Now what?

Well, I did it. I survived an entire year living on my own. If you know anything about me, you should be impressed. This year flew by, while seeming to take an eternity to do so, if that makes sense at all. I can’t believe how much has happened, how much I’ve changed, and how different my life has become over the past 12 months. I moved out of my apartment on Sunday, and before I could leave cross the threshold out of my door for the last time I literally sat on the floor and cried. Yep, like a big ol’ baby.

I sat there thinking about all the emotions I had moving in: loneliness, heartache, hope for a new future, bitterness, and anger. I cried knowing I worked through all of those things within those four walls. I thought back about when I sat on my kitchen counter (yes, on top of it) and drank wine with friends while talking about how stupid and messed up our lives were. I remembered baking amazing desserts in that kitchen and then eating my feelings in the form of cupcakes/brownies/pie until I was sick. I laughed about all the slumber parties I had with friends in my tiny full-sized bed after too much drinking by my sweet pool.

I really lived in that apartment. Okay, that sounds so cheesy, but it’s actually true. I was a different person when I moved in, I changed my entire life over the course of a year, and I can’t believe that chapter is over. As I was leaving for the last time, it just all hit me at once and I broke down. Everything I was feeling a year ago is pretty much gone (in the best way possible). All of my anxiety, self-doubt, anger, etc. has melted away and I’ve become someone strong and ready to conquer the next chapter in my life, whatever it may be.

After I pulled it together and sniffled my way to the car, I climbed in and thought, “so, now what?”. New chapter, new year, new me…what could life possibly have in store for me next? Well, I’m all too aware that you can’t control your future, but I have a few things I’d like to tackle:

 

Find something to be passionate about. 

I had drinks with a good friend recently and we got on the subject of passion. Naturally, he asked me what I was passionate about. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: easy question! That’s what I thought, too. I proceeding with the following: I’m totally passionate about…you know, that thing…that I love. I do it all the time… how do I describe it, um. EXACTLY. I was so embarrassed when I realized I really can’t say that I have a passion. Sure, I enjoy a ton of things, but nothing really drives me to get up in the morning, nothing pushes me to be more creative, or compassionate, or try harder. Honestly, I think it’s been a fear of mine to throw my entire effort into something, for fear of failure or worse, mediocrity. This year I want to find my passion(s). I don’t know if it will be something as simple as baking, or maybe I’ll grow fond of gardening. Hell, I could go nuts and get addicted to sky-diving! …but I would like to survive the year, so I think I’ll hold back on that last idea.

Focus on relationships.

I’ve spent the past year being selfish. It was intentional, but it went against the core being of who I am. I needed to take the year for me and figure out who I was without a husband, dog, indentity as a wife, or the stigma of being divorced. I spent countless nights alone, specifically after having turned down plans with friends, just so I could contemplate my future and  all those other deep, introspective ideas. This year I want to push myself to invest in friendships, family relationships, and at some point, possibly, just maybe, really be able to pour into a romantic relationship. I’m not the only one going through rough times, and I want to be there for friends and family that were there for me over the past few months. In summary, less inward, more outward.

Try new things. As many as possible.

What can I say, I like to be comfortable. I know what restaurants I like, I know how I like my coffee, I know that I don’t like mushrooms. But I also know that I often take the easy way out and run away from things unknown to me. It’s easier to just say “I hate Mexican food” than actually try different kinds, or even worse, I might grow to like some of it! (The horror…I know.) Actually, over the past few months, I’ve grown to enjoy sushi (like real, raw sushi, lol). I’ve eaten guacamole more than once (and not hate it). I’ve listened to new kinds of music and found new artists to love. I’ve realized the more I branch out, the more life I’m experiencing…and it’s so much better this way. Being open to new experiences and the different things people enjoy, it makes relationships deeper, life brighter, and so much more fun. (Jeez…I’m just a blogger full of sappy one-liners tonight, hm?)

 

I’m really looking forward to this year, actually. I think it’s going to be just as challenging, but in an entirely different way. If I get really crazy, I’ll write another post soon about how many random things I acccomplished on my bucket list this past year…now that would show you how much of an adventure my life has become. Hah.

Here’s What I’m Gonna Do

Okay, so my last post detailed a lot of the things I’ve tackled since I’ve been “livin’ the single life” (picture me doing a little jig while a type “single life”), but now I thought I’d share some of the things I still have yet to do…I mean, there’s about a billion things I haven’t done yet, but I’ll only mention the things I’m interested in (you’re welcome). Naturally, the next question would be: if I’m interested in said “things”, why have I not done them yet? Oh, the answer’s easy…I’m terrified of actually doing them.

