Gratitude Friday

So this really awesome chick Ashten, (over at Always Ashten) has started Gratitude Friday. There’s no link up, and she I don’t think she’s encouraging others to write their own Gratitude Friday posts. All she wants is for others to share what they are grateful for. I love the idea so freaking much, I decided to make a whole post out of it. (I’m also hoping to follow along every Friday of November with her, but we’ll see how that goes.) Ashten has found that when you keep a little notebook, and write down the things you are grateful for, you tend to be a little happier. Which is true! I’ve read the psychology studies. And of course, November is the month when people stop, take a look around, and are GRATEFUL for what they have. (That, and stuffing our faces full of turkey and pumpkin pie.)

I feel pretty cliché when I say I am grateful for my family. I feel like everyone kind of says that by default.

“What are you grateful for this holiday season?”
“My family! They’re the absolute best!”

IMG_2488.JPGI don’t know. It seems a little forced coming from a lot of people. But for me, I truly am grateful for my family. I have a family that others are jealous of and would love to be a part of. I have awesome parents, who have been together for, what feels like forever. They met in high school, never fight about a damn thing, and love each other to the point where it almost disgusts me. Not only do they love each other, but they love my siblings and I even more. They have bailed me out more times than I can count. They were supportive and loving through the years of depression, when none of us knew what was really going on or how to handle it. Not to mention all the trouble I have gotten myself into over the years. They have set back and LOVINGLY let me make my own mistakes, and I am more grateful for that now than I have ever been.

IMG_2487.JPGThen there’s my siblings. I am the oldest of four. I have a younger brother, and two younger sisters. We all have awesome, different relationships with each other. As a kid, I don’t really remember us fighting much, like siblings often do. (Maybe my parents can refresh my memory on that one.) And now that we are adults, we have so much fun together! My parents recently took a 10 day vacation to Hawaii, and all four of us decided to drink a lot of alcohol and be loud and probably annoy the parents. My sisters and I took a lot of selfies that night, as well.

IMG_2480.JPGOh, and we do things like Star Wars season – that’s when, in between baseball seasons, we watch all 6 episodes of Star Wars. It usually ends up being just my dad and I, because no one else cares that much. But my brother is around sometimes, too. And YouTube night! One of my favorites. We have a Roku (look it up!) and on there, is a YouTube app. So we created a Hicks Family YouTube account, and about once a month start a new playlist. All of us have access to the account and can add videos to the playlist whenever we want. And then one random night, we all pile into the living room and watch YouTube videos all night. It’s hilariously awesome. How many other families do you know do shit like that!?

IMG_2485.JPGThats YouTube night! The immediate family, plus grandma, boyfriends/girlfriends & friends we consider family.

My family is the most awesome, fun, supportive group of people I know. I constantly meet people who don’t speak to one of their parents, or really aren’t that close with their siblings, ad in all honesty, it breaks my heart a little. I wish everyone had a family like mine. They rock.

Kick Self Doubt in the Balls

I KNOW no one said life was easy. And I know there are people out there who are worse off than I am. This post isn’t meant to be a one woman pity party..

Life has never come easy for me. I feel like every step of the way, every decision I’ve made, everything has been a struggle. For years, I dealt with a depression so crippling that I couldn’t do meaningless things like get myself out of bed in the morning, make breakfast, or do my laundry. Those are things that people do daily without even thinking. No effort at all. I can’t tell you how many days I had to talk myself into taking a shower or just leaving the house.

While those days are behind me, (thank goodness) I do still struggle with some of life’s anxieties. On a daily basis I’m faced with fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, self doubt, and low self esteem. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned how to battle them all, and on a good day I can go about my business ignoring the negative thoughts. But they’re still there.

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I’m even anxious when it comes to things I love doing. I have a Jeep meet & greet planned for this weekend, (I did all of the planning on this event!) and I am SO BEYOND EXCITED ABOUT IT! But in the back of my head, I’m freakin out. What if no one shows up. What if it’s super lame and only like, ten people show up. What if a lot of people show up, but everyone thinks it’s lame. What if they think the raffle and all the lame prizes are lame? WHAT IF!?

The things I’m doing with my life right now, they may not seem like big things. This part time job I have looks like something a 15 year old could do, and no, I don’t make a lot of money. But this is SO BIG compared to where I was 2 years ago.

I have to remind myself daily that things I am doing, though they may look small, are steps in the right direction. They are steps that I would not have even thought about 2 years ago. And every day I fight self doubt and irrational fears in hopes of having a better future.

Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes:

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Thanks for reading.. You guys are the best.

