GUEST POST: “You Are Worth the Quiet Moment” by Morgan Flores

“You are worth the quiet moment. You are worth the deeper breath. You are worth the time it takes to slow down, be still, and rest.” 

Self-care has recently become such a popular topic and I’ve recently embraced it full force these past couple years. We are asked, in a spiritual point of view, to love our neighbors, to love our parents. But, do we love ourselves? Do we love ourselves as passionately as we love those around us?

I’ve watched close loved ones literally love their loved ones to death. They give and give till they are empty themselves with nothing left to give anymore. Their other loved ones who need it the most have been put to the wayside. They are an empty shell and have lost their true purpose and spark who made them who they once were in the first place. 

One of my favorite analogies is the oxygen mask on the airplane. When an airplane experiences distress in an emergency, oxygen masks pop out from the ceiling to assist breathing. We are instructed to place the mask over ourselves before helping our loved ones. In life, if we can’t take care of ourselves first, we will not be able to help the people next to us. 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” 

If we do not take the time to fill our cups, we will have nothing to pour out. 

One of the main things people struggle with giving so much, is that there are no boundaries set with the people around them. They want to help so much that they forget that they need help too. Here are ways to set boundaries in your own life:

  1. Name your limits—You can’t set boundaries if you don’t know what you stand for. What do you tolerate and accept? What makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? That will help list your limits. 
  2. Tune into your feelings—There are two feelings that come from letting go of boundaries (discomfort and resentment). When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue that they’re violating a boundary. When someone is imposing their expectations on us, we will feel guilty and resentment sets in.
  3. Be direct—Be direct with how you want to be treated, what makes you tic, and what you won’t stand for. You’ll know the toxic relationship by who takes these things personally.
  4. Give yourself permission—Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; it’s a sign of self-respect.
  5. Make self-care a priority—put yourself first for a change. It’s recognizing the importance of your feelings and wellbeing. 

Putting yourself first gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them. When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend. 

“You owe yourself the love that you freely give to other people.” 

In my second book, The Love We Found, my main character wants to help someone with a life-threatening illness, only to get herself in trouble too. This concept is called “Save the Savior”.  If we put ourselves in danger by helping someone, we are no use to anyone. We actually cause more damage in the process. 

I whole heartedly agree with helping and loving others. But sometimes we get so caught up in other people’s needs, that we forget our own. Why do we get caught up in other’s needs? Because of guilt and shame? Grief? Sincere selflessness? To impress? When will you put your needs first? Do you know how to put your needs first? 

Everyone deserves self-care, self-respect and self-reliance. You owe yourself that. You are a person with passions, dreams, hobbies, personality, diversity, quirks and gifts. You deserve to harness and spend time crafting those things just as much as you push your loved ones to do. 

The term self-care has been around for centuries. But it’s just come to terms with younger generations for whatever reason. Self-care can look different for different people. Self-care is defined: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

I have anxiety. I’ve always had it. I think it stemmed from my parent’s divorce from an early age. I never did anything about it till my second daughter came along. With the help of medication, my anxiety doesn’t control me anymore, even though I still struggle. And the help of self-care has even put me at lower dosage of meds. How does one practice self-care? 

Here are some things that I do:

  1. Workout for 30 minutes every day
  2. Less screen time (television and phone)
  3. Taking a long, hot shower 
  4. Going on dates with my husband
  5. Going to bed at the same time every night (10pm) 
  6. Reading 
  7. Eating well (and indulging too)
  8. Drinking plenty of water

With these things, I’ve noticed that I’m happier, I’m living more in the moment, I am invested in my children and husband, I am overall a better person not being acted upon. 

Again, self-care is different for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. It also doesn’t have to be doing something. Lying in bed and meditating in the quiet will be enough! 

And I also want to point out that SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. It’s important. It’s integral.  

I can’t help but to believe that we were put here on this earth to just be idle. We should be giving our loved ones and ourselves the best version we can be. Don’t get so lost in others that you lose yourself. Everyone deserves to be taken care of—including YOU! 

