DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020

T – 15 Months: It Goes On and On My Friends…

So I said I wasn’t going to do another one of these until I hit the one-year mark, but I didn’t feel like waiting six months between the last countdown blog and the T-12 blog.

Today marks 15 months until I say “I do” to Franklin. At this point, I am a month and two weeks away from doing my bridesmaid’s duties at my cousin’s wedding. Since my last post here, this is what I’ve been able to accomplish:

  • Figured out the last of the groomsmen
    • This is honestly the hardest thing we have done for the wedding so far. One of the guys we wanted as a groomsman ghosted Franklin for weeks. When we finally got ahold of him, he said there’s a small possibility of him being able to come due to financial and health reasons. We will still invite him, but as a guest
      • After that, I figured that two of my cousins can fill the last two groomsmen spots. However, I’m now worried that one of my cousins won’t be back in time for the tux fitting since he recently revealed to me that he is going to seek help for his drinking problem and he will leave right after my cousin’s wedding. I know there will still be time between my cousin’s wedding and my wedding, but if he can’t be a groomsmen, we will likely have to cut a bridesmaid (don’t worry, no one has been asked) and our already small wedding party of four people per side will become a pitiful three people per side
  • Went to a local bridal shop that was doing an in-house event and started thinking about florals and cake
    • We will not look for a florist until the summer so Franklin and I’s school schedule will not interfere with appointments. He’s almost done with grad school and I have group projects and homework

Yeah, it’s not much. The ball will roll as soon as we’re one year out. Here’s what still needs to be done between now and the 12-month mark:

  • Have mom give me the guest list for my side of the family
    • She is really holding this up, so I need to tell her next month that I NEED the guest list by June so I can pare down the list and Franklin’s family needs their save-the-dates sooner than everyone else since they need to fly in for the wedding
    • I’m also very sure we’ll hit the 150-person maximum set by our venue (based on the minimum we predicted)
  • Related to the guest list, we need to still determine the minimum age of the kids who will just be guests (not including my niece and his nephew)
    • Again, it’s because of the maximum. Franklin’s side has a lot more people on the guest list than I anticipated
  • Make my Matron-of-Honor’s proposal box
    • I wasn’t going to do the proposal boxes for the bridal party, but since I want her to be there when I try on dresses (more on that in a bit), it’ll be at least a way to thank her for coming. The bridesmaids I want will get a card later in the year
  • Find shapewear for wedding dress shopping
    • Might buy another shapewear for the actual wedding if I need a different one (like one with a low back if I choose a low-back dress)
  • Make an appointment for wedding dress shopping
    • I wasn’t going to go dress shopping until July, but a change in schedule means that I need to go dress shopping in June now. The good news is that I get to go one month sooner. The bad news is that I have less time to get stuff to make the potential Matron-of-Honor’s proposal box

Whew, this is more stuff on the to-do portion than last time. Guess this is when things will start moving a bit more. Also, be on the lookout for my wedding countdown on my blog after my cousin’s wedding is over.

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Mental Health

The Power of Music

This could also be called “The Power of Music for Mental Health,” but I don’t want anyone to assume that music works 100% of the time for mental health treatment. I am not a licensed mental health professional, so I will not tell you to do this or that in regards to your mental health.

This is a piggyback on my blog about how a music conservatory provides music therapy for veterans with PTSD and is also based on a recent experience at choir practice.

So let’s back up a moment. In December, I joined the choir at my Unitarian Universalist church. There is no experience necessary, which is good because I do not have any vocal training. My musical background comes from playing instruments. I was nervous about joining the choir because of a joking answer someone from the exploring membership class gave when someone asked if the choir wanted his bad-sounding voice.

An older woman just joined the choir and she decided to sit next to me for rehearsal because she thought my singing voice was pretty. It’s not, but thanks! I guess she felt emotional safe because she was telling me about how music saved her life. She told me she had a bad childhood and developed bad depression because of her childhood. She told me about a music teacher in high school who told her to join the choir and gave her the recommendation to go to a music conservatory after high school.

