Jamie’s 2017

This last year has felt crazy for me, in incredible ways that pushed me to work harder, and love more freely on everyone in my life, from coworkers to my beloved boyfriend ( we’re two years strong and happier than ever) to even myself. I had some wonderful people in my life this year!

I accomplished some big things too, like purchasing my first car debt free. That was huge for me. And I turned 23. AND I flew back to Georgia for a third time in May to visit James, before he then visited me for the first time in December! I made two best friends out of coworkers while working at Dairy Queen this year: my Ashlyn, the devil to my angel, and goofy good ol’ Trent, who I so desperately just want to adopt and protect haha! A beautiful cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure. ❤ 😉

It’s been SO. VERY. LONG since I’ve made friends on my own like this, like, friends that can share your heartaches together, have each other’s backs when the pressure of life or work is too much, and cheer for and support you no matter what. Gaining that was HUGE for me this year! Like more than they’ll ever understand due to my past of constantly losing my friends throughout my childhood.

I learned A LOT working at Dairy Queen, but I definitely learned for myself that it is DEFINITELY in my heart to be there for people as the unjudging ear who will listen no matter what because I WANT TO. I LOVE TO. I CARE THAT MUCH. Doing so GAVE ME so many friendships! I definitely felt like my biggest job at work was just to be there for my coworkers, all of them. I love each one so very dearly: I listened to them all when they drove each other crazy, I absorbed the verbal punches, I empathized with their feelings so they wouldn’t feel invalidated and unheard anymore. Even when sometimes it felt like they all hated each other, I felt like they all saw me as their friend, someone who was there for them, and we got through the night together.

I found it incredible how much simply EMPATHIZING with ALL of my coworkers made work-life THAT MUCH BETTER. Besides that, I also felt very valued and loved by my coworkers, especially when I gave my two weeks notice at the end of the year and everyone was just so sad I was leaving. Just wow, it was so heartwarming to have people respond to me so wonderfully! It means to the world to me to have been a part of a family there, even though I’m not there anymore.

The greatest gift from this year was truly knowing there are people who were my friends who loved me very much. I feel very rich with that blessing. Ashlyn and Trent I especially got to know very, very well and they both mean THE ABSOLUTE WORLD TO ME.

Ashlyn is like my twin sister I never knew I was missing; she is so funny and she taught me to speak my mind more! She shares her beautiful two children with me and made me Aunt Jamie. I went to her extended family’s Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving parties this past year–she and her mother Eileen made me feel SO WELCOME as a part of their family. Ashlyn and I had some incredible adventures, from late night Wal-Mart shopping, visiting the gym to talk out drama and then eat McDonald’s (haha, we know we’re terrible XD), to racing the little one to the hospital at 1 in the morning. We just absolutely loved working together and being together, to the point that everyone else teased us about it haha! I love her so much, and we still have the best times together! ❤

And Trent. oh my goodness, that kid. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ I won’t share details because I want to keep private things private, but he changed my life so I want to share a little bit of that. And I just freaking love that kid TO UTTER DEATH. I loved working with him; he is so very hysterical! At the same time, he broke my heart in a way I’d yet to experience for another human being. He was that loud obnoxious kid with the heart of gold who just needed to be loved on, just needed some positive attention and encouragement from someone, somewhere, before something just snaps or dies inside. I’ve never felt so much compassion for another person like I did for him. So, all year, I loved on him for who he was and wow, it was such a rewarding experience! It changed my life; my heart grew so much bigger from it! It strengthened my belief that all everyone needs is simply an unconditional love from God which He can show through any of us, if our hearts are open to listen and understand, to see past the surface to the soul within, to not be afraid to love those who feel unlovable. I’m so happy that I got to watch him grow happier and healthier as the year passed and he truly became one of my best friends! I think he’s someone who can change the world with that big generous heart of his. I pray for him every day and can’t wait to see where he’ll go in life. ❤

He and Ashlyn were such BIG parts of making my 2017 incredible, with their gifts of friendship, honesty, love, and mutual support. They both made me feel so loved, needed and valued! Whenever we were in the same room it was like the air had a spark of energy and happiness for me. We laughed so freaking much while we worked so dang hard, and despite all the hardships, we shared so much joy in that little DQ building. I can never thank them enough for giving me so many fantastic memories from this year. ❤

Honestly, working at Dairy Queen this year was very huge in that I was kept very busy all year. I worked very hard. Honestly, I didn’t know I could work so hard, be so tough, push through it all and come out stronger and without it dampering my work attitude, but I did this year.

