25 Days of Christmas: Day 4- Mental Health During the Holidays

As you probably know, mental health is something I struggle with, anxiety specifically. That’s part of the reason I’m behind on my 25 days of Christmas.

In general, this week was very busy for me. Aka I started going to the gym and I’m tired. Other than that, I’ve just been very anxious and a little depressed so I don’t really want to fake a smile for my blog writing. That’s why I should’ve gotten ahead like I originally planned, but hey life got in the way.

I’m sure it’s not just me that struggles with mental health during the holiday season. It’s when a lot of people’s seasonal affective disorders strike. For me, I think it’s combined with my period like it is every month, and then just the general idea that I’m supposed to be happy and cheery for the holiday season. This time of year I think is stressful for a lot of people, but that’s not why I’m anxious. I think it’s important to note that anxiety isn’t always tied to stress, sometimes it’s not tied to anything. Right now I think it’s really hormonal mixed with some stuff I don’t really overshare.

Hopefully, this ends with my period, and I can pick up with 25 Days of Christmas. If it doesn’t I’ll try my best but right now, I’m just going with the flow (lol). If you’re dealing with mental illness struggles during this season, just know you aren’t alone.

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25 Days of Christmas: Day 3

Last weekend when I was home wrapping Christmas presents I needed a Christmas movie to go along with it, I decided to go with the Netflix Original: “A Christmas Prince.”

This review may contain spoilers.

I am a firm believer that everyone loves a good Hallmark/Lifetime movie this year. It’s a great time of year to remember you’re alone and no prince is going to fall in love with you. Well, that’s exactly what happened in this movie. It was very much “The Prince and Me” but with the classic Christmas twist. They’re not in college, and of course, the lead is a struggling journalist. If you aren’t a struggling student, you have to be a struggling writer, that’s the classic plot of a cheesy romantic movie.

The new twist to this movie is that the prince’s sister is disabled. Unsurprisingly, the lead woman befriends the princess as she’s posing as her tutor. The princess is the first to figure it out, and the prince never really does.

As always, the relationship progresses relatively quickly and it ends happily. This is a perfect cheesy and romantic Christmas movie. On my scale, for good Christmas movie, I would give this a solid 7/10, if you’re a movie critic I’d give it a solid 4/10.

Let me know what you think!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2

If you know me, you know I’m cheap. Spending money on things I (or someone I love) won’t use drives me crazy. Like yes, I make crazy impulse purchases, but I do use most of them. This is my first year that I’m really on my own, so I decided to make a Christmas card for Leslie and me. Rather than the traditional printed card you have to mail, that I’m assuming most people would just throw away after the holidays, why not save the money and put it on the internet? No one’s forgotten, everyone has it, it’s free and simple.

I decided to use Canva because it’s easy to use, especially since I already frequent the site. If you don’t use Canva (@Bloggers) use it. It’s how I make 99% of the covers for my blog posts. To edit the pictures I used Fotor, a Windows app that makes editing photos very quick and easy. The nice thing about Canva is that you have the option to scroll through their templates, some are free, some cost money. I decided to start with a blank slate.

I added grids which I could then just drag my pictures into.

We took about 30 pictures to come up with three.

This is what the final looks like in Cavna. To find the background and words, I simply typed “Christmas” into the search bar and both turned up, I thought they fit my brand.

So here’s my final card:

Enjoy :) Merry Christmas from Leslie and me.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1

Merry 25 Days of Christmas! I know it’s a day late, but December snuck up on me. That just means that one day will have two posts! (Not today).

Today, let’s get into the holiday spirit with my holiday playlist. It’s based on nostalgia and iconic songs from my childhood.

https://music.amazon.com/embed/83d02467583342b4906b8a1dc2efd9b8sune/?id=hY34KVFLCV&marketplaceId=ATVPDKIKX0DER&musicTerritory=US

So these are the songs I would pick. Share yours with me- I’ll add them to the playlist! The ultimate collaborative holiday songs playlist!