Her story really resonated with me because I feel like my mental health is also improving because I feel like I’m discovering myself through returning to music and doing something I wanted to do many years ago (long story short, I quit baton to do choir, but by the time I quit baton, I was about to be too old for the children’s choir). Now if only I could find a drum circle to be a part of…

Has music helped anyone with their journey to improving their mental health?

Also, little footnote, this is my 100th blog post. Party party.

Self-Discovery · Self-Reflection

I Think I Found a Purpose in Life?

So I was going to make a blog post about walking around without having a purpose in life. I was going to question on my blog over whether life was worth anything if you didn’t have a purpose. I wondered how you found your purpose in life because I completely disagree with my ex about how you have to create your own purpose.

But I think I found my purpose in life.

First of all, how does someone find their purpose in life? Does it magically fall into your lap, do you take some time to reflect on your interests, or do you have to create your own purpose?

For me, I found what I think is my purpose in life by reflecting on my interests. I’m just now thinking about a blog post I encountered when I started blogging and it was an activity on how to find your purpose. I forgot about it for over a year, but I remember how you can find your purpose based on your passions. My passions include the following:

  • music (both instrumental and vocal, though I have been focusing on singing lately),
  • performing (which is being satisfied via choir), and
  • social justice (me being vocal about social justice issues has caused problems, but I don’t care. They can’t silence me! People have tried and failed!)

I also like public speaking, but I don’t do it as often as I used to, so it’s not exactly a passion.

So now that I know my passions, how can I turn my passion into a purpose? Is there something in common with music, performing, social justice, and public speaking? Hmm, let’s see.

  • Music is one of my passions. Since I’m currently singing, I am using my voice as an instrument
  • I fulfill my performance passion by singing in a choir. I use my singing voice for a song related to the day’s service
  • I use my voice to speak out against sexism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and other social injustices
  • When I do public speaking, I am using my voice to talk about whatever I would be talking about

What word do you see in all of the about bullet points?

Voice.

I feel like my purpose in life is to use my voice.

Let me tell you a fact about myself that I forgot about until I thought about what could possibly be my purpose: I have an interest in spoken word. It just seems so powerful when it’s spoken. Maybe I felt inspired by Kavindu “Kavi” Ade’s spoken word performance titled “It” (Warning: Mentions of transphobic actions and words) that felt so powerful when I watched the video a year after one of my best friends in undergrad came out to me saying he’s a guy.

When I developed an interest in spoken word, I wanted to do a spoken word performance calling out my family for not rallying behind my cousin who struggles with alcohol addiction. I wanted an outlet for my social justice feelings. However, not only is it hard to find spoken word venues to express myself, but I won’t be able to handle any criticisms for my works of spoken art. (Thanks Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria…)

So yeah, I’m going to use my voice now. Time to put batteries in the megaphone mom bought me for Christmas.

Self-Discovery · Self-Reflection

Independence Scares Me

Hey everyone, I am about to go back to grad school to start the spring semester so I will not be posting as much. Then again, I haven’t posted much during winter break.

So I will be the first to admit that being independent scares me. I’m just not used to it, really. I started being independent on some things late, too. I’m very sure I didn’t start dressing myself for school until 4th grade. I think I was in college when I finally started picking out my own clothes to wear. My grandmother was worried about me when I started college since I was going to be living in a dorm and never really learned the life skills I needed to be independent. It is important to note that I have not been diagnosed with autism. Just wanted to point that out in case people assumed.

I have been called sheltered multiple times by a former co-worker as well as my previous boyfriend. While I wasn’t really bothered by my former co-worker using that word to describe me, being called sheltered multiple times by my ex somewhat damaged me and has triggered bouts of high anxiety. Due to my mental health issues, my parents feel the need to coddle me. I know my anxiety disorder means that being independent is extremely hard because when I hear about all the things I still need to do, my anxiety heightens. Trying something that will help me be more independent is anxiety-inducing. I still feel the need to be coddled.

