Writer, Christian, SEO/Social Media Marketer, Book Reviewer, Deaf and Loud.

Tag Archives: career

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Image Credits: Rhythm Agency

Hey guys! Happy New Years Eve! It’s about that time of year again where I look back at the past year and reflect on some of the greatest moments of the year. I came into 2016 pretty broken. I was in the midst of dealing with a difficult breakup, I was stuck in a job that I could no longer stand, and I was about as miserable as could be.

2016 was by no means a perfect year. I’ve been battling a terrible illness for the past couple of months and was recently diagnosed with bronchitis. My beloved cat and friend, Gizmo also passed away at the ripe old approximate age of 21.

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Rest in Peace…Gizmo

But overall, despite how many people claim that 2016 was their “worst year ever”, 2016 ended up being pretty good for me. Here 6 of my best moments from 2016.

  1. FINALLY going to NYC…(Twice, actually).

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I have been obsessed with NYC ever since I was a little kid. I swear, I must have been born a city slicker. However, up until 2016 I’ve never actually been to NYC, my loved was based solely on what I read about it o seen on TV or in movies.

I had plans in the past to go. I was supposed to go to see the Statue of Liberty for a field trip in 7th grade, but when the terrorists attacked the twin towers on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade, so naturally that field trip was cancelled.

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I was also going to go on September 11, 2013 for a job interview I had with the Christian Post. However, at the time I wasn’t exactly in the same place as I am today with my faith. I was on the fence about the job and unsure about it being in NYC which was pretty far from where I lived. I received another job offer to work at a local SEO agency the day before my scheduled interview, so I decided to accept that job offer instead.

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Fast forward to 2.5 years later and my magical job suddenly wasn’t so magical. I was unhappy and more than ready to move on.

I applied to more than 100 jobs, some of which were in NYC. When I got a call back to interview for an Assistant Digital Producer job at Scholastic I was stoked. Working for Scholastic seemed like a dream to me. I grew up reading every scholastic book imaginable and was obsessed with the book fairs. This love and obsession carried on to me even in my adult life.

The interview was pretty much a disaster. The recruiter was super nice and that preliminary screening went well, but when I met with the person who I guess would’ve been my boss it all went down hill. I thought a digital producer was basically the same thing as a content coordinator but I quickly found out I was completely wrong.

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I still don’t know what an Assistant Digital Producer does at Scholastic, but I know it’s definitely not blogging, social media, or content marketing…

But I had a great time in NYC anyway. Just being able to see the office was amazing and NYC was everything I thought it would be. I definitely still want to move there.

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I loved my first trip to NYC so much that I decided to come back there to celebrate my 26th birthday. I went to eat lunch at Black Tap NYC. This restaurant was all the rage at the time thanks to their famous milkshakes. The restaurant was actually really disappointing and the staff was horrible, but the rest of the trip was great. I was really just in complete awe of the city. I enjoyed going to the M&M Factory and Bubba Gump and exploring Times Square. I can’t wait to get back there again.

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2. Seeing Good Charlotte…Twice.

For those of you who don’t know, Good Charlotte is by  far my favorite band. I saw them perform for the first time in 100+ degree weather outside on Father’s Day at Festival Pier in Penn’s Landing back in 2010. Since then I’ve seen them Cherry Hill, at the TLA multiple times, and most recently at the Fillmore. I’ve seen them a total of 5 or 6 times, two of which were in 2016.

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Seeing them in 2016 was especially special for me because it was the first time I could REALLY hear them. They sounded just as amazing as I remembered. I liked that I could hear everything they said when they were just talking, too. Before receiving my cochlear implants in 2014 and 2015 I would miss out a lot on their talks to the crowd and teasing each other. The Madden twins have such a great sense of humor that really comes out when they play shows together. It was great to finally get to hear it in these shows.

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Both of the shows were amazing. The TLA will probably always be my favorite venue, but the Fillmore was pretty awesome, too. I like the atmosphere of the TLA better and have a lot of great memories at the TLA, but I think the sound quality at the Fillmore was better. While both shows were incredible I’ll have to say the one I saw in November at the Fillmore was probably their best show ever. It was the perfect blend of old and new songs and so very nostalgic. It was like my childhood come to life in musical form.

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I can’t wait to see them again. For those of you who really, really, really love me they will be performing/traveling with this amazing warped tour/emo/punk cruise ship package thing in October. If you buy it for me I promise to love you for forever…just saying…

3. Working at Becker’s School Supplies

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Image Credits: Becker’s School Supplies on Facebook

This one probably comes as a surprise for most of you guys.. My job at Becker’s didn’t really work out. I actually didn’t get this job originally. It’s kind of a funny story. I found the open SEO Marketer position accidentally on Monster.com, a website I rarely ever used during my job search (I was pretty loyal/exclusive to LinkedIn). I applied and got an interview pretty quickly and thought I had nailed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better interview. I got along with everyone  so well. Being obsessed with school supplies and wearing paperclip earrings to my interview also helped a lot haha.

Imagine my devastation when I received a phone call while at work on April Fool’s Day of all days. I couldn’t believe it.

But the story didn’t end there. I got another call from them about a week later. Apparently things didn’t work out with the first person they hired, so I was next in line. Eager to get our of the miserable job I was currently stuck in, I quickly accepted.

Becker’s wasn’t a bad job at all. It was actually almost anything you could ask for in a job. It was pretty much the complete opposite from my current job which was a plus. It was a family owned business that benefitted the education system in a positive way. I was honestly just excited to get out of the agency life. I also liked that it was a small family-owned business that was around for many years. But my favorite parts? Everyone was sooooooooo nice and professional and there was none of the typical office drama or politics.

I got along great with everyone and was well-liked. It was refreshing to see and work with various members of the Becker family each day. They owned the company and were at the top of the tier, but they never made you feel like you were below them. Everyone was all part of the same team. They valued and respected all of their employees. I’ll never forget how the first thing Kurt Becker, the company’s treasurer, asked me was what I thought about the website and what I’d fix. I was an employee at that time for less than a week and he still valued my opinion and expertise enough to want to know my ideas for change.

As great as Becker’s was though, it wasn’t right for me. I spent years working in SEO in the past, but it was much different. I learned that when it comes to SEO, I’m all about creating content such as blogs and other website content that is optimized for SEO. I’m not much for Google Analytics (although I’m learning!) or any of the data/analytical side of things which this position dealt a lot with. Also, while I loved school supplies my love for school supplies didn’t quite match up with the products the company sold. I thought this was a company that sold a bunch of notebooks and pens, but it was really all early childhood education supplies like furniture for childcare centers.

I used to love product meetings where vendors will show us their stuff and try to persuade us to purchase it, mainly because I’m a child and I love to play with fake sand and dinosaurs and legos and read picture books, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around early education. I never went to pre-school, let alone daycare as a kid. It was a whole new field for me.

When I accepted the job with Becker’s I still had a lot of other job applications out and was negotiating with Penn Medicine. I wasn’t sure what would happen with that opportunity. It sounded good, but I have also been negotiating for several months and nothing was happening and I really needed a new job. I was also looking into grad school and applying for the TEP program. My future was so unclear. Everything was a risk.

I have absolutely no regrets about Becker’s. I learned so much about my career interests, job preferences, and how to turn down a job that isn’t working for you. I left them with the best gift I had to give: I referred them to a former co-worker who I saw as an expert in SEO that I knew was interested in the position. She could do for them everything they needed and wanted in terms of SEO that I didn’t know how to do. They hired her almost immediately. The rest is history.

4.Working at Penn Medicine

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Image Credits: Henrietta Hudson 

While it was quite the long process, I did end up getting hired by Penn Medicine in 2016. I initially turned down the position to work at Becker’s, but they begged me to reconsider. Isn’t it funny how things work out? I applied in January and was finally hired in June.

I honestly wasn’t sure about Penn when I first applied. I previously did an internship with Slack Medical journals and really, really, really hated it. It was so boring and technical and confusing. I was afraid Penn would be the same, yet for some reason this felt really different. I almost backed out of this interview several times because of other interviews I had (first with Scholastic and then with Bernie Robbins jewelers). I am so glad that my mom and some of my friends and former colleagues pushed me to go and keep pursuing this opportunity, even when it seemed hopeless.

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Working at Penn has been a blessing to me in so, so, so many ways. First off, I really love the location. Like I stated previously, I’m a city slicker. We’re located right in University City. It’s a safe part of Philly and there’s so much stuff going on! We’re within walking distance of many restaurants which makes lunch time fun, especially if we have a new member to our team. I recently tried an Indian buffet with my co-workers and in the summer we’d frequently meet up for green smoothies from the fruit lady’s food truck or frozen yogurt from Kiwi yogurt.

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The content team at the #LoveFest Pep Rally

Secondly, I love my job itself. I get to do my two favorite things: write a lot and work on social media. I also get to teach my co-workers what I learn, specifically with our new social media content management system, Sprinklr. I’m never bored. I learn constantly and am always challenged. I didn’t know much about medical conditions initially, but have since learned so many incredible things. I’m in awe by Dr. Carl June’s work with immunotherapy and cancer. All of the neurological conditions constantly blow my mind (did you know there’s a procedure where they turn off and test different parts of the brain to see what if anything will be lost if they cut away part of it?). It’s fascinating stuff!

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My co-workers are also the best. They are so talented, kind, and hard-working. It’s also a very professional atmosphere free of office drama and politics. While everyone is always working really hard, we also have fun together with team building exercises such as monthly full staff meetings, our pep rally, and our Christmas bowling party. We are also starting a professional development book club which should be fun.

