I Know ED and Dieting Culture Basics! SLNW!?

First, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to everyone! The last two weeks were kind of sucky, and I really appreciate everyone’s kindness, patience with the blog delay, and prayers!

Now, back to the blog!

Two weeks ago, I posted about causes, treatment, warning signs, and an overall look at eating disorders for NEDAwareness Week. There is so much that I couldn’t get to, as this is a blog and not a novel. However, if there is one thing I could go on and on about, rant about, or hop on a soapbox for – it is my passion for diet culture and eating disorder awareness.

After reading all the facts, with a little bias, you’re probably wondering,

So, Like, Now What?

Now, we talk about my opinions – which are about as controversial as I’ll ever get for my blog.

Here are two things that I think need addressing with my unfiltered opinion. There is a laundry-sized list, but I narrowed it down for the sake of Monday morning concentration…especially if the coffee hasn’t hit your bloodstream quite yet.

Language

Why is it okay to comment on people’s weight unsolicited?

All these people sliding in Instagram DM’s like, “Want to lose 15-20 pounds!? I’ve got the product for you! <3”

First of all, I’ve never met these people. Second, why do they automatically assume that I want to lose weight?! I used to take these constant DM’s so personally. Does it look like I need to lose weight? I’d wonder, while feeling horrible about myself. Not a good sales strategy, girlfriend.

Why don’t we market products as things to help you feel healthier rather than capitalizing on weight loss? I’d rather be able to run a mini-marathon than shed a couple of pounds. So, why isn’t it about feeling healthy as opposed to always losing weight?

In addition to asking if someone wants to lose weight, which is wrong on several levels, it isn’t okay to comment on someone’s food intake.

I posted a picture of my favorite lemonade, and someone told me to be careful of my calorie intake and claimed they’d be interested to see how many calories I consume a day. Now, why is this an acceptable thing to say?????? It’s a lemonade? Which, by the way, I can have. I could have two if I want, three if I’m feeling frisky, and thirty-eight just to spite your remark.

This goes for food, too.

No one but me can dictate how hungry I am. If I eat twenty pounds of popcorn, so what! What does it matter to you? Do you know how hungry I am? If I eat more than a man, it’s okay. You don’t need to judge me or tell me to watch out and not gain weight for the wedding.

Hunger levels shift. Wow. What a crazy concept. It isn’t necessary to point out that I ate an entire appetizer, meal, and three desserts by myself. I like carrot cake, okay!?

All these things that are the norm to say – to ask someone if they want to lose weight, to judge someone’s plate or cup, to comment on someone’s “problem areas” (hate that verbiage), to compare someone’s body to their old body or someone else, etc. Why is this acceptable?? Why do we stand for this?

Is it because of social media? Where there are apps, poses, camera lenses, and more that help alter the way someone’s body looks?

I don’t see a point to it. In fact, I see destruction, I see hurting someone’s confidence, and I see gross judgment.

You know yourself. You know your thoughts. You know how negative and disheartening your thoughts can be. So, like, why would you plant seeds of doubt or worry in the mind of others?

You know what else we hear a lot, and I have 110% said it, too? “I need to work out to lose some weight.”

Girl, no!

Workout to honor your body, have fun, and feel good! If you hate running, don’t do it. If you love doing a ten-minute dance routine, do that! Working out should not be about punishing your body but celebrating all its abilities!

God did a fantastic job creating you. Have fun and celebrate you! Dance to Hannah Montana, jump rope to NSYNC, bike to a makeup vlogger, or run to a true crime podcast.

Do what makes you happy.

As a wise woman once said, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Just shake it off!

No one wants to have a bad character, and no one wants to be viewed as a Barb. Don’t be a Barb. Mind your business. Know that weight fluxgates. Know that bodies are different. Know that if someone is comfortable in their skin, that is all that matters. Period.

Diet Culture

This area is gray, and it is different for everyone.

Some people can participate in diet culture and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I, along with many, am not one of those people.

The diet industry is a million-dollar industry with many participants weighing more than before in following years.

There are various different diet techniques – counting calories, macro, Keto, etc.

Honestly, I see health benefits to these. I know someone who is rocking counting calories, like you go, girl! But if I were the one counting calories, I’d obsess. Once, I had to count calories for a nutrition class, and it altered the way I ate all week, the way I felt, and my security in my body. This just isn’t something that is right for me. Instead, I choose to abide by intuitive eating. To learn more, check out this amazing 10-step blog on intuitive eating.

Basically, intuitive eating goes against diet culture and encourages individuals to honor their hunger and leave restrictive behavior behind.

Keto and macro have benefits, but I don’t encourage them for me. And, I probably wouldn’t encourage them for you.

There are some people who can balance it well; however, more people obsess and spiral. If you’re a person who can handle dieting, then go for it (if you absolutely must). If you are someone whose self-conscious, then do not do it. Just be comfortable with the way you look and feel, and you’re gold!

Honestly, I could go on and on and on and on! About how we shouldn’t push unhealthy clothing trends, Tik Tok trends, normalize body-shaming language, judge people’s plates, etc. There’s just so. much. to unpack.

Give me a book, and it’ll be filled with statistics, resources, opinions, etc. But what it boils down to is that I strongly believe diet culture is toxic and harmful 95% of the time, and people are way too judgmental about people’s bodies and food choices.

Are you one of those people? If you are, why? Look into yourself and ask why it matters – maybe do some digging or research.

There is so much that is impacting America – language, norms, advertisements, menus, etc. You’d be shocked to see what can be triggering. Look into it, though. You know someone whose struggled with ED – even if you don’t realize it.

Eating disorders are so real. Body dysmorphia is so real. Food fear is so real.

Someone in your life struggling. That is so real.

Be kind, be compassionate, be unjudging.

If you’re struggling, don’t pay attention to your BMI, do not step on a scale, and live a life that makes you comfortable.

To learn even more about intuitive eating, which is highly recommended for ED survivors, read: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/what-does-intuitive-eating-mean

To learn how to break-up with diet culture, read: https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/breaking-up-with-diet-culture/

To learn more about body-shaming (both subtle and aggressive), read: https://www.magnolia-creek.com/eating-disorder-recovery-blog/what-is-body-shaming/

To learn more about unhealthy food obsession, please read: https://nudenutritionrd.com/how-to-stop-food-obsession/

On Instagram, follow dieticians: @no.food.rules + @loandlemons + @thenutritiontea

Eating Disorder Overview, Symptoms, Support, and Treatment.

Today starts National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, NEDA, lasting until 3/2/21.

Eating disorders, eating habits, social media trends, and diet culture are all things that I feel incredibly passionate about. To be upfront, I am entirely biased toward these topics; therefore, there will be two blogs throughout NEDA Week! This post will breakdown eating disorders, while the second post will be more biased.

I considered throwing a third blog in about OCD and eating disorders, considering about ½ of people with an ED struggle with OCD, but a lot of men were very interested in learning about OCD overall. In the next few weeks, I will post a blog about OCD basics before getting into all the details. I think many will be shocked to learn that OCD isn’t only an image of Emma Pillsbury with a toothbrush on Glee.

Just like OCD isn’t an image of someone frantically picking lint from a carpet, an eating disorder isn’t one singular image. Many people have said things like, “he/she is so skinny, there is no way they have an eating disorder or body dysmorphia.” It’s as if most people assume that eating disorders are uncommon except 9% of Americans experience an ED.