“It’s important to do what’s best for you, whether people approve of it or not. This is your life. You know what’s good for you and remember, self-love takes strength.” 

 

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Morgan Flores is the author of young adult books including The Love We Lost and upcoming release sequel, The Love We Found. You can follow her on Instagram @morganized_living for all updates on minimalism, self-care, organization and book updates!

 

 

A Sappy Post About My Sappy Wedding Anniversary

Guess what day it is?

 

Five years ago TODAY Daniel and I were marrrrrrrried. Woooohoooo! In honor of this sweet, sweet, milestone, I decided to write a sweet, sweet blog post for my sweet, sweetheart. It will be so sweet in fact that it might make you sick if you ingest too much of it… so be prepared. CUZ IT’S ABOUT TO GET ROMANTIC UP IN HERE.

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Dan. What up, bro?

Maybe no one else will read this post. And that’s okay. Because today is about you, my love. So I’ve been thinking lately, about all the times you’ve told me how you feel “boring”. And that’s just crazy. For me, you are the opposite of boring. You fascinate me. My life comes alive anytime you come home from work or wake up next to me or spend time with me (when you honestly could be doing anything else at the moment). My heart goes from zero to fifty, like, just at the chance to hang out with you, because you are just a big ball of FUN. And I wish I could think of a better way to say that… like, you know, if only I were some kind of an author or something and I knew how to write words.

I love the way your eyes crinkle when you smile. And I love your laughs. Sometimes you have this high pitched “HA” and then other times you sound like a freaking duck choking on a popsicle stick. I love it though. Like that’s when I know we’re on a super good inside joke, is when we’re both WHEEZING like we’re dying.

I love how at the end of the day when we put the kids to bed, our activity of choice is trashy reality TV with a side of cheesecake. Like, that’s all I want in life, honestly. But I also love the things you watch when you’re not with me. Like, documentaries about lions and people detailing their car or something. Videos with scammers scamming other scammers. And divers collecting stuff in muddy rivers. I just like the small interests you have. I don’t know. It’s attractive to me. Because, sure, like you could be SUPER into sports or something. And be that guy who’s into sports. Or working out or something that is some general interest. But I really like that you like weird things. I like when you want to show me a video about space or tell me a weird fact you learned that day. I really, really love that about you.

OH MY GOSH and how lucky that we have the same taste in movies? I mean, basically. All I want to watch are old movies. And you adamantly refuse to watch the same movie twice unless it’s Black Hawk Down or American Sniper (for some reason?).

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I love the unique way you walk. I love your voice. I loved your voice when you called me up for our first date, even though I basically interrupted you to tell you I was on the news for doing a flash mob. Ah, the way you say my name too. When you’re talking to someone else about me it’s this nice soft “Val”. But when I’m in trouble it’s, “VAL-REE!”

This is selfish, but I really love the way you love me. I love that you confidently tell people that I’m an author. Like as if I already had a successful career or something. And when you want to bring me to all your parties because you think “I’m an ace up your sleeve”. (I wish!)

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I love the way you love the kids. You are a great dad. You worry that you’re not. But you really really are. You are always RIGHT THERE to take them and play with them. Give me a break or help me with something around the house. Ha. You are the Starsky to my Hutch when it comes to chores. I’m so incredibly lucky that I married a guy as helpful as you are.

Seriously, and it’s not just me. Like that is your legacy. I think you get a call every freaking day from SOMEONE needing your help and advice. Whether it’s about car stuff, or medicine, or a financial decision. YOU are the person that everyone turns to because you are competent AF!!

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You make me happy every single day, with all the puns. And all the pranks. There has not been a single day that I have not laughed since I met you. You are a hidden treasure in a lifetime ocean of day by day challenges. (Another “River Rat” reference?) Just when I think there is no possible way I could love you more, you do something else that gets me. I feel like the Grinch, except my heart is blowing up to like thirty sizes bigger.

I just love you. That’s it. I really do.

MY LIFE AS AN ACTRESS: A TIMELINE

Before I start, here’s a warning: I started writing this post before I realized that… This is probably not very interesting to anyone other than me… But I wrote it anyways. Sometimes I just write stuff to archive for myself, so take it as it is. Maybe it WILL be interesting to you. Or at the very least you can get a general idea of my love affair with acting through the ages.

