Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chivalry Is Dying, but Who's to Blame?

     I don't think there's ever been an instance when Ian has texted me "I'm here." Every time he picks me up, he comes to the door and knocks. Even if we're only inside for a second while I grab my coat and head out (something he doesn't necessarily have to be inside for), he comes in. Sometimes I may be watching for him to come, and I may meet him at his car, but if I'm not quick enough, he'll turn the car off and meet me half way.

     I used to think this was normal--or even odd--until I heard other people's stories. How they struggle to find ONE night a week to get their boyfriends to hang out with them, or how he never wants to do what she wants to do, or how he made her pay for herself on the first date, etc. That's when it hit me: for some reason, may it be the fault of men or women, men are losing the desire to be chivalrous. Some (Note: SOME) men need to be forced to buy you a Valentine's gift, or may think the whole holiday is dumb and opt out of doing anything. Do you know what Ian and I are doing this coming year? Going to see Wicked because I want to. And I'm sure he'd rather do ANYTHING other than see a musical, but he's doing it for me. We'll still have dinner, and he always gets me flowers and little gifts. On another day and/or holiday, maybe he will have something he really wants to do, and we will do that. But the point is that he is willing to do something he doesn't want to do to make me happy. He's not telling me to take my best friend to the show instead or complaining about going. He took it like a man and, for that, I am extremely lucky.

But again, that's apparently not normal. So many men today are unwilling to sacrifice their "manhood" for their partners; so many men have lost the idea of woo-ing the person they love. They've become lazy and, sometimes, even selfish.

     What happened to taking it slow? When did men start dating multiple women at a time until one became "exclusive"? When did texting become the main form of contact? Do so few men write letters anymore, just for the sake of taking the time and effort to write down your affection?  Do so few men call their partners, leading them to wonder how many other women they are "talking to"? When did men stop trying to CATCH a woman? When did women become so willing to accept this laziness?

     I'm sorry, but if you showed up in my driveway and sent me a lousy text saying you arrived, your butt would be waiting out in the cold a looooong time before you either got out of the car or drove away. Because that kind of half-assed mentality won't work with me.

     Which leads me to the one question I cannot seem to answer: 


Is this new lack of chivalry the cause of men not doing their part, or women not doing theirs? 



     Or maybe a combination of both?

     So often we throw the blanket of blame at "technology," but that's merely a way of not pointing the finger at ourselves. Whether women need to stand up for themselves and act like a lady and not be so easy, or men need to grow a pair and put forth a little more effort, but, either way, this "new-age, technology-based, cyber-relationship" stuff needs to not replace genuine, heart-felt romance.

And if you're one of the lucky ones, whether you know it or not, you have a love worth keeping :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Apologize First; Apologize Often

I was originally going to write this post about what it means to really love someone unconditionally and sacrificially. But due to a recent (little) disagreement with Ian, I realized the post would have been written with a bitter heart. And that's neither fair to him, nor to anyone actually reading this post (although I don't believe many of you are exactly lining up to see what I post next).

Regardless, I had a rough morning with a million things going on in my head. Being half distracted all day with unimportant arguments (and because I was late to work so I had to skip breakfast), I took an early lunch. I drove to a little cafe about ten minutes away from my work, sat outside with a latte and some eggs, and I cleared my mind.

I thought about the bitterness in my heart. I thought about how he should be the one to apologize first because he is the one who hurt my feelings, and I did nothing wrong. That's when I realized I was being selfish. In our relationship, just like in every other relationship, feelings will get hurt. It just happens. But how you deal with those feelings creates either a positive or negative outcome. So, I had a simple revelation: apologize first and apologize often.

Ian plays this little game where he will keep count of the number or times I say "sorry" or "excuse me" in public for doing "nothing wrong." If I pass in front of somebody in an isle of Target or if my shopping cart gets in somebody's way, I apologize. That's just the way I am. I like to think of it as being polite. Don't get me wrong, he's not saying I should stop; he just thinks I'm always the person to apologize for "doing nothing wrong" when simply moving out of the way silently would have the same outcome. Again, it's just who I am.

And it's no different in relationships. Going back to our little bickering, I didn't do anything wrong. I was, essentially, the victim. But this isn't a prime-time news article; this is the man I love. And if apologizing for getting emotional helps diffuse the situation, is it not worth it? Chances are, in every fight a couple has, both parties do something wrong. One person may have "started it" or may "make it worse" by "not caring about" my feelings... But I'd be willing to bet the "innocent" party isn't making it any easier. Don't we all have a tendency to sit and pout until the other person comes crawling back to us apologizing? Or stomping our foot and reminding them how many other men out there would be perfectly willing to make us happy? I'm not asking you to raise your hand or post it on facebook, but simply to look inside your own heart. Even if the only thing you did wrong was loving them too much, it's never wrong to apologize.