There are two commonly known eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa is the most widely recognized ED. This disorder consists of extremely restrictive eating habits, an obsession to maintain an ideal weight, an intense fear of weight gain, and body dysmorphia. Meaning, an anorexic individual typically views their body as something it isn’t – much larger, unhealthy, or endlessly flawed. A common misconception about Anorexia is that the one suffering has to be underweight, but only 6% of people with ED’s are classified as underweight (Eating Disorder Statistics). Plenty of average-sized and plus-sized men and women suffer from Anorexia Nervosa – a disorder that, on average, lasts eight-years.

Bulimia Nervosa, or Binge Eating Disorder, is a commonly known eating disorder, especially portrayed in the media. For example, Blair from Gossip Girl and Hanna from Pretty Little Liars displayed signs of struggling with this ED. Bulimia consists of binge eating habits, purging, an intense fear of weight gain, and body dysmorphia. Like Anorexia, Bulimia has restrictive, unhealthy food habits; however, Bulimia victims tend to struggle with losing control and binge eating. After they binge, they experience aggressive fear and puke/purge to avoid digesting the food. Several people struggle with Bulimia – a disorder that, on average, lasts five-years.

While both of these disorders have typical lengths, many victims tend to struggle with these disorders throughout their lifetime. It is merely impossible for these thoughts or habits to not cross the minds of ED survivors.

Among these two disorders, there are several other eating disorders. Making ED the second deadliest mental illness – following opioid overdoes. According to “Eating Disorder Statistics,” 26% of ED victims attempt suicide, and one ED victim dies every hour. That’s 10,200 deaths in the U.S. from ED (ANAD).

Among the nearly 30 million Americans who struggle with an ED are millions of children under 12. Dr. Kathleen Smith (PSY, 2019) reported that the population of adolescents struggling with ED continues to increase.

As a country, as a society, and as an evolving, improving generation, we must acknowledge mental illness.

Furthermore, we should not only recognize mental illness, but learn about it, teach about it, and do everything in our damn power to help these struggling individuals.

While all mental illnesses are challenging and require support, this blog is aimed at shining light on eating disorders. If you are compelled to learn about what causes ED, detecting symptoms, learning appropriate methods of reaching out, and treatment – I encourage you to keep reading.

Causes

Dr. Kathleen Smith published an article (PSY) dedicated to ED in adolescents, revealing that children with family members with an ED are 7-10 times more likely to struggle with an ED. “Eating Disorder Statistics” claimed (ANAD) that 28-74% of individuals with ED had a genetic history of someone/several with ED.

Very Well Mind explains (Environmental Factors, 2021) that psychologists cannot determine all ED causes, but environmental factors are incredibly prevalent. Parental or peer language can cause negative body confidence – like encouraging dieting or weight loss, commenting on how someone should try to alter/thin a part of their body, or comparing one’s body to someone else’s. To avoid talking this way and to diffuse this as a third-party, stop comparing bodies, don’t encourage weight loss (unless openly approved by a doctor), and do not suggest lessening food portions.

In addition to harmful language, media has an impact. Of course, magazines and TV contribute to unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards, but social media is the most prevalent as it is the most consumed media type.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, social media users on Instagram and Facebook tend to develop unhealthy habits and beliefs. The pages and people that these individuals follow start shifting their perception of beauty, health standards, and self-image. Unfortunately, several social media users tend to develop symptoms mirroring Anorexia (Magnolia Creek, 2019).

While I will not get (that) biased in this blog, I will suggest looking up a former model who struggled with ED – @danaemercer on Instagram. She shows how influencers and models angle and edit their bodies, contributing to unachievable expectations for bodies. Additionally, I urge you to avoid Tik Tok trends, like wrapping your headphones around your waist, because that is literally useless and contributes to negative body perceptions.

Detecting Symptoms

Several symptoms are tied to eating disorders like hair loss, a halt in hair growth, finger discoloration, fatigue and dizziness, restrictive dietary habits, and signs of depression or anxiety.

Individuals struggling with Anorexia tend to wear baggy clothes, lose coloration in their skin and seem uninterested in life.

Those struggling with Bulimia often binge large amounts, rushing to the bathroom within 30-minutes. They are consumed by fear of weight gain and experience high irritation when struggling.

Approaching Someone With ED

Four doctors collaborated to publish a study on approaching those with an ED (Help Guide, 2020).

The article encourages concerned individuals to pick a private time to discuss any concern and attempt to understand and be gentle – do not accuse. Explain the reasoning for your concern – list specific behavior and even reference statistics. Be ready for denial – they might not even know what they are struggling with. Ask if they are willing to reach out to a hotline or professional.

Finally, be supportive, understanding, and persistent.

Even if the first time doesn’t go well, keep showing them your support and unconditional love. Check-in with them, asking how they are feeling and how their mental health is doing. Ensure that they don’t feel alone and show that you’re available whenever they are ready to reach out. Sadly, eating disorders are common – nearly 1 in 10 have them – do not make them feel alienated.

Remember, these individuals are experiencing the lowest self-esteem, and they may be afraid of rejection or not deserving assistance.

Be patient. Be persistent.

Additionally, the article urges you to not: issue an ultimatum, comment on their weight/appearance (instead focus on their eating habits, moods, emotions, etc.), don’t shame or guilt them, don’t make this struggle about your feelings of sadness/disappointment/hardship (it isn’t about you), don’t accuse them of doing this for attention, and don’t suggest a simple solution – encourage treatment, not “just eating!”

Read this additional article from mental health services, explaining additional do’s and don’ts of reaching out and supporting an individual with an ED.

Treatment

There is treatment available for those struggling with ED. There are hotlines, licensed professionals, and support groups dedicated to getting those struggling help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone with ED, ask for help if you’re experiencing symptoms, or advocate for ED research.

No cost is too high to get you help.

Eating disorders are very real, and recovery requires support, assistance, and treatment.

If you are an ED survivor or struggle with similar symptoms, health officials in all my resources encourage establishing healthy surroundings. Be aware of who is on your social media feed, set boundaries with negative family/peers, throw away scales, and journal + avoid your triggers.

Remember: your health comes first, regardless of who or what you have to disconnect from.

Please speak out if you are struggling – there are so many of us here for you. We aren’t angry or disappointed; we want to help you feel better.

Please reach out (after doing research) to someone who you fear is struggling. Be patient and be kind.

For my personal feelings and beliefs, come back Monday, 3/1/21 at 7 am for another blog.

Resources

If you are looking for help for yourself or someone you know who is struggling with ED symptoms, text NEDA to 741741.

If you are struggling with Anorexia, text 494949.

If you are contemplating suicide, call 800-273-8255 or text LEV to 741741.

If you are looking for additional resources, click here: https://edrcsv.org/about-us/

 

Resources (linked not properly cited!)

6 Common Types of Eating Disorders 

Different Causes of ED

Eating Disorders in 12 and Under

Eating Disorder Statistics

Helping Someone With an ED

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Social Media’s Impact on Eating Disorders

What Not to Say to Someone With an ED

 

Make A Wedding Registry!! SLNW!?

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

I hope your day was filled with love – self-love, dog love, family love, or romantic love. You deserve to fill your face with chocolate and not feel bad about it. Enjoy a lovely rom-com, cuddling your favorite furbabies. You deserve to rock it out to Taylor Swift’s re-recording of “Love Story” with a bottle of wine as your microphone. You deserve love, and you deserve to have a bomb ass day – every day!

So many girls have asked me what I’d put on my wedding registry – ugh, as if(!) I haven’t had a working registry since the summer of 2017. I was born to answer this question. My excited, calculated mind was like, “ope, I’m seventeen and have been dating my boyfriend a WHOLE year. Time to pick the throw pillows for four years down the road!!”

