Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Calling on My Angels - It's Baby-Making Time!

I’ve been trying for about a year and a half to get pregnant.  Dustin had his vasectomy reversal in April 2011, and we’ve been letting nature take its course since then.

Over the last month or so, I’ve felt that it’s very close.  I’ve been praying and meditating over my belly regularly, releasing all the fear, doubt, and worry I have about not being able to get pregnant.

Due to my history of ovarian problems and Dustin’s vasectomy, I haven’t had the most positive thoughts on us getting pregnant, and I now know that that is the reason for not getting pregnant.

I had an amazing, enlightening talk with my dear friend Julie who I believe to be divinely inspired.  She’s very into astrology, so she gave me and Dustin our astrological forecast for this year of our lives.  It’s amazing and almost hard to believe how dead on a lot of what she said was.  As she was looking over mine, she laughed and said, “You guys better be careful over the next couple months if you don’t want to have a baby…”

“Well,” I said, “what if we do want to have a baby?”

“Then this is prime baby-making time!” she exclaimed.  As we talked more about our interest in getting pregnant, she was able to view our cards through that lens and said that the heavens are definitely on our side due to all the baby cards showing up.

She later said that some psychics can actually see the aura of a baby on the outside of a woman’s body when a woman is trying to get pregnant.  She said it’s mostly due to the mother not fully opening herself up to the idea of pregnancy, so the baby is just waiting on the sidelines, wanting to be born.  Toward the end of our talk, she told me that she felt there was a baby present with me already, though she didn’t want to say anything to get my hopes up in case she was mistaken.

The thing that stood out to me most was toward the end when we were hugging and saying goodbye.  She said that she’s feeling led to tell me to ask for angels.  That if Dustin and I believe in angels and heavenly beings, to ask for their help and support as we try to get pregnant.  The first thing that came to my mind is the group of amazing ladies on the Living Love Tour who they call themselves “angels”.

I also started to think about how everyone in my life could be considered an angel.  I’ve been considering writing a blog for some time now about my pregnancy journey.  My doubts and fears, my hopes and aspirations.  When you’ve wanted something so badly your entire life, your greatest fear becomes the idea of not being able to have it.  So I’ve held onto a LOT of fear about pregnancy.  I’ve always held back from posting things because I don’t want to be seen as having the “woe is me – I can’t get prego” attitude, but I feel like it's time to talk about my feelings and ask for help.

I now feel called to ask my angels for help.  And all of you are my angels.  I believe in the power of positive thoughts, energy, and collective consciousness, so I figure it couldn’t hurt to get all of you wonderful people focusing on loving thoughts for me and my future baby.  I believe in angels, and I believe in miracles.  We all have the power of creation within us, so I ask for your help and support in creating this pregnancy.

So if you could, just stop what you’re doing right now and send me a loving prayer, thought, or blessing.  

Pray for my body, that it be prepared and healthy to carry a child.  Pray for the future baby of mine.  Visualize lots of pink for a girl! ;)  

Especially all you mothers out there who have experienced pregnancy and have a little baby of your own.  Take the love of motherhood that you feel and send it my way as a wish for me.

I believe that I can have a baby, and I believe that the time is coming soon.  My life is perfect and stable for starting a family, and it’s time for me to let go of my fear, doubt, and worry and let that baby in!

Thank you, my angels, for your help! J


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Changes Come, Turn My World Around

I wrote this over a month ago and forgot to post it. It's still pretty accurate today.

Dustin and I had a wonderful day yesterday.  A day of great talks, honest moments, laughter, sillyness, and a hike in the rain with the puppies.  It was a great release for both of us as we've both been working WAY too hard lately.

Things really are going great, but with those great, exciting changes comes stress.  Which we've been feeling a lot of lately.

We spent the whole day talking about how insane the last year has been and how it's really taken an emotional toll on us (both individually and as a couple) whether we want to admit it or not.

I realized that a big part of why I've been feeling so down lately is due to missing my family.  I realized yesterday that's it's been almost two months since I've heard my momma's voice, and that's just TOO LONG! - Which is why I'm excited about our phone date this evening. :) -

I tend to get too hard on myself.  I carry a lot of guilt for moving away.  Though I love our new life in Asheville, sometimes I feel guilty, like I "abandoned" my friends and family.  I worry that people have ill feelings towards us for leaving, and I know I have to let that go.  I would hope that all our friends and family are happy for us and the life we've created together.

Instead of allowing myself to feel guilt and sadness when I think about all the people I love and miss, I need to just acknowledge those emotions and take them as signs that that area of my life needs attention.  Since I've been working so much, I haven't been very good at staying connected with people, and I think that's the main things that's got me so down.  I don't want the physical distance between us causing emotional distance.

I also realized during my cathartic day yesterday that perhaps I haven't fully dealt with all that's happened in the last year and a half or so.  There was a lot of family and emotional turmoil before the wedding, then we just picked up our life and left to Louisiana (and then Asheville).  I fear that subliminally, I was severing myself from it all.  Running away perhaps.  Putting on that smile, going through the motions, convincing myself all is well when maybe it's not.

They are all things that will be dealt with in time, and the important part is that I am filled with nothing but love and the desire to feel whole again.

Perhaps the best part about yesterday was remembering how in love with my husband and I am.  Having our talks, sharing our fears and working through them together, and of course, just our fun goofiness.  I forgot how funny and adorable my husband is.  I am so grateful for our wonderful day together, and I feel like we've both been washed anew.

In other news, we should be moving into our house this week!  We are renting the house right next door to Tyler's, where we're staying now.  I think finally getting settled and having a home again will help our mental state as well.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I apologize for being such a sucky blogger. It just gets a little crazy around here sometimes!!

So, here's a quick, end-of-the-day update on the Allen's!

Update #1: We're crashing at my bosses house for a bit while we continue our home search. Got a great lead in that tonight, actually. The guy next door is moving in with his girlfriend and wants to rent his house! It would be absolutely perfect since we've fallen in love with this neighborhood and don't want to leave!
I love having a five minute walk through the mountains to work every day. :)

Update #2: Very long story short, everything is going great at my job and I absolute love it. If you follow the shop on Facebook (which you should!), that will get you up to date with what's going on with work.

