week of doing this. one. week. Oneweek.

I really only have to follow this Candida diet strictly (and yes, sometimes I throw some shredded mozzarella on my eggs or add salsa to them) until the Candida is all out of my body, which could take up to 2 months, but honestly, I have no desire to turn back.

I am beyond thankful that the stars aligned & God intervened and I found the holistic nurse (who is an RN), Jude, and found a simple, holistic cure for my ailments.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have, recognizing I'm a rookie at this! I think everyone could probably benefit from cutting sugar from their diets.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Don't Date Someone You Wouldn't Marry

I've heard it so many times, "don't date someone you couldn't see yourself marrying". I even saw it on Pinterest just now pinned to a young girl's "quotes" board.

For a long, long time, I lived by that. I didn't want to date anyone I couldn't see myself being with forever. And you know what? That kinda screwed me up.

No, I'm not saying you should go date weirdo, bad boy Joe Schmoe for the hell of it (but really, why would you do that anyway?), I'm just saying that puts so.much.pressure. on a relationship.

As many of you may know, Drew and I started dating in 8th grade. Yes, 8th grade. Like, our dates consisted of movie nights at our houses or walks to the park. We couldn't drive, didn't have money to go out and were mostly bound to our homes.

Anyway, as many of you also know, our relationship has hit many rough patches. Honestly, I didn't see myself marrying him until probably about a year ago. Yeah, for seven years, I didn't see myself marrying him. I knew I liked him a lot, but I wasn't sure we would be compatible forever.

Growing up ... life from ages 14-22 is hard. I mean, we left the school we went to for nine years, we went to high school, we played sports, we chose a college, we went to college. We grew up and the whole time, we were trying to stay together. That's not easy for anyone.

And one reason it was much harder than it needed to be, was because I was so focused on whether or not he was the one. Like I said, I knew I liked him, but would he be a good dad? would be be a hard worker? would he love me forever?

Let's be real, it's really freakin hard to tell if a 16 year old is going to be a good dad, it's hard to tell if a 18 year old is going to love you forever. I wish I would have spent a lot more time just having fun and a lot less time worrying about if he was going to be my forever - and breaking up over me thinking he wouldn't be.

If I would have never dated the 14 year old I thought might not be my husband, I wouldn't be with the person I'm pretty confident is going to be my forever now.

All I'm saying is, don't put so much pressure on yourself. You don't know if the person you are going to date will be your forever. And if you're lucky, if you're like me, you may be surprised.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello in 2014.

Ahhh ... it's been awhile since I've posted here and somehow, I let 2013 slip away without a goodbye so I thought it would be only proper to welcome 2014 with a hello.

Man, 2013 was a good year. Like really good. Of course, there were some dark spots like losing my Granddad in April, but mostly the year was good.

I traveled more last year than I have any year ever and that was fabulous. I visited the Carolinas four times and Florida once which meant seeing my extended family more in one year than I ever have. You can't beat that, you know? I also had the amazing opportunity to work from home all summer doing things I love which was the only way I was able to travel so much.

But also, I worked my butt off.

I had over 100 photo shoots in 2013, which if you're counting, means I had a shoot every 3-4 days. So not only does that mean a photo shoot, but it means scheduling and invoicing and editing and sending off and lots of communication in between. Of course, I reaped the benefits and the benefits were nice, but it certainly was not easy.

And, I had my highest GPA ever at Butler this last semester which I will probably talk about for my entire life, because I'm really proud.

I finished up my last semester as the advertising manager on Butler's newspaper last semester too.

So all this is to say ... I'm feeling kind of burned out.

And I hate that, because I love photography and promotions and PR and getting good grades. But, I'm feeling like, little to no inspiration for 2014.

Every year, I make goals and I feel super motivated by a new year and a clean slate, but this year I'm just rolling with the punches so far and not making too many lofty goals.

I do have some exciting things on my plate for 2014, like spring break with friends in Cabo and a graduation and hopefully a job and a move, but I'm not doing high kicks and toe touches yet.

Maybe I'll feel more excited when it isn't -6 degrees outside and when the light at the end of the tunnel starts getting a little brighter.

Anyone else feeling a little lackluster about the new year?? Tell me I'm not alone.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When the holidays change ...

Until I was about fourteen, every Thanksgiving was spent at my aunt's house in Indianapolis. It was a tradition that never changed. It was as comforting as a familiar blanket. We watched the Macy's parade at home while we got ready and then we loaded the car just before noon to go to my aunt's gorgeous home which she had always spent weeks preparing for Thanksgiving company.