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4 or 5 YEARS OLD – My passion for acting (and writing consequently) really begins with my sister. We used to write our own plays, figure out the blocking and costumes, then put them on for our mom or sometimes a camera. It was all I wanted to do all day, every day. The games/plays that I would put on with my sister were almost always hilarious. We loved comedy. Strangely enough, though, it was the opposite when my sister wasn’t available. The games that I played by myself were incredibly melodramatic. Things like trying to survive a shipwreck (wading pool) or saving people that had been swept away from a tornado (getting my toys back out after my mom had come and cleaned up). Playing pretend was just the beginning.

9 YEARS OLD – I still LOVED putting on plays. So much in fact that I would write and direct plays at recess and then beg my teacher to let me do performances for the class. After a long while of interrupting class time, my teacher told my mother that she should consider enrolling me in acting lessons. She did. And I fell. In. Love. Head over heels.

14 YEARS OLD – Still ALL about acting. Writing and putting on plays for my church talent show. I could FINALLY take Drama in Jr. High… so wrote more plays for that even though it wasn’t a requirement to do so. 9th grade was my first ever experience with Shakespeare. Unforgettable. I was living the dream in my awkward gawkward middle school body.

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16 to 17 YEARS OLD – Okay, here’s where things get crazy. So I’ll just try to break this down as best as I can. Like a timeline within a timeline… Junior year, I performed in the school play. Then I got into filmmaking with my friends. Then I had an internship teaching theater at a Jr. High. Then I performed in another school play. And then finally I auditioned for my very first professional performance and got the leading part. And that theater couldn’t get rid of me for a long time after that.

18ish YEARS OLD – I worked a lot with Utah Children’s Theater. I acted in a few more plays there. I also worked regularly as a House Manager and had a couple of opportunities as a stage manager.

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19 YEARS OLD – I went to school at Southern Utah University where I studied Classical Acting for a year.  So, obviously, my schedule was jampacked full of lovely theatre things. I decided that I missed Utah Children’s Theater, plus I ran out of money so I came back home.

20-21 YEARS OF AGE – The following Salt Lake years I spent more time at the Theater I had adopted as my home. I was an off and on stage manager, house manager, actress, teacher, assistant director, and tech person. I even came to every rehearsal of a play that I wasn’t in or managing in any way… I just loved that play so much that I kept showing up even though no one was paying me or asking me to. That’s a true story.

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23-24 YEARS OF AGE – When I returned from my mission, I got another job at the theater I loved so much. This time as a Box Office Manager. I also started studying Elementary Education at the University of Utah as well as pursuing a K-6 theater endorsement. During my time at the U, I was introduced to THE BEST PROGRAM EVER. ArtsBridge! (Here’s a video of me talking about how great it is). I began training to become a “Theater Specialist” and worked with a lot of REALLY COOL elementary schools in the Salt Lake area. I loved this job so much! SO SO MUCH!

26 YEARS OLD – After I got married, I became the sole provider as my husband was in graduate school and the stage was put on hold. There soon came a time where we had saved up enough money for me to be able to quit my full-time job and go back to school. When I did, I immediately ran back to ArtsBridge and did a ton more cool stuff at Pacific Heritage Academy (all big and pregnant with Jack).

After having my darling boys, I had to hang up my acting cap for a while and become a theatre patron. I don’t feel like it’s the end. I just feel like it’s “a break” while my kids are little. Ultimately, I imagine never truly giving up acting. Anytime I see an old woman on a TV show or a commercial I’m like THAT WILL BE ME.

How Unrealistic is this Romance-Genre Male Character? A Fun Rubric!

It’s no secret that women are often not written very realistically. And it’s easy to tell when the girl main character was created as nothing more than a fantasy trophy.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Women characters are not exclusive to this. More prevalent and obvious, YES. But exclusive, no. Haven’t you ever noticed how every dude in a romance story has AN OUTRAGEOUS combination of “desirable” traits? It’s like the same formula over and over again.

