Hair is quite honestly one of my biggest struggles when it comes to my on-air appearance. Some days, my hair cooperates & I feel like a total rock star... other days, it's like fighting with a drunk person & I just want to throw it up in a ponytail and be done with it. (Then there's the really really bad days where I just want to chop it all off). I've spent the last 7 years trying to find a TV look that works for me... and although it's still a work in progress, I'm learning to love the big curls.
I have fairly thin hair... and if we're being real, I don't take care of it as much as I should. (I'm pretty rough with the brush and I show no mercy with my teasing comb - #CloserToGod). But I do splurge on a few quality products... and favor others that I literally find on the clearance shelf at the grocery store.
I don't know much - but I can tell you what I know... and just to be clear, the products listed are my favorites by personal experience. No freebies, sponsorships, or paid endorsements were made - just a regular gal sharing what I found works (and what doesn't).
I don't use a super fancy-schmancy shampoo or conditioner - it's usually whatever is on sale at Ulta / Target. Currently, I'm using Matrix Biolage shampoo & Kenra's conditioner... but I'm not too picky about either. I'll also rotate Tea Tree's conditioner in there but quite honestly, I only buy it for the smell (love everything Eucalyptus!)
Every once in awhile, I'll use Chi's 'Keratin Reconstruction Conditioner'. I use it when I feel my hair needs a good "drink of water" - I'll lather it in & let it sit for a few minutes while I shave or scrub my face. It works wonders but kinda pricey - so definitely not an every day thing for me.
I was born platinum blonde... but as each year passes, I feel my natural hair color gets darker and darker (I may have to give up the 'blonde ghost' one day, but I'm not there yet).
For years, I was on a pretty normal routine of seeing my hair dresser every 6-8 weeks for a full highlight & haircut. I always said the same thing - "I want to be brighter & blonder". The battle to fight the 'dirty blonde' color has been a long one.
But since the end of last year, I've been trying something different. I've been seeing Craig at Craig Piatti Salon for close to a year now. At my first appointment, he had asked if I was in love with the foils & the highlights, etc. I've never had a problem with 'em but he convinced me to try more of a balayage (a 'sweepy, very natural, transition' look) - and instead of using foils, he uses Saran Wrap. It's the oddest thing... but it works! I now get a partial balayage each time I go. It's much pricier than what I'm used to paying (+$200 for the color - a little piece of me dies every time I pay)... but I also only have to go back every 12 weeks. So the longer stretch between colors makes me feel a little better about the expenditure. (But I'm not going to say that paying hundreds of dollars for hair isn't absurd. Because it is. Lol)
My hairdresser turned me on to L'Oreal Professionnel's 'Serie Expert - Repair 10-in-1' - and I HIGHLY recommend. Like I mentioned, my hair is pretty thin and tangles very easily, especially with all the curling. For years, I was using the "It's a Ten - Miracle Leave In Conditioner"... but my stylist told me that wasn't doing much for me. (He literally compared it to putting Pledge on real hardwood.) So for the past several months I've switched to using '10-in-1', spraying a good amount right after I shower... and I've noticed a HUGE difference. Better shine, not as many split ends, just overall, healthier hair. I love this stuff!
I usually do my hair once I get to work so by that point, it's air-dried enough to start curling. I usually curl with a 1.5" curling iron (nothing fancy, it's a CON-AIR that I've had since college).
One of the best products I've found to help with volume --> Living Proof's 'Volumizer'. This stuff is HEAVEN-SENT. I usually spray it on my roots after teasing and post-curling. It's sticky enough to hold but it doesn't leave that 'greasy' look. Ulta carries the entire Living Proof line - all good stuff. Would recommend their dry shampoo too!
The deal-breaker for me is hairspray. I've tried everything... both high-dollar and cheap... and the one product I keep going back for is Tresemme's Extra Hold (4 out of 5 strength - green label). I've been using this FOREVER and love it. It gives just enough to still be able to comb after you spray but holds nicely once set. (And it's cheap, only a few dollars - I literally buy it at the grocery store. In bulk. Lol)
Bonus: a more recent product that I've found (via my hairdresser) is Tecni Art's 'Next Day Hair - Dry Finishing Spray'. I usually use this on my days off when I don't curl. It makes my hair feel thicker... not quite as wispy & weak as it actually is. I think it adds volume - just my opinion.
Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to hear your comments & feedback.
Last weekend, I took a quick trip back to New Mexico to see friends - my first trip back since the move, and my first flight since the start of the current pandemic.
Background: I've had these flight plans for months. Originally, the trip was scheduled around a former coworker's wedding. Unfortunately, due to COVID19, the wedding was postponed. But given that flights were fairly inexpensive and I hadn't seen my NM friends in close to a year, I decided to keep the planned trip & burn a few vacation days.
Before I left, a few of my coworkers had asked if I was nervous about flying given current circumstances... but I had told them that I was no more worried about coronavirus than I was about the plane going down. We recently reported on all of the precautions airlines were taking to help prevent the spread of the COVID19... and airplanes are likely cleaner now than they've ever been. (Something I witnessed first hand - more on that a bit).
Below is my experience flying to Albuquerque from Austin - in the middle of the pandemic.
I took an Uber to the airport Saturday afternoon, about an hour and a half before my flight. Unsurprisingly, the airport was a ghost town. Very few people were there... and the departure drop off lanes were empty.
Once inside, I used a self check-in kiosk at the Southwest counter. I printed my boarding pass and tagged my bag. As soon as I walked away, there was a Southwest attendant spraying the screen I had just tapped, wiping down the entire counsel. She wasn't messin' around - speedy little thing!
With my bag checked in, I wandered over to the security gate only to see one person scanning IDs/boarding passes. There were only about 6 people in line, all 6 feet apart. It actually only took about 15 minutes to get to the front. Once there, the officer had asked me to pull down my mask to see my face while checking to make sure the ugly mug on my ID was actually me. Lol - it was. And she let me through.
The security process was as pretty close to normal as I remember pre-COVID --take off your shoes, put bags in the bins, nothing in your pockets, etc. I was wearing a mask through this entire process, and one of the TSA officers did ask to see the inside of my mask once I walked through the metal detector. But I didn't consider that a big deal.
I waited at my gate for about 45 minutes before the attendant got on the loudspeaker and informed us that they would only be boarding 10 people at a time. (For those who have never flown Southwest, they typically call up ~60 people at a time, lined up in numerical order given the time you checked in. But now, in order to prevent grouping, only 10 people are asked to line up and they called groups every 10 minutes or so in order to prevent congregation within the tunnel to the plane.
Once on the plane, we were told to spread out and avoid middle seats - windows & aisle seats only. I found a window seat in the middle of the plane, set my purse down and began the process of cleaning my seat. I came armed with a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and wipes. So I wiped down everything... and I mean EVERYTHING. Seat, arm rests, window, air vent, tray table... ALL. OF. IT. And as soon as it was dry enough to sit, I took off my gloves and whipped out the hand sanitizer.
I didn't take my mask off the entire flight. (Mostly because I fell asleep halfway through... but also because I didn't want to take any chances.) I had a layover in Dallas with no plane change. It was then that most of the passengers deboarded... and a cleaning crew came on and wiped down every seat, window and tray before the Dallas->ABQ passengers were allowed to board. (Pre-COVID, I had seen flight attendants to a walk-through to pick up any trash of belongings left-behind... but I'm not sure I've ever seen a crew take cleaning spray to the inside of the plane and wipe down every unoccupied seat. I was impressed.)
The flight from Dallas to Albuquerque was normal, nothing out of the ordinary. But once landing in ABQ, I de-planed into an entirely empty Sunport (Albuquerque airport). Not a single restaurant, gift shop or mini-market was open. It was eerie. I walked to the bathroom and changed my shirt (just in case I missed a germ on the seat or something), then walked downstairs to pick up my bag.
The arrival lanes were just as empty in Albuquerque as the departure area in Austin. Only a few cars - no buses, shuttles or taxis.
Fast forward to the trip home, the experience was about the same. The Sunport was empty, my layover in Las Vegas was quick, and the flight home to Austin was easy. It's been about 24 hours and I don't feel ill or anything out of the norm. Texas has no mandated travel quarantine so I went back to work this morning. I did my best to maintain social distancing at work - and I'll probably make a conscious effort of that for the next several days (just in case).
