My Year In Review For 2015

It’s been a tough year. And, in part, I made it that way.  I didn’t have to move 800+ miles away from family and friends, but I did.  That part is all me, but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.  Again, I’m glad we both made the decision to move because I wouldn’t have learned and grew as a person as well grew as a couple.  We wouldn’t have gotten a dog and I wouldn’t have learned independence, so despite my occasional sadness, I’m happy with the decision.

We started the year living together at his parents house searching for some sanity in the job market. We both yearned for something new and I was especially depressed with where I was in my life. Sure, I was in a committed relationship and had great family and friends, but there was always something missing, which was a successful career.  And, at 25, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted, but prayed it would earn me decent money and I’d be happy.

He was working 12-hour overnight shifts and was absolutely exhausted every single day. He developed a sickness and was extremely unhappy.

So, when he got an interview with a company in Tennessee, I was nothing but excited for the possibility of a new opportunity for both of us. For about a year, I’d been saying I wanted to move to Tennessee, but knew he would need to see it before the decision was made. So, in January, we did just that and he thought it was clean, the people were friendly and it would be a nice overall change from the North.

So, he went on a few interviews before landing an in-person one. I accompanied him since I had one as well. Mine was for a marketing for a local gym and he had an interview for a job similar to the one he had at the time.  I had a phone interview, skype chat and also had scheduled an in-person one.  He went on his and I went on mine, but only one of us landed the job.  It was him.

We had to make one of the biggest decisions in our lives.  Would we move 800+ miles away and start over or would we continue looking for jobs and living with his folks? It was not an easy decision considering everyone thought we were nuts! This would be our first time “leaving the nest” and it would be 800+ miles away, so it would make things that much harder.

It took us about week to decide if we were going to go through with it. We had 2 weeks to get everything ready to go. Both parents thought it was a quick decision and thought we needed more time to pack our things.  But, his job needed him ASAP, so we left on March 19th and arrived on March 20th at an apartment we only saw via the internet.

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The first few months were extremely difficult on my part because I missed my family so badly. I went between crying and complaining. He was there to coach me through it and tell me everything was going to be okay.  I wish his words worked, but unfortunately, there was nothing he could say. But, here’s the thing: it was my decision, so why was I feeling sorry for myself? It’s not like he made me do it. I chose it and that was it.

Around April, we got a dog. I actually found him at a local shelter, took pictures and showed them to him. He wanted to go see him and once he did, he fell in love. But, then, I became frustrated because all he’d do was poop/pee in the apartment and he wasn’t around to help me with our new puppy, so unfortunately, we decided to take him back. This was heart-wrecking, immature and stupid of me to give up so easily and regret the decision every day. We went back to get him and I’m so happy we did it because I don’t know what I would do without our pooch, Ollie.

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He and I hit a rough patch in our relationship because of my jealousy of the dog as well as my constant complaining and we almost broke-up because he kept saying the same thing to me over and over and over. I was taking my unhappiness out on him and it was not fair. I finally came to terms and accepted the situation.

Our parents visited two separate times and again, I was left with pureness sadness. In July, my brothers came for a visit and he had to work the whole time they were there. I wanted the four of us to hang out, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I spent time with them, but we really didn’t do much. So, after they left, I was a mess because I didn’t show them a good time. And, to add to that, I had doubts in my relationship with him.  I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, where I was going with my life or how to handle my emotions.  But, from that, I became stronger. I learned how to accept a situation and move on instead of dwelling on it. I learned to work with him and understand him better.

In October, he had deviated septum and turbination reduction surgery. He was supposed to feel better in a few days, but it ended up taking two weeks. He somehow developed a sinus infection in the process and from there, we learned he was allergic to penicillin and broke out in a rash throughout his entire body. I worked from home every day for a week.  He could not be left alone because he simply couldn’t do anything.  I was frustrated that he wasn’t getting any better. I kept calling the nurse, asking his mom for her opinion, buying him items to make him feel better. This was a test to see if I could care for him and I passed.  I didn’t throw a hissy fit or complain. Rather, I handled it as an adult, which wouldn’t have been the case a year ago. Yes, that sounds pathetic, but it’s true and I’m admitting it.