So, back to the title of this post: apologize first. I'm not saying run around Target apologizing to the employee for asking a question about an item (although I am guilty of that one, too). But simply realize that a simple apology might be just the cure for that unimportant argument. Is it really worth the sprain in your relationship to hold a grudge? Ian and I are lucky enough to share the same faith. Whether you're Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or Agnostic, whatever religion you may or may not be, I have found it very beneficial to share the same faith as my partner (I use that word to make it more applicable to every relationship; I am in no way insulting any type of relationship). That being said, we both have the same fundamental views of what it means (to us) to love sacrificially and unconditionally based on the example we are taught by God. Which, to me, means being the first to apologize.

If a simple "I'm sorry I got so emotional (or sad or angry or whatever it may be)" is enough to make him sigh and apologize for harsh words, do you both not win? I'm neither a fan of holding grudges nor do I like bringing up the past. If I say I forgive you, than I forgive you forever. There's no need to bring it up ever again.

Apologizing isn't about just saying words or buying flowers. It's about showing that person how insignificant the problem is and that your love trumps any disagreement. It's about humbling yourself and looking at the bigger picture. Trust me, after Ian hurts my feelings, the last thing I want to do is go apologize for being hurt. I mean, what? It's not MY fault he was mean. I need to stand up for myself. Right? Wrong. Again, never apologize for having feelings or  for allowing the person you love to hurt you. Instead, apologize for maybe over-reacting or not approaching him rationally about it. (Is yelling/crying really the best way to analyze and solve the problem? If yes, call a girlfriend and buy some ice cream and talk to your partner later).

Not apologizing doesn't mean you're strong; it means you're prideful. You think YOUR feelings mean more than your partner's feelings, and, therefore, you are superior. If you're in a relationship, you are never superior; you are equals. Never be afraid to humble yourself.

All that to say, never be afraid to share your feelings, either. Telling your partner that something they said hurt your feelings is completely normal, and chances are they will apologize for hurting you. But if it turns into an argument or if you're in the heat of the moment and hard feelings are shared, humble yourself. A simple "I'm sorry I over-reacted, but what you said really hurt me" can go a long way. But if you choose to go the "I'm just not going to talk to you until you grow up and learn to be nice, you prick" route, than you are being selfish, and selfishness cannot exist in a healthy relationship.

This was on my heart while I was drinking my (overpriced) latte. I'm not trying to say I'm perfect (because nobody is), but I'm trying to say I realized today the full potential of being the first to apologize, even when you don't think you did anything wrong. It may be easier for me than most people, because it's part of my personality. And it may not work for everybody. But humility and selflessness can go a long way in a relationship, and if you truly love someone, they're worth humbling yourself for.





(Disclaimer: if your relationship is legitimately falling apart due to abuse or cheating, please seek professional help.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stop Planning; Start Living

"It's hard to make plans with a moving target." 

My dad said this to me today as he was walking around the house frustrated that our Saturday plans made no sense. Mom was talking about shopping and having my brother come over, but she had no plan, no idea what time any of this would happen, and no lunch plans. Dad had work to do and his time to do it was being interrupted. I was waiting on Ian to get here so we could edit photos (which turned out awesome, by the way). 

But his words hit me harder than he realized. I'm a planner. I wasn't always like that. Somewhere between graduating high school and graduating college, I changed. Somehow, I felt safer and more prepared and more organized if I had a general "plan" for my life. I wanted to graduate, get married, and have kids by 23. Well, I turn 23 in a couple months, so obviously my plan isn't happening. But why does that frustrate me? Why can't I be like many other people and just "go with the flow of life"? 

Today, my dad answered that question. It's because the future is unknown. And, as somebody who finds peace in knowing how things are going to happen, it's frustrating to me. So I end up stressing about things and beating them into the ground until Ian is sick of hearing about them. But at least now I know why. And now, I can control my emotions. I may not know what will happen four years from now. There's no set-in-stone date that I can strive for. No more graduations to plan for. My future is open-ended. 

As a writer, not everyone likes open-endings because the audience likes to feel some sort of resolution. But in life, there's no cute last chapter I can write about "10 Years Later." In real life, life beyond the present is black, illuminating itself one day at a time. 

So today, I am going to take my dad's advice. I'm not going to try to plan my future when it's a "moving target." The future is always changing unpredictably. So why stress myself out and Hail Mary my emotions into the darkness? Today, without knowing it, my father shared his wisdom with me, and I will be eternally grateful. 

Today, I'm going to stop trying to control something that's uncontrollable. Instead, I'll control what I can: my happiness with the present. 

:)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To all the girls who think there's something wrong with yourrelationship,

There we are. We look happy, don't we? But what if I told you he made me cry that same night? Or what if I told you that I wasn't sure if we were gonna make it to our 1-year anniversary the next week? What if you knew what went on *after* the picture was taken, and the smiles had faded away? Well, that's what this post is about. 

Let me make two things clear before I begin: 1- I genuinely AM blissfully happy in my relationship and 2- I am in NO way a relationship expert. I am merely a woman who's had to learn the struggles of a long-term relationship the hard way. 

