Unsolicited Advice from a Married Girl


…who also writes love stories.

Let me preface this by saying I know there are about a million other articles and blog posts that are similar to the one I’m about to write. In spite of that, I am taking the time to write my two cents on romance just because it seems like people can never get enough of that particular subject. I want to write this because I’ve been the lonely single girl, the un-lonely single girl, the girl with a boyfriend, the girl with a fiancée, and the girl with a husband. The only things I haven’t been are divorced or a lesbian, but I think what I have to say can apply to those situations, too.

Please do not take this as being preachy or pitying, it’s not. It’s just a few things I’ve picked up on the way, so feel free to take them or leave them.

Tip #1: Stop making lists.

I made lists too; many many lists. I admit it can be fun to dream about what your future partner will be like. However, setting too many standards or being too picky can cause you to pass up the right person really, really easily. He doesn’t have to have the exact eye color on your list or play the guitar (although I got lucky, my hubby plays the guitar and also has my favorite guy name of all time… Which is HUGE to me as a writer. Plus his eye color is super cool and nothing I would have thought of on my own… But I digress). The most important thing is love, regardless if he or she matches all of your ideal qualifications. Look for something that feels right and the rest isn’t even going to matter.

Tip #2: Be honest.

When going on a date, the best thing to do is to always be yourself. Let your prospective lover see you for who you really are. If you present yourself as anything else, it’s not really you they’re falling in love with. One thing I have found is that guys do not like gallons of perfume and makeup. A little bit goes a long way and does not interfere with your natural beauty. Oh, and guys? Making up stories to impress girls does not work. When they find out you lied, you’re likely to have a PO’d woman on your hands. You’ve been warned.

Tip #3: Love on yourself.

If you cannot say out loud that you’re worthy of love, you’re not ready to be in a relationship. Chances are that if you don’t value yourself that much you won’t be able to value anyone else that much either. You don’t have to have an inflated ego or become self-obsessed (that won’t help you either) but try showing yourself a little love before you start looking somewhere else for it. It probably won’t work out too well if you don’t.

Tip #4: Don’t sweat it.

If you’re single and feel like you’re forever alone, you are not truly alone. There are millions of other people who feel just like you do. If you haven’t met the one, you haven’t met the one. It doesn’t mean you never will and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. The best thing to do is take this precious alone time and use it to better yourself so that whether or not you ever find him/her, you will be your best self and be able to live life to its fullest potential. Do not devalue yourself or loathe yourself, that will not get you anywhere. Also, little known fact, a lot of the best people end up single for a very long time just because nobody else they meet is worthy of them. Truth!

***These last few are for those who are already in a committed relationship, but IMHO they’re good for anybody to keep in mind.

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to have a few fights.

My husband and I were so impressed with ourselves during the first year of our relationship because we never fought. Like, ever. But the truth of the matter was that I was unconsciously burying a lot of anger and resentment under the rug. Getting your feelings out and flushing conflict is healthy and normal. Fighting all the time is not healthy, but if you have the occasional “heated discussion,” it’s okay. Stuff happens, people get their panties in a twist, life goes on.

Tip #6: Do the date night thing.

I believe in date nights more than I believe in gravity. As a committed/married couple, fun alone time is going to be your salvation, otherwise life just becomes too hard and depressing. Take time to gush over how handsome your babe is in the romantic lighting of your favorite restaurant. Enjoy how his or her hand feels holding yours while seeing a movie together. Rock out to your favorite songs together in the car on your way to and from. Basically, just have fun with each other alone. Doesn’t matter where or when.

Tip #7: Blow things off sometimes.

Let the dishes sit in the sink while you cuddle with your SO. Let the laundry stay unfolded in the basket. Let a phone call go unanswered. I’m not saying be lazy or shirk responsibilities, but don’t be so obsessed with keeping things perfect that you forget quality time. When you’re on your deathbed you’re not going to care that you didn’t make all your meals in advance or always keep the floors pristinely clean. You’re going to remember the good times you had with the people you love.

Tip #8: Pursue goals together.

Example: my husband and I are currently following a plan we came up with between ourselves to help us lose weight. It’s something we’re both invested in and we’re doing basically the same things in order to achieve the same goal. Not only does it give us each built-in accountability but it fosters a sense of unity in our house, which is just incredibly crucial to our survival as a couple. Someday, when we each reach our goal weights, we will cry and hug each other knowing that WE did it and our journey was a team effort. It’s those things that will help us trust that the other one has our best interests in mind for the duration of the relationship. (Sorry… Awkwardly worded sentence alert)

I’m sure there’s more I could add, but my little munchkin just let me know that my blogging time is up for the night. I hope this was at least a little bit helpful or reassuring for someone. Have a great weekend!

