this and that and everything in between

Since deciding to go back to school as well as moving into our church's house, Justin and I have become more aware of our finances and how we can possibly live more simply. In this post, he actually wrote about our attempts at living a greener lifestyle, which also translates into a "budget-friendlier"  lifestyle. Along with this topic, over the past year I've been struggling to live more minimalistically and environmental-conscienciously [ try saying THOSE last five words fast 10X ]. Maybe it's being married and starting a new life with someone, maybe it's the fact that my money is not solely my own anymore, or maybe it's just me going through some changes - as I wrote in my "About Me" section, I'm learning to be content with less.

I'll be honest, sometimes it is really tough. With social networking grabbing me left and right via Facebook or all the blogs out there, it's difficult to not get turn into the green-eyed monster. So-and-so has the cutest clothes, why can't I just make over my wardrobe? So-and-so's house and its furnishings are so beautiful, why can't I have that, too? Oh, how I wish I could have X, Y and Z just like so-and-so. The list goes on, and before you know it, I'm feeling all down in the dumps when in reality, I'm surrounded by mounds of blessings, both physically and emotionally.

But then I shake my head, remind myself of those blessings and I realize how much I truly have to be thankful for. Along with that, I remind myself how much joy I get out of doing some of those things that are considered "simpler" or not very extravagant. They actually really are just better for me because they bring me a sense of peace, being okay with the littler or more basic of things.

For example, I absolutely love hanging my clothes out to dry on the line in our backyard:

I know by saying that being outside with a cool breeze and listening to the natural surroundings makes me sound like a hippie, but it's true! And nothing beats the smell of fresh laundry dried on the line in the summertime.

Another thing I'm learning to appreciate is living in Michigan and all it has to offer. It gets really tough in the winter when there seems to be no end in sight with all the snow storms, ice and frigid temperatures that plunge well below freezing for months at a time. But then May rolls around, giving way to June and the rest of the summer months, and I find myself on my morning runs relishing in my Michigan summer.

How awesome is it that I can drive 10-15 minutes tops and be at the beach either to cool off in the water, bathe in the sun, climb a dune, fish off a pier [ okay, not me, Justin can do that ] or watch the perfect sunset? It almost makes up for those month-long stints of pure cloudiness [ Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone? Time to pull out the happy light lamp, kids! ].

This could seriously be a Pure Michigan ad

Justin and his dad fishing off the state park pier

Then to even further diversify this post, let's talk about how I'm learning to be okay with doing things by myself. In a way, I feel grateful that I work part-time while Justin works full-time because that leaves me with lots of alone time to entertain myself in preparation for when he goes off to med school and eventually residency. It's actually been interesting and inspiring to observe my sister and bro-in-law [ who is currently in his second year of residency ] work through this process. They have been an incredible source of advice and insight into the real world of a spouse pursuing a career as a physician. For years, my sister has shown up solo [ though eventually with a child or two or three, depending on the timing ] to family gatherings, dinners, outings, holiday get-togethers with the same explanation: Her other half is at the hospital working. Really it's a good thing that I've been hearing that sort of thing for so long, otherwise I'd be in for a real shocker in the coming few years.

However, as I said, me working part-time allows me to get creative, more outgoing and definitely more secure with myself being without Justin. Aside from the one time I tried going to an organized training run sponsored by the GR Marathon in my town and completely failed at getting to know fellow runners in my area [ seriously, I felt like I was wearing a sign that screamed "Please don't talk to me even if I try my hardest to strike up a conversation with you!" ], I'm starting to be okay with doing things solo.

For example, going to the u-pick berry farm:

Or eating dinner alone:

This is pathetic...leftover pizza, apple slices and an Arnold Palmer...on my plastic college dinnerware I can't seem to let go...woohoo

I feel like this hodgepodge of topics coincides with how my brain works sometimes - too many things at once and then it all comes tumbling out. Oh well, that's just my life as of late.

Oh, and to everyone who saw my most recent Facebook status, although I'm nervous to face the hoardes of Harry Potter aficionados tonight at the midnight showing, that by no means translates into me not being super duper, off the wall, incredibly EXCITED [ and a little sad ] to see this last installment of the series!!!



  1. Saw your blog post on Facebook, love it! I have been learning to do things alone too- I don't like it much but I also am getting better at it. LOVE your hat, btw!

  2. I loved this post! Way to go, wife! Granted, when I saw that comment from Julia, I sort of did a double-take, thinking for a moment, "There is no WAY. Julia can be typing already, let alone that well!" I calmed down when I realized that it had to be someone other than my niece...

  3. Nicole, we are living very similar lifestyles right now and I love your blog! It might be a bit creepy that I read it regularly, but I really enjoy learning from you and Justin as Sam and I find ourselves living a very similar life to you two. (And we've been married the exact number of days!). Thanks for writing and helping me on my journey :)


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