Embracing Change: A Love Story

This post has been brewing for a long time. It all started with a question quite a few months ago; I’ll get to that. I was going to write it yesterday but the day came and went. But here it comes.

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated 18 years of being “John and Chrissy.” 18 years as a couple. Our story began in 4th grade when we sat next to each other. I moved to a different community for middle school but then came back for high school. The rest is history. We started dating freshman year and have been “us” every since.

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Freshman Year, 1999

A few months ago I went to have a coffee date with a new friend. We were doing the usual “get to know each other” question and answer session. She asked me, referring to my husband and I being together so long, “Have you guys changed a lot?” My immediate response, with a laugh, “Pshhh, no!” I didn’t realize the impact of that question. I have thought of that question almost every day since then.

When I initially asked myself the question again, my reasoning for the NO answer was this: I am still the goof I was in high school. He’s still the muscle that can pick me up and swing me over his shoulder. We still listen to the same music. He still drives and I passenger. We are still together so of course we haven’t changed. But then I continued to ask myself the question over and over since then and I keep realizing, we are totally NOT the same people that we were when we first met, or got married, and we definitely aren’t the same couple after all these years.

The easiest change to see, we are now parents. And even that has changed in the 9 years since we had our daughter. But the other changes might not be as obvious, even to the people who know us best.

The first thing I think of is the way we eat. On our 1 year dating anniversary, John took me out to a super fancy seafood restaurant, not realizing I didn’t eat any sort of seafood. I filled up on bread and ordered a chicken meal. It took me a good 15 years to live that one down. “Remember the time I took you out for fish and you ordered the chicken?” When we were first married I don’t think I ever cooked a vegetable. We ate meat with rice or pasta. We ate out a lot. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago we decided to make changes in our diet. And it wasn’t until just last year that we really decided we were going to clean out our cabinets and start from scratch and start eating clean. Vegetables are now one of our favorite things to eat! And I LOVE seafood!! And I cook wayyyy more often than I ever did; we rarely eat out.

We grew up in southern California. I am not trying to say that there are only two types of people in SoCal, but for this blog there are two types of people; fancy people and hippies. Maybe instead of fancy I could call them lavish. In my opinion, lavish people want a perfect house, the perfect clothes, the perfect tan. Hippies are carefree, they differentiate between wants and needs, and they care more about other people than themselves. I would say we grew up being a healthy mix of those two. We lived in a pretty great neighborhood with all the things we wanted, could go to the beach to get our perfect tans, but were also pretty grounded with good heads on our shoulders and good morals.

When we were first married I think we wanted to be the lavish kids we thought we were. We bought all the things we wanted. We had a tv in each room. We HAD to have cable with HBO. When we could afford to, we spent money on new clothes and new things for the house because we wanted them. And when we had our daughter we wanted her to have all the latest and greatest gadgets because that would be the best for her. We aren’t those people anymore.

We’re the hippies now, 100%. We were slow and steady to make this change. Moving out to the country away from everyone was the first big step. Wanting to live off the land and not have to spend all our money on food when we could grow our own. We realized we wanted to spend more time with each other doing things outside rather than watching tv, so we kept extra tv’s in the moving boxes. We discontinued cable. We had very limited internet (this wasn’t a choice in the beginning but it was a blessing in disguise). We took away our daughter’s tablet (another thing that we didn’t realize was a blessing). We’re in the process of downsizing all of our stuff. We are heading in the minimalist direction, hoping to one day maybe be those weirdos who live in a tiny house with just a bed and a stove on a huge plot of land with chickens and a garden (I’m not kidding, it’s become our dream).

Growing up we weren’t raised religious. We had some church background but nothing that I would say was enough to form us into the people we are today. We still aren’t religious, like Bible religious, but we are both very spiritual. We are constantly learning and sharing ideas with each other that build on our spirituality. It’s something we have grown to share.

And then there’s our relationship. We have always loved each other, no question. And we’ve always been best friends; we GREW up together, how could we not be best friends? But when we were first married, and only 19, we still had growing up to do and things to experience. We did everything together but we still had those moments when we wanted to get away from each other. I was that annoying nagging wife at times. And he was the worker bee that I wanted more attention from. We fought over dumb things, like any new couple, we kept grudges, and would dwell on things we had no control over. Today, we not only love each other more, we LIKE each other more. There’s totally a difference. You can love someone but not enjoy being around them. We enjoy each other. We want to spend time together as much as possible. And we definitely don’t hold grudges. We agree on a lot but when we don’t, we figure it out without being assholes to each other. We laugh A LOT more, me especially when I think we’re fighting over something stupid. We work together. All while still maintaining our independence.

The point of all this is that the answer to the question, “Have you changed?” is most definitely a, “Hell yes, we’ve changed!” And the best part is, we’ve done it together. The second best part is, we are happy. Like, really happy. The happiest we’ve ever been. When talking about us and our lifestyle, hippie-ish, I always tell people that I think this was all in there deep down but it just took a while to really embrace it. Deep down we wanted all this but maybe just didn’t know how to make it happen. And all the roads we’ve taken together were all eventually going to lead us to this point. And now, this is the new starting point down our next road of adventure. Will a lot more change in another 18 years? Who knows. I would guess that we will just further embrace a lot of the things we are moving towards now. And the best part is, we’ll still be doing it together.

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April 13, 2017. 18 years

Yuma and Me are Like Peas and Carrots (A half crafting blog)

Title taken from one of my all time favorite movies. Second in line to Legends of the Fall. Why do I love a movie where EVERYONE dies (sorry if that spoils it for you)? Mr. Pitt of course. And if you want to know more about things I obsess about, check out my Pinterest board all about Me.  But anyhoo, back to the normally scheduled blog post. Yuma, Arizona. Not the first place I thought I would live. But boy am I happy to be here.