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I am a Swiftie.

Confession: I am a Taylor Swift fan. I have been from day one, and if you start to talk smack about her to me, I will get all sorts of defensive. With that said, I just don’t understand how people don’t like her. SHE’S SO STINKING CUTE.
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Anyway – So, Helene over at Helene In Between has just started this awesome weekly link up called “Song of the Week Wednesday” and I’m totally jumping on board! I have like, a million favorite songs. I once had a boyfriend tell me that I said the words, “I love this song!” too much. Is it even possible to say those words too much?

This week, I am going to tell you about this awesome Taylor Swift song that describes my love life. First off, I would like to say that I am OBSESSED with her new album, 1989. I’m not a huge fan of pop music, so I was a little nervous about this one. But I don’t think Taylor Swift is capable of writing a bad song. I also really wanted to embed a YouTube video of this song or SOMETHING, but it is nowhere to be found on the internet. Which is super lame. But that just means you’ll have to go buy the album or look up all the lyrics or something. DO IT. BUY THE ALBUM.
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The song is called “Blank Space” and I have listened to it probably 800 times since the album came out. It’s that good. The first line in the chorus says, “so it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames, you can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain” and I was like OMG THAT’S ME. I’ve never really been afraid of getting hurt. I’ve never held myself back because of how horribly wrong things could go. There’s ALWAYS a chance that something could go wrong. But why on earth would I keep myself from a few months of happiness just because there’s a chance it could end? I’m not sure if Taylor had any of this in mind when she wrote the song, (I actually just watched an interview and she said the song started as a joke!) but that is how I am choosing to interpret it.

It’s an epic song. I wish you could all listen to it right now.

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Helene in Between Song of the Week Wednesday

Crossing the Line

We all know what the line is; no explanation necessary. It can be blurred, crossed, or moved further away. Heck, some people don’t even have lines! IMG_2393.JPG
I’m not here today to talk about crossing lines. That’s a whole different topic. Today, I want to ask a very serious question..

In your head, when you picture the line, what is it made of? For me, it’s a chalk line. Or that paint stuff they use for the baselines on baseball fields. For my cousin, (HI CARLEA) she sees the line as a line of skittles.
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I assume it looks something kind of like this.. Maybe?

So I ask you.. WHAT IS YOUR LINE MADE OF??

In other news, I had an awesome weekend. Southern California got some rain, which means Jerry the Jeep got to see mud for the first time in AGES. It was amazing. And dirty.

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Then on Sunday, I met up with a bunch of people who follow my Jeep page on Instagram. I only expected about 5 people to show up, but it ended up being a group of about 20. I had a BLAST. It was pretty much a confidence boost run for me. Exactly what I needed. 🙂

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Even this part, where I’m only on 3 wheels and felt like I was going to DIE, was fun.

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Hope everyone else had an awesome weekend, as well!

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When In Doubt, Dance It Out.

I love the idea of a fairy tale love story. Call me naïve, but I know I got the idea from my parents. You see, my parents met in high school. On their first date, they went to a high school football game, and they’ve been together ever since. I’ve never witnessed my parents fight, argue, yell, or even really be mean to each other. I’ve spent 25 years living with a real example of what being in love looks like. It’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, well, how could it not be? Just by example, they’ve taught me what a loving relationship looks like, and I’ve learned not to settle for anything less. It’s a curse because those fairy tale love stories are hard to come by.
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I’ve had a lot of crappy luck when it comes to dating. I’ve had a lot of really good, short term relationships. I’m talking less than 6 months. I either discover that there’s some big red flag, a deal breaker, and have to end things, or guys just randomly decide they no longer want to be with me anymore. It sucks. OR I meet someone, think things are going well, and after one or two dates, I never hear from them again. That also sucks. I’ve never been one to play the “woe is me” card. I try not to complain too much about my dating life. I have decent self-confidence and I know that I have a lot to offer another person. If I could be cocky for a minute without judgment, I would like to say that, I think I make an AWESOME girlfriend. When life keeps handing you lame men that dump you for no real reason or blow you off after one date, it’s hard to remember that you’re a catch. People say things like, “Oh, well it’s his loss!” or, “If he can’t see how awesome you are, he doesn’t deserve you.” But lines like that only go so far. And when you’re already feeling down in the dumps, they really don’t do shit to make you feel any better.

