Oh Hey, Friday [Winter Favorites]

Happy Friday, y’all! I am feeling so much better this week. After a week like last week, it was the best thing to be free and be allowed to do what I want – even go to work! I was stranded yesterday (my car is sick), and I felt just how cruddy it is to be cooped up in the house. However, this time around, I did a little cleaning, organizing, and…online shopping!

I’m currently loving my job, but actively searching for another. I am in a field that is the opposite of my current field of study, and I  need, more than anything, to get an internship in my field. So, as winter fell upon us just two days ago, I began to look for some cute winter staples that will help get me through a few interviews, and hopefully will come along with me as I venture into a new position soon! I’ve been stalking different style blogs for some must-have pieces, and I’ve been checking in on some of my favorite stores (GAP, Loft, and J Crew, to be exact) for some good sale prices! I’m still on the hunt for one particular piece, but first let’s see what I’m bringing to my closet in the next few weeks!

[one] Starburst Jeweled Sweatshirt

imageServiceI am so excited to get home to this beauty on my front porch! This sweater from Loft will be the perfect winter addition. It’s perfect for layering, which is great for someone who works in a chilly office (me) and who likes to layer it up whenever possible (me)! It’s currently 40 percent off online, as well as everything else in the store, so check it out!

[two] Voila! Tee

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This is a bit of a fun one for me; when I graduated in May, I pretty much cleared out my closet from any fun tees. Not only that, but I also tossed a lot of my college tee shirts as well, mainly because they had aged after four years of constant wear! So, in a grown up manner, I am adding back in just a few cute statement tees for nights out and weekends running errands. This tee from Old Navy is simple, cute, and not too obnoxious! It’s also on sale, but only because they’re almost sold out!

[three] Ribbed Cowl Scarf

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I am in love with this scarf. I cannot lie. It is just simple, and cute, and will go with anything (thankfully). I foresee myself wearing this scarf daily, and I might even grab another before the season is over. If there is anything that gets cold on my body first, it’s my neck. And it gets painful. So this little buddy is going to be my lifesaver this year! It’s on sale at GAP right now for $19.00, and they’re also running a 30 percent off deal!

[four] Women’s Frost Free Quilted Vest

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I don’t even know what to say here. I think this is just a piece everyone should own! Sometimes, it’s not quite cold, but it’s not quite warm either, and you still feel like adding some layers. A simple puffer vest is THE way to go. I already have this piece, and for the past few weeks where it’s gone between 40 and 60 degrees, this jacket has been a life saver. It’s cute, easy to layer over a sweater, and when you add a scarf on top, it’s just the right amount of warm. This jacket is only $20.00 from Old Navy right now, and they are also having a little percent off sale!

[five] Shearwater Boots

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This last item is my final must-have, but also the only item I do not own. Up until last year, or even the last two years, it wasn’t necessary to own snow boots. In fact, even now it’s not really necessary to own some crazy, heavy-duty boots like I had when I lived in Ohio. However, these shearwater boots are perfect. They aren’t too tall, they have a shearling lining for some added warmth, and a waterproof sole so that you can walk through the slush and “snow” that central Kentucky gets during the winter. They would be the perfect addition to my shoe collection…if it weren’t for the $150 price tag. So, I am hoping that J. Crew throws out a little Black Friday online sale (because I refuse to step foot in the mall on that day), and that before the big storms roll through, I will be the new proud owner of some stylish, practical boots!

What are some of your winter must-haves? I love to see what styles everyone finds as they find themselves having to bundle up! Have a happy Friday!

I’m linking up with Karli and Amy for Oh Hey, Friday.

I am also jumping back into Five on Friday with these lovely ladies: Darci, April, Christina, and Natasha

Your Timeline, Not Theirs [Wedding Wednesday]

Hi y’all! Happy Wednesday! I have to admit, I will be a much happier individual come 7:30 tonight (after my class presentation…), but until then I think I can dwell on some happier thoughts. Like the fact that the semester is over with in t-minus 6 weeks! I graduate in t-minus 415 days. I get married in even less! And on that note, lets run far, far away from the topic of school and head into the safe arms of wedding planning.