Update #3: Dustin works with me now!! They've hired him on starting full-time next week. For now, he's working a few hours here and there to help how he can around the shop. I'm SO excited that this is happening. It's something we really wanted from the beginning (since he was my lifeline my first two weeks when Tyler was away). We really wanted the chance to be involved in something we valued and appreciated so much. Dustin was planning on going back to school in the fall (we had the parking permit decal and everything) but found out at the last minute that he'd have to pay triple the tuition due to be an out-of-state student. We were really bummed and facing the reality that school's just not an option now. Two days later, Tyler offered Dustin the job. :)

Update #4: In exchange for a discount on Matisse's tuition, I'm teaching a music class to 1st-5th graders at Montessori Elementary School of Asheville (MESA). I'm really excited about this opportunity and the first day went great today! The head teacher and I had a lot of the same ideas, so it'a really going to be fun. It's just in Monday's from 1-2, so since I have Monday's off, it's pretty perfect. I'm thankful for the opportunity to get back into the classroom. I do truly love teaching, so I'm grateful that the universe made it so I could have this awesome new job and still get to teach. :)

Update #4: Dustin and I might be forming a little band with the wife of one of our furniture artists. She's super adorable and has a lot of fun ideas. VERY excited at the thought of playing music again.

I guess when I put it all out like that, life's pretty great! ;)

But of course, it isn't without our share of challenges. Dustin and I have both been a little on edge the past couple of months, but I suppose when you take into consideration all we were dealing with, that's normal.

Despite it all, I really do wake up every single day wondering what I did right to deserve such a great life. My bills might not always be paid on time, and I know I have to work as hard as I can every single day, but it's all worth it. I'm living life and enjoying every minute of it. Taking the time to be happy is what matters most.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Young Professional

So I know I haven't updated in forever and you probably all feel there's tons that needs to be filled in, and I'll get to it eventually. I just don't want to miss out on nights like tonight where I really want to talk about what's going on NOW.

Junk Recyclers joined the Chamber of Commerce today! SUPER exciting for a small business owner.  Its benefits can really help us out a lot as long as we utilize them.

Which we did! Tonight!

We found out this morning that the Young Professionals Association was having a meeting of some sort tonight. We knew we needed to start networking ASAP, so we figured, why not, we'll go for a bit.

It ended up just being a "social" where everyone basically drinks and mingles. And it was surprisingly fun. You really have to just out yourself out there and introduce yourself sometimes, but it's all welcomed. We met some really great people. Even if we can't do business with them, we still might just become friends. ;)

It was just a really nice day that allowed me and Tyler to meet some good people and brainstorm about the company. It also just gave us a chance to spend some time together and have some good talks to get to know each other. He's a great guy who I'm proud to work with. And it helps that he speaks so highly of my husband and us as a couple. ;)

Even though I really miss my friends and family (who I'm so excited to see this weekend!!), I'm really very happy. Like Dustin said in his status the other day. I wake up with a smile on my face every day. I'm thankful for the opportunity I've been given, and I can't wait to see how great we can make this.

Because we can. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

My deepest fear

I'm really feeling this quote right now. It seems it's my own fears that keep me from being all I can be. I have such an amazing opportunity before me, and all I have to do is believe in myself and do everything I've ever wanted to do. It's an amazing yet frightening feeling. It's truly inspiring. :)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson (from A Return to Love)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yay Job!!!

I feel I have so much to update everyone on!

We just got back from an amazing, relaxing, and refreshing trip to Florida.  It seems every trip to Florida makes us feel refreshed and renewed.  I think the ocean has something to do with it. ;)

We literally spent every day at the beach while we were there.  The boys are turning into quite the little surfer dudes!

So, an update on the life of the Allens:  Things seem to change day to day on this great adventure, but things are slowly falling into place.

The first big announcement – I got a job!!  It is the one I spoke about in the previous post.  It’s for a company called JunkRecycling.  It is a junk removal company that does everything possible to keep the junk they collect from going into the landfill.  They’ll break things apart and recycle what they can, and if they get furniture, they sell it at their thrift store called The Regeneration Station.  That’s where I come in!  I am the new manager of The Regeneration Station!  I’ll be in charge of getting the store in order, networking with other business and organizations, and working with local artists who come in and redo these old pieces of furniture.  And, I’ll get to redo some stuff myself and get all crafty and creative all the time!  They also do a lot of community work giving away beds and couches to area families in need.  And we’ll be throwing fun events and host kid craft nights with all the scrap materials we collect.  Lots and lots and lots of possibilities!

“But Kim,” you may be asking, “you are a teacher…you’ve never worked retail before.  What are you doing managing a retail store??!”

I asked myself those same questions when I had this weird inkling (that would NOT go away) to apply for the position after seeing the ad posted on Craigslist.  I ran across it one day and thought it sounded neat, but I dismissed it thinking, “Get real, Kim.”  Then Dustin and I went to this festival while down in Louisiana with our friend Kim who owns the Downtown Gypsy (and who is my creative, crafty mentor).  I told her about the job posting and we started talking about all the fun things we could do with all the “junk” that is collected.  It got my creative juices flowing, so I decided, why not?  I sent in my resume and cover letter the next day.

About a week later, I got a call from Tyler, the owner of Junk Recycling.  He said he read over my cover letter and really liked my energy and spirit (yay!).  We did a short phone interview and made plans for a face to face interview the day after we got to North Carolina.  The first interview went great, and Tyler and I hit it off immediately.  He has a lot of big ideas for the company and just needs someone to hop on board and help make it all become a reality. 

We scheduled a second interview for later on that week for which I had to basically come up with a plan of what I would do with the store if it were mine.  I presented my plan and shared my ideas (that include LOTS of fun events with local art studios and shops!), and he loved it.  He said that he’s had many of the same ideas and that it seemed I really understood who they are as a company and what their vision is for the future.  He called me on Tuesday and offered me the job!