I came in every single time I picked up Boss’s call to come in on a night off or because she needed help. I worked nine days in a row: twice. Covered so many shifts, came in early, came in the middle of shifts to help out on nights off, pulled unexpected doubles… all while trying my hardest to still be thoughtful of everyone else and keep my aches and pains and moans and groans off the clock. I worked A LOT in 2017. I worked mostly night shifts, and if I didn’t go on an adventure with Eileen and Ashlyn afterward, which I very often did till 1 or 2 in the morning, I’d come home and collapse. This is why I didn’t blog very much, and I even dropped a lot of my seasonal anime shows just from being so freaking tired or emotionally drained if the vibe at work had been bad. In all honesty, Dairy Queen worked me to the bone this year, and I honestly didn’t do very much besides work my butt off. XD

BUT FROM ALL THAT, I learned that I am one tough BEAST and I AM capable to work a physically demanding job with a big smile on my face despite the rude people in drive-thru and the coworker drama–not just work my fair share, BUT WORK MORE THAN I SHOULD HAVE, and still come out feeling stronger for it. I’m dang proud of myself!

I learned this year that I can do anything I set my mind to. I really can. I know because I did it over and over again.

To that point, I’m looking for different employment now, hopefully in the pet/animal world. Fingers crossed. It’ll be a whole new adventure for 2018, starting a new job with new coworkers and learning new things. But I’m praying and believing that God is going to lead me to the right place, that needs me and the right place that I need. If any of you feel moved to pray for me to find that right place for the next part of my life’s journey, that would incredible. ❤

The only other huge thing that sticks out to me from this year, is James.

Oh, my sweet darling amazing most handsome terribly funny James. I LOVE YOU.

Best boyfriend a girl could ask for! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

It’s been two years since James and I started talking romantically and it’s been life-changing. I never thought in a million years that I’d end up with a boyfriend who could be so patient, so understanding and gentle with my emotions, fears, hopes, and supportive of my choices and who I am as a person. And on top of it all, do it on the other side of the country! Long distance has yet to stop us from loving each other wholeheartedly and working towards being together one day!

This year has been much more stable than last year for us! Last year we figured out how to make long distance work and took a lot of time to communicate fears and boundaries and expectations and just building a foundation for us. This year, we’ve enjoyed the fruit of all that labor!

This year, us being in a relationship was the new and amazing normal!

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Video^^^ He makes me laugh and laugh and laugh! ❤

Sparkler fun!

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Another video!^^^We lit sparklers in the moist Georgia night air and danced and laughed and killed bugs. XD

This year we settled into being boyfriend and girlfriend without having to talk about it haha! This year me flying to see him just felt normal! It wasn’t a rollercoaster year for us, but that in itself is amazing. IT’S AMAZING THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP JUST FEELS NORMAL! 😀 Throughout the year while we were apart, we played online games like Path of Exile and Minecraft together, when he wasn’t slaving away at school and I wasn’t getting called into work haha! We celebrated our first official Valentine’s together, and he spoiled me rotten with birthday and Christmas gifts (lots of Disney movies on Blu-ray and DVD, a Blu-Ray player, a new camera and wireless earbuds, and so many other gifts.)

And oh yeah, HE FLEW TO SEE ME THIS PAST DECEMBER FOR THE FIRST TIME! Wow! It was wild having him here in Arizona and meet my family! We had a blast! My mom loved him! Christmas was in the air and it was just too magical! I took him in to work to meet everyone; we spent hours in Zia Records; we went to my theater four times. He and my mom got along almost too well LOL! We snuggled on the love seat and watched lots of movies and musicals. I’ve been anxiously waiting for his visit allllllllllllllllllll year and it was just the absolute best thing in the world when it finally happened! All the snow in Atlanta couldn’t stop him from getting to me! Just, ajskdfajsldfkasldjf it was fantastic!

I couldn’t have asked for a better first visit for him to be here with me and meet Mom!

Thank you for another happy year having me as your girlfriend, James. I can’t imagine you not being my best friend, my life without you, or not being together with you like we are now! I’m so happy with you in my life, and I can’t wait for many more years with you by my side! ❤

2017 was a great year for me. I learned I was so much tougher than I thought I was. And I did get to do some pretty fun things when I wasn’t working!

