Social Anxiety: Number One Reason Why My Dog Is My Best Friend

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I am shy. And I have social anxiety in certain situations. Even writing this post, knowing that others are going to read my words, makes me anxious. But it’s precisely why I’m doing it. I’ve always been more soft-spoken and for a long time, I thought I would always be that way. Of course just because I’m naturally more introverted and soft-spoken, doesn’t mean I’m destined to stay like this forever. And staying shy will not do anything for the anxiety I feel.

My anxiety stems from the fact that I feel every interaction I have with most people is that they are judging me. So I figure the less social interaction I have with people, the less they can judge me. That’s my logic. The problem with this is that I will always be saddled with anxiety because I cannot escape social interactions if I want to be a normal, functioning human in our society.

I also want to say that my social anxiety isn’t all consuming or off-the-charts bad. And I don’t feel it in all social situations. Talking to strangers is when it’s at its worst. Even group settings, in which I don’t know a lot of people, can set it off. It’s simply something I would like to grow out of. My social anxiety manifests by verbal withdrawal and loss of thought process. I also sometimes feel my heart rate increase, which of course only makes me feel only more anxious.

I’m writing this post because it’s something I want to move beyond. I don’t want to feel anxiety because I think people are judging me. One, I should not care if strangers are judging me. Two, I’ve had people tell me that they thought I was conceited or uptight because of my silence and shyness. So people are making judgments regardless of the fact that I don’t talk so obviously my tactic isn’t working so well. Three, I hate the feeling of anxiety. And finally, I just want to be able to make friends as easily as other people seem to. This is my first step towards living with my social anxiety in a healthier way. Wish me luck.

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Sometimes You Just Have To Say “I’m Sorry”

IMG_0980I have never been good at saying sorry. Not because I don’t think I’m ever wrong. Often times I will know I’m wrong. But saying “I’m sorry” out loud is acknowledging to OTHERS that I’m wrong. That is difficult and embarrassing and hard. Despite that, people who want healthy relationships need to learn how to say sorry.

I like to hold grudges. Or I used to. I held onto my anger and let it control my actions. This is just not a healthy way of dealing with problems especially in a romantic relationship because relationships require communication. My punishment of choice is the opposite of communication: the silent treatment. And I never liked to admit when I was wrong.

Saying sorry in a relationship is important, though. It allows for healthy dialogue to take place. I am very proud of the way that I have learned that saying sorry isn’t showing weakness rather it shows strength and a willingness to work through problems rather than casting them aside and hoping they get better by ignoring them (this NEVER works, by the way). It’s a sign of maturity.

We need to make a conscious decision to say sorry more often. Mistakes need to be tolerated because no one is perfect. All relationships, in fact, are imperfect. And this is why “I’m sorry” is so vital. It may take a while before you are able to recognize that you aren’t being tolerant enough of your partner and their faults. But it should always be a goal to talk things out, let it go, and say I’m sorry.

I’m learning, and I still have a long way to go. Avery, stick with me. And I promise to do the same with you.

Irresponsible Pet Owners

Avery and I live in a dog friendly apartment complex. Something we absolutely love. They don’t have breed restrictions or weight restrictions which is absolutely amazing when taking into consideration the condition of the complex (it’s not rundown or super old, which is a problem we kept running into when looking for dog-friendly communities). We love were we live.

With that said, there is a growing problem. Dog poop. Knowing you live in a dog-friendly apartment complex does not give you the right to allow your dogs to poop wherever and then NOT PICK IT UP! WHAT THE HECK?! (I’m particularly passionate about this because I accidentally stepped in one of these surprises a few days ago.) If you own a dog, and live in an apartment, pick up after your animal! It’s not fair to everyone else that: one, doesn’t have a dog and two, does have dogs and are responsible enough to pick up their dog’s poop.

And the people around here have absolutely no excuse not to pick up after their puppies because our apartment is gracious enough to provide pet waste bags and designated pet waste trash cans. Yet, there are accumulating piles of poop around our apartment, in the grass and in the parking lot. I can’t take Stella out at night anymore because I’m afraid either she or I will step in a fresh pile of poo. If I find out whoever is letting their dogs go wherever they please (I’m not blaming the doggies what-so-ever because they don’t know better), they better be ready for the biggest rant of their lives.