So, like, I did.

I immediately knew what theme and color scheme I wanted. I ran it by Dawson, and when he gave me the green light, I worked harder than Taylor Swift has the past two years.

Well, maybe not that hard. She’s released three albums and re-releasing one! An icon.

So, I worked harder than Crime Junkies’ Ashley Flowers does in the morning. You know, the girl who walks on the treadmill for over an hour, answering over one-hundred emails and conducting research?

Well, not quite that hard either.

Okay, okay, I worked almost as hard as Schmidt works at being a dad.

I probably could’ve picked a better gif to demonstrate what I’m trying to relay, lmao. But you get the point: I worked hard.

My camera roll was filled, and I dreamed about making a registry. Now, I eagerly await to share my tips and ideas with you all!

So, like, if you’re preparing to create a registry and wondering,

So, Like, Now What!?

Just know, I got you covered. I’m basically the Taylor Swift, Ashley Flowers, or Winston Schmidt of registry-ing. 👌

Picking a Platform

I highly recommend Zola.com. I have not actually picked products from Zola; however, I have been able to link my other registries to Zola. Additionally, there is an option to link products and gift cards from various stores!

When considering which stores I wanted to use, I picked Walmart and Wayfair as my two registry websites. I felt that they gave both in-store shoppers and online shoppers a great route to go. However, I know that some people prefer particular shops or are super last-minute, so I put some work into picking other stores that appear on my Zola page. These stores do not have us registered through their sites like Walmart or Wayfair, but they have one or two options available for gift-givers.

Those additional stores are Bed Bath & Beyond (people have cards), Kohls (cause Kohls Cash), Target (gives people an excuse to go), Amazon (two-day shipping), Macy’s, and places where we would appreciate Gift Cards/eGift Cards to.

This route provides various options for shoppers and allows you to choose your all-time favorite item from anywhere!

Gift Cards

I love a good gift card. It feels like free money. Whenever I buy something with a gift card, I immediately exclaim, “It’s free!” So, I added various options on Zola with a new email just for eGift Cards. I thought that would be convenient for ideas!

$100: Carnival Cruise! We are going on a cruise the summer following our wedding, and we can use gift cards for additional food or drink packages on the cruise. The minimum is $100, which stinks. But, what a great idea!

$60.93: Hello Fresh! Dawson and I want to learn new recipes by starting off with Hello Fresh. These gift cards pay for a 3-meal box for Dawson and me!

$25-$50: Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, Chewy, Thrive Market, and Ruggable.

Girlfriend, add some restaurant or date eGift Cards, too!

Expensive Gifts

For most of our gifts, I tried to keep around $10-$50, with most of the gifts being around $25/$30. However, I put some more expensive gifts (about $80+) on our registries. I would recommend making those ‘group gifts,’ where available (not available on Walmart). This way, people can buy the gift as a group or purchase it entirely.

Additionally, I use these registries as my wish lists for Christmas and my birthday or remember something I wanted.

Here are some great products that I would highly recommend adding to your registry:

$213: Pots and Pans. People suggested having stainless steel and a few nonstick. Ours is from Cuisinart and is an 11-piece set on Wayfair.

$150: Vacuum. Dawson’s parents got me a Shark Navigator Lift-Away from Walmart – my dream sweeper!

$149: A DeWalt Hammer Drill

$134: A Miter Saw if you want to DIY. @HouseandHens on Instagram suggested this and the Hammer Drill!

$110: A nice knife set – so many people recommended this. Ours is a 15pc Cuisinart from Walmart!

$100: A Ring Doorbell I never would have thought to add this by product to Zola, but Dawson’s band teacher suggested it. How smart!

$93: Luggage

$80: A Crock-Pot. We actually got ours for free from throwing a Pampered Chef party – something I can’t praise enough.

Lastly, this is totally a preference thing, but I want to sit a jaw-dropping Dutch Oven out on our counter. This $104 Martha Stewart yellow Dutch Oven is what dreams are made of!

Kitchen Gifts

So, I have some of these already, but I’ll put everything I recommend. I have done so much research on this, and I do not like clutter. Therefore, I tried to make sure it would only be things I need.

This past summer, Dawson and I threw a Pampered Chef party where we got almost $1000 of product for $240. We just really wanted the Air Fryer but ended up having such generous people in our lives (not shocked!) and made out like champs.

$70-$80: Cast Iron Dutch Oven (for the fire)

$60-70: Dinnerware for 4 (I’d register for two sets)

$50-$60: Air Fryer

$40-$50: Flatware (Walmart has great deals), Hand-Mixer, 3pc 13×9 inch Glass Pans. Optional: Cake Batter Bowl (ridiculous but obsessed)

$30-40: KitchenAid Utensil Set, Electric Wine Opener, Food Processor, Large Glass Serving Bowl w/ Lid. Optional: Food Storage Containers, Canisters (pantry)

$20-$30: Tupperware, Toaster, Blender, Mixing Bowls, Oven Mitts, Wood Cutting Board, Electric Meat Thermometer, Large Measuring Cup, 12-inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. Optional: Charcuterie Board, Reusable Shopping Bags, Oil & Vinegar Container Set

$10-$20: Dish Towels, Hand Towels, Potholders, 2pk Cookie Sheet, 6 Glassware Cups or Mugs, Rolling Pin, Wood Serving Bowl, Salt & Pepper Shakers, Stemless/Stem Wine Glasses, 8-inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. Optional: Pub Glasses, Shelf Liner, Can Strainer, Spice Rack/Shelves, Coasters, Ice Cream Mugs

$1-$10: Silicone Brush, Pizza Cutter, Ice Cream Scoop.

Other Gifts

These products are some that I find to be important! I browsed all registry blogs, home essential lists, etc. Also, I took notes on my phone when someone highly recommended having something or if I’ve ever needed it.

$70-$80: Brad Nailer

$50-$60: 2pc Dog Food Container

$40-$50: Bath Towels, Collapsible Laundry Basket

$30-$40: Dog Toy Container (shaped like a bone!), Lawn Chairs. Optional: Wrapping Paper Holder

$20-$30: Dog Treat Container (because I know you’ll have a dog), Essential Oil Diffuser, Matching Hangers. Optional: Sander

$10-$20: Optional: Cleaning Supplies Caddy, Spray Bottles, Flashlight

$1-$10: File Storage

I hope that this helped some! When picking items, try to make sure it’s things you’ll both enjoy. Also, add décor and fun gifts! You can never have too many throw pillows, blankets, or succulents. Put some spa products, some of your favorite alcohol or restaurants, Thirty-One bags, or games on the registry. Make it your own!

It only happens once. Make the most of it and make sure it’s what you two want.

I’m obsessed with mine and you should be, too! Start early! Be the Robin of registry-ing. (Seriously, let me have this!!! #BatChloe)

Congratulations and Happy Homeownership!

A Conspiracy Theory!? SLNW!?

Wow.

I am floored by the feedback from last week’s blog. It nearly got 400 reads, which is far more reads than anything I’ve ever written.

All the outpouring love, texts, messages, and comments filled my heart.

Thank you so much for your kind words! I didn’t realize how many people were not aware of this story. I am pretty open, but it shows how many relationships you have that you cannot expand on.

That blog is a hard one to follow. I considered writing about my experience with OCD, a considerable disappointment that I faced last week (quite the bummer), or sharing more facts about myself that aren’t well known. However, I decided that there are future times where I’d like to share those stories.

So, Like, Now What!?

I took to Instagram, my favorite social media platform, and ran a poll. By far, the most popular topic was my favorite conspiracy theory.