I went to my first haunted house experience, The 13th Floor, with Ashlyn and her hubby and friends, had the time of our lives screaming our guts out! I ate lots of Panda Express. Visited both Wickenburg and Flag Staff to hike Walnut Canyon. Coworker Matt and I talked up our anticipation for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” and “Game of Thrones Season 7” ALLLL spring, which was just the best, and we even went to see “Spider-Man: Homecoming” together (I miss you as well, Matt!) I gave in and got Snapchat. My coworkers spoiled me rotten on my birthday, from hugs and presents, to Boss having everyone sing! I got to babysit the cutest kids on earth as my niece and nephew. I filled my coin bank to the top with tips! I threw down so much cash to get Taylor Swift’s new album and merch (which IS THE BOMB!) I got puppy scars on my arm which are still there. I bought so many dream catchers (the count is up to 12.) Finally finished “Breaking Bad” after a year hiatus. I became a Pewdiepie fan this year–I know that’s super random but he’s given me some great laughs! I got to try acrylic nails for the first time, thanks to Ashlyn! James took me on a date to Arrowhead Mall! Sat in the parking lot after work with coworkers in the heat just because we weren’t ready to say bye yet.

It was a good year!

I named her Minnie. And we're going for a drive. 😎😜😍😊

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That happy moment when he goes to sleep. 😴😇 #babysitting

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A night out with Ashlyn is always a great night. ❤️😘

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So yeah, that’s been my year!

The year of finding real friendships and fun in my coworkers, the year I got my wonderful car, the year James at last visited me here in Arizona, the year where being boyfriend and girlfriend felt so freaking normal and real, the year my heart grew so full of love to give to anyone who needed it.

As I said above in that one Instagram post, my overall thought from this year is: I’m beat tired but I’m so blessed. I’m so excited for the new adventures 2018 will throw at me when I find my new job and visit Georgia again. I’m so ready to keep building towards my future!

Goodbye 2017, hello 2018. Throw your best at me; I can handle you. 😉

~Jamie

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In My Skin For a Day

(This is what it feels like to be me for a day.) *written to this song, in my DQ outfit.

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While Working Night Shift at Dairy Queen.

Sticky. Covered in sprays and sprays of ice cream up and down the arms and all over the apron. Streaks of chocolate on forearms, red dye staining across fingers like my nails bled. Sweaty in the black uniform, hoping the deodorant holds out. Bruised in the oddest places; upper hip, mid calf. Sneakers catching on the floor, co-worker playfully poking me in the side, me ignoring how badly I want to sit down. Hands cold. Head hot. The strain in my muscles carrying heavy loads from the back to the front, then swelling with pride when coworkers cheer and call me a beast. Sometimes straight up sleepy, and sometimes frustrated by rude or difficult people–sometimes wanting to snap at someone but always biting my tongue at the last minute.

Usually, I’m happy, surrounded by coworkers who seem to all appreciate me so much. Inside jokes that warm me, the laughing fits where I’m almost in tears, the banter, the smirks traded between us all as cars roll by the drive-thru window forever. That smile or supportive word from someone which  gives me that next shot of energy to keep going. Ears overwhelmed by machines whirling and voices echoing and car engines rumbling. Keep standing. Keep smiling. Trying not to make it harder for anyone else by becoming frustrated. Trying to diffuse tension in the atmosphere when the night becomes overwhelming. 20 minutes feeling like 60. The heart thumping when I have to learn something new. Listening to everyone complain to me about each other. Trying so hard to empathize with them all. Wanting to hug them all because they’re all trying so hard in their own ways.

How amazing it is to hear: “We gucci, homie?!” “I want you on all my shifts!” “I missed you, Jamie.” “My shifts with you are so much better!” “Who else would I work with if you weren’t here.” “You’re an amazing person, Jamie.” Like wow. 

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Fingertips counting dollar bills, fumbling with coins, slamming the window too hard. Hearing my customer service voice that somehow flows like honey, even when things are at its most chaotic. The surge of relief in my chest when backup arrives and I can breathe again. Throat so dry from being stuck in the drive-thru for two hours: “what size?” “need a lid on that?” “anything else?” “That’ll be four-forty four.”; a couple gulps of water in the back before the next wave hits. The happiness of the next paycheck in my pocket.

Being drop-dead tired after seven-day work weeks or the days with surprise double shifts because the homie is sick and can’t come in; crying outside by myself from being so tired between those shifts. The boyfriend’s phone call comforting me as I crouch on an empty ice cream crate before returning for another six hours. The cold air of the freezer doors. The crunch of paper bags in my arms. The happiness when co-workers become more like friends you’re paid to hang out with. And the soaring happiness when a select few become more like family than friends. Knowing you have each other’s backs in and out of work. ❤ That’s honestly the best. ❤

When I’m At Home.

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Tired. Yet wired after usual night shifts, left sitting up till early hours of the morning trying to unwind enough to sleep. The computer’s glow tiring my eyes. The happiness of finding a goodnight message from my boyfriend every single night while kicking off my shoes. Music pounding in my eardrums. Scrubbing ice cream off my arms and face. Trudging around the yard looking for scorpions, toeing the dirt, the scent of poison. Getting lost in the music for an hour and a half while pacing back and forth under the moon–time feels frozen. Processing emotions of the day, imagining novel scenes, breathing sweet fresh air, self-therapy.

