Is it weird that I’m re-gauging my ears at age 26? Whatever, don’t answer that.

I feel like my life kind of stopped sometime around age 20 & I fell into a rabbit hole not quite as awesome as Alice. I became a secluded social hobbit.

But about a year ago this time, I decided to start doing what I want with my life. I know that seems annoyingly cliché but I don’t know how else to describe it. Before then, no one was holding me back other than myself. I think a lot of people thought Channing was holding me back for years and they weren’t totally wrong I guess. But as me, who’s been through the 20-something life I’ve had, it was more me molding into his interests or disinterests when I should have been continuing to be my own person.

He never restricted anything in my life. Ever. He actually has always encouraged me to do whatever I want but for some reason I stalled out and was stuck in thin air. Stuck in my 20’s unable to move. Thinking I always needed to be right there, always available, revolve my life around him and only him. I was wrong.. and dumb.

Now, at age 26, I’m no longer naive about the situation I was in. A lot of the things that happened in our early relationship were inexcusable. I admit that a large part of me was probably too insecure to leave. Too scared of what might happen to him or that I may never find anyone again. Mostly because of my weight. For years, I don’t know if my love for him was the same as his for me. I doubt it. I chose to live a miserable few years, that’s true. I had a good support system and could have paved another path for my early 20’s but I didn’t. Ultimately, I chose not to. And I’m cool with that.

Two, three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. Say that I’m okay with how life is turning out. Up until relatively recently, I had always wondered all of the what-ifs. What if I stayed gone when my mom and brother moved me out? What if I continued on to a 4-year college after Northland? What if I moved far far away? What if I never would have met him that day at the fair?

I didn’t have any kind of epiphany. I just realized that I’m tired of worrying about it. I can’t change it. Anything that I didn’t do or felt like I couldn’t do at the time, I can do now. Just because my early 20’s are gone and I don’t have hardly any good memories or stories to tell doesn’t mean that my life is over. I’m 26 for God’s sake. Twenty fucking six!

So earlier, I said my way of thinking all changed about a year ago. Nothing crazy happened, I was just like “I’m going to do what I want” whether it’s by myself or not. I’m going to go to the store, I’m going to go for a walk, I’m going to look for a better city to live in. I’m going to travel and laugh and not apologize.

I didn’t go on some newly 21-year old crazy streak. I sought out a better future for us. We moved to Fargo, I was able to transfer within my company and turns out I’m now in a pretty awesome place professionally and financially. I’m doing something I like. We got a cat kid named Franklin. I traveled some of the Great Lakes blue with my mommy dearest. Don’t worry mom, I won’t say “mommy” again. Ugh, that word. I remember going to a grocery story one time, years ago and this teenager said “mommy.” Pretty sure I gagged. Rant over.

But you know what? Everyone survived. Channing came with me and supported me without a struggle. After years of being so reserved when it came to my relationship, scared to disagree or say something wrong; I was worried about nothing. Over the last year and even more, Channing has more than willingly made sacrifices to help me do or get what I want. He’s never even tried to veto me on them. He supports me.

Four or five years ago, this was a different story. For whatever reason, the Universe had some kind of pull to make everything fall into place the way it has. 20-15 was a good year for us, for me. And this year is going to be even better. Funny how much truth there is to the phrase “You’re the only one that can hold you back.”

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Happy 4th of July!

10985043_10153395171998363_4414178062167023536_nAll in all, this year’s 4thof July was pretty “decent” as quoted by Bubbles of Trailer Park Boys. We ventured up north (way north) to Warroad, MN. Historically, Warroad on the 4th of July, is one of my favorite places to be. From when I was a kid chasing candy thrown from the parade to family reunions to the best of memories with friends and loved ones, it’s a place of nostalgia and goodness.

11169475_10153395153128363_6627320951989960699_nThis year, we took part in the Foster Family Reunion and camped out in our tent. I’ve decided that I feel indifferent about reunions. I am kind of excited for them – to see people that I know I’m related to and kind of know about but never see. But at the same time, I’m like “eh” because I usually end up talking to the people that I normally see like my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma.

I know it probably sounds anti-social but I really have no desire to initiate in small talk or catch up with extended family because we don’t really know each other and probably won’t stay in touch any more than some kid I went to school with that I haven’t seen since graduation day. Apparently, I inherited my mom’s observational gene rather than my aunt Angie’s social butterfly personality.