I grew up in southern California. When I was 19 I got married and moved to North Carolina. I had never been anywhere past El Paso, TX (except right before I got married but that’s a technicality). So I’m on the east coast. At first I was scared. I didn’t go outside too much. I was so happy to be with my husband and that was all that mattered. I met some people but it wasn’t until a couple years in that I met some really great friends and started to find out more about this east coast place. We lived there for 7 years and did so many things. We traveled all around the state. Sometimes we would drive 3 hours to Charlotte just to eat some tacos from Jack in the Box. Yes, they are THAT important. We saw the mountains, the beach, we drove to Virginia, my husband took me to D.C for the first time. We had a life there. We had a house. We became a family. We had “family” there.  So, when my husband got orders to move to Tampa, it was a bit tough. We assumed that we would love it there and then after his 3 years were up we would move back to NC and get right back into where we were before.

Boy were we wrong. At first, Tampa was awesome. But then maybe that was because my best friend (from NC) drove there with us and stayed with us for 2 weeks. I had brought a piece of “home” with me. We drove around and went to the beach and were having a blast. When she left, it all sunk in. Here I am, in a brand new place, no friends, starting all over again. Plus we are a one-car family so it’s not like I can go and explore. But, I made the best of it. I was cool with not having too many friends and being cooped up in the house all day with my daughter. Who am I kidding? It sucked. And how does a housewife make friends? She doesn’t. I am totally outgoing but I will not walk up to someone and ask them to be my friend. And it’s not like I can go out to a bar and meet people. That is just asking for trouble.  And I absolutely LOVE being a stay-at-home mom. But not having any sort of time alone is hard. Even my daughter would get sick of me. Sometimes you just need some space. One nervous breakdown later, I knew a few things had to change. I needed more ME time. I could bore you with even more details, but here’s the gist. I started making friends. I made some really good friends. And then I moved away.

We only stayed in Tampa for 2 years. But I’m not sad. I never felt a connection to Tampa. At first we thought, this is just like San Diego (where we are both from). There’s the beach, the big city, the weather is similar, this is awesome. But that faded quickly. Big city can get boring. And there wasn’t much to do that didn’t cost money. My daughter and I miss being able to go outside in the backyard to see dolphins and manatees. I truly miss the friends I made months before I left. But when people ask me if I miss Tampa, my answer is easy; No.

When people would hear we were moving to Yuma, they seriously thought my husband had done something wrong to get here. No one could believe that he asked to come here.  I would tell them, “We used to vacation in Yuma,” and they would start to laugh. No seriously. I totally know my way around. We moved here just a few weeks before my favorite car show, Midnight at the Oasis.

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Even now when I meet people from around the base, the first thing they do is complain. “Welcome to Hell” was a sentence we heard more than enough times when we first got here. We just laugh and listen to them complain and then when they ask how we like it here, we always say the same thing, “We love it here!” And it’s true. We have done more things in the 3 months we have been here that we ever did while we were in Tampa. We explore. We go off-roading. Last week, my husband and I went hiking all day. And did I mention for that the first time in almost 10 years we live within driving distance of home? I’ve seen my parents almost every weekend. I used to see them every few months, maybe. We have seen our friends. One of our friends actually already came out here to visit us. And he’s already making plans to come back.

Being happy is all about finding the best in your situation. And I feel like crap saying that after I just bashed Tampa. But we really did make the best of it. It just took a little time for us to make the best of it. But, I am pretty damn happy here in Yuma. I feel like I am meant for desert living. I say that now before the temperatures are around 130 degrees, but really. Sometimes when we are out rock hounding my husband will be hammering rocks and I will just sit there and stare out into the desert. I listen to the wind, I feel the beating sun on my shoulders (super tan shoulders) and I am just happy. I’m happy to live here. I’m happy to live in such a tiny place that I can ride my pink beach cruiser around to get the mail or go to the grocery store. I am happy that my daughter gets to spend so much time with her grandparents. I am happy that my husband found new hobbies. I am happy that he’s happy. People look at photos I post of us and they say, “Arizona looks good on you.” Yes, I think it does.

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So let’s get to the crafting part because you know that’s what makes me really happy. So I finally got settled and opened my shop again. I was getting a few people asking me to paint things, do the normal stuff. Then one day while we were checking out an old abandoned mine, I found a super cool shiny rock. My husband said, “Wow! That’s the find of the day.” Little did we know it would get better. We walked around to the other side of this hill and the ground was littered with these little guys.

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These are rose quartz. It’s hard to tell but they have a purple or pink hue to them. When I saw these, the first thing I saw were a pair of earrings. Now, when we first got here we bought a rock tumbler. After I found these I told my husband we needed another one.

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Out came these beauties. Can you believe that those are the rocks I found? How awesome is that? And with those i made…..

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A super one of a kind pair of earrings. I found the rocks, I tumbled them, I wrapped them and made them into earrings. So super cool.

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I made these with quartz that I found that hasn’t been tumbled. Just a couple of rocks I found turned into a beautiful pair of earrings.

Then of course we were in Quartzsite (a town you may have heard of) and we happened upon a gem/rock store and I bought a bag of rocks. These have already been tumbled but still, pretty one of a kind.

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I was there for at least 30 minutes picking through the rocks trying to find “pairs”. So keep your eyes out on my Facebook page in case you want to buy a pair of earrings. Hoping to make a couple sets with a rock pendant necklace too.

The main idea of this post? I’m a pretty happy gal. I got my family and my rocks and “that’s all I need.” (The Jerk)

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