The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer.  I started classes the day after moving into our new apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up.  We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck.  Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time.  But I made it, and with decent grades.  The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates.  Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers.  Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting.  Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days.  I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady.  Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person.  Its probably both.  Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

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I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype.  I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent.  Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their  house.  I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL.  I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant ❤

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Surprises and My First Tattoo.

I get home from work on December 22nd, 2014 in the early evening, carrying my bags, binders, and change of shoes (I don’t like wearing heels driving) in my arms and fumbling through the door.  Steve hands me the phone and tells me to call my mom on her cell phone ASAP, not letting me empty my hands or take of my coat and boots. His sense of urgency concerned me a little, thinking that maybe something is wrong, or something urgent is going on.  I call her cell phone.  She answers and says hello, and after a few seconds on small talk her and my dad emerge from our bedroom.  SURPRISE!  All the way from Ontario, Canada, they surprised both the Artist and myself that night.  We talk often enough, that they new the Artist was home during the days and I was at work.  They knew we had one car, that I used it to get to work during weekdays.  Minutes before I arrived home, they had called the Artist to have him come down and let them in the front door of our apartment building, as you need a key.  He thought it was a joke- he and my mother have a very sarcastic dialogue.  But there they were, standing in the rain, waiting to be let inside.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I have never been surprised like that before- they came from SO far!  It’s not like  they stopped by on their way home……they drove down from another country.  We were unable to make it home for the holidays for both time and financial constraints, so they came to us!  They skipped all other holiday gatherings to spend the holidays with us ❤

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And they brought a million presents!!!

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I come from a small town, and everyone knew about the surprise.  Lots of folks sent gifts for us down with them, and holidays cards as well.  I know this is going to sound SO cliche, but it was a Christmas miracle ❤  My family doesn’t have much, but they are willing to spend what they do have one us ❤  I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family- there are no words.

We enjoyed some local museums, shopping, and lots of cooking.  And of course, lots of cooking meant lots of eating.  They even brought down a bunch of my favourite snacks from home that are unavailable here.  It was very hard when they left the following weekend.  There were many tears.  I think I am still recovering from the post-holiday blues……

To get ours spirits up, the Artist gave me my first tattoo on New Years Day.  Actually, he gave me two!

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The one on my finger is the crown motif in Basquiat’s paintings, and the Artist has a larger version of this one his ankle.  This was his first time doing a tattoo on someone else other then himself.  The one on my heel is the deathly hallows symbol from Harry Potter.  These are both very intimately meaningful to me in so many ways, but I am not going to divulge them on here.  Instead, ask me sometime.

As they heal, they are becoming more of a grey tone then black, and I have no idea why.  My skin is crazy, the Artist said I am like a member of X-Men.  I never get sun burns, I have very little body hair, and my skin is very oily and soft.  Like, so oily.  These tattoos have healed very well, and have caused me little inconvenience.  So we will see how they finish up!

Happy holidays ❤

A Glimpse of the Day I Turned 25.

This 4th of July, I turned 25.  Yikes.  25.  Life is moving so fast.

The Artist asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday.  There are so many fun things to do on a budget in St. Louis, but all I ever want is just some good, quality time together.  I had been wanting to go bowling for awhile, so we decided to incorporate that into our day, and there is so much good food around here of which I have a hard time choosing where to eat, I asked the Artist if he would pick the restaurant and then not reveal it until right before we left.  That in itself is a great birthday gift, haha, because I can never make a choice and am always overwhelmed by the oh-so-many delicious options.  It was SO nice to not even have to think about where to eat!  He decided on one of our favourites: Mission Taco.  Read about the extreme levels of awesome they have here, https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/moving-food/

But even after we made these plans, I told the Artist that I didn’t care if they didn’t happen or if we ended up doing something else, that if the night organically led us elsewhere, or nowhere other then the couch, I wouldn’t mind.  The Artist and I spend a lot of quality time together on a regular, daily basis, and we are always going out on dates and doing fun things.  So my birthday was like any other day when you boil it down.  Even if we both have a busy day, we always take some time together, even if it is just a few minutes.  Sometimes we will chit-chat and snuggle and giggle before we go to sleep, or sometimes we will take time out of our busy days to cook together, which always brings about great conversations.  This is a quality about our marriage that I just love; we don’t use special occasions as a “reminder” to do something nice for one another or to go out on a date.  Actually, the last 2 years we weren’t even in the same city on Valentine’s Day, and we did our own little thing weeks earlier.  But on that day, we knew we were thinking of the other, and that is enough ❤

My birthday ended up including a delicious breakfast of chocolate pancakes and bacon, sleeping in late, a great after-breakfast conversation about our favourite actors (which included Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell, among so many others), a present, drinks, bowling, RummiKub, and tacos.  I have been loving the TV show Orange is the New Black, and really want to read the book.  But all the libraries around here have pretty large waiting lists, and each person have have the book for up to 3 weeks!  I was so disappointed when I discovered this, because I have such a craving to read it!