I, like many of you, was naive. I had this idea that men bent over backwards all the time for their women. I thought they would cater to me whenever I asked, and shower me with flowers and gifts 24/7. I knew men were different than the ones in the movies, but I never really thought about *how* they were different. I just kind of knew they were. 

I have dated in the past, and those relationships were fine I guess, but I was happy single. I genuinely enjoy being alone- it's much easier than always worrying about somebody else every time you make a decision. But then I found Ian...

We had been friends in high school, and we had always had a great, fun relationship. And then we started dating. That's when you start to realize the things that annoy you about that person. Where's THAT in the movies? I was always finding random quirks here and there that just bugged me. But I knew I was happy, so why was that happening? Did that mean we had to break up? Was the man of my dreams supposed to piss me off sometimes, or had I simply picked the wrong man? 

Yeah, being in your "first" long-term relationship makes you second guess yourself. No, that does not make you a bad person, and no, it doesn't mean you need to beak up. All it means is that humans are by no means perfect. If two people are together long enough, they ARE going to annoy each other, or make the other person mad, or maybe be a little too honest and hurt your feelings, or maybe need some space to clear their head and be independent. But the worst part is that no matter how many people try to tell you this logically, you'll never fully understand it until you experience it *emotionally.* How emotional you get depends on you. But until your head and your heart agree to ignore the bad things and focus on the millions of good qualities, you'll never fully understand that concept. It may take two years, or it may take ten. Who knows. But I'm here to tell you this: it's NORMAL. 

It's normal to need to spend a night doing your own thing without him. I suggest a girls night out with your friends to unwind. And it's NORMAL to be hurt by him and wonder, if he loves you, why is he saying things that hurt you? 

But the best piece of advice I can give you is this: NEVER threaten to sacrifice the relationship unless you're fully ready to lose him. 

This isn't a Nicholas Sparks book; he WILL NOT come running back to you and sweep you off your feet. Breaking up is a permanent decision. I've been guilty of this, and it used to make me secretly hurt that Ian wouldn't fight for me the way I *thought* he was "supposed" to. But then it hit me: if I'm going to go far enough to END everything we have over hurt feelings or a bad argument, why would I expect him to fight when I've already made up my mind? 

So, ladies, don't do that. It'll get to a point when he's just not going to care about the relationship OR you anymore. 

So then what?

Be happy. And if you're not happy, change your attitude. Instead of assuming it's HIS fault, try turning the attention on YOU, and deal with your problems first. So many of our possible arguments have ended because one of us changed our attitude and took responsibility. You DO have control over what you say and how you feel. Nobody wants to be with an emotional, irrational person. Again, we're not perfect, and mistakes will be made. But make them few and far between. 

It's been two years now, and I wouldn't trade Ian for the world. Despite any little annoying habits or harsh words, he's an incredible man and I'm extremely lucky to have him. When I finally realized that our relationship was normal (well, as far as the emotions were concerned) and that I no longer had to second guess anything, ANYTHING about our relationship... THAT'S when the fights became minimal, the hurt feelings reduced, and we could pay more attention to the blissfully happy moments. 


So ladies, I hope you all have this realization before I did. Being in a relationship with somebody FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE can be quite daunting. Your mind will be racing with doubt and questions. But remember that nobody is perfect, including yourself. Everything can be worked through and nothing is permanent except the relationship. Hurt feelings will fade and arguments will end, but the relationship remains constant. So treat it well and never do anything to harm it. 

And when times get too hard and you're struggling, remember that there is one Father who is ALWAYS there to talk to. And I promise you He'll make you feel a million times better. 

:)

Friday, August 9, 2013

15 Things NOT to do at Starbucks





To many of us, Starbucks gives us our daily dose of espresso to get us through the day. Whether it's 5am or 2pm, customers come into Starbucks seeking a way to wake up, enjoy a delicious beverage, and maybe socialize with friends. I used to be like these customers. Whenever I needed to meet a friend to talk, or if I had free time to work on my writing, I would go to Starbucks. Heck, Ian and I even had or first date at Starbucks. So I get why people love going there. The CEOs of Starbucks seek to make all of their locations feel like a mini-refuge 
from your daily life. And I must say they succeed. 

However, I have recently become a barista of my favorite coffee joint, and there are some not-so-refuge-like things about the atmosphere, as well. No, I'm not talking about the Hell-like temperatures they lock the thermostat at. And I'm not talking about the staff, either. Because, I must admit that Starbucks does an excellent job when staffing their stores. Per store you really only have one (maybe two) employee(s) that don't have great customer service. But for the most part, we love what we do, we know a LOT about what we do, and we genuinely do want to give you exactly what you want... I'm talking about the obnoxious customers that decide they are the only customer that matters, and we must bow down and kiss their feet.

SO here are 15 things NOT to do as a customer at Starbucks. If everybody could just follow these rules, everybody could have a perfect experience every time. 

