Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thoughts on Love

I've spent almost the last three years completely single.  Aside from a crush or two and one (i think) night of a drunken make out mistake, I have not dated, kissed, hugged, or held hands with a guy.  I miss it.  I really do.

Since I've gotten older, I see dating much differently that I did when I was younger.  When I was in college, I  wasted spent five-six years with a guy I knew I didn't want to marry.  But I liked him a lot and he was comforting and a great friend.  He just sucked to be in a relationship with and I knew I didn't want to deal with all that drama for the rest of my life.  But it was just easier to be with him than be alone.

Then I dated a guy that treated me better than any guy probably ever will.  He was so sweet, thoughtful, everything you want a guy to be.  But we just weren't right.  And I took him for granted and still had my eyes open for something better which killed the relationship because he could tell I wasn't putting him first when he most definitely was putting me first.

The I dated witty guy.  And we just weren't right either.  I think we both really tried to make it work, but it just didn't.  And then he met a 19 year old waitress and broke my heart and destroyed my self-esteem at the same time.  (Me bitter?  No way!)  So that took a while to get over.

And now I have spent so much time alone I am afraid of anything real ever happening.  I still have crushes and flirt and think guys are cute, but I am so scared to have anything real happen.  Even though I want it so bad.

I'm just afraid to let someone have my heart again and it not work out.  I'm afraid of integrating someone in to my life and becoming best friends with them and then everything falling apart and having to separate myself from them again.  So in theory I want the next one to be The One.

But that puts so much pressure on everything.  So I hate that.  I want to be able to get to know someone without thinking that far ahead.

I know I need to just let go and trust that God has a plan and anyone he brings in to my life, He does so for a purpose.  I need to let go of all this fear around relationships.  But it is easier said than done.

Monday, May 27, 2013

TV Junkie

A few weeks ago I suspended my Dish Network account.  This was in an effort to save money but more importantly gain some much needed time back.  I think I may have been slightly addicted to TV.  Probably still am.

I still watch some shows.  I have started watching Friday Night Lights on DVD while I'm on the treadmill again.  I also used the ABC, CW, A&E, and NBC apps to watch some of my favorites over the past couple weeks: Grey's Anatomy, Happy Endings, Duck Dynasty, Bates Motel, Heart of Dixie, and Saturday Night Live.  The apps all have ads you can't skip through and I am watching them on my tiny iPad mini, but it isn't bad! I watch them while I am on the elliptical at the gym or cooking in the kitchen.  So it's not like I am wasting time. (At least not on TV, but I may have just replaced that time waster with reading more books!)

It is a little weird not to be able to turn on the TV even just for some background noise, but I really think this is a good decision.  I lived without TV for one summer during college and it was the most productive summer of my life.

I don't know what I am going to do without Big Brother this summer though!  I love that show!

I'm going to give this a try for a few months and if it isn't bad I am going to cut the cord completely from cable and satellite.  I hate them all.  They start you out at the great introductory rate and a year later it feels like they are robbing you blind!

Have you ever cut the cord from TV?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers

I started this series back in December and even though it took me a long time to finish, it is one of the best series I have ever read!  It's The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers:

Let me tell you, I was really hesitant to start these books.  I gave in and read Redeeming Love by this same author a few years ago and loved it but for some reason I was still hesitant about Christian fiction.  I mean the covers do look a little romance novel-ish don't they?

Voice in the Wind is the first book in the series.  It is the story of Hadassah.  The story opens with her city Jerusalem being destroyed by the Roman army.  Her family is killed and she is captured and sold as a slave to the Valerian family.  So much happens in this book!  The first few chapters are a little slow but things quickly pick up.  Julia Valerian is so messed up and by the end of the book you will hate her.  Marcus too is very troubled but you root for him.  And Hadassah is remarkable.  She really shows you what it means to live out your faith in a world that does not agree with it.  Even though ancient Rome may seem very different than today's world, there are a lot of similarities.  This was probably my favorite book in the series!

Echo in the Darkness is the second book in the series.  And I'm telling you if you get close to the end of the first book, go ahead and have this one on hand because you will want to start it immediately after you finish the first one!  This book continues the main story from the first book.  I can't tell you much more without including spoilers.  I really enjoyed this book as well and loved finding out what happened to all the characters on their long twisted journey.

As Sure as the Dawn is the third and final book in the series.  This book is somewhat different from the other two because it focuses on one of the other main characters from the first book Atretes, a German warrior who was captured by Rome and forced to become a Gladiator (which is not something you want to be forced to become).  Artetes goes through a lot in the first book and this book picks up kind of where you left him in the first book.  New characters are introduced and you will fall in love with and hate some of them just as much as the others from the first two books.

