20 Things I've Learned in My Early 20's.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I'm not supposed to be here.

November of 1988 my beautiful, pregnant mother was sitting in a doctor's office in Southern Indiana, getting told the unfortunate news that her hypothyroidism had grown into thyroid cancer;
she needed to have her thyroid removed right away.

Holding her big belly she looked at the doctor suspiciously and said:
'Can I really undergo major surgery while 8 months pregnant?'
"Yes you will be fine! Your baby will go to sleep with you.'

A couple of weeks later my mom is wobbling her way into the hospital, into a stiff white gown, then being rolled into the Operating Room.
She gets hooked up to her IV and heart monitor.
She patiently waits for the anesthesiologist.
After almost an hour, the anesthesiologist walks in to put us to sleep when he see's her giant belly sticking out of her gown.

He looks at her with a shocked face and says, 'Um, you're pregnant!'
Yes... my doctor said this procedure would be fine?
'Uh...give me a moment...'
And he runs out of the room.

Hours go by and he never returns. My mom finally calls a nurse and is informed that every anesthesiologist in the hospital refuses to administer anesthesia to a woman 8 months pregnant...so her surgery is cancelled.
She rips out her IV, puts her clothes back on, and heads home.

1 month later:


So here I am.
No longer 25 and feelin' alive, but 26 and ready to learn new tricks.
I spent my birthday in Charleston, SC and enjoyed every minute.

Although the day was warm and filled with fun, I caught myself in deep thought on occasion...
Realizing that I am no longer in my early twenties, and on the fast track to dirty 30.
I'm at this weird age where I'm unsure of just about everything in life.
Am I in my mid twenties? Or my late twenties.
I want to travel the world and spend my days exploring, but the home life sounds pretty nice, too.

It's bittersweet. On one hand I enjoy getting older, wiser, and caring even less what people think of me. It's fantastic. On the other hand, I'm getting a slap-to-the-face reminder that time flies.
I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be 40.

My 20th birthday was spent in LA with a beautiful friend, shopping at The Grove and eating dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
My 21st birthday was spent running around Universal Studios in Orlando, getting drunk and going on roller coasters.
When I turned 22 I graduated college & got engaged to a boy I met in elementary school.
23 was spent traveling, planning a wedding, working my first 'real job' out of college, and enjoying the cheap cost of living at home.
By 24 I was a married woman and moved a thousand miles from home.

25 brought one of the best years of my life.
Chock-full of non stop adventures & the most valuable life lessons.

It's emotional reflecting back on that half decade. So many ups and downs. I can't believe all of the things that happened in only 5 years! All of the places I went. People I met.
Kind of exciting/scary to think of all of the things that can & will happen from now until I turn 30...

So far in my twenties, I've experienced some of the most amazing things I never knew existed. But I've also experienced some of the worst pain that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.

It's been one hell of a ride. Which is why I just have to share:

1. Stop planning. Want to know something funny? The Summer I was 21, I remember sitting pond-side  with my mom one afternoon fishing. We were talking about life when I told her that I wanted to have my first baby by the time I was 25 years old. It seemed so far away and so much older. Now here I am at 26 and 21 feels like it was last week. Silly story aside, don't go through your 20's with a timeline. The best things in life are unexpected.

2. Don't let the world turn you cold. You will experience awful people. Mean people. People who you thought loved you, will prove that they never did. People you thought were your friends, will blow away in the wind. You will be exposed to horrific stories in the news. Always remind yourself that there are good people in this world. You can be one of them.

3.M O D E R A T I O N. Oh lord does this apply to everything in life. Food, social media, TV, everything. I maintain my healthy weight by never dieting. I eat what I want but in very small portions. I love mornings because I have a promise with myself that I will never begin my day scrolling through social media or the news.  I maintain a positive, balanced attitude because I very rarely watch TV and all the brain poison that comes with it.

