Inspired by _______________________

Inspired.

There really is no better way to describe the day I had today.

Often, when I sit down to share my thoughts with the world on this blog, I tend to focus on a negative or less-than-glamorous aspect of my life and strive to find the silver lining of positivity.

However, today I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to share the positive elements of my day.

Today, I was inspired by:

1) My co-worker, who has a hearty laugh that is highly infectious.

2) A grilled cheese sandwich with macaroni and cheese embedded within, and the lovely company of one of my closest friends.

3) A young man that I guarantee will win a Tony someday, had amazing stories to share, and yet has remained sensationally humble.

4) The sweet stench of the city air while sitting on a park bench.

5) The image of two women wrangling a mattress up a flight of stairs to a cozy efficiency apartment with the biggest personality in the city.

6) The stories and tales we shared over drinks and sweet potato fries while on a rooftop overlooking the city we both love.

7) A theater company and the story they shared about women, who helped save generations of future women by their actions.

8) Z himself, who continues to surprise me with his endurance and strength, and my pride for him grows. And – on that note – despite his most tired of days, still takes the time to tell me he loves me – even though I already know.

9) The stars. Whether you believe in a higher power or science or both – the stars are beautiful and miraculous, no matter how you look at them.

Some days, I spend far too many breaths complaining. Today was a great wake up call in the best way. I was reminded that it is never too late – or early – to dream big. I was encouraged to try new things and be spontaneous. I recalled how great conversation can be. I was humbled by the stories of women, who faced workplaces much more dire than my own. I felt an incredible surge of love and respect for a man I sometimes don’t always appreciate. Finally, and above all, I felt content knowing that my life is far from perfect – and somehow that makes it just right.

May you be inspired today by anything – great or small.

Sincerely,

The Shoe

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25 New Things

I turned 25 recently (by recently I mean almost a month ago), and it has been very…interesting to say the least. The months leading up to my twenty-fifth birthday were not pretty – they were filled with self-doubt, immense questioning, tears (the ugly kind), reruns of Friends and lots of staring at the ceiling late at night while trying to sleep wondering why I was such a mess.

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Then, almost like magic, I turned 25. Within the past month already, some very positive changes have taken place. I have been spending time (actively!) on writing, and have been meeting regularly with two other young female writers at a variety of coffee shops and diners to focus and encourage each other with our writing. On top of that, every day life things got a huge sigh of relief when I submitted my final student loan payment almost exactly three years post graduation – which I am still in disbelief about, if I’m honest.

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It’s funny – I spent all this time agonizing over turning 25, but here I am a month later and it is amazing how much better I feel already. I tend to worry unnecessarily (rather frequently, I’ll admit), but this new calm (largely due to the relief of no more student debt hanging over my head) has brought a newfound (albeit small) confidence into my life. And with this newfound confidence, which I believe may have been lurking behind a paranoid concern or pillar of low self-esteem (or two, or three), I feel ready to finally take charge and do some things I have been wanting to do for a very long time.

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So my goal for my twenty-fifth year is simply this: to try and attempt twenty-five new “things”. It could be as simple as renting a car because I can now do that legally at every major rental car company to trying a new type of food. It could be big like traveling to a brand new destination I’ve never been to before or it could be something small, like a writing exercise in a different style or catching up on some classic literature.

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I already have joined an amazing writing group, which has not only revitalized my passion for writing but has been an extremely healthy outlet for me (both creatively and socially). I have paid off my student loans, which means while I still have other debt and bills and am still living at home, I have gained another small ounce of financial freedom and self-reliance. I am going on an adventure with one of my dearest college friends at the end of summer as she moves on to another part of her life, and I will be flying alone for the first time ever.

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All these little things I’ve noticed are having an extremely positive impact on not only myself as a person, but on my writing. I’m forcing myself to sit down and just DO IT and carve time out of my busy schedule to do so. I realized one night that I don’t need to spend countless hours on Facebook or Netflix – especially if I am not using my time wisely, time I could be using to flesh out the character of my current protagonist or working out the kinks in the plot.

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So on that note, I raise a glass to year twenty-five, and am excited to see (and share) what new things come my way!