If it isn’t regarding true crime, I typically don’t have much of a theory. However, there is one conspiracy theory that I have extensively researched. I have read articles, watched videos, and explored many theories on this particular theory. If you know me well, you probably know where this is going.

Before I dive into the theory, I want to give a little disclaimer.

I do not believe this theory anymore, but it’s still fascinating – in 2018, I was a hardcore believer and ready to talk all about it in a speech for Mrs. Walls English class. But then, I started questioning it because of Aria.

In middle school, I spent days on end researching Aria Montgomery. I knew that she was ‘A’ in Pretty Little Liars. I read articles, I took notes, I watched clips, and I had a college-sized folder on it. Then, Aria was not ‘A,’ and I decided to give up my tinfoil hat and question my theories.

This theory just intrigued me, and I think I needed a little shock in my life. Then, I started obsessively listening to true crime! The surprise factory became a staple in my life, so my belief in this theory faded. After all, it is pretty far fetched. Nonetheless, it’s fun to dive into!

With that disclaimer out in the open, let’s get into a conspiracy theory that will have you asking,

This theory revolves around the thought that Canadian singer, Avril Lavigne, hired Melissa Vandella to take her place.

Why?

Well, many people believe Avril Lavigne died; however, I do not. Just with missing people, Bryce Laspisa and Brian Shaffer, I thought Lavigne wanted to change her lifestyle.

I thought she and Melissa worked tirelessly to pull off this scheme so that Lavigne could live an ordinary life.

However, others believed something much more morbid.

Several fans believe the theory exactly as published when it originated in 2011: that Avril Lavigne was found dead by her management team in 2003. So, like, her management hired Melissa Vandella to continue the fame. After all, Lavigne was in her prime, racking in tons of cash.

In 2004, the album “Under My Skin” was released. On this album, there were the songs that hinted at Lavigne being done with the Rockstar life. Many believe that these lyrics are Vandella singing as Lavigne, describing how Lavigne left. Furthermore, some lines have fans convinced Vandella is confessing to replacing Lavigne.

In the first track, “Take Me Away,” Lavigne sings about being angrier and more hurt than ever before, describing how Lavigne was [probably] genuinely feeling about her life in 2003.

The most famous track from the album, #6, is titled “My Happy Ending.” This song sits at the center of this theory, which has so many people convinced that Lavigne passed away. To me, it sounds like a teenage heartbreak jam, continuing Lavigne’s portrayal of anger.

The twelfth song on the album, “Slipped Away,” is where fans believe that Vandella is confessing to taking Lavigne’s life. The song talks about the girl never being able to say goodbye, and it changed her life forever. Some suspect that this song is Vandella apologizing to Lavigne.

The songs are very farfetched, but it has many very passionate.

Personally, the following pictures were what had me hooked!

In this picture, Melissa’s name is written on her hand, which wouldn’t be shocking because she was close friends with Melissa Vandella. However, the resemblance between these two friends is uncanny.

It’s also worth mentioning that they supposedly haven’t been seen together since 2003. If I wanted to squash this famous theory, I’d call up Vandella and do an interview together.

This picture is of edgy Lavigne and softer Vandella. Could it be Photoshopped? Absolutely. However, this photo circles the internet as fact. It plays into the theory that ‘Lavigne’ became more girly when she started wearing pink, singing happier tunes, and performing in better moods.

It would simply be unfair to assume that her interests shifted over time.

This picture had me hardcore advocating that Vandella was Lavigne. Do I know which picture is supposed to be who? Nope. Irrelevant!

But the marks are different, and it is impossible to get moles removed.

Haha, well, this has been fun. I could go much more in-depth on this entire conspiracy theory, but it’s quite the rabbit hole. However, we’ve covered the premise: 

Avril Lavigne looks different, and her music style has changed – all things that life possibly couldn’t alter.

So, therefore, Avril Lavigne is actually Melissa Vandella – someone who seemingly fell off the face of the Earth in 2004. Seriously, look her up. You’ll only find information on her taking over Lavigne’s happy ending!

Thanks so much for being here! Through the personal blogs to the silly ones.

Have a great week! Mine is starting with half of a Frappuccino (white mocha peppermint from yesterday!) and a Matt/Rachel date tonight on The Bachelor! Woo!! Plus I have Jolly Juice!

Have a great week! Remember to drink coffee, make Valentine reservations early, and have some dance sessions!

 

My Adoption Story!!

Starting this blog is a bit more challenging than I anticipated. There are so many moving parts, so many pieces, and details – what do I share? What do I spare? All of it means so much to me, but everything together could create a book.

This is more than a story about a first date; more than recalling a memory. This is how my family came about, how I was shaped as a person, and how so many people I love came into my life.

This is my adoption story. It’s not just a story that starts with a contract and ends with two signatures. It’s much, much more. It’s months of trying, years of thinking, and a lifetime of sculpting beliefs.

So, like, where do I even begin?

Well, first, I’ll tell you that God is at the center of the entire story. He had His plan, and it unfolded – beautifully if I say so myself.

In high school, my parents got to know each other. A towel soaked in soap got flung in my dads’ eyes, leading to the start of their relationship. Once they got married in 1998, they were ready to have kids. Only, that wasn’t God’s plan. As much as they tried, they couldn’t get pregnant. There were no answers, but they decided to live the life of cool aunts and uncles. So, they bought two cars!

Shortly after they splurged, my mom was approached by a woman at work.

Before I tell you what the woman said, I’ll let you know a little more about my mom. She grew up not really liking others’ kids but wanting her own. She loved thinking about all the possible names for a daughter: Cynthia, Isabella, maybe Serenity? She would dart her thoughts and dreams into her diary all through her childhood. Along with the kid’s names, she’d imagine what her last name may be. All these dreams and thoughts were aimed at growing her own family, which she knew she wanted to do with my dad.

When having kids wasn’t in her future, I imagine she was crushed. As a girl, it is easy to imagine having your first kiss, shimmying into a white ballgown, and getting pregnant. Unfortunately, 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and many couples can’t biologically have children. Many scientists speculate this number is much higher, as many have miscarriages without knowing.

So, my mom was at work. This woman, Roberta, started talking to her. Roberta’s niece had two kids that she wanted to put up for adoption. A little girl and boy.

I’m not sure what my mom was feeling during this conversation. Perhaps, skepticism? Excitement? Fear?

Whatever that feeling was, it was squashed by the sense of fate when Roberta referred to the teenage mother as ‘Serenity.’

On September 23, 2001, my parents met Chance and I for the first time. I was two, shoving candy in my face. Chance was nine-months, struggling to keep his gigantic head upright.

They say it was love at first sight. I can’t say I’m surprised – we were pretty adorable with our massive noggins. There’s nothing quite like struggling to get your head through a t-shirt hole.

By November, we were in their home; however, we weren’t Hinkle’s yet. Chance’s biological father didn’t want to put Chance up for adoption. He was a teenager, a little older than Serenity, and he was hesitating to give Chance up – even though he hadn’t been involved in his life.

A phone call from my dad and convincing from his mother finally allowed Chance to be adopted. Something they didn’t think possible, as they prepared to only adopt me – only, it wasn’t that easy.

Serenity hadn’t informed my biological father about me, and they didn’t know who to paternity test. Therefore, a six-week ad in the newspaper explained who I was and asked for my biological father to come forward.

Finally, on January 7, 2002, my parents signed the adoption papers, and we became:

Carlas, Amanda, Chloe, and Chance Hinkle.

Sadly, there was no popping champagne, exploding confetti, or cutting cake – it was just signing papers.