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“Hey. I’m Liam. Captain of the football team. Want to hang out on my family’s yacht?”

Don’t believe me? Watch yourself a romance or pick up a sappy book and use this rubric as you go. Each trait earns ten points, the more points you get the more ridiculously written that character is.

 

+10 He is good looking. Obviously, this is a good place to start. Granted there is going to be some kind of attraction between characters when there’s a romance. But I’m specifically talking about a character who would be considered classically and universally good looking. Great hair. Nice smile. Chiseled chin. Tall. Modelesque rippling abs and pectorals. I mean, if the body type is even being mentioned, he might as well have “heaving bosoms”.

+10 He is smart. This character always offers witty dialogue and banter. He’s funny. He does well in school or inexplicably gets accepted to ivy league colleges. Maybe this character has a job that would need to require some serious intelligence. When he talks to the love interest he probably “surprises her” by mentioning authors/books that he likes or other smart and high cultured things.

+10 He is rich OR is in a high position of power somehow. Okay, this character either has a lot of money himself or comes from a rich family. This character could also be a boss or some kind of leader. Royalty is always popular for some reason.

+10 He is charming. This character is well liked. Popular. Has a lot of friends. Or fans. Usually, there are multiple girl characters who are obsessed with him. He is most likely confident in himself. Anyone who happens to not like him is probably jealous of him.    

+10 He is athletic. Lol. For some reason mentioning the muscles isn’t enough. This character shows ‘em off somehow. His adventuring and swordplay are effortless. He plays on the school sports team. He is probably mentioned to be “the best” at some type of physical skill.

+10 He is musically or artistically talented somehow. This is a character that sits down and plays the guitar or sings for the leading lady. Maybe he draws or paints her a picture. Maybe he immaculately decorates this outdoor area for her without any help. He might have a career as an artist or maybe his incredible talent is mentioned in passing and then never contributes anything else to the plot.

+10 He is passionate. This is an easy ten points. This is a character who is borderline berserk-o bats he is so in love. This character easily professes his love. He’s more than a little stalkerish, he follows her around everywhere even if she says no. His moods are all over the freaking place. He is sometimes yelling and punching antagonists. He oozes with jealousy, over-protection, kissing her roughly, having like zero control over his feelings. This character is SO unbridled that if she weren’t into him, she would take out a restraining order pretty quick.

+10 He is self-sacrificing. Similar to the passion trait but definitely deserves ten points on its own. This is a character who is willing to throw away anything and everything in his life for the love interest. He might give up his job, his family, his opportunities, his dreams. Maybe he gives up who he is- like he’s dangerous in some way, but gives it up for her. Sometimes he just straight up dies for her. The sacrificing thing is one huge wet dream for a woman.

+10 He’s a hero. I don’t care what context it is. If this guy rescues her from getting physically hurt in any way, shape or form. That is an automatic ten points for me.

+10 Despite having all of these characteristics he goes for an awkward underdog MC for no real reason. Yes, I’m a cynic. But COME ON. Real talk here. Why is this have-it-all-dude going to go for this rinky-dink no-one-has-ever-wanted-me-like-this chick? Right off the bat, he is in deep with her, but we never really get why. I guess because she’s attractive or something? You tell me.

 

And yes, before you call me out, I tried this rubric out with the romantic interest in my own novel and YES, I am in no way clean of this either. He scored fifty points… which is more than murkily cliché but still better than Noah from The Kissing Booth who scores an eye-rolling NINETY POINTS.

So what is the takeaway? The take away is this: As a writer, don’t be afraid to make your main characters less than perfect. We will still like them. IN FACT, we will like them MORE if we relate to their weaknesses. Is it sexy to envision a man sprawled across a worn couch, binging Netflix with Dorito dust all over his shirt? Not really. Do I want him to find love? HECK YES SO MUCH SO INVESTED. But why though? BECAUSE THAT’S MEEEEEEE! We’re the sticky gross humans looking for happiness in all the wrong places! YOUR AUDIENCE. Reach out! Connect! Don’t just give us one real person to cheer on. Give us two! Make me believe that both of them are better off together, not that one person is already swimming in the sweet life and his/her life can’t be upgraded by anyone.

