Moving On and Moving Back

As I near the end of my degree, I’ve had to think a lot about what I want for my future. I’ll soon be beginning my ‘adult’ life, and I wanted to start making changes to ensure that I am living the happiest life that I can be. When I sat down to think about the greatest sources of unhappiness in my life, where I am living was the first thing that came to mind.

I was born and raised on the family farm. The landscape is one that my family has looked upon for generations. I moved into the big city – at least it felt big to me – to attend university. I’ve been here for the past four years now, and I still haven’t found a sense of home. Edmonton is a great city, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t where my heart is.

I knew that I wanted nothing more than to be back on the farm. The peace and serenity is something that my country soul needs. My parents were thrilled to know I wanted to come back. Not only would I be close to them again, but all of my family as well. I can throw a stone from our farm and hit a cousin or an aunt or uncle in nearly any direction.

The one thing I wasn’t thrilled about was moving back in with my parents. I love them, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to move THAT far back. We came up with an alternative solution – one that would give me my own space but also allow me to be near to all my family. It was going to take a lot of work, but it was doable.

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This is where I lived until I was six. It’s across the property from my grandparent’s house, which is where my parents live now. When I first tell people that I’m fixing up an old trailer, I often get a puzzled look. It may not look like much, but to me the land that it sits on is a slice of heaven. Yes it’s a little – okay maybe a lot – run down and yes it isn’t new or fancy, but it’s mine and I love it.

Renovations have been coming along all winter now. There was a lot of structural things that had to be done. We put on a new roof, beefed up the insulation, and replaced sections of the floor. There’s a brand new furnace in there – now that the heat can’t escape – and that rotting deck is gone. With these major things finished, it’s now come the time for us to really get to work on the interior.

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As you can see, there’s a lot to be done before I can make a lasagna. I took these photos at the beginning of this past weekend, and we spent the long weekend listening to oldies and working away.

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There really is so much potential for this place. I can already picture my life here, looking out that big window at the barn and the fields. Nothing makes me happier.

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Also, look at the size of that bathtub! I see many bubble baths with candles, wine, and a book in my future.

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Not to mention the counter space in this ensuite bathroom. That’s right, I said ensuite.

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Possibly the thing I am most excited for – the closet. It’s huge. It extends far past that opening and there are those neat little built in drawers and the cabinet as well. Every girl’s dream!

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We did a lot this weekend, and it already looks drastically different than these photos – but I’m saving that for the next update! For now, I’ll leave you wondering what paint colours I’m going with.

I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

“I never loved  you. I wouldn’t miss you at all. You are replaceable. Interchangeable.”

The words echo in my head. So many questions and so much confusion clouds my ability to think of much else. I long to understand what happened, but I simply cannot make sense of it.

My heart breaks over the loss of a life that I created with someone. I am devastated over the betrayal of someone I trusted so entirely that I agreed to spend the rest of my life with him. Everything feels like a lie. And I feel played for a fool.

Every laugh, every kiss, every touch, every moment meant nothing to him. I was simply someone to kill time with. Yet, as I look back, his actions seem to scream infinitely louder than his words. The beautiful and kind gestures. The nights spent in the hospital with me when I was sick or the times he took care of me at home. The talk he had of the future and our life together. The happy tears he cried when my father gave his blessing to ask me to marry him. The sleepless nights when he cried over having to go on exercise and say goodbye.

I try to rationalize what happened. I try to look for the signs that his words had some meaning behind them. That I really did mean nothing, and since I did not have a place in his heart it was so easy for him to begin a relationship with someone else. But I just cannot make sense of it.

As much as my heart breaks, I feel like I started to let go a while ago too. Every night that he drank, I found that my tolerance was a little bit less. When he was cruel and unkind and blamed it on his depression, I began to ask myself how many more times I could plead with him to seek help. Yet the entire length of our relationship, I continued to be his rock and his strength.