Then, in November, he proposed to me. I couldn’t believe that I was engaged and kept staring at the ring thinking it would disappear, but it didn’t.  And, to think, I put him in the friend zone once upon a time and here we are engaged.

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The Tuesday before we were set to leave for PA, he received a phone call about his grandma. So, we drove up a few days early to say our goodbyes. Along with that, he had another illness in the family, which put a damper on our Holiday season. These were sad circumstances for him, but I stood by him strong and supportive.

Around the same time, we broke the news to our parents and everyone was happy for us! I think it came at a good time because we hoped it would make the Holiday season a bit brighter.  During our time in PA, we looked at a venue, caterer, bakery and florist for our wedding.

Eventually, we set a wedding date for…. November 6, 2016. So, 2016 will be a good year!

Here are some things I learned in 2015:

  1. How to become a more independent and stronger person.
  2. Think about someone’s needs as well as your own.
  3. How to care for a living creature and another human being.
  4. I learned to accept my situation instead of complain about it.

Goals for 2016:

  1. Be happy.
  2. Become a successful freelance writer.
  3. Enjoy myself and what life’s little simple pleasures.
  4. Get closer with my fiancé and hope for happiness on his end.

I would say 2015 was a great year and I learned tons of stuff! And, by the end of 2016, I will be Hope Marie Evans and I am so happy to be with him for the rest of my life!

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We Planned Our Wedding In Another State Before We Got Engaged

In mid-November, my boyfriend and I began planning our wedding, even though we weren’t engaged! We’re living in TN, but are originally from PA, so we decided to have our wedding in our home state. So, the planning began by googling “Beautiful Places to have a wedding in PA” and Moonstone Manor popped out! We were thrilled to find something within an hour of looking for a venue.

After seeing photo after photo after photo of this place, we set-up a day to see it in-person when we returned back to PA for Christmas. From there, we contacted bakeries, florists, caterers and everything else in-between. And, this was before getting engaged, which to some sounds far-fetched. I mean, in my heart I knew it was coming and we had a trip to St. Augustine for our 2-year anniversary, so I was hoping it would be in Florida.

And, a few weeks later when we went to Florida, it happened. He proposed to me on a sailboat, which he booked just for us. It was private, romantic and the sun was setting. He had it planned since August and I couldn’t believe the moment was happening. I was in a state of shock and watched wedding proposals the previous weeks imagining how my reaction would be. And, when he proposed, I couldn’t help but put my hand over my mouth. And, of course I said yes.

We agreed to break the news of our engagement at a dinner we set-up for our parents on December 20th. So, I kept this secret from family and friends for almost a month and it was difficult.

And, when we got back to TN, we started really planning it. You’ll never understand how much of a pain in the behind planning a wedding in another state is. Without seeing everything, it’s rather difficult. So, we decided to set everything up in one day so we wouldn’t be running back and forth. The venue, caterer, bakery and florist were set-up on the Monday before Christmas.

Our parents were thrilled to hear this announcement and were very excited for our future together.

And, so, if you’re trying to plan a wedding in another state, here are some things to keep in mind:

1) When planning a wedding in another state, find out about the marriage license laws. In PA, the license expires after 60 days, getting it a year in advance is not an option. Just plan ahead.

2) Do everything early. If you’ve moved to another state, but wish to have it in your hometown, try to plan on seeing everything in a day or so. Go see your venue, taste-test the cake and your wedding food and pick out the flowers.

3) Before you’re engaged, have an idea of what you want. I’m not saying to plan the whole thing out like we did, I’m just saying form an idea about how you want your wedding to turn out.

4) Try wedding dresses on when you’re home. Unless you don’t care about your mom or close friends going with you, I’d try on gowns when you’re home. It will make you feel less lonely.