I give this series 5 out of 5 stars and I'm sad this it is over.  These characters were so real to me and I learned so much from them and experienced the full range of emotions with them.  Even if you aren't a Christian I think you would love these stories.  It gives you a taste of what life was like in Ancient Rome.  It reminded me of the TV series Spartacus on Starz a little, but with a little less sex and violence (but not much!).  I highly recommend you add these to your must read list!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Create a Match.com Summer Singles Event and Win

When I first saw the ads for the Match.com Stir events I thought it was an awesome concept.  You get to meet a lot of other singles and it isn't just forced awkward conversation because you are doing a fun activity together.  There's a wide range of events by Match.com offered to members all around the country ranging from large-scale happy hours at popular venues, to more intimate events like tequila tastings and DJ lessons!  In fact I have always wanted to go to a Stir event, but you have to be a Match.com member and my previous adventures in online dating have left a bad taste in my mouth so I'm a little gun-shy.

They've only been doing these singles events for a year, but in just one year they have hosted 2,850 events – broken down, that’s 14 events each day, 75 events a week, 320 events per month! Match has collaborated with over 1,200 venues and partners, including House of Blues, Banana Republic, Sur la Table and Warrior Dash, along with local gems in each city.

In celebration of the Stir anniversary, Match.com is offering the opportunity for singles to create their own Stir event, and if their event is chosen, to work with Match Stir event planners to bring it to life!  Think how cool that would be!  I was trying to think what I would want to do and here are some of my ideas:
  • Cooking class
  • Wine & Design
  • Ropes Course or Zip Lining
  • Bowling
I'm not too creative apparently.  But I bet you guys are!  Visit Match.com’s “What Stirs You?” Contest Page now through Tuesday May 28th, 2013 and tell Match.com what you think would make for the perfect singles event to be entered to win. Entries will be judged based on quality, creativity, uniqueness and geographical relevance.

The selected winner will have their idea re-created by the Match.com Stir Events team in their city, and will receive an invitation to attend the event along with ten of their single friends – all at no charge! (I hope I get an invite if you win!!)  In addition, the winner will also receive a free six-month Match.com subscription.

You better believe I am submitting an idea!  And if you are not single but have a great idea, send it to me!!  I need all the help I can get in finding Mr. Right.

* this post was sponsored but only because I love the idea and am willing to enter the contest myself! Don't worry I'm not selling out my blog quite yet!

Oh Austin, TX! I hope to be back soon!

My trip to Austin turned out to not be bad at all.  In fact it was really really good.  Everything went smoothly and I had a great time.  I learned a lot on this trip.  I leaned a lot about myself.  I learned that I should not let fear cripple me.  (I think the fact that I finally read Divergent on this trip.  I think I need to be more Dauntless.)  I learned that I have become very independent and don't need someone else to help me figure everything out.  I learned that being alone isn't so bad.  And I learned a lot at the conference I attended, but I won't bore you with all that!  I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...

1. My adorable room at the W- Wednesday I got there around 4 pm.  I took a cab from the airport to The W Hotel.  If you've never stayed at a W you are missing out.  They really go above and beyond to make you feel welcome and cared for.

2. The bathtub in my room was so deep!  I could barely climb over the wall to get in.  But I loved it!  I took a nice relaxing bath every night.

3. The president was in Austin on Thursday.  I saw all kinds of security along my 3 block walk to Austin City Music Hall where our convention was held.

4. Thursday night I was scrolling through my Instagram and saw that Jessica Alba had posted a pic of the goodies the W Austin had left in her room to welcome her!  I was really hoping to run in to her at the gym or the spa or in the elevator or something but I didn't.  And no I didn't get any welcome goodies in my room.

5. I ordered room service Thursday night because it was raining.  Beef brisket sliders that were quite yummy.  I just love room service even though it is way overpriced!

6. That was my view from the treadmill at the gym.  I worked out every day at their gym!  It was so nice!

7.  They had an Acura car service you could use to take you places.  It came in handy!

1. Saturday morning I switched to The Hampton Inn because The W rate went up to almost $400/night!  The Hampton Inn was nice too, but it didn't feel like home like The W did.

2. Saturday evening I walked down to the Congress St. bridge to watch the bats.  Apparently the largest bat colony in North America lives under that bridge and they all fly out around dusk.  It was not what I expected, but pretty cool and there were tons of them!

3. A bat statue near the Congress St. Bridge.

4.  Lady Bird Lake trail- this trail was so pretty!  I walked it Sunday to and from church.  Cam would have loved this trail.

5-8. I looked on Yelp to see what food places I should try.  I wanted to go somewhere I could easily get something to go.  I saw great reviews for this Torchy's Taco truck and it was only about a mile away so I walked.  I will admit I got a little scared on this walk.  Even though it was all on main roads, it was dark and I was by myself.  It was such a cute place though!  Great date spot.  And the food was amazing!  Highly recommend the Baja Shrimp Taco and Green Chile Queso!  And on the walk back over the bridge I did get the best view of the city at night!

9. Sunday morning I walked to go to church at Austin Stone's downtown campus.  I have listened to this church's podcast for over 2 years so it was really exciting to finally hear the sermon live!

So here's all the details of how I spent my time in Austin:

Wednesday night the company I work with took me out for dinner and drinks after I toured their offices.  We went to Lambert's for BBQ.  The ribs were good, but the fried strawberry pie we all split was ah-ma-zing!  Then we walked down to The Elephant Room and we got to hear a full jazz band live which was really cool!