1.  DO NOT stir macchiatos. This irritates me to my core. Absolutely more than anything else, when I see a person grab their macchiato and immediately stir it, I want to scream. At Starbucks, a "macchiato" is a drink that contains vanilla and milk (hot or cold) at the bottom, topped with espresso shots (and caramel drizzle on top if you'd like). It's intended to have the person drink the shots first, and then wash it down with a sweeter drink afterwards. It's about $5 for a grande. Listen carefully: If you stir it, you just made your $5 drink into a $3 drink. When mixed together (vanilla, espresso, and milk), it makes a vanilla latte. A vanilla latte is $3.55 after tax. So save your money (and my sanity) and please either stop mixing your macchiatos, or start ordering vanilla lattes. Please. 

2. Don't order at the bar. This one bugs me so much. The "bar" is where we put drinks when they are finished. Many times, people sit along the bar and talk to us while we work, which we don't mind. But, if we are working, and you see a long line, do not (I repeat DO NOT) walk up to the bar like you own the place and tell me something's wrong with your drink. You are not the president of the U.S., nor are you Ryan Gosling. So get in line like everybody else and then we would be happy to serve you. If you're simply asking for milk because we're out, or you need a lid, then feel free to ask at the bar. But if you want water or a new drink, or anything else that makes me stop serving other customers, then get in line. 

3. Don't order at the window. I put these two close together because they are similar, but equally as important. If you're going through the drive thru, do not pull straight up to the window and tell us what you want. Chances are, we have a system, and you are not following it. If you pull up to the window and confuse us, and then a real customer comes up to the box to order, we are more inclined to care for their drink first since they followed the rules. Don't get me wrong, I'll put on a smile and tell you it's alright to blatantly ignore all the signs and pull up straight to the window like a bat out of hell. But in reality, it's annoying and it doesn't give us time to properly make your drink and have it ready for you when you arrive at the window. And don't tell me you pulled up and nobody answered the intercom. Don't insult us as employees just because you didn't want to follow the rules. Seriously, there's a loud, obnoxious **BEEP** that goes off in my ear when you pull up to order. Trust me, if you pull up, I WILL hear you, whether I want to or not. 

4. I will judge you for ordering breve. For those of you who don't know, "breve" means a drink is made with steamed cream...CREAM. Unless you are a body builder, if you order a venti latte breve, I'm going to judge you. While I'm sure it tastes amazing, you are consuming about a 700 calorie drink. Expect to be judged. 

5. I am not a slave. I love my job. Honestly, I do. I love helping figure out new drinks to try and making them with extra shots and syrups until somebody finds the perfect drink. But I am not a slave. It irks me when customers treat me like I'm no better than their pet. Heck, most people here treat their pets better than they treat some of us. If your drink isn't perfect, I'm sorry. I will happily fix it. But don't act like a drama queen. It's not the end of the world. Don't assume it's my fault--I may not have been the one to make your drink. Regardless, we will fix it for free. So you'll ultimately get what you want anyway. There's no need to be a prick about it .

6. "Extra hot" is NOT a temperature.  I'm one of those crazy kids who likes their drinks "extra hot." I think it makes the drink taste better and stay hot longer. But when people order a drink "extra hot," all it means is we push a button on the steamer and it'll steam the milk an extra 10 degrees. For most people, that's fine. But for some, they want it steamed to 170 or 180 degrees, and then complain when the drink isn't hot enough (yes, even in the summer). So, if you want your drink to burn your tongue, you have to TELL us a certain temperature. Unless you come in every day and order the same thing, I can't read your mind. And unless you tell me otherwise, I'm just going to push the button and let the steamer stop when it's ready. 

7. Don't use your phone while ordering. Seriously. This is just common courtesy. Whether you're in drive thru or ordering at the register, get off your phone. It's really confusing when you're ordering to me and talking to somebody else at the same time. It's already hard enough to hear because I have a headset on and people are yelling in my ear, but to have to turn around and ask you "What?" every five seconds because you're on the phone is really annoying. Tell that person to hold on a second, give me your order, and continue talking when you walk/drive away. 

8. Know what you want to order. This one doesn't apply to everybody. If you genuinely don't know what you want, or you've never been to Starbucks before, I'll be happy to help you figure it out. Seriously, I find that really fun. But if you finally decide and you walk up to order, be sure you know what you're ordering. Again, I'll be happy to answer questions. But don't order a "mocha latte" and then return it later because you wanted the "iced one." Also, I can tell when it's your first date, or if two people are both trying to pay for the other, or if you aren't familiar with the menu... but don't make it awkward. Figure it out before you order. When two people are both handing me cards it gets very complicated. I don't know which card to grab, and I don't want to cause tension between two people. Don't put me in that situation. Similarly, don't pull up to the drive thru and argue with the people in your car. We CAN hear you. Figure it out before you pull up, and order when you're ready. 