5. Becoming an Adjunct Professor AND a Grad School Student at Rowan University

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Image Credits: Rowan

Of all of the possible things that could’ve happened this year, I never imagined I’d become a college professor, but that is exactly what happened.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school to earn my MA in Writing for years. I didn’t want to get my MA originally. I was tired and burnt out after earning to BA’s and I didn’t think an MA was all that important to be honest. But after receiving bilateral cochlear implants I wrote a book and now I want so additional help to finish writing/revising it and publish it.

Still, I wasn’t sure how this would work. I didn’t know at the time that Penn has an amazing benefits package that would cover the cost of my tuition. I just knew that financial aid wasn’t an option with grad school, so I was on my own and grad school doesn’t come cheap.

When Professor Block emailed me about grad school and mentioned the TEP program which allows students to teach while earning their MA and pays for at least part of their tuition costs, I saw it as a sign that I was meant to go to grad school and apply.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I knew I like teaching, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I ultimately did. I didn’t expect to get so attached to my students. I think teaching is one of the best things to ever happen to me, honestly. I love it so much. I love feeling like I’m making a difference and seeing my students improve as writers.

Grad school’s not bad, either. Some of the writing projects for Core were fun. It’s not the most interesting year for me though. I feel like I have a lot of pre-reqs which can be a little dry to take now to get to the good stuff like writing the memoir and non-fiction writing. But still I’ve really loved just being back in school again. I love the challenge of it all. I love learning.

It hasn’t been easy. Juggling a full time job in the city, teaching three times a week, and taking 2 graduate level courses a semester is no joke. But I love the thrill of the challenge and being constantly under pressure. I feel like I am constantly working towards a goal and I feel I’ve been fairly successful so far.

6. Going to Washington DC

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DC is another place I had plans to go to multiple times, but never actually went to until this year. I was first going to go on a field trip in 7th grade, but alas the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade caused the trip to get cancelled. Then in 2014 or whenever it was I was going to meet Casey there and get back together with him, but in a really bizarre turn of events he cancelled our plans and ran off and got engaged and married to some other girl…but that’s another story…

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Every year Rowan picks a book to have the University read together as a whole. This year the book was Americanah! by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don’t know what the book was about because I didn’t actually read it lol. Anyway though, the book inspired the University to take a free trip to DC that was open to all students and faculty and since I’ve always wanted to go to DC anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to go.

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I was nervous about the trip at first since I didn’t know anyone who was going. Who would I hang out with so I wouldn’t get lost? Should I go as a student or a faculty member since I was actually both? I hung out with faculty originally until I met a faculty member’s son who was a current senior at Rowan and closest in age to me. We hung out for the rest of the trip and became fast friends and had a blast.

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We went to the museum of African history, an African art museum, and one of the Smithsonians, though we didn’t have much time at the Smithsonian. It was a really cool trip. I’m a museum and art nerd so I love looking at and learning about this stuff. The only down side was that the main African history museum was realllllllllllllly crowded and you could hardly move.

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We also ate at a soul food restaurant. I don’t eat soul food much, if ever, so it was a different experience for me. I had these oysters cooked in some kind of a hot sauce that were really good.

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It was a really nice trip especially since it helped me to get out of my comfort zone. I am glad that I did end up befriending someone despite not knowing anyone and that I took the risk to go to a new place with no one I knew. I’d definitely do something like this again in the future and I hope that in 2017 Rowan provides me with more opportunities to do so!

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7. Going to Kentucky.

My trip to Kentucky was incredible and perhaps the highlight of 2016.

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My mom and I went with Gloucester County Community Church (GCCC). I’ve been following the making of the Ark from day 1 a few years back and when I heard it opened in the summer I couldn’t wait to go. We previously looked into driving down for my mom’s birthday in August, but it was too expensive. However, going with the church would save us money and we’d take a bus with everyone so transportation wouldn’t be an issue.

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Our trip lasted 3 days and consisted with a few hours at the Creation Museum followed by almost a full day at the Ark.

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The Creation Museum was okay. Not quite as good as I was expecting, but still pretty cool. I really loved the dinosaurs. I always liked dinosaurs ever since I was a kid. About a year ago I realized that the bible never mentions the word “dinosaur” so I started to ponder why. I turned to Answers in Genesis and they explained how dinosaurs did exist and were referred to using different words. To see and learn more about this at the museum was neat. Most of the dinosaurs weren’t as big as made out to be and the dinosaurs used to only eat plants as did all animals which the bible clearly states, but few people realize. It was very informative.

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Noah’s Ark was amazing. You don’t realize how big it is until you see if for yourself. It was also incredible biblically accurate. They had all of the animals that they had back then and the cages and everything so well done. I enjoyed learning about Noah and his family and the work that they did on the Ark as well. It made me thirsty to learn more.

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Overall, 2016 was an incredible year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!

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Image Credits: Happy Thanksgiving Day Images

Hey guys, Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit this year – at all. My family and I considered scaling back or even postponing Thanksgiving this year and I am already sick to death of Christmas.

I’ve had a rough week. I went on a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was a fantastic trip and I learned so much about the book of Genesis, God’s creation, and Noah’s Ark. You wouldn’t believe how big the ark really is – you need to see it for yourself. Kenn Hamm should be very proud of his creation on the Ark Encounter because it was extremely accurate and stunning!

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However, I went on the trip a little bit sick and came back extremely sick. My mom was also sick and diagnosed with bronchitis and sinusitis or something. Dad got the flu. Our poor cat, Gizmo also got very sick and sadly could not fight off the infection. He died on Sunday morning.

Losing Giz has been extremely hard on everyone. He was so much more than just a cat to us – he was family. He was more loyal, loving, kind, and compassionate than most people we know including our blood family. He would always greet you at the door, eat dinner with you, and comfort you when you were upset. He was my dad’s best friend and my dad would talk to Giz and spend all of his time caring for Giz when Mom and I were at work or school. My dad has been completely heartbroken and devastated by the lost of his best friend.

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I know that it was Gizmo’s time to go. He was 21 years old and we could tell he wasn’t feeling well and on Saturday night, was really suffering. We chose to have him buried in a pet cemetery where he will get his own headstone and everything. I know it sounds crazy, but he deserves it. His burial will take place on Saturday. I don’t think my family and I will ever be ready to let go of him though.

So, with all of this we’re not exactly in the mood for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays this year. It’s sad and not the same. It’s hard because we think of the times we’ve spent with my grandparents. How my grandfather would accidentally insult my mom’s cooking and it was so funny you couldn’t be mad at it. We remember the crazy Thanksgiving song my Mom’s mom invented and how mad it made her husband, my mom’s dad. We remember making special dinners for Giz and how we’d torment him with the turkey before we cooked it. We remember years ago when my sister was a part of the family and the holiday. We remember how these people are no longer a part of our lives, and we miss them and the way things used to be. This makes the holidays hard. Plus, while we’re feeling better than we have, none of us are 100% yet, which just makes it harder.

I know a lot of people would criticize me and say that this isn’t very “Christian” of me. I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. I need God in my life to give me a source of hope when I feel hopeless. When I’m too far invested in the world (like I have been lately) and not invested enough in God, I have trouble feeling hope. That’s why I want to spend a large portion of my time today invested in reading scripture, so I can feel that sense of hope again.

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Image Credits: Bible Verse Images 

There is always something in life to be thankful for, even if you don’t always feel or see it though. Here is what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My Amazing Family.

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My family is small – just my parents and I – but it’s been amazing. My parents are my biggest fans and supporters. They want nothing more than to see me succeed and reach for the moon. They yell at me when they think I’m not reaching high enough or when I’m “settling” for something less than the best. They always drive me everywhere I need to go since I don’t have a driver’s license and they do it without complaint. My dad has over the years even driven me all the way through State College for a job interview that went horrifically bad and my mom has taken me to NYC on the subway she knew nothing about for another job interview gone bad. My parents are the best and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

2. My Job at Penn Medicine.

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This was an incredibly hard job to get. My interview process started in January and I didn’t actually get hired until June. I am thankful that Penn has worked with me and did everything they could to offer me a job, even when I took a different job instead initially. I know I have a strange schedule due to school, so I am incredibly thankful for Penn for working around my schedule by offering me reduced hours and the ability to work from home. I am thankful for my amazing co-workers who teach me everything and exert extreme patience, kindness, and understanding towards me. Penn has been such a great company to work for and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work for them.

3. Rowan University.

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Image Credits: AliveCampus.com 

As a student, I don’t always agree with some of the changes or decisions the school makes, but I still really love this school and am so thankful for all of the doors it has opened to me. I am thankful to have the opportunity to earn my MA in Writing and to hopefully become one step closer to finishing and publishing my book, God Granted Me Hearing. I am thankful to have the opportunity to teach freshman college students through the Teaching Experience (TEP) program, something I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do. I am incredibly thankful for Dr. Courtney and the current and former TEP instructors for all of the help, assistance, lesson-plan sharing, ideas, and advice they have given me. I’d be lost without all of you guys – you’re the best. I’m thankful for my students who while they drive me crazy at times, also know how to make me smile and show me why teaching is so awesome.

4. My Amazing Church Family. 

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Image Credits: Washington Baptist Church

I saw a picture posted on Facebook the other day that said “Church isn’t just a place, it’s a family”. As someone who’s been church-hopping for many years, I can truly say it’s hard to find a church that feels like a family. I found that with Washington Baptist Church. Pastor Lex and all of the members of the congregation are absolutely amazing people. They really take the time to get to know one another, to lift them up, and to pray for each other. You’re never just a nameless face at WBC.

Even when I left WBC for a few months to try out another church, as soon as I came back I was welcomed with open arms. Even when I went each week to another church I couldn’t forget about WBC – I missed them because they were my family. I never felt that kind of connection at any other church before. This church has taught me SO much and helped to bring me closer in my walk with God.

