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Best Life

It’s that time of year again.

We’re bombarded with literally everything. We’re desperately trying to set some new goals and leave bad habits in 2018, because I think we all can agree that 2018 seemed to hit us like a freight train.

To be honest, that freight train ran me over in February, and yet here I am, in December somehow still going.

The next full moon won’t be around until next year… so between now and then, I invite you to play a game.

Best Life. 

It’s some cliche game where you’re giving some crazy condition and you’ve got to imagine your best life under those circumstances.

So, you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness that’s hellbent on taking over your life… best life and go:

January 
It’s snowing and god we wish it would just stop. Snow for Christmas was enough, why the hell are you still excited every time this powdering stuff falls everywhere?
Best life: I spent hours at work staring out the windows drooling as the white stuff fell. I rushed home to find my sister curled up on the couch enjoying the latest episode of How To Get Away With Murder… she really needed serious convincing to get out of her pjs and throw on her winter gear to go make some snow angels. The snow was wet and incredibly slippery. We made our snow angels. I slipped and fell about five times – there were some serious bruises – but after we called it a night, we rushed back into the warm apartment and we both shared the adrenaline high. 
February

You’re exhausted and should just go home because you’ve got to be at work bright and early, but your favorite band is playing downtown. 

Best life: The only concert and sporting event I attended all year, but wow was it worth it. On a whim with one of the gals from work, we bought cheap seats to the hockey game because Brothers Osborne was playing a free show afterwards. 
I think I could relive this night forever and be happier as a clam. 
Spring Semester – Mount Mary University

College. Late Nights. Exams. 
Best life: I’ve never actually had such a relaxing semester as a student. I mean if we take out all the nightmares caused inadequate health professionals and regular ER visits… this past Spring was incredible. 
My best class was this literature course that I signed up for on a whim because half my classes ended up not being offered and I knew I needed a literature based english class. Insert: Place and Displacement. 
What a concept. And we got to read everything from Hemingway to Robinson to Berry. I’ve never been so absolutely infatuated by a subject. We explored the concepts of individuals being placed vs displaced and how this impacted everything in their life. We tackled a world after slavery, a world after a war where Native Americans had fought for our country but still had no place, a world where religion could be found in everything from biblical texts, to dirt and baseball. 
Never did I ever think I’d get away with writing a paper on a book about a priest, where I managed to compare the entire novel to baseball and Field of Dreams, but I did. 
I spent countless hours managing my business minor as well, learning the fundamentals of marketing and the inter-workings of human resources. And although each class had a large group final assessment one of them actually went flawlessly. I proved that even if I had to postpone the presentation for an impromptu hospital visit, that the best presentations go unrehearsed. My marketing presentation was on a new product segment for Victoria’s Secret, and let me tell you I never thought presenting a line of lingerie to a middle age woman could be humorous. My HR presentation was on some random chapter, but I learned that in incorporating the crowd for your grade, if you can make everyone feel good about something they’ve contributed your presentation will go over much better. 
And most importantly I recognized the allies that we have in these wonderful professors. Whether it’s advice on how to quit a job or the group photos taken and sent to a professor when they’ve been stranded in the snow and a small group stays in class and decided to watch Bring It On, the connections we build with these people can last a lifetime and will always serve us. 
March

You’re not in love with your living situation and are sick of fighting with the people that you love over how you feel. 
Best life: You get your own goddamn apartment. You hook up the TV all by yourself. You sleep on the couch for a few weeks before your bed arrives. 
Most importantly, you learn to tell all of those people who say you aren’t living your life right to shove it because they could use a good look in the mirror. And then you don’t bother looking back, because those people will only come back if its meant to be. 
You find yourself completely on your own. You’re getting awfully hungry. You cannot stand the thought of having teriyaki chicken and broccoli for lunch and dinner. And your best friend is allergic to peanut butter so you’ve got to find something better for lunch…
Best life: You learn to cook. You also buy a cookbook and don’t rely 100% on Pinterest for your dining needs. You learn the value of meal prepping and pre-portioning because no one has time to dink with food when they’re running late in the morning. 
You also learn very quickly that garlic burns much faster than you’d think, oil gets very hot, and your neighbors can’t stand the fire alarm going off. 