Via Huffington Post

Confused Millennials at 26 and 27

I am 26 years old and I graduated almost 3 years ago. I’ve had internships, have done tons of freelance gigs and have had a couple full-time jobs. And, I am content with my full-time job right now, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stay in the position forever. Ideally, I’d like to work for a health and fitness magazine writing about workout routines, focusing on eating right, and reviewing various fitness classes. Now, to me, that sounds like tons of fun! I wouldn’t sit in an office all day long because I’d be out and about trying new workouts.

My boyfriend is 27 and graduated almost 2 years ago. He obtained his first job last year and yet, he’s confused as well. We’re both in the same situation, just like so many other millennials who are confused about the future. And, I just wish that we could figure out what we’d like to do in the blink of an eye, but it doesn’t work like that. We’ll have to spend our lives struggling to find our passion and “place” in life. He and I will have to learn, grow and bounce ideas off of each other if we want to spend the rest of our lives together.

We’re in no position to purchase a house right now and it’s safe to say that I’m sure we’re not alone. I know some of my friends are still living at home, but he and I no longer have that luxury. And, you know what, I’m glad we don’t because living together has made me grow up and learn something for once. It’s taught me sacrifice, patience and how hard life can be.

We had it easy while living with our folks and again, I wouldn’t go back to that because I wouldn’t be who I am today. In the last 9 months, I’ve grown-up and I wouldn’t take it back. Sure, it’s hard as hell, but I’m getting through it and not complaining. I mean, what the heck will complaining do except make the situation worse? How will dwelling on it make it “get better?” So, instead of feeling sorry for myself and him, I’m going to work my ass off and strive for greatness. I know that he and I might struggle with money, but we’ll get through it together and at the end of the day, he’ll always be there for me just like I’ll always be there for him.

I don’t need a man who is rich. I need one who is supportive, kind, a good listener and one who will always protect me. Regardless of what happens, we’re fighters and we’ll never give up!

Via Huffington Post

I Interned for Two Magazines In New York City and It Was Scary

Not too many girls can say they were fortunate enough to intern for not one, but two magazines in the Big Apple. I mean, you see Instagram photos from gals who work for magazines and yearn to steal their job. There’s always a possibility to meet celebrities, you receive the coolest beauty products and have one-on-one convos with editors who provide you with the best career advice. What’s better than that, right? Well, what you don’t see is how cut-throat everything is as well as at times, uptight.

In fall 2013, I began applying for several magazine internships in New York hoping I’d land at least one of them. I mean, I was constantly looking on ED2010 for the latest posting and one day, I applied for the Good Housekeeping Magazine Editorial Internship. To my surprise, I received an e-mail about a phone interview with the two editorial assistants of GH. You’ll never know how nervous I was to chat with them via phone and I’m sure I would have been 10 times more if it was a face-to-face interview. Even in my current state of shock, I remained calm, cool and collected. And, even when I received the e-mail a few weeks later that I obtained it, I was still as cool as a cucumber, but freaking out on the inside.

My first day was in early January 2013. Now, I don’t remember it exactly because well, um, I was not calm, cool and collected. I’d travel to NYC three days a week for 8 hours for this unpaid internship. I did not care that it wasn’t paid because it was worth it for me. I caught myself thinking it was all a dream a few times, but it was really happening. I was an editorial intern for Good Housekeeping Magazine and I was scared. Why was I so afraid? Well, it was probably because I am a quiet and shy girl to begin with and in New York, I didn’t know a soul and I was totally out of my element. But, to be honest, I wasn’t really scared of the traveling; I was more scared of the women whom I worked for. I think I was just intimidated by their success and jealous as hell at what they’d achieved. I was merely an intern and they were working for a freaking magazine in New York.