Bottom line - I didn't feel "scared" or "nervous". Sure, there were things I had to do different. And I didn't see any problem with going over the top with wipes, gloves, sanitizer once on the plane. The only thing that really got me was the emptiness of the airports, parking garages, planes, etc. Big buildings, few people, weirdly quiet. Airports are some of the busiest places in the world. But not in these times. Not now at least.
The ongoing pandemic continues to create a new "normal" - impacting nearly every facet of life. "Social distancing", "self-quarantine", "6-feet apart", "less than 10 people", etc. I can't help but think that one day in the future, we'll look back and wonder how we carried out our every day-to-day activities with such limited interaction, contact and face-to-face communication. I'm not much of a history buff but I've tried to document these new challenges - so when that day in the future comes, I can reflect on how life continued - most of it, virtually.
So to future me, here's how we did it:
A virtual first date
An introduction meeting for an upcoming charity event
A birthday party
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Join Me, FaceTime, etc. -- I now have an entire folder of video conference apps downloaded on my phone and computer. But as much as I miss the squeeze of a hug, the clink of glass at happy hour and even the simplicity of a high-five & handshake, I'm so grateful I can at least see the faces of the people I care about.
P.S. An apology - to all my coworkers & the screengrabs you got caught in. I love & miss your faces, even when at the mercy of a screenshot. ;)
A look back at some quick highlights of April 2020 - goals, progress & improvements:
A few weeks back, I decided to do 'Alcohol-less April' (made this up myself)- a month free of margaritas, cocktails, and of course, my personal favorite, wine. With COVID keeping all restaurants & bars closed for the past month and no family/friends allowed to come visit, I didn't want to be home drinking by myself (that only leads to overthinking & unneeded calories). So why not do a "comfort cleanse".
NOTE: I don't want it to sound like I'm a raging alcoholic -- I just definitely like a good pour at the end of a stressful day.
Well now that we've finished up day 30, I can happily say that I MADE IT! Not a sip of tequila, vodka or wine in the past 30 days. I did this back in January (see previous 'Dry-uary' post) and felt pretty good after I finished. But I honestly thought this month was harder than January. At the start of the year, I had all the motivation in the world to be healthy & disciplined. This time around, I definitely had more cravings... which I think were largely induced by stress regarding the current circumstances of the world and, put simply, boredom.
All-in-all, 'Alcohol-less April' was a success... even if I had to be shady during a drinking game on a Zoom birthday call with all my coworkers last week. Those "sips" I took were definitely just gulps of sparkly water out of a can. (Happy birthday, Rosie!)
Another goal I set for myself this past month was to log +50 miles out on the trail. I had reached 50.1 miles in March (according to my Nike tracker app) - and I had posted on Instagram that all I wanted to do was exceed that distance. And I did!... with only a few miles to spare. I ended up logging about 57 miles for the month. I found it more motivating to literally write down my miles on a piece of paper instead of just using the app. It's rewarding to see the page fill in up... and identify trends like the fact that I clearly don't like to work out on Fridays (LOL). But I liked this enough, I might even try this again in May.
One thing I definitely struggled with this past month --> the house hunt. I've made zero progress on that front. Mostly because of the pandemic and all the obstacles that have followed... I knew that open houses and such were no longer a possibility and many realtor offices had closed. So I kind of gave up these past few weeks. But I'm hoping to get a lot more done in May - realtor, house searches, lenders, etc. Lot of work to do and not a whole lot of time left on my apartment lease to do it. Yikes.
Now that we're approaching 4 weeks of quarantine, the "new norm" has set in. Traffic is still suspiciously non-existent, most people stay inside all day and those who do go out in public are wearing face masks, the newscast is still dominated by coronavirus coverage and businesses everywhere are shut.
It's easy for me to downward spiral in a time like this. Limited human interaction, lots of (& frankly, too much) alone time, not a whole lot to get excited for, plans/events/activities cancelled... most days it's a struggle for me to find even that natural happiness. Like I've said before, I'm the type of person who thrives on routine.. and coronavirus has thrown every aspect of my life (& many others) out of whack.
Despite all of this, I've done my best to "find the good". Reason being -- even on my bad days, the Good Lord knows I am blessed with far more than I deserve (and Heaven forbid I ever lose sight of that).
Whether it's in my own life, or reading and sharing stories about the helpers & heroes in the lives of others, I've made a conscious effort to seek, highlight and focus on the little bit of good that has come of this crisis.