9. Know what other people in your party want. The most frustrating thing is when one person orders for somebody else, and doesn't know what they're ordering. It's usually obedient husbands ordering for their wives, and they feel like they're speaking a third language. I feel their pain. I asked Ian to order me an "extra hot vanilla mocha" once and he looked at me like I was crazy. So men, I know where you're coming from, but please know what you're getting. Or to the lady who orders a drink for someone at your office, don't tell me it's an "orange drink" and then turn down the only two drinks we have that have orange in them. That doesn't even make sense. Or if the person is substituting/adding syrups to drinks, know which one it is: substituting or adding. It DOES make a difference. I honestly do care about making your drinks exactly how you want them, so not knowing whether or not I'm doing it right is such an annoying feeling. So please, know what other people want before telling me what to make you. 

10. Cups of water. Obviously, making a cup of water is the easiest thing I can do. And I genuinely don't mind. But if we're busy and you walk up to the bar demanding water, it's annoying. I'm busy making drinks for customers who ordered them. So, instead, order water while ordering your drink, and it will be put in the line of drinks in the order it was ordered. Plain and simple. Same with drive thru: tell us you want water when you order. If I hand you all your drinks, and I'm ready to move on to the next car, you are making me stop what I'm doing to get you water that I could have had ready five minutes ago. Be polite to the other customers waiting and order ALL your drinks at the same time. 

11. Don't be THAT person. Don't be the person who orders "six ice cubes" in your hot coffee, or who wants "two and a half pumps" of syrup. While we will do our best to take the time out of our busy schedule to count your odd numbers of things, it's unnecessary. Instead, just tell us you want a "few" ice cubes, or to put in "less" syrup. Don't get me wrong, it's good to know what you want. But I can't exactly do a "half" pump. Well, I can. I'm not stupid. But you guys get the idea: don't be unnecessarily obnoxious about your drink order. 

11b. THERE IS NO SECRET MENU. Don't order a "Snickers Frappuccino" and expect me to know what you're talking about. There is no "Nutella Frappuccino" on the menu, and there's a reason. 1- when you people ask for those drinks, it's 95% syrups, which makes it about a 1,500 calorie drink, but 2- we don't know how to make them. Even if you pull it up on your phone, we don't know how much of each thing to put. So please, forget you ever saw anything about the "secret menu" and let us help you find a real drink you'll enjoy (and one you can order no matter where in the world you are). 

12. Don't blame ME. Recently, my store ran out of caramel syrup for the Caramel Ribbon Crunch seasonal frappuccino. People get incredibly angry. "Why don't you have it?! The menu says you have it! The other starbucks had it! Make it for me anyway!!" etc etc. People, I'm not the CEO. I don't decide what seasonal drinks to make or how long they'll be around. And I can't control when we run out of certain things. So please stop blaming me. If the brew of the day is Italian, and you wanted Sumatra, don't get mad at me like it's my fault. I don't choose those things. So just chill out and do the best with what we DO have. 

13. Don't order decaf. I understand some people order decaf lattes because they like the taste of the syrups and milk. And it would be strange to get a steamer as an adult (a child's drink made like a latte without the shots). But what's the point in buying decaf coffee? Seriously. You've basically just spent $2.50 on water. There is literally zero reason to ever drink decaf coffee. And the same goes for americanos. Why on EARTH would you want decaf shots mixed with water? It has got to taste disgusting and have approximately zero benefits for drinking it. I suggest you save your money and just get water if you're gonna go decaf. Or get a cream based frappuccino if you really have calories to waste. 

14. Don't give your kid caffeine. I understand you're their parent, but when I see an 8 year old come in and order a frappuccino that has coffee in it, I want to scream. I'll even tell the parents, "That one has caffeine, is that okay?" and the stupid parents don't care. Literally, they say "I don't care." Well, I do. So I'll make the drink without caffeine anyway, because I care more about your child's health than you do. But let's be honest: no young child needs to be given any type of espresso or coffee. It makes me wonder what else these parents "don't care" about. Obviously health isn't important to them. 

15. Drinks take time. Unless you're ordering black coffee, your drink will take some time to prepare. And, chances are, you're not the only one in the store. So don't get impatient and demand your drink because it's "taking too long." Your beverage will be made in the order it was received, so calm down. And remember we have drinks in the drive thru too that need to be made also. So bear with us and be patient. If you're in a hurry, order black coffee. And keep in mind that we only have one person doing frappuccinos at a time. One lady in the drive thru yelled at me for "standing around" (aka, waiting for all her drinks to be made) while she was waiting. Not only were her and here daughter both grossly obese, but they both ordered frappuccinos. And, before them, four people in the lobby also ordered some. So don't blame me because your drink comes after the other ones that were ordered first. We can only make one (maybe two) frappuccinos at a time. And honestly, we hate making them, but that's a different issue. SO keep in mind that you are not, in fact, the only customer that matters, and be patient. 


I don't want this post to sound more bitter than it's intended to. I'm more than happy to help you, to make you feel at home, and to give you exactly what you want. All we ask in return is a little respect and common courtesy. One of my co-workers always tells me he's surprised no customer has ever reached over the bar and literally shaken him to make his drink faster. People, calm down. We're doing a JOB, just like most of you have. So give us a little credit that we know what we're doing. We can't make the milk steam any faster or the espressos pull any quicker. All we can do is put the time and attention into your drink that it deserves, and provide you with the perfect drink. 