Just an opinion of a half-cynic. Wink wink.

10 Favorite Songs from My Top 10 Favorite Bands

Last August we took a road trip to see “The Great American Solar Eclipse”. During that long car ride, I came up with a game… list your top ten favorite bands in order (as best you can) and then come up with your favorite song by each of them. That’s how you make a “YOU-playlist”. It was super fun, but way hard! I made Dan do it too.

I decided to share what I came up with… even though it could be potentially embarrassing. I have a weird taste in music, much like my taste in movies so… I don’t know what you’ll think of this list. But it’s who I am, so here we go!

#10 “Althea” by The Grateful Dead

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I’ve just recently became a dead head and honestly… I am a believer. They are so freaking enjoyable. Really. If you don’t know The Dead are a bluegrass/folk/rock/psychedelic/reggae/whatever-they-feel-like band. They even have a funk song which I also considered for my #10 spot.

I finally decided on “Althea” because I just cannot resist the punch in that beat. OMG. Even my baby loves this song.

 

#9 “Hypnotize” by System of a Down

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No rhyme or reason, but I just REALLY love System of a Down. They’re weird but they’re also SO GOOD. Every time they come on the radio I have to stop talking and crank up my stereo to unreasonable levels.

I used to listen to this song on my chunky mp3 player in between every class period my senior year of high school. The nostalgia runs deep with this one, my friend.

 

#8 “Dragons” by Caravan Palace

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My brother introduced me to “electro swing” and honestly, I’m all about it now.

I especially had to give a shout out to this song because it inspired a dang good book idea.

 

#7 “Somebody to Love Me” by Mark Ronson and the Buisness INTL

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K. When “Uptown Funk” came out I was SO pumped, because I had been riding the Mark Ronson train for almost a decade before he got the appreciation he deserved.

“Somebody to Love Me” isn’t necessarily that impressive of a song. But I fell in love with it for what it was. I listened to it constantly on repeat the summer of 2011 and so now I associate it with some of those good memories that I have of that time.

 

#6 “Made in Chernobyl” (except like the whole darn album) by Viza

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Viza is one of the most underrated bands. They’re really fun and unique but no one knows who they are.

Anyways, I love this dang album. For similar reasons to #8… I came up with one of my all time favorite book idea solely listening to this album.

 

#5 “Walcott” by Vampire Weekend

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I adore Vampire Weekend and I don’t care what you say. I’m a poser indie hipster and I’m totally fine with it.

Every time I hear “Walcott” my heart melts. Something about it is so cheerful and I can’t not smile listening to it!

 

#4 “Hey Jude” by The Beatles

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And you thought Vampire Weekend was bad? Ha! I know there are people who think that The Beatles are overrated and over-hyped. But I don’t care. I just genuinely really enjoy their music.

In fact, it was nearly impossible to pick just one Beatles song. Like, really? How do you even have a favorite!? I was really tempted to do something under the radar like Lennon’s “You Can’t Do That” or something like that. But in the end… “Hey Jude” has gotten me through some really rough times. And the story behind the lyrics, I don’t know… I find this song really meaningful.

 

#3 “Where Have You Been” (the live version) by Reel Big Fish

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I had to give a shout out to my passionate and brief love affair with ska music.

I bought the whole live album JUST for the version of this song. It’s super cool. And the break down! #earmassage

 

#2 “Hong Kong” by The Gorillaz

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I love the Gorillaz so much it’s not even funny.

I used to play this song every day that I would walk home from the bus stop. I felt like it was my own personal soundtrack. When I was serving an LDS mision and we weren’t allowed to listen to pop music… I cried. I actually shed tears over this song. That’s how close I am with this song.

 

#1 “Fearless” by Pink Floyd

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I love everything about this song. I love the music composition. I love the lyrics. I love this band. I love the meaning. I love the crowd vocals at the end. This is my heart song. This song is me. It HAD to be number one on my “me-playlist”.

 

What’s your list? Write it down it the comment section!