To my surprise, when I opened my birthday present, was a brand spanking new copy of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.  It smelled amazing.  I even fanned the pages a little because there is just something about the shininess and smell of a brand new book that is just so satisfying.  We usually use the library to read books, or get them for a quarter a piece at thrift stores or library book sales and in used conditions, so this brand new copy of my very own is such a treat 😀

He also got me new sunglasses because I broke mine and my backups are scratched like crazy, and then took me to the new candy shop that just opened down the street to pick out some candy.  He gets me.  He pointed out Sour Patch Peaches to me because he knows how much I LOVE peach candy, (a very specific flavour, I know, haha) and I couldn’t resist.  I also picked out some taffy, a cherry jolly rancher stick (which is awesome because that is the only flavour I like and didn’t have to buy a whole pack to get a handful of cherry candies), and what I was most excited about: the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog.

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Then onto a blueberry lemonade Smirnoff slushie, tacos and bowling.  I grew up with 5 pin bowling with tiny balls, so this intimidating 10 pin stuff was hard!  My goal of zero gutter balls went out the window in a hurry.  But it was fun, and we will be back.

 

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When we came home, we decided to play RummiKub, which is one of our favourite games.  We turned on some oldies music,  and of course, I won 😉

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We finished the night with some silly pictures, and watched Corner Gas in bed.

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Perfection.

What a wonderful life I have ❤

All you need is love <3

Some people go through the processes of life seamlessly.  They progress through post-secondary school and graduate studies with no problems, and come out with no debts and even get a perfect job right away.  They somehow make and/or have a lot of money.  They have children.  They own a home.  They have pets.  They have nice, reliable cars, and more then 1 for the entire household.  They never have a single medical issue.

Not me.

I have completed undergraduate work, with mounds of debt.  Not just student debt, but personal debt with family, and with credit cards.  Student loans only cover so much, and I have to eat and pay the rent.  When we don’t have our heat on and live in a crappy apartment and use our credit card to buy only essential groceries, it is those purchases that add up to our credit cards.  But what is the alternative?  We already don’t have heat on, no cell phones, no cable, our bills are minimal and only essentials.  I have been trying to go to grad school, but I can’t afford tuition and am not eligible for student loans in the states because I am Canadian, and there is so little funding and scholarships for social work studies it is ridiculous.  And you can forget about stipends for social work graduate studies, they don’t exist.  Yet, social work strives for change for the greater good of society, so you would think it’s extremely crucial to get well trained individuals up and running….but it is impossible to get trained without funding.  Getting the perfect job after graduation?  Well there aren’t many social work jobs because of cutbacks, which reiterates my point above.  And the jobs are usually not in the high-paying category….but then how do you pay off the massive debts your have from just getting the education to get that job in the first place?  It seems I am always broke.  The Artist and I do not have children, unlike most of our peers right now.  How on earth could we afford to feed a child when we can hardly feed ourselves?  We do hope to be fortunate enough that in the future, having children will be possible.  We do not own a home.  Obviously because we can’t afford it, but we aren’t even sure if we would want to.  I think we would have children well before we owned a house.  And we like weird places, like lofts with concrete floors and brick walls, or warehouse space, etc., not necessarily a house, unless the house meets our weirdo-style- haha.  We do not have pets.  We are reallllly wanting a dog, we love dogs.  We have only 1 car between the 2 of us, and it is quite old and has seen a lot of mileage.  The Artist has had it for years, it is the first car he ever bought and it is still hanging in there.  Just 1 car between us is most inconvenient.  And I have a crazy thyroid issue, as talked about here: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/under-active-thyroid/

So I have been navigating through life much less then seamlessly.  There is always some ridiculous barrier happening to cause us more struggle.  It is exhausting.  It tests our patience.  It tests our faith that it will all come together in the end.  But, we can always find a way to get around the roadblocks, and we never lose sight of what we want in education, careers, and our ultimate goals.  We are hanging in there, and not giving up on them.  I can only do my very best at everything I embark on, and sometimes, after that, things are out of my hands.  I did my very best on my scholarship application and sent it in, now it is up to others to decide if I get it. I can’t control what others think and do, so I try not to worry myself with it.  I concern myself with putting my best effort forth, which is something I can control, and avoid concerning myself with things beyond my control.

Yes, this is stressful.  Yes, I want to get paid to work and not just volunteer.  Yes, I want to go back to school but can’t afford it.  But at the end of the day, I have a loving family, and a great husband.  When I lay my head on the Artist’s shoulder as we get into bed, and he wraps his big arms around me- that is all I need.