With the passing of my dear grandmama, I needed him to be my strength. For the first time in our relationship I called on him to be my rock. He was overseas, I was alone and lost a woman who was a mother figure for me in so many ways, and I fell into a dark place. He says that is the moment that he decided to leave me. When I needed help. When I had used up all of my strength on him and just needed to borrow some back.

I may not be able to make sense of his reasoning, but I do know in my heart that all give and no take is not how a relationship works. I know that I deserve better than to feel like I can’t ask the person that I chose to spend the rest of my life with for help. That isn’t how it is supposed to be.

As I start to heal over the loss of him, my pain turns into ache from the absence of someone to share my life with. It saddens me to come home to an empty house. To eat dinner alone. To go to sleep alone and not have that person to share the details of my day with. In the morning, I roll over to an empty side of the bed and start the cycle again.

Each new day is still another day that I find myself analyzing and asking questions about what happened. I don’t anticipate this will go away soon. Some days my feelings are of sadness, some of anger, some of regret and embarrassment, but most of them I feel relief. Relief that I realized the type of person he was now, and that I didn’t waste any more of my heart on someone who clearly has not given any of his to me. Relief that I can go back to living the life that I always dreamed of having instead of giving up my dreams because he said that his were more important. Relief that I get a clean slate and a new chance to try to find real love.

 

8482181476_af9c2aa8ff_b“In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Welcome to the Real World

Over the course of the summer, I had the amazing opportunity to dip my toes into the field that I will be entering into upon the completion of my degree next year. Communications is such a broad umbrella, and in my field placement I found that I was carrying quite a large one. My courses had prepared me for some of what I was asked to do, but in other instances I was standing out in the rain – so to speak.

For the tasks that I did have training for, I was confident. I was editing – a skill that has been honed throughout my entire time in university – many documents and am grateful that I was able to continue to polish the skill for a careful and keen eye. I wrote numerous reports that I had to carefully research and then present the information in a orderly and logical manner. Check – done that countless times for my courses as well.

Even though I felt very sure of myself and these skills, applying them to a real world setting proved more difficult than I had thought. There was a learning curve for me as I adjusted to the style that my superiors expected, specifically in regards to the reports. I was thorough in my research for the reports, and wanted to present as many facts as were available to support our aims. I quickly learned that lengthy and detailed reports that are valued in university are not something that general managers and executives have time to read. This made sense to me. The audience for my reports was a group of incredibly busy people. It was not until this was pointed out to me by my supervisor did I think of it.

Not only did this make sense to me, but I had learned it in my courses. It was right there, in one of my textbooks. Goodall, Goodall, and Schiefelbein (2010) note in their section on reports that “few people have the time or the desire to read a long, detailed report” (p. 202). How quickly we forget the things that we take as common sense in our textbooks when the time comes to use our skills in the workforce.

The largest challenge for me was when I was given the lead on the bi-weekly e-newsletter. I was only familiar with the basics of MailChimp and writing for the web. My first few e-blasts were not getting the open and click rates that I was hoping for, and I was determined to refine my strategy to achieve a better result.

The content that I had planned out for the next three months of e-newsletters was good. Updates on the project, new features that were introduced, and promotions that were being offered. I thought this was great information! Why didn’t the subscribers want to read it?

If people were not even opening the email, then I thought that it must be the subject line. Frick (2010) states that “a subject line that is direct, factual, and to the point will get more attention than one that is gimmicky of tries too hard” (p. 172). This is the most useful information I could have gotten. Not taking any journalism courses, I did not hone the skill of writing an effective headline – or in this case, subject line.

This was probably my biggest ‘welcome to the real world’ moment during the course of my field placement. My schooling did not prepare me for everything that I have and will encounter in the workforce. I do believe that the take-home message is that communications is a broad field – not to mention constantly evolving and changing – and we as professional communicators need to evolve and change with it. While my time at university is nearly finished, I will never be finished learning.

 

 

Frick, T. (2010). Return on engagement: Content, strategy, and design techniques for digital marketing. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.

