Category Archives: Blog

An Open Letter To My Fiance

It’s funny. I’ve written you a letter before.

In fact, it was a letter I planned to read in place of my vows. A letter about how I couldn’t wait to meet you. A letter in which I basically prayed that you existed.

I met you a few months later.

I can’t read that letter now. I was stupid. I didn’t want you to see it or remember that it was published, so I moved it into my trash folder. Turns out, WordPress automatically deletes trashed articles.

So now, it’s gone.

And I have to find the words for myself.

We’ve gone through some of the most difficult transitions of our lives together. And, somehow, we’ve only gotten stronger. I’m not sure if that’s how relationships usually work. I’m not sure if that’s why something (God, fate, ?) put us together on December 28th, 2014.

Maybe someone knew we needed each other. I was going through the worst depressive episode of my life. You were abandoned and alone. Three years before we met, I’d slammed the door on getting married and having children. I didn’t want that life. I was afraid.

And then you said hi. And you messed with my hair. All because I happened to be in Dawn’s kitchen (your cousin, my best friend).

We were Facebook friends. We’d had (two?) awkward conversations. I didn’t anticipate falling in love with you. I certainly didn’t anticipate the next two and a half years of my life – or the fact that we’d be getting married.

And yet, we’ve been together ever since that night.

There was no friendship stage. We learned how to be friends and significant others at the same time. Now, we’re learning how to be cohabitants. Then, we’ll learn how to be newlyweds. In half a decade or so, we’ll learn how to be parents.

Every learning experience I have with you is an adventure. It isn’t always a walk in the park. Love is messy and frustrating. It’s screaming and crying. It’s long nights and early mornings. It’s constant support and attention. It’s sharing parts of you that you never intended to share – not with anyone, not ever again.

It’s opening up your life, and your heart, to another person. And you taught me how.

I want to thank you for reaching me when I was unreachable. For being there, even when I’ve checked out. For supporting every whim, every crazy idea I’ve ever had. For going above and beyond to help me reach (and exceed) my goals. For pushing me to be better. For encouraging me to be the best.

You have changed the way I see the world. And you’ve changed the way I live in it.

There are so many things I want to say to you. There are so many lives I want to live with you.

I can’t wait to get started.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Lord knows it isn’t always beautiful off-screen.

Cassie

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A Light Summary of Everything Else

Hey, followers 🙂

In my last post, I wrote about the difficulties I’ve been having training Peanut. Over the past week, we’ve already seen a significant improvement – much thanks to the advice I received from nearly a dozen of you.

This week, I want to cover some of the many, many things I have going on in my life right now. Or, rather, the many things Austin and I have going on in our lives.

I guess I should probably start with school.

Right now, I’m taking four classes. Three are accelerated, six-week courses that will end before we go on vacation at the end of June. These courses include Images and Messages, Bringing Media to Market, and Parenting.

The first two classes are directly related to my major. Images and Messages is a journalism class. We’re focusing on artwork, pictures, fonts, colors, and typography to learn how visual communication works (and why it matters to a journalist). I’m not much of a visual learner, but I’ve taken a big interest in this class.

To get an idea of what I’m learning, check out this TED Talk.

Bringing Media to Market is literally the focus of my concentration: Media Marketing. We’re mostly talking about social media and how using it properly can boost the brand reputation of companies around the world. The tips and tricks I’m learning are already proving useful in my career (and my blogs).

Parenting is not a journalism nor a media class. I needed three more credits outside the liberal arts. I decided to take a course that could come in handy in my personal life. I’m actually more stressed about having children now than I was when I started – so I’m not sure that was the best call on my part. Still, I’m learning important things about children and how we learn to be parents. That has to count for something.

My final course lasts the entire summer. Known as Writing and Reporting News II or JRN300, this class is a journalism major requirement that gives me the opportunity to report on the City of Lansing over my summer vacation. My stories will be published on an established news website. I’ll publish that link a little later.

So, that’s school. You already know that family vacation takes place in about four weeks. I’ll write about that (mis)adventure like I do every year.

Outside of school, my focus is split between five animals, a fiance, wedding planning, my nephew-to-be being born, two blogs, a complete lifestyle change, and a full-time freelancing career. It’s insane. One minute, I feel fine. The next minute, I want to curl up into a ball. Or start screaming. Or both. Whatever comes first.