But there was loads of love and a strong sense of God’s presence.

The four of us were meant to be a family. Not one of us shares the same DNA, but that is not what builds a family. So many think there is nothing stronger than blood, but that simply is not true. There is nothing stronger than God, stronger than unconditional love, stronger than the family you choose. My family is a family because we show up for each other, we love each other, we listen, respect, and value each other – and it’s not because we all have a gene for bad acne.

I love my family with my whole being. I’d do anything for them – no questions asked. Unless it’s cleaning the toilet. Then, why can’t they do it!

While I love my family, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t think about my biological family. I was two when I met my parents, and I believe that is old enough to start developing questions.

When we were brought to their home, I missed my Grandma Darlene, who I’d been staying with. My Grandma Darlene means so much to me. As I sit here writing, I can’t help but tear up thinking about how much I love her. Whenever I have kids, and if I can name them, I’d love to name my daughters Noelle Leigh and Iris Darlene. All four names have a great deal of meaning to me. ❤

There are many other people in my biological mom’s family that I adore! Like, her two sisters, her brother, her parents, her Aunt Roberta, and all their families! Of course, my Great Grandma Darlene and Great Grandpa Henry are together in Heaven, and I love them dearly.

I do not see them all very often, but I am so grateful for their relationships!

Because so many people ask, I will tell you. I haven’t seen Serenity in ten years, and I haven’t talked to her since high school. I wish her the very best!!

Growing up, I knew Serenity and kept relationships with the family. However, I did not know my biological father.

This is where things get controversial for some. Some adopted individuals want to meet their biological parents, while others don’t. According to American Adoption Congress (2020), 94% of adopted adolescent have questions about their biological parents, while only 65% wants to meet their birth parents.

This is where Chance and I differ. I was always curious, while he was not. I am not sure what causes this difference – gender, age, etc. I just had to know. That does not mean that I have less of a relationship with my family; it just means I am curious. That same article (Myths About Adoptees’) found that this curiosity did not affect the adopted individual’s feelings towards their family.

Either choice is perfectly normal!

Somewhere down the line, I was told my birth fathers’ name was probably ‘Ryan.’

In high school, I reached out to Serenity to ask for more information on him. She did not really know much about him now, as she lives elsewhere.

My freshman year in college, I decided to DM a bunch of ‘Ryan’s’ who had the same last name. Some responses told me that they were only twenty, they didn’t know who Serenity was, etc. Until his wife (who is the best) responded to my Instagram DM.

The next day, my mom, Ryan, and I chatted at Applebee’s. I won’t tell you his story, as this blog post would grow by ten thousand scrolls. But I’ll tell you that he didn’t know I existed until he was charged for my birth – after I’d been adopted.

Ryan also has a wonderful family with two kids. He has lovely grandparents, a mom, a dad, a sister, two brothers, and all their families.

All these people on Serenity’s side and Ryan’s side are people I get to know, respect, and learn from.

Then, my dad’s parents, four brothers, three sisters, and all their families. Then, my mom’s parents, brother’s family, + her very close, four great uncles, three great aunts, and all their families. Then, Dawson’s parents, sister, five grandparents, two aunts, and their families.

A true village.

You’ll never know how many people are in my life that I love. These people are all our family, supporters, and community.

Dawson and I are so blessed.

I am so blessed.

God is so good.

And it all started when my mom and dad fell in love. They probably faced one of the most challenging times, and look where we are now.

I’ll always advocate for adoption. Can you imagine how full your heart is? Can you think about how strong a bond with a [adoptive] family must be, knowing you were meant for each other? Regardless of the circumstances, you were meant to be each other’s sister, brother, mother, father, daughter, and friend.

Wow. What a powerful, extraordinary feeling.

I love love. It’s unmatched. I’m wicked grateful for the love God has allowed me. My heart is full. My life is full. My family is full!

If you’re ever wondering if you should extend your family, start a conversation, or do anything that builds a new relationship – yes! 1000 times, yes! There really can never be too many people in your life.

Each person is a blessing from God. Each relationship is a treasure. Each love is incredible.

Thanks for listening to my story. I tried to keep it brief for a post. There is so much more I could say: feelings, thoughts, beliefs, political/religious views, etc. But I’d be typing for days.

I guess the moral of the story is to trust God. He has a plan that’s greater than you know. He always has given me everything I need and much more. Also, open your heart. Family is everywhere, and you’d be doing yourself a misjustice by denying those relationships.

Kiss after a soap towel hits your eyes, keep praying, hold your faith, stay true to yourself, and adopt, adopt, adopt!

Sidenote: Clearly, I have opinions on adoption. I’m always willing to talk to you about these views, hear your thoughts, and engage in conversations. Also, if you have any questions – I’m an open book! Unfortunately, I offend easily (lol), but not when talking about my adoption. So, always feel free to hit me up!! No verbiage or question will offend me – I pinky promise!

Sources

https://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/reform_myths.php

I Got My First Period!! SLNW!?

Last week, I was pumped for the premiere of The Bachelor.

Cheers to a better lead than Pilot Pete!

The rest of the week, I was pretty sad, bloated, exhausted, cramping, and broken out. All these bumming factors were causing me to crave some non-dairy ice cream, maybe with some peanut butter cups…Mmmmm!!

Can you see where this was going?

As I sit here writing this blog, I am still so. freaking. tired.

I wanted to share something simple, fun, and easy to write because I lack energy.

That’s when the perfect story hit me!

I’ll give you a disclaimer. Just because it’s easy and fun to write doesn’t mean it’s easy to read, especially if certain types of blood gross you out.

Are you following? Do you see where this is going now?

Me to my jeans this week

This story is about the first time I got my period!

In sixth grade, I made a life-altering discovery: Twilight books. I could not put them down because I was obsessed with Edward Cullen. Now, I demanded my sixth-grade boyfriend, Juan, refer to me as ‘love.’

One Friday night, I had around a hundred or so pages left, so I decided to finish the book.

At 1:00 am, I got to the ballerina studio scene, and I shit you not, my nose started bleeding. So, all over the page talking about blood, is my permanent mark.

I rushed downstairs to the bathroom and sat over the toilet to let my nose bleed – what a flawless strategy.

When my nose stopped bleeding, I was prepared to go back upstairs to the world’s best book. Before I ran upstairs, I decided to pee, so there would be no more interruptions.

When I pulled my pants down, my eyes caught a weird sight.

“Hm, how’d blood get there?”

I wondered. But the curiosity was gone in an instance. I had bigger things to worry about: was Edward going to save the day!? There were only a few more books, but maybe Bella isn’t in them?? I just didn’t know!!

I shrugged off the whole thing as me being an awkward twelve-year-old and galloped up the stairs to finish the book.

The next day, my middle school BFF, Delaney, and I hit the mall. We needed to snatch some matching outfits from Wet Seal because besties match, right!?

Once we got home, I went to the bathroom.

When I saw the same sight, I started tearing up and got embarrassed.

So, Like, Now What!?

I opened the door and said, “Delaney, I think I keep pooping my pants?”

I was terrified to hear her response. What twelve-year-old shits their pants and doesn’t even know? Is any sixth-grader this awkward?

Juan will never call me ‘love’ now!!!!

If I remember correctly, she came in and checked and said, “Chloe, that’s blood. You started your period.”

Then, I told my mom, changed into sweats, and we all devoured ice cream with chocolate syrup, watching Disney. …that sounds amazing right now.