One thing that makes me feel better is having faith that SOMEDAY I will find someone that will love me the way my dad loves my mom. I know that might sound like the lamest thing ever, but my parents have a beautiful relationship and I don’t want anything less for myself. Just look at this.. I can’t remember a lot of the details from when I discovered this, but that’s beside the point. For whatever reason, I had borrowed my mom’s car, and I found this note in there.
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“Just wanted to tell you that I love you more than anything in the world! If I tell you that every day, it still wouldn’t be enough, though. Enjoy your day and I will see you later!”

No rhyme or reason. Just wanted to tell his wife that he loved her.

After every failed relationships, every crappy first date, or after watching a guy walk away from me, I remind myself of what I deserve. From time to time I may forget that it’s out there, but I’ve got awesome parents who remind me every day that there is hope.

Other things that make me feel better when I’m down in the dumps. (Especially because of men…)

-Aimlessly driving in the Jeep.

-A quick Holy Jim trip.

-A hug from a good friend.

-A good cocktail, or maybe a shot of fireball.

-Favorite songs.

-30 second dance party.

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Yup, kinda like that. When in doubt, dance it out.

erinmichelle

My Favorite Beauty Product + A Secret.

Day 24 of Blogtober14! I can’t believe it’s almost over.. Today’s prompt is to write about your favorite beauty product. Well folks, I don’t have one. I’m not much of a beauty product type of girl, really. I have make up, but very little. I also don’t really use hair products or anything like that. Truth is, I could live without them. There is one thing kind of beauty related that I know I would go crazy without; CHAPSTICK. I currently have three of them in my purse – Raspberry crème, Green apple, and Citrus Jelly Bean. (It just smells like orange.) Truth be told, I tried to take an artistic photo of them, but when I loaded them onto the computer, they were blurry. (I seriously thing there’s something wrong with my camera) And I didn’t have the patience to do it all over again. It wouldn’t have been that difficult, but let’s be real – I’m lazy.
f25d527700a0fe1810ef9fe6e66195b5I’m also the weirdo that gets excited about seasonal Chapstick, like these ones.

So – there’s my Blogtober14 day 24 post. Super exciting, huh? Nope. I know. Super lame. And because it was super lame, I am going to write about something that I should have posted back on day 18. Day 18 I was supposed to share a secret about myself. The night before, I wrote out something pretty long, but the next morning decided it was too personal and that I probably shouldn’t post it. After writing about my biggest fear on day 20, I’ve decided I need to get over my issues and just hit publish. I hope this next part doesn’t bore you to death.

I don’t believe in regret. If you take the time to talk to me about things deeper than Jeeps, alcohol and baseball, you’d quickly find this out. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in my short adult life.. When I was 19, I marred a man I had only known for two months. I’ve dated guys who were obviously not right for me, stayed in relationships I knew weren’t going to last, and even earned myself a big, fat, expensive, pain in the ass DUI. But I don’t regret any of those things. I never have. Even going into something I knew probably wasn’t the best idea, I knew that after all was said and done, there was going to be something to learn.. Some kind of lesson or bigger picture. I don’t believe in regret.

My secret: When I’m having a particularly bad day, there is one thing I start to regret, before I remind myself of all the reasons why I don’t regret it. I’ll try and keep this story short, but the truth is, there’s a lot that goes into it. A lot that people don’t understand.. Hell, there’s still some things I don’t understand about it. But in the summer of 2010, I fell in love with a man who lived in Hastings, Nebraska. We met online earlier in the year, talked for months, and that summer I bought a one way bus ticket to Nebraska. Yes, you read that right. I took a Greyhound bus to Nebraska. I spent 2 weeks with him before making the decision to move.

Now, before you go assuming I’m some crazy, irrational woman making snap decisions, let me explain something here. This wasn’t a snap decision. Moving out of state had been something I had thought of doing for a few years, but never had a reason to do it. I knew I couldn’t let a man be the ONLY reason I moved halfway across the United States. So I looked into the community college in Hastings, and loved it too. The plan was to move there in September.. Move in with DJ, get a job, and start taking classes. DJ flew out to California, helped me pack up my tiny little truck, and we drove back to Nebraska together. I wasn’t there more than a week before I decided I was unhappy and wanted to come back home. And I did. At this point in my life, my depression was VERY bad. (Not only was I already suffering from depression, but I started taking a birth control that had depression listed as a side effect.. It was not good.) I knew that I was in a bad place, had probably rushed into moving, and knew that I wouldn’t be happy or able to find help so far away from my home and support system. My parents, being as awesome as they are, supported me in coming right back home.