I’m currently juggling four different clients – five, come June. Each client is more demanding than the next. It seems like, no matter how much time I set aside for work, it isn’t enough. Austin is working a four days on, three days off schedule. So far, I haven’t been able to take three days off with him once, no matter how many hours I work each day, which is usually every single hour I’m conscious.

It’s beyond stressful, but there’s really no realistic way for me to cut down. I just need to get through the next four weeks. Once my accelerated classes are over, I won’t need to devote every single morning of my week to schoolwork. P.S. – If anyone has ever attempted to tell you that accelerated, online summer classes are easier than regular classes, they lied through their teeth.

Anyway, once I push through that, my summer should get significantly easier. I can fit my freelancing work into a four day schedule. It’s everything else that’s weighing me down.

For example, I love writing these blogs. But The Realistic Freelancer isn’t getting the views I expected. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and writing everything down, but what’s the point if no one is bothering to read it?

It’s difficult, but I’m trying to push through. I think I need to spend more time marketing my blogs, but I’m not sure where to start. I can’t devote any more of my time right now. It’s just not feasible. If you’ve ever had an anxiety attack or a nervous breakdown, you already know why I’m trying like hell to avoid one.

Oh, right. My lifestyle change. Let’s just say 1200 calories a day and 3-4 workout sessions per week isn’t agreeing with me. I’m hungry all the time. I’m tired all the time. And I’m not seeing the results I want (or the results I deserve). So I’m happy to take suggestions.

Man, this is one grumpy blog post. I think I’m just taking all of my anger out right here. I guess that’s what happens when you’re sleep deprived.

Good news? I found my wedding dress. It’s sitting in my closet. We’ve got the guest list narrowed down. We ordered invitations yesterday.

Financially, we’re doing pretty well, even with all of the added expenses next month (vacation isn’t cheap, and neither is puppy boarding or turning 21).

I think I better stop while I’m ahead. Wish me luck, you guys. For the next four weeks, I’m gonna need it.

In the meantime, let’s try to stay positive.

Maybe.

-Cassie

Pupdate! (Advice Needed)

There were a number of things I wanted to write about in this post. I wanted to tell you about my new classes (which are great, by the way). I wanted to tell you about Austin’s new job. I wanted to tell you about my clients and my work schedule and how busy (but fulfilled) I am. I wanted to tell you about some big lifestyle changes I’ve made.

But all of that pales in comparison to the conversation we need to have about my puppy.

I need some advice.

Lately, I’ve felt like the worst pet parent ever. My guinea pigs don’t like being held, so I hardly ever hold them. I talk to them and hang out with them and pet them. We spoil them with lettuce and unlimited hay and food and a million water bottles. They have nice hidey homes and 27 square feet of space.

But they don’t get time to run around the apartment like they used to. The goal of the big cages was to give them room to run around whenever they want. I think they do, but I can’t be sure. We moved them into Austin’s office to get seclusion from the puppy, so I don’t get to see them as frequently as I did when they were in the living room.

I know I said I wanted to talk about my puppy, but my anxiety is snowballing this conversation.

I’ve already been assured by my friends and family that I’m a good pig parent, even if they don’t get to run around my apartment and even if I don’t force-hold them.

Peanut, though, is something else.

This little pup was an angel when we brought her home. She was quiet, well behaved. She slept most of the day. I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s normal, right?

Besides, I shouldn’t even be complaining. She’s never (not once) gone to the bathroom in her crate. She rarely whines or cries when she’s put in her crate or the kitchen. She sleeps through the night without needing to go out (which is almost unheard of for puppies younger than four or five months – especially in smaller breeds). She’s even good with people, other than being a little scared. She loves car rides and behaves during them. She just curls up and falls asleep in her crate once we hit the highway.

Not to mention we can take her to public places without her going crazy. And that should only get better after she spends a week in Doggy Day Care at the end of June.

So why am I writing a post about her? I should just shut up and stop bragging about how great my puppy is.

Except that she won’t stop biting me. 

Peanut has a biting problem. It’s hard to play with her. She gets so excited that she nips. Sometimes hard enough to draw blood. She isn’t being aggressive in the slightest, but her puppy teeth are sharp!