Have a great week! Remember to listen to your body! If you need rest, rest. If you need coffee, get coffee. If you need cuddles, adopt a dog. If you need chocolate, eat chocolate. If you need champagne, watch The Bachelor, too!

Happy Monday!

One Year Until the Wedding!! SLNW!?

We’ve been engaged for a year, and on Friday, we’ll be a year out from the wedding.

Considering I started a wedding binder in high school, you could say that I was prepared. When we met with our parents last February to establish a budget, I came with folders, Excel sheets, blueprints, cost comparisons, and pens! They weren’t prepared for that.

Planning my wedding has been my dream, but that doesn’t always mean it runs smoothly or comes easy. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel and skip to the courthouse.

There are plenty of times when I prepare to go full diva and throw all my papers in the air, declaring I am done.

But that’ll never happen. I want a wedding. Of course, I want marriage more, but I can’t imagine not starting it with a magical wedding.

We’re a year down and have a year to go.

So, Like, Now What?

I have a lot done, a lot to go, and much to share.

Wedding Details

If you knew me in middle school, you know that I love playing guessing games. People ask me for wedding details, and I’ll usually share, but I don’t want all the surprises to be gone – what’s a solution for this? Well, telling you guessing game style, of course.

We have two wedding colors – named after beverages. Both drinks have made it onto my Instagram page since my 21st Birthday in September.

My dress is one of two styles that I demanded I’d never get, but I repeated my past tendencies when choosing it.

The designer of my dress parades her dresses at a large retail store.

Our Save the Dates will be sent in July, and they are cuter than 1, 2, 3.

When I visited the Mid-America Windmill Museum in the wintertime, there was a 12ft decoration that had me light up and say, “this is it!”

Wedding Mishaps

Through this journey, there have been many mishaps and mess-ups.

When the wedding is decorated and in full swing, know it was not without several oh shit moments.

Since Dawson and I have talked about our wedding, we have known what caterer we wanted. It is perfect for the season, and we could down leftovers for decades on end. We were pretty much all set with them until last month when they were like, “Hey! Just wanted to let you know we may go to a different country during your wedding!!” My mind was racing uncontrollably, “So, like, now what! So, like, now what!! So, like, NOW WHAT!?!?” I decided not to stress past level 100 until they confirmed either way, then they finally said, “Hey! Plan on us being there. We will go on vacation after!”

When my wedding dress finally came in, I was pumped. My mom and I headed to the bridal boutique, and they had me try on the dress. When I walked out, a consultant looked at me and said, “Oh, well, that’s way too big.” When she retook my measurements, she noticed that someone had ordered a dress two sizes too big! Thank goodness I picked it out a while ago, and if not, I could always drink more wine and eat more chocolate or get it altered – I’d do it gladly.

That same day, at the bridal store, they brought out my veil. Only, it wasn’t my veil. I just stared at it because I thought I must have remembered it severely incorrectly until the consultant noticed the designer had two veils with the same product number! She got it all sorted out, swore the designer drank too much, and then I won an additional free veil from them months later.

Quick fact: When sticking to a budget, I try to be as close as possible. Sometimes it adds way too much stress because I worry about spending an extra $30 and repeatedly remind myself that it happens! Especially because we saved a lot on our cruise, giving us about an extra $1,000 for the wedding, which is nice because we have more invited guests than we initially expected.

Anyways, we stick to this budget, and I was thrilled when we had all 30 centerpieces for a little under budget! When I set these centerpieces up on the tables’ length, I was shocked when I noticed they were smaller than the plates. Damn it, Chloe, this is why we need math tutors. It was an easy fix, though, don’t worry! I just put three to a table then spent like $400 more on two other sets of centerpieces – no big deal, right! (Actually, we are doing super well on the budget, and I’m obsessed with all three groups of centerpieces and think I can sell them after the wedding. So, it is, in fact, no big deal, and I can stop hyperventilating.)

Do you know how hard it is to find a tux/suit? It’s actually relatively easy, but not in the color we want for Dawson. We’ve tried Men’s Warehouse, and that didn’t work. Do you know what did work? Walmart. Just kidding, of course, Walmart didn’t work. Why did I think they would have a tux (with all sizes picked for you) that would work! Finally, I threw in the towel, and Dawson claimed this as his primary wedding responsibility.

Feedback

You know the feedback I’ve gotten from my wedding? It’s been super helpful. Here are some examples:

Everyone picks that color for weddings!

You thought your neck looked average size in those engagement photos?

Oh, you liked that wedding dress vs. the other?

That dessert just isn’t very good.

There actually has been sweet feedback that makes me feel like I’m crushing this. Most people are super kind and supportive, which I really appreciate.

The negative comments do suck, but those Barbs can remember it’s free alcohol, food, dessert, and photo ops.

Overall, I can’t wait to go through this next year. Wine tasting, Catholic retreats, buying a home, graduating college, putting together bouquets, probably getting a dog, bridal showers, making honeymoon plans, and celebrating the love that we have!

This year is going to be crazy. It’s going to be filled with love. Love from our family, from our friends, from our church, and from each other. I can’t wait to strengthen our relationship and prepare for a marriage that begins with a wedding!

But it all begins this Friday when Dawson and I go out to celebrate our future anniversary. That’s a thing, right!? 

Lmao, cheers!

 

What I Got for Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!

I hope that your Christmas was filled with family time, festive lattes, warm candle scents, billions of carbs, and Hallmark movie endings.

This Christmas was so lovely for Dawson and me. Despite the pandemic, we were able to visit so many people safely. It was a long week, but it was absolutely perfect!

On top of it all, I got to enjoy no homework. What a treat!! I tried to rest up and spent a significant period bingeing Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. Many events in that show do not match my values or perspectives, but it was still a captivating show!

Now that I am back, rested, caffeinated, and maybe a little tipsy, I am here to spill everything I got for Christmas.

My favorite part is picking out gifts, crafting Excel sheets, wrapping, rewrapping from Jolly Juice attempts, crying at Hallmark endings, and obsessing over my dogs when they are close to Christmas décor. However, I always forget just how excited I get over gifts, so I thought maybe you’d be interested, too.

First and foremost, I now declare myself

Chloe Queen of Gift Cards

Between Dawson and I, we got $500 in gift cards to various stores and more in cash. It was totally crazy, but we are super thankful. We were able to increase our savings, and we will probably reach our February financial goal by the first week in January. Score! Then, the gift cards are fantastic – more clothes from Manna DeKor for me, more clothes for Dawson from H&M, all the Amazon packages, décor, etc., etc., etc.!

All the gift cards were very exciting and will keep my addictions healthy and thriving.

I got a bunch of stuff from my lists for our future house, as we hope to buy in 2021. While I won’t be living there until after the wedding, I am still pumped to decorate and possibly renovate. Carlas 2.0, here I come!

Getting items for our home has been something I started doing three or four years ago, and that’s when Dawson and I started a small account for a future down payment. I am so excited and want to be financially stable when we make this transition, which has inspired me to ask for house necessities and décor. I have OCD and sometimes struggle with excess clutter or things that don’t match, so I try to minimize the list of items I’ll need to buy for our home immediately. I created two registries on Walmart and Wayfair, and so many have gifted me items from there, which I store at my grandma’s.

Next to me is a 70-inch TV that Dawson and I bought on sale last Christmas!

Jon and Jonelle, Dawson’s parents, got me my dream vacuum, the Shark Navigator Life-Away Upright Vacuum. My passion is screaming Jesse McCartneys’ lyrics in “Better with You” while vacuuming, so now I can fulfill my deepest desires in our future home.

Sorry for the pics quality. My ‘warehouse’ is chaos and the lighting isn’t the best!