~A.D.

Organizing Life


Life tends to = chaos most of the time. Some people appear super orderly with their lives and the rest of us watch in awe with our mouths hanging open because we can’t figure out how they do it. Maybe they do have it all together, or maybe they just look like they do. Either way, I am definitely not one of those people.

I’m currently ignoring my messy house while my son is napping. Bad housewife. *slaps own wrist*

I guess the reason I’m writing this is more for my own personal benefit. I need to organize my priorities because my life is going to get crazy in the spring when I’m a full-time mom, part-time student, part-time employee at a retail store, and part-time writer. I don’t know why I always end up with too much on my plate (happens at buffets all the time) but I’m really worried that that’s going to be the case once I start my classes.

So here it goes… This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I figured I’d just cover the basics.

 

#1 Priority: Family

Sounds like a cliché, but family is definitely #1 on my list. My husband and my son come first no matter what. I decided to only work part-time during evenings and weekends because I refuse to put my son in daycare, especially considering all the day care scandals in the news lately. Unfortunately that takes a toll on my time with my husband, but he has been a good sport about it and we know this phase in our lives is only temporary.

Things that fall under this category–

  • Family time
  • Husband/wife dates (very important)
  • Choosing a job with the right work schedule
  • Keeping up the house
  • Savoring the moment

#2 Priority: Finances

I handle the budget in our house and it can be more challenging than I anticipated when I first started doing it. Deciding where money goes and why is a huge responsibility. Our goal is to purchase the house/land we are currently renting (which is a beautiful and ideal location for us) and in order to do that, we need to pay some stuff off.

Things that fall under this category–

  • Working
  • Sticking to a budget
  • Looking for odd jobs to boost income
  • Couponing
  • Making temporary sacrifices

#3 Priority: Fulfillment

I can’t really explain why I know I’m going to make it in the writing world someday… I just do. So even if I’m just brainstorming in my head as I’m doing the dishes or the laundry, I’m working toward that goal whenever and however I can. I still haven’t really finished a novel or a script yet (the closest I’ve come was basically a novella) but I’m never giving up on this dream because I will never be fully satisfied until I achieve it.

Things that fall under this category–

  • Writing
  • Blogging
  • Reading books (for research)
  • School (taking writing/business/psychology courses)
  • Listening to music (for research… hint hint)
  • Watching TV (also for research if I decide to write a script)

#4 Priority: Fun

Everybody needs to take some time to just have fun. I like playing phone and computer games in my downtime. If I have an entire day to devote to it I’ll read a book, because once I’ve started a good book I have to finish it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had many days like that lately. I guess I need to just train myself to put a book down and be patient until the next opportunity I have to read it.

Things that fall under this category–

  • Gaming
  • Listening to music (for fun)
  • Reading books (for fun)
  • Watching TV/movies (for fun)
  • Other entertainment

 

So those are my priorities. What are yours?

 

~A.D.

 

P.S., more hints about my current project to come 😉 And maybe more than just hints if I feel like it!

Heritage


I spent the last half of Easter Sunday and all of yesterday with my mom’s side of the family in Boone, NC. It’s a mountain city with some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see. It’s in my blood to love the place, and going there is always a pleasure (especially now that they’re not in the Dark Ages anymore and I actually have phone service in some places…lol).

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Yesterday was a day that really made me re-evaluate myself. We visited my Granddaddy’s grave so my aunt could put flowers there, and being up on that mountain again was sobering for me. Granddaddy had not lived as long as we hoped, but he had a full, rich life. He had accomplishments and honors that honestly make me feel pretty small. He had a doctorate and had been a sargeant in World War II (I think he fought in the Korean War as well). In spite of all that, though, the most important thing in his life by far was family. He was faithful to and in love with his wife to the very end and had children and grandchildren that adored him.

After visiting his grave, we went to visit, for the very last time, my great-grandmother’s house where we always used to gather at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes other holidays. I can go to that place and instantly relive my childhood. Without going to Grandmama’s house, my Christmas will now be incomplete. The farm has been sold and yesterday was our last chance to see it, for good.