Gift Guide: Gal Pals

I know, it seems early for Christmas/the holiday season but this is the first of the series I am doing leading up to Black Friday so you can make your gift lists before you go out shopping or spend a cozy cyber Monday in. I figure, why not start easy and simple: your gal pals.

I don’t know about you, but for my friends, I’ve always found it easiest to buy in sets and divide up the stuff and make a little gift set. In years past I’ve made mugs with their favorite quotes filled with winter goodies. Here’s what you’ll need:

All you need to do after that is write your bestie’s favorite quote on the mug, bake it (this site has a slightly different approach but also a great idea!), make sure to stick a little note in it that they can’t put it in the dishwasher, put on a ribbon and you’re done!

Now if you’re a planner, Etsy is a great resource. This year I’ve planned and been able to get a few things from there, however, a lot of the time if you want to get something personalized it’s going to take a few days for them to make, and shipping can be pricey. It’s not Amazon, no two-day free shipping. The quality is typically pretty good. Here are a few things I would recommend:

If you don’t have time to prep an Etsy order you can find so many great things on Amazon.

Let me know what you’re getting your bestie for Christmas! I left out my actual presents because I’d like it to be a surprise. There are a few hints though!

*DISCLAIMER: MARY’S AVERAGE ADVENTURES MAY BE COMPENSATED THROUGH YOUR CLICKING OF SPONSORED LINKS.

 

I’m a Feminist, Liberal, AND most importantly, a Christian.

In the US (at least I’m not sure about other countries) the bulk of Christians tend to lean towards Republican candidates, which is why people like Trump talk at the graduations of Christian schools. However, I’m fiercely Christian and fiercely feminist and liberal. You may be asking yourself, well how does that work? How can you vote for a pro-choice candidate? How can you be so socially liberal, women were created for men, man shall not lay with man, the list can go on and on of all the reason I should be socially conservative. However, there are some major issues that stick out to me as a Christian when you think like this.

1. “Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” John 8:7 and “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

As a Christian, I can recognize that I am fallible. I am not perfect, I am a sinner, and ever so thankful that Jesus gave his life for those sins and for my imperfections. It is because of Him that I can sin and be forgiven. How is it my decision to now try and take away someone else’s free will? I am not God, I am not Jesus, therefore I do not have the ability to condemn someone to hell, and therefore I will not even try. Don’t cast a stone, be a shoulder. Jesus sat with the sinners, he washed their feet, he doesn’t want us to judge. It’s not what we should be doing. I am not one to make a judgment call like that, heck I’m not one to make a judgment call on where to eat dinner.

2. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, “For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” 1 Corinthians 11:12, “She girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms.” Proverbs 31:17 “and God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

In Jesus, all people are equal. There is no race, gender, nationality, etc. Jesus is not xenophobic. Jesus accepts all the same- disregarding gender as an issue in his eye. While yes, Eve did come from Adam, every man came from a woman after that, but all creatures of earth are God’s. He made women strong, He protects women. In the eyes of Jesus, we are the same. In the eye’s of God, we are equal.

“And as you wish others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 (the golden rule), “Love does no Harm to a neighbor. Therefore Love is the fulfilment of the law.” Romans 13:10, “30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. 

The Bible says it over and over again: love is the most important thing. At the end of the day, I think they only people we are hurting when we choose to not love our neighbors is ourselves. God is first and always will be, but treat everyone one else the same way that you expect to be treated. He blesses us with life, why should we want to take the same gift away from anyone else? Jesus died for everyone to have the right to be a sinner, no one is infallible.

When you vote, I believe that it’s important to vote for equality- everyone’s rights. That includes their right to religious freedom, the right to let hurt people into the country (trust me it’s what Jesus would do), and the right to sin, you’re sinning, I’m sinning, we’re all sinning. When I vote there are two really big things that I like to keep in mind: who will help children/ work to irradicate the poverty cycle in this country? and who is going to help America be a welcoming place for all those that need to take refuge? If that’s a Republican, that’s who I will vote for. However, recent history has shown that I’m voting liberal and voting for everyone’s rights.

Stranger Stories: An Anonymous Story About Being the “Other” Woman

a note from Mary: this story contains sensitive subject matter, please be aware. 