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If you all are anything like me (type-a, anyone?), the first thing you began to think of after the bliss of the proposal, or even before the proposal, is the planning! You will pick up a wedding planner or planning book (or books, in my case), and you will start to look at where you are, what you need to do, and where the book says you need to be. Alas, as soon as I began to see all of these demands that you “must do A before B, and A needs to be completed by this month”, I was worried. In fact, if you ask Zach, I was in an absolute terrified panic! We couldn’t do any of these things when they needed to be done; our date couldn’t be set until three months later; we were doomed!

(Please tell me you can taste the drama; I assure you, I was reeking of it for a few weeks at the beginning of the planning process.)

I think that this whole situation could have gone a number of ways; one, I could have absolutely read in to all of these mandatory suggested timelines and I could have panicked for the remaining 14 months of wedding planning. Two, I could take a big step back, look at the items I needed to do for my wedding, and create my own timeline. While I did continue the anxious complaints for a few weeks after this realization, I finally took the matter into my own hands, took that step back, and I made my own timeline.

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A book I got for myself (and my BFF when she got engaged) was A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. One of the first things the book addresses is just how much the wedding industry can really push its ideas and its deadlines onto your plate. When I read that sentence, I immediately knew that I just needed to start looking out for Team Jones (laugh all you want, I just couldn’t say number one – there’s two of us, now!). Instead of letting these wedding industry-published guidelines guide my planning journey, I sat down one afternoon and created my own timeline based on the needs of our wedding. And you know what? I just melted into a pile of organized happiness. I felt like I was in control again, and I was ready to run with my own timeline!

Here’s how I started out; I looked at the different suggested items on the timelines in my books and other magazines. I looked more at the items than the months listed so that I was more focused on what our timeline looked like individually. We knew the date wouldn’t be set until – at the earliest – late October, so we planned accordingly. We know what we do and do not want at out wedding, so we knew that we didn’t need to hear bands try-out for us. We didn’t need to do a huge cake tasting thanks to my gluten sensitivity and the fact that we had already picked our cake shop due to their gluten-free capabilities. We won’t need to look for a caterer because they are a part of the venue, and so on. Each wedding has unique attributes that either the wedding books miss, or that the wedding doesn’t need that the books include. This is what I came up with in my Google Docs for just an easy to follow wedding timeline (or my wedding goals as I like to call them):

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As you can see, I’ve already got a lot crossed off from September until the beginning of January. Just because I’ve crossed something off two months from now does not mean that I’ve screwed up my planning; rather, it is just an item that I got to before it’s due date! I think that looking at the list this way helps me see what all I need to be working on when and how soon it is due. We had to block the rooms early due to a home football game the day of our wedding – and it’s the rival game at that! So, needless to say, that point became more urgent than we had thought originally. Having my own individual timeline has really helped me see where I am and where I need to be, not where a wedding magazine thinks I should be at this point in my wedding planning.

I hope this helps, and if you all need any advice or have any other questions regarding this whole process, please feel free to ask! Just remember, this isn’t just something you can copy and paste. You can easily take the same concept, but make sure to apply your needs to the list, not the needs of some preconceived bride!

As a quick catch-up, I think now is a good time to show you all where I am on my planning goals for October (November starts on Saturday – WHAT?!):

October (11 months):
•Get ring insured (I SUCK. I’m getting the appraisal on Friday)
•Engagement pictures (10/20 @ 5pm)
•Begin registering for gifts
•Make the guest list FINAL
•Finalize the budget
•Choose top three dates
•Book the date!
◦Contact venue and photographer to see if top date is available

Linking up – like always!

Wedding Wednesday

Weekend Recap [Working Weekend]

…I was going to say “Good Monday morning”, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a good Monday. Specifically not this one. Happy moment, though, is I get to leave work at noon today! YAY! (My paycheck is saying otherwise…). Let’s go ahead and hop on into this quick weekend recap!