Personally, one of the positives I've recently realized is how much more I've been able to talk to family. Pre-pandemic, I typically FaceTimed my parents and sister about once a week. Over the past 2-3 weeks, that's been upped to every other day. Even if it's just to find out what they had for dinner or what they bought at Costco the day before, I'm calling. I usually spend Monday morning (my "Saturday") out on my balcony FaceTiming as many friends and family I can before my phone runs out of battery. It's honestly what has kept me sane this past month.
I'm also "finding the good" in spending more time outside. One of the things I struggled with when working the morning shift for +5 years was that the early bedtime really limited my time out in the sunshine, which in turn, hurt my mood. (Never underestimate the power of Vitamin D.) Now that I'm working 50% of my shift from home... I'm finding more time to be out on the balcony and walking the trail. (I've also tried to remind myself that the days of blistering heat & constant sweating are not too far off - all the more reason to enjoy the more "friendly" weather we have now.)
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I've found more time to read my Bible, watch online sermons & download praise music - more now than ever before. Despite not being able to go to church on Sunday mornings, I feel stronger in my faith and relationship with God. I've really leaned into Him over the past few weeks... praying for just about anyone and everything. (And as Grandma said to me a couple weeks back, "You don't need a church to pray. Gidget [dog] & I got a hotline to heaven, praying for everyone to stay healthy.") AMEN, Grandma. AMEN.
Yes, there are people who are sick, dying, losing loved ones, working +15 hour days, unemployed & hungry -- and for all those people, we pray. We pray for every single one of them.
But I firmly believe that there is a lesson to be learned in every hardship... and I feel God is showing me that His good work is everywhere, even in tragedies.
Find His work... 'find the good.' And let that serve as a reminder to be grateful for all of life's blessings.
Earlier this week, the mayor of Austin issued a 'Stay-At-Home' order in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. This basically translates to encouraging all of us to work/play/live at home, closing most shops/dine-in/companies with the exception of "essential businesses". There seems to be a lot of gray area as to what "essential" actually means - but I do know that we, as a news organization, fall in that category.
NOTE: Throughout this post are a handful of camera shots we've been implementing in newscasts to show viewers at home that we are doing our part to social distance-- "less than 10, 6 feet apart".
Over the last two weeks, my station (KXAN) has been figuring out how to keep staff safe & healthy, abide by Mayor's orders, all while continuing newscast productions. At this point, we've deployed most of our reporters, photojournalists, web, sales, and marketing teams to either work from home or in the field... we've set-up producers with laptops to create shows from home... and we are now in the process of equipping anchors and meteorologists with the technology to do the same. Less than 10 people are allowed in the newsroom at a time, those who do work in the newsroom now have assigned seats that are 6 feet apart, and only anchors/reporters/floor crew are allowed in studio (no producers or directors). We were also all given laminated 'permission slips' signed by the government with our names at the top in case we would ever need to prove to someone we work for an 'essential business' and are allowed to be out driving to and from work.
Now until deemed absolutely necessary to leave, the weather team has willingly continued to work in studio... but with some new guidelines. We now wipe down every keyboard and mouse, armchair, phone, desk, microphone and ear piece in our area before and after every shift. There is only one of us allowed in studio at a time (no overlapping). We lost our intern - as now only employees are allowed in the building. And we're now limited to doing our weathercast primarily on the green screen and weather podium (no anchors in the Weather Center to cross-talk or full team opens/closes on the news desk). It seems minor compared to other industries and/or people who no longer even have a job (and for those people, we pray) -- but it is an adjustment in my world. And everyday, I try to do what I can to obey.
Sidebar: Throughout this process, the higher-ups have done what they could to make sure we, as employees, are taken care of. And personally, I appreciate their effort. (And I'm not just saying that because they sign my paycheck.) I'm saying that because I have had no need to leave the studio in the last two weeks. KXAN has catered both lunch and dinner (everyday, including weekends). I'm given cleaning supplies. I'm sent frequent emails updating me as to what's going on. And I'm given guidance by managers as to 'what's next'. In an industry that can often be plagued with toxicity and "divas", I lucked out with this group. They care. And I respect that.
