INDEPENDENT

How many of us, when we were little girls, pictured graduating college, then getting married by 21/22 and having your first child by 23/25? I definitely know that is what I always pictured for myself throughout my childhood, it’s what my parents did and it seemed to work. But then you get to that point in your life and it couldn’t be farther from reality.

Why as a society do we feel the need to tell young girls they must marry young and immediately start families? Why don’t we advocate more for them to find something they are passionate about and pursue that? Why is there so much pressure for girls to only feel they are worthy if they are in a relationship and have a man to support them? Why are there certain things that are “only achievable” once you’re married? Or my favorite – because you have all this “success” don’t you think guys will be intimidated?

For so long I struggled with feeling like I was lacking. I graduated from college without a boyfriend – far from having a ring on my finger, moved back to my parents, and started a great internship that turned in to a fantastic job. I got my own apartment, without help from anyone, went on numerous trips, lived with roommates for a year and now own my own house. I have done all of this without a man by my side, so does that make me unworthy, unsuccessful? But in the back of my mind, I do have that fear that because I have already accomplished so much, it will scare someone away – but if it does, it wasn’t meant to be (but that is a whole other story for another day).

Here I am, one week after turning 24, and I have never felt more empowered and sure of who I am and what I want. I BOUGHT A HOUSE BY MYSELF AT TWENTY FOUR! This is by far my biggest accomplishment and I did it alone. Why don’t we praise women for doing this more? I was having a conversation (via text) with a friend from college who also recently bought a house. There are so many unknowns that come with buying a house, it’s a huge responsibility. There were times we both considered backing out, because facing something new is hard – especially when it is this big of a risk. And then you have the added pressure of people making comments about being a single woman buying a house.

I’m a huge fan of former Bachelorette contestant Olivia Caridi (and an even bigger fan of her podcast). She recently bought her first house in Nashville, by herself. In one of her recent Instagram Stories, she talked about all the hateful messages she received from people for not being married or dating anyone and owning her own home. This is something we should be praising women for! This is a huge accomplishment for someone and it shouldn’t be downgraded for a little thing such as that. If a man bought a house without being in a relationship, I doubt he would receive the same criticism. So Olivia, from one single homeowner to another, congratulations!

So tonight, because I have been so wrapped up in so many other things – work, making this house my home, life – I’m taking time to just soak in the fact that this place is all mine, no one can take that from me or make me feel bad for “skipping some steps,” and thank God for all the things that have gotten me here – like two parents who have always encouraged us to be independent and go after what we want.



I BOUGHT A HOUSE (AND OTHER LIFE UPDATES)

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It’s been a while since we chatted last, almost five months to be exact. A lot has happened in those five months. So let me catch you up some, and maybe give a little more insight as to why I took a hiatus:

There were a lot of constant struggles about what was going on and how to deal with them. I don’t deal well with conflict which led to almost five long months of hating my living situation. I was constantly dreading going home, I spent a bunch of time at my parents, friends houses or just sitting in my room trying to get away from all the issues – which honestly just made me resent the situation more because why was I having to seclude myself. The only plus side was going home to my sweet pup. I stopped feeling safe and welcome in my own home. I had quiet a few anxiety attacks that started from silly little things that weren’t even issues but sitting on my parents kitchen floor Easter Sunday crying for no logical reason was icing on the cake.

While all those issues were happening, I was also trying to find a new house to rent with two new roommates. I spent hours trying to find a house in budget & the location we were wanting. The more time that passed and closer we got to the end of my lease, the more I started stressing about finding somewhere to live. In mid-March, my parents suggested revisiting the idea of buying a house (I looked into this in early 2016, but it ended up not working out and I decided it wasn’t meant to be at the time). So I found a great realtor and we started looking at houses – no joke I think we looked at more than 50 by the end of May, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Every house I looked at was beyond repair, too little for too much money, had weird vibes, or the most common occurrence – off the market before we made it to look at it or the owners accepted an offer while we were in there, that was a fun one. I upped my budget some, I expanded my radius quite a few times and we kept looking.

I started making plans to move back to my parents when my lease ended because we were to the point where I wouldn’t be able to close on a house by May 31 and I didn’t want to rush the process. This also meant that one of the girls I planned on living with had to move forward with other options because she needed a place to live. Everything about the situation was stressing me out, I like having a plan and this was not how I envisioned things – I also didn’t want to have to move back to my parents for an indefinite amount of time because it felt like failing and I didn’t want to be a burden.

At the same time, there were numerous things happening at work that were (and TBH are still) making me question if this is still the right fit for me. I’m not going to get in to all of that but I’m having real doubts about what my place is and what I want for my career moving forward. But that is a story for another day.