Like the author of the last fabulously-written anonymous story, I too reached out to Mary to be a guest writer on her blog. I have found that some stories are harder for me to share, and this is one few people want to hear let alone try to understand. This is the story about being the other woman. 

I know what you’re probably thinking, because I can almost guarantee I’ve thought the same things too. I’ve called those women numerous names and made assumptions about them, and then one day, somehow, I became the other woman. 

Four years ago I was entering my freshman year of college. I instantly became friends with this guy Scott (changing his name for the purpose of this story). Scott and I had many common interests and instantly became not just friends, but best friends. I knew I could call him at any second of the day or night and he’d coming running across the quad to my dorm and sit with me until the swelling of my eyes settled from crying so much. When I first met Scott I was still dating a boy from high school. The distance became too much for my little naïve heart to handle, and I soon started dating another guy, we’ll call him Mark. I knew from the start Mark was a bad idea. He was 3 years older than me and certainly more experienced than me. You know when you’re little and your mom tells you if something really makes you sad or uncomfortable that you don’t have to do it, that you should trust those feelings? Well unfortunately 18-year-old me didn’t listen to my mom’s advice. I wound up in an extremely physically and emotionally abusive relationship with Mark. It wasn’t until I was laying naked on the bathroom floor of my dorm room covered in bruises and blood that I realized I needed to get away, that I needed help.  

For the weeks to come, I distanced myself from everyone and everything and Scott and my friendship started fading away. It wasn’t until the summer after our freshman year that I told him the truth about Mark. This angered Scott. Okay so anger doesn’t even begin to describe how furious he was with Mark and the situation and how he wasn’t there for me, but somehow this turned into a conversation of Scott telling me he loves me. I told Scott I didn’t know how I felt. Looking back four years later I knew in that moment I loved Scott as far more than a friend, but I also knew my perception of love and life had been greatly altered by my relationship with Mark. 

So, Scott and I learned to live our lives separately. He loved me from afar and I hid under the covers of other men. Eventually we started dating other people and falling in love with them. Senior year of college came, and Scott was still in a very long-distance relationship with this girl (we’ll call her Emma) while I was single again for the first time in a long time. Scott and I quickly began to spend more time together. Scott would complain to me about how hard his relationship was with Emma being so far away and having so many differences, while I tried dating man after man, I realized I wasn’t happy and in love with anyone like I was with Scott. So one cold winter night, while I was crying over another boy, Scott comforted me, and we kissed. Right away we apologized, and said it was a mistake. I mean it was a mistake right? He had a girlfriend. I finally confessed to Scott how I felt and he said it wasn’t fair to him- he had felt that way before about me and I wasn’t ready and though he was miserable dating Emma right now it just wasn’t fair. So yet again, Scott and I drifted apart.   

Months went by without a single word shared between us, until one Saturday at 3 in the morning I received a phone call from him. The rest of that night is blurry. I’m not sure if it’s that I don’t remember it, or that I don’t want to. We ended up hooking up and then I just started hysterically crying telling him how much I love him. I told him to leave Emma. I told him if he wasn’t happy with her that he needed to break up with her, and be with me. He said now I knew how it felt, now I knew what it meant to have my heart broken, and I began to cry even more. He quickly apologized, and said that’s not what he meant. He said that’s what he wanted too, for us to be together, and we fell asleep. The next morning I woke up in an empty room, trying to figure out if the night before really happened or if it was all a dream. After a few days passed I called Scott and said we needed to talk. So we did, and suddenly I realized I was the other woman. Scott didn’t want to be with me, but he didn’t want to let me go. Scott told Emma what happened and I was suddenly blocked from all of her social media accounts and all of his. I spent my last few weeks of college walking around campus with puffy eyes and baggy sweatpants, keeping my head staring at the ground as people called me a “homewrecker” and a “Whore.” I started to believe those names people called me, and I started hating myself.  