4. Need > Want. One of the best things I learned in business school. Want to control your spending? Every time you want to purchase something, ask yourself: Do I need this? Or do I just want it? I do the same with food. And other important life decisions. ;)

5. Comparison is the Thief of Joy. One of the best quotes of all time for our generation of 20 somethings. How easy it is to know absolutely everything about everyone nowadays... Whenever you start to feel like you are behind in life because of what you see your peers post on social media, STOP. Remember two things: 1. People fluff up their life for social media. Don't buy it. 2. Everyone is on their own path, for their own reason.. Including you.

6. Patience is a virtue. I think a lot of us in our 20's are striving for that 'perfect life' Go to college. Get Married. Buy house. Have baby. All before we turn 30. That's an OK dream to have, but what's the rush? Don't breeze through college and sprint across the stage for your diploma. Don't run down the aisle at your wedding. Don't get pregnant on your honeymoon. We go through a LOT of major life transitions in our 20's. More so than probably any other decade. So take a deep breath in between 'steps' and enjoy the beautiful chaos. Appreciate your youth and your freedom. One day you will close your eyes and dream of going back to this time...

7. Treat your body good. It's now or never friends. What we do to our bodies during this decade will greatly affect our health for years to come. Have fun with that fast metabolism in college but afterwords, do some serious damage control. Educate yourself on healthy eating and behavioral habits. You won't regret it.

8. Go to Therapy.
I did! Totally not too proud to admit it, either. I went for several months and I wish I could go forever. It's one of the best things I've ever done for myself. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Remember that.

9. Let it go. The past. It's gone...forever. The good moments, the bad moments....they don't exist anymore. Don't bring up bad times. It will poison your present and dictate your future. Pocket your life lessons from the past and move forward with a clean slate. I know, easier said than done. But it's something you will have to work at daily. Practice it enough and you will reap the rewards...

10. People are fucking mean. If there's one thing I'm taking away from my early twenties, it's that mean people will always be around. They can be in the form of strangers, internet trolls, or even people close to you. Just know this: You can solve world hunger and there will still be someone with something mean to say about it. But it's also important to understand why people are mean. It works like a factory line. Someone was mean to them. They bottled it up and spit it out onto someone else, like you. Human nature wants us to toss around this 'mean ball' generation to generation. But I don't follow the crowd. So when someone is mean to me and comes close to ruining my day, I make an effort to be extra nice to everyone else I run into that day. Kill them with kindness. Break the cycle.

11. People Evolve.
One of my biggest pet peeves is someone looking at me like the Stephanie that was 16 years old, living in Goffstown, driving a black dodge neon and working in the kitchen of a hospital. I am 10 years, an entire decade, removed from that period in life. I'm a completely different person. Hell, I'm a completely different person than I was when I got married just 2 years ago! Your 20's are for evolving, growing, and changing. Without change, you aren't growing as a person. And if you aren't growing, what are you doing?

12.What you are doing now, does not define your life. So you feel like you'll be in college until the end of time because you keep changing your major. Or maybe you're working a job out of  college that you have no passion for. Just workin' to pay those student loans. Story time: when my mom was my age, she was working in a plastics factory with no college education. Flash forward 20 years and she has a Masters of Nursing Informatics degree, has traveled the world for work, and runs to NYC just to attend meetings. Do you think 26 year old Lisa would have ever imagined, in her wildest dreams, that she would be going to Italy one day for work? Hell no. I remind myself of my mom's journey often. What I'm doing now is 100% not what I will be doing in 20 years, 10 years, heck maybe even next year I'll be in a different place. Life is great like that. Keep your chin up.

13. Meditate. Find Solitude, often. When I was in therapy, I was told to take myself out to eat or take myself to the movies. Learn to love to be alone. I go hiking in the woods alone nearly every day. It's a great time to clear your mind and just be. It's essential to your health.

14. Mistakes are your friend. Your 20's were made to make mistakes. You can't learn and grow without them! Just don't let them consume you. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes you make in this decade. If you learn from them, then they have served their purpose and you can let go & move on. Same goes for your loved ones. They will also make mistakes, some might really hurt you. Understand that we are all only human, trying to do the best we can in this human life. Then refer to #9 :-)

15. Connect with your childhood. I read somewhere that in order to find true happiness, we must look back into the things we loved to do as a child. And you know what's neat? Ask anyone; 'Hey, what were your favorite things to do as a kid?' 99% of the time people will mention something outdoors. Sledding. Building forts. Riding my bike. Running around barefoot. Do all those things again...