Now if we're being honest, I'm very hesitant at the idea of working from home. Personally, I feel most comfortable forecasting in the Weather Center, surrounded by my computers, all the data right in front of me, one camera to look at and lights to hide the dark circles under my eyes. I know what I need, how to get it and what to do if something goes wrong. But you send me home with a new computer, a light kit & iPhone holder? Tech problems galore and IMMEDIATE ANXIETY. I don't know which plug goes where, which network to "dial into" or how to make my dorm-like living room look professional. It's... not ideal. (I've just started the process of setting up my new "work from home" space -- so details to come on that later.) Not to mention the fact that I already get lonely in studio with everyone working in the newsroom on a "normal" day -- so further isolation is going to make me lose my mind.
To no surprise, I've talked to many of my coworkers and teammates about this and the feelings are mutual -- we're willing to stick it out in studio and in the newsroom until forced out. We want to do our jobs. We have a passion to inform, especially in times of need, disaster and tragedy. We'll do our part to social distance, self-quarantine and stay safe... but let us continue to do what we love to do, report the news.
Realistically, this situation looks to get worse before it gets better. And there will more than likely come a time where most (if not, all) of us will be adjusting to a new temporary normal. But at the end of the day, it's encouraging to know that I'm surrounded by a kick-butt, 'not-going-to-be-defeated', all-in kind of team. And for that, I'm grateful.
We're only a week in... and I'm ready for this nightmare to be over.
I've seen scripts at work with words and phrases like "unprecedented" "historic" "once-in-a-century" and "unparalleled". We've seen multi-million-dollar events that have been planned for months cancelled, schools closed, bars boarding windows & restaurants shutting their doors. Some cities even going so far as sheltering-in-place -- and really, it's not a matter of if they issue an order to shelter-in-place for the rest of us, but when.
I realize the importance of being proactive - the now normalized "self-quarantine" and "social distancing"... and I understand the significance of "flattening the curve" and preventing the spread. The crisis surrounding COVID-19 is something most of us have truly never seen before. It continues to bring out the very best... and very worst of people. It's overwhelming, scary and, put bluntly, frustrating. But what I find most intimidating - we don't know when it'll end.
I'm curious to know how others feels.
My honest take:
Often times, I feel like working in the news industry numbs the realness of certain situations. We've been talking NON-STOP about the coronavirus for the past three weeks - every show, every A block, every web story, every email. We do it because people need the information. It's our job to inform, to make sure people are aware of what's going on. But there comes a point during every tragedy/crisis/life-shattering event we cover, where I feel desensitized from the "human" aspect of it. We're so consumed in the information, that sometimes, the numbers lose significance... and the statistics lose impact. Every day, we're talking about somebody else's 'worst day of their life', another unfair disaster or simply just bad people doing bad things. It's the business. And although every story is not doom & gloom, it's our responsibility to report what's important to the viewer. It's not always going to be puppies and rainbows.
I'll admit - I wasn't the first to react to news of the virus. Call it denial, but it took me awhile to truly understand the urgency of this situation. It took my little sister coming to visit for me to actually go to the grocery store and get at least a couple days worth of food. And even then, I was hesitant to buy a ton of supplies knowing all of it wouldn't fit in my small kitchen pantry.
Initially, I was dismissive... but it feels different now.
Looking around, coronavirus is impacting every aspect of life. Everyday I wake up, there is a notification on my phone regarding a 'COVID-19 update.' On my way into work, what is usually a good 35 minute commute is now a 10 minute drive with little to no traffic (and in this city, that's almost unthinkable). There are few, if any, people out on what is usually a busy street in my neighborhood. I pull into work, and the parking lot is not even 3/4 full. What is suppose to be a 1-hour long newscast at noon is instead a live press conference from the governor. Every time I leave for the day, I now take a Clorox wipe to the keyboard, mouse and weather clicker. Only to drive home (without any traffic) and google a place that might be open for take-out. It feels movie-like, but in a dark, apocalypse kind of way.
Obviously, it's terrifying to think people are getting sick from this virus - some even, fatally ill. The idea of contracting the virus and/or potentially giving it to someone whose immune system is compromised or at an age that puts them at a higher risk - is truly gut-wrenching. But I think what really overwhelms me, is how long is it going to be like this? How long will we be cooped up without anything or anyone to look forward to? Still feeling new to the city, will I lose the progress I made making friends? Or a relationship? Will the stores eventually deplete their stock... leaving shelves empty? Will someone I know or love fall victim to this? How many will still have a job at the end of this?