Soft bed covers. The glow of Netflix across the room keeping monsters away.  The shock of it being 2 AM. Snuggling something soft in my arms and getting hit by how much I miss him. Mostly drifting off to happy fantasies of snuggles and warm hugs, on rarer times feeling my heart shatter when I almost remember the scent of his hair. Feeling the tears fall, feeling those 2000 miles between us, devastated to be so far away. Flipping the pillow over to the dry side right before sleep hits me like a truck.

For sure no one knows how much you want this when your spouse passes away:

Waking up mid-morning groggy and grumpy. The happiness of his good morning waiting for me, making me smile and roll over, the first thing I see every morning. A keyboard at my fingertips. Tip tap. Tip tap. Tip tap. Music in my ears. Smiling at the funny things he and I message each other throughout the day. Sadly watching the clock slowly countdown my return to work for another evening. Searching my part of the fridge for food. Getting to Skype for a couple of hours. The joy in my chest when I see his smile, the sweetness from hearing his voice in my ear again. Laughing and laughing, talking and talking. Knowing love and how it pains and how it means more than anything. Sometimes sadly lying on my bed being quiet together, because we’re just so tired. The relief when he prays with me to have a good shift. Happiness. Feeling loved.

Then leaving for work again, ready to do it all over again. Soon to be sticky again.

Image by Elisabeth.Niyaha

~Jamie

 

Highlights from My 2016

I did a lot of growing up this year. I experienced different reality checks, forced to grow, to change habits. However, I accomplished a lot in 2016 personally, when I look back because of them. I’ve been in a stand still for a long time (when trauma happens, “fight or flight” is not the only survival instinct. There is also “freeze”. That’s where I’ve been after the last few emotionally traumatic years.) But I’m unfreezing, and I can see that with each passing year; especially in 2016.

I moved forward. These are some of those highlights. ❤

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Self Public Transportation For A Semester.

I wasn’t driving when I took a math course at my community college; so I used the bus and my bike for transportation. It was a first big step I took to leave the house alone and get myself somewhere like that! It wasn’t a huge commute (would generally take a good half hour if the bus wasn’t late and I pedaled steadily) but it still meant a lot to me. I was not used to biking or the bus, so in that first week, it felt like the most difficult trip in the world. But each week it got easier. I got physically stronger from biking and mentally empowered. My MP3 player was a life saver. I even lost some weight riding that bike. The worst thing that happened? I almost got flipping RUN OVER at a big intersection (legit; in the cross walk, I got knocked to my knees in the street and the car was bearing down on top of me) and that was slightly traumatic. I won’t forget some of the most peculiar people I met waiting for my bus after class (a talkative ex-con, a friendly teenager with a Batman shirt, a drunk woman who was so proud of her daughter, a bus driver who told me I had beautiful eyes.) People told me their life stories in moments at that bus stop. It was a crazy experience for me but I’m happy I persevered through it. And with an A in math too.

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Flew the Country Twice Alone

At the end of that semester, I flew to Georgia to meet James for the first time! And just wow, flying is just an incredible experience! It was empowering to get myself through those airports on my own some, especially after all my biking practice. I flew the first time in May, the second time in December, and both were overall very smooth! I remember everyone I sat next to on each plane well, at least for both flights to GA, as they were so sweet and kind. I’ll never forget the butterflies in the pit of my stomach when I first saw all the green trees around the landing strip from the plane window and realized “I’m here. He’s here.” But now the sight of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport runway is one of my favorite sights! Outside of a few common silly fears, I actually really enjoy flying and I look forward to all the future flights ahead of me.

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I Got Myself a Job

I began paying rent this year to stay home, but my savings were very limited at the start, so a job I needed. A job I got, one that worked best for me due to location. Boy, it has been a mad adventure since getting that job: racing in when others didn’t show, learning curves one after the other, adjusting to a boss’s needs, staying out of coworker drama while still being the ear everyone wants to talk to about it, haha. But now I have my very own source of income and I’m saving up for my car. I have grown a lot as a person by learning to persevere throughout the unforeseen trials of that job. I have learned so much about life in general there. I have also built some incredible friendships with several coworkers there, and I go on late night adventures with a couple of them even! I also enjoy my repeat costumers who get so excited when they see me. I’m thankful for the consistent pay and am happy to work with so many nice people.