5. My Cochlear Implants.

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This is the first time in 2 years that I’m not recovering from surgery around the holidays. I just celebrated 2 years with my first cochlear implant on my left ear and on Wednesday I will be at 1 year on my right ear. It still never ceases to amaze me how well I can hear. Even though my right one hasn’t been working right the last few days (I’m probably going to have to send it out to AB for repairs), I can still hear so well, better than most people I know now. I’m always in awe when I can watch YouTube videos (or my latest obsession – TED talks) without caption. Certain sounds are still new to me – hearing trains go by still scare me because I forget what it is that I’m hearing. Every time I’m feeling down and depressed and having an “I hate my life, why me?” kind of moment I remember how much God has blessed me with this incredible gift. I’m so thankful for Dr. Willcox and the amazing team at Jefferson for helping to make this miracle happen for me.

 

What are you guys thankful for this year?


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Image Credits: Slice Communications 

Hey guys! Happy Independence Day weekend! For those of you who are not from the US, well, happy weekend. :).

Today I am going to take a short break from the 30 day writing challenge to write about Social Media Day Philadelphia. I attended this convention held at the Franklin Institute on Thursday, June 30th with 3 of my co-workers from Penn Medicine. All of them work as web content coordinators while I work as as a Web./Social Media Monitoring Specialist. Together, we work on creating engaging and informative content for the Penn Medicine website, newsletters, social media pages, and more.

This is actually the first social media convention I’ve ever been to, so it’s safe to say I was pretty pumped about having the opportunity to attend. I made a few rookie mistakes including being one of the most over-dressed people there (at least I was dressed to impress, right?), not bringing my laptop (it wouldn’t have helped much as it needs a new battery though), and not having an extra power bank or means of charging my phone on-hand (I live tweeted a majority of the convention, so it didn’t take long for my battery to shoot down to 0%. Despite these rookie mistakes, I still had a really good time and learned a lot. I think my first social media convention was definitely a success.

Here’s a breakdown of my day:

9:00am: Slice Communications gave a welcoming speech. This was a great way to kick things off. I always loved Slice Communications ever since my former coworker and friend introduced me to them about a year ago. They are doing so many great things in the world of digital marketing. They were great hosts for the event. Cassandra Bailey, President and CEO, has so much energy and is so well organized for the event. I really love her bright yellow dress, too. I don’t even like the color yellow, but it fits her bright personality and shows that she is from Slice (Slice’s logo is yellow) which I think is great.

9:10am: Erin Dress, Brand Marketing Specialist and CPG at Twitter delivers opening keynote. I was so excited to hear Erin Dress speak, mainly because she is from Twitter. I definitely agreed with her points on how Twitter is where people go to gain information and that it’s one of the most trustworthy social networks (I think LinkedIn is more so though, but Twitter is broader).The facts about Twitter’s advertising vs. Facebook’s intrigued me. I never realized that Facebook targets users based on demographics while Twitter targets more specific interests. In general, Twitter’s advertising options are more focused. Perhaps this is why the CPC is generally much higher for Twitter ads than they are for Facebook ads. I also agreed that your brand’s message needs to be personalized. The example of using emojis and how Dove created one with curly hair was amazing. I always liked emojis,but I realize they can be tricky to incorporate into marketing. The idea of creating a whole new emoji strictly for your brand is brilliant.

10:00am: Break. During this first break I spotted Nick Walz! Nick and I worked together for a few years at WebiMax. He left in March of 2015 while I left in April of 2016. We talk to each other on a semi-frequent basis, but we haven’t actually seen each other since his last day at WebiMax. It was so nice to see him and catch up on everything. Nick is pretty awesome and a bit of a social media guru. He taught me pretty much everything I know about social media. I really enjoyed working with him in the past and being mentored by him and I’m sure he’s doing great things as a media strategist for Harmelin Media now. Remember his name, Philly.

10:10am: My co-workers and I decided to attend the Healthcare Digital Darwinism panel since we all work in Healthcare (obvious choice). This panel made me feel really good about myself and the business I represent because I felt we were doing many things right. Many of the speakers stressed the importance of responding to messages on Facebook and other platforms, especially if they were negative, within 20 minutes or less and to have a social media emergency response plan in effect. We do have an emergency response ready to go when needed and always answer ASAP. I liked how some of the speakers mentioned using Facebook messenger to talk directly with users/patients. I know a lot of brands shy away from that direct interaction, but I think in the healthcare industry, it’s really important. I enjoyed this panel overall. My only criticisms are that a lot of the points made were things I already knew and not all of the speakers worked much with social media, which considering it’s social media day, was weird to me.

10:50AM: Break. My co-workers knew some of the speakers and wanted to catch up with them after the panel.I think it was Daniel Moise, Social Media Strategist at Virtua Health, that we spoke to. He seemed very smart and friendly.

10:55am: CMO Roundtable. Choosing to attend this panel was not an easy decision. We were torn between this and the other option, Social is the New Digital Currency, but in the end my coworkers and I decided to go with the CMO Roundtable since we don’t have a CMO (it became a little bit of an inside joke for us). Plus, we were already in the room that this chat was being held at and after spending our whole break talking with the speakers from the healthcare panel, we were cutting it close on time. The CMO Roundtable was actually pretty good. The CMOs expressed the importance of using Facebook to show a fun side of their brand and the importance of being authentic on social media. I loved how they said that if something isn’t working in your social strategy, you need to change it quickly. I spent nearly 3 years working for an agency and sometimes this could be a tough decision to make when trying something new. Do you keep waiting it out, or do you change it before it’s too late? Hearing their advice to change it before it’s too late was a bit of a game changer for me and will certainly affect how I view future campaign when experimenting with new strategies. Of all of the CMO’s speaking for this panel, Carolina Lobo was by far my favorite. She was very polished and professional, but completely real and hilarious when you least expected her to be so. “Authenticity” was one of the words of the day for Social Media Day Philadelphia 2016, 2nd only to “influencer”, but Carolina was one of the few who not only spoke about the importance of being authentic, but she actually WAS authentic. Quote Of The Day: “No one gives a crap about the awards the CMOs win.” – Carolina Lobo. CMO’s, take note.

11:35am: Break. My coworkers knew the speaker Drew Diskin, CMO of WizeHive, so they wanted to speak with him for a few minutes. I never met Drew, let alone worked with him in the past, but I was vaguely familiar with WizeHive so I was curious to see what he had to say. Drew is a very bold and confident man. He didn’t talk much about how work with WizeHive, but gave us a little bit of leadership advice from the perspective of a CMO.

11:40am: Building a Data-Driven Company: Lessons From The Front Line. My coworkers and I chose to attend this talk over hearing the guy from Comcast talk about his work because we wanted to hear things that could benefit or effect us, not just hear others success stories. This talk was given by Robert J. Moore from RJ Metrics. I have been following them online for awhile and was familiar with the brand. I knew that the people behind the brand were very smart and always produced great content. The downside? I work as a content creator. I’m more for the writing and creative side of things. Data and numbers and statistics make my head spin. I didn’t really process or understand anything Robert said during the first half of his presentation. However, during part 2 I was extremely engaged. In part 2 he explained the great RJ Metrics logo fail story. I love how he saw this as an opportunity to further explore his own company, his audience, and do what RJ Metrics does best: use data to analyze and pull it all together. They did a great job of honing up to their mistake and more than that, they took pride in it. They wrote blog posts and talked with the media about their logo fail. They never once tried to run away or hide from it. They embraced it. They became masters at turning a negative into a positive. The results? RJ Metrics gained trust and authenticity within their audience. I think everyone in some shape or form can kind of relate to this honest mistake. It is a funny story that made RJ Metrics more memorable. In the end, this mistake worked wonders for them.

12:20pm: (The Most Philadelphian) Lunch Time! The organizers of the event were nice enough to provide lunch for everyone. It was a grab and go boxed lunch with plenty of varieties of sandwiches for everyone to choose from. I grabbed a turkey one and my coworkers and I headed to the cafeteria to eat. When we opened our boxes we were surprised by how much food they gave us. We all had a hoagie/sandwich/or wrap, a bag of Herr’s (Philadelphia company) chips, a small container of fruit salad, a Tastykake (another Philadelphia company), and a soft pretzel (Philadelphian snack). We joked that it felt like being back in elementary school. Once we were all finished eating we headed to the giant heart and the brain exhibits to get a few pictures for the Heart and Vascular and Neuroscience service lines and to just kind of play around with some things.

1:30 Flash Talk With Cecily Kellogg of Double Good Media. The flash talk with Cecily Kellogg of Double Good Media was probably my most favorite talk of the day. Cecily may not have been a keynote speaker and she may have only had 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes were powerful. Even though she is a hardcore liberal and I’m a hardcore conservative and personally, we probably don’t have all that much in common, I still felt deeply connected to her and could relate. She talked about the mistakes she made in the past as a mommy blogger and her regrets over sharing her every thought and how she branded herself in all of the wrong ways. This had some very dire consequences on herself, her family, and her reputation. In the end, Cecily decided her best option was to quit being a mommy blogger and start over from scratch. Cecily is the pure definition of what it means to be authentic. She is more careful about how she presents herself online now, but she still has the same attitude and personality. When she speaks, you know she’s the real deal. I’ve always been pretty open online and had an “everything goes” mindset like Cecily. Her talk inspired me to be a little more careful about what I post online and to think before posting.