The dining room where we ate was massive. I mean, it was like as big as my house. The hunter green carpet sticks in my head almost as well as the people who were always there, the foods that were always served and the routine we always did. Arrive. Eat appetizers. Eat dinner. Sit and talk. Make Christmas lists. Go home full and happy.

Every year it was the same and I looked forward to Thanksgiving equally as much as I looked forward to Christmas. Even though there were no gifts, my family was together, everyone was happy and it was fun. I loved it.

Christmas Eve had its own routine much like Thanksgiving.

We always held our Christmas Eve festivities at my Nan's house which she worked for nearly a month to prepare. It was as if a gingerbread man threw up all over her house. In a good way, of course. The presents were always gorgeous - each bow hand made and each wrapping and ribbon combination carefully thought out. The presents were always fun but even then, it's not really what mattered. The excitement, the happiness - that's what mattered.

But when my parents divorced and my Nan died, everything changed.

My aunt got deeply depressed and moved out of that big, gorgeous house and Thanksgiving was no longer there. I refused to leave my mom home alone on Thanksgiving, so we started having Thanksgiving with her side of the family at our house instead.

Since my uncle is agnostic & my aunt is jewish, we stopped celebrating Christmas Eve.

Suddenly, the holidays had lost their magic.

There were no more gatherings of my dad's family in Indianapolis or Columbus and we didn't make Christmas lists with them anymore, because Christmas wasn't going to be celebrated.

I was devastated.

For years, Thanksgiving and Christmas pretty much just seemed like another day filled with more work. I tried to be happy, but all I could think about were the traditions we didn't have anymore and the family that wasn't there.

I cried. I cried a lot.

It wasn't fair that a time that was once so happy was now filled with dread and sadness.

But then, all of the sudden, things changed.

Suddenly, I took my mom's advice and started making my own traditions. I stopped dreading the holidays and started realizing that even though things have changed, that doesn't mean they're over. I stopped wishing we could just go to Mexico and forget Christmas all together.

This year, finally, I'm excited for the holidays.

I'm excited to start new traditions with our family. I'm excited to visit my boyfriend's family for the first time ever on Thanksgiving. I'm thankful we have good friends who can join us on the holidays so not only do they have a place to go, but our home feels more full once again.

I'm ready this year.

And I write this not because I'm sad, I'm not anymore. I don't write this for pity. I write this because I know everyone goes through this at least once.

Divorce is rampant in families which inevitably changes traditions that were once the only thing we knew. Death is inescapable which leaves our homes feeling empty even in what should be the happiest times.

I write this, because I want you to know that if you're feeling this way, it does get better.

For more than five years, my mom tried desperately to get me excited about the holidays. She proposed new traditions and fun things we could do. I wasn't interested and none of it really made me feel better.

You might be in that same situation, and that's okay.

Because, someday, like me, you'll wake up and feel better and be ready to get back into the Thanksgiving & Christmas spirit.

I know, because I did.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I think being "confrontational" is good.
tending to deal with situations in an aggressive way; hostile or argumentative.

Whoever decided to start using "confrontational" as the synonym for upfront and honest, should consider googling the term and then stop.

Somewhere along the line, in our culture, we've decided that it's better to feel feelings and assume things without any basis for our assumptions, instead of having a respectful conversation with whomever we are having those feelings or assumptions about. And I'm here to say, I hate that.

Somewhere along the line, we've decided it's rude and wrong to talk about things and it's better to just hold them inside or talk to other people about them.


Look, talking about things doesn't have to end in an argument. It doesn't have to be hostile or argumentative. In fact, being mature means that you can have a respectful conversation even when you don't agree.

Personally, I think talking about things solves way more problems than not.

I've always been one to be like, "Hey, did you say that about me? Why?" or "okay, something is really bothering me and I need to tell you about it". 

True, some people don't like that. But also true? the issue almost always gets resolved quickly, no one's feelings get hurt and the truth comes out.

And on the other side of the coin, I would much rather someone come to me and be like, "hey Ali, something you did really hurt my feelings", than go around talking about it to a bunch of people. I mean, maybe I'm just bad at saying what I mean and the thing came out wrong. If so, when that person comes & asks me about it, I apologize, say I didn't mean it like that & then it's over. How easy is that?

So what do you think? What do you think about all of us just saying what we mean & feel (in a polite respectful way, of course) instead of talking about it to one-hundred other people or letting the bad feelings just simmer?

I think we'd all be much, much happier.