Graduation came, the summertime came, and I thought I was free. But, life never works out quite that way does it? Soon it was October, and I received numerous phone calls from friends in the area saying that Scott was talking about me. So I finally worked up the courage to go sit down with him face to face and talk about everything. Amongst the awkward silences were a lot of “I’m sorry” and “I want you to be happy” and “let’s try to be friends.” So we did, try. Four days later of us “trying to be friends” landed us both in my apartment bed, cuddling, and you guessed it-me crying. I told him I didn’t want him to leave this time, I wanted to wake up the next morning and see him. By some miracle I did, which of course was when he decided to tell me that him and his girlfriend were on a break and he needed to figure out what he wanted. Although they weren’t together at this point, a part of me still felt guilty, like I was trying to weave myself into someone else’s story. I decided this time to trust that gut instinct. After a few weeks of back and forth arguing, I’m not sure if I’ll ever see him again. 

So here I am, writing this, finally typing up my story. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering what I want you to take away from it, why this story is important. It’s important because it’s not just a story, it’s my life. I am not THE OTHER WOMAN, I am A WOMAN. I have a heart and a conscience and a mind and soul. I do not have “bad morals.” I fell in love with a guy who had always been there for me. I fell in love with my best friend and he fell out of love with his girlfriend, and I thought that by some miracle we could be happy together. What I have come to realize is that it will never happen, us. So often I read stories about how much it sucks to get cheated on, and trust me I know, I have been there too. But what hurts even more is being “the other woman,” the one who always saw the good in people, the one who put up with people calling her a “fucking whore” and her supposed best friend telling her “you have no morals and you’re a homewrecker,” all because I believed that Scott really, truly did love me and wanted to be with me.  

“I am not THE OTHER WOMAN, I am A WOMAN.”

My mom used to tell me, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” She warned me about heartbreak and loss, but she never quite prepared me for this empty, disgusted feeling with yourself. So, here I am, trying to move on and live my life, without Scott. Believe it or not, I was the one who ended things. I don’t care if him and Emma were on a break or broken up or whatever the hell you want to call it, but I was and am done with being a part of his life. I am learning to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made, but more importantly, I am learning to love myself again. Sometimes we invest so much of ourselves into someone else’s potential that we forget who they really are and who we are and what we believe and what we want. I want someone who wants me, and only me. Emma, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry how things happened, but I really did love Scott. And Scott, if you’re reading this, you need to make up your mind. I would’ve/could’ve loved you with everything that I had left to give, but I realize it was never really me that you wanted. Maybe it was all just a game to you, and you were reaching to feel something again, but it was always so much more to me. To my audience, I’m not sure what you think of me, and frankly, I don’t care. I am learning to love myself again. I am learning that no one is perfect, myself included. I am learning that we all make mistakes. I am also learning that everyone is deserving of love. One day, I will find the love meant for me. 

So before you go around calling people “homewreckers” and “slut-bags” and whatever witty things you think you can come up with, know this: We are each just trying to find our way in life, trying to find love and all deserving of love. And yes, I “the other woman,” have a heart too.  

Also, to those who are in abusive relationships, or have been assaulted or raped, I hope you find the courage to tell someone. I hope you find the courage to leave and to seek help. I still have moments where it is hard for me, but I am so thankful to have family and friends who love and support me and will never make me feel alone again. Surround yourself with people who make you happy to be alive. Those are the friendships worth having, and never settle for anything less than that.  

If you have a story that you would like to share, anonymous or otherwise email me at marysaverageadventures@gmail.com.

Stranger Stories: An Anonymous Love Story

An Anonymous Love Story

A couple of months ago I asked my dear friend Mary if I could be an anonymous guest writer on her awesome blog. Because she is literally the nicest person I probably know, she willingly accepted my request. So hello Mary’s avid readers! I’m sorry I can’t introduce myself, but perhaps if you continue reading, the reason as to why will be made clear.

I’ve felt the need, over these last few months, to get something off of my chest but life gets hectic and the feelings I’m about to share were not nearly as important as the other aspects of my life. As things begin to calm down and my routine is more set, the feelings can’t be pushed aside much longer. They pop up out of nowhere and they pester me at the most inconvenient of times. As my therapist once told me, writing can be extremely useful for people who have a hard time expressing their feelings. And so, here I am, hiding behind anonymity in the hopes of being able to find some type of peace of mind.