DJ and I tried to make things work, but ultimately, they didn’t. I’ve been in love a few times, and years later, I’m always able to look back and realize it wasn’t really love. Not with this one, though. Even now, 4 years later, I still believe that was love. I don’t believe in regret but on a particularly bad day, I regret ever walking away from Hastings. Some days I hate myself for doing it, and wonder what things would be like if I hadn’t. But then I get my head back on straight and remind myself what wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed. Two years after coming back home, after failed therapy sessions and reading through God knows how many self help books, I finally found Brainstate. If I had stayed in Nebraska, I might not have found Brainstate. Who knows, right?

That’s my secret. Nothing big or embarrassing, just something I struggle with from time to time.

Only a week left of Blogtober14. Kinda makes me sad. Tomorrow I’ll talk about my favorite book!

PS: Sorry there’s no photos. I had photos from my time in Nebraska, but I apparently deleted them. Which is strange, because I never delete photos.

PPS: If you’re not already, make sure you’re following me on social media! I’m all over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

PPPS: I’ve never known what PS stood for, so I decided to look it up. It means post script. There’s meanings for PPS and PPPS, too. Click here to find out. (Ya know, if you’re a dork like I am.)

erinmichelle

Helene in Between Blogtober

My Top 3 Photo Editing Apps

I’ve been waiting all month for this #blogtober14 prompt! For those of you who don’t know, I am a photographer by nature. I photograph everything. (Or at least try to.. The camera on my iPhone no longer focuses on things close up. It’s ridiculous.) With that being said, I am obsessed with photo editing apps. I currently have 17 apps in a folder titled “Photography.” I told you, it’s bad. There’s a few of them that do kind of the same thing, but maybe one has a different specific feature than the other. To save us some time, I am going to give you my top 4 favorites.
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1. Afterlight – Available on iPhone, Android, AND as of October 1st, also available on Windows phones. (How awesome is that!?) Afterlight is my number one favorite photo editing app. It has everything you could possibly need. I almost NEVER post a photo to social media without it going through Afterlight first. You can edit the exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, etc. There are a CRAP ton of filters.. I counted 43, but the app store is telling me there are 59. (I don’t know who’s math is wrong.. Just kidding, it’s mine.) It includes things like texture overlays, light leaks, a pack called “instant film.” I told you – it has everything. Hands down, best app ever. It’s $0.99, and TOTALLY WORTH IT.
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2. Over – In my opinion, this is the best app out there for putting text on photos. This one is also $0.99, and it comes with a bunch of free fonts. When you tap on that little yellow triangle on the right, you can choose things like photos, font, and pull up the editing tools. You can change the font size, (obviously, what app wouldn’t let you do that?) line with, spacing between the letters, rotate, opacity of the words and even the tint of the photo. For another $0.99 you get a bunch of other fonts. There’s also some packages that have cute little icons and stuff in them. They’re fun, but were never worth my money. (Again, just my opinion.) This app is available on iPhone and Android.
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3. Studio – This one is awesome because it’s TOTALLY FREE. (Available on iPhone and Android.) It’s kind of interesting, because it allows you to create a profile and post your photos to it. Almost like an Instagram-like account. I personally don’t use that feature of the app. I just do my editing and creating and save. Okay, so it gets published to a profile. But I have no followers. It gives you ALL kinds of over lays and “sticker” type packages. The things people come up with on this app are pretty cool. You can browse designs by others, and if you click the “remix” button, it will put their design over one of your photos. I’ve done it a few times; it’s fun. Since this one is free, I recommend checking it out if you have a creative side.
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I hope this post has been somewhat helpful! What are your favorite photo editing apps? (Maybe you’ll have a favorite that I don’t already have!)

erinmichelle

Helene in Between Blogtober

Things That Get Under My Skin

I’ve been waiting for this post all month! This is probably the easiest of the #Blogtober14 prompts, because a lot of things and things that people do irritate me on a daily basis. I try not to let little things get to me.. But it seems like when I’m having a crappy day, EVERY single one of these things on my list seems to happen. It never fails. I’ll try and keep this list short & sweet.

Pet Peeves! (In no particular order of annoyance.)

-People who wear sunglasses on their head and then walk around in the sun squinting.

-When I hold the door open for someone and they don’t say thank you.

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-People who don’t say excuse me. (Like when you’re walking past someone in a Target aisle.)

-People who don’t turn their blinker off after merging or changing lanes.

-Bad (basic) grammar. I’m not an English major, so I know I have more than a few mistakes. But seriously, if you passed the 3rd grade, you should know the difference between they’re, there and their.. You’re and your. Two, to and too. It’s not rocket science.

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-Couples who hold hands across the table.