How I Met My Husband

In honor of our third year anniversary coming up, I thought I’d share our “cute meet”.

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So… I went on a date with this guy… not my husband. We got locked inside The Training Table and spent 4 hours making a zombie apocalypse plan. You know, just your normal typical American date… wait, right? It was super fun but also super mutually platonic. In fact, this guy (his name is Scott) felt like he was on a date with his friend Dan the entire night because we were so alike. Later, he went up to said Dan and was like…

SCOTT: “You need to go out with this girl… she is exactly like you… but a girl.”

DAN: “No!!! NO MORE SET UPS!”

Dan had been over saturated with being set up by the time that I came along and was completely over it. Fortunately, Scott went about it in a clever way. He invited me to a party that Dan was having at his house. Sneaky, sneaky!

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It was a President’s Day party, which was super unique and I didn’t have anything else going on because school was off for the day. So my good friend Alison and I decided to go together. And the weird part was that I had this conversation with Ali on the way up.

ME: “Maybe you’ll meet your future husband at this party!”

ALI: “Yeah right, that’ll probably happen to you.”

ME: “I seriously doubt it.”

I actually wasn’t even going to stay very late at the party because I had a date the next morning. (I went on SO MANY dates back then.)

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We get there. We park on this dark little street in Salt Lake and then walk up to this huge fancy house… (Which I still think is Scott’s house because he’s the one who invited me. I’m like, “Wow! I didn’t know Scott was loaded!”) Anyway, we rang the doorbell… and this suuuuuuuper cute brunette guy answers the door.

I’m immediately BLOWN AWAY. He has the most perfect brown eyes, which was like my thing that I was really into. And this amazing smile. Honestly, I could have just dropped dead on the porch because DANG! This doorman is 10/10. I even leaned over to Ali and whispered, “I REALLY hope this is the right party if that guy’s going to be here!”

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I’m probing my friends all night like: Who is that guy that answered the door? Does anyone know that guy that answered the door? ‘Kay but, that guy that answered the door is super-hot! Who is he?

I was totally creeping on him but he was trying to host in his big ol’ house, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to him for a while. A little bit later on, I’m hanging out with Ali and company… and then all of the sudden I overhear Door-Answering-Guy saying this to someone else:

DAN: “I tried to take a girl to the Ted Bundy house for a date once… it did not go over well.”

I FREAKED out! And not because he kind of sounded like a serial killer… but because this dude is not only really attractive, he’s also adventurous, funny and loves creepy stuff like me! At this point I’m like… okay… I need to infiltrate this conversation. So I wedge myself in between him and the guy and gave him my ring size… Just kidding, it was probably something more like:

ME: “Hey, I couldn’t help overhearing. But I also love breaking into abandoned houses and such.”

Right in that moment our spooky little hearts clicked. And then we kept discovering more weird stuff that we both liked. “What?! I like watching awful movies too!” “Omg! I love pranking people.” “No, Halloween is MY favorite holiday!” “You do that? I DO THAT! I didn’t know anyone else did that!” We might as well have had horse blinders on because we totally tuned out anyone else around us.

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We could not stop talking. One in the morning… Two in the morning… Three in the morning. I sent Ali a text on the sly:

ME: “Thank you so much for being such a good friend and staying with me! I’m really digging this guy right now!”

When my mom called wondering where I had died at this ungodly hour, I sent her a less gracious message:

ME: “Mom just CHILL OUT! I think I found my eternal companion okay? Don’t make me look lame in front of him!”

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When I finally was able to be dragged away and into the car outside I remember saying,

ME: “Was that my soul mate? That was so easy! I don’t know why I was so worried about meeting him!”

Scott never even had to introduce us. As soon as we met the dirty deed was done. Things continued to be just as easy from there and he proposed to me two and a half months after the party.

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Whew! It’s good that Daniel wasn’t just after my kingdom.

 

 

Life is unpredictable. You never know when you could meet the love of your life or see a dream come true. And if you still don’t feel hopeful then listen to this lovely uplifting song by Annie! Let her voice convince you that life is worth living and why.