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I Learned to Drive

I’ve been very scared of driving for a long time. Partly because I didn’t have a longing for it like many kids. But I was also seriously terrified of the being in control of such a powerful vehicle while being among thousands of other drivers more stupid and incompetent than myself. I live in Phoenix, it’s a big city with lots of crappy drivers ok? But I studied the rules hard and took a lot of time to really practice throughout late summer and fall. Now I can say I’m fairly comfortable with driving! I’ve driven to a lot of different places in my state for practice and all of those trips were great fun! I’m a more cautious driver, but I do enjoy flying at high speeds on the freeway. The only thing I still struggle with is parking, but I’m getting better. XD It was a big deal for me to learn how to drive, but I’m glad that I’ve learned!

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I Successfully Began Long-Distance Dating My Best Friend

This took the most time, the most energy, most of the year to do, but it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done! I couldn’t be more grateful for where we are now compared to a year ago. I remember seeing him for the first time, running to hug him and not wanting to let go the entire trip. I’m glad I choose to take my time before committing to “boyfriend/girlfriend” titles until later in the year; we were just “us” and we are still “us” even now because of it! I’m happy that I decided to be honest about myself with him, about what I felt and needed. It was amazing that at the end of the year, we could announce we were happily dating long distance, fully secure in each other and our feelings. He is my first real love, my first date, my first kiss, and I hope my first for many, many, many more things! He enriches and blesses my life so abundantly; I’m so happy that God has brought us into the security we have now, in His plan, our friendship and love for each other. ❤

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2016:

was the year I painted big parts of the house and reorganized the attic by myself. The year I really dug temporary tattoos. The year I started a music blog. The year I started Breaking Bad but didn’t get around to finishing it. The year I flew 2000 miles for my first date. The year I learned new crochet patterns (and crocheted my biggest blanket ever.) The year I got to eat Captain D’s again. The year I biked through the park at night to breathe music better. The year my kitty disappeared and never came home. 😦 The year I stopped walking the dogs. The year I choose to have my first kiss. ❤ The year I worked double-shifts. The year I bought 5 anime posters at comic-con. The year I found Home far away, then had to leave him behind twice drenched in my tears. The year Chris Pratt tweeted emojis at me for loving “Passengers”. The year I finally found Father Goose at the thrift store. The year I lost 25 pounds. The year I watched 73 anime shows beginning to end. The year I started buying dream catchers.  The year I said, “I love you”.

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2016 was a good year for me, despite all the election drama and the different trials I did experience. I learned I could overcome obstacles if I tried, that I was loved for exactly who I was, and that God was bigger than my fears. It was a good year. ❤

~Jamie

Best of Friends || My First Valentine

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This year, for the first time in my life, I have a real Valentine. And I never thought it would be me. You know that feeling? Everyone else experiences wonderful things, but it feels like it might never be your reality? Maybe that’s just me: I’ve always felt that way about most things. I think because for most of my life I’ve watched my peers experience things I was always left out on. So I still sometimes have those expectations of being left out, you know? But somehow, my reality this year is that I have a boyfriend I love deeply, and he’s my Valentine.

What happened? XD That sounds dumb to ask, but looking back: what was it that I did?

The thing is, I never really pursued romance as a teenager and young adult. I actually purposefully tried to avoid pitfalls I saw other Christian young women fall into because I saw how unhealthy it was. I didn’t pine for the love of my life so much that I became obsessed with the idea. I didn’t watch a lot of romance films, hardly at all (except some 80’s classics. “Say Anything” amirite?) I didn’t write a thousand “Dear Future Husband” letters. I didn’t make a list of attributes I wanted to find in a partner (“He must be taller than me, he must have blue eyes, he must have a six-pack, ect.”)

Somehow, I knew that a romantic relationship, a real one with depth and meaning, would be a lot of work with someone who I would love despite their outward appearance. That reading 200 different “dating/courtship opinion” books wasn’t going to set me up for the perfect path for marriage. That anything I could learn from sappy romance movies would be foolish and just a lot of false advertising of what real emotional intimacy was like (it really all is, fake. Even the kissing!!! The mad frantic Hollywood kissing you see IS NOT REAL LIFE, PEOPLE. IT’S NOT. XD)

I didn’t “do” a lot of things like that as a single woman.

What I did do was be someone’s friend.

James and I were just friends for many years, and that was all…but being friends is why I love James like I do today. We liked the same kind of movies; we were raised with very similar beliefs, had similar childhood upbringings, shared enough common tastes to keep talking. And that’s all we did; we just kept talking, more and more and more. He was there when things kept falling apart for me and when things were good. I was there for those same similar moments in his life. During that period of time, we learned one thing we both knew: We liked talking. Spending time together. Laughing together. We genuinely liked each other as people, as friends.