He admitted that on paper, I am not qualified for this job at all (other than my business experience with School of Rock).  He said that it came down to me and one other guy, and the other guy had all the retail experience they wanted.  (He actually had me going for a minute thinking that I didn’t get the job.)  But then he went on to say why he chose me over the other guy.  He said that he really liked my energy, passion, and enthusiasm.  He said that he could tell I was creative and a go-getter and that he had this hunch that I could be the one to grow with the company. 

So even though I have a TON to learn about running a retail store, I know that I can do it.  I really enjoyed the business side of School of Rock, so I’m excited to utilize those talents and abilities again and see what I can do with this.  When we decided to move to Asheville and I started the job hunt, I just kept affirming over and over again that I wanted to be used for good however I could.  I wanted to see what good I could offer the community and get involved however I can.  Then this came up and I just feel deep down that it is right! 

I start Monday morning, so keep me in your thoughts! J

Regarding everything else with getting our lives started here, Dustin has a couple of job prospects lined up that he’ll look into more this week, and he’s going to get registered for fall classes to finish his degree.  

We’re still on the hunt for a home, so keep the positives vibes coming!!

Love you all!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We live in North Carolina!!!!

We did it! We packed up our entire home in a Uhaul (barely...I'm good at underestimating how much stuff I own) and we drove 12 hrs to our adorable and perfect cabin in Black Mountain, NC. The drive was...ok. I almost became a two-time divorcee a few times, but we made it. ;)

Seriously though, things couldn't have gone better. My husband and I freaking rock and are so good together. He's my best friend and partner in this journey, and sometimes I sit in awe of the love we share. He's my love. My Bu. This move has done nothing but make us stronger and closer. And grateful! We were both near tears last night sitting out on the deck under the mountain stars. When we think about how amazing and happy our lives are, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and often times don't feel deserving.

We definitely have our work cut out for us over the next several weeks. But we are filled with such energy and enthusiasm that we view the situation not as "how are we going to make this work???" but rather, "how are we going to be used here?". This is such an amazing community and we both are going to have the opportunity to get involved in things and literally do whatever we want. There's so many options!

I actually had a job interview yesterday with a local junk removal/recycling company who is now opening a thrift store of sorts selling all re-purposed, refurbished used furniture. They're really active in the community by giving away a lot of furniture to families in need, and they have the opportunity to expand even more. I go back for a second interview on Friday, so I'll give more details after that. But keep me in your thoughts!

Long story short, we are extremely excited to be here and can't wait to see what good we can offer the community. We're both really keeping our employment options open and just seeing what opportunities come up as we explore the community.

And being with the boys...oh my goodness. This little cabin has been filled with so much joy the past two days. I love waking up to cuddles from Julien (who has decided he now wants to be called "Jax", haha). He came in this morning and just wrapped his arms around me and said, "I love you my little snowball!" then threw his head back for that ha ha ha Julien laugh. Then he ran out and ran back in a minute later crying, "I just wanna hold you!" and attacked me with a hug. :) I mean, who can complain when they get to wake up to that cuteness in the morning? ;)

Well, there's no Internet at the cabin and barely any cell signal, so my Internet availability will be sparse. I'll make it to a coffee shop with some wifi here soon so I can update more.

Thank you all so much for all your thoughts, prayers, and support!! Our hearts can feel all that love! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Live in an RV?? Maybe...

Over the last couple of days, Dustin and I have been toying around with this idea of buying an RV of some sort and living in it for the next couple years.  We aren’t ready to buy a house right away, but I hate the idea of paying so much for rent each month for something that we can’t even call ours.  I feel like I’m just throwing money away.  Having to leave so suddenly after the investment we made in our little house in here in Louisiana is tough.  I’m ready to just have something that I can call mine! 

So we’re having these grand visions of buying an RV and redecorating on the inside to make it our home.  I originally got this idea from my friend Kim whose dream is to get a 1970’s era Airstream and travel across the country selling her cute crafty things at festivals and markets.  She is queen when it comes to vintage/thrifty decorating, so of course, she has tons of cute ideas of how to utilize and decorate such a small space.  We can either rent or buy some land in North Carolina.  Heck, we could even just park it at one of those RV camps that have swimming pools and nice showers.  We care more about the surroundings of our home than the interiors.  I want to be able to walk out my door and be surrounded in the peace of nature.  

So much that I would be willing to live in less than 200 square feet. 

We’re at that the beginning of an adventure in our lives once again, and it is time for us to get creative and think about the kind of life we want to be living.  I’m starting to wade in student loan debt, and I want to find a creative solution to keep from being swallowed.  That’s why I’m starting to write more.  That’s why we’re gardening and going vegetarian (quality meat is expensive! ).  I think a lot of our generation is starting to do the same.  We’re at our creative peaks in life, and it’s our turn to see what we can do with that energy.

So I’m going to start crunching some numbers.  How I see it, is that if the expenses of getting a loan to buy an RV (hopefully with at least a little down payment since we’ll end up selling a lot of our things) and getting land (be it renting, buying, or at an RV park) is less than what it would cost to rent a house or apartment, then it just kind of makes sense.  Sure, it would be a really small space and a complete lifestyle change, but I try to look at how exciting it can be.  Just a change of pace.  It could help save a lot of money, and I think it would help bring out my creative side.  (I could turn it into a really cool blog! Something about how to live small and simple.)

Long story short, I know that I will be happy no matter where I am.  I’ve never been more at peace in my life than right now.  I try to view everything as an opportunity to get creative and express myself.  What do I want to do?  What do I want to do?

Another opportunity before us we’re thinking about is living on an organic farm.  We’ll be meeting with a man who owns Goodlove’s Friendly Farm and has two homes that he rents out on the property.  We would help take care of chickens and have a set plot of land that we can garden on.  It’s about 40 minutes outside of Asheville, but we think the distance might be worth it.  Dustin’s already mentioned it to Rebecca, and she was supportive.  It’s absolutely beautiful out there.  Beyond words.  And it would be a great opportunity to get experience living a sustainable lifestyle.  Our dream is to be able to grow most of our own food and become less reliable on all the junk that’s out there.  We just want to be healthy, happy, and good to the earth.