  • Slow down and enjoy the little things in life. I know this sounds so cliché, right? But seriously… I want to make time to enjoy a cup of coffee…just buy the expensive kind once and really enjoy the flavor. I want to drive out to the country and truly appreciate the scenery. I want to stay up talking with a friend until we watch the sunrise together.
  • Be more independent. I like to consider myself independent but if I’m honest- there is still a part of me that just wants to throw my hands up and cry for help in situations. Fortunately, I can now go and do certain things on my own and I don’t completely hate it all the time. I go grocery shopping alone, that was big for me (I’m serious…and you can’t judge me!). I can exercise by myself, and I now prefer it that way actually. I’ve gone shopping for clothes and housewares..making decisions all by myself! (It’s funny, because those of you that know me in person know how hard that is for me to do!) But, there are things that I still have an extremely hard time considering doing on my own. I am very, very uncomfortable with eating alone at a restaurant. In fact, I’ve never done it. I won’t go to a movie alone, or actually to an event of any kind by myself. But, I’m challenging myself to do just that! (I can’t believe I just put it out there!! Ahh?!)  I want to be able to go to the park with a blanket and book and just enjoy the afternoon reading in the grass and not die of anxiety that same afternoon. Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be a follow-up post about that experience. (Yikes, I feel the stress heartburn happening already…)
  • Go to a gun range. Alright, don’t get all crazy on me…I’m not trying to be the next Annie Oakley or anything. I just want to feel safe. For the past three months, there have been a number of times where I thought to myself, “If someone broke into my apartment right now, I wouldn’t even know what to do!” That is never a good thing to think. You know, pretty much all I have to defend myself with are the tweezers in my bedside table at night. And Maggie is useles-s she would probably just sleep right through anything so you forget about a guard dog. So, I want to just start with going to a gun range and blowing off some steam…then I can think about actually keeping something that powerful in my apartment…I’m not sure how I feel about that idea yet.

I was going to write more, buuuuut I feel like that’s a good starting point for me. Let’s not go crazy and have me try to dominate all my fears at once okay? And, it’s not even like they’re especially terror-inducing for the average individual (come on, who can’t go to Panera alone?) But for me, well, let’s just say I’d rather eat saw dust than face some of these fears. (Saw dust was the worst thing I could think of to eat when I typed that, just go with it.)

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Three months, 30 pounds, and a blog.

So, I’ve been living on my own for a little over three months now…and let me tell you, I think I’ve grown more in this short time than I have in the last year decade. This has been the most emotional, frustrating, and exhausting chapter I think I’ve ever been through, but the funny thing is, when I look back I realize it’s also been the most fulfilling, invigorating, exciting, roller coaster with your hands up time in my life, too.

This blog has been there for me as an outlet through all of my ups and downs. I can write about my struggles, or my mistakes. Things I did the hard way, or exciting new things I succeeded at. This 3 months has flown by. I thought I’d share some of my accomplishments, both big and small. Why? Because I’m proud of myself, damn it!

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Doing a lot of these things terrified me. They may not seem like a big deal or a great accomplishment, but I did them. I would even say for some of them, I survived. Hah. Barely.

  • Okay let’s start small: I successfully parallel parked for the first time in my life. And, yes, there was a witness. I say there was a witness, because a lot of people know my driving skills are less than expert level. But, with living in the Bishop Arts district and this close to downtown…a girl can’t function (unless she wants to walk miles) without knowing this precious skill. Before, I always had someone to do the parking for me, but I learned real quick being by myself. How did it happen? It was an awesome parking spot, plus I was starving for brunch on a Sunday morning…that’s how it happened. Miracles do exist.
  • I have encountered several situations, including today’s run…that would have made me pee my pants before I’ve been living on my own. I remember when I was a freshman at Baylor, less than a week of living in Waco, we were all gathered in the common room and told by two female police officers: “If you go outside at night alone, you WILL get hurt, raped, or worse.” I guess their way of keeping of safe was scaring the bejeezus out of us, but it worked. I always think about that talk we had now. When I moved in I was scared to walk from my car to the gate of my apartment alone, especially if it was dark. But the past two weeks, I’ve actually run through Oak Cliff and lived to tell about it! Don’t worry, I’m not doing anything dumb, I just feel more aware of my surroundings and realized that people aren’t always “scary”. It’s empowering to not be so scared of everything!
  • I’ve successfully done a complete load of laundry…wait for it…. in one afternoon. Doing laundry isn’t anything new, but doing completing it in one afternoon is the feat. I have realized I am the WORST at remembering to move clothes from the washer to the dryer and somehow even less likely to fold them within the next week. I do the infamous “restart the dryer for 10 minutes to get the wrinkles out” and then just take out what I want to wear and leave the rest in there until the next day. It’s a sick cycle. (No pun intended…but get it? Because washer/dryers have cycles…I know, I know.)
  • I’ve started a blog! What? You had no idea?! Well, please…keep reading! This one really needs no other comment other than I’ve actually kept it up…go me!)
  • I’ve become a handyman/technically a handywoman! In more detail, so far I’ve correctly installed a thermostat, fixed a leaky faucet, hung pictures, refinished a dresser, reset my breaker, and figured out why my ice maker wasn’t working. All by myself! I’m not gonna lie, Google should be my boyfriend, because I ask it for help with everything. That has pretty much become my new favorite phrase to myself: “Google it, Ashley”. And thankfully, Google always comes through for me… it’s gonna take some work to find someone to compare to it. 😉
  • Oh yeah, and that one other accomplishment of mine I posted to Facebook yesterday. No biggie – I’ve just lost THIRTY POUNDS! I’ll admit, I haven’t been really excited about my weight loss because I don’t see much change. But I know the scale can’t be lying to me, and everyone says I look good and they can tell I look thinner…but seriously, I’ve lost 30 pounds and I’ve barely gone down one dress size? Ehh, I guess it just keeps my motivation up! I’ll keep running, eating better, and kicking butt… soon enough it will start to show, it HAS to! Maybe the next 5 pounds that come off will take a couple more sizes with it!

I think it’s been a good three months. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot, cried a lot, and laughed a lot. I can’t wait for the next three, six, even nine months…they’re gonna be great!