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I remember about six months before we became a thing; I realized I had feelings for him. I didn’t want to just say it outright, so I attempted my idea of flirting during our skype chats. Which was to ask things like, “If the zombie apocalypse happened, would you come rescue me?” XD He didn’t let on at all that he was understanding my hidden intentions (he did, mostly XD ) and I began to legit think he really wasn’t interested in me that way. But why would he be. I was a woman from a dysfunctional family allllll the way in the desert of Arizona about five states away from him. Surely I was just too much to pursue outside of being just friends.

Of course, I later came to find out later that he’d really liked me for a long time and had been waiting for the right time to tell me. (So yeah, now I know what it feels like to be the girl in the high school movies who’s completely ignorant that the hero of the movie is in love with her from across the cafeteria for most of the movie. XD)

But in his ways, he had shown it all along: he always made time for us to talk weekly. He bent over backward to help me rescue my computer multiple times. Always kindly let me be myself and express what I wanted or needed. Just, before we started talking about my first visit, the idea of having a long distance relationship felt impossible (for me before we met in person, it still felt seemingly too difficult and I refused to commit too quickly before I knew I was ready.) And the timing wouldn’t have been right if we hadn’t happened exactly when we had. That was God’s incredible life planning. We’re so thankful that we’re now already over a year from our anniversary of “when we realized we like-liked each other”.

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I’m sitting here writing like I’ve always done on Valentine’s Day, writing the thoughts I have on this particular day. I have a big one I want to share, to document, from this past year. It’s my biggest takeaway from this first beautiful relationship I’ve had the honor of being a part of. ❤ It’s something I believe with my whole heart about relationships and making them work.

Be the best of friends first.

And yes, while I know every relationship is going to be different and sometimes things can fall apart because of circumstances out of your control, I truly do believe this is a key ingredient to surviving the bumpy waves of forging and maintaining a romantic relationship with someone. I truly do!

We have to be friends, the best of friends, first. Because we already love our best friends, don’t we? Everyone needs best friends, for they are dependable. They are the ones who are tried and true, the ones who get you for you! One has to know a person well to feel at all safe and trusting in the formation of a romantic relationship, and the only way to know that about someone is to get to know that person as a good friend!

Making friends takes time…but take that time. Don’t muddy who you are together by dating only because they’re cute and you feel a “spark” or because they have money or because your church friends think you two are a good match. No! Forge friendships out of shared common ground and start building them. Spend time together because, hey: you just really like hanging out with this person! They make you laugh and smile, you can talk for hours and it feel like 30 minutes, you can tease and be respectful at the same time, you celebrate your little life victories together, and you empathize, cry, and are there when the dark times come, when the bad news hits, when one more thing happens. James and I did that for several years as just friends and it was wonderful and a comfort to have.

Relationships… and ultimately MARRIAGES… will actually last when you both genuinely like each other and can fight for each other one day at a time. Chemistry, physical attraction; they’re all well and good and have their place, but they are not what you want to pursue as a basis for “I want to be in a relationship with them.” Those things can (and generally are) temporary. Genuinely liking someone because you truly know them and enjoy them, on a mental and emotional level, is so much deeper!

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If your relationship is already full of respect, trust, friendship, honesty, and laughter before you decide to start engaging romanticly, having the really hard conversation, getting closer on physical and emotional and mental levels, it will be SO. MUCH. EASIER. (Especially in my own personal case, in which we’re a long distance couple and have to be extra thoughtful and purposeful in our communication.) 

If you’ve been honest about yourself and your needs and desires in life, and communicate clearly, it will be easier. When you have that history together, that time under your belt as “best friends”, if you’ve seen their actions line up with the words…becoming romantically involved will give all the fear and insecurity bigger stronger rewards. It will make riding the ocean of emotion and communication so very worth it. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned and am so grateful for taking this route for my relationship.

And don’t worry; honestly, physical attraction comes very naturally when someone wins your heart, at least in my experience. ^_^

So, today is Valentine’s Day and I actually have someone this time!

James sent me 22 ounces of chocolate and a stuffed tiger this week, and two cards in envelopes that I’m dying to open and read (haven’t yet at the writing of this, but I will during out skype call today.) ❤ For the first time here on my blog, I actually have a Valentine this year, one I’m so so blessed to have as my best friend and boyfriend.

And since today is the only acceptable day that I could do this, I now must take a moment to sing some of his praises. He is so much more than I thought I deserved or would ever get to have in a boyfriend or future “Someone”, ever. And he is a very humble guy, so all this praise below will fluster him greatly (he doesn’t flipping know how to take a compliment ROFL) but I told him I just had to write how much he’s blessed and changed my life by being himself. I don’t know why God was so gracious to let me wind up with someone I think is so wonderful but I’m glad He was.

