Delaying the Inevitable or Fixing our Fate: Climate Change

***Warning: You are about to read an article of opinion. This content might produce feelings and opinions for some of my readers. If you would like to comment about your opinion, please do so in a constructive manner. I would love to hear your thoughts and give you the opportunity to respond, but unkind remarks will not be accepted. Thank you. -Elle***

When the state of Iowa was first settled, it was a giant forest. River to river was all trees and plants and so many other green things. Animals prospered and there was a natural way about the place. Now, there are fields after fields and houses and roads and cars and humans interfering with nature.

Lately, I have noticed the news and talk about climate change increasing. It’s a terrifying reality that makes me realize all of the harm humankind has caused this once-beautiful planet of ours. I know that this issue- the topic of climate change in general- is immensely controversial… but I have to get my thoughts out. I want to be able to leave this planet knowing that everything is going to be alright for those I am leaving behind. I am terrified that my 7 times great grandchildren won’t ever know what it is like to breathe clean air or to walk a street unlined with trash.

Ice caps are melting. Ocean levels are rising. The seasons are becoming inconsistent. What happens when we can’t fix the damage we, as a species, have caused?

It is in the best interest of humankind that every single person begin to consider the impact they have on this planet. If you decide that you’re a little scared, too, then join me in beginning to change your doily routine to help our planet. Walk or bike to work a couple times a week if you live close enough. Use reusable grocery bags when shopping. Ask for no straw when you go out to eat. Plant a tree. Pick up trash and recycle what you can. If you are in the market for new food containers, consider glass rather than plastic. Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth. Trade a tiny bit of convenience for a huge long term effect. If you don’t want to do anything physically, donate to organizations who do!

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

I am not advocating for everyone to be all in, super crunchy, or a tree-hugger… Even I am not any of those. I am suggesting that there are so, so many small changes a person can make in just one day that can have a lasting impact for years to come. You don’t have to make a whole lifestyle shift, but you can reduce your footprint by a shoe size or two. You don’t need to be rich or well-known to advocate for our planet. You don’t have to join protests or movements or organizations. You just have to commit to one or two things. And then once you have those down, consider adding something else.

This planet is important to me. My 7 times great grandchildren deserve to grow up in a non-desolate, beautiful place just like I did. Just like my 7 times great grandparents did. Let’s make a change, for the better.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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What a Wonderful Life: Graduation Edition

Where in the world has time gone?! Why is he growing up so fast?! I know my parents are thinking the same thing, but as the Big Sister, I have a different perspective.

My baby brother is all grown up. In less than a month, he will walk across the stage with all of his classmates, receive his diploma, and officially be done with high school. He will move out of the house he has lived in since he was two years old. He will begin a full load of college classes. He will officially be an adult. Say whaaaaaat?!

Day 1 of being a Big Sister. I look upset, but that’s probably because it they told me to look at the camera when I just wanted to keep looking at my Little Brother.

You see, it wasn’t very long ago that he was born. It was the middle of July and I was definitely looking forward to being a Big Sister. I practiced holding baby dolls so I would be prepared to hold my new Little Brother. I hugged my mom’s belly so that I could practice giving hugs to my new Little Brother. I was so excited to have him come into the world. Finally, my parents dropped me off at an aunt and uncle’s home so they could go have my Little Brother. I got to see him in the hospital the next day. My hair was in a ponytail and my bangs were curled (thank you, Aunt Sheila!). My mom let me sit next to her in the hospital bed… and I got to hold my Little Brother for the very first time. They told me his name- Austin John Kahler.

When other people came to visit, I would give them dirty looks because I couldn’t hold my Little Brother while they were (all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins wanted turns to love on the newest addition to our family). When my Little Brother and mom were able to come home from the hospital, my parents did a wonderful job of involving me in this new baby’s life, ensuring that I still felt important. I took my role as Big Sister quite seriously.

Over the next few years, I jumped at the chance to feed him and hold him, help him crawl and walk, show him how to get in the cupboards to play “waiter” with the Tupperware and how to tie his shoes. I loved being a Big Sister and I loved that I got to teach him all the things I knew.

Austin on his second birthday… yes, he had the classic bowl cut and he was quite adorable!