This is not just an "us" problem... but an "all" problem. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has felt some sort of shift in their life from this. (And for those like me who thrive on routine and normalcy, we're an anxious mess.) I know we will get through this... and I still firmly believe God is in control. But with the constant talk of this 'global emergency' running through my earpiece at work everyday and the empty apartment I go home to after every shift, it's hard not to lose spirit in the loneliness, realness of the life-altering COVID-19.
I decided at the start of the year to partake in Dry January ("Dry-uary") to cut back on the booze - which in a town like Austin, is very hard to do. (I tell all my friends at home, it's like this city was made for happy hours.) Like I mentioned in my earlier post, it's not that I felt I had a problem... I just wanted to minimize my intake and I thought it would be a good way to kick off the new year (and let's be real, I really don't need those extra calories). Now that we're into February - I can look back and say that I didn't too bad... I actually did better than I thought I would.
I stayed alcohol-free for all but one day in January. That one day? My birthday (the 28th). I told myself that if I can go 27 days without a sip... I would reward myself on my birthday. (And oh did I - a glass of wine with mom while getting our nails done, a margarita at dinner, another glass of wine - make that two - when we got home to watch a movie). But outside of that personal holiday, I remained committed to the goal.
Yes - there were definitely days that I wanted to give into the temptation. Specifically, when all my girlfriends and I would all go out and watch the Bachelor together. (Nothing goes better with drama than wine.) Another sad but funny moment was when I asked the server while at dinner with friends if I could have a 'carbonated water'... but she heard 'Cabernet'. I kindly corrected her while my friend Wes laughed at the immediate cry face I made when she walked away.
But overall, I'm glad I did it. And it really wasn't all that bad. As far as the effects? I didn't really notice any major changes - I'm still fluffy and I still love the taste of a good Sauvignon Blanc. But I have noticed that I don't crave it as much as I did before. And even since the end of January, I've limited myself to wine one night a week. We're only two weeks into the new month- but hey, so far so good.
This morning, our church wrapped up a very convicting series called "God Loves". Over the past few weeks, we talked about the ways God loves: life, you, your neighbor, family... & today's focused on singleness/dating/marriage. All of these messages concluded with how as Christians, we are called to imitate His love. Each sermon was powerful... but this morning's really left me compelled.
One of my biggest takeaways out of Pastor Tyler's message this morning was to TRUST GOD. Being a single gal, it is incredibly hard to stay patient, positive and hopeful in the process of dating - especially getting older. Watching friends get married, start families, move into that "next chapter" - at times, I feel like I'm falling behind in life. Over the last decade, I put my career above everything else... and I sometimes wonder if I should have spent more time investing in myself and relationships rather than chasing a paycheck. (Don't get me wrong, I love my job... but when I was an intern, I had a mentor tell me "this is a very lonely business"... and he wasn't lying.)
I pray every night, "God, I'm ready to find my person. Help me find that person."
Back to the sermon -- Pastor Tyler touched on principles such as knowing God first, knowing yourself and what you want out of a significant other, truly knowing the person you're dating and paying attention to their trajectory, not seeking perfection, etc. There were so many little nuggets in that 50 minute message -- I filled up three pages in my notebook. I NEEDED to hear this.
My hard-hitting God moment didn't actually hit me while I was in church... but rather, in the parking lot. While waiting for the lot to clear, Garth Brooks' "When You Come Back to Me Again" came on the radio. I have always loved this song. It's a sad song... and the music video wrecks me every time I watch it, but I can't help but listen to it. (The song was actually recorded for the movie Frequency... and the music video shows the movie's character as a firefighter who ultimately ends up losing his life in a fire. It's BRUTAL.)
I've sang this song a million times in the car but never really noticed the meaning of the lyrics until this morning:
It starts like this:
There's a ship out, on the ocean
At the mercy of the sea
It's been tossed about, lost and broken
And God somehow you know that ship is me
The next verse, Garth sings about a light house.