They also got me 8 Unique Slate Drink Coasters, which I have been fangirling over since I first saw them. Goodbye sweating coffee cups!

My parents got us Oversized Washed Waffle Pillows from Target that I have been eyeing for three years. The first time I saw them, I was in awe. They are gigantic, and I am obsessed!  

To match the jaw-dropping pillows, my parents got us this Yellow Diamond Cotton Throw Blanket. Now, I need a gray sectional to style and never leave. Also, possibly, maybe, I’ll splurge and get an Urban Outfitters accent pillow!

When Dawson makes legitimate requests for the house, I try to listen. He was extremely adamant about having a doormat that reads “Go Away,” so I got it. I would never tell anyone to go away, and I don’t want girl scouts with cookies to assume we are mean old men! Therefore, I decided I want to decorate our front door area. My parents helped me start this by getting us this Outdoor Buffalo Plaid Doormat for under Dawson’s pick.

My parents got us the KitchenAid Tool and Gadget Setwhich has several kitchen items we would need. They are black, which is perfect as we are hoping to keep all our kitchen items gray or black.

My grandma got Dawson and me some black starter knives before we get a full set. I am obsessed with how chic they look. While I don’t have the link to these, I do know they are from Kohls.

Additionally, she got us silverware that has officially stolen my heart. This 40-Piece Stainless Steel Silverware makes me want to cook – is this a miracle??? Probably not because I still won’t, but at least now it’s a thought!

Lastly, I got a Wayfair gift card and ordered a third set of our dishes as they are being discontinued. They are so expensive and so beautiful; I just had to do it.

All the house gifts are fantastic, and I feel so blessed! Some other spectacular items that I got were:

Christmas Themed: Jon and Jonelle got me a Grinch Lennox Christmas ornament – the first time I saw it online, I shed a few tears. My parents got me a Santa Toymaker Hallmark Keepsake ornament, which heavily reminds me of how I viewed Santa growing up. My Grandma Cande shocked me with the Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Cookbook, including recipes, crafts, table settings, etc. Dawson’s Grandma Lynn gave me a pair of Hallmark socks that make me feel beyond extra! Then, Dawson’s Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Kenny gave me the cutest ornament organizer!

Clothes: Naturally, I got a bunch of Manna DeKor and More! Dawson and Chance got me clothes, which I’m sure my mom helped pick. Then, my parents gave me a hefty gift card to support my obsession! I once mentioned wanting cute sweat suits, so my mom took that and ran – now, I have several adorable AE sets! Dawson’s parents and sister got me some cute items from Francesca’s, which was my first boutique experience a few years ago. Chance’s girlfriend, Caiah, gave me a fluffy, baby pink pullover that makes me feel like Elle Woods – whatta keeper.

Other: Of course, I got wine! Dawson’s Aunt Bobbie picked out two bottles for me, which is how you know it’s fantastic. My cousin, Brooke, gave me the cutest, custom Starbucks cup…I am now growing a collection of these cups. Dawson gave me pepper spray that also dyes the attackers’ skin, and Jon and Jonelle gave me a taser (being a crime junkie has me paranoid.) I could go on and on forever about all the neat, cute things that I got, but I’m already at 1100 words!

I hope you were happy with everything you ate, received, gave, and did last week. Here’s your friendly reminder to enjoy this next week, don’t worry about going over calories as it’s normal, and to drink responsibly.

Cheers to getting the f*** away from 2020; it’s been worse than Joe Goldberg.

There have actually been really memorable highs, but overall, the year can peace out.

We’ve Been Engaged 1 Year!! SLNW!?

Today’s blog is being published on a special day: mine and Dawson’s first anniversary of being engaged!

While I am extra eager to write this, I am also pretty tired from the past week, anxious to get off the computer to have Hot Cheeto fingers and watch this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy

Today, I have been extra lazy. Usually, I spend my Sundays getting most of my work done for the following week. Today, I woke up tired. So, I took a nap and still woke up exhausted! I felt kind of bad for being so lazy, but Dawson was next to me, reassuring me that chilling isn’t bad and sometimes it’s necessary!

His kindness and continual support are what inspired today’s blog – along with several other things.

We’ve been together for about four and a half years.

So, Like, what have I learned?

Romantic relationships are very complex, and they all vary a bit.

Growing up, I was convinced that relationships were about tremendous hardships that would keep a cute boy and I apart. Maybe our dads would own competitive pizzerias, maybe he would be a prince and live in a different country, or maybe I’d live half of my life in a blonde wig.

Sure, my dad couldn’t care less about pizza, a prince would never visit Indiana, and I have no singing abilities. But it could still happen for me! Right!?

And if he cheated on me, well, the other girls and I would team together to destroy him, then eat our feelings in hazelnut chocolate.

But, as I found out at fourteen, love does not play out as it does on television. You see a cute boy, he asks for your number, then you both date other people.

When you finally reconnect and become boyfriend and girlfriend, the butterflies could make your stomach explode. The excitement consumes your life. Will it feel like this forever!?

Then, it doesn’t feel like that forever, and you stress.

So, Like, Now What!?

Romantic relationships are not seventy-years of the last minutes of A Cinderella Story on repeat. They are getting up and going to work. They are shoveling the dogs’ poop. They are begging for another dog. They are figuring out what’s for dinner, throwing out a suggestion, and that not being it.

Eventually, your world comes back to reality, the Friday night lights end, and you start growing as an individual.

These changes are normal – even if they feel scary at first. Here are a few things that I have learned over the past years.

Chill on the Buffalo Wings

When Dawson and I first started dating, we felt the need to go on dates constantly. We would grab whatever cash we had from previous holidays, babysitting gigs, and odd jobs. Then, we would go straight to Applebee’s! Half-priced apps? Uh, yes, x3000!

Give us all the boneless wings.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I have split an Applebee’s appetizer with this guy.

Once we started eating fries and bingeing Netflix Originals, I started worrying. Why weren’t we going on dates much anymore? Instead, we just started chilling in elastic waistbands, shoving our faces in fries, and screaming at Joe Goldberg from the couch.

Were we becoming more friends than boyfriend/girlfriend?

After talking to Dawson about my fears, I realized this was totally normal. Life isn’t a Disney movie!

Having lowkey days is okay. It is okay to not even talk sometimes but just spend the time together. It is all okay, normal, and fun.

It’s also okay to sometimes indulge in those half-priced apps. It is a good deal, after all.

Say Hey to Hobbies!

I have learned that it is so important to have hobbies. This maintains a healthy lifestyle: your work/home life stays balanced, your relationship doesn’t become everything you have, etc.

You can probably find me clapping for Ben on The Bachelorette, having a dance session to Taylor Swift, rocking the cheetah print, listening intently to true crime, organizing anything in sight, or working on a craft.

You know who despises all those things, minus the true crime?

The guy who is reading a book, listening to a four-hour podcast, watching a director’s commentary, waiting eagerly to go fish, learning about historical dates like the creation of banana pudding, or playing video games.

Dawson and I are very different. We both have our hobbies, which is okay! I know that there is no way he could listen to Taylor Swift on repeat, wrap Christmas presents for 4,000 hours, or get his craft on. Just like I could never stand there waiting for a fish, finish a director’s commentary (shut up and let me watch the movie!!), or have an interest in trying various beers.

We are in the same relationship – we are not the same person.

With that being said, I have found it very significant to have hobbies that we do together! For example, we love going to lakes together, bingeing You and other short shows, or discussing serial killers.

Have your own hobbies, but also have hobbies together! Both are very significant and healthy.