Friday, right after work, I decided it was time to continue to make the house a home. Looking back, I am so glad that I chose Friday to start this because…HOBBY LOBBY HAS ALL WALL DECOR ON SALE FOR HALF OFF. If you haven’t done so yet, GO GET YA SOME! I made out like a bandit for half the price the décor would have originally set me back, and I made out with new wall-hangings for a command center in the kitchen, a beautiful pallet for our entry, and some odds and ends for the rest of the rooms.

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On Saturday, Zach and I set off to see UK play against Mississippi State! It was our first game of the season thanks to some free tickets from my dad, so we were excited for a fun Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. While we did lose, we really played a great game against the number one team! That night, we had Zach’s best friend over to the house, and while they played video games all night, I did some homework and slept like a baby!

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Sunday brought the least exciting but most beautiful day of my weekend! I spent the majority of the day inside working on a group presentation for a class next week (can’t you feel my nerves through the computer?), and was so happy when I wrapped up my section and headed home with my windows down and sunglasses on! After a nice dinner out with my guy, we headed home and relaxed for the evening!

Now, while it is Monday, I have to say, I have gotten some touching responses (personally and on the blog) about going for my dreams, and all I can say is THANK YOU! I mean really, it touched me to read it all and inspired me to keep trying to go for what I want in life. I’m so very lucky to be surrounded by the love and support of my friends and family!

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Now, go on out there and kick this Monday’s butt!

Linking up with Bianca and Meghan!

Weekending

Oh Hey, Friday! [Dreaming]

Hello and…HAPPY FRIDAY! We’ve made it. Hallelujah emoji right about…here.

sdafawerI can’t believe this week is already over; probably just another benefit of skipping a boring Monday! This week has been filled with wedding planning, school stress, and an overload of papers on my desk at work, so today I am going to get my Oh Hey, Friday on with a little time to focus on some dreams of mine!

[one] Zach and I have been talking a lot about the future lately, and not just in the obvious wedding-tone way. We – well, I – have been talking about what we want to do with our lives. Great topic for two individuals who have already graduated from a higher education institution, right?! So anyways, this all boils down to the fact that I generally despise grad school and I’m still not sure that I’m in the right program. It’s all fun to learn, but I’m just not sure it’s where I can see myself working. Issue here? My undergrad degree will get me nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. So, I have to do something. My dream? I want to write. I don’t care what, and I don’t care how, but I just want to write. I have had stories floating through my head since I was a child, and I was a part of the creative writing class throughout high school. Why I never continued throughout college is a question that has been at the top of my mind lately, but I guess hindsight is 20/20, right? Dream number one: writing (as my day job).

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[two] I think that this one falls in the category of dreams for everyone, but I think it’s necessary to write out; I want to travel. I want to explore places far and near, and I want to do so at my own pace. I want to guide my own tours, I want to live like the locals, and I want to eat delicious food. I want to visit Italy and Ireland; I want to walk where Shakespeare walked and I want to see the beauty of Santorini. I want to go to Brazil and experience the sights and sounds – and food! I just want to go, go, go. And I have to say I got lucky to find one person to spend my life with who wants to see it all with me.

[three] I want to have a family (which goes without saying). I mean, I’m not looking for kids in a year, or even two years. Maybe I’ll think about it around 25, but for now, I will just dream about the curly-headed kids I will have and raise with my curly-headed fiancé.

[four] I will – I repeat, I WILL – own a pug someday. This has been my biggest dream yet, and Zach can definitely attest to that. We almost adopted a dog in late August, but decided not to do so yet. With our schedules, that poor pup would never have any fun free time! But someday, I will own a pug (or a puggle, or a pughuahua [Chihuahua/pug mix that I totally made up]) and I will love that dog for all of its life. This is a dream that will easily become a reality.

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[five] My last dream is already coming true, although very slowly, and it’s very cheesy. I’m going to spend the rest of my life with my absolute best friend; the person I could not live without, the person who talks me off the ledge and who gets me laughing when I need it the most. But most of all, I get to spend my life with someone who pushes me to pursue the dreams I have while also keeping a tight grip on reality. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better dream come true than my life with my best friend.

Happy Friday!

I’m linking up with Karli and Amy for Oh Hey, Friday.