Before I knew it, he was growing up. He watched me learn how to ride my bike without training wheels… and consequently he was the first one to run to me when I crashed into a row of mailboxes. I watched him learn how to play sports and be part of a team. We were able to chase each other around our yard, run through the sprinkler, make snow angels, play catch with the baseball, and shoot basketball hoops together. For children’s time at church, we walked hand-in-hand to the front to sit on the steps together. He picked me up (with our Grandma Alt) after school and I showed him all the things I learned in Kindergarten that day.

Fast forward to middle school and junior high… we were still best friends and we went through a lot of trauma together. We stayed close, even during circumstances that would drive most siblings apart. We looked out for each other and worked hard to make life better for the other. He was my calm place and I was his rock.

Finally, it was my senior year- he was a freshman! We had a gym class together and he threw dodgeballs at me, all the time. I loved being able to pass him in the hallway and it was even okay with me when we pretended we didn’t know each other (he didn’t want me to embarrass him)… I left for college and he continued to excel.

This was the day he picked out Dymond from the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

Fast forward again and it was suddenly his senior year. I was looking forward to planning his graduation party and I was excited to see him in all of the sports he would decide to play this year. He ended up going out for Cross Country and Track (both of which he hadn’t been in before). He decided to go to prom with a group of friends! He has been living a wonderful life!

Senior Photo, summer before senior year
Photo Credit: Cody Croskrey of Cody Croskrey Creative

I am so proud of the young man my Little Brother has become. Words cannot describe how much I love him. I cannot believe that I am a Big Sister to an almost-graduated high schooler. No matter what he decides to do with the rest of his life, I know that he will put his whole heart into it. I look up to him (and not just because he is taller than me now). I am so proud of him. I cannot wait to be on the sidelines of the rest of his life, cheering him on.

Here’s to you, Little Brother. I love you.

*All of Austin’s senior pictures were captured by the talented Cody Croskrey of Cody Croskrey Creative.*

Growing Pains.

Spring has finally sprung and I am thrilled about it! The new season of the year has also brought a new season of life.

A few months ago, I succumbed to a deep depression yet again. I could hardly see a way out. I fell behind in all of the classes I was taking. I was highly unmotivated. The thought in my mind- playing over and over- was the statement, “I don’t know if I can survive this pain again.” This time in my life was so excruciatingly painful and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of my family.

I had a long talk with my mom over the phone one evening after a particularly difficult day. I was in Iowa City and she was in Hudson. She told me to come home that weekend and we could discuss options. Eventually, we landed on the decision that I would withdraw from my classes, take a couple weeks off work, see my doctor, and make more frequent appointments with my therapist. She helped me through all of it.

I stayed at home for the time that I was off work and my doctor suggested switching medications. My therapist and I began working intensely on Cognitive Therapy, which helps me recognize my thought processes, especially when the thoughts are more negative. We come up with alternative statements I can insert that are more positive. The more I use the positive thoughts, the more automatic they become.

During this transitional period, the point came up that if I was not going to be taking classes full time, that I needed to have a full time job. So, with some reluctance (because of the depression), some fear (because of the unknown), and some tears (because life wasn’t going how I planned), I started applying for anything and everything that sounded remotely interesting. And then I got a call…

I was asked to do a phone interview with a hiring specialist at Geico. You know, the insurance company with the green gecko? The phone interview was successful and I was asked if I would be interested in coming in for in person interviews. I had to get a blazer. I was in the offices for about five hours that day (interviewing, role playing as a customer service representative, interviewing again, testing on a computer simulation, and more interviewing). At the end of my final in person interview I was offered the job on the spot, and I excitedly accepted.

When Dymond wakes up she likes to snuggle, which makes for great photos!

I then realized that I would prefer to live closer to my future place of work (and my lease was almost up on my current apartment). I began to apartment search. I found one within a month of looking (in budget!) and I will be able to take my precious dog, Dymond, with me. We move at the end of next week!

It can be difficult to keep growing, both in life and as a person. There are always so many changes, for me at least. I am learning to breathe and live in the moment. I am learning, again, that my life doesn’t always go the way I think it should. I am learning that no matter what comes my way, I will be able to get through it.