'Cause there's a lighthouse, in the harbor
Pouring its light out, across the water
For this sinking soul to see
That someone out there still believes in me
This is the moment I knew God was talking to me. In the sermon, Pastor Tyler used an analogy of a light house as a way to demonstrate God's love. He said that when it comes to dating, God isn't going to give you rules or a "how-to" that reads "If you do X,Y,Z... you'll get this" which in this case, would be the perfect, dream spouse. God will, however, lead you... like a light house. A light house doesn't make a decision for a captain on a ship in the harbor... instead, the light house shines a light on the rough waters, the rocky coastline, etc. to help give the captain clarity of the decisions he will make. Like a light house, God gives us the clarity to see the implications of our decision-making. God leads us. God has a plan for us. Ultimately, we must TRUST in Him to guide our decisions.
Later in the message, it was said that "If you fear singleness more than you fear a life without God, you're not seeing clearly". And reflecting, I wasn't seeing clearly.
Between the conviction of the message and the parallels between this particular song on the radio and a light house analogy... I felt like my world just got ROCKED. But what was just a silly movie-song to someone else, really meant more to me.
NOTE: I was told by my boss not to talk about my past relationships on this blog... so I'll likely get in trouble for this. But this is the open and honest part of my story.
When I decided to leave Albuquerque to come to Austin, that meant that I had to end my relationship with the guy I was currently dating. He was a local firefighter. We had dated for about 7 months before I left ABQ. He couldn't leave New Mexico or else he'd lose his pension... and I didn't have plans to stay (or come back). We both felt that our careers were, at this time in our lives, what was important to focus on... and that our relationship would be the cost of that decision.
I won't go into the details of our "break up"... but I will say it wasn't one of those ugly breakups. We don't hate each other... and I truly believe we only want what's best for one another.
But if we're being brutally honest, this has been the hardest part of my transition to Austin so far. It is incredibly hard to leave a relationship that essentially, had no reason to end other than terrible timing and distance. I truly believe in God's plan and that for whatever reason, He had something different planned for both of us. But I'm not going to lie - I will always care about him and worry about him a lot (particularly, with his job).
Now circling back around, listening to the Garth Brook's song... full of emotion after the sermon... the light house analogy... a music video about a firefighter that reminded me of my firefighter I had to leave behind... the fact that I haven't dated anyone since.... needless to say, I WAS A DISASTER ON THE WAY HOME. I cried... I sang the song... I cried some more.
By the time I pulled into my parking spot at home, I had composed myself enough to realize - this is God reaching out to me. This is God saying - let me be that light house for you. Let me guide you. Your past relationship is not my plan for you. Trust in me. Yes, dating is hard. But I will provide.
And that was exactly what I needed to hear from the Holy Spirit. (Isn't it funny how God knows? Triggered me by none other than an old Garth song.)
As a person on faith, I believe that God's timing is perfect. His plan is greater than anything I know or could give to myself. But if there was one thing I can cling to, whether single, dating or married - it's that light house.
Today marked Day 1 of what will likely be a LONG process of buying my first house. I've now been in Austin for 6 months... and with a lease that ends this summer, a multi-year work contract and an Austin housing market that's only getting more expensive... I figured now is the time to start looking. Exciting, overwhelming... and of course, worried. The commitment, the big & small decisions, the price tag... the whole process stresses me out.
Other than the guidance of my parents and a few articles on Google, my knowledge of buying a house is... limited. And if we're being honest, I only know the basics: down payment, mortgage, home insurance... simply, a lot of work & a lot of money.
I'm not too sure what I want yet - which doesn't make things any easier - but I'm leaning towards 'single family home' within 30 miles of town. My "must-haves" list includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a backyard & a garage. Outside of that, I'm open to options.
I started with new builds today, finding a few new developments I liked on Zillow and setting up appointments for home tours. It's hard not to like a brand-new house, even if it doesn't have all the things on my list, but overall, I learned A LOT even visiting just three properties today. Here are a few of my "beginning notes":
I would say Day 1 was successful... as I walk away 60% overwhelmed, 20% confused & 20% excited. Being in the very beginning of this process, I'm still leaving myself time to look at some resale homes and find a realtor. I am also looking for any and all helpful tips / advice for a first-time buyer. (Flashback to last night as I frantically google: "questions to ask when buying a home") What are the right questions to ask? What sneaks up on you when buying a home? Are there any red flags to look for? And also, why isn't there a class in college to prepare you for this?
I'll keep you updated.