1:45pm: Flash  Talk With Jen Leary of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. The flash talk with Jen Leary from the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team was another one of my favorite talks. Jen isn’t known as being a social media guru and she doesn’t claim to be one — she is a firefighter to the core and I really appreciated her honesty. There are many people that will brag about being a social media guru especially at these kinds of events, so it’s refreshing to hear stories like this coming from people who flat out admit “I had no idea what I was doing and I’m still working to figure things out.” Jen seems to be doing a great job figuring it all out! It was inspiring to hear about how much money she and her team were able to raise through Facebook. I’m looking into doing some fundraising on my own in the near future to support Aid the Silent, so this gave me a lot of hope. I also totally agree with her points on the power of a good image and working a little to play on people’s sympathy especially when it comes time to ask for donations. Images can and often are more effective than text alone.

2:00pm:Flash Talk With Teresa Lopez from Seer Interactive: My phone was completely dead by this point so I couldn’t live tweet and that made me inherently sad because there was SO MUCH good information here. I have become OBSESSED with Pinterest marketing over the last 6 months because I know that it holds many SEO benefits and I love the advertising options. I was excited about this one too because I have heard so much about Seer Interactive and know quite a few very talented individuals who have or currently do work for Seer and do an amazing job. I already knew about the importance of performing keyword research and adding keywords into Pinterest board titles and descriptions. I didn’t realize how little weight the actual pins have on SEO though. I’ll definitely spend less time on the individual pins and more time on the boards and the actual account optimizations moving forward.

2:15pm: Flash Talk With Susan Poulton from The Franklin Institute. Susan Poulton has a bit of sass that comes with her, which representing the Franklin Institute, was a little unexpected. In her words, she’s “definitely shaking things up at The Franklin Institute”, and with her language and word choice, it’s easy to see why. I liked her though. I liked hearing about how her mission goes beyond just getting people to buy tickets to the museum. One thing that really stood out as being interesting to me was how she is working with her team to market The Franklin Institute globally. I always saw it as being a “Philadelphia” thing and if I were in her position I would probably market it locally, but now that I’m thinking about it, her strategy makes perfect sense. There are many tourists that visit Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute from all over the country that she needs to target and reach, not to mention the general science nerds interested in the science content. Susan made me realize the importance of marketing in a way that can reach everyone, not just those local to your business.

2:45pm: Feature Talk with Pam Didner: How to Maximize The Synergy of Your Social Media & Content Marketing Efforts. My coworkers and I chose this talk with Pam Didner over the one given by/about Curalate, because once again, we wanted to hear about general social media topics, not people’s personal success stories or what they do at their jobs. I had a bit of trouble hearing Pam due to her accent, but when I did hear her, I enjoyed her presentation. She doesn’t look like it at first glance, but she is actually really funny which made her talk even better. I especially enjoyed the templates she provided on how to identify your audience vs. your target user persona and what the difference is. Your audience is general but the persona is more specific, and while the audience may help you to spread your message, the persona is really the one who will follow your brand, use your services, or buy your products. This is why it’s so important not only to identify your audience, but the persona you want to target as well.

3:30pm: What’s Next in Social Media Panel. I got nothing from this panel. It went off topic a lot and was really hard to follow. The moderator asked a question at one point about ROI and someone’s answer was “What’s the ROI of your mom?” My jaw almost hit the floor. I know the tone of the convention was all lighthearted and funny, but that seemed like a little much to me. Judging by the rest of the audience’s reactions, no one else was feeling this panel too much, either. I found an electrical outlet in the floor I was using to charge my phone with, so I began to play around with that and look at all of the other #SMDayPHL tweets. No one was really tweeting much about this panel. Everyone else was just on their phones and laptops and looked like they were waiting for this panel to end.

After that last panel, my co-workers and I decided to call it a day. We still had to travel back home and preferred to do it before it got dark and before it got too late/crowded. Many other attendees followed suit. I do have a few small regrets for skipping the closing keynote given by Kristina Neher though. I read the highlights of it and saw the live tweets come in and it sounds like it was a great presentation on the power of visuals in marketing. I was surprised to hear from the highlights how much higher Instagram engagement is than Facebook. I feel like Facebook is the most powerful social platform that can work for pretty much any business whereas Instagram requires more work and I feel like Instagram is for a younger audience and geared more towards personal use. It looks like it’s time for me to change my attitude towards Instagram! I was also surprised to learn than emails with the word “video” in the subject have a 19% higher open rate…that is definitely something I’m looking to experiment more with in the near future. I liked the idea of using your audience and having them do your marketing for you. If someone from your audience takes a picture of your product for instance, sharing that image can be more powerful and credible than posting your own professional image. I wish this talk would’ve been the opening keynote…it sounds like they really did save the best for last and I’m sorry I missed out on it. :-/

Overall, my first social media convention was a success. I had a really great time and I learned a lot. I look forward to attending it again next year. Who knows, maybe one of these years I’ll even have the opportunity to speak!

Did you attend Social Media Day Philadelphia? If so, what was your favorite part?


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Image Credits: Search Quotes

I hate the writing challenge for day 26. For day 26 it tells me to write the things I’d say to an ex.Where do I even begin? I guess I’ll start from the beginning with “Dear Larry” and take it from there, right? This could take awhile…

Dear Larry:

It has been approximately 8 and a half months since we broke up. They were right when they said it takes approximately half the length of a relationship to get over a breakup. The pain finally started to ease when we hit that 6 month mark in April. I’m not entirely sure that I’m fully where I need or want to be yet. I think a part of me still loves you, and I sometimes think a part of me always will.

How about you? How are you holding up? I had to unfriend you,and for awhile, block you. I couldn’t stand to see your updates on Facebook. It didn’t matter that you were “leaving me alone”,because I couldn’t leave me alone. I couldn’t stop stalking your page. It killed me when I saw you friended and were interacting with Maria. That girl. Tell me, did you do it out of spite? You knew it would get to me. That’s why you did it, isn’t it? Was this your way of getting back at me? If so, as much as I hate to admit it, it worked.

You’re kind of unbelievable, but at the same time I shouldn’t be surprised. She played a huge role in our downfall, afterall. Do you remember the night of August 8, 2015? I don’t think I will ever in all my life forget it, but I sure wish I could. I was so happy to have you home. We couldn’t decide what we wanted to do, but it didn’t even matter. You were home and I loved you so much. Anything we did made me happy, just to be with you. You were so rarely home. I learned to treasure each and every moment we had.

…I guess you didn’t feel the same way about me.

Sometimes you’d say you missed me, but did you really? Or was it Maria that you were missing?

I knew something was up when you asked me how I felt about you being friends with Maria. When she was back in your life. I give you credit for being honest about her being your ex and telling me that much of the truth. But I don’t think you gave me the FULL truth…I’m not sure I’ll ever know the real truth.

Maybe she sent a friend request. That is fine. I have no problem with that at all. I know you’d beg to differ, but I am not crazy. I have a million Facebook friends, most of whom I never talk to, some of which are exes.

Here’s the thing that is NOT okay: to give your exes more attention than your current girlfriend. To lie to your current girlfriend about our ex girlfriend. To ignore your current girlfriend because you’re too wrapped up in your ex. To feel the need to hide your cell phone because of messages from your ex girlfriend that you don’t wan your current girlfriend to see.

Maybe you didn’t have sex with her. Maybe you didn’t kiss her. Maybe you never touched her. Maybe you haven’t even seen her since you broke up.

…but that doesn’t make you innocent.

If you have to hide you phone from your current girlfriend because of messages from another girl, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to cheating, you’re already there.

Do you have any idea how much it hurt for me to find all of those messages on your phone on August 8th? The ones about how she’s so beautiful, asking her if she’s single, asking to video chat.

It didn’t hurt.

It killed.

A part of me died the night of August 8, 2015.

I did what any normal girl would do: I freaked out.

Consider yourself lucky, I didn’t hit you. I should have. I really, really should have.

Breaking up then and there seemed like the obvious answer. I gave my all to you. I was as loyal and committed to you as one could have been, and this was the thanks I got? Really? But I loved you so much.

Remember that night? In your car? We cried together for hours. I never saw a man cry like that before. That wasn’t fake; no man can fake-cry that well. You SOBBED. You were hysterical. How could I not have accepted your apology after that? You made a mistake. But you didn’t mean to hurt me. You loved me. It was a one time thing. It would never happen again. It wouldn’t be easy for me to trust you after that, but I was willing to try. I still had hope and faith in you. I believed we could put this hold thing behind us. Just keep it between us and move on.

Except…it wasn’t between you and me.

It was me, you, Maria, and your family.

Your stupid freaking family.

I often wondered if I was dating you or your family.Sometimes it felt like both. I’m all for being close to your family. You were over my house all the time, you know I was close to my family. You also knew that especially towards the end, they weren’t always too found of you. They didn’t hate you like I know that you think they did…they just believed I deserved better. You didn’t treat me the way I should have been treated.

They were right.

While my family may not have quite approved of you all the time, they still knew that my love life was just that – my love life. It was for me to figure out and for me to make decisions about. They never told me to break up with you (although they definitely didn’t discourage it). They allowed me to make my own decisions.

Larry, you’re 27 years old. When are you going to grow up and be your own man?

It’s not just about you living at home. That’s fine – I mean I still live at home, why  would I condemn that? But you let your family control you and your life and your relationships so much. It wasn’t fair for me or for you.

It was like I already stated, I wasn’t just dating you, I dated your family, too.

I constantly had to seek their approval and nothing was ever just between us. If we had an argument or a dispute or anything at all that I said to you, got back to them, too and they made sure to let me know it.

It wasn’t even just your parents. It was your parents, all of your sisters, your freaking grandmom, cousins, aunts, uncles, random people who I guess are somehow related to you.

It was never their business. A relationship should be between two people, not two people and their family.