-When people stand too closely behind you in line. And then you move an inch forward, and so do they.

-Bad customer service.

-When this happens to the sleeve of your t-shirt. (I fix it for people all the time, no joke.)
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-When I upload something to OneDrive and on my phone, it says it uploaded, but on my computer, IT’S NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. (Seriously, this is happening as I type.)

-When people text back with “K”.

-When you text someone “What’s up” and they respond with “NM, U?” No.. You have a full keyboard in front of you, type the whole words. And if you don’t have anything more to say than, “not much” then I don’t want to talk to you.

I’m going to end here, because I could seriously go on forever. What gets under your skin?? Anyone have the same pet peeves as me? Let’s complain together!

erinmichelle

Helene in Between Blogtober

9 Things I’m an Expert at

The word expert kind of scares me. It implies that you are at a professional level of, whatever.. That you know everything there is to know on that specific subject. I’m not stupid enough to assume that I know everything there is to know about the things that I’m good at. But for the sake of #Blogtober14, I’ll roll with the punches here.

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1. Drinking. Specifically, alcohol. (I am not an expert when it comes to drinking water.)

2. Binge watching TV shows on Netflix.

3. Procrastinating. I seriously wait until the last possible minute to do something.

4. Sleeping. I could sleep for days.

5. Figuring out “who did it” on true crime TV shows.

6. Going to Target and NOT spending $50. But that’s mostly because I never have $50 to spend on things I don’t need.

7. Multitasking on social media. I have three Instagram accounts, two Facebook pages, (plus my personal account) and two twitter accounts.

8. Taking & editing photos with my mobile device. I don’t take too many on my phone these days, because once upon a time it was my mom’s phone, and she dropped it in the toilet. So the camera doesn’t focus on this relatively close to it. I can take like, landscape type photos. Anything from a distance. But nothing close up. And for a photographer, that blows. I still do the best I can, though! I currently have 17 photo related apps on my phone. So yeah. Expert.

9. My mom says I’m an expert at giving advice.. I guess I can kind of back that one up. But if I’m an expert at giving advice, it’s only because of the way my parents raised me.

So, there ya have it. Things I’m an expert at. Make sure you come back tomorrow; I’m going to reveal a secret about myself. I haven’t figured out what that secret is yet, so it should be interesting!

erinmichelle

Helene in Between Blogtober

Fall Fashion

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For those of you who are just getting to know me, I am not fashionable. I think I have a sense of what good fashion is, at least a little bit. I can walk through a clothing store and think, “Oh yeah, that’s cute.” But I generally picture it on my sister because she’s tiny & adorable. Personally, I stick to jeans and tshirts. No hassle. I’m comfortable. I don’t ever have to “pick out an outfit” in the morning. Fashion really just isn’t my thing. So when I saw that day 16 of Blogtober14 was going to be on fall fashion, I panicked a little. The things I wear during fall aren’t anything special, but I decided I would talk about them anyway. If anything, it might bug my mom a little. So behold, my absolute favorite thing to wear in the fall..

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This is my Punisher sweatshirt.. For some reason, it is my absolute favorite. It once belonged to my ex-husband, but I took it with me when I left him. It’s worn in, comfortable, warm, baggy.. It’s perfect. I love it. My mom, for some reason, can’t stand it. Over the years, she has offered to buy me brand new hoddies if I just got rid of this one. And once, I wore it into the salon she works at, (she’s a hair stylist) and she very specifically asked me not to wear it there again. REALLY? It’s so cool, though! Just kidding.. I know it’s an ugly sweatshirt, but there’s something so familiar about it. When the “winter” months come to California, I pretty much live in this thing. (Okay, I have a few others. But they’re just as baggy and worn in as this one.)

Other “fashion” items I wear during the fall and winter months, are shoes. It doesn’t get very cold, (or for very long) in southern California, so I’m almost always in flip flops. But there’s a few months here where it gets a little chilly, and rainy, and I have to actually put something on my feet. No super cute boots for this chick. I wear these;
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Black and white, classic Vans. Exciting, huh? And then when it rains, and I want to take the Jeep out and splash around in the mud, I wear these;
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I can’t even remember where I bought these rain boots.. I’ve had them since probably the 10th grade. I also have a pair of KNOCK-OFF Ugg boots. I think they’re made by Bearclaw? Bear-Paw? I dunno, something like that. They’re black, cost like $35 bucks, and they keep my feet warm during late night, winter adventures.

Are you catching the theme here, people? I’m all about practical fashion. Is anyone else with me, here??

erinmichelle

Helene in Between Blogtober