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Sincerely (as always)
The Shoe

To My Dearest Self

A month ago I promised myself I would maintain this blog better. This month ago I made a lot of semi-serious promises to myself, what most people call “New Year Resolutions”, the silly semi-serious promises we make ourselves before another winter storm and several inches of snow takes every ounce of optimism away from us. Before we know it, the new year is beginning to resemble the previous year. The only difference being one is older, in not just age but potentially looks, and the sheer frustration that if I haven’t lost the weight or kept up with my goals that I keep making for some reason-will I ever truly change?

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I love my commute home. After a day of work, which could be any number of things (long, busy, fun, boring, tiring, upsetting, or the go-to “ok”), I settle into my car for a 30-minute drive on side roads in rush hour traffic. I don’t know if it’s because I finally have a few moments to myself to think, or if it is the natural calm that comes with driving, but I have some of my best ideas and thoughts while driving. They range from picking and working on songs I hope to perform in a lip synch battle with Jimmy Fallon someday…

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to planning my dream elopement (which won’t sadly happen because I’m not heartless nor do I lack feelings). [end sarcasm]

Sometimes my mind wonders to my writing (or lack thereof). Everything from writing prompts to my writing style to the fact that I have all these great ideas swirling around in my cranium and yet when it comes to actually pinning them down in actual ink (or pixelated text) I suddenly whine and say it’s too hard, I suck at writing and shouldn’t even try-and before I know it I’m watching another season of Friends on Netflix (after I get home, of course).

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Most often, though, my thoughts become rather reflective and I begin to look at myself.

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I guess when I was younger, I saw myself further in life. To be honest, I never really pictured life after 24 years old. I kind of just assumed that I would graduate college, get an awesome job I loved, marry my true love, and start making babies-all before the age of 25 (I have diary entries to back it up…however we won’t get into that right now).

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If I’m being fair however, my ten-year-old self wasn’t factoring in some pretty big details. Like, student loans: how after almost three years, you will still be paying off your education and degree. Or the big awesome job? Some days I do truly love the job and what I do, but other days are hard-that’s just life. Life is never easy, it’s never without challenges, every day has it’s own struggles that need to be overcome. And marriage-marriage is not as simple as I originally thought as a child. I thought it was as easy as bumping into some random stranger that when your eyes met they just knew your whole life story-one they joined a year or two later. I didn’t factor in things like loving someone despite their flaws and faults, loving someone when they have wronged someone (or after you have wronged them), not being ready for the big commitment marriage is or how truly long ‘forever’ is. Don’t even get me started on babies. There are a lot of things they didn’t cover in my high school sex education class.

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I look in the mirror at what I have become physically. I resemble that ten-year-old girl, except I look older-and tired. My hair has lost that youthful luster, while the acne I was told would go away still is camping out on my cheeks. My body is no longer rail thin-it instead boasts curves, edges-some larger than I would like.

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What I don’t spend enough time doing is looking on what I have become on the inside. Believe me, it’s a bit of a murky mess, but a murky mess that intrigues me-and oddly makes me optimistic. I’m not the strongest person I could be-but the potential is there. I’m not the most confident person I could be-but the potential is there. There are some qualities of mine that have grown and matured and have developed quite nicely over the years, while others could use some work and careful tending.

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What I don’t always recognize is how intertwined our inner selves and our outer shells are connected. If you feel like utter rubbish on the inside, it isn’t going to help you feel like a million dollars on the outside (nor will you be motivated to even make an effort to fake the look through the use of smoke and mirrors). I have a vision in my mind of what I could look like-should look like-but if I don’t start making changes on the inside where it matters, than that vision is going to stay exactly what it is right now-an imaginary picture of what I could be and nothing more.

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So as I stare at myself in the mirror, a month after I made some semi-serious (and semi-empty) promises to myself, I think about the inner self and the outer shell. How it honestly is never too late to make a resolution, and at the same time realizing I am nothing more than a human being that will occasionally slip up. Thinking that maybe I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the best instead of just to be my best. There is a difference, after all.

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So here’s to not giving up, but letting myself fall down sometimes. Here’s to sorting out the mess on the inside, with hopes of it oozing to the surface. Here’s to loving myself enough to give myself a chance. Or several chances, since I will screw up the ones given. Here’s to still dreaming, because even though every dream is now drizzled with a sense of realism, that ten-year-old girl that thought the sky was limitless is still inside-pushing, motivating, desiring-and I owe it to her-and myself-to let her be heard.

This Valentine’s Day, yes I will hand out whimsical valentines to my co-workers and shower Z with amorous love. But first? I’m going to try to love myself better than I have been. I think that’s a good resolution-who cares what time of year it is.

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Sincerely,

The Shoe

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The Last Five Years: A Love Letter from A to Z

Spoiler Alert: I am branching out from my usual writing today to dedicate this following piece to someone of major significance today. The following post will contain the words ‘love’ and ‘relationships’ more times than some individuals will like, overtly affectionate phrases, and a semi-in-depth look at me and my significant other. To aid in my tale, I will be using GIFs featuring famous couples from film and television, including some of my all-time favorite OTPs (One True Pairings for you folks playing at home). If at any point you feel uncomfortable with this post, please feel free to stop reading and click away as I textually ramble on. πŸ™‚

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Dear Z (and everyone else reading this),

Today is December 17th. If you recall, six years ago this was approximately four days after we had just broken up. I remember the date because we broke up on your birthday. You initiated, while I held a Tupperware container filled with lemon poppyseed muffins-your favorite, one of the few things I knew about you at that point. It was also the first time I had ever written you a letter.

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In my case, lemonade into lemons and back into lemon poppyseed muffins. But I digress.

Five years ago today, there was snow on the ground but it was oddly warm. Finals at school were just finishing up, and we were walking to Subway for dinner. It was the first time I wore your dark red sweatshirt (the one that now takes residence in my closet). We picked up some pre-dinner hot cocoas, and I can literally pinpoint on a Google map the moment everything changed-I was in mid sentence one second, and the exact next one you were kissing me.

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In this particular scenario, I was more like Flynn. Which makes this story even better. πŸ™‚

At that point, I was amazed at how much had changed in one year.
Now as I sit here and write this, I’m amazed at how much has changed in the five years since.

The first six months we were inseparable, which led to driving our roommates and close friends absolutely nuts. In all honesty, we didn’t notice or we did but didn’t care. That sounds callous, but it’s true. I’ve seen it happen with other friends and their significant others and we weren’t any different. We walked around with big goofy grins on our faces, walked each other to every single class no matter how inconvenient, and made single friends and established couples feel awkward with our constant affections of hand-holding, hugging, and making eyes at each other.

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Regina is totally right. They totally make eyes at each other.

We felt this infallible certainty that we were meant to be together, we chose a song to be ours, and you boldly stated you could see us getting married.

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This was also before I appreciated Firefly, but clearly the ideal marriage. Wash and Zoe, and Serenity never happened.

And then…graduation happened and so did reality.

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For the past five years, 4.5 of those years have been spent apart. You in one city, and I in another. Divided by over 100 miles and two hours, we have crammed the in-person aspects of our relationship in tiny windows of time resembling not-long-enough weekends. To say the least, this has lead to a very unique dynamic of our relationship. Our time together is limited and precious, and some friends feel alienated, hurt, or confused when we don’t want to spend time with them while we are together. Others scoff as we have labeled this a “long distance” courtship, because we haven’t had to endure being states or countries apart. We’ve had to balance our conflicting schedules (school, the inconsistencies of retail, and working on weekends), we’ve had to work around living arrangements due to not having our own places, and above all, we have had to answer the question “So when are you guys getting engaged?” from countless friends, co-workers, family members, clients, pastors, and even random strangers.

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No commentary necessary.

We’ve been asked that question so many times that if I received a dollar for every time either of us were approached with that question we would have enough money to pay off my loans, a down payment on a house, and enough left over for a month long venture around the world.

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For the past five years, our relationship and where it is headed has been at the fore front of many conversations. Where some couples when dating can merely sit next to each other on a couch and binge watch Netflix when they see each other every night, we have to cram the following into 48 hours (and less if we exclude the hours we spend sleeping): every conversation we started while apart over the phone but decided was better discussed in person, life goals and aspirations, basic and general dating questions such as “how many kids you want?”, “Are you a dog person?”, or “Where do you want to live someday?”, learning about each other from basic observation (Pet peevs: Feet on pillows-me and excess hair on my hairbrush-him), and talking about the big huge M word (money) and the even bigger huge M word (marriage).

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Most couples discuss these things over the course of a month or two. We get a weekend. Or two. If we are lucky.

For the past five years, we have certainly learned a lot about each other. You like to cook, and I like to do laundry. We both can find the humor in Six Days, Seven Nights, and have a vast array of inside jokes (well, not only). We have traveled together, to the mountains in Colorado to the cherry blossoms of D.C. We have survived camping during an awful thunderstorm and a huge fight over a water ride. I’ve edited your Facebook posts for grammatical inaccuracies and you’ve attempted to help me understand the basics of math.

We’ve critiqued each other, which has led us to some of our best work-after our pride was slightly damaged because of how much each other’s opinion means to the other. We have gone clothes shopping together, where you have encouraged me to spend money and will honestly tell me if something doesn’t look good-or if it does. We’ve gone grocery shopping together, and have both taken turns telling the other one to put things back on the shelf because “we don’t need it.” You’ve pushed me because you’ve seen my potential, and I’ve challenged you on more than one occasion, making us equals and well-matched when it comes to our feisty spirits.

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For the past five years, we have definitely been there for each other. I was there for you when you graduated, and all the emotional baggage that came with. You returned the favor two years later, proudly looking on as I walked across that stage, and stood by me when I went through my own rough patch after graduation.

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We’ve been there for each other through unemployment, the uncertain future of business ventures, job rejections in the form of email, failed job interviews, and sharing a mutual understanding of the hell that can be working retail. We’ve been there for each other at funerals and at hospitals where the lives of loved ones were uncertain or being remembered. We have been there for each other as we have double teamed babysitting for friends and their kids, and have learned just how intense children can be. We’ve been there for each other for birthdays and anniversaries, taking turns picking up the tab on dinners and vacations pending on who was more financially stable at the time. We’ve been there for each other through receding hairlines and graying strands, through weight gain and loss. We’ve even been there for each other when we weren’t sure about our future, and that is a pretty big-and awesome-thing.

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For the past five years, if there is one thing I have learned is that I have a friend in you and you in I. The past five years have been far from easy, and I’m sure life will only throw more curveballs the older we get. However, the past five years have also been filled with countless hours and moments of sheer joy, and I honestly cannot find the right words to express just how grateful I am for it all.

I am so grateful for the hours of laughter to the point of being out of breath, the respect and admiration that has grown for each other, the million little things we do to say “I love you,” the complete honesty and bluntness we bring to every hefty conversation, the moments we can just revel in each other’s company, the hugs that feel like home, every single car ride no matter how many times we debate the accuracy of the GPS, the frank talks about our deepest fears and faith, our trips to Barnes and Noble when caffeine pulsates through our veins and our ideas take flight, andΒ every single moment where we communicate with our eyes with knowing glances or raised eyebrows-every single of these millions of moments I am so grateful for and glad to have been able to share with you.

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Too often I look forward, wondering how this will all turn out. Some may say after reading this I have spent too much time looking back. No matter which direction, I just want you to know how much I love you and how no matter what happens, I am beyond blessed to have you in my life now-as my boyfriend yes, but more importantly as a friend.

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Today I was talking with a friend, and she flat out told me this:

“He’s a good one. He really is. Don’t lose him.”

I think too often I don’t appreciate you or what we have, and what’s good and great about us can get lost in the everyday nonsense that we let take over our lives. You really are a rarity among men, and I want to brag about that to the masses. Thus the reason for this piece. No, not to rub it in someone’s single face that I have an awesome boyfriend. And no, this is not to be construed as a major outcry for some overpriced finger jewelry.

This is simply a girl telling a guy that she still really likes him, and she just can’t keep it to herself.

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Happy Anniversary Z. I love you. Lotza. πŸ˜‰

Sincerely,

Your Shoe

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