One of the things that bothered me the most was the fact that Amanda knew about Maria before we even had our little dispute. Remember the barbecue? It was that same week…maybe even the day after the fact? The wounds were still really fresh and still really deep, Larry. I was doing my best not to think about it, to not hold it against you…forgive and forget. Then while we were alone, when we were dropping Amanda and Emma off she said to us, “Larry, are you still talking to your ex? That’s a really bad idea.” And she followed up after she went home with a text about how you better get your crap together or you’re going to lose me…you’re never around for me. You treat me like crap. Say what you will about Amanda. Yeah, maybe she’s made some mistakes and done some things you and the rest of your family don’t agree with…but was she not right?

You never learn though, do you? You were the center of my life. My world revolved around you. My world stopped for you. The only thing I remember about last summer is being in this constant state of waiting — waiting for you to come home from work. Waiting for you to get done with your dad. Waiting for you to show up at my house. Waiting for you to text. Waiting for you to call.

Waiting for you to come home from your 8th family vacation that you totally didn’t have to go on.

Waiting for you to tell the truth.

Waiting for you to love me the way I loved you.

We started to fight a lot. The main thing we fought about was how I needed more from you. I was exhausted from giving you all that I had whereas you never even attempted to measure up.I cried a lot and suffered horrible anxiety by the end of our relationship because I knew things weren’t the same and I was terrified of losing you and I could no longer trust you. I did lose you in the end – but choice – because it was no longer worth staying, as painful as leaving you came to be.

I knew you were a truck driver and couldn’t be home much. It wasn’t easy, but I accepted that.

What I couldn’t accept was how you made things unnecessarily hard on us with these stupid volunteer vacations. Instead of seeing me, you took time off to spend a week with your family on vacation.

One vacation is one thing.

8 is quite another, and no, I’m not even exaggerating.

I went to Disney with you and I had the time of my life. I will never, even regret that despite how things ended with us. It was uncomfortable as anything staying with your sisters and your mom. Your mom is not exactly the nicest, friendliest person in the world – especially not to me. Your little sister is alright…for a 5 year old. It’s too bad she’s now going on 15 or 16. I could go into more details here, and I almost did, but I’ll spare you that. You should be thanking me. Your older sister was nice enough…but it was a little uncomfortable living with someone who covered everything in tissues for a week because of germs…but maybe she had a point. That was he most disgusting freaking room I’ve ever seen. You’re lucky I’m as nice as I am…I could have and really should have made you take me somewhere else to stay…somewhere that isn’t totally disgusting. But I suppose that it was a step up from your actual house, as sad as that sounds. That was pretty freaking bad, too.

But why do you feel the need to go on ALL of these family vacations especially when they are often the same? Did you really need to go to Busch gardens like 3 times that summer? Oh yeah, you did. You had to be with your girlfriend during round 2.

Except I’ve never been to Busch Gardens.

You and your family make it sound like I’m a devil because of what I did to you during the 2nd trip to Busch Gardens.

I’m sorry – but what? What I did to you?

Yes. I cursed you out over a series of 20+ text.

Yes they were ugly.

Yes, I accused you of cheating…and that’s putting it mild.

What did you expect? You wen on vacation with another girl who was in the same age range, single,and you never told me about it.

When I asked if she was there, you took a long time to answer me and you said “Well….”

That tells me everything.

The first time you went to Busch Gardens, you told me everything about your day. Everywhere you went, everything you saw, everything you did. You couldn’t wait to talk to me.

The second time was another story. Because your girlfriend was there with you. Your other girlfriend.

I had to pretty much beg you to send me 1 little text a day. That’s unacceptable.

You got drunk. With her.

You never had a single drink when you were with me. And don’t you dare use the excuse of having to drive. What about Disney? Everyone gets drunk in Epcot. You could’ve had all the drinks you wanted – you had none.

You went in a hot tub. With her. Without your shirt on.

You were always very self conscious of that. I think I saw you shirtless maybe a total of 3 times…1 is more like it. Definitely no more than 3 during the course of our 13 month relationship.

THERE. IS. A. POOL. AT. MY. CONDO.

You could’ve gone swimming with me any time you wanted during the summer, but you refused because you were “too shy”. Too shy to take your shirt off in front of me, but when it comes to your other girlfriend, boy you can’t take your clothes off fast enough, can you?

And what about the tracking app?

I can understand people thinking it’s creepy. In most cases,  yes, but when you date a truck driver,the same rules don’t apply.

FYI, dating a truck driver gets freaking terrifying. I heard on the news all the time about major accidents with trucks where the drivers were killed and I always panicked thinking it could be you. The tracking app allowed me to sleep at night knowing you reached your destination safe. But yeah, I did use it when you were on vacation – I enjoyed seeing where you were going especially since it wasn’t like I was going to get a text out of you telling me where you were. You went ghost on me.

You liked the tracking app. You made a game out of it. The where’s Larry? game. Don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise.

Suddenly, minutes after I flipped out on you and accused you of cheating, the tracking app became disabled so I couldn’t keep track of you.

Let me guess…you let her take you to Hooters and you disabled the app so I wouldn’t find out because you know I’d get mad. You admitted she asked you to go…but you claim you said no. Lying was never one of your strongest suits though. I bet you said no. Sure…

This all took place less than a month after the whole Maria incident. And I’m just supposed to believe nothing happened, that you were completely innocent.

How stupid do you think I am?

And yet, I allowed you and your stupid friggen family to place all of the blame on me. I was the psychotic girlfriend with the worst anxiety that really needed to see a doctor like your brother did. God forbid I loved you. God forbid I worried about you. God forbid I feared losing you. You freaking cheated, yet it was all my fault. So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I apologized and begged you not to leave me.

But we were never the same after that. We were falling apart and could no longer be fixed.

And I was getting so sick and tired of fighting the same battles – begging you to make me a priority. Crying in your car and not even being sure why I was crying.

We were changing. I supposed I was seeing your true colors. And they were ugly. You were becoming more and more controlling, manipulative, and unsupportive of me and downright selfish.

In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, it’s really hard work to date a truck driver. But I did everything I could to make it work – to try to be understanding, supportive, and submissive like a good proverbs 31 woman.

But a proverbs 31 woman needs a proverbs 31 man. I didn’t have one. You didn’t take care of me. You took care of you.But I suppose I can’t blame you too much…do you even know what it is to be a Proverbs 31 man? Do you even know the significance of Proverbs 31? Probably not. I mean, you were only a pentecostal afterall.

Larry, do you know what a pentecostal christian is? It’s not exactly what I consider a “real” christian to be. When is the last time you went to church other than the Baptist church with me and those churches we saw christian concerts at?

Admit it…you’re only a pentecostal because your dad is.

Now that we aren’t together,I can finally say something I’ve been holding back for the longest time:

Your dad really isn’t a good man.

By dad I hope you know I mean your stepfather, not your birth dad. Your birth dad and I had our issues,  but he’s a far better man and I do think he tries with you – you just oftentimes don’t give him a chance.I hope that’s changed.

But for real..I don’t understand why you idolize your stepdad so much. He’s incredibly selfish and just seems…off.I have my theories about him, but to say I have a bad feeling about him is an understatement. You say he’s always been there for you and your family. Uh. Why does he have his own bedroom and everyone else except your little sister has to sleep in the middle of the living room (including your mom)? Why does he have a keurig strictly for himself? Why does he go out and do whatever he wants even if it means going alone and leaving the rest of the family home? Why did he make you do household chores and keep you from seeing me until like 10 at night on one of the only weekends you’d be home for an entire month? I see him as being incredibly selfish…

You should really reconsider that.

But regardless, your faith is not something to take lightly. It really really bothered me towards the end of our relationship when you wouldn’t pray for me, when you dismissed me when I told you how important it was to pray and read your bible and I even offered to give you my audio bible to listen to on the road.

I don’t think you understood just how important this all is. It is the most important thing in your life.

Being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian.

Listening to worship music doesn’t making you a Christian.

Seeing a Christian play doesn’t make you a Christian.

Only truly accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior will save you. I’m not entirely sure if you’re really there, Larry. I don’t know that I can honestly say I believe you to be saved. I believe you don’t really know what it means to be a Christian and to know Christ. I believe you don’t really understand what it means to have a relationship with him, and that makes me sad.

We weren’t on the same page with our faith…and I didn’t think we were going to get there. I was growing and maturing so much in my faith, and you were holding me back. I couldn’t let that happen.

I loved you so much. So. so. so. much.

I was terrified of losing you,but I saw you slipping away before my eyes.

The only thing that scared me more than losing you was our future, which I was also beginning to see more clearly.

I really really really wanted to marry you. Our original plan was we’d get engaged after our 2 year anniversary and married after we’ve been together for 5 years. It all seemed so easy. The first year flew by so fast.

That’s when everything became downright horrifying.

I wanted to marry you…but it wasn’t just about you.

I thought about our future kids all the time. Would they have a father? I know we talked about this before. You said you’d take a local job so you’d be there for our kids and for me. I believed you…but I heard this so many times…by our 13 month mark….I doubted there was any truth to the statement.

You loved that truck more than you loved me. And I wondered who you’d choose when kids came in the picture…would you still love the truck more? I feared the answer would still be yes, and that broke my heart. My future kids deserve to have a dad that they can depend on. I couldn’t depend on you, so why should I have believed they could depend on you? You know I never forced you to take a local job, although naturally I’d never discourage it. I wanted you to be happy and figured if you wanted to go the distance, now that we’re not married with kids, this was the time to do it. But you told me all the time you’d take a local job. You’d get my hopes up so high only to shoot them down and to end up going further that initially planned. It was an emotional roller coaster. It was one thing to force me on that ride, but it would never be fair to our future kids. I couldn’t imagine having to put them through that.