If I was truly independent, I wouldn’t still be living with my parents at age 26. I wouldn’t have mental health issues that cause me to not be able to live alone (not exactly safe for me). I wouldn’t be labeled a damaging label like “sheltered”. If I were truly independent, I would be able to drive myself more places instead of getting anxiety when driving on interstates.

I was driving home from work earlier this month when I thought about how I will eventually need to drive myself to and from classes for grad school. The goal I had originally set was to drive to school myself for the spring semester. I was practicing, but then mom was living with grandmother for part of October since my grandmother had her other hip replaced and my mom needed to stay with her. I worry about not meeting my goal of driving myself because if I can’t do it after the first week of classes (the spring parking permit does not go into effect until February 1st, after my first week of classes), will I ever be able to drive myself?

So I came up with a plan. On both of my class days next week, I will drive to and from school with mom in the vehicle since the spring parking pass doesn’t go into effect at the start of the semester for some reason. If I feel comfortable driving each time I get behind the wheel and take the interstate to and from school, I will purchase a parking pass. If not, then I’ll keep practicing and get a spring pass the next month. Does that sound like a good plan? I’m not used to taking charge of making a major life change like this.

Now can someone tell me why L-theanine mostly comes in pill form? I can’t swallow pills.

Self-Reflection · Try Something New 2018

Looking Back on the Try Something New in 2018 Pledge

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my fiancé to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I told you all what new thing or things I have tried and discussed the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

2018 is over and we are now in 2019. I can now say my wedding is next year! But let’s stay in the present and look at the past in this blog.

Surprisingly, I was able to keep myself accountable for doing something new this month. Yes, there were some days that I only tried one thing new, but it’s something. Starting out, I was doing a lot of new things, which is probably why some months didn’t have many new things. I was able to add a few new foods to add to my somewhat short list of foods I eat.

If I were to pick a favorite thing I tried, it would be joining the choir at my Unitarian Universalist church. It’s mostly men, though. From what I was told, there used to be a lot more women in the choir, but I know two choir members just moved to a different state so they clearly won’t be at the church anymore. It wasn’t a problem before since we were able to recruit more sopranos for last month’s song, but it’s becoming a problem for me now since I can’t sing as high as I’m supposed to because I can only hear the men.

So for 2019, I have decided to do a quarterly decluttering. I’m doing the decluttering as a way to get a head start on getting rid of things I don’t need so I won’t be rushing to do it right before the wedding.

Try Something New 2018

Try Something New: New Things in December

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my fiancé to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I will tell you all what new thing or things I have tried. I will also discuss the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

Well folks, this is the last Try Something New post. This was fun while it lasted.

My first new thing was joining a choir.

Barriers to joining a choir: I actually wanted to join the children’s choir at my old church, but by the time I quit baton to join the children’s choir, I was about to be too old for the choir, do I became an usher instead. When I was 8 years old, I learned I couldn’t sing after I listened to myself sing using some kind of tube in music class. I still joined chorus in elementary school for 4th and 5th grade since anyone who wanted to be in the chorus could be in the chorus. In middle school, I only did band class because you had to audition for chorus.

Why I joined the choir: There is no choir experience necessary. When I first wanted to try out the church years ago, I wanted to join the choir. Now that I’m a member, I tried it.

I almost didn’t try out the choir. Why? Because during the first exploring membership class, a guy asked if they’d want his horrible singing voice in the choir. One of the people leading the class said no. I also found out that the choir director does private lessons when one parent said her son is taking piano lessons from the choir director. I’m not a very good singer (but singing along to anime years ago improved my singing voice), so I almost didn’t join the choir. During last month’s potluck, I was able to talk to the choir director and found out that most members don’t have formal vocal training. So I decided to try out the choir.