And training her has been difficult. She only recently began to respond to the word “no.” Sometimes, if I call her, she ignores me completely and runs in the other direction. It’s hard to get her to sit still long enough to train her to do much else. She knows “sit”, “lay down”, “shake”, and “come” – but she hasn’t mastered them. She does it when she feels like it. I’m working on “leave it”, “down”, and “off”. It’s probably not hard to imagine why. She’s a very energetic puppy.

We actually haven’t been able to let her sleep on the bed because of it. She gets so excited that she starts nipping our faces and trying to play with us – even if she was just sleeping in her crate.  And all of that would just be cute, honestly, if it wasn’t for the nipping.

We’re also having a barking problem. Not an insane “I hear or see people so I’m going to go crazy” or “I’m wailing because you put me in my crate.” She doesn’t do either of those, thank God. She barks occasionally when she sees another dog or a person, but more because she wants to go say hi or because she’s scared. Not full-on alert mode. And we’re socializing her, so that’s going to be normal.

It’s the barking when she wants attention. I’ll be on the bed, trying to work, and she’ll just start going off. I’ve been told that ignoring her is the best plan. That way, she doesn’t learn to get her way by barking. But she has a very piercing bark. I’ve tried saying “no” firmly. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Again, it’s when she feels like listening.

I’ve also been told to give her a “time out” if she gets overexcited, but that’s especially hard. Why? Because I also feel guilty about not spending enough time with my puppy.

I take her for at least four walks a day. Nothing extensive, but we go on a nice hill or walk up and down the sidewalk for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes longer, if I have time. And, as long as she behaves, she stays outside her crate during the day (other than her “afternoon nappie”). But she gets very upset because I can’t play with her during the day. I have to work. And Austin works ten hours a day, four days a week. On those days, Peanut spends more time in her crate than I’d like.

Then again, I’ve been told that, in most families with two working adults, puppies are left in their crate while everyone is at work – eight or nine hours a day. And then they sleep all night. I could never do that to Peanut, though.

I have anxiety. That means I’ll probably never think I’m doing enough. It’s hard sometimes, because I never feel like I’m doing enough for all the different parts of my life. I’m a mother to five animals. I’m a fiancee myself. I’m a student. I’m a freelance writer. I’m an individual who needs exercise, healthy food, and a clean apartment. I’m a homemaker. I’m a gardener (who needs to go water her plants).

The day is never long enough.

Tips and tricks for puppy training? Leave them below or send them to me.

Thanks!

The Biggest Year of Our Lives

Over the past few weeks, I began to realize that I am currently smack dab in the center of the biggest year of my life. This year, I am graduating from a Big 10 University. I am getting married to the love of my life. My apartment became home to an adorable little puppy. I am solidifying lifelong friendships, making healthier decisions, and discovering more about myself than I ever knew before.

Today, I decided to dim down my web presence. I’ve read that having too many social media pages (or, at least, spending too much time on those pages) can increase the symptoms of anxiety. I like to keep life simple. So, this evening, I decided to delete my Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I’m also working on getting my reputation back from a years-old client who took my information and began publishing horrible content under my name. All in all, I’m doing pretty well. By focusing on my blogs, my official online portfolio, LinkedIn, and Facebook, I’m maintaining a fair (but private) presence. I’m proud of that and I’m excited to see where it leads.

I also have several incredible new writing opportunities. I wish I could go into detail, but all three are still under wraps until my interviews, trial periods, and initial articles are completed. Once they are, I’ll be able to share information about some of the biggest clients I’ve ever attempted to tackle.

Now that Austin is working an impressive new job, I’m able to look for clients that I really love. It takes time, patience, and no small amount of sweat to find those clients – something I’ll be outlining in my next post on The Realistic Freelancer.

It would seem, from an outside angle, that everything is going right. Unfortunately, a year packed with this many changes is far from simple. New jobs take time to pay out, and we’re coming off of three months with a much smaller income. Summertime is expensive, and there are obligations to consider. Wedding payments aren’t cheap. Peanut will be spending more time at Puppy Daycare and Puppy Kindergarten in the coming months. The guinea pigs need far more bedding now that we’ve moved them into two 13-square-foot cages.