I started to see all of my hopes and dreams and everything I ever worked for go out the window. I could say goodbye to ever working in a big city like NYC or LA (or anywhere in California for that matter). You didn’t even support me and my desire to go to school for my master’s degree because of the debt I’d further put myself in (although it really didn’t matter when it came to you and trucking school, did it? Also, I never asked you to pay for it…so why did it matter at all?). You didn’t even support the things that really would help me that you always supported in the past…like my 2nd cochlear implant surgery…why on earth would you not want that for me? Why the change of heart?

I always supported you and your hopes and dreams and everything you wanted to do…not that it was ever an option. You went and did your thing and made your own decisions and told me after the decision was already made. If you wanted to go further on the road, you did. And I was there supporting you…even if it meant waiting 3 months for you to come home. And I was always faithful, it was never a thought not to be.

You made me choose.

You made me choose between you and my career. I didn’t even know where I was going, what was happening.

I didn’t go to California. I visited and interviewed in New York, but ended up in Pennsauken…your aunt’s town…initially and then later, Philly, which you also wouldn’t support.

Choosing my career…choosing myself was one of the hardest, scariest decisions of my life. I wanted to marry you so bad. I thought you were the one and it scared the living day lights to think that I could have been walking away from the one I was supposed to marry. What if I just gave up on the man God designated for me to spend eternity with? Would this mean I’d end up alone for the rest of my life?

As I already stated, my faith was important to me. I was a real christian unlike you and I was growing more in my faith. I was reading my bible more than ever. I began to read Mark Hall’s book, Thrive and I listened to the album that inspired the book. I prayed all the time.

We were made to thrive.

…So why wasn’t I thriving?

Not only was I not thriving, I wasn’t even living.

I was just a part of your shadow…sacrificing my everything…all for you.

But you wouldn’t even support me and my career…or really anything in my life.

I prayed all the time. First I prayed that things would get better. Then I realized, maybe this isn’t God’s will. Then I prayed for clarity. I prayed for God to show me the way.

Our anniversary came and went. I was so excited. I made you a special dinner. I got you a nice card. I didn’t get a gift since I didn’t think you’d get me one and I knew we were going away on vacation for our anniversary a month later.

You couldn’t even get me flowers. Or a card. I barely got a “Happy Anniversary” out of you.

…Ouch.

I guess I wasn’t even worth the $3 you’d pay for a card.

I didn’t even get mad though. I was use to the disappointment by then, and I knew we’d just celebrate in a month when we went away. I was so excited for that. We spent nearly a full year planning it. But then I noticed something….

I was the only one excited.

The closer we got, the less excited we got.

I didn’t get it. Maybe it was because you already went to Lancaster and did all of the things we were going to do with your family.

There you go with your freakin’ family again.

They discouraged you from going, didn’t they? What happened to “I really want to do this and am going to put my foot down?”. You parents never wanted us to go. Your sister ended up pregnant or a similar trip, so obviously we were destined to have the same fate.I’m so glad your family had so much faith in us. I’m so glad they seen me as little more than a whore. How flattering.

I told myself, if this didn’t work out, it must be a sign from God that I’m supposed to just walk away from it all. It’s not meant to be.

Boy, I didn’t want this to be true.

I wanted so bad for you to prove me wrong this time.

But you didn’t.

You did the opposite.

You claimed you were sick. Yeah, right.

I did not break up with you because you got sick. That’s ridiculous. Contrary to popular belief by your family and I guess you, too, I’m not crazy.

I broke up with you because you’re always sick. You’re always tired. You’re always late. You can never help it. It’s always something. Conveniently though, you’re only ever these things precisely when it’s time for you to come home and see me.

When you’re only coming to see me, you’re always several hours late and often times we can’t make it to whatever we initially planned…like say our 2nd Newsboys concert for our anniversary. But when it comes time to see your family, your world stops for them.

It wasn’t fair, Larry. I wanted you to be like that for me. I was jealous. I shouldn’t have had to feel that way…jealous of your family. Because I wanted to become your family. I wanted to become your wife.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:31

It’s right there in the bible, Larry. If you’re a christian like you claim to be, you’d be more than willing to let go of your parents to pursue me and work towards making me your wife and building a foundation and family with me.

But you wouldn’t do that for me. And I was tired of waiting. I was tired of settling.

We were made to thrive.

So that day I fought with you. I hung up the phone. And I never looked back.

The part of our breakup that hurts the most is that you never attempted to call me back. Why is that? Why did you just let me go so easily without a fight?

No calls.

No texts.

No messages.

Just 13 months of our relationship all out the window. I never meant for things to end this way. I never wanted this ugly breakup.

A lot of people don’t understand why I never tried to reach out to you, why I never closed the deal and got my closure.

I guess I did though. I know why things had to end. I know this is God’s will. I did want it to end better though and I did wish we talked through it more, but I can’t bring myself to talk to you. Because it just further drills in the fact that it’s always me doing everything for you…loving you, giving you my all, putting forth an effort, and apologizing even for YOUR mistakes when I stand by idly getting nothing in return.

If I talk to you and initiate the contact…it would be a mistake. I’ll apologize for you even though I did nothing wrong. I’ll beg you to take me back. We’ll get back together. And it will be this same horrendous, unhealthy cycle all over again.

I’m not going to make these mistakes. I’m not talking to you unless you talk to me first, and even that’s a maybe.

I’m focusing on me for once, and ever since I did that, my life’s gotten better.I left my miserable job and am now working a great one. I am becoming a college professor. I’m going back to school and it’s not even going to cost me anything to do it! I got my 2nd cochlear implant surgery. I visit NYC when I can and I love it every bit as much as I knew it would.

I got baptized. My relationship with God means far more to me than my relationship with you.

I am finding myself in this world, and realizing I have more of an identity than being a trucker’s wife.

And closure? This nearly 5,000 word blog post gave me all of the closure I could ever need. These are all of the words I’d say to you if I was ever going to talk to you again…which I have no plans of doing.

I survived you. Every day I get a little stronger and I realize:

I’m better off without you.

 


 

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Image Credits: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics Editor

Hey guys. So today I’ve left off on Day 16 of the 30-Day Writing Challenge. Today’s challenge is to bullet my entire day. Pretty boring, if you ask me. But here we go, here is a bulleted view of a day in the life of Kimberly Erskine.