Happy spring, everyone! I hope you are all growing with the beautiful flowers, too. -Elle Renee

Statement Jewelry: The 411 on Necklaces

Picking out the best necklace for an outfit can be tough! Here’s my take on what you could be doing to help pull your outfit together!

The first part of picking any piece of jewelry at the store is to consider your skin tone. Is your skin tone warmer or cooler? The best way to test this is to stand in natural light and look at your wrist. If your veins appear more green, you have a warm tone and if the veins appear more blue, you have a cool tone. There are also people with a more neutral skin tone, so the veins don’t appear more green or blue, but rather both! People with warm skin tones typically look really good in golds- yellow and rose, as well as copper and brass metals. Cool skin tones usually look really good in white gold, silver, and platinum. People with neutral skin tones typically pull of any metal really well. Skin tone, however, does not mean that you HAVE to only stick to the example above, but it can be a good starting place, especially if you are new to the jewelry world!

Shape: If you are wearing a top with a boat neck or crew neck, you should chose a necklace that is rounded in shape. If you are wearing a v-neck top, you should wear a necklace that is a v-shaped.

Length: In my world, there are three ways to wear a necklace- long, mid-short, or short! Your long necklace should end just below your bust and your mid-short necklace should end right around the top of your sternum. Short necklaces should end at least one centimeter above your neckline but not higher than three centimeters. Reasoning- The necklace could sit awkwardly on your chest or fall inside your shirt. Pearl necklaces, though, are one exception. They are meant to sit higher, more around the collarbone area!

Color: If you are not wearing a metal based necklace, you likely will go with something colorful! If you choose a pastel or a light/soft hue for your necklace, your outfit should have at least one other, bolder color or pattern. (Examples: Dark wash jeans, royal blue blouse, light pink necklace or light wash jeans, black and white patterned blouse, lilac or baby blue necklace.) If you chose a bold, bright hue for your necklace, your outfit should be more subtle to let your necklace do the talking. (Examples: Black jeans or leggings, flowy black blouse, bright red necklace or dark wash jeans, white blouse, green/emerald or blue necklace.)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is a great example of skin tone and shape! The woman in this photograph has more of a cool skin tone, so the silver goes well. The top she is wearing is a deep crew neck, so going with a rounded shape was good! The only thing I would change is the length of this necklace- It sits just a couple centimeters too high from the center of the shirt.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This necklace is a good example of something bold, not necessarily in color, but definitely in pattern and material! I like how the shirt and blazer are both neutrals, but in my opinion, the tan in her necklace would be better with a tan blazer. Also, I think that this necklace is just a bit too long and should sit about an inch higher so that it’s not in the middle of her chest.

A couple more examples:

Let’s say that you have some really amazing red shoes you want to wear. You could put together a really light wash of jean, a white blouse, and a bright red necklace. Add some bright red lipstick and your cool shoes will stick out, along with your necklace and lips! This creates three points of interest in your outfit, so you’ll know you look super great! One suggestion for an outfit like this is to ensure that your reds all match. If you have a bright red shoe, a purple-red necklace, and an orange-red lipstick… you’ll look like a hot mess.

What if you have a necklace made up of many colors? I would suggest letting the necklace be the star of the show. I would wear all black or dark wash jeans with a cream or tan blouse. Remember the shoe rule: black based outfit = black shoes and tan based outfit = tan shoes! If your necklace has both blacks and browns, go with a cream shirt, dark wash jeans, and black shoes!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know! -Elle

Back to Basics: by Elle

I believe there should be four basic parts to every woman’s outfit. Here’s what they are, with a few examples:

Every outfit needs a bottom, a top, a shoe, and an accessory.

The bottom can be a pant (jean, legging, slack) or skirt (upper knee, below the knee, maxi) and the top can be a blouse or cami. Obviously, we all wear shoes, so I will just explain the best types as I give outfit examples. Finally, we come to accessories. These can be anything from the blazer over a cami to a pair of statement earrings, from a bright necklace to a cute bag.

Outfit 1- Casual Daytime. Keep it simple with a light wash skinny jean paired with a black long sleeved t-shirt. Black boots or booties and a vest in a fun color or pattern. If black isn’t your color, try a navy top with brown booties!