Years ago, I fell in love. Or at least I thought I did. I’ve come to realize that what I loved was the idea of him, the idea of being in love with him, the romance of the entire situation. But not him, I never really loved him. And the only reason I’m able to say this is because now I actually love someone, and it hurts substantially more. It started as this perpetual cold feeling somewhere between my heart and my diaphragm, like someone punched me with a snowball. Now there’s just this empty feeling there, as if a part of my side was ripped out entirely. If I try to visualize the space it’s a black, empty void. Somehow, that hurts worse than the snowball punch.

I met him a few years ago. I was recovering from a really tough year and we were studying at the same place. We became instant friends and spent most of our time together. I’ve never had a male friend like him. We have the same interests, same passions, same humor. We grew close and soon he became one of my best friends. When we said goodbye to each other, I (accidentally) told him I loved him and turned around and got on a bus. It was a very friendly ‘I love you’ but even still, I meant it.

It was months before I saw him again but nothing changed between us. We picked up right where we left off. Again I was leaving on a bus when he hugged me and told me he loved me. Once more, strictly in a friend way. I smiled and walked away.

Years went by and we kept in touch; a skype call here and there, a couple snapchats a week and few friendly text messages. He was still one of my best friends and I loved telling people about our adventures together and how great he was. Then we saw each other again.

I was so excited to see him and we had one of those running into each other’s arms at the airport moments. It had been years since we had seen each other and yet, we were as comfortable as ever. Before our reunion, my friends kept asking me if I thought we’d hook up, which in my opinion was an absurd question. “Hook up with him? He’s like my brother guys, never.” So naturally we hooked up.

I was terrified. This would totally ruin our friendship. Everything was going to be awkward now. I’d royally screwed up. Thankfully, I was entirely wrong about all of that. But the one thing that I was right about was that I’d never be the same. The more time I spent with him and the more intimate we got, the more attached I became. Despite my best efforts, I knew I was falling in love him. I couldn’t have stopped it even if I had wanted to.

We spent two weeks together, 24/7 and not once did I get annoyed. Not once did I want to rip his head off. Not once did I need alone time. I can’t do this with my best friends that I’ve known for years. I can’t do this with my sister or mother or anyone. But with him, I’m a different person and I really like that person. I want to be her more.

The time came and he was leaving. His bus was leaving late, he was heading to his next adventure. (As I’m writing this, I’m starting to realize what an important part buses play in this whole little story). I looked in his eyes while tears streamed down my face and I was speechless. I couldn’t say anything. So I smiled while he told me how much fun he had, how much he’d miss me, how excited he was for our next trip together. We hugged, I looked at him once more and walked away. I didn’t turn back. I couldn’t turn back. My life wasn’t behind me and I had to keep moving forward. But that wasn’t the real reason I didn’t look back.

You see, his next adventure was visiting The Girl. The Girl is a friend of mine and I knew from the start that he was going to visit her. The Girl is someone who he told me he could see a future with. We were very open about The Girl and talked about all of it after we had hooked up. So the real reason I didn’t look back is because I didn’t want to know whether he was watching me leave or if he was on the phone with her. It would have broken my heart in that moment if I knew the answer. I wanted to remember him fondly and hold no grudges. So I walked onward, content with my oblivion.

While I write this, I know that I’m heartbroken. I know that the person I love doesn’t know that I do and most likely doesn’t harbor the same feelings. But I still love him and I always will. Perhaps that’s the heartbreaking part of this whole story. I really do believe that I will always love him. He is my first love, the first person I can envision a real, viable future with. I want to spend my life with him, I want him by my side through all of the adventures. We’re still best friends. We still talk frequently and on the surface, nothing has changed. I haven’t told him I love him because at this point in time, there is no benefit in doing so.

Perhaps now you understand why I chose anonymity. I need to confess to the world that I love someone who doesn’t love me back and I need to do so without anyone knowing I did. The irrationality of love annoys me. I hope you don’t feel like your time has been wasted reading this story. Perhaps no one will even get to the end of this blog. But I can pretend that I’ve shared my story with people and I can pretend that they can at least relate to it.