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James has never failed me when it matters most. He forgives me every time I fail. He gives me as much attention and affection he possibly can every day, from the sweetest daily goodnight messages to telling me he’s praying for me when I leave for work each day.

I have never felt safer in a man’s presence in my life, from when he walks into a room that I’m sitting in or when he smiles at me from the screen. He’s given me the warmest hugs and kisses. There is a genuine gentleness and peace about him that’s lacked from my life for many years that I can’t believe I get to feel from him. His spirit feels like Home to me.

James is also one of the funniest people I know; he makes me laugh all the time between his array of expressions and voices to his quick wit and teasing humor. I DID always want to be with “the funny guy” and he’s definitely the funny guy for me. XD He’s always eager to lift my spirits when I’m low and will do anything to make me smile, which I love! He truly makes my spirit happy!

James also harbors qualities I really wanted in a boyfriend (qualities I think most should look for in their partners but don’t often think about): humility, a willingness to listen and learn, gentleness, and the ability to apologize without feeling defensive. He is all those things and more, in ways I sometimes kinda thought guys couldn’t be (simply from my own life experience.) He is quick to ask for forgiveness, which really really speaks to his maturity. He is sensitive to my feelings and is gentle with me, especially when I’m in distress or having a bad day. He has been quick, ever since when we were simply friends, to listen to me and learn what I like or dislike (vice-versa, that’s why we watched each other’s movie recommendations five years ago. XD)

He tells me I’m beautiful every day, that I’m worth all the distance, that he’s so lucky to have me. I’ve never felt more loved in my life. He honestly changed how I saw myself as a person. I see myself differently in the mirror now; I was even able to lose weight when he helped me love myself at the weight I was. He has changed me for the better in so many ways like that! In just over a year, I’ve changed so much for the better for being with him, in my levels of self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-worth. Not because he gave me self-worth, but he helped me see that I was already worth millions. ❤

I think the biggest thing James has done for me is show a true representation of God’s love for me through his own love. He is very slow to anger; he is incredibly patient with me, more patient than I sometimes deserve, I think. He always loves me even when I make mistakes. That no matter where I am, even when we can’t see each other, touch each other, hear each other, he still loves me.  I have seen better representation for God’s great love for me through James than I have ever seen anywhere else. ❤

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I thank God so often that somehow, through all the chaos in my life, I was allowed to have the comfort of friendship from him for so long, and now the comfort of his love that distance can’t stop. I feel so happy to have gotten to experience just the beginning of what they call “love.” To have had my first kiss with the most precious person on earth to me, to hold the heart of someone so eager to love me wholeheartedly, and let him see me, warts and all, and still feel accepted and loved. To have someone to call Home. ❤ It just blows me away. ❤

So, Happy Valentine’s Day, my Darling James! This year I can actually write to you instead of an idea of my future someone in my head; that feels wonderful! Thank you for being my best friend and loving me even when I become emotional wrecks and live with this crazy dysfunctional family, and live so far away. Thank you for always having the best fun with me, for letting me be my spontaneous silly self, for helping me feel truly beautiful, for trying to love me like God loves me. You’ve changed me for the better! ❤ I can’t wait to keep changing and growing with you; we have so far to go and so much still to learn, but I’m excited for it all.

I love you. ❤ We’re the best of friends and I wouldn’t have it any other way. ❤

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~Jamie

Open Letters and Lyrics to the Men Who Influenced My Life

I originally posted this on my quiet music blog, but I was told I needed to share it here too and I agree. ❤ I hope the music can touch you too. ❤

These are open letters (certain identities hidden for privacy) to four men who’ve affected my life in ways that have shaped me into who I am today. I say goodbye, I say I miss you, and I say I love you. I’ve had these words and lyrics on my heart for a long time…it felt good to express like this.


{For The Childhood Best Friend}

Dear B,

You were my first best friend, my playpen buddy, my childhood friend, the one I always knew would be my partner in crime in all our games. You were one of the best parts of my whole kid world. You’ve inspired some of my best fictional characters by leaving such an impression of the ideal childhood friend. I’m sorry our families fell apart like they did; I’m sorry we drifted. But thank you for being a part of what gave me a happy childhood. You will always be my first best friend. ❤ This song makes me think of you and miss you as we leave childhood behind us. Thank you for all the memories, and I wish you the greatest luck in your future. I’ll always be in your corner, ok? ❤

So Long by Zooey Deschanel.
“Hate to say goodbye, goodbye and I hate to see the end, the end.
‘Cause it’s been so long since I’ve made a friend like you.”