It was still alright though. I had fun spending time with my cousins and got some much needed vitamin D. We were rained out on Saturday night though so my hope of a relaxing firework show wasn’t in the cards. We packed up our tent as quick as we could and headed over to my grandma’s house (with 16 of my beloved relatives) and waited out the storm. Happy (belated) 4th of July!

P.S. I designed the Foster Family Reunion t-shirts on CustomInk.com. They have awesome customer service and an easy to navigate website. I will definitely order from them again. The only thing I was bummed out on (because I’m a perfectionist) was that the larger the size, the graphic size stayed the same. I think the graphic could have been a little larger on some of the bigger sizes.

CWA #2

Topic: The best advice for a teen just graduating from high school.
Purpose: I was flipping through my book today and came across this topic. I’m the oldest in my family on both sides. I received some sound advice when I graduated but a lot of it seemed to be cliché and was too little, too late. I have a cousin graduating this year and another cousin (or two) next year. This is for them.

The hat and gown suits you well. It seems to be the single outfit in human history to look great on everyone. Not only does it hide any physical abnormalities or dislikes about yourself but it, in all its plainness and flowiness, forces people to believe that you’ve accomplished something great – which you have. You graduated high school; an achievement that was 12 years or more in the making. The hat and gown you’re wearing – it makes people look at you with pride and accomplishment. It makes you, the one wearing it, feel good and special.

That same hat and gown is awfully deceiving though. It doesn’t give you a sure-ride ticket to anywhere unless you continue working beyond the blip of an achievement that you made. And I don’t say blip because high school graduation isn’t important – it’s probably one of the most important moments in your life. But it’s a blip simply because there are so many more great things you’re capable of doing going forward now that you have that checked off your outline of life. There are so many more moments and times in your future that people will look at you with pride and accomplishment – if you allow it.

If you’re lucky, your dreams for your future are clear. You have a plan and you’re going to go and get it as soon as this graduation party is over. On the contrary; you might not have a plan. You might not know what you want to do with your life. The dreaded “What are you going to do now?” has been asked a hundred times over the past six hours if not six months. “I don’t know” doesn’t seem to be acceptable even though it’s the truth.

Don’t be afraid to not know. That’s the absolute best advice I can give you. Don’t be afraid of figuring it out. It’s scary as hell but I promise you, it’ll be worth it. Simple the process of a future down. Go to and graduate college, get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids is still what people seem to want to hear. Even now in 2015, that’s what their ears are ready for. You’re 18, although thinking about your future is important and I wouldn’t abandon it all together, there is no use in thinking of the big picture right now. Consider each moment in your life a single picture creating a lifetime collage. All the milestone photos of your life will continuously accumulate, make them the absolute best. Be proud of what you’re going to do in your life. Follow your dreams, live your dreams.

Don’t be stupid and make detrimental mistakes. Don’t abandon those that love you; primarily your family. Appreciate the world and what it has to offer. Travel, make new friends, take photographs. Pay your bills on time and don’t be reckless. If you decide not to go to college – don’t waste those young years away. Understand the reality of real life and accept it instead of try to fight it. In doing that, you don’t need to give up your free roaming spirit or life. If you don’t see yourself in a typical 8-5 setting 10 years down the road, do something about it. You’re still going to need to make money to survive, accept it. Don’t rely on and abuse your parents financially. Save up some money and make wise decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Join the Peace Corps, backpack around Europe, fall in love, skydive. Do everything you possibly can because you want to not because society wants you to.

From personal experience, I do think college is important. However, I would only recommend college to those that know what they want to do. To those that do have a plan. I’m still paying off my 2 years of college debt 5 years later. I didn’t get a fancy job, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, I didn’t make lifelong friends, and it didn’t help me decide what to do in my life. But that’s me, don’t let anyone else’s experience deter you from living your dream. If I could do it all over again, I would have done more research in high school, visited colleges, and actually spent time to decide what I wanted to do. I would have moved away and attended a four-year college. I would have traveled abroad my junior year. But I never did because I felt that the resources weren’t available to me and I didn’t know where to look. That’s why you have me. What are your favorite things to do? Sports? Painting? Photography? Working on cars? Photoshop?