Goodall, H., Goodall, S., & Schiefelbein, J. (2010) Business and professional communication in the global workplace. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Cake Batter Cookies

I’m on a baking binge. It’s a finals week thing. I wanted to try something new, but I had a couple baking failures in the last week or so and I was feeling a little defeated. I was scrolling through  and found a few pins that explained how to make cookies from boxed cake mix. Sounded pretty easy, so I felt up to it.

They are easy, and I’m so excited about them! There are so many potential combinations with different cake mixes and things to put in them. I made four different kinds, because go big or go home, right?

Cake Batter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 box of cake batter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of melted butter

Combine the ingredients. The original posts called for 1/3 cup of melted butter, but I found that it just wasn’t enough liquid for some of the cake mixes. I think it really depends on the box. That’s the mantra for this recipe: It depends on the box.

Once you have mixed your ingredients, feel free to add whatever you want to it! Roll into balls and cook at 350 for 5-10 minutes.

Pro tip: Have some flour to coat your hands in. This batter is much more sticky than your traditional cookie dough.

They turned out so awesome! They are so soft and chewy and amazing. Here are the four different combos that I made:

Confetti Cake Batter With Mini Eggs

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Butter Pecan Batter with Skor Bits

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Chocolate Batter with Reese’s Pieces

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Red Velvet Batter with Chocolate Chips

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They are all so great. I think that our favourite was the butter pecan with skor bits. What are some combos that you think would taste good?

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Curtis and I never eat all of the bananas before they turn too ripe. I also only like bananas when they are still a bit green, so once they are full yellow I’m not interested anymore. I usually make banana bread/muffins/loaf/etc. so that the ripe bananas don’t go to waste.

I figured I’d try something a little different this time. I found a recipe for some healthy ‘cookies’ with only three ingredients. I figured I’d give it a try.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mash up the bananas, stir in the oats and chocolate chips, and drop onto the pan! Cook at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

They hold together better than I expected they would, and they taste pretty great! Super simple and quick, and less guilt than a traditional cookie! Win win.

The Best Snickerdoodles

I am such a stress-baker. Something about following a recipe – or eyeballing a recipe, as I usually do – is so calming for me. I’m a stress-eater too, so it works out.

It’s the end of the semester. I have a dozen projects that I should be working on and finals that I should start studying for. I hit that point that so many of us do where I have so much to do that I decide to do none of it. Admit it, you’ve been there too.

I got a serious craving for snickerdoodles. I hadn’t had one since I was a kid, and Curtis hasn’t ever had them. There was only one way to satisfy that craving. Bake time!

I called my Grandma for the recipe and my childhood was shattered when she told me that she used to buy them from a lady she knew that sold her cookies. I was excited to try out a family recipe that I remembered from Grandma’s house as a kid – and it turns out that these magical cookies weren’t even my Grandma’s.

I turned to Pinterest and hunted through dozens of recipes. As I mentioned before, I don’t really follow recipes as I see them. I instead like to check out a bunch of recipes and blend them together to create my own hybrid that I think will work.

I did a pretty good job on these. They turned out soft and chewy and everything that a snickerdoodle should be. Here is my hybrid recipe. You can follow it, or make it into your own!

The Best Snickerdoodles

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of golden shortening
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  1. Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in a bowl
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and cream together
  3. Mix in cream of tartar, flour, baking soda, baking power, and salt
  4. Refrigerate dough for 45 minutes
  5. Roll dough into small balls, and roll in mixture of cinnamon and sugar
  6. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes

How easy is that! And they are absolutely mouth-watering. I highly recommend them :)

 

DIY – Orange Coconut Body Butter

Dry skin is such a common problem – especially during Canadian winters. I have tried what feels like all the products under the sun to soothe my dry hands. Curtis’ mom is the same. Her hands are not only dry, but crack. This can be just the worst.

His mom has cracking hands every winter, and she has tried a number of products as well. Nothing really works for her. I stumbled across a homemade body butter recipe and figured that it was worth a try! The main ingredient is coconut oil, and I’ve been reading so much hype on its benefits lately that I was quite intrigued to see the results. I tweaked it a bit from the original post, but it was still so easy!