I am also jumping back into Five on Friday with these lovely ladies: Darci, April, Christina, and Natasha

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Engaged [Wedding Wednesday]

Hello, beautiful readers! Happy hump day, and welcome to another wonderful wedding Wednesday!

I hope you all have had an amazing start to your weeks; mine has been a hectic race towards Thursday, so with just a day between me and that fateful occasion, my Wednesday has become a very happy day. Zach and I have had such a busy past few months with school starting (two different full time jobs and two different class schedules – YUCK!), and unfortunately we have had no time to slow down. This month is no different! I had two huge papers to write and turn in this weekend, so I pretty much holed up in the bedroom with my laptop, and ushered my man out of the room each time he got bored. You have to do what you can to keep focused on boring papers! This coming weekend is a working weekend for Z, and then we’re celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday on Sunday afternoon. Then, the weekend following, my best friend and her fiancé will be here (!!!) for the weekend. I am SO EXCITED! Best birthday present ever. Twenty three is looking good already.

With such a busy month ahead, there is one day in particular that both Z and I are looking forward to – albeit, my reasons are different than his. He took the day off for my birthday in order to spend some extra time with me. I took the day off because, well, it’s my birthday, and I want to spend time with him as well! The added bonus? We both found a day during the week where we had a free afternoon and evening. So, like any clear-minded bride would do, I found a spectacular photographer, and booked her for my birthday evening. Engagement photographs, here we come!

I can’t even begin to explain how stinkin’ excited I am to have these photographs taken. Here’s the brief gist of it: Zach hates taking pictures. Ta-freaking-da! I would fall head over heels for the guy who stares off into the distance (on purpose) when I try to take a picture of him. Selfies? If you ever see one on my Instagram, just keep this in mind: in order for me to take said selfie, there were at least five prior attempts where I’m smiling and he’s making a face, I’m making a face and he’s smiling, he’s staring into the distance like there’s an alien in the sky, and any variation of the aforementioned poses. All I ask for is a picture of us that looks like we love each other. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, it doesn’t have to involve throwing me in the air or twirling me around; I just want something that will look good in a frame on the wall.

With less than two weeks to go before the session, I have been freaking out over what I should be wearing. I think I have the outfits planned out (with the exception of shoes; I just want some short brown boots!), and to be honest I don’t care about the poses. I chose our photographer for a reason: she knows what she’s doing, and I think her photography is breath-taking. So I’m leaving the rest of it up to her. My big issue at hand? Where to take the pictures! It’s going to be mid-October, and the weather has ranged in the past week form the high-70s to it’s current 60 degrees and pouring rain. As any like-minded person would do, I referenced the online “Bridal Bible”…

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[prepare yourselves for a photo-heavy moment here. bear in mind these are not my property! visit the tags below the images.]

I’ve come up with a few different options that work for indoor and outdoor locations, and with areas we can get to quickly locally. First up is the typical country outdoorsy field photos. I don’t mean typical in an offensive manner at all; rather, I think that these are absolutely beautiful and a definite great option for us considering our location!

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The second option for the outdoors is a downtown location. Thankfully, we live in a somewhat big city, so we have a gorgeous downtown with both tall skyscrapers and tiny brick historical homes.

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I am really thankful that we live in a nice sized city because not only do we live minutes from downtown and minutes from the farms, but we also have a ton of really cool local joints that would be amazing to have our engagement photos taken at! The first indoors option I have is…a bookstore. I can’t help it! I was an English major for a reason! To me there is something romantic hidden in between the stacks of books…

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Another idea that goes hand in hand with the bookstore is the café. We have a great selection of both in town, and I mean really, how cute is this picture? I think quirky pictures are going to be abundant in our session.

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The last idea I had for the indoor area would actually go best with the outdoor pictures. While I love the open area and the no-nonsense background of the fields, I also think that engagement pictures should have a little kick to them! If we get the chance to do outdoor pictures, I would really like to find a building or location that has a funky feature that we can use in our pictures.

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I really love the quality that each of these photographs brings to the story around it, but I think that the most important thing of all is the two people captured. The most astounding thing about each of these photographs is the emotion you can see from both of the people in the photograph! I really can’t wait until I get to have some unique photos of Zach and I that I can go back to again and again and get giddy about how lucky I am.