Thursday I went to the conference all day and came back to the hotel and hit the gym and then ordered room service because it was all gloomy and rainy outside.

Friday I went to the conference all day.  After we got out around 4 pm, I walked to Whole Foods because it is apparently their flagship store.  It was huge and overwhelming but I was able to get something for dinner and snacks.  I walked the mile or so back to the hotel, hit the gym, and then the spa.  I had booked an appointment for Friday night because I figured it would give me something to do.  It was the most amazing spa treatment ever.  Here is the description from their website:

Over The Hills and Far Away     105 min/$225
Rock out to this zeppelin-inspired VIP treatment with all the features of an exclusive detox.  Begins with a full body dry-brushing, followed by a coconut sugar scrub & detailed parafango treatment.  The experience continues with a full body massage, including our signature foot treatment.  Finish off with a cool coconut mini facial, incorporating cold stones & hot towels.  Your skin is cleansed, hydrated, and protected from the brilliant Texas sun.  Who says only celebrities have it so good?    Voted best body treatment by Austin Monthly readers, October 2012. 

And even better I had a $50 off any spa treatment coupon.  Soooo worth it!  Best.  Treatment.  Ever.

Saturday I woke up and went to the gym and then showered and packed.  Then I had their Acura car service take me to The Hampton Inn.  Luckily they let me check in early there!  After getting settled in my room I took a walk down Congress Street to Homeslice (thanks to a suggestion from Tracy on my last post!)  Along the way I popped in a lot of the cute shops that line this road.  I got the pizza to go and walked back to my hotel.  After I ate I went out to the pool and soaked up the sun and read my book.  Then I went to see the bats and get Torchys.

Sunday I walked to church and back, showered, and then just went on to the airport.  My flight wasn't until 5:15, but I people watched, read, and tried Salt Lick BBQ and Amy's Ice Cream (amazing!!!)

Time flew by and I really didn't feel alone.  I actually had fun!  It was very relaxing and definitely taught me a lot!  Just what I needed.  And I have to say thank you for all the encouragement through comments here and on Instagram and all the tweets!  I think that is part of the reason why I didn't feel so alone!

Hopefully next week I will be able to compile all my tips for traveling alone!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Traveling Solo

Back in March, my boss offered me the opportunity to go to a conference in Austin, TX.  The only downside is they only got approval for one person to go so I would have to go by myself.  I didn't have to say yes, but I had been dying to go to Austin.  The conference was on a Thursday and a Friday so I could easily make a long weekend out of it.  But I am the girl who won't even eat somewhere by herself.  Definitely did not want to go to a city I have never been to by myself.

So I asked some girls in my bible study if they wanted to go.  We all had just talked about doing a trip to Austin because the study we were doing was written by pastors at The Austin Stone, a church we all like and listen to on podcast.  Three of the girls said they were definitely interested so I agreed to go and booked my flights and hotel.  I sent them the hotel and flight info and we all talked about flight options and stuff over email for the next few days.

Well fast forward to three weeks before the trip...one girl backs out because she is doing another trip with her friends in May and just can't afford it.  Two weeks before we go I ask one of the other girls about it and she says she decided she isn't going to go.  She has to work and wouldn't be able to fly out until Saturday morning and it just wouldn't be worth it.  The last girl seems like she is still in at this point, but then today, 3 days before I leave, she tells me she isn't going.

So now here I am.  Taking my first trip completely solo.  5 days days in a big city all by myself.  And I am terrified.  I have flown by myself and navigated to a hotel by myself, but I have never spent time alone in a city I've never been to, where I know no one, completely by myself.

I've cried.  I've prayed.  I asked another friend to go, but unfortunately by this point flights are triple what I paid for mine back in March.  So it looks like I am going to have to be brave and be independent and get through this on my own.

I mean this is like a metaphor for my whole freaking life.  I am tempted on just giving up on people in general and going at this whole life thing completely on my own.  That way no one can hurt me.  No one can let me down.

Friday night I was watching The Client List (don't judge) and a little girl on the show said "My mom said "If you tell someone you are going to do something, you do it."  People need to do this more.  I even took this advice this weekend.  I had told my mom I would go see her the Sunday before Mother's Day (today) since I would be in Austin on Mother's day.  But I had been sick all week, had a million errands to run, and was dealing with the emotional trauma of all this mess.  The last thing I wanted to do was go to High Point.  But I did.  Because I had told her I would.

But apparently most people don't play by this rule.  And I seem to always get the brunt of this.  So the only solution I see is to stop counting on people for anything.  Hopefully this trip will give me more confidence to live a life completely free from dependency on others.  I'm already pretty independent, but I'm not trusting anyone for anything anymore.  Ever.

You know what the really sad thing is.  I think I could do it if I had Cam with me.  (the more people I get to know, the more I love my dog)  He really has helped me get through so much and I don't feel alone when I have him with me.  But I can't take him on a plane unfortunately.  So it will just be me.

So dear readers, have you ever traveled alone?  What advice do you have or me?