It’s exciting to examine all these new possibilities before us to find the one that make us feel fulfilled, a way for us to make our life our own and just be happy. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

I just love it when things work out :)

So remember how I was talking yesterday about needing to find a furnished place for the month of July within the next two days?  Well, guess what happened just a couple hours after I posted that yesterday?! :)

The lady who owns this little cottage in the mountains saw this ad that I posted on Craigslist for me and Dustin about how we needed a place to stay for July.  So she is renting it to us for the same amount we would pay for rent at the apartment we lined up. :) YAY!!!!

And this was definitely one of those things that are just meant to be and perfect.  First off, the lady who called me was amazing and super sweet!  She is from Wisconsin and lives in the cottage with her daughter.  They are leaving for the month to go visit her family in WI, so she wants to rent her cottage out to someone she can trust to respect her things.  She said she saw my ad and could just tell from reading it that we were good people and she wanted to help us out!  She said that she normally likes to meet the people before she rents out her cottage, but she said that she could just tell over the phone that I was really sweet and that she just felt good about the situation!  How awesome is that?!

So here's the amazingness of this cottage.  First off, it's in the mountains, so that makes it a winner right there.  But it's also close enough to town and doesn't require driving on crazy steep, curvy mountain roads.  (Which we drove on last time we were in NC looking at houses...It's a little unsettling to look out your window when driving and just see about five feet of road to the side of you and then just a cliff and tall trees everywhere.  I think I get that tiny fear of heights from my momma...)  The cottage is all artsy with pretty bright colors and pieces of art decorating the walls.  She's musical, too, so she said there's a couple of guitars laying around.  It has a garden and fire pit, and close to TONS of hiking trails.  She said she has tons of hiking gear and packs that we are welcome to use.  She also has an arts and craft station in her kitchen, and she said to help ourselves to any of it and get creative!  She said she was going to take all the family pictures down so that we would just feel like it's our place and feel at home.  She also said she'd clear out a closet for us and a couple of drawers in her dresser.  (How sweet is that?!)

Last, but certainly not least, there is a Migun Therapeutic Massage bed in the cottage.  (Don't worry, I had never heard of it. either.)  Here's a commercial for one:

So yeah, we're going to have a fabulous month.  All of this stress is wreaking havoc on our backs and necks, so it will be fantastic to have something like this to use everyday.  Absolute.Heaven.

I'm just blown away with how awesome and accommodating the owner is.  She seems like a super awesome, down-to-earth lady, so this arrangement could lead to us making some new friends. :)

We both feel very good today now that we have some plans set and something to look forward to.  We're looking forward to enjoying our last week in Monroe, and then starting this new adventure!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One More Week!

We're getting ready for our last week in Louisiana!  Which is pretty freaking ridiculous to think about, haha.  We're trying to get things squared away and ready for the move, but we're still taking things a day at a time.

We got approved for an apartment, but it comes with a 14 month lease (14?!) which makes me a little nervous.  I already don't like the idea of an apartment to begin with (it's hard with two dogs who are used to having a fenced in backyard...), so I definitely don't want to get stuck there for 14 months.

So we're looking into just throwing our stuff in storage for a month and finding a furnished place to stay throughout July.  That would give us the month to get to know the area better and hopefully find a house we'll be happy in.  We are very ready to settle down for a bit, so we would rather take this month to find something more permanent than just getting an apartment and taking it from there.  I just want to feel settled after this whirlwind of a year.  I want to be able to decorate and garden without knowing that I'm just going to leave it in a matter months.  Now we just need to find a furnished place for July in the next two days...

We're trying not to stress and worry because we know that does us no good.  (And we know, worst case scenario, we do the apartment thing and just deal with it.)  But it's gets a little stressful at times and led to some tension this week.  I just hate that it (the stress of trying to find a place to live) consumes so much of my thinking.  I spend hours scouring the internet for prospective homes, sending emails, making phone calls, etc.  It's exhausting.  I know it's come to the point where I just have to  make a decision and go with it, but I know I'll still end up waiting until the very last second before that decision is made.  You never know what can happen.  So what if we'll be in Asheville a week from today and we still don't know where we're going to live?  No biggie.  We got this.  It will all work out.  It always does, right?

The past two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions.  We are beyond excited to get to Asheville.  To the point where we almost feel as if we're in purgatory right now, just waiting.  We've done all we can from afar in regards to job searches, so we're just waiting to get there so that we can actually go into places, drop off resumes, etc.  We miss the boys like crazy, and they are SO excited for us to get there.  I feel like a kid who found all the hidden Christmas presents a month before Christmas.  We know what amazing, fun things await, but we can't have it just yet.

To help with our patience (and, admittedly, our sanity) we've been doing a lot of soul searching and feeding the past two weeks.  Since I'm on summer break, my schedule is wide open, so I've been spending a lot of time meditating, praying, and journaling.  So has Dustin.  We realize how important this time in our lives is and that we have the freedom and ability to basically go wherever we want to go with it.  We're going to have countless opportunities before us, so we've spent a lot of quiet time focusing on what it is we truly want.  Then we just examine the opportunities before us.  (For example, I'm seriously considering apply for this job managing a used furniture warehouse.  I'd basically get to go through discarded household items, find things that are salvageable, and then get creative with it and resell it.  How awesome would that be!  I'd get to redo old furniture all day long!)  We know we need to stay realistic, and school is basically number one for both of us right now, so we're just looking into things that could maybe be a welcomed change of pace.

Dustin and I realize the challenges that we are up against, but we also realize that we are in control of making this situation whatever we want it to be.  We've been reading a lot about blessing unfavorable situations/people, so we have our list of blessings that we read through every day.  We bless our move to Asheville, our job searches, our house hunting, etc.  instead of letting fear take control causing thoughts of worry and anxiety, we focus on the inner peace we have knowing that we will be taken care of and that good things will come from this move.  We truly believe that we are meant to be in Asheville and that living there will enhance basically every area of our lives. We believe that our thoughts create our reality and that if we focus our minds on nothing but thoughts of prosperity, love, and joy, then nothing but that will ensue in our lives.

So keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next week as we finalize our plans for North Carolina.  Pray for things to fall into place and for the move to go smoothly.