And it won’t hurt to finally get a picture of us up in my office. It’s been looking a little bare.

As usual, linking up for another Wedding Wednesday!

Wedding Wednesday

I guess now that I’ve gotten a few of these wedding posts up, I can start a collection down here! If you want to see any other part of my planning so far, feel free to click the link and read away!

The Engagement

Starting a Budget

Venue Hunt-Venue Number One

Venue Hunt-Venues Number Two and Three

Venue Hunt-Venue Number Four

The Wish List

Hello again, friends! I so wish I could tell you this post was coming to you from a beautiful, peaceful summer place and that I was one hundred percent loving Summer 2014. But, life has its own plans, and why should it stop going on just because of the warm weather? Alas, the past week has brought on mourning, sadness, sleep deprivation, the celebration of a wonderful Mimi, and an unexpected car accident. My first actually, and it landed my bum in the ER late last night, followed by two pain-controlling medications prescribed in my name. The past seven days have been, quite literally, hell. My loved ones have been hurting, I have been hurting, and life is just not ready to give us a break yet. I know there has to be a reason why this is all happening, but I guess I won’t figure that out for a while. Until then, I’ve been rolled out on my bed, ingesting muscle relaxers (any typos can refer back to this point), trying to occupy my mind with anything other than the reality that is surrounding my summer. The one thing that always gets me feeling good? Planning. I planned my new (and VERY improved) big girl budget, I figured out my student loan and future cost plans, and I have some fun plans that hopefully go off without a bang mid-July. But the one thing that has me feeling really good? Making my wish list for the summer. This list is mostly comprised of some fun gadgets and things I need (and some that I just want) to transition from college kid to the new employee/student stage of my life.

The Wish List

[one] Mophie Juice Pack Helium

One thing that comes along with the longer working days is a dead phone before closing time. Unfortunately, when I start school and the days get longer, I will need the extra battery time something fierce. I would carry around a charger cord with me, but I am just not the kind of person who is good with keeping an eye on things. Insert the Mophie Juice Pack. A phone case/battery pack combo? I’m in. SO IN.

[two] Luxe Acrylic Modular System

This beauty will be mine. I swear upon it! My dresser top is looking quite frazzled lately. And by frazzled I mean it is covered in crap and I keep knowing my deodorant down to get to my lotion. (Yes, I keep it all in my bedroom thanks to a bathroom two floors down). This beauty (which comes in multiple pieces) seems to be the answer to my problems. And I can’t wait until it comes home to me!

[three] Lenovo U430p

This should be pretty self-explanatory. The laptop I am currently using, and have been using for four years, has come to its end. The screen goes black more than it says “Welcome!”, it beeps, burns, and breaks down more than a car in a junkyard. So, it is time to bring new life to my life. Enter this beautiful ultrabook by Lenovo. Loving it, so it shall be mine.

[four] Reebok Skyscrape Runaround

Have you all seen these shoes like…everywhere? The commercial is on every two seconds, the ads are on every magazine, and to be honest…I’m loving them! They look so light and comfortable, and I could really use a stylish pair of cute, comfortable sneakers for the home and office. These may be my “back-to-school” purchase!

[five] Valspar Paint

This is, like a few others among the list, also quite self-explanatory. The boy and I are starting to change up the homestead. I’m ecstatic, Zach is less than. But he’s agreed to help, so painting time it is! I’m loving the Central Park palettes.

[six] Remington T/Studio Silk Ceramic Dryer

I have been keeping an eye out for a decent hair dryer for the past year. I don’t know why I have been putting it off (maybe because of the short haircut), but I think it’s time to invest in a great tool. I have been looking through a number of reviews, and this seems to be a fairly affordable and highly rated hair dryer. I have until the fall to worry about this, but it is definitely on my wish list.

[seven] Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes

If there is one type of makeup that I try to swipe on each day as I head out the door, it is mascara. No matter what, it always makes me look put together, regardless of the effort (or lack thereof) that I put into my look! This mascara has seriously been ALL OVER the blog world lately, and with so many rave reviews from so many different women out there, I’ve decided I’d like to give it a try. If I’m putting money into any type of cosmetic, it should be the one I use daily, right?