I suppose the lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that sometimes there are heartbreaks so enormous you can’t just get over them. I will always love him and I will always remember this heartbreak, but it won’t define me nor will it stop me. I’m not bitter and I don’t regret a thing. Now that I’ve fallen in love I know how great it is, even though it hurts so much. Sometimes, it’s ok to be broken for awhile because then you can learn how to put yourself back together.

If you have a story that you would like to share, anonymous or otherwise email me at marysaverageadventures@gmail.com.

Job Searching is Work, NOT Luck.

I walked across the stage at graduation with the knowledge that within the next month I would be starting a full-time job using the diploma they were about to hand me. I was told a multitude of phrases when I told people, family, close friends, and all of my mentors were very congratulatory, they knew how hard I had been working towards getting a job post-graduation. My roommates knew that I spent most of my free time applying for jobs and going on interviews that lead nowhere. On top of my school work (and work) applying for jobs was essentially a full-time gig for me.

Acquaintances, random people who felt obliged to ask me what I was doing post-graduation were less congratulatory and were far more likely to tell me how lucky I was. “You know not very many people graduate with a job lined up, you’re quite lucky,” was a response I got quite often. Let me tell you, luck had absolutely nothing to do with it. I had worked my butt off for 17 years in school, and I wanted something to show for it, more than a piece of paper. I worked extremely difficult to get a job- it wasn’t easy but you can do it.

Here are my tips for your job search:

  • Start sooner rather than later- it’s better to start early and know early then start late and no have anything lined up.
  • If it says 3-5 years experience and you’re just graduating college, apply anyway. Use your experience from school, internships, etc.
  • The worst that can happen is they say no. Trust me- you can get really far and they’ll say no and it’ll SUCK, but then you’ll get a different job and be fine. I know from experience.
  • Networking is important, knowing people helps, but at the end of the day, you need to sell yourself. Know your strengths and how you can help a company grow, that’s what will get you far.
  • Ask for help, see if your connections know of any places hiring or know of people that are top rated in your industry that can give you advice.

Work hard to work hard, but if you do something you love it’ll be worth it.

So You Want to Start a Blog? | The Content

I’m going to start this off by telling you the opposite of everything else you will read: you do NOT need to choose a niche. Take a look around my blog, it’s been four years and I’ve yet to pick. Don’t worry about it.

What do you like?

The most important thing about blogging is you need to write about things you like. It doesn’t matter if it’s not popular (trust me, you aren’t the only person who likes something), it doesn’t matter if you don’t know everything about it (learn). What matters is that you enjoy what you’re talking about. It shows when bloggers are writing about what’s popular, what they think will sell, it’s not what they care about, they’re doing it for the views.

Find Your Folks

This is the only place you’re going to have trouble when you don’t have a niche- but it’s doable. My folks are for the most part other twenty-somethings generally at the same stage in their life as I am. Each person and I have something different in common, all of my folks are from different “tribes” (a term for another post) if you will.

Finding Your Voice

I don’t like to be professional on my personal blog, these are my thoughts and opinions, and I want to write in a very familiar tone. I want people to know they’re reading Mary’s Average Adventures by a line. I don’t want to be authoritative, I don’t want to lecture, I just want to be, so I use my own voice. A lot of my writing is exactly how I talk– run on sentences and scattered ideas. I’m very scatter-brained- the kind way of saying a mess, but that’s me and that’s what I want my blog to show. My voice is not me showing my best self (did I get tipsy and write the other night, yes), it’s me showing me.

That’s not to say that’s the only way of doing things. If I was talking about business that wouldn’t be okay, but I’m not. You have to figure out what voice fits your blog.

This is you.

A blog isn’t meant to encapsulate anyone but you. It’s meant to house your thoughts or information you think the world should have. It’s you. Don’t worry about what’s popular- it’s easy to fall into the trap of what will get views but at the end of the day it needs to be what’s best for you. Don’t burn out over a blog, that’s silly.

Thoughts? New blogs I should be looking at?