Orange Coconut Body Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil – I had to hunt for this a little bit. I found it in the natural foods aisle at Superstore. You can use the plain coconut oil, but I chose Orange Almond to enhance the scent a bit.
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Zest from one orange

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I’m not even going to break this up into steps, because there really isn’t any. Combine the ingredients, and mix. I mixed by hand, but I think you can mix with an actual mixer as well for more of a whipped texture. I don’t have one, so I had to rely on my muscles ;)

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Even mixing by hand, it became a very smooth texture. I placed it into a nice little container that I also found at Superstore.

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I only used about half of the small jar of coconut oil, and probably have enough for another batch. Considering I already had honey – as most of us probably do – it only cost me about $7 to make! Not too bad considering how much we so often spend on skin care products.

I tested out a little myself, and you really do only need a little bit. It’s a bit greasy at first, but it’s oil. I expected that. It took about five minutes to really soak into my skin and I have to say that my hands feel awesome! And it truly smells divine.

 

Day 24 of #100happydays – Inspiring TedTalks

I love TedTalks. Some of them can be quite long, but when they pop up on my Facebook or Twitter feeds I always try to make a mental note to watch them when I get a chance. Sometimes, the little inspiration that these videos provide is just what you need to help get you through a tough day. This is possibly my favourite TedTalk that I’ve ever seen.

“Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse.”

I spent about an hour on ted.com watching some of these videos today. I found one that sounded a lot like something that a good friend of mine told me when I was struggling with my own health in high school. It was grade 11, and this friend was my social studies teacher. She believed in me, and gave me the best advice I have ever received in my life. She told me that sometimes life gives you a gift, it just happens to be covered in shit. You have to dig through all the shit to get to the gift, but it is all worth it. Keeping in the theme that hard is not relative, and that everyone has their own struggles, this video shows that there is always light in the darkness.

“You’ll be challenged, inspired, motivated, and humbled. Your life will have new meaning.”

There’s a really great message in both of these videos. I hope you take the time to watch them :)

Days 18-23 of #100happydays

Another lump post of my #100happydays challenge. It’s been quite the eventful week, and I’ve just been too busy to post.

The end of day 17 – last Tuesday – I learned that the condition that my brakes on my car were in made it no longer driveable. My dad was calling his mechanic friends to see how fast someone could get it in, but everyone was quoting him a few weeks. At this point, my life looked like it was about to get pretty complicated in terms of getting to work. I work in brand new developments where there are no bus routes. Ah! I called Curtis’ mom to see if I could borrow their van for a while, and not only did they lend me the van, but Willie fixed my car at his shop the very next day. I have some really lovely family that are always there for me. I don’t know what I would do without them all.

On day 19 I developed some sort of flu, and it has stuck with me. That’s usually how it goes with me though – I stay sick for a long time. That would normally make for a pretty crappy week., but in true #100happydays fashion, I’ve been embracing the positive. I’ve stayed home a lot, only leaving the house for class or work. Since I’m home so much, I’ve gotten lots of kitten snuggles! These two are just the best. I think they can sense that I’m not feeling well, because they are giving me a ton of love.

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When I’m not in bed, I’ve been on the couch working on all my assignments. I feel really pleased with how much I’ve been able to do considering how awful I’ve felt. That, and the constant distraction of Wickham staring at me. He really enjoys eye contact with his humans.

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The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are on as well. And nothing makes me feel more Canadian than watching the Winter Olympics. I don’t think our TV has left CBC since the preliminaries started. And since I haven’t been sleeping through the night – oh the joys of being sick – I’ve been able to watch quite a bit. I’ve kept it on during the day while I’m working as well.

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Overall, the past week hasn’t been awful. I have felt awful, but there has been lots of positive moments throughout. Kittens, Olympics, and especially lots of Curtis taking care of me. He’s the best :)