16. Just be nice.  Something that drives me nuts is how most people treat others like a number.  When you go out to eat and don't look your server in the eye or make small talk. When you work in a corporate building but don't ask the janitors how their day is going. These people go home to families & life struggles too, ya know. You would be so surprised at how much your world can change if you just look at everyone as fellow humans trying to survive on this planet. One time at Chipotle, I made a remark to the kids working the line ''Wow, you guys are so fast! I admire your work ethic, I would be under so much stress working a line this long.' When we went to pay, they gave us one of our burritos for free. At my hair salon last month, my stylist ran over an hour late because of a previous client needing extra work done. The salon owner kept apologizing to me waiting in the lobby but I smiled every time and said don't worry! I've got a cup of tea in my hand and I'm cracking up looking at ugly Christmas sweaters on Pinterest - all is well. They appreciated my kindness & understanding so much, I got $100 worth of free professional hair products. Kindness is everything.

17. Be a lifelong learner.
Education is everything. It is key to a happy, healthy life. It doesn't end after high school or college, ohhh no. It actually just begins. Step away from social media and hollywood entertainment. Go read, go to a museum, go explore...

18. Everything happens for a reason. Good things. Bad things. Everything. There is a reason behind it all. Sometimes it may take years to understand why, but I promise you one thing, you will always figure out why. I'll share a personal example with you. When my brother was diagnosed with epilepsy, all I could think of is WHY? Why us? Why my brother. Why me. Why my mom. 4 years later I now understand why. We all - including my brother - have this deep, deep appreciation for life and health. We have witnessed first hand how it can instantly change or be taken away. Understand that everything and everyone who enters your life, is there for a reason. Refer to #6 when you find yourself asking WHY ME.

19. Nobody knows what they're doing. Don't know what you want to be when you grow up? don't know how you'll ever pay your student loans off? don't know if you'll ever find your soul mate? There's plenty of 50-something year olds I know asking themselves those saaame questions. You're in good company. No one knows 'how to live life' - we're all just stumbling our way through it, trying to make the most of it while we're here. Don't take life so seriously. Relax.

20. Don't ever get too old to celebrate your life. Last but not least, get out there and CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY! If you want to stumble around in heels and a sash that says 'BIRTHDAY PRINCESS' you do it! You want to really go all out, refer to #15 and throw a dinosaur themed pizza party at a jungle gym with your 20-something year old friends (omg just planned my 27th..)  But never get too 'old and mature' to have a damn good time on your birthday. Ever.  If you are fortunate enough to live another year of life - Celebrate.


"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

If you're anything like me, you'll forget about this blog post by this weekend. I just hope that it inflicted some sense of hope and reassurance that IT'S OK. And I hope those feelings never leave you.
Because it's true.

30... lookout.
I'm comin' for ya.

Procrastination Station

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I should be folding my laundry.
Or cleaning up the kitchen after hurricane Chef Stef came through.

But talking to you is more fun.

So hey! How are ya? How ya been? Been a while since my last blog post. What was it, 4 years ago?

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? How about Halloween?
Procrastination Station.

Tomorrow it's back to work, and cyber Monday.
AKA when I do all of my Christmas shopping.
So let's breeze through this 8-)

It's Halloween. I'm not dressing up seductively and going out to the bar like most of my peers.
Instead, I'm enjoying a nice dinner out at PF Changs for the first time (Crab Wontons were the shit) with my best friend.
We have a great time and would highly suggest that place.
As we're leaving we are discussing what we would dress up as if we were going out to a party.
I say a potato.

The night ends with a severe thunderstorm and I am officially the happiest girl in the world.


Hello, November.

This month brought lots of peace and relaxation.
Much needed after a year bouncing around the country.

When we weren't both working OT, we were hiking in the woods.
Sometimes together, sometimes alone.