I believe in the butterfly effect, that if I changed even 1 thing I wouldn’t be where I am today.  If I didn’t choose to attend Georgian College I never would had met my Artist, for example.  So if I had to go through some craziness to get here today, then so be it- because happiness and love are priceless.  And if the Artist and I have to continue through more craziness to reach our goals, then fine- why should we settle for anything less then exactly what we want?

I may not have much aside from struggle and debt, but I do have the most important things- great love, and indescribable happiness.  And without that, everything else seems pointless.  ❤

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Isn’t Life Beautiful?

Isn’t life beautiful?  After all, you only get one!  I highly recommend watching this amazing video: http://www.wimp.com/survivorsay/

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How incredibly moving was that?!  I am lost for words.  It was just so inspiring.  Sometimes I feel like “time is running out” and I have to get my education moving and my career on the go etc., and women have more of a “biological clock” then men do, so what about trying to have children?  That is a lot to take on over the next decade, and sometimes I feel like I am sort of “behind schedule”.  But then I stop and think, behind what schedule?  Who made these schedules about the so called order of things….education, marriage, buy a house, have kids?  And who says I need to be doing any of these things even at all?  I have to stop and remind myself that this phenomenon of social pressure is what is making me feel like I am “running out of time”, and that I am “behind schedule”, that I should be developing in this quite normal of a pattern, which isn’t for everyone.  I am 24 years old and I have been married for going on 4 years this August, with no kids.  But that doesn’t mean I  don’t want children of my own someday!  It’s just that right now, in this very moment, what is important to both the Artist and myself is reaching our education and career goals, and enjoying each other to the maximum.

This can sometimes be a great source of stress for me, but after watching this video, it completely diminishes.  And I think this source of stress itself is going to completely vanish, because Alice makes such a good point: everything in life is beautiful.

It really is, isn’t it?  If we don’t stop and smell the roses, where is the enjoyment in life?  Finding passion, being interested in new things, and as one of the ladies in this video said, “putting as much into your head as possible, because no one can take that away from you”.  I really like this statement.  Because you may not have a lot of material things, or money in the bank, but if you have passion within, you will always have that inside, and you can experience it whenever you want.  This video was so inspiring, to empower myself, to inspire myself, and to see the beauty in life every day.  She talks about her love for music, and how Beethoven is a miracle, and how intensely she feels the music, is very similar to what I was trying to write about during my experience at the St. Louis Symphony: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/a-passionate-life-filled-with-love/

There is another video that I love, and highly recommend viewing: http://twentytwowords.com/sweet-old-lady-smiles-and-waves-at-passing-kids-every-day-they-finally-show-her-what-it-means-to-them/

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Amazing, eh?

What I love about this video, and how far a simple, friendly gesture goes to making life that much more beautiful.  One of my best friends in the world is a 70-something year old lady whom I carpool with to go volunteering at a domestic violence agency, and she is so full of love and life, it is contagious.  She is so sweet and kind and generous, that she always makes my day a little brighter. She has been travelling for the last few months, and I am finding myself craving her company!  What does that say about something as simple as being kind to others?

I always say that the Artist and I are contagious to one another.  He does something really nice for me, like make a nice dinner even though he is exhausted, and then I am really excited to return the favour and find my wheels spinning thinking of what I will do for him.  Then I grind him fresh coffee beans the next morning and bring him his hot coffee, and he is so happy and grateful that he starts thinking of the next thing he will do for me.  But the same goes for something as simple as a hug, or kind words.  The same cycle exists especially for kind words!

We are only the experts on our own lives, we have no idea what exactly another person’s life is like.  Especially strangers.  So if someone isn’t as friendly at the drive-thru window as you would like, instead, give them a smile, maybe a compliment, maybe wish them a nice evening or great weekend, maybe ask them how their day is, or thank them for their service.  Because we don’t know exactly what is going on in their life, maybe it is just one of those days, maybe they are grieving the loss of a loved one, maybe they got some bad news, but wouldn’t some kindness brighten all of those things?  And maybe that was the thing that just made their day, and they go home feeling a little better about whatever it is that is going on in their life.  Personally, if that happened to me and I was the one who had their day brightened (like this one bus driver who out a smile on everyone’s face, and made an effort to say hello to every passenger!), I would be grateful for that stranger’s kindness 🙂

Clearly, I am a big believer in the power of optimism and kindness 😉

These videos were so inspiring and uplifting, I watch them over and over, and get teary every time.  These women are just so beautiful, and convey such a powerful message:  ultimately, despite struggles and stresses, in the end, we are alive.  And if we aren’t alive, well, then what is it that we have?