Photo by Ambar Simpang on Pexels.com

Outfit 2- Office Wear. Dressy, yet comfortable and something you can be confident in. Try boot-cut, navy slacks with a cream, short sleeved blouse that isn’t too form fitting (nice and flowy). For shoes, go with tan flats or nude closed-toed high heels. Add a navy or red blazer and some fun lipstick for a pop of color!

Photo by Martine Savard on Pexels.com
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Outfit 3- Date Night. Cute, yet functional! Dark wash skinny jeans with a fun colored or patterned top (long or short sleeved). Booties, brown or black, depending on the color you choose for a top (navy or brown in the top = brown shoes, black or gray in the top = black shoes). Add a neutral cardigan and a fun bag, and some fun earrings in a unique shape or fun color!

Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

Casual Daytime, Office Wear, and Date Night are the three types of outfits most people use on a weekly basis, at least that’s what I think! Let me know if you have any comments or questions about building an outfit; I will be thrilled to answer and post more basics! -Elle

Here’s my example of Casual Daytime or Date Night! Photo Credit: Caraline Grebner

Self-image.

Worth. Perception. Validation.

Let’s be honest… I do not see me the way my mom does. She says that I’m beautiful and calls me “Princess.” Doesn’t everyone’s mom say similar things? Does anyone actually feel the way that their mothers say they are? Or is it just me?

For a long time now, I have hidden the fact that I am unhappy with my outward appearance. I have only truly expressed this to my mom. But there isn’t much that she can do, except for continuing to tell me that she thinks I am pretty and that she loves me. But there is still my mind, and it won’t allow me to feel the way my mom says I am.

The way that I look in the mirror has impacted every single aspect of my life. Every time I take a bite, I think of the saying “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” and every time I have to get dressed in the morning I put on stretchy leggings so that I don’t have to shimmy into another pair of jeans that is just a bit too tight. Every time I look in the mirror, I wonder how I got this way.

Now, some people are super confident in how they look, even if they aren’t models or celebrities who are shown in the media. That is such a wonderful thing… But let me tell you, the media and the way that I have been exposed to “skinny” as the only way to be pretty… that’s hard on the mind. That makes it hard to convince oneself that they are as worth it as any Covergirl.

My perception of others is never about the way they look. It’s always about how they treat other people and their attitude toward me and the world. I don’t know why I picture other people judging me based on the way I look; I don’t think that poorly of the world. It’s just the not-so-little voice in the back of my head doesn’t want me to perceive myself in a positive light. So, what’s a girl to do?

I know that I am not the first and I’m not the only person to feel this way, yet I still imagine myself as being all alone. That not-so-little voice tells me that my feelings and opinions are not valid because I won’t ever grace the cover of a magazine or walk a runway. The way that my brain associates words and phrases like “out of shape” and “unhealthy” and “fat” and ugly” when I look in the mirror makes me not feel at all human or valid in my humanity. I am not perfect, and that not-so-little voice can’t wait to point it out.

I have tried the fad diets and workout routines. I have never stuck to one. Not a single one. I don’t see the immediate gratification that I am so used to getting in this world, so I shut it down. And I look in the mirror. And I still don’t like what I see. It’s a cycle I haven’t been able to break.

This is a hard topic to write about, even in 2019. Even in a world more accepting than ever before… because even if someone gives me a compliment, I don’t take it seriously. I graciously say “thank you” and I store it in a box that the not-so-little voice never lets me access.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for me to be happy as myself without any weight loss or physical changes. It’s time for me to be real. Open. Honest. This will not be easy. I need to make myself feel better emotionally and mentally and make that not-so-little voice get smaller.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, this girl is going to start calling her friends and family more often. This girl is going to get a couple veggies at the grocery store this week. This girl is going to go for a walk and get a bit of exercise in. This girl is going to meditate and read her bible and go to therapy. This girl is going to focus on herself and what she needs to be happy. This girl… this girl is going to get it together, one way or another. -Elle

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Grebner

Pillars.

There are things in life that hold us up, even when we feel like falling down. Here are mine, in no particular order.