So if we all behave and act like mature adults, every customer can have an excellent experience every single time. But hey, even if you're one of those annoying customers we hate, I'll put on a smile, make your drink however you want, and you'll never know how obnoxious you are. Because that's what I'm paid to do. And I've come to realize that some people just *want* to be annoying. If they are having a bad day, they want others to suffer as well. So I've gotten really good at always being loving and positive, and no obnoxious customer can bring me down. 

Share the love with your baristas :) We really do love our loyal customers. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 Tips for Living with an Introvert

If you're anything like I am, you know the terms "introvert" and "extrovert" and you simply think "quiet" and "talkative." But, after being with an introvert for two years now, there are some tips and tricks I've picked up. I want to share them with you guys because I think Ian and I are the dictionary definitions of an introvert and an extrovert.

I prefer to go out, have fun, talk about everything that comes to mind, and just bounce around carelessly and enjoy life. Ian, on the other hand, thinks things through for a long (and I mean loooooong) time before doing them, he prefers to have fun in a familiar place (like the house), and silently spend time together. So I've made this list about how we extroverts can better understand our introvert partners without having those annoying arguments and hurt feelings.

1. Going out in public drains their energy. While extroverts get charged when they go out for a night on the town, introverts literally drain all of their energy, and need to go back home to recharge theirs. This is probably the biggest difference. Ian and I balance it by only going out for "date night" once a week. During the work week, we simply hang out at home and enjoy each other's company. That way, he can charge in a familiar place and have energy for when we go out (where I get to absorb energy!).

2. Introverts hate surprises. It's kinda like when your cat is is in the corner grooming itself and you jump out from behing the door to scare it and the poor thing goes flying ten feet in the air and runs behind the chair in the corner... Yeah, poor baby. That's the mental image I get when I think about surprising an introvert. Now, that was completely metaphorical. Obviously, the jumpiness of your partner varies for each person (obviously :P). But, going back to them using all their energy to be in public, surprises work the same way. If you, for example, throw them a surprise party, they not only feel out of their element, but they are also  taken over by an "oh gosh, here we go" feeling. At least when they go out, they choose to go.  Surprising them like this literally throws it on them unexpectedly. Instead, try surprising an introvert with an intimate candle lit date or a cute gift to show your love. Introverts like to feel in control of their environment; it's what helps them be able to relax and recharge at home- because they control those elements and can focus on other things they enjoy. (Women, it's like taking a bath when the house is dirty. Isn't it so much more relaxing to take a bath when you know all the chores are done? :D)

3. You are an exception. When I say that they are emotionally drained when they're in public or around people, that does not apply to you (the significant other). However, family and friends DO count. But don't take it personally. That's the way they are built; don't be mad or hurt over something they can't control. So if your partner is an introvert, they can recharge and relax with you. So try to bond with them in their own way, rather than change them to be the way you are. Ian and I often "hang out" together, even though we might not be talking. We might just be in the same room on our computers or I might be reading while he plays guitar. The point is: adapt to the way they are and learn to enjoy it with them. This will let you still feel close to them, while respecting their need to not be in public.

4. Give them their alone time. Introverts by definition are relatively shy. Don't wait for them to ask for free time: give it to them. If you know they have a lot to do after work, don't bug them about hanging out or doing something. Let them have their time to do whatever it is they want to do. They might initiate "doing something" together, and they might not. But let them decide. Also, know when they are subconsciously asking. If they hint that they have a lot to do or haven't in a while, take that has your cue to leave them alone and let them do what they want. Trust me, if you let them have their alone time, they will want to come hang out and cuddle with you after they recharge in their own way. But if you pressure them, it gets bad:

5. Don't pressure them about going out. The more you nag them about going out, cuddling, doing things together, etc., the more they feel overwhelmed and don't want to do it. Believe it or not, even thinking about doing a lot of things can drain their energy, leaving no desire for them to actually do any of those things. I'm bad about this because I think of fun things to do all the time. So I've had to explain to Ian that when I say them, I am simply vocalizing an idea that we can later discuss. If I say too many at once, though, it still overwhelms him, so I have to make a special effort to either only say the good ones, or set aside time to have a specific conversation about plans. We also have our weekly "date nights" that I look forward to. That way, instead of throwing out a million ideas at once, I can throw out ideas for things to do on a specific day. That makes it easier for him to willingly talk about plans and be involved in making them.

6. Being alone in the same room is fun. Back when we first started dating, I always thought Ian was just "boring" or "didn't like to have fun." But what I later discovered was that being alone together in the same room/house/apartment is fun to him. Especially if I sit beside him and watch him work or play guitar. That way he feels close to me, and it lets him share things with me that are important to him. Just because his definition of fun is different than mine doesn't mean it's not equally as important. So while I like to go out and have fun that way, he likes to have fun in the apartment together. Both are important for our relationship to grow. We like to cook together, watch tv (yes, that means sometimes watching shows you hate just to be with that person), and just sit and talk. But we also like to do our own things. We are still independent people; that is also important. But letting them be able to know you're willing to have fun with them in their unique way makes them more willing to later have fun with you in your way. It's all about learning how your partner likes to have fun.

