Sometimes in life I have to take a moment, step back, and remind myself (and explain to others) where I’ve come from and how I have worked to get to where I am.
I was raised in a fairly strict (not crazy, cult-like strict, but strict) Christian home. I went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. If you weren’t sick, dead, or dying you were going to church. I haven’t carried this routine into my adult life, but it certainly made me a better person.
I grew up in a family where most of the time I was an only child. Now, I know that sounds strange- so let me explain. I am my mom’s only child, but my mom remarried a man who had two children of his own. They came to our house every other weekend and Wednesday nights. When they were there I was a middle child. I grew to love my sisters as my “sisters” and truly appreciate everything they taught me about having siblings.
I was raised to have manners, work hard, and take nothing for granted. I was raised to be grateful for everything and to appreciate others for their differences. I was taught from an early age that being yourself is exactly who you should be and that my “self” was wonderful. Because of these lessons, I am confident, grateful, and honestly appreciative of everything I have. I know that I was given many things by my parents that other people are not given and I know that my parents made many sacrifices on my behalf. They are good people and I truly appreciate their struggles that led to my successes.
When I “grew up” and left for college I decided to be a high school English teacher. Funny! I’m sure if you’ve read this far you can naturally assume that I did not fulfill that goal. I had what many may call an “epiphany” while sitting in a HORRIBLE freshman English class that I actually hated English and had absolutely no desire to spend the rest of my life teaching that. So, I marched my happy little rear end down to my advisor’s office and changed my major! Elementary Education! I stuck with that one.
My freshman year was tough for me. I wasn’t living with my parents anymore. I was in college at Upstate in Spartanburg and missing my home! My high school sweet heart and I called it quits and I started dating someone else.
About half way through freshman year I decided that Upstate was not the place for me. I wanted OUT! So, I looked into applying to transfer to other schools and then realized I could very easily move to USC. So, that’s what I did. I moved there and got an apartment with my older sister. I dated a few people between that summer and junior year.
My junior year I met Jake. Love of my life from the first time I met him. I talk a lot of junk about how he’s not a “charmer” but let’s face it, most of the time charm wears off and what you’re left with is nothing like what you thought you had. Jake is real. He’s always been exactly who he is. I love that about him. Jake and I dated for 3 years were married on July 18, 2009. It is, without a doubt, the best decision I’ve ever made. I love that man and would choose him all over again. He has taught me more than I could ever repay and has loved me for exactly who I am. I tell people all the time that he is a “good man.” He is. And that, my friends, is hard to find these days.
When Jake and I were dating his parents offered us “free puppies”. Now, I was naive and thought that free puppies actually existed. Of course, they were “free” but have ended up costing Jake and I a small fortune. Thee free puppies were named Milly and Shelby and quickly stole our hearts. We are beyond obsessed with them.
After I graduated and we got married we moved back to Rock Hill. I couldn’t find a teaching job (stupid budget cuts, dumb recession). It was a tough year. Jake was still in school for another semester. Because he was commuting to Columbia for class he couldn’t get a job. I found some long term sub positions (thanks to an awesome principal) and worked long hours for a catering company. It was very hard. I was always stressed out. I was normally on the verge of tears in any conversation about money. But, we made it. My little family made it through the tough times. In March of that year Jake was offered a job in Florida and we packed up the entire contents of our rental home and off we went. We got there… and we turned right around and came back to Rock Hill. Yes. It was that bad. We actually stayed for about an hour. Too funny! That day we learned not to rent a house when you haven’t seen it before. (Sounds like a “duh” thing, but I was pressed for time!)
Eventually I got a job teaching in Bishopville, SC and we moved back to Columbia. Jake got a job working in retail management again and we set off on our little life. We started looking for a home to buy and things were great.
Then, disaster struck again. (Actually, it was a blessing in disguise.) I lost my job due to budget cuts. I cried and cried. And then, as usual, I picked myself up and sent out resumes and emails and applications. I got a job teaching in Lexington and we found a house in Columbia. We closed on the house the last day I worked in Bishopville and moved in the next day.
Jake and I have worked hard to get to where we are. I won’t lie and make you think that it was easy. It wasn’t. There were many tears cried, things yelled, doors slammed, and feet stomped (most, if not all, of these things done by me because Jake is “Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected”). Through all of the ups, downs, and in-betweens we stuck it out.
I have an obsession with Milly and Shelby. I think they’ve earned it. These girls are 5 years old (will be 6 in April) and have lived in 7 houses, been trucked to Florida and back in one day, and have been there for me every single day. They sat with me when I was super sad (nearly depressed) over my lack of a job. They didn’t care that I had no money, no job, no nothing. They loved me. They still do. They greet me every single day with wagging tails and floppy ears. They make me happy. They were there to listen when I just couldn’t talk to anyone else. They were there for me to hug and cry on when things just got too tough. They are my rock. They make me strong. I realize they’re dogs, but they are my dogs. They are the little heartbeats at my feet.
I won’t say that we are where we want to be yet. We’re still working hard. We work hard every day. We have goals. We have plans. We will get there. Sometimes it feels like I will never reach where I want to be, but then I stop. I take a step back. I look at where I’ve come from and I thank God for where I am. I may not be where I think I should be, but I am exactly where He wants me to be. I have a great family, an amazing husband who believes in me, and two sweet little doggies to love. I still have miles to go, but I am enjoying the road on the way.