Family. My parents and my brother, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These are the people. These are the ones that love me, not just because of the shared DNA, but because they have seen me grow and live and love. These are the ones that I cannot do life without, because they support me, loudly, in all aspects of my life. From school right now to Wildflower Reflections by Elle Renee as a brand in the future, these are the ones who have my back. They hold me up.

Friends. New and old, from school and work and church. These are the people who choose to love me every day even though we don’t share an ounce of DNA. These are the ones who listen to me laugh and cry, see me smile and make me roll my eyes (especially at their lame jokes). These ladies and gentlemen are the ones who I turn to when I am having a bad day, a good day, or just any day. There is a huge, wondrous amount of trust that I have built with these people, and I tell them everything. They support me.

Faith. When I was younger, I went to church on and off and this pattern has continued throughout my young adult life. At the moment, I’m off, but it’s not because of my lack of faith. It’s because I have social anxiety and haven’t worked myself up to get to a service yet. Jesus saved me, just last year, and He has been saving me every single day since then. Without my God, I honestly don’t know if I would be here today. That’s hard to admit, but it is so, so true. I can do all through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). My Lord lifts me up.

It seems important for me to be writing about the good things I have in my life right now because, to be honest, I’m not doing well. I am writing this blog from my couch, at home, with my dog lying next to me. I missed class today and I will miss again tomorrow, but I need these couple days with my family. I need them to remind me that I am loved, especially now, as I find myself wandering down some dark roads, emotionally. This is not a ploy for attention; I don’t want to make anyone worry. I have promised you all that I would be open on this journey- so here I am, giving you my all. -Elle

Photo Credit: Caraline Grebner

Messy Buns and Getting Stuff Done.

I’m just building my empire… as a college student. Can you say glorious mess? 

It has been over a year from the beginning of this semester that I was enrolled in classes. I think that my brain forgot how to “school.” I have not been keeping up with my assignments very well… so I called my mom, freaking out.

She came to Iowa City and we bought a big calendar. We went through each syllabus for my classes and wrote all of the due dates for the rest of the semester (of course, each class is color coordinated) and it looks like a lot. But having everything all spread in one place makes it seem way more manageable.

When I was talking with my mom, I decided that I want to do more than just survive here, at the University of Iowa. I want to thrive. But for now, I need to just get caught up on five weeks of work and reading… so I put my hair in a messy bun and I am getting stuff done.

I set up meetings with all of my professors and have made plans to see them all at least once a week for the rest of the semester, even when things are going well. I have decided that I am going to do well here, somehow. I am going to do well, for me, and not just to fulfill the expectations of other people. I want this degree. I want to thrive. I want to do this well so that my future business does well.

I have also been praying, but not as often as I should. I said that I would be finding a church soon, and I will… I just haven’t done that yet. I’m meditating more and getting more exercise in, just by walking around campus. I am thankful to the Lord that I have the amazing support system that I do and that so many people are lifting me up and helping me out.

Okay. So the last five weeks haven’t gone exactly as I had pictured they would. I am on the hot mess express. I’m the conductor, I think. Hard work and tough effort don’t always feel great, and sometimes I just want to get off the train. But at least I am moving forward.

I have been emotionally drained, mentally tested, and physically exhausted. But at the end of every day, I acknowledge that I am happy that I am here and that I am taking the step to further my education. I’m proud of myself for making this effort to make my future self happy.

Here’s to the messy bun and to getting stuff done. Here’s to everyone else on this glorious hot mess express. -Elle Renee

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

First Week Line Up

The fourth week of college is finished. My style is already evolving to better fit the campus lifestyle by combining fashion and function.

Starting when I was in high school, I really began caring about my appearance and how I looked. When I was about a sophomore I would wear skinny jeans and a colored cami or fitted t-shirt with a button down cardigan in a neutral color. I wore sneakers or canvas slip-ons and added a patterned scarf or interesting necklace. I wore varieties of this outfit until near the end of my senior year, when I started introducing some sweaters and dressy tops. My hair was always “just so” and I used mousse every single day. I used bobby pins to hold it out of my face and I applied eyeshadow and mascara. It took me an hour and a half to get ready for school, including my shower. (Looking back, I thought I looked very pulled together. I looked smart and mature. It helped me feel like I could get more things crossed off my list.) Now, though, it takes me less than half an hour to put together a different type of outfit each day. However… after I get home from classes, (if I don’t have any other plans for the day) I slip right on in to leggings and comfy t-shirts.