  • Approximately 3am: I wake up from a deep sleep. I check my phone and see I have a few messages. I glance through them. Nothing too alarming. One more hour of sleep, I tell myself.
  • 4am: I’m hot and sweaty and don’t feel like getting up. It feels like it’s 1,000 degrees in my room. I check the weather on my phone and try to decide how to dress for the day. I can manage to sleep until 4:30 and still look decent,  I tell myself.
  • 4:30am: I still don’t want to wake to up. I check the weather on my phone again. I see the humidity will be 85%, so straightening my hair will probably be useless anyway. 15 minutes. That’s it. I need to have enough time to read my bible.
  • 4:48am: I didn’t do a good job at keeping with the 15 minutes of extra sleep, but I should still be okay. I finally get out of bed and start getting ready. I realize that I have nothing at all appealing to wear. I don’t feel like getting dressed up. I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt, but that’s too sloppy. Jeans are fine, but I need a shirt. I pick up my blue striped shirt with the ties on the side. I haven’t worn it in years. I remember back to the last time I wanted to wear it for one of my first dates with Larry but my mom told me not to because if I moved around too much, it could be a little too revealing. I try it on. Today it looks fine. I try to move around a bit. It still looks fine. I’m a little self-conscious about my sunburn though. I burned all down my chest and my skin is now peeling. You can see it a little bit with the shirt if I move too much. It’s good enough. I’ll be sitting at my desk all day anyway. I tell myself. Then I move on to my next problem: there’s nothing for breakfast. I usually eat fruit, but there’s none left. I don’t feel like cooking anything and I don’t have time for that. I don’t feel like eating almonds. I open my freezer. Chocolate covered banana popsicles. The breakfast of champions, I think to myself. 
  • 5:36am: I’m almost done getting ready. I just need to get my darn contacts in my eyes. The one in my right eye pops right in. My left eye has astigmatism and the lens is bigger and doesn’t like to go in all the time. I struggle with it and smear all of my eye makeup in the process. Why didn’t I put my makeup on after I got my contacts in? I ask myself. I finally get the little bugger in my eye and then fix my makeup.
  • 5:40am: I’m pretty much done getting ready, so I sit at the table with my bible and my cup of coffee and read through my bible reading plan and daily devotion. Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I’m on Job and 2 Corinthians. I’ve been enjoying Job lately. It’s new to me and different. 2 Corinthians has always been my favorite book of the bible.
  • 5:58am: I finish my bible reading and coffee. I head back in my room and put my jewelry on: cross ring, rose gold crystal watch, and my cochlear implant medical alert bracelet. I look at the clock. 6:am. Time to (attempt) to wake up dad. 
  • 6:00am: I brush my teeth and use mouthwash. I’m using a new mouthwash today. It’s Colgate. I usually use Listerine. I like the way Colgate take more like mint than alcohol. I welcome the change. After I finish rinsing I make sure my dad is up. He actually is for once.
  • 6:15am: I grab my lunch, my book, my purse, and my work keys. I take my dad’s car key off his set of keys and head out to the car. I began my daily prayers in the car as I wait for dad to come out.
  • 6:28am: Dad comes out with a cup of coffee in hand and we head out as he drives me to work at Becker’s School Supplies in Pennsauken. I help him with traffic pulling out and then take my cochlears off and finish my prayers. When I’m done, I doze off to sleep a little in the car.
  • 7:12am: I arrive at Becker’s. I don’t have to be here until 7:30, but I’m always early. Today I’m actually later than usual. I’m amazed by the full parking lot. Why do people always get here so early?
  • 7:18am,I say Hi to my boss, Rob, and Leslie who’s next door. Rob asks me how I made out with my medical testing and I talk to him about my tests. He tells me he’ll catch up with me later. I head back to my desk and finish unpacking. Then I grab a tea  bag and head to the kitchen to  make tea.
  • 7:20am: I open my email and catch up on all of the ones I missed while I was out. I proofread the new born corner post and activity pages that Leslie just wrote and Terri uploaded on the website. I notice an image is incorrect so I confide in Terri and let her know it needs to be updated. She thanks me. I optimize all of the pages for the web.
  • 8:58am: I receive an e-mail from Rob asking if he can see me in the next few minutes in the Conference Room. We met and went over my time card, progress I’ve made so far, and future plans.
  • 9:10am: Continue optimizing book sets while performing competitor research and answering emails as they come through.
  • 10:11am: My office roomie, Wendy, arrives and tells me about her trip to Baltimore for a convention.
  • 10:15am – 12:30pm: Optimizations
  • 12:30 Finally lunch time! I grab my lunch from my cabinet and eat in the kitchen. As I’m eating, I text my mom about my new job, check my email, talk with my former co-worker who tells me she’s accepted a new position which is actually ironically the one I’m leaving.
  • 1:00pm: Lunch is over. Back to work!
  • 2:22pm: My lunch wasn’t very satisfying today. I’m starving. Let’s see what I can find in the vending machine…
  • 2:25pm: I couldn’t decide between the animal crackers and a candy bar, so I got both. I’m disappointed though because I wanted a Snicker’s but I accidentally hit the button for Peanut Chews instead.
  • 2:26pm:Back to work eating my snacks.
  • 3:42pm: Dad texts me to tell me he’s on his way. I switch gears and spend the remaining work day looking at articles on LinkedIn to see what’s trending in my industry. I’m surprised to find out that all of Mark’s Zuckerburg’s social media accounts were hacked. He should’ve known better, I think to myself.
  • 4:08pm: Dad is here. I clock out, gather my belongings, say goodbye to Leslie and Debbie, and leave the office.
  • 4:10pm – 4:423pm: Dad and I head home, except we’re not really going home, we’re headed to Acme like usual Dad is happy because traffic is lighter than usual.
  • 4:23pm: I receive a phone call from Penn and immediately panic thinking something is wrong. We’re stuck in traffic on the highway and the car is pretty loud, so I let it go to voicemail.
  • 4:24pm: I listen to my voicemail, but I can’t hear it. Dad is playing the radio and my volume isn’t up high enough.
  • 4:26pm: I turn the radio off and play it again. I need to get a booster shot because my blood work shows my level of immunity against chicken pox is very low. I have to get it done before Monday. I like the girl’s pleasant tone. They tell me I can come anytime and don’t need an appointment. I discuss options with my dad and we agree Friday should be the best day to go.
  • 4:50pm: Dad and I arrive at Acme.We go over all of the things we need and hope we have enough money.It’s been a tight week for money.
  • 4:53pm:I’m really excited because salads are buy one get one free. So is most of the fruit, but I only have enough money for the salads.
  • 5:13: We’re done with shopping, but Dad left his wallet in the car. He runs out to get it as I stay with the cart. I look at the Christian books and color books as I wait.
  • 5:22pm: We’re finally done our store trip ad on our way home.
  • 5:37pm: I stop for the mail on the way in. I’m disappointed we didn’t get anything.
  • 5:40pm: I get home, put away my things then get changed into my gym clothes.
  • 5:45pm: I get a Yasso coffee frozen yogurt popsicle and eat it as I read a lost chapter of Brian Humek’s book, Purple Ducks.
  • 6:27pm: I finish reading the chapter and send Brian a Facebook message with my feedback.
  • 6:30-7:15: I use this time between looking up directions for Penn including bus and train routes, talking to my dad, working on this blog post, and talking to Glenn, Wayne, and some others on Facebook.
  • 7:30pm: I finish getting ready for the gym.
  • 7:45pm:Dad and I head out again. He drops me off at the gym and then goes to pick up my mom from work.
  • 7:47-8:37pm: I work out at the gym. I spend all of my time on the arc trainer (my favorite piece of equipment) while watching The Goosebumps movie on my phone via Netflix.
  • 8:37pm: My parents pick me up from the gym and we head home.
  • 8:40pm: I arrive home, put my things away, and get a quick shower. Before I get in,I preheat the oven to 425.
  • 8:58pm: I finish my shower, get dressed, and proceed to making biscuits to go with dinner.
  • 9:14pm: Biscuits are in the oven. I set the table and make the butter sauce.
  • 9:32pm:Biscuits are done. I let them sit in the oven for a few minutes before taking them out and pouring the butter over top.Then I wait for the beef stew to heat up.
  • 9:48pm-10:30: My family and I eat dinner. I go crazy over the biscuits. Dad loves them too. Mom is not a fan. We all talk about our day, mainly about me and my situation with Penn, and then discuss our reservation for the Pelican on Thursday. Thursday is my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary.I also finish up this blog.
  • 10:31pm: How did it get to be this late? I’m going to be so tired tomorrow! I need to get to bed.
  • 10:32pm-10:46pm: I waste a few extra minutes finding an image for my blog post, writing tags and categories out, and promoting it on social media.
  • 10:46pm-11:12pm: Still not asleep. Need to mess with my phone. I notice it’s 11:11, so I make a wish before calling it a day.

 

 


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Image Credits: Jar Of Quotes

So…day 13 of the 30 day writing challenge is pretty boring. Today I’m instructed to simply write about my commute to and from work. BORING!

I suppose my commute is unique compared to others since I don’t have a license and therefore don’t drive. My dad therefore plays the role as taxi driver in my life (he has kidney disease and is unable to work so he’s home all the time.)

From Monday – Friday my dad and I head out from condo in Washington Township and head out on our way to where I work…Becker’s School Supplies in Pennsauken, NJ.

I don’t pay much attention on the way there. I’m usually either reading my bible or writing out prayers on my phone, unless I managed to wake up at 4am on the dot and do it all ahead of time. In that case, I’m probably asleep most of the way there, or if I’m feeling extra energetic and well-rested, I’m reading. The commute to work is usually about 45 minutes.

There is a building called Wharton near my work. I’m not sure exactly what that building is, but I always know when I’m about there, and I wake up and look at it. Once I see that sign I begin preparing to go to work. I wake up more, gather my things, put my phone away, and prepare for my work day.

I usually get to work ridiculously early. I don’t have to be there until 7:30, but I’m usually there by 7:10. I tend to work a bit late to (my dad is almost never on time picking me up). I only have to work until 4, but I usually end up working until sometime between 4:15-4:30.

The commute home usually isn’t as easy as the commute to work. Traffic is usually heavier and by then Dad and I are usually really tired. His driving can be a bit more aggressive going home — he doesn’t have much patience for the heavier traffic.

We rarely ever go straight home from work. My dad almost always stops as Acme on the way home first. Acme is the closest grocery store to my home and our preferred one, even if it is a little more expensive than its competitor, Shoprite. We usually just need to pick up a handful of items like coffee and maybe a salad for my lunch at work the next day. Never more than a handful of things.

Sometimes we also stop at Wawa for cigarettes on the way home. I never smoked a cigarette in my life and never plan to start, but both of my parents are heavy smokers.

Then we finally head home. By the time we pull into our complex it’s usually around 6pm. Before heading straight to our parking lot, we stop for the mail on the way in (I’m kind of obsessed with mail). It’s usually just bills and store circulars.

Then we head back in and I’m finally home from work…until the next morning.


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Image Credits: Picture Quotes

So…writing about pineapples was pretty fun yesterday. Today’s topic? Much less than fun, though I’m betting I’ll have a better click through rate (CTR) on it. People apparently don’t care to read that much about my hatred of pineapples (their loss!), but always seem to be interested in relationship drama, or the lack thereof because ‘Merica.

For Day 11 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge I’m supposed to write about my relationship status, or lack thereof.

I’ve been single since October, so it looks like I’ll be discussing why.

I broke up with my boyfriend of 13 months in the middle of October, the night before we were supposed to go away for a weekend to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, something we had planned pretty much since we first got together. Needless to say, that trip never happened.

He probably thinks I broke up with him because he was sick and wasn’t sure if he was going to make it for our anniversary trip. Sure, it didn’t help at all. It was the final straw for me, really. But I’m not that heartless. Of course I didn’t just break up with him because he was sick. There was so so so much more to it than that.

I loved him very much, and the decision to walk away from our relationship was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also something that was very necessary.

I thought he loved me for the longest time. Our relationship meant the world to me. I would have done anything for him, and in many ways, I think I did. A year ago I swore we were going to get married. I thought that by now I’d be engaged, or almost engaged to him. I was so sure he was the one. But well, obviously I was wrong about that.

For awhile, the longer we were together, the closer we were going to get. I was a trucker girlfriend, and for awhile, the distance while very hard, was making us stronger. We, or especially myself, would get so excited to see each other because it happened so infrequently. If we saw each other more than twice a month it was unheard of.

I began to really identify as a trucker girlfriend at this time. That was my main identity and I was proud of it. I knew what I was doing was hard. What girl wants to be with a guy that she never ever gets to see? But I kept told myself it was worth it…I had a great boyfriend and we loved each other very much and it wasn’t always going to be this way.

Some days being a trucker girlfriend were harder than others. I would sometimes cry a lot because I missed him so much and I’d worry about him constantly. Sometimes it just got so lonely. I had a great boyfriend that I loved to death and who was my best friend. I wanted to do and share everything with him, but it oftentimes wasn’t a possibility because he always had to work and go out on the road.

Our relationship was becoming more and more serious. We even spent a week in Disney together! It was such a great time. I got to spend like 18 hours at a time with my best friend who I swore was the love of my life for an entire week. That was practically the equivalent of every day we’ve ever been together since we first started dating. It was so hard to go home and say goodbye to him after that.