Finances alone are possible to overcome, but that’s nothing compared to day-to-day responsibilities. Five pets, full-time school, a full-time career, two blogs, family commitments, household chores, errand running, and wedding planning take time. Austin is starting to feel the strain too, now that he’s working forty hours a week.

I keep reminding myself, though, that this is it. After this year, we’ll be married. I’ll have graduated. Austin will only be a semester away. Come 2018, our careers will be our biggest commitments. Well, that and saving as much money as possible for the future. This is a big year, but we have even bigger plans.

Life has a way of attacking you. I’ve been struggling with anxiety attacks lately, trying to find a way to overcome my fear that something has to give. Last week, I was something to see. Between too few clients and the constant worry that nothing new would come my way, I was certain we’d end up digging a hole in our emergency funds to get through May. But, as always, everything came together. Clients came around in the nick of time. I don’t know why. But they haven’t failed me yet, even when things seem tight.

Maybe that’s a sign that I made the right career choice.

I guess what I’m trying to say, to myself and to my followers, is enjoy each day you’re given. No matter how busy you are, no matter how much is on your plate, throw yourself into your life and your work. I’ve found, the more I can do that, the more I love what I do – and the happier I am.

A General Update on Life, Liberty, and Puppies

This is a post specifically meant for my followers; those of you who continue to read this blog to follow along with my life and the consistent misadventures that come along with it.

I have quite a few updates to share with you.

We brought home Peanut the Puppy last Saturday. She is almost nine weeks old at the time of this post.

Separating her from her siblings was incredibly difficult. We were nervous about bringing her home. We’d heard plenty of horror stories about the problems associated with raising a puppy in an apartment.

We got extremely lucky. Not only is Peanut well-behaved and generally quiet, but she practically came housetrained. No newspaper, no crate cleaning, no big issues. As long as we take her out on time, she’s golden.

Peanut is also sweet. She sleeps most of the day. When she’s playful, though, she’s playful. The only issues we’ve faced so far are a knack for biting human flesh with sharp puppy teeth, crying (schnauzer speaking) when we don’t give her our full attention, and chewing up magazines when we aren’t looking. All of these are normal puppy problems – and nothing that’s going to get us kicked out by the neighbors.

It’s really wonderful to know that we can juggle a puppy, four guinea pigs, an apartment, two school careers, and two full-time jobs without losing our minds.

This was Austin’s first full week at his new job. I’m going to attempt to explain it, to the best of my ability.

Austin is an IT Specialist and is in charge of Master Data at Witron in West Lansing. Witron specializes in distribution and warehouse optimization services for a number of large department stores (Kroger, Target, Meijer, etc). In this particular distribution center, Meijer goods are handled.

At first, Austin was asked to be a Machine Operator (although, we thought the term Machine Technician was more on-par with the job description). The next time he spoke with a manager, he was “promoted” to IT Specialist. On his first day, he was “promoted” again to handle Master Data (a position that only 2 in the roughly 100 person staff can claim).  The most recent promotion means Austin will be going to Austria for a week to visit one of the largest Witron facilities in the world. I’ll have him take plenty of pictures so I can share more a bit later.

My career is going really well – even though I don’t get promoted half as much. I have several stable clients and I’m slowly building. It’s difficult being home alone so often, but I have a puppy to enjoy and four guinea pigs to spoil.

I also have a new workspace. I’ll share pictures when we’re done, but Austin and I have been working on the back patio area of our apartment. We got permission from our complex to plant flowers underneath our windows. We also placed solar lights and bought a bench, cushions, outdoor pillows, and a table. I’ve attached a photo of the progress thus far.

Fitting the bench into our four-door sedan was plenty of fun. First, we tried shoving it in the trunk as onlookers watched and shook their heads. Then, we attempted to shove it through the side door upward – to no avail.

Finally, Austin pushed the bench into our backseat upside-down.

I’m just going to say the onlookers were impressed. I’ve added a photo of the tight squeeze. I was pretty amazed myself.

That’s most of the misadventures going on around here. I just started making dinner, Austin is doing homework, the patio is mostly done, and it’s time to settle in for Sunday night. Time to prepare for another crazy week. In the cards for my next update? I’m thinking easy meal ideas for apartment-goers and young adults (ya know, outside of ramen and pizza).

Talk soon!

Cassie