April 

You find yourself in an empty apartment. There aren’t overhead lights. 
Best life: Eventually you’re UPack with most of the furniture arrives, giving you a bed and an actual place to eat… but wow it gets dark quite early and has anyone ever looked to see how much nice light fixtures actually cost?
You thank your lucky stars for your savings account and your well paying job and you slowly make your way around stores… falling in love with World Market… and suddenly you’ve got the world’s best coffee tables and the world’s most envied chandelier. 
You can smirk at the people who think a single chair by their gaming counsel is an acceptable living room arrangement, and acknowledge that being an interior designer has some serious perks. 
And 2 short months later you can sell your couch and completely redecorate because, well, that’s what interior designers do. 
May

You’ve finished up your internship and don’t see any of the promised advances coming in the near future… 
Best life: You quit your job in the middle of finals and land a design consultant job with the most incredible company… I mean nothing could compare to going to work and being surrounded by such beauty every single day. Cloudy outside? The chandeliers still sparkle. 
No, sales couldn’t be described as an easy job, but it isn’t really sales if you aren’t having to upsell the products. When you can simply describe the imprint of a butterfly on the copper dining table actually represents that the town where the copper was hand pounded, and that it happens to be the same town monarchs migrate to each year, the table does all the selling. 
And business casual is much more fun when you’re a designer and are basically selling your personality to everyone walking through the door. 
So seriously, quit that job… You’re going to land on your feet… or in a bed of clearance pillows. 
June

No one around you gets what you’re going through. 
Best life: Start writing about it. I mean if you can write about baseball being a uniting religion, you can certainly take a shot at all the shit going on in your head. 
And maybe, that piece that was really intended just for you will turn into over 100 pieces. And maybe just maybe, you’ll fall into a community that needs your voice. 
This year I’ve been published 9 times. 9 TIMES YALL. Mostly by The Mighty, but Yahoo and MSN have picked up my pieces as well. Occasionally I’ll see The American Migraine foundation reference a piece by me and send more viewers to my Mighty Page. 
When I started writing, I had no clear direction other than venting through my frustrations. Now I sit here, and today being especially hard, I find that a simple hashtag on twitter prompting me to share my best 4 photo moments of 2018 sparked a blog post that changed my entire mood. (I was a bit grinchy to say the least)
June ~ October

You’re sick. You can’t always go do what you want with your life. You feel trapped or alone. 
Best life: Some how that best friend from before you even started elementary school is still by my side. You find a day where you’re feeling okay and grab an early lunch at the cutest little French restaurant. You laugh, you enjoy amazing food, and you feel remembered. 
Even after you’ve up and moved, new friends who you never imagined you’d make such a connection to send you surprised Halloween/birthday surprises to remind you that you aren’t alone. 
The amount of flowers, and mugs, and gorgeous pieces of handcrafted art that I’ve received from friends these past months have been incredible. I spend so much time completely alone, and we’re all adults with busy lives, so these small gestures keep me afloat. 
August

You can’t work full time anymore but aren’t ready to give up on what you’re passionate about.
Best life: I secured my first commissioned design project working alongside my wonderful friend Pat and got to redesign her living room. Everything about this project was so incredible and we both had so much fun going back and forth with ideas and eventually pulling the entire room together in the most unexpected way. 
To check out the (almost) completed project… click here. 

September

You’ve moved back in with your parents to a town you’d made a huge effort to leave and never come back to… like ever…

Best life: I’ve gained the most wonderful sister, a bright and beautiful niece and have a 4th niece that’s expected in the new year.

Bonus points: she is incredible with flower hair braids and her lovely mama is a professional pastry chef.

I never imagined I’d be coming home to a family, considering most of my family lives in Wisconsin and most of them have long forgotten that I am in fact a part of the family… and yet there’s this entirely new family that is loving and supportive right here.

September ~ October

Your favorite place in the whole wide world is devastated by a hurricane.

Best life: You join up with a local relief group and set up a small box on your front porch for neighbors to drop off needed items.

I was so disappointed in how I felt. I was overwhelmed with how much more I should be doing. But after the first day, we received over 4 boxes worth of supplies. By the end of the week I filled my entire SUV full of supplies and assisted the organizing group in picking up supplies from other drop locations and got a huge load delivered to the airport.

The amount of relief one small group was able to provide to Wilmington was incredible and just goes to show how truly amazing people in the Charleston area are when it comes to coming together in times of need.

October

Your birthday is canceled and you basically spend the entire weekend working on a letter to go off to Social Security regarding the medical review portion of your disability determination.

Best life: My high school has cows and I got permission to go see them.

It doesn’t get better than cows.

2018

You come to find out that your local radio stations aren’t all that good. You also notice how, well, awful the music that’s being released is.

Best life: The most consistent thing this year? These records.

Spotify says I spent most of my year hanging out with John Mayer, but my record player knows how many more hours were spent dancing around to Elvis and John Mellencamp and lots and lots of Genesis.

Thank you mom, for gifting me with wonderful taste in music. And thank you random bus driver who let me sift through your collection of hundreds of records allowing my collection to grow. Thank you for the stories of the artists I never heard of and for sharing your memories with each album and almost forgotten concert.

2018 may have been a bit of a bust, but at the end of the day, I finished my spring semester at the top of my class, I got my first real place, I got to experience working in a job that I truly loved, and I got to play with grass puppies.

I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me last Christmas that I’d be waiting on my decision from disability, having not worked since August and having really not left my couch all that much either. But, even if it takes some digging, I still found my best life in some of the darkest days.

So, let’s go into 2019 focusing on what our best life can be.

A.

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