 

21: Year In Review

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Happy birthday to me. My husband made me breakfast and baked me some yummy brownies. He also bought us tickets to DisneyWorld for the end of the month when he graduates before we go back to Texas! Woohoo!

I don’t feel like a year has passed since my last birthday. But an entire 366 days have come and gone since I turned 21. And a lot of things have changed.

  1. I own a dog.
    Or a more accurate description is she owns me. She’s changed my life, and I don’t know what I would do without her snuggles or her incessant barking for attention. I’m obsessed with her and her crazy personality. She’s taught me responsibility and unconditional love.
  1. I graduated college.
    If I don’t want to, I never have to return to school again. It was tough and made me feel beat down some times. Getting to go to the best university in Texas was such an honor.
  1. I moved away from home for six months.
    Okay, it’s only been five, but it’s the first time I’ve been this far away for this long. Now, I know I can do it. (But I can’t wait to get back.)
  1. I’ve been married for a whole year now.
    People say the first year of marriage is the hardest, but so far, it’s been pretty easy. Of course, we haven’t had to go through the rough times that life tends to throw at you, but I have faith in us.
  1. I’ve learned that my health is important.
    Unfortunately, I cannot keep eating Whataburger everyday and stay healthy and fit. (This news has saddened me.) I’m not cutting out junk food entirely, but eating healthy isn’t hard or impossible. It’s baby steps. I’ve discovered that I love green beans. And tomatoes aren’t as bad as I thought. I just know I would rather get ahead of my health before it becomes an issue.

Even when you think your life has been on pause or not much has happened, you are constantly evolving and changing and making memories. It’s important to take a moment to reflect on that in order not to take anything for granted. I’m thankful for having been given another year of life. Looking forward to the next year and what it brings.

4 Steps to Training Your Dog

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I AM NOT A LICENSED DOG TRAINER. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Whether you want to teach your dog basic commands like sit, down, stay, or walking on a leash or more complex tricks like shake, hi-five, or play dead (we’re still working on this one), these are my steps to training your dog.

Step 1: Give It Time
You will not teach your dog anything is a week or two weeks or three. You have to make a commitment to teaching your dog. House training is the hardest part of training a pup. It took months and lots of early mornings. It took not giving up when times were trying. If it helps, set aside time each day to work on their training, and as they learn, you’ll see you need less time.

Step 2: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Some commands will take less repetition than others. But other times, it will seem as much as you repeat a command and work with your dog, they will never understand. It gets boring and monotonous, but if you stop, they truly will never understand. Stick with it. Keep going.

Step 3: Grant Positive Reinforcement
We used a clicker with Stella, which they learn to associate the sound with positive reinforcement. You are not to use a clicker to gain your pup’s attention or as the positive reinforcement itself. Use in conjunction with treats and praise. Stella preferred Blue Buffalo’s Blue Bits training treats.Treat and praise them heavily when they do something correctly. Slowly ween them of treats when they are consistently doing what you want them to. Always praise.

Step 4: Stay Consistent
You can not teach your pup to sit and then think that he or she will retain it forever if you stop asking them to sit. Keep working with them after they have already been taught.

Stella is a very good dog. But she has her moments. She likes to play around and not listen, she still likes to jump up on people in public when she gets excited. Boxer’s are known to be stubborn. But she has learned to sit, stay, to leave it, and drop it, among her many other “tricks”. She’s house trained. We did take her to puppy training classes where they gave us tools to work with her. But it’s our hard work and dedication to her training that’s gotten her to where she is today. Don’t give up on your dog or think he/she is untrainable. They’re worth it.

Social Media Life vs Real Life

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In light of the events of the Taylor Swift/Calvin Harris split drama, I wanted to give my two cents on the whole ordeal. The life social media portrays vs actual real life for most people are two completely different things. We control what we post on our Facebooks, Instagrams, Twitters. Sometimes we get confused about knowing people based solely off the content they post online. When in reality we know only a very small slice of who they really are as a person and what they are going through.  Most of us don’t post the bad, everyday relatable life things we go through.