Whenever they’d ask me to do a task, I’d immediately jump on it. Even if I didn’t fully understand the job given, I would be on it ASAP with a big smile on my face. And, when they’d give me a deadline, they would make me feel even more stressed. Their confidence intimidated me because I lacked it severely and it always seemed like they looked down upon me. I always felt as if they thought they were better than me. Maybe that was all in my head, but I always did the best of my ability

And, when I started my second internship at Family Circle Magazine as a Home Décor Intern, I felt the same way. I think my fear of messing up took over me and it crippled me in a way and that’s no one’s fault except mine. I didn’t feel as if I “fit” into this industry because all the women were all confident souls and I was working to build mine.

After completing my internship, I decided to break away from the industry for a bit until I’ve developed more confidence. There are days I miss it terribly, but I do not miss how my stomach would churn when I was given a few tasks at one time by an editor who scared the s**t out of me. But, now, when I’m feeling intimidated I say, “hey Hope, snap out of it, he/she is a person just like you” and I’m snapped back into reality.

Via Huffington Post

Why It Didn’t Bother Me That I Didn’t Go Home For Thanksgiving

One of my friends texted me the other day and asked if I was coming home for Thanksgiving and I simply said, “no.”  She then asked if my parents were visiting and I said “no,” again.  She went ahead and said how terrible that sounded and to be honest, if I only lived away from home for 3 months and this happened, I’d probably be a wreck, but since it’s been 8 months, I don’t really mind.  Now, don’t get me wrong, sure I’d like to see my family on Thanksgiving, but I’m not crying over it. Let me pause because that sounded as if I was insensitive. I do love my family and do like seeing them; it’s just not as big a deal as before.

Eight months.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve lived 800 + miles away and I’m okay.  I wasn’t okay in the beginning, but now, things are way better.  And, if you’re as close with my family as I am, you may or may not feel the same way.  Sure, I usually call them at least every 2 weeks and text them a few times per week, but I needed some space to grow as an adult and learn.  If I would have stayed where I was at, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So, this Turkey Day, I’m spending it with my boyfriend in another state.  We’re making dinner and watching some good ol’ football.  It will be a new tradition for us and I don’t mind at all! I’ll love baking and cooking dinner with him without anyone yelling, talking loudly or shaking their finger at me because I’m not talking to granny enough.

I’m sorry, but it’s time to be out on my own and create some memories of my own.  We’re going home for Christmas, which is a bigger deal to me.  But, we’re not going to drive 15 hours for Thanksgiving, stay 4 days and then head home exhausted.

It doesn’t bother me because I’m more confident in my surroundings and with myself, so I know I am a stronger person.

What Most People Will Never Understand About Quiet People

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Ever since I was young, I’ve always been quiet and shy. I think I was born shy. Sure, I had plenty of friends when I was a kid, but I was always known as the “quiet girl” who didn’t say too much. Now that I look back, as quiet as I was, I still made friends. No, I didn’t have friends coming out of my a**, but it’s not like I was anti-social.

My mom would always encourage me to talk to my classmates more, but it wasn’t that simple or easy. The reason wasn’t because I didn’t “feel” like it, it was because I wasn’t always comfortable doing it. And, she never understood it either. She was a quiet and shy person as well, but apparently she forgot how it felt because well, now she’s a social butterfly.

I’ve always wanted to be able to talk to whomever I wanted whenever I wanted, but it never worked that way. The more I told myself to do it, the less likely it would happen. In college, I’d often challenge myself to say something in class, one thing, but the days continued to go by without a spoken word. I’d feel utterly disappointed at the end of each class, but I told myself I’d try again tomorrow. But, tomorrow would turn out the same way. People in my class would joke with me and say how quiet I was, but again, they just didn’t get it. I would chuckle and say, “ha-ha, I’ve always been this way…” But, what didn’t they understand? Just because I didn’t gab and gab like them didn’t make me a bad person. I was still a sweet and nice person and talking didn’t change who I was as a person, so why were others so bothered by it?