Due to all the meditating and writing I've been doing lately, I finally decided to get a spiritual blog going that I've been thinking about for a long time.  Those of you who know me well know that I'm a deeply spiritual person who strives to do nothing but good in life.  So travel over to Soliloquy of the Soul as we discover together how to be happy and do good things in the world.  I'm still working on getting some articles up, so be patient with me! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things I Will Miss About Louisiana - Part II

Our Sweet Little Neighbor Puppy

Onto the next thing that will make me cry when I say goodbye – our sweet little neighbor puppy, Sadie.

She won our hearts quickly because she’s a love bug and sadly neglected.  She used to belong to the man that lived next door.  But when the man left his wife, he couldn’t take his dogs with him, so he had to leave Sadie and her sister (a golden retriever) behind.  The golden retriever died from a heartworm infection right before we moved in.  So Sadie was abandoned with the woman who rarely feeds her and never gives her any attention.  So we sneak food out to her pretty much regularly (along with our other neighbor who shares a fence with her). 

She has a problem of digging under the fences and getting into our backyards.  One night, we opened up the back door and found Sadie on our back porch, sniffing around.  We decided to just let her in and give her some love for the night.  We gave her some food and water, brushed her, and even gave her a bath and clipped her nails.  Then we all cuddled on the couch for a bit before Murphy started getting all territorial, and he and Sadie started to fight.  (There was a previous time where we let Sadie into the backyard to play one night, and it ended Sadie biting Murphy's butt.  Not vicious, mean biting, but just "leave me the hell alone" biting.  So we wanted to avoid any further confrontations.)  

She really is a sweetheart.  Whenever I go outside, she comes running to the fence and runs back and forth (hoping I'm bringing her food) like this: 

And even when I don't have food for her, she's still all adorable like this: (pardon my baby talk - I'm one of "those" people when it comes to animals...)

Side-note, I find it awesome that her coat matches Izzy and Murphy.  I guess I just attract orange and white dogs. J

It just breaks my heart to see her outside and alone 24/7. :(  If we could handle three dogs, I would totally puppynap her and take her with us to North Carolina.  She can be a mountain puppy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things I Will Miss About Louisiana - Part I


Though it may sound trite, one reason I'm a little sad to be leaving Louisiana so soon is because I’ll have to leave our garden.

I’ve never gardened before in my life, but I just dove right in this spring.  It gave me something to fill my time and enjoy our summer down here.  I have to admit, I am pretty proud with what we were able to do.  Before the garden area, was there, it was just and open space of pretty compacted dirt.  I guess a large storage shed used to sit there.  But we were able to turn it into this:

After a lot of trial and error, we finally got some good plants going.  My favorites are my cucumber plants.  I just love the giant green leaves and bright yellow flowers. 


And we have baby cukes!

Here’s the rest of the crop:

Yellow Squash

Garden Beans




Broccoli, Cilantro, Spinach (barely), Parsley

We’ve got carrots in there, too, but I didn’t get a good picture of them. 

It will make my heart sad to leave this garden.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally, all of the above) went into it.  But I am thankful for the solace it provided while down here and for the experience we gained by working hard on it.

I just hope our landlord at least comes by and helps herself to its harvest! J

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What's next?!

I was journaling last night about needing to surrender to this move to NC.  To "let go and let god" and trust that everything is going to work out perfectly.  (My mind/anxiety has been jam-packed with house and job hunting...)  Looking back through my journal, I had the same feelings about the move to LA.  I had faith and trusted that we were meant to go in order for us to become the people we want to be.  It was all part of the "grand plan", if you will.

And what happened while I was in Louisiana?

I was given the opportunity to teach in a situation I never would have had otherwise.  There's always been this part of me that wanted to work with inner-city youth, and there I was, in the midst of it.  Making change and progress within the four walls of my classroom.  I got to experience that which I've always wanted and always known I could do!

And it's an experience I will never forget.  It didn't just help me become a better teacher, it helped me become a better person.  My students taught me more about patience and compassion than I ever could have expected.  I thought I knew a lot about positive living and always showing love.  But it was an entirely different ballgame at Carroll Junior High.  It was a life lesson that I am proud to say I passed.  It was very bittersweet leaving there.  Though it was difficult and challenging, I really think I would have done some good things if I stayed there another year.

But I guess I'm meant to be elsewhere. :)

So bring it on, NC!  What amazing thing that I've always wanted to experience is waiting for me??!  You know me, I'm always up for a challenge.

I actually see lots of amazing things that I've always wanted to experience happening. :)

Game of Thrones


This show has completely consumed all my free time over the past 8 days.  We finished the first season in less than a week and then episodes of the second season magically appeared on Dustin's computer.  (Thank you, internet gods...)

If this is what being a Lord of the Rings geek feels like, then I guess I've been missing out.

Not only is this show wonderfully done cinematically speaking, the storytelling is spectacular.  I'm in love with the vernacular and rhetoric and the way the characters tell each other off so subtly.  I find myself prancing around speaking in accents and calling Dustin "My Lord" after watching the series for a few hours. ;)

Of course, now I want to read all of the books.  I'm sure I'll love them even more, as I normally favor the original novels over the film or TV adaptations.  (Hunger Games was quite a disappointment...)  Have any of you read the books?  What is your opinion?  From what I can tell from the reviews I've read, the show seems to do the books justice.

Oh, and one last thing.  I'm not a modest person by any means.  I've very comfortable with the human body and sexuality.  But my goodness.  I've never blushed in front of my husband so much...

Quote from author of the novels, George R.R. Martin, on the above-mentioned topic: "I get letters about that fairly regularly.  It's a uniquely American prudishness.  You can write the most detailed, vivid description of an ax entering a skull, and nobody will say a word in protest.  But if you write a similarly detailed description of a penis entering a vagina, you get letters from people saying they'll never read you again.  What the hell?  Penises entering vaginas bring a lot more joy into the world than axes entering skulls."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Allen Update

I feel I have an amazing story to tell, but I don’t even know where to begin.  I think Dustin put it best the other night when he said, “Baby, we’re fine.  The fact that neither of us have had a panic attack or mental breakdown at this point is really quite miraculous.  We’re up against some incredible odds.”