Every time I cross this bouncy bridge, I run and jump like a little kid.
It is fantastic.
One hike, I discover that not only are the Southern people friendly, but the trees are too.

On another hike, we found a praying mantis the size of a St.Bernard.

Speaking of animals, this month we also celebrated National Cat Day.
I didn't know it was a thing.
But being born the cat lady I am, I had to join in.

My heart warmed when creating this collage.
It show's that after all the things I've been though - both good and bad - all the places I've been to, people I've met...
Some things never change.

Nights were spent making homemade popcorn on the stove and renting Redbox movies.
Oh and on occasion, hikes by moon light...

The weather is still very nice down here, with the occasional cold day.
But when that sun is shining, it sure is nice out.

So, I frolicked under trees....

...and through orchards of golden red peach trees...

On the home front, we made a homemade chalkboard so I could stop doodling on the kitchen table...

One day this month, I had a downright awful day.
Just one of those days where everything that can go wrong, will.
I'm not too proud to admit I had a mini melt down.

So, despite having a negative frame of mind and wanting to do nothing but lay around and sulk in my sadness... I forced myself to get up and go walk out in the woods.
I began my hike digging in my heels.
Thoughts like 'I don't know why I'm out here. It's cold. I'm tired. I should turn around.' haunted my head.
But I kept going.
As I was exiting the dark woods and entering a wide open field, I felt a light engulf me.
As I looked up I was greeted with this:

You guys.
I watched that rainbow form.
If that wasn't a sign that 'after the storm always comes the rainbow' then I don't know what is.
Needless to say, my bad day evaporated faster than this rainbow did.
Very spiritual moment for me.

I ended that hike with this sky.

Can you spy the moon?
He makes this photo.

Thanksgiving was so relaxing and so very needed.
I threw my healthy eating habits to the wind and ate lots of sweets.
Since Mitch and I have family scattered throughout the country, we spent the day as just the two of us with our two human-like cats. Of course we missed our family and wished we could  be with them. But we made the most with what we had and ended up having a very relaxing, laid back day.
I also ate my body weight in the most delicious homemade mashed potatoes in the world.

^ The most sinful Pumpkin Pie Cookies
Like whoa.

Yesterday we went to the Carolinas Aviation museum.
It was just a random idea for good, cheap fun.
Plus I have a growing fascination & appreciation for museums and science so, I was excited!

Little did I know, they had the airplane from Miracle on the Hudson on display.
This was so unreal.
Check out the photos..

The shattered window! The holes in that monstrous piece of aluminum!
Imagining this giant plane floating in the river is beyond anything I can comprehend.
I was so moved by this exhibit. Perhaps because I fly so often.

If you're unsure about what the Miracle on the Hudson was, back in January 2009 this US airways flight left NYC heading to Charlotte. A few minutes after take off they hit a flock of giant Canadian geese. Both engines quickly lost power. They had no backup and not enough power to turn around and make it back to the airport. So in a split second decision, the pilot landed this plane in the Hudson River. All passengers survived with very minimal injuries.
Poor geese

My god. Imagine what those people were thinking/feeling during this flight.. I can't.
What a hero that pilot was. I read that the pilot and co-pilot never panicked. They actually barely spoke to each other at all during this emergency. They just both knew, how to in sync, save this flight.
I applaud them.


SO! Here we are. Today. Sunday. Soup Sunday/Football day in the Albro Apartment. My cat is one paw away from sitting on my keyboard as I type so I suppose that's my que.

Cheers to my last week of being 25!

What an unbelievable year.....

A lot of fun things coming up, stay tuned my beautiful friends!

Wild Horses.

Monday, October 27, 2014
Over the mountains
and through the woods,
to Pittsburgh, PA we go!

Mitch's goal
: See the Steelers for his first time at Heinz field.

My goal:

Document his big trip and play with pumpkins.

Also, to see the Blue Ridge Mountains in full Fall foliage force.
Say that 10X fast

The Blue Ridge Mountains always look painted on the sky.
They are stunning.
And that road you see there went straight up...I want to sit on a skateboard and slide down it so bad.