And, even at 26, I still get called “quiet.” But, you see, these people have no clue how far I’ve come. To their surprise, I used to be so quiet that I literally had to clear my throat before I talked. That’s when you know someone is quiet when that happens. At my current job, the owner walked past my office and said, “you know, you’re the quietest person in this office.” I said, “isn’t that good thing? I don’t stir any drama or chaos.” He paused before saying, “I guess” and walks away. But, again, I wish he and others would know being quiet doesn’t make me a bad person. I mean, honestly, if I were to vocalize every complaint, problem and issue I had, it would get annoying. Heck, I’d get annoyed listening to myself.

So, this is what you need to know about quiet people:

1. We’re not bad people just because we prefer to be alone. At times, we might rather eat lunch by ourselves instead of in a large group of people. We might need our “quiet time.”

2. Just because we’re quiet doesn’t mean we hate you. We may not always talk to you, but it doesn’t mean a thing and never forget that.

3. Another thing you must know is just because we’re quiet doesn’t mean we’re miserable people. Most of the time, we have blank looks on our faces because we’re thinking, but we’re not unhappy with our lives.

4. Sorry, but to be honest, we may not go out of our way to talk or have a conversation with you because we’re not used to just opening up. It doesn’t mean anything, though; just know it’s not always easy.

5. Quiet people are generally thinkers. We tend to think too much about a particular situation. It only means we like to think, plan and access the situation before diving in.

Via Huffington Post

Thank You For Being So Selfless: A Letter To My Parents To Thank You For Everything

Dear Parents:

Being born into a middle-class family taught me how to appreciate life.  It taught me how to work hard and earn money the right way.  I know you guys never had millions of dollars, but that was fine by me because at a young age, I watched as you struggled– at times– and still raised us 3 to be the best we could be, despite all the tough times you went through.

Mom- I was paying attention when you were working 3 jobs while dad was laid off and I now understand why you had to do that. You needed to earn extra dough so we could all survive. And, when dad hurt his thumb at work and wasn’t able to work, I saw how frustrated he was yet the two of you remained calm and cool- for us.

Thank you for showing me how to love and care for someone else. You passed down the gene of loving someone no matter what and not leaving them when times are tough. You and dad showed me how to have a relationship by loving each other the way you do.

Even though you didn’t agree with some of the decisions I’ve made in my life, you were still there to support me and love me no matter what. And, even when I wasn’t earning tons of money, you still occasionally handed me a $20 bill from time-to-time because you knew exactly how hard it was to find a job.

Mom and dad- despite being in my mid-twenties and not being able to find a good job, you allowed me to live in the house rent-free and never once asked me for a dime. But, you know from time to time, I’d pay for stuff and always did chores around the house without being asked.  And, for that, I’m eternally grateful.

You drove me places and never once complained about how far or how much gas you were using. I mean, damn, you drove me to the airport there and back and still didn’t ask for a cent.

You taught me how to be a parent. Even though I don’t have kids yet, by being good parents yourself, you’ve shown me how to sacrifice yourself to make your kids happy because when we’re happy, you’re happy. You both have big hearts and never once turned away from me when I needed you.

Despite not always having tons of time, you never told me you couldn’t have a quick chat when I needed you. When I broke up with boyfriends and wanted to talk about it, you just sat there, listened and never judged me. You accepted me for who I was and I am very thankful for that.

You always put food on the table even though at times you didn’t have mounds of money hanging around. And, I’m sorry for complaining about how much chicken you were making on a weekly basis because guess what, there were some kids who were starving while I was wasting my breath with the “ews” and “yuck.”

And, mom, even though you were short on cash, whenever you’d see something that reminded you of me, you’d always buy it and never ask for anything in return. You were always a giver, not a receiver.  And, dad, you’d give me some cash from time-to-time once you started doing your lawn business.

Dad- you’d take me along with you on your gardening jobs just so I could earn some money and I always appreciated that more than you’ll ever know. You took the time to listen and talk to me about what was going on in my life. I loved those jobs because I got to spend time with you.

Mom- I always enjoyed our shopping trips and I thank you for always buying me a shirt because you knew I wanted it.

All in all, you guys have always supported me through thick and thin and for that, I am very appreciative of.

Love,
Your daughter