There’s something to do in the “real world” for everyone. You can become a sports reporter, journalist, newscaster. You can own your own art gallery or become an art professor. You can be a photographer on your own or with a media group. You can become an automotive or diesel mechanic, a shop teacher. You can become a graphic or website designer. The possibilities are endless, your future is wider than your arms are even capable of spreading. Don’t waste the days after high school graduation away. Find yourself but don’t lose yourself. Dream big and follow through.

So, even though this was important for you to read, take my advice; put this down and spend time with those that love you. Throw that square hat up into the air, smile until your cheeks hurt today and everyday. Be honest, take those milestone pictures, and show everyone what life is all about. Make your collage worth looking at.

The Yearly Cliché.

A couple years ago, I wrote about not making New Years Resolutions but instead making smaller goals each month to try and stay on track. It worked for awhile just like every other variation of a resolution does. But somewhere along the way, it quietly vanished.

This year, I’m going to revert to the more cliché version of a set of resolutions. Some I’ll succeed at and some I won’t. Most of these are very realistic. Some are a stretch but with the proper guidance, I know I can succeed. To make up for a really crappy couple of years (2011-2012) I want to do a little traveling. Of course, I want to travel the world but in order to succeed at fulfilling my New Years Resolutions, I’m going to be a bit more realistic.

  • Create a realistic 5-Year plan. I’m 25. I’m not married, have no children, nor do I own a house. I want to do all of those things in the next 5 years. I’d like Channing and I to sit down sometime soon and prioritize our needs and wants both as a couple and on the professional front – to create a plan and stick to it. I also plan on making a personal 5-year plan that will lay out my personal interests and hobbies which may or may not include writing a book, Pinteresting my way into home shows, and traveling to England, Paris, and Ireland.
  • Lose 50 pounds. Since June, I’ve lost about 33 pounds. It’s been a little rocky and I’ve gotten off track since moving to Bemidji but I’m determined to continue my progress. 50 pounds is very realistic if I use the tools I’ve been given. Ideally, I want to push myself to double that number in the year 20-15. I know 100 pounds does seem unrealistic but given how much I actually need to lose in order to become healthy, it’s a blip on the radar screen.
  • Travel around the area. This is a long one..Because I first need to lose a substantial amount of weight before I feel comfortable purchasing ONE seat in airfare (rather than 2); I decided that I’m going to travel via car this year. Traveling further than I can drive will be one of my many rewards after losing more weight. I want to travel to all the border states/countries of Minnesota. I’ve listed a few specific places. Some I’ve been to, some I haven’t: Duluth, Gooseberry Falls, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Superior, Brainerd, Red Wing, Wisconsin Dells, and Sioux Falls just to name a few. I’d also like to go somewhere in ND other than Fargo or Grand Forks, stop at a few other places in SD, and venture to Iowa. Where in Iowa? I have no idea. Included in the Minnesotan borders is Canada. I don’t know where specifically but I’ll head that way too! I’d also like to visit as many waterfalls, caves, and state parks as possible. I want to be on the water, sail, and visit lighthouses. I love to explore.
  • Don’t Pass Up Good Events. This is something I’ve done a lot. Sadly, I’ve had a handful of oppertunities over the last few years to go and do something but I either used a bad day, Channing’s mood, or money as an excuse not to do something or go somewhere. A few things on my bucket list this year given that they are within driving distance and things aren’t sold out would include: Seeing Taylor Swift in either Fargo or St. Paul, Bo Burhnham if he ever gets his ass to tour around here, and a Vikings football and Twins baseball game. I don’t really like either of those sports to any kind of extreme but I think a professional sports team would be interesting to see live and because my boyfriend likes sports, we both win. I should also probably make a point of going to the MN State Fair this year too since I’ve never been.
  • Buy A Passport. I believe I need one these days in order to even go to Canada so it’s a must-get for this year. If I’m not mistaken, they are good for 10 years too so that should get me set for my European venture in a couple years.

There you go! I have quite a few more resolutions which primarily fall in the first resolution so I won’t bore you with them quite yet. I’d love to hear about your New Years Resolutions! The realistic ones and the far-fetched ideas. What are you going to do to make this year one to remember? Also, if you have any fun or must-see places that you’ve been to in the region, let me know. Word of mouth experiences are the best places to visit.