This is especially true for celebrities. We didn’t see anything wrong with Taylor and Calvin until they split. Even then, they put up a front saying the breakup was amicable leading us to believe they just weren’t right together. And believe we did until news about Talyor co-writing This Is What You Came For came out. There was a whole bunch of drama about who did what. They unfollowed one another; they deleted posts about each other as if their relationship never existed. The point is, if everything blew up in their faces despite their best efforts to lead everyone to believe they were okay with each other.

And we all have those friends who only post selfies with their significant others. *I am not bad mouthing these people or putting them down. They have created so many memories and are capturing them for safekeeping.* What I’m saying is these are the same people who don’t ever post about the bad stuff their relationship goes through. Because no relationship is perfect and there is always bad stuff. Fights, arguments, family problems. I’m guilty of this.

I’m not saying we should air our dirty laundry. All I want everyone to know is that we are all going through things. And we shouldn’t idolize anyone based on their social media life. We should take social media posts at face value and not make assumptions about their life beyond Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

A Day In The Life: Stella’s Beach Day

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While Stella is a social dog now, she hasn’t always been this way. As a younger puppy, she did not like new dogs. New humans were more than okay in her book, but every time she encountered a dog, growling and barking and other unpleasant sounds would come out of her tiny little body. Thankfully, she was still young enough that we were still able to successfully socialize her much less effort had she been older and stuck in her ways. It just took time, not giving up, and lots of butt sniffing (on her end) to get her comfortable meeting new pups. Now I would categorize her as a social butterfly.

Her days include going down to the apartment complex dog park and hoping that a friend is there for her to play and wrestle with. (I also hope for this as it will mean I do not have to entertain the little ball of energy.) Often, if no dogs are at her disposal to play with, I like to take her on walks so as to hopefully run into another dog to greet or a nice human friend that wants to pay mind to crazy, little puppy.

This weekend was a treat for little Stella. Avery and I took her down to the dog beach. She loves the dog beach. The times we have visited, there’s anywhere from 15-30 dogs roaming off-leash at this beach. She was in heaven. Places like this are great for dogs, especially in the summer. The dogs are, for the most part, well mannered. And I don’t even mind the crazy ones because mine is included in that group.

While Stella loves her toys and tennis balls at home, when she’s outside surrounded by friends, she is completely disinterested. So when other dogs were chasing down balls thrown out in the water, Stella spent her time chasing down those dogs. She splashed and ran and played her little heart out. We stayed out until us humans who weren’t frolicking in the water were sweaty and on the verge of overheating.

I love seeing my puppy playing and having the time of her life. She spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping off her exhaustion. It was a day well-spent for us both.

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How We Got Engaged

I had absolutely no idea I was going to get engaged. I had wanted to go to NYC during December and being the persuasive person I am talked Avery into the trip as well. We planned everything out about a month before our vacation. I determined all of the bigger outings like the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. But the one place I was determined to go to was the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

We left Austin right after my last final of the semester and got to NYC around 9 pm. I didn’t think this next fact was a big deal, but looking back, it definitely should have been a red flag. The entire time we were travelling, Avery asked three or four times if I was going to do my makeup. I knew we were going to try and walk around after we checked into our hotel. Turns out, he was planning to propose that night, but it didn’t end up happening because we got into the city too late. And the reason he kept asking if I was going to do my makeup was because my mom told him to make sure I looked good for pictures or I would be upset (she was right).

Cut to the next night, we went to dinner at John’s Pizza (best pizza ever, btw). And afterwards we walked to Rockefeller Center. While we were walking there, Avery started acting very strange. I can’t recall exactly what he was doing or saying, but I distinctly remember him acting odd. This led me to thinking, “Oh my God, what if he’s going to propose?!” I promise I had no idea, before that moment walking to see the Christmas tree, that he might be proposing.