We got up early Saturday morning, grabbed our caffeine, gassed up and hit the road North!
First order of business: Grayson Highlands State Park

If there's anything you need to see at least once in your life, it's this park.

Despite being overcast and having higher wind than my wedding, it was still as picturesque as they come.

You pay $5.00 to get in to the park and drive up to the trail heads. It's actually right on the Appalachian trail so we saw a host of people making the long trek towards Georgia. Or Maine.

I could raise my hand and touch the clouds.
At one point the winds picked up to 800mph and I literally had to curl up in a ball and wait for the winds to die down before I climbed off that rock... I had to try so hard not to blow off .
Hilarious and frightening all at the same time.
Oh the things we do for a cool shot...
But then!
We ran into the main reason most people visit this park....

Wild ponies!!
Yes they are wild.
Yes they were frightened of humans.

I got close to them by moving slower than a snail and crouching low to the ground. After they realized I was not a threat they let me walk anywhere around them - still, very slow.

Side note: This one little boy got way too close way too fast and the pony kicked him with his back legs. Mitch and I laughed so hard. We're going to make great parents one day.

What a dream.

We spent the rest of our evening driving to Charleston, WV where we would stay for the night.

I don't know why, but I had this burning curiosity for West Virginia. It seems so... off the grid.
When we got close to Charleston, we were waiting to see bright city lights and tall buildings.. never happened. Lol it's a very small city but very quaint.
And I will say, West Virginia has some of the nicest people I've ever come in contact with.
Our waiter at Cracker Barrel thanked us for being polite to him.
WV I <3 You.

We also realized that West Virginia has some of the most beautiful landscape/fall foliage we've ever seen.
And that's coming from two kids raised in New England!

West Virginia, we'll be back in the Summer time.
You're beautiful.


Sunday we arrived at our final destination.
The Steel City:
Pittsburgh, PA!

I gotta hand it to PA, this city is really beautiful. It's a lot more modernized than I would have expected.

First order of business:

Heinz Field.

This is my, I-don't-even-watch-football-what-am-I-doing-here face.

Despite not being a sports fan it really was a cool experience.
And seeing how excited Mitch, a lifelong Steelers fan, was to see his team's stadium....


I loved documenting his journey to this game. I really love being behind the camera and capturing candid moments. That passion is growing every day. Speaking of which...

I got to go behind the scenes of a reality show filming in Pittsburgh!!

And I thought I lugged around a lot of camera equipment.

Look at the amazing shots he is getting with the geese and the tour boat!
If only you could see how HD his shots were too.
I was in heaven.

This moment really sparked an interest in this photography/film stuff for me. I was so inspired after talking & learning from this kind man who allowed me to intrude on his filming.
We'll see what the future holds...


Game day.
First half of the day we did this:

Pittsburgh Zoo!!

This place was one of the best zoos I've ever been to.
So clean and quiet.
They even had an aquarium complete with Polar Bears and Sharks!

What I loved most is that each exhibit featured ways to preserve the natural habitat of each animal.

Also, a dad with his two young daughters asked them:
'Girls, what do you think lions eat?'
Girls response: Grilled Cheese!

Kids are so cool.

The later half of the day Mitch and I split up.
He took a big tour bus to the game and I stayed at the hotel, ate chipotle and watched him on TV.

He returned in the wee hours of night with lots of new Steelers gear and no voice.
Safe to say he had a great time

I didn't go because I just couldn't bring myself to fork over that much money for a front row ticket.
Although I did feel a little remorse when Mitch sent me videos and THIS was blaring in the background.
I would have been on that field doing the nae-nae like it's no ones business.

Oh well, maybe next time :)

Pittsburgh, we have unfinished business.
We will definitely be back!


We woke up bright and early the next morning and made our way through wild and wonderful but cloudy & cold West Virginia to head home.

We drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains into sunny & 75 weather and it was then that I realized how much I truly love South Carolina.


In other news, I shattered my iphone, finally invested in a tripod, and:

I am jamming so hard to Blank Space right meow.

Who wants to meet up for a dance party!?

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