‘Tis The Season for Change

Every day, I am changing and evolving.

For instance, I have recently gotten very into dieticians’ studies, trying different coffees, and true crime podcasts.

None of these things were on my radar when Dawson and I started dating.

I was so nervous that all these personality changes, belief alterations, and interest swaps would weird him out.

But they don’t.

They are growth. Something both of us will do forevermore (or should I say evermore!!)

Growing is normal! Growing is good! Don’t be afraid of changing, learning, or evolving. It’s all good, healthy, and fun.

Not all coffee is good coffee.

Boundaries Are for Everyone

In life, there are thousands of relationships. Some relationships with significant others, with parents, with friends, with pets, with coworkers, with the typical 6 am barista or social media relationships.

In those relationships, it is necessary to establish boundaries.

If a local Barb told me I should wear high-rise jeggings to hide my stomach, I’d be angry. I would also be angry if someone on social media, my barista, or Dawson said that.

This is an extreme example, but it is a boundary. One that applies to all relationships.

I do not like it when people compare my body to other bodies or talk about my body in terms of improvement.

This boundary does not exclude Dawson.

Additionally, I don’t like it when someone tries to add additional stress to me after completing a task. I don’t tolerate being told how to dress, and I hate when people continually give their contradicting opinion when I don’t ask.

These pet peeves apply to anyone and everyone. That’s okay – they are boundaries and boundaries are healthy.

Dawson doesn’t like being frequently asked about something, so I learned to stop doing that. Dawson isn’t a huge fan of texting, so I learned to call if I want a conversation. These are Dawson’s boundaries, and I understand that they apply to me.

I am bad at establishing and enforcing my boundaries. But it is important in all relationships. It’s something that you can sometimes do by action, rather than verbally addressing it. That may be the easier way to go, and I highly suggest starting with those small steps.

If someone is trying to set boundaries with you, don’t keep asking: why, why, why, why? It’s what makes them comfortable, so roll with it – even if you don’t get it.

What’s Your Language?

I have said it before, and I will say it again:

Know your love language.

Dawson loves quality time, so I make sure that this is a huge part of our relationship. In the car, we have meaningful conversations. When we watch TV, we share our theories. When we have massive loads of homework, we spend the day snacking and working together. It’s all about quality time!

I love gifts – not shocking; I admire Santa on level 100. Dawson brings me 8oz of tomatillo, a coffee, or a new roll of wrapping paper. When he does these things, I feel incredibly happy!

These are the things that we love.

And he is the one that I love!

And will love evermore.

Longer than Hillary will love the guy from One Tree Hill.

All my life, I’ll work on keeping our relationship happy and healthy!

It’s all about learning.

Cheers to the next 388 days of learning as an engaged couple! Then, we’ll be learning as a married couple! ❤

I Need A Gift For My S/O + Their Parents!! SLNW!?

Several people have reached out to me, asking what they should buy for their significant other.

I have not had to think about this for quite some time, as Dawson mostly asks for specific things like toe socks (yep), harmonicas, or Guinness.

Nonetheless, I love thinking of gift ideas! Especially for significant others, as most people tend to put excessive amounts of pressure on themselves. In reality (call me Steve!), a vase for flowers or a sweatshirt with a YouTuber would do.

If you are struggling to think of a gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend and are wondering,

So, Like, Now What!?

I got you covered! Also, I’ll throw in some quick and easy gifts for parents that you may not know too well.

Girlfriends

As I make Christmas lists, I try to be practical. I adore getting things for our future home or getting things that I would typically buy. For example, I spend entirely too much money on coffee and Manna DeKor and More, so gift cards to those places would be fantastic!

However, when Dawson asks what to get me, I always struggle to answer.

Honestly, I’d love to get something meaningful, something that would benefit us both, and/or something we could do together – even during this pandemic.

Gifts Ideas

A gift card to her favorite restaurant and dessert place. Dinner with you that’s prepaid for? Yes, please!

A gift card for coffee or lunch, and a few gift cards to her favorite clothing stores. Let her pick the day and go on an already-paid-for shopping spree together! Dawson did this for me once, and it was a blast.

So many people are into true crime these days. How fun would it be to order a cold case file from Amazon, buy her favorite bottle of wine, and have a chill, at-home date? I think this would be a 10/10 night.

If your girlfriend is crafty, get her a gift card to Board & Brush or Wine & Canvas. Both of you can go, work on projects (possibly for your home), eat snacks, drink beer, and have fun creating together.

If you want her to have something to open, rather than waiting on the event, I suggest thinking about what she loves. Buy her clothes from her favorite boutique, pet accessories from Chewy, or something that she deems ‘luxurious.’ If she treats herself with Steve Madden wallets or candles, buy those things!

If you’re on the lookout for personalized or meaningful gifts, I highly suggest Etsy. If you give her a necklace with her favorite Bible verse, an ornament with a picture of you two, or a mug of her dog, you’ll have schooled good ole Santa Claus.

The magic of Christmas is love; if you’re showing that love, you’re golden.

Boyfriends

Boys don’t tend to be as sentimental as females – if I’m stereotyping.

Many men like sentimental gifts, but many confess to not treasuring them as much as I would. With that theory in mind, I try to balance sentimental gifts and practical ones.

Most times, the men in my life express exactly what they want: new clothes, a pair of shoes, beer, grilling accessories, or food gift cards.

I try to get those things as much as possible, but also make it thoughtful. Additionally, I throw in a few other things.

Gifts

This won’t work during the pandemic, but a huge hit is taking them to a comedy show. There are comedians like Nate Bargatze, who you can find tickets for relatively cheap on Groupon. Other comedians are Tom Segura or Bert Kreischer.

If you live near Fort Wayne, there is a place called Big Eye Dicks Axe Throwing. This place teaches you how to throw axes, provides snacks and beer, and has smaller activities. It is supposed to be one of the most fun dates around. I would recommend grabbing a gift card there and a gift card to Pint & Slice for afterward – that’s only eight-minutes of travel!

Who doesn’t love food? A super thoughtful way to revolve a gift around food is to get five $10 gift cards. I suggest getting them to fast-food restaurants that he frequently visits for lunch or dinner. Then, his lunch and dinner are on you for a while!

Something that gets overlooked often is a cooler – people love coolers! Get him a cooler, and fill it with his favorite soda or beer.

Not all guys, but a lot, love the Carhartt brand. It would be awesome if you got him something from Carhartt: a hat, a shirt, a lunchbox, a tool bag, etc.

Many are raving about weighted blankets, which is a great gift to give.

Luckily, The Office and That 70’s Show are being taken off Netflix around Christmas. Snag those on DVD for him, and he will be stoked! You guys could binge them together if 2021 is like 2020 (let’s hope not!)

This is kind of a weird one, but I love it, so here it is: Weather Tech. I love keeping my car clean, and it’s super practical! Having Weather Tech in my car has saved me – from a massive, shattered bottle of Rosé. Buy a set of Weather Tech for his car, and throw in a Black Ice freshener.

When buying for men, I always try to remember that the gift is for them. I try to be extra thoughtful while practical.

Their Parents

When buying for parents that you don’t know personally, you must think of two things: food and quality time.

I highly suggest getting the parents a box of DeBrand chocolate, a cheesecake, or custom cookies. Several small businesses charge about $30 for a dozen custom sugar cookies. Order some themed after their favorite Christmas movie, which is probably Christmas Vacation. They’ll love it!

Families love spending quality time together, and many spend this time playing games! Look on Amazon for some fun, innovative games that you can all play together.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

…yes, I will wrap your gifts for you!