{For The Friend Who Disappeared}

Dear D,

When my whole world was crashing, you entered my life…you were like a life preserver…you noticed me, wanted to be my friend, entered worlds with me, made me laugh and forget my pain, my depression, my fear. I liked you. I’m sorry our families fell apart….I’m so sorry that I lost contact with you. I’m so sorry that you never came to see me, that you never responded to my note, that I’m not yet brave enough to come find you myself to say thank you and goodbye. While things have worked out in my life, I still consider you disappearing from my life as one of my biggest regrets and personal losses. I grieved your loss to this song for years: I listened to its chorus a thousand times because it matched how my heart hurt, and sometimes still does. I do thank you for being the friend I so desperately needed at that time in my life, for helping me feel special; I miss you when I see Willy Wonka, vampires, and Sherlock Holmes. You deserve the best of luck, wherever you are. Just please don’t live in fear for the rest of your life, ok? Please don’t live in fear.

Habits by Tove Lo.
“You’re gone and I gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh.
High all the time to keep you off my mind, ooh-oh, ooh-ooh.
Spending my days locked in a haze, trying to forget you, babe, I fall back down.
Gotta stay high all my life to forget I’m missing you, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh.”

{For The Unsafe Father}

Dear Dad,

I really miss you: the you I thought I knew when I was a little girl. I’m sad that you didn’t want me to become my own person, that you believed I didn’t have a mind of my own, that you couldn’t just love me enough to let me be free. But I’m not sorry I don’t see you anymore. You played too many mind games, your words never added up, you made me feel like dirt. I won’t accept being treated that way again for the rest of my life. I do hope you will change one day. This song has been my anthem of freedom from your treatment since I first heard it, because even though you kept me down for a long time, I’m standing up now. I’m becoming that ball of fire again, and I’m finding emotional and mental freedom and happiness.

Roar by Katy Perry.
“You held me down but I got up, already brushing off the dust.
You hear my voice, you hear that sound like thunder gonna shake the ground.
You held me down, but I got up, get ready ’cause I”ve had enough.
I see it all, I see it now; I’ve got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire, cause I am a champion and you’re going to hear my roar louder, louder than a  lion ’cause I am a champion, and you’re going to hear me roar.”

{For The One I Love, the One Who is There}

Dear James,

You’re incredible. You’re the man who loved me for three years and was too scared to tell me for fear of losing our friendship…the man who has given his everything to win my heart, to be there for me…. You are the one who helped me grow despite my hurts; who helped me feel safe; who made me feel funny and happy; who told me I was gorgeous the way I was, to embrace my flaws; who told me I had a voice, that I had value, that I was worth more than gold…. thank you. Thank you for over a year of dedication as my romantic partner and for five whole years of being there. For just not leaving or disappearing like everyone else has. Thank you for loving me so unconditionally and for telling me you’ll always be there. Thank you. I have a dozen romantic songs that make me think of you, but you are more than just my boyfriend; you are my best friend, the seashore to my rocky waves, my home and happy place, my joy. I am full of gratitude for you and for everything you’ve given me. This song is my heart to you; because every lyric rings true. Thank you for changing my life for the better and I love you! ❤

Thank You by MoZella.
“Mixed up and lost, you showed me love at no cost, and when nobody else cared you were there….

Down on my luck, you helped my life get unstuck and when the world went away, you stayed…
Thank you for the good times, thank you for your love, thank you for the joy you’ve given me…
You fight off my enemies, you’d take a bullet for me, and you know I’d do the same for you…
‘Cause that’s how we roll, connected at the soul, and I just want you to know how I feel…
Thank you for loving me every day, thank you for showing me the way, thank you for things I never say…
Thank you.”

Dear Men,

You have changed me, shaped me, and influenced my life in so many positive and negative ways, but you have helped me develop into a better person; you have made me feel loss to appreciate love and loyalty when I truly recognize it; you have given me the sweetest memories and most bitter tears. You have even helped me become a better person. Thank you for that. None of it was in vain. I won’t forget any of you… don’t you forget me either.

Don’t You by Simple Minds.
“Won’t you come see about me? I’ll be alone, dancing, you know it, baby.

Tell me your troubles and doubts, giving me everything inside and out, and love’s strange so real in the dark.
Think of the tender things that we were working on.
Slow change may pull us apart, when the light gets into your heart, baby.
Don’t you… forget about me… don’t don’t don’t don’t, don’t you… forget about me.”

Sincerely, your old friend, your daughter, you girlfriend and future,
Jamie ❤