And he’s right.  We’ve gone through a lot of shit together in our short first year of marriage.  When I count the amount of challenging situations or problems we’ve had since getting married, it blows my mind that they all have happened within the past 14 months. 

When we decided to move down to Louisiana, we knew we were leaving a lot behind.  The boys.  School of Rock.  Our friends.  Our family.  Our music.  Our home.  We thought long and hard about what we wanted to do.  We knew we had to make some sacrifices, but we truly believed that by taking the step to leave all of that for a while to pursue the opportunity we saw in Louisiana, we would be able to help make all of the things listed above better.  We know that some of our decisions may seem hasty or insensible to some people, but we rely on ourselves and what our hearts are saying.  We follow that inner voice, trusting that we are working for divine good.  We have faith that if this is really what we are meant to be doing, then things will work out.  We’re going to be fine.  Nothing can keep our good from us.  Nothing can separate us from that divine good that is rightfully ours.  It’s like the bible verse: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

So we took a chance.  We said goodbye to all that we had established in Terre Haute in the hopes that the move to Louisiana would bring a better and brighter future for all.  Well, it didn’t quite work out that way…

Being away from the boys is hard.  Really really really hard.  A lot harder than we expected.  And we expected it to be hard.  The first few months were manageable, but after that, we started to notice it negatively effecting parts of our lives.  We’d both get really down and homesick, especially Dustin.  He could go a week or two, but come week three or four, he was really missing his boys.  It started to affect his mood and attitude on things, noticeably.  Even Phil had mentioned how he can tell when Dustin’s gotten to the point where he needs to see his boys.  He said he can see a noticeable difference afterwards.  Like the boys “heal” him, he used to say. 

So things were already getting pretty rough, and then we found out that Rebecca had accepted a job in Asheville, NC and that she and the boys were planning to move there June 1st.  Now, we can’t get mad at her decision to move because we were the ones to move first, after all.  Rebecca had asked if we’d be willing to move out of Indiana a few times in the past, but we were always hesitant.  Our families were in Indiana.  My career and schooling, School of Rock, etc.  No, we didn’t want to leave.  But then Dustin was presented with the Louisiana opportunity and we had to severely reconsider it all.  So, feeling like a hypocrite, I knew that when we moved down there, it was only a matter of time before Rebecca decided to move, too.  Which she has every right to do.  So we weren’t really mad when we found out.  We were more just like, “Ok, so how do we make this work?”

At first, we were planning on still staying in Louisiana for another year or so with OPS, and then Phil was potentially going to open up an office in NC so we could be with the boys.  So we were fine with that, but then another month or so goes by and we realize that we just really can’t take it anymore.  It’s too hard being away from them.  We’re starting to see it affect the boys, which breaks our hearts.  They talk about how much they miss him and then they can’t really grasp the idea of how long it will be before they see Daddy again and whether we’re going to be in Louisiana, Indiana, or North Carolina.  Dustin finally got a chance to talk with Phil about how he can’t stay another year, and we agreed that we’d stay for the summer and started making plans to move to Asheville in August. 

Well, then we had to say goodbye to the boys as they left for Asheville on Sunday.  Everyone was an emotional wreck, including the boys.  This move is going to be rough for them at first.  So we realized that if we’re going to move to North Carolina, we need to go ahead and do it now because we need to be by the boys.

When we said goodbye to them, Matisse asked Dustin, “When will I see you again, Daddy.” 

Dustin frowned, “Well, I don’t really know, buddy.  Probably a few weeks or a month.”

“So in a couple of mornings??” Matisse asked.

It’s heartbreaking to not really know how long it will be before we see them again and then try to explain that concept of time to a child.  

As we were loading the car, Julien kept going around the house telling everyone how much he was going to miss them.  Rebecca’s mom and grandma were teary messes, and so were Dustin and I.  So much to the point that we realized we need to get to North Carolina as soon as we can.  As in like, now.  They need us there.  And we need to be there.  For them and for us.  We’re all going to be a lot happier once we’re all together.  Now it’s just getting there…

I’ve spent the last eight days scouring the internets and media for a place to live in Asheville, and we are making plans to be there by July 1st.  That’s less than three weeks. (holy.crap)  It’s exciting yet terrifying all at the same time.  We should have our housing situation settled by the end of the week, and then the packing begins.

I thought if I said goodbye to Louisiana, it would be to go home to Indiana.  Now I’m letting the idea settle that I may very well live the rest of my life in Asheville, NC…  I really do feel like it’s the perfect place for us, and I can’t wait to see what good is going to come from moving there.  Though, I’ll admit, things are a little frightening at times (moving there with no jobs lined up, for one…), but that fear helps open my mind to creative ideas and solutions.  We get to choose whether our life situation is good or bad.  It’s all about attitude.  And I am deciding that my life situation is going to freaking rock. :)

Love and Blessings,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Teaching Memoir

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is a creative writing class for teachers.  Not only do we learn how to become  better creative writing teachers, we learn how to be come better creative writers.  We pick on piece that we work on and fine-tune throughout the entire semester.  It's actually the second class in a three part series.  (I took the first part last spring.)  I absolutely love  it.  I think it's mainly because it forces me to write since technically it's homework.  Last year, I started writing my memoir, which I will one day get to a point where I am comfortable sharing it.  I feel like personal narrative writing is my strongest skill, so I decided to go with it this semester as well. And this is what I came up with.  It's still a work in progress, and there's a lot more I want to do with it, but I'm happy with how it's turning out. Enjoy! :)