Cheers to 20-15!!

11th Day Of Christmas: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
But yet I heard a knock at the door..
Who could it be, a delivery for me!?
I went to see but whoever was there,
was there no more.
Was it a sound in my head
or just a spirit in the air;
something telling me it’s time to prepare.
As the man in the family had to work half a day,
I decided there was no time to play.
My crock pot was lined and ready for use.
I pulled out the carrots, potatoes, and moose.
(Just kidding it was a roast.)
As the roast was cooking and made the room warm,
what better to do than pick up my dorm?
I did the dishes and made the bed,
took the garbage out and was ready to be fed.
Dinner was served and deserved.
The leftovers preserved..
We exchanged gifts full of if’s and thrifts.
Next up was a safe travel from here to there.
Munchies were bought and lottery tickets were a thought.
I had to buy them even though not everyone wins.
For even a dollar would secure me a new set of bobby pins.
We visited Ashley and surly but not lastly
watched the end of Home Alone which was very catchy.
Christmas Vacation was up next..
but I got a text.
Dad had made Gramma Aggie bars;
they’re a family favorite of ours.
From there to here after a quick drive,
to mom and dads house we did arrive.
Thanks to Sony and Un’s bogus phony bologna,
we finally watched The Interview
and then mom and I wrote this rhyme for you.
For now ’twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a kitty was stirring;
for purring they were with such delight
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

Written by Orianah Fast & Julie Fast

6th Day Of Christmas: Holiday Treats

Easy peasy recipe time! Tomorrow my brother is hosting Christmas in Fargo. One of the things I was asked to bring was dessert. Well actually truffles, but I thought I’d try something different that took less time since I’ve been so busy this week. I remembered a super delicious treat that an old co-worker brought at a potluck back in Grand Forks and I thought it’d be the perfect time to try it out!

I made two variations of pretzel candies. One for a salt lover and one for a chocolate lover. Don’t worry, they both contain salt AND chocolate. Christmas must haves right?

Prep Time: 10 Minutes               Cook Time: 2-3 Minutes               Cool Down: 15 Minutes

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Hug-M’s Pretzels
Pretzels
HUGS Kisses
M&M’s

Turtle Pretzels
Pretzels
ROLO’s
Cashews

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Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Unwrap all the candies. (This is the “hardest” part 🙂 )
3. On a regular cookie or pizza sheet, lay down a piece of wax paper
4. Put as many pretzels as you can fit on the sheet. Make sure they are all whole (not broken) and don’t overlap.
5. Place a HUG or ROLO in the center of each pretzel and then carefully put the cookie sheet of pretzels and candies into the oven.
6. Depending on which candy you’re using, set your timer.
For HUGS: 2 Minutes
For ROLOS: 3 Minutes
7. Once they are semi melted, pull out of the oven and top with either M&M’s or cashews. (M&M’s for the HUGS and cashews for the ROLOS)
8. Put in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool.
9. Every cook deserves the first bite – Enjoy!
Repeat as needed depending on how many batches you want to make.

5th Day Of Christmas: Secret Santa

IMG_8012Today was our Employee Appreciation slash Secret Santa Exchange Party. I got pretty lucky. “Santa” dropped off a few small gifts during the week which was a pleasant surprise each morning. Tonight, at our party, we snacked on some delicious food from a local grocer, played a little Tenzie, and opened our Secret Santa gifts. I received a candle (lilac, my favorite!) and beautiful Christmas ornament along with a “new to town” Paul Bunyan shot glass and magnet! An added surprise from our employer was a gift card for groceries which definitely comes in handy this time of the year!

IMG_7993And since my giftee was so excited about their Christmas gift, I decided to post it as well because it was really fun to make. I’m one of the newest employees to the office so I don’t really know anyone too well. I had to do a little “snooping” in order to find something really good. And based on my research, this was the perfect fit! I knew it was cool but I was actually surprised by his reaction and I quote: “This is kick-ass!” The photo to the right doesn’t do it justice but you’ll get the idea.

Does your employer or group of co-workers host a Secret Santa Exchange? I’d love to hear what you gifted and were given!