I’ve also been struggling with needing a community of people to do life with, share struggles with and exciting times. I have a small core group of people I count on but 3/4 live outside of OKC, so it makes it hard to get together. I joined a small group at church & Junior League in hopes of building that community I have been craving for some time. And slowly but surely, I think I’m getting there. But that the end of my tangent for now

Now back to the main focus – buying a house. On June 1, my parents & I met a realtor at lunch to look at a house on the edge of Mustang (it’s in OKC, so it still fit that criteria, but it was a bit further south than I was planning). We were the first ones to look at it – it went on the market at 10:30 that morning. On my drive there, I decided to change the radio to Air1 and the song playing was about trusting in God’s timing and in the plan he has – I tried not to read too much in it, but if we’re being honest, I was looking for signs everywhere at this point for what I was supposed to do. I pulled up to the house and it just felt right, I walked in and saw nothing major needed to be done, it had a huge backyard for Sully to romp around in, it was more than 1,000 square feet and was in my budget, it had an attached two car garage, two bathrooms – everything about it seemed too good to be true. After a lengthy conversation with my dad & realtor, I put an offer in but tried to put it out of my mind – I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. Late that evening, my realtor called to tell me the sellers had accepted my offer. Inside I was screaming with joy but on the outside I was trying to play it cool because deep down there was a part of me that was still worried something would fall through. I tried not to tell too many people, because in my mind every person I told was just one more person I would have to tell it didn’t work out. I thought this through the whole process – the inspection, asking for repairs, appraisal – something would come back negative. The morning of closing I was internally a hot mess, I kept preparing for something to fall through. I prayed the entire way there for everything to go smoothly, for my nerves to be calmed and just thanking God for all the opportunities I have been given to get me to this point.

At 9:45 a.m. on June 10, I had the keys in hand to my new house. MY HOUSE. Wow, that is still weird to say. Never in a million years did I think I would own a house by myself at age 23 (but that’s a story for another day). Once we finished everything closing, I drove straight to my new house to soak everything in for a bit by myself, before anyone knew what I was doing. It was in those 20 minutes that it finally hit me what happened, what this meant and all the joy & excitement I had been holding back just came pouring out – positive I spent a good 10 minutes just walking around my house crying and praying over it for all the memories and fellowship it will hold in the future for me.

If you’re still with me, because this is a record long post, I want to thank you for sticking with me. I have some ideas of future posts, some more on what I’ve learned in this hiatus and the past few months, some updates on projects at the house, and just life in general.

I can’t wait for y’all to join me on this new adventure!

Healthy Popcorn Chicken

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Healthy Popcorn Chicken
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless chicken
salt & pepper
4 eggs
1 box of Panko
⅓ cup honey
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
*The ingredients for the sauce aren’t doubled because we only used it for half the chicken*

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, then spray a couple of baking sheets with coconut oil spray.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch(ish) cubes. This is the part that takes the most time, I might suggest doing this the night before when you have some time – that or I just don’t know how to properly cut chicken.
In one bowl, add the S&P and eggs then whisk together. In another bowl, add the Panko. Dip the chicken in the eggs then the Panko and toss on to the baking sheet. Repeat this step until all the chicken is coated and on the baking sheets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

In a saucepan, heat the honey, garlic & soy sauce. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch & ⅓ cup of water. Add the mixture into the saucepan, stirring until thick – about 1 to 2 minutes. Again, maybe just me, but I can’t mince garlic & don’t own a fancy garlic press. So this was the step where I fished out the garlic pieces – figured no one would want to eat chunks of garlic if they didn’t have to. Add in some, or all, of the chicken.

We cooked up some rice to go with this chicken & it was a huge hit. My dad even said it’s one of his favorite chicken dishes, might not sound like much to anyone, but coming from the person who prefers everything over chicken, this made it a success in my book.

2017

goodbye 2016, hello 2017. there were definitely ups and downs, but it’s always neat to see how the negatives lead to other things. i’m sure by now, you’ve seen everyone’s “best nine.” i did mine as a joke, but it’s full of some of my favorite moments of the year.

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today, i’ve been thinking quite a bit about what i want this year to be. everyone always uses the start of a new year as a time to make resolutions – i tried this last year and forgot half of what i said. i also did “monthly goals,” i put a lot of pressure on these and didn’t enjoy the “goal” as much as i should have because i was so focused on just checking something off a list. which is why this year, there are no resolutions, no goals, instead i am choosing three words to define my year. words to define how i want to live out the next 365 days. my words for 2017 are PRESENT, JOY and FAITH. more present in moments – put my phone down, don’t worry about getting the perfect IG picture or snapchatting what’s going on (speaking of, i deleted my account). plan more activities that bring me joy and do things for others to bring them joy. have more faith that things will work out the way they’re supposed to & not dwell on things.

i already have a few things in mind to make 2017 a great one, but i’m not putting pressure on these things if they don’t work out or don’t go as planned.