I've been asked, "You teach at Carroll Junior?" in that, "Are you crazy?!" tone many times in the past few months since moving to Louisiana.  I've also seen the wide eyes when I answer the cheerfully asked question, "Oh, you're a teacher? Where do you teach?" (as if being a teacher were the most adorable and innocent thing ever) with the dreaded reply, "Carroll Junior".  Normally, I say “Carroll Junior” as if it’s a question because I'm not sure what the response will be.  I grasp onto the small hope that maybe this person has never heard of the all-black, worst performing junior high school in the area whose students are known to be a step away from juvenile hall or a mental asylum, but that rarely happens.  Some people I speak with are encouraging, saying that the school needs good teachers like me to really make a difference.  Others are shocked and deplored, saying I need to quit right away and run for the hills.  There was even one fellow teacher who tried to convince me I could do better and gave me the name and number of the superintendent in the neighboring district.  She said that someone with my personality and experience would do better over there. 
Regardless of the spectrum of reactions, I am grateful to work at Carroll Junior, and I say it with pride.  Yes, my days are filled with students with too much swagger.  I sometimes have to yell louder than I have ever heard myself yell in my life.  I deal with constant obstinacy and obscenities.  I hear “we be” “they be” or “I be” more than I ever would have liked, and most days I sit down at my desk and wonder: Why in the world am I doing this?!  But then I look around my classroom.  I think of the students I work with – the ones who need just a little encouragement and guidance to make a better future for themselves.  I think of the teachers who have come and gone out of the classroom – the ones who gave up and couldn’t take it.  I feel that tug again deep inside my heart, and I finally admit to myself:  This – the kids, the hope and desire to do something good – This, is why I am doing this.

I consider myself a “veteran teacher” in the sense that it is not my first year teaching.  I have three full years’ experience (not to mention all of the hours spent in the classroom during my undergraduate career), but those three years were spent teaching remedial English and “life-skills” courses to first-year community college students.  Since my degree was in elementary education and I always dreamed of teaching young children, I was surprised at how fulfilled I felt when I started teaching at the community college level.  I genuinely fell in love with teaching.  And I didn’t have to worry about IEP’s and 504 plans and parent phone calls and lawsuits and state mandates.  I could just enjoy teaching.  I got to make my own schedule, and most semesters I only taught two or three days a week.  Sometimes I wouldn’t have class until 10 or 11 and could sleep in.  And the money was pretty good, too.  I had the life.  Why would I ever go back to public education when I can have all this in higher education?  So I forgot all about my elementary education degree.  I let my teaching license expire, never expecting to need it again.  I set my sights at moving up, and no one was going to stop me.
Then my husband got offered a transfer to Monroe, Louisiana – twelve hours from our home in Terre Haute.  It was a great opportunity that promised further growth in the company, basically Dustin’s dream job.  At first, I was obstinate.  There was no way I was going to just pick up and move and leave everything I had built at Ivy Tech and IU behind.  Plus, there’s the boys (my two step-sons).  How could we stand being so far away from them all the time?  Crazy idea.  No way it’s happening.  Then we were confronted with it face to face.  This opportunity in Louisiana was finally there and we could either take it and see what we can do with it or we could turn it down and stay in our comfortable little life.  We’d had a rough year due to some personal, family issues, and we were the strongest we had ever been.  That strength and faith helped us abandon our fears, let go of the “things” holding us back and just go with it.  Give it a try.  We didn’t have much to lose.
So here we are, living and working in Louisiana, and doing completely different things than we would have imagined us doing a year ago.  In a few short months, I went from having an elementary education degree but teaching remedial English at a community college in Terre Haute, Indiana to having a K-12 certification in English and teaching 7th grade ELA in an inner-city school in Monroe, Louisiana.  Seems like a pretty drastic switch, but I adjusted surprisingly well.  I love teaching, and I truly believe that it doesn’t matter what subject, grade, or area I teach, I’m going to love it, and I’m going to be great at it.  It’s still hard for me to believe that we’re here and I’m actually doing what I’m doing.  But I believe that I’m meant to be here.

“Alright,” I say sternly as I turn away from the SMARTboard, “that’s enough with the humming!”  With a clenched jaw, I glare across the classroom filled with boys feigning innocence.  I’m frustrated and irritated after trying to teach for fifteen minutes only to face humming every time I turn my back or start to speak.  I furrow my brow and in frustration think, Those sneaky little bastards.  I just want to slap them all across the face.  But I can’t, of course.  And no, I don’t really think they’re bastards.  They are sneaky, though.  And mean.  And so…teenage-ish!  Finally, some silly straw came and broke this worn down camel’s back, and I completely lost it.  In a moment of classroom management weakness, I ended up screaming, “I’m not putting up with any more of your shit!!!” to my fifth hour, all-boys class.  Of course, all the ooooo’s started from there as they realize that Teach means business.  A handful got sent to the vice principal, and after talking with him after class, we decided that about ten of them would get lunch detention the next day.  During my prep hour the following day (right after the class involved in the above incident), the vice principal stuck his head in and said he needed to tell me something but for me not to worry because I wasn’t in trouble or anything. 
“I had all those boys in my office during lunch today,” he tells me.  “I was talkin’ with ‘em about how they can’t get away with treatin’ you the way they did yesterday.  They all started hollerin’, ‘Oh, but Mr. Kennedy, she was cussin’ at us!!’” 
My eyes got a little wide when I thought back to my moment of classroom management weakness.  He quelled my nerves by going on.
“So I ask ‘em, ‘Do your parents cuss at you if you don’t do what they tell you to do?’ ‘Well, yeah,’ they say.  ‘Do I cuss at you if I’m telling you to sit your ass down and you don’t sit down?’  ‘Yes, sir,’ they say.  ‘Then is Ms. Allen cussin’ at you really a problem?’ And they all like, ‘No…’.” 
He laughs for a few moments, and my nerves are comforted.  He then looks up at me and says, “You know, at first, I was kinda worried about you…but now it’s good to know you’ve got some fight in ya.”  And here I am, still fighting.