I think Disney strengthened our relationship for awhile, but it didn’t last…

I think that some of the ways we viewed each other began to change after that. We began to realize we weren’t as similar as we thought we were, and even if we had a lot in common, our families did not.

 

Realizing this began to put a real strain on our relationship. Our parents never met, but if they did, I don’t think it would’ve went over well at all. We came from very different backgrounds. But we loved each other and that’s all that mattered, right?

But here’s the thing, when you’re raised a certain way you usually believe that is the “right” way and all other ways are wrong. It’s not intentional, it’s just how it is.

I was raised to value education and to work to have a nice home and a nice car and things like that and to take pride in myself and my things. Vacations weren’t a priority — they never really took place. We all worked, studied, and enjoyed our home instead. We weren’t overly luxurious people by any means, but we had nice, expensive things that we worked hard for. It was more important for us to use money on our home and car and education and things like that than it was to have a cheap home and car and go on vacation.

His family was the opposite of that. They “just wanted to have fun”. They did work hard – but it often seemed like for all of the wrong reasons. They were sometimes obsessed with having money, but they were greedy with it. It was spent on things like vacations — and they weren’t educational or what I’d consider “traveling” – they were amusement parks and always the same ones multiple times throughout the year every year — it seemed kind of unnecessary. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just seemed a little weird because I wasn’t raised that way.

I think family had different meanings for both of us too. We were both close to our families but in different ways. Maybe we were in different parts of life. I wanted independence, but I wanted it with him. I was more than willing to be tied down to him. I wanted marriage and kids and a life of my own with my husband. He wanted to go on vacation with his parents and he did all the time. He’d choose that over spending time with me — and he’d choose it all the time. I wouldn’t have done it. I didn’t see him much. If it came between seeing my boyfriend more or going on vacation without him, I’d choose the option of seeing him more even if it meant giving up a family vacation or 2 (or like, 7).

As our relationship progressed, we learned more about each other and I thought more and more about our future and what it would be like to be married and raise a family together. But I stopped hearing the wedding bells. I didn’t see the love filled bliss anymore.

It was horrifying.

I saw a messy “home” in a run down trailer park in the middle of nowhere.

I saw old,broken, run down cars.

I saw my son who never saw his father and was always hurt and missing him.

I saw myself, a stay-at-home mother struggling to make ends meet and trying to explain to my children why daddy was never home.

I saw a garbage bin full of my hopes and dreams.

I began to question if this is what I wanted, and the answer was no.

That was not by any means the future I had imagined for myself or what I wanted. I wanted to go to New York. I wanted to finish my novel and be a bestselling author. I had a possible opportunity in California I wanted to explore. I wanted to go to grad school. I was considering getting my second cochlear implant since the first one was so successful.

I wanted to know that my boyfriend loved me as much as I loved him — something I was beginning to question.

I wanted a husband and a loyal father. I didn’t want to have to worry about daddy being home, where daddy was, what he was doing, whether or not he was safe, and when he’d be home.

I didn’t want to have to think of what to tell my children for why daddy missed yet another baseball game, another holiday, another birthday.

I didn’t want to live in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere.

I wanted a big house with a beautiful garden and nice lawn in a nice neighborhood. I wanted to know my neighbors and for their kids to be friends with my kids.

I didn’t want to be just a trucker wife that let her husband do whatever he wanted why she stayed home and waited for him.

I. WAS. SO. SICK. OF. WAITING.

I spent all of last summer doing nothing more than waiting. Waiting for him to call, waiting for him to text, waiting for him to come home, waiting for him to pick me up. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And I was putting my life on the backburner. I was putting off my hopes and dreams and keeping myself from being who God destined me to be. I was a trucker girlfriend and that’s all I was. And it seemed like soon, that identity would be ripped away from me, too.

We were falling apart. We could no longer ignore our huge differences and our upbringings and who we were and what we wanted from life. Our future was becoming messy and muddled. The time away was getting to us. We were getting lonely. We were fighting. He was talking to other girls and cheating on me. I was getting mistrustful and paranoid.

I got kicked out of the trucker girlfriend groups. I never really knew why. But that’s when it felt like I really lost it all — because at the time, that’s all I had.

It felt like getting kicked in the face at first. I was already down and now the people who were supposed to be the only ones that could understand me, were kicking me further to the ground. But maybe, that’s exactly what I needed.

I needed to get angry.  I needed to break. I needed to say “Screw this lifestyle. I’m not a trucker girlfriend…I’m so much more.”

After that I began to see myself as more than just a trucker girlfriend. I was a person with my own identity and my own hopes and my own dreams. I supported him and his career and his hopes and dreams so much…the least he could do was support mine, right?

I was unhappy at work. I needed a new job. But there was one thing I had going for me — awesome health insurance. I needed to take advantage of that and get my second cochlear implant while I could. I never understood why, but he was less than supportive. He was very pessimistic. He didn’t think insurance would cover it. He was so supportive with my first surgery, it was weird that he was the opposite with the second. But I was only just considering it — I didn’t know if I’d go through with it yet, so I tried to ignore it.

I was writing more and more, too. My memoir was about half finished. I intended to finish it during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I was very serious about it. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to get it published and I knew the perfect way to go about it — to go back to school and get my MA in Writing at Rowan. He didn’t support that either. He thought it was too expensive and I was already so far in debt. He wanted to help me. He would help me financially, I just had to wait for him to build up his career. I dismissed this, too, and tried to ignore it. He has a point, he was right. He said he’d help me. But I didn’t realize how I didn’t need his help at all. His money and his opinion didn’t matter at all.

Then there was California — which I couldn’t really ignore. I had a HUGE amazing opportunity that was about to come to light — but it would be in California. It was exciting, but also terrifying. It was all the way across the country. But it was the perfect opportunity for me. He drove and was on the road and never home anyway, so surely this wouldn’t mater that much, right? We’d just do a long distance relationship until we got married which would only be a little harder than what we were doing. But he didn’t see it that way. He wanted me to do what would make me happy whether it be California or staying with him. But I couldn’t have both. One or the other.

Woah. Wait…what?

I’m sorry, but if he loved me, he wouldn’t have made me choose. He’d want to do anything to keep me, even if it meant moving to California (or at the very least, allowing me to go there) to be with me.This was a huge game changer and eye opener for me in my relationship.

I would’ve done it for him without thinking. I waited for him all the time. I compromised. I gave up so much of me and my life for him, but he wouldn’t for me. And it wasn’t all work, either. Sometimes I couldn’t see him because he chose his family over me. He’d rather go on vacation with them then see me. And I knew it and accepted it, as much as it hurt.

And I mentioned that to him then, too. You love your family more than you love me. I said. He admitted it. He said yes.

And it crushed me. Family is important — but I wanted to be more so. We’ve been dating for a year at that point. I wanted to BE his family. I wanted to be his wife, but I was realizing, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

I thought about everything. My hopes, my dreams, my love. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I went on a lot of walks to parks and random areas to sit and cry. At times I wanted to die. Other times, I felt like I was already dead. I had choices to make and it was terrifying. Where did I go? Did I take risks and try to follow my overly ambitious dreams? Did I give up my boyfriend — who might have been the love of my life and “the one” to do it? Or did I marry him and keep my mouth shut and settle down with a life that’s a bit less than what I hoped it would be?

It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it wasn’t something that was made over night. But after I read Thrive by Mark Hall from Casting Crowns, I knew my answer.

I have been surviving. Barely. More like struggling. Breathing through a clogged straw. Settling.

God didn’t make me to suffer. He didn’t make me to suffocate. He didn’t make me to settle. This is NOT how he wanted me to live my life.

I was made to THRIVE.

God didn’t want me to throw away my dreams for some boy. If he was really “the one” he would’ve supported me and my dreams and brought out the best of me. He wouldn’t have made me choose.

God wanted me to follow my dreams.

I gave him one chance. One more chance to prove he loved me that he could support me that this could work and that maybe he was the one. One more chance.

He blew it. We never went on our anniversary trip. Instead, we had a huge argument on the phone. I hung up. He never called back. I never bothered to apologize or forgive him for hurting me. It was the end of an era.

On that night, I decided I wasn’t going to be a trucker girlfriend anymore.

I was so much more than that.

I choose my dreams.

I have now been single for about 7 months. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I still really miss him. I still get mad that he never called me back. I still wonder what could have been. But I know this: my life got so much better when I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t (a trucker girlfriend) and chased after my dreams and became the best possible version of myself.

I’m working a wonderful job now where I’m much happier. It’s not in California, but it doesn’t need to be. In the Fall, I will not only be a graduate student at Rowan, but I’ll be a college professor teaching first year writing, too! The first draft of my novel is complete and the second draft is about 90% complete. I’ll be focusing on this and trying to get it published through my career as a graduate student. I’ve gotten right with Christ and have even recently been baptized.

I’m not a trucker wife.

I’m single.

I’m a dreamer.

I’m a doer…doing BIG things.

I’m happy.

I.

AM.

UNSTOPPABLE.

 

And this is just the beginning.

I’m not opposed to the idea of being in a relationship. I could meet the right guy and end up in a relationship tomorrow (not likely, but you never know). If the right guy comes along I’d be more than happy to go out on a date and take it from there. But I’m really content with being single right now.

I know one thing, too. I will never put myself, my hopes, my dreams, and/or the person that I am on hold for a man. Never again.

Relationships are a two way street. Not one person supporting, loving, and doing everything for the other. For now on, I will always choose my dreams. And, the right person will be part of that dream. They will be for me and my dreams, not someone that will make me choose. Because when it comes down to “love” or my dreams, my dreams will win every time.



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