My thoughts on UU choir:

  • I started having fun as soon as we started warm-ups
  • I tell people I’m an alto, but I may actually be the rare female tenor going by everyone singing each part together. Still sang the alto part since I didn’t know women could be on men’s parts (and vice versa. A guy sang soprano for the song Carol of the Bells, though he wasn’t going to sing that high)
  • A week later, the choir (including me) performed Carol of the Bells
  • I have always been a performer, so it’s great to be back into the performing world

I also tried a fancy ham called prosciutto!

Barrier to trying prosciutto: Prosciutto is a ham and I don’t like ham.

Why I tried prosciutto: I didn’t know what it was until I put it on my plate during the appetizer time for a holiday party and when Franklin told me what it was, I didn’t want to put it back on the tray.

My thoughts on prosciutto:

  • It smelled odd
  • It was okay for a few bites
  • It’s ham. Why did I try this? Bad idea, me. But I made up for it by eating all the pepper jack cheese that was there. I love pepper jack cheese.

And to finish things off, I was a guest writer for Black Girl Does Grad School!

There was no barrier to writing the guest post, but I planned to write about my experience in my first semester of grad school. I finally had something to write, but I decided to wait until after I was done with the semester to write it.

My thoughts on being a guest writer:

  • Getting to at least 500 words was the hard part
  • Giving myself time to write my entry helped me to come up with things to add and edit since I was writing during breaks from studying
  • I liked seeing my writing on the internet on a site other than this blog

So that’s it for my 2018 Try Something New pledge. I will soon write up my thoughts on the pledge.

Self-Reflection

One Semester Down, Lots More to Go

I used up a lot of my blog brain energy writing a guest post about grad school for another blog, so this blog post will not include everything I would have included. Find my guest post here.

I finished my first semester of grad school last week. Like with my summer math class (which I luckily got a B in, after much hard work studying for the third exam since I didn’t do so well in the second exam and the three exams were worth 75% of my final grade. Needed at least a B in the class since I’m a grad student in an undergrad math class), I had to develop the study habits required to do well in college. Unlike in undergrad, I need to pass with at least a B in my classes. Unlike in undergrad where you need to have at least a 2.0 to graduate, you need at least a 3.0 to graduate from grad school.

I also have the additional challenge of being a “conditionally accepted” student. Because I had under a 3.0 GPA in undergrad (but over 2.75 GPA. I was closer to the 3.0, though), I need at least a 3.0 GPA in my first year of grad school to stay in the computer science program. It’s why I had to learn study habits that I was never taught for undergrad. I’m happy to say that I’m on track for meeting the minimum GPA to stay in the program.

Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis: If you remember back to this blog, I said I had to take prerequisites since my Bachelor’s degree was not in computer science. This class was my easier of the two classes since I’m a developer at work and have learned these concepts before in an intensive 20-week training for my first job out of college. The only difference is that I was learning C++ in this class, which I find easier than Java. I experienced anxiety once during the lab for this class. I liked having a lab in this class since we could practice the concepts we learned.

Final grade: A.

Computer Organization and Assembly Language: This was my final prerequisite class. I’m glad I’m done with that class since that class was a lot harder. This class is what the university calls as satisfactory/unsatisfactory class (otherwise known as a pass/fail class) and you needed at least an 80% to get satisfactory (it IS grad school, after all). I was worried about passing this class because the final exam was 40% of the final grade and that exam was tough, even though I had been studying for that exam since this month started.

Final grade: Satisfactory. (Thank goodness)

I did the graduate career exception option for discrete math. This meant the class would not count towards my GPA, which is good since I would have to apply again as an undergraduate non-degree seeking student if I wanted it to count towards my GPA and I didn’t want this class to bring down my GPA because I need at least a 3.0 to not get kicked out of the program. Pass/fail classes only count towards your GPA if you fail the class, so this didn’t count towards my GPA either. Only my data structures and algorithm analysis class counted towards my GPA.

Current GPA: 4.0

Now that I’m done with my prerequisites, I’ll be getting into the core classes needed to graduate. A professor warned everyone in my class that things will be getting more intense. Next semester, I will take a computer networks class and a database management systems class. Thank goodness the wedding planning won’t kick into high gear again until after the semester is over.