7. Being quiet doesn't mean they're upset or distant. It just means they're processing internally. If you do go out, and they're quiet or seem to have short answers, they are not mad. They just have something else on their mind (notice how I didn't say someone else? Yeah. Never jump to conclusions or start accusing them). If you go out and it seems like they aren't saying much, it most likely means they just don't have much to say. If you ask a direct question, they will answer. But small talk probably won't go too far. But DON'T WORRY. Even if you ask what's on their mind, and they say "nothing," that doesn't literally mean "nothing." It means "nothing important or worth talking about." It could be as simple as him not being able to finish the guitar part for a song he's writing or not being able to beat a certain level in a video game. Those aren't important things. If you ask what's wrong, they will say "nothing" because those things aren't real problems to them. SO, don't pressure your mate to talk. Let them have their little internal monologue and enjoy the silence. If you have things to say, they don't mind. They'll talk. But don't force conversation, and DO NOT assume that it means they're upset with you, being distant, thinking of another woman, etc. Seriously. Throwing out false accusations like that will just get them frustrated with you and then you'll reeeally feel distant. And there's no need for that. All it'll do is make you upset over a situation that wasn't important to begin with. So, ladies, don't pressure your men to talk to you all the time. If you really feel like going out, letting loose, and chatting the whole time, call your friends and have a girls night (and give your introvert some free alone time!).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What is it about a good conversation that makes us feel so satisfied afterwards?

Seriously. Think about it. I understand when people say food satisfies hunger or sex satisfies a craving (or coffee, if you're like me). But what is it about venting to your partner that seems so satisfying? 

Half the time, nothing really gets "fixed" or "resolved." And I'm sure the man feels more overwhelmed afterwards than he did before it started. But there's a certain element that comes with talking that just makes us women (or at least ME) feel better. 

I may tell him why something made me upset, or a time when I felt disrespected, or bring up something "bad," but after I "talk it out," I usually feel better. Granted, actions are meant to back up words, so I'm not saying follow-through isn't important. But being able to have those talks in the first place is huge for open and honest communication. And that's what makes it so satisfying. 

For me, it's a matter of talking it out, explaining why I feel a certain way, and asking Ian to understand it. I feel like so many times, men try to "make sense" of our feelings. And, as confusing as this may be, sometimes women have emotions, and we have NO IDEA where they came from. Sometimes, they aren't even about you. And SOMETIMES we don't know how to make them go away. If its confusing to me, I can only imagine how frustrated men feel trying to figure us out. So I think when men stop trying to fix our emotions and start trying to understand why we have them, that's when real communication can take place. 

I'm no relationship expert, but I am a female with emotions (that makes me qualified, right?). I speak from experience. But there really is something so rewarding about sitting down and talking to Ian about why I feel a certain way. Now, I know I'm not perfect, and my execution of said talk may not be perfect, but neither is he. That's the beauty of it. No relationship is perfect. 

And, in Ian's own words, "if you have a strong foundation, the house can be wiped away in a storm, but you'll always have that foundation to rebuild it on." (Or something along those lines.) point being: as long as you love each other and are willing to communicate openly, there's always room to re-build. 

Or, if you don't need re-building, sometimes it's just nice to do a routine check-up and make sure everything is how it's supposed to be. And those are the more satisfying conversations of all. The ones where you feel emotionally connected to a person; the ones that bring you two together on a deeper level. Those are the talks that leave me satisfied. 

There are many things Ian does that make me feel like the most special woman in the world. And I know I'm the only female that has his heart. And one of the main ways he does that is by driving to my house to talk about the "emotional" stuff even when he doesn't want to. And more than that, working to make sure I'm happy in the relationship. So shout out to you, babe. 

And for anyone reading this who might not think their relationship is perfect: good. Because when you start to think it's perfect, that's probably when you're about to find out something bad. All relationships have good times and bad times. They all take work. There's no magical fix to any problem (but communication is a good starting point). It's not some blissful solution to any problem like the movies say (you should never get into a relationship or take a step forward thinking it'll "solve" some problem you're having). The biggest awakening I had was realizing how much work goes into it. Obviously, I knew they took work. But I didn't realize how much work they took. Everything has to be agreed upon by both parties; both people's emotions and feelings must be taken into consideration at all times; and everything I do directly effects somebody else. Geez. 

But at the end of the day, despite all the "bad" stuff, true love is wanting to curl up in bed and cuddle next to that one person, no matter what happened that day. It's the person you can never get out of your life, no matter what. It's the person you have satisfying conversations with all night. It's the person that you might take for granted, but you're eternally grateful they're there. 