I still like to dress up for class, and I had some pretty good outfits for the first week of school. Each day I wore a different wash of jeans and (because of the snow and ice) I put on my cute (navy and brown) snow boots. Here are the outfit combinations for my first week at U of I:

Monday- The goal for Monday was to look like I tried, but not too hard.. so I decided on a neutral green, cowl-neck sweater and dark wash skinny jeans. For earrings, I went with big, gold hoops. I picked cream sweater-socks that peeked just above my boots. Simple, classy, pulled together, yet completely comfortable.

Tuesday- I wanted to wear something pretty casual, but also something that didn’t make me look frumpy. So I went with the classic flannel. I have SO MANY flannels in SO MANY colors, but I went with the black base and white plaid option. Under that, I wore a plain white, v-neck, loose t-shirt. I picked a light wash, skinny leg for my jeans and I wore ankle socks (not visible) with my boots. My earrings were small, gold hoops with bright red fringe! I felt very cool in this outfit because of the basic colors in my clothing and the pop of color in my earrings.

Wednesday- I had one class and decided to revise my Monday outfit, since it was a different professor and most likely different students, I wasn’t worried about the repeat factor. I wore a charcoal gray cowl-neck sweater and dark wash jeans. I decided to be a little matchy-matchy and picked the same color of sweater socks (charcoal gray) that peeked above my boots. I went with the big, gold hoops again. I felt comfortable, yet cute and stylish in this outfit.

Thursday- On Thursday, I knew that I wanted to try a different style for the week than I had worn so far. So, I went with a medium wash for my jeans in a boyfriend fit and a plain black, v-neck, loose t-shirt. Over that, I wore a light wash chambray shirt (looks like denim, button down style). I chose to forego earrings and also wore my glasses this day. I still wore my boots (with unseen ankle socks). This was the most casual I had been, but I still was more dressed up than many other students, who had already succumbed to the sweatpants and t-shirt style. I was comfy and content in this outfit.

Friday- I decided to wear another flannel, This time I chose a white base with black stripes. I wore a medium gray, v-neck, loose t-shirt under the flannel and a medium wash skinny legged jean with unfinished bottom seams (which gives the jeans a little bit of a fringe effect). I wore light gray sneakers and no earrings, again.

Each day, I went for something a little different, but I chose options I knew I would be comfortable in. From walking to class in the bitter cold to sitting in overheated lecture halls and classrooms, I was super satisfied with all of the outfits I put together. Most of these outfit ensembles are super easy to replicate, so I definitely would encourage you to do so!

As class has gone on, I find myself relying on a few staple pieces in my wardrobe, all of which have been showcased in this blog. The first is a good, well-fitting jean. The second is a top that is comfy and functional, but cute. Third, I find that having some statement jewelry (for me, it’s usually earrings) has been essential to pulling together my outfits.

If you have any comments or questions you can leave a note here, on WordPress, or email me at wildflowerreflections@gmail.com! I would love to hear from you and see the outfits you put together! -Elle Renee

(Special shout out to my roommate who snapped these cool photos for me to post for all of you… Hayley, THANK YOU!)

P.S. Please enjoy some outtakes and bloopers as we were taking pictures for this blog!

Behind the Facade

I try to show how happy I am, but while I sit here trying to think of a fun blog topic, all that is coming through is anxiety and loneliness. No one told me it was going to be this way.

I don’t want this blog to be a pity party, but I do want to be completely transparent and utterly honest. Before this semester, I took a year off school. Not many people know the true reason why, but I feel it’s time to share…

I wanted to die. I wanted to no longer feel the pain of this world and I was ready to give up everything. I felt guilty for that because I didn’t want to leave my family with another trauma to deal with. I didn’t want to leave them, but I did want to leave me. I dropped out of community college and I quit my job. I voluntarily checked into the hospital for psychiatric help about a week before my 20th birthday… it didn’t help and I went home feeling completely worthless.

I spent three months on the couch, not showering some days. I just slept and watched Netflix and cried and slept some more. Eventually, I got in to see my therapist again