[eight] Starbucks Verismo Milk Frother

As I have adapted to my adult schedule, I have realized just how much I covet my Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Lattes. Or, well, any Starbucks Lattes. However, my grown up budget does not exactly account for a $345 (and rising) latte five times a week. Enter this lovely milk frother! I already have my own delicious vanilla flavorings, and an espresso-style coffee (made in my Mr. Coffee machine. Oh, Keurig, where art thou?), so all I’m waiting on is a reliable milk frother/steamer. I’m thinking this is the one for me!

And thus ends the wish list. Some may come to be with me in the next few months, while others may remain a simple dream; regardless, this list has helped keep my mind off of the hardships that have come around. Sometimes you just need to avoid reality in order to just stay calm and roll with the punches. Life goes on, so I will, too!

Growing Up Means Staying True to Yourself

This post has been sitting pretty in my drafts for two straight months. I can’t say that I am any more ready or understanding of the topic, but I can say that the past month has thrown me into a whole new world (“a dazzling place I never knew!”), and I am learning something new every day. Upon graduating in May, I can honestly say I had no clue what I was going to do. Obviously I’ve talked about graduate school before, but even in May I hadn’t yet received my clear admission.

Since then, I’ve gotten the clear, but I can’t say that my mind has gotten the same. I still don’t think I know what I want to do with my life. Yikes! It scares me to say that out loud, especially when I know I’ll be paying twenty thousand big bucks for another degree (double yikes…). I think that one thing has become more clear in my mind, though, and I wish I could say it doesn’t scare me, but it does. It also excites me, and intrigues me, and sometimes confuses me, but mostly it helps me understand why I still don’t truly know what I’m meant to be doing. I think I just want to try everything. Until the past few weeks, however, I didn’t really know what everything was. But then I realized that I want to be a birthing doula. I also am in love with my contracting desk job! Who knew! I also want to write a book. Maybe fiction; possibly even poetry! I want to be a musical manager. True to my bookish self, (and thanks to my entrepreneur dad), I want to open a coffee shop/bookstore. I want to do it all, and I really mean it all!

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I know that I really need to take one bite at a time rather than taking it all in at once, but graduating and realizing what all I can really do with my degree has given me such a sense of freedom. I can make my own decisions; I can stay up until one in the morning, or I can go to bed at eight (guilty). I can drink as much Starbucks coffee as I want, even though my budget tells me otherwise. I can work out when I want to, and I can read what I want to, and I can truly be whatever I want to be.

With all of these new-found freedoms, however, came about a million new responsibilities. I am financially independent for the first time in my life. Thankfully, I am still under a rent-free roof (graduate school is literally taking every penny I make at my new job, plus I’m paying off my undergrad loans immediately. Can I get a “triple-yikes”? However, I literally have to watch every. Damn. Penny. I wish I had worked at living on a budget more seriously through the last four years, but I didn’t. I won’t look back and regret so much, though, because the time is now. I have to learn as I go along. I’m sure I’ll make a number of mistakes, and I’ll learn from every one. It’s scary, I’ll tell you that much. I am an adult. There’s no more putting it off and saying I’m not quite there. I am there, and I really need to embrace it and learn as much as I can.

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Office. I have an office!

I have two awesome parents who are mentoring me through it, as well as my older man (thanks, Z!), but this is also a new chapter that I really need to author – on my own. No editors here. This is a me and me alone kind of thing. My next chapter will more than likely include the addition of a “fiancé” or “husband”, and when the time comes, I’ll embrace that too. Until then, I am Rachael. I am a recent college grad. I am a contract administrator for a local company. I am a master’s degree candidate. I am a creative, open-minded young woman who is creating her path. Right now, that path has about fifteen tentacles rolling off each side, and I plan to traipse down each and every one of them. I may be forty-five when I get to the end of this particular path, but I’ll also be starting (and ending) others at the same time.

If I don’t start to try it all now, when will I?