That person is your anchor; your constant in a world full of variables. That person is your one true love. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dieting

I know that I'm no size-two-super-model or anything remotely close, but is that supposed to make me cry at night? I don't understand why people feel the need to skip meals, binge diet, and starve themselves to the point of anorexia  That's not attractive. Actually, if you're a size two or less, you probably need to eat MORE. A person's body isn't meant to have that little body fat; and, on the other hand, it's also not built to have too much. There's a balance that needs to happen. A person can fluctuate within about a 30 pound range and still maintain a healthy BMI. Regardless, I'm not trying to make anybody feel ugly. I'm just saying that this "craze" of being super skinny and aiming to have a "thigh gap" needs to stop. Instead, people need to focus on being a healthy weight for THEIR body shape, THEIR height, and THEIR metabolism. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. 

That said, I'm hitting the tip of my "I'm a little chubby, but still not 'fat'" scale. But I'm not going on a diet. A "diet" by definition means, "such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight." That's stupid. I'm not going to limit myself with the intention of losing weight. However, I AM going to keep track of what I eat, and remove the bad stuff. For example, I probably won't die if I don't eat chips at 10pm...probably. And I might be able to survive without three cups of coffee. And yeah, I can have a salad instead of pasta. Okay... so maybe I AM on a diet. But not one of those i-cant-eat-anything-good-cuz-im-dieting ones. More like: I want to be healthy, tone, and yet still remain curvy. Let's be honest, I'd rather be fat and have good boobs than be skinny and flat chested. I like my chest; I like my butt. I don't want those to go away. But yeah, that belly pooch can disappear. 

I'm not going to say that I'm going to get to X weight or X size pants. Instead, I'm going to work out and focus on eating more fruits and veggies than pasta and potatoes. I have an idea of where I wanna be, but if my body plateaus before I get to that point, then I don't mind being something different (assuming it's still an average, healthy weight) than what I originally wanted. I would say I'll do this whole "organic food only" thing, but I have about $50 that has to last me a month and a half, so I'm too poor for that diet. However, I'm going to do what I can with what I am given. And, in order to keep myself motivated (and maybe influence somebody in the future), I'm going to log my progress here because, well, it's my blog and I can. 

But this "diet" isn't about numbers or sizes: it's about becoming HEALTHY. Well, quite honestly, it's about fitting this big butt back into those skinny jeans again. Spring is quickly approaching and there are going to be tons of fad diets and propaganda going around. SCREW THEM. All they want is your money. And, seeing as I don't know you (I don't even know if anyone is even reading this), that proves that I don't want your money. I'm not perfect; I'm not a dietitian. And I'm not pretending to be. I'm a normal person who wants to be MORE confident with my body. So I'm going to do something about it. If I work at it for the next couple months, then I'll have a body I'm proud of and I can just work on MAINTAINING it in the future. And, let's not lie, maintaining your weight sounds way more fun than working hard to lose it. So, make the short-term sacrifice in order to get long-term results. 

Who's with me? 

Oh, and in case any of you ARE reading this, and even if you aren't... For my own record, I'm going to attach a picture so that I remember why I'm doing this. One is of me now, and the other is where I wanna be. Getting back to my "high school body" is my goal. (And it's a realistic goal, which is another important thing to remember: Don't initially intend to lose 80 pounds at once. Find an intermediate goal at first, get there, maintain it for a while, and then lose the rest. Don't work your body too hard or you're gonna get overwhelmed and quit early.)

So, short-short-term goal: 10 pounds in two weeks... Ready? ;) 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All I wanna do is travel, shoot, and be happy.

Recently, I was searching through my pictures from 2009, and I stumbled upon these. For an amateur at the time, I daresay these aren't terrible. But that got me thinking: while I continually search for jobs and rack my brain (and my resume) for more information, I realized why no job sounds good to me. I realized that I have already done what I want to do with my life, and I feel no need to go back. All I want to do is travel, take pictures, and enjoy my life. The same thing I've been doing for the past 22 years of my life. (Well, the picture taking happened a little later down the road). 

But for real, I hate the pressure of finding a 9-5 job that's going to make me want to hang myself in the bathroom. Everybody keeps telling me to send resumes to everybody I know until I get a job. Don't get me wrong, paying rent is great, but it means nothing if I'm not happy. Many things in life make me happy. On the other hand, few things make me unhappy. But among those few things, a "desk job" is high on the list. I don't care about the "real" world; I like my world. Getting a "real" job means nothing to me. I see my parents, and I appreciate the high standard of living they have set for me, but I also see how stressed mom is at work, and how dad loves coming home early whenever he can. I see their unhappiness. I don't want that. I love traveling with them (for many reasons), but I mainly love it because they are away from their jobs. They don't feel labeled by their career. And they can let loose. They can kiss at sunset overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and not worry about whether a contract is getting signed or not. 

I know I'll probably hate my job for a few years before I can afford to freelance full time. But maybe not. I'm not trying to be unrealistic, but there IS a choice to freelance full-time straight out of college, so why not take it while I can? A lot has been on my mind lately: about school, life, my future, etc. And the one thing I have decide for sure: I'm going to do what makes me happy. Simple as that.