It was confirmed in my mind when he asked me if we should ask the police officer to take our picture in front of the tree. I told Avery something to the effect of “No, wtf, why him?!” I don’t know if he didn’t hear me or didn’t care, but he went and gave this cop his phone anyway.

He came back, got down on one knee and proposed. Don’t ask me what he said because I have no idea. Had I been more prepared for it, I might be able to remember a detail or two. I was absolutely in shock. We had talked about marriage before this trip. But definitely nothing that indicated he would be proposing in the near future. Of course I said yes, after getting over my initial shock.

So on December 16, 2014, we got engaged. Avery later told me how nervous he was which would explain his weird behavior. Another red flag I should mention and should have noticed, but I’m oblivious, is my brother calling that day asking if I had specifically gone to see the tree yet. I didn’t think anything of it until after the fact. Avery had gone to talk to my mom a couple weeks before. So my whole family was anticipating it while I obliviously thought I was just about to have a nice, normal trip to NYC.

Here are some pictures of our trip and of the proposal:

College: Best Years of My Life

People say to enjoy high school because it will be the best years of your life. For me, that was definitely college. However, if you would have told me that my freshman year, I would have told you: no freaking way. But it definitely got better as the years went on.

Freshman year was difficult. Moving away from home was really hard on me, much harder than I anticipated. School was much harder than I expected it to be. It didn’t help that I was taking intro classes that didn’t pertain to my major, so I was pretty disinterested. BUT second semester was a turning point. I joined Texas Zephyrs, a service organization. I had thought a little bit about transferring schools, but this organization, and the girls that became such great friends to me, persuaded me to stay.

Sophomore year was definitely the year where I did exponentially better in school. And I was enjoying the more social aspect as well. I started hanging out with Andy, Martin, and Loren. We studied together. Loren and I hung out in the boys’ dorm room because it was closer to our classes than our apartments. I finally went to my first UT football game. I really threw myself into TZ and volunteering. I became really close to a lot of the other girls. (Shout out to Kat, Alexis, Marla, Ashley E, Noelle, Brenda, Olivia; miss ya’ll!)

By far, my favorite year of college was junior year. Loren, Andy, Martin, and I decided to rent an apartment together. This was by far the best/worst decision we could have made. I think they would agree with me on this. On the one hand, I had my best friends with me pretty much 24/7. On the other hand, I had my best friends with me pretty much 24/7 (what I mean by this is we definitely got on each other’s nerves…. A LOT). We had fun, though. I could always count on them for anything. Whether it was a ride to or from the library late at night or midnight snack run to the convenience store. I proofread more of Martin’s papers than I ever cared to. Andy and Martin liked to play 2K16 at midnight when Loren and I were trying to sleep. Living with them was an experience that I’m glad I can take with me into adulthood.

My seventh semester, AKA senior year, was not all that exciting. I was getting ready to graduate. I travelled to San Antonio pretty much every weekend to see Avery. I had an easier class load than previous semesters so I was coasting. It was basically one big countdown to walking the stage.

Overall, I had a great college experience. I met some of the most amazing people and had some unforgettable experiences. Looking back, I wish I could have done more. I would have travelled abroad. I would have tried to participate in more campus-wide activities earlier on in my college career. I would have joined a few more orgs. Hindsight is always 20/20. However, these are all lessons I can pass on to my future, UT-bound children.

Hook ‘Em!

I Talk To My Dog

 

I talk to my dog. I mean, there’s the usual things like commands telling her to sit, stay, shake, down, drop. I tell her good girl. And BAD DOG.

But when I say I talk to my dog, I mean I hold actual, one-way conversations with her. I ask her about her day. And I tell her about mine. I ask her what I should do about this or that. I walk her through what I’m making for dinner. I tell her what I’m thinking. I treat her as if she’s a human friend who has the capability of understanding and responding. (Sometimes, she growls at me, and I respond to her in a conversational tone and we just go back and forth that way.)

I realize that I’m not actually talking to Stella but really just talking aloud to myself. I sound like a crazy person. But I’m posting this in hopes of learning others do this, too.