“Well,” she says condescendingly, “if your entire class is completely out of control, then that’s a classroom management problem.  And I can come by and work with you one on one with that.”  I should have known better than to confront my principal and speak my opinion during a faculty meeting.  Of course it’s all just a classroom management issue.  Forget about the fact that I’m a great classroom manager.  Forget about the fact that these students have no respect or discipline for authorities.  Forget the fact that we teachers have no support from our administrators.  They know what we are dealing with.  They know what the kids are like, so why do they just blame all problems on classroom management?  The deep-seeded issues at this school go much deeper than simple classroom management problems.
When I first got hired at Carroll Junior High, I had no idea what I was in store for.  I did some preliminary research on the school, and I could tell that it was under-performing and under pressure.  I knew that it was an all-black school and that student behavior was an issue.  96% of the students are on the free/reduced lunch program.  Students have very little support at home to further their education.  It’s like I’m making up for lost time of being outside of public education and have been thrown into a situation that basically epitomizes everything that is wrong in public education and society in general. 
I walked in that first day with high hopes, channeling my inner Erin Gruwell (from Freedom Writers), determined to make a difference and have an impact on these kids’ lives.  The first couple of weeks were ok; I think the kids were being easy on me.  After a few weeks, though, I started to realize all the flaws in our school and district.  I started to realize that it’s far more than “poor classroom management” that causes the behavior problems that we teachers have.  Poverty stricken students. Crippling state and district mandates and regulations.  Poorly run schools by poorly organized administrators.  Conflict and opposition among school board members.  And most importantly, a generation of students who simply don’t care, or at least refuse to admit that they do. 
So how do we solve all these problems?  Where do we begin?  These are the questions that all teachers at this school are wondering.  And ones to which I still don’t know the answers.

Our school was visited recently by Louisiana’s new State Superintendent, John White.  He was on a “listening tour” (which I like to call “publicity stunt”) to find out what is wrong with Louisiana’s schools and what needs to be fixed.  He specifically visited our school since it is one of the lowest performing in the district.  He said that spending time with the teachers and students and listening and asking questions will help him when making decisions that affect the school and district.  My classroom happened to be one of the four he visited during his hour and a half visit to the school.  Of course, the media made it sound as if he had spent all day interacting with our students and faculty when in fact, all of his classroom visits (each only lasting 10-15 minutes)  consisted of him sitting in the back of the room, asking students irrelevant questions, and staring at the teachers quizzically for a perfect photo-op. 
If you want to evaluate me as a teacher, then come sit in my room for a couple of weeks.  Yes, a couple of weeks.  Not an hour or even one day.  They’ll be nice at first, so it will take some time for you to truly experience what I deal with on a regular basis.  (The section that was observed by Mr. White was my worst behaved class, but they were perfect angels while he and his posse of camera crews were present.)  There’s no generic professional growth plan or futile lesson plan I can write that will show you my teaching capabilities. All they do is take up valuable time I could be spending on developing engaging lesson plans that are meaningful to the students.  It’s a shame the amount of time a teacher spends on redundant paperwork and ineffective meetings or trainings.  Allow me to be responsible for my own time and use it as I see fit.  You should be able to trust me; I am a certified, licensed teacher with a degree in education, after all.  I know what I’m doing.  If you find a teacher being negligible, take appropriate disciplinary actions.  But please trust my values and judgment as a teacher and allow me to dictate what I do and do not need to do with my students.

“She’s such a good teacher, and you guys are just throwing it all away,” I hear Coach Mack say sadly as I enter the room.  Coach Mack is our inclusion teacher/head football coach.  He’s about 6’5’’ with tattooed biceps the size of my head.  He’s a big, intimidating man, but he cares more for these kids than they realize.  As I walk to my desk, I look around at the solemn look on everyone’s face.  Like a puppy who knows it did something wrong.  Coach Mack’s giving one of his pep talks, so I let him go on before I start my lesson. 
                “She cares more about you and your education than you do,” he says as he paces around the room.  “And what’s gonna happen when you fail the iLEAP because YOU (pointing to the students) don’t care?”  He lets his words sink in.  “They’re gonna blame her.”  He points to me and the whole class looks, some with emotion in their eyes though I can’t tell what it is.  Sadness?  Regret?  Disdain?  He goes on, causing their faces I still haven’t read to turn back toward him.  “They’re all gonna say it’s her fault.  They’re gonna say that she ain’t teaching you right, and that she’s a bad teacher.”  His face looks hopeless as he shakes his head and looks down. 
                “It’s just sad,” he says very matter-of-factly as he looks up.  “And it ain’t fair because it’s not her fault.  Whose fault is it?  It’s your and your parents’ fault!  You’re failing yourself because you don’t care and your parents don’t care!”  All the kids’ heads jerk up, giving Coach looks of “Uh uh, you didn’t just go talkin’ bout my momma!”  Coach Mack is one of the few not afraid to get down dirty and tell these kids what the real problem is.  (I’m sure having a lawyer as a wife helps.)  Despite some of the ugly looks, no one says a word.
“When I was going to school,” he pauses, making sure he has everyone’s attention before moving on.  He played the card we teachers all know well.  Talk about ourselves.  These kids would listen to us tell stories about our lives for hours.  All eyes were on him as he goes on, “my mama made me come home every day, and she’d sit at the table with me with a switch while I did my homework.  I couldn’t leave the house till it was all done.  If she caught me playin’ or daydreamin’, I’d get the switch across my hands.”  His words caused everyone to flinch as he imitated a small branch being whipped across his hand and wrist.  “She did this because she believed education was important.  She made me care about my education because she cared.”  He looks around the class, and all eyes are listening attentively. 
The students are silent and solemn, and I let them sit there for a minute for it all to soak in.  Then I segue into my futile vocabulary lesson since there’s a lot more important things I should be teaching this kids than how to use context clues.  But I digress.  “Alright guys, open up your vocab books to page 91, Lesson 23.  Let’s look over these words…”  With the words of Coach Mack still echoing in our heads, we continue on. 

What’s it going to take?  How many pep-talks and lectures do we have to give these kids before it sinks in and they finally start listening?  So many teachers before me have just given up.  They’ve accepted that the students won’t change, so they’ve stopped trying to make them.  To be honest, I’ve even felt that way.  When I can only squeeze in about twenty minutes of instruction time into a fifty-five minute class due to telling kids to be quiet, dealing with constant disrespect and attitude which leads to having to send students out or write up infraction sheets, sometimes I think, What’s the point? Why should I even care?  Because I won't give up.  I was created to teach.  I know that I can have an impact on these kids.  I believe I am a great teacher, and now is the time to show it.  So I take a deep breath, forget about the argument I just had with a student, forget about the suffocating negativity and hostility that fills the room, and I teach my heart out for the next twenty minutes.