It was bittersweet, but I so enjoyed hearing all the stories that my aunts and my mom told me about their childhoods on the farm. It was interesting to see the inside of the barn (which I had always been afraid to go into) and the river, which I had never had a chance to swim in and now, never will. But once again, the thing that stood out to me was the heritage my great-grandfather and great-grandmother left behind. They left behind values that many of my family members have embraced: love, hard work, and living off the land. Not only that, but… they left behind A LOT of children and grandchildren. I mean A LOT.

All of these things really gave me pause. What am I living for? Am I just floating along without really establishing roots anywhere? Am I developing lasting relationships with my family and friends? Is anything I’m working on really going to matter to my children and grandchildren? Am I going to have a family in the future, or am I going to miss my chance because I was focusing on the things that don’t matter?

Leaving a heritage for your descendants is something a lot of people don’t think about. 2012 is all about the here and now. We love our gadgets, our conveniences, and our money, and those are the things we strive for. What about raising a family that has morals and knows how to treat people right? What about leaving behind an example about how to really make your life worthwhile? Isn’t that worth more that an Apple Mac?

I’m thankful to be home, but I’m missing my family and my mountains, and I’ve come home with a new perspective and a new determination to focus on the things that really matter.

~N.L.

Power


Truth be told, everybody wants some. The very word “power” gives you a shiver down your spine (especially when you stick your finger in a socket… but I digress).

What I’m talking about is the power that comes with a lot of fame, wealth, and chicks or dudes. The kind where people practically grovel at your feet when they see you coming. The kind where the paparazzi can’t get enough of you and everyone’s BEGGING you to appear on their talk show. Or, as in olden days, the kind where a fanfare precedes you wherever you go and you wear a lot of goofy-looking outfits.

But perhaps you just want the power to choose. Or maybe the power to love. Or the power to rise above mediocrity.

Maybe you just want the power to overcome your secret struggles that nobody else knows about.

Why do we humans crave power so much? We’ve already dominated just about every other creature on the planet. Why are we constantly striving for more? When people do get power in their hands, what makes them use their powers for evil?

These questions are the questions I plan to tackle in my newest screenplay. Fundamental questions that everybody wants answered. The horrors that take place within some Communist governments are because somebody who shouldn’t have that much power over another human being got it, and is using it to their advantage. But what makes them worse than any other human being?

What would you do if you suddenly had the source of ultimate power in your hands? Would  you destroy it, give it away, keep it and use it for good, or keep it and use it for evil? (Or some other option I didn’t mention?)

Thankful this weekend (and every weekend) for the power of God and Jesus Christ my Lord. Happy Easter (to those who celebrate it) 🙂

~N.L.

Conflicting Realities


“Holding conflicting realities in your head… that will drive you mad.” ~Mad Hatter, ABC’s Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time is currently my favorite show on TV. I have watched this week’s episode twice now. In this week’s episode, the “Mad Hatter” kidnaps Emma and holds her hostage, telling her she has to fix his hat and make it magical again. She concludes that he is insane, especially after finding out that he “thinks” he’s the Mad Hatter.  He tells her the reason he feels like he’s going insane is because he knows that his daughter from Fairy Tale land, Grace, is in the real world as “Paige” and is happy with another family and doesn’t even remember that he’s her father. He is stuck between 2 realities (possibly even 3, counting “Wonderland”) and it’s driving him literally crazy. He is desperate for her to fix his hat and get him back to the world he feels he belongs in.

After hearing this statement, I can’t help but reflect on myself as a writer. When I write, it’s like I travel to this transcendent, OTHER world. Then when I have to transition back to the real world, sometimes it’s rather jarring and upsetting. In the real world, I have pains, struggles, and troubles that I don’t have in my fantasy world. My fantasy world can be whatever I want it to be, but the real world CAN’T. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy trying to balance the two.

Is this really good for me? Is it healthy to live in two worlds at once?

Most people in their right mind would likely say “No, of course it’s not healthy. You’re killing your powers of realistic thinking and torturing yourself for no reason.” Some people would diagnose me with a mental disorder. Would they be correct?

The answer? Maybe. But maybe not.

Don’t we all have a fantasy life? Isn’t it something God created us with? Don’t we all  need to “break free from reality” sometimes? (Yes, that was a Kenny Chesney reference.)

I’m not saying that all people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder are actually “normal” people with a misdiagnosis. Some people literally are insane or psychologically troubled. But I think the rest of us just need a balance. What’s real and what’s not? How do we reconcile the two and how do we deal with it when the real world isn’t as great as our fantasy world?

Food for thought. And now I need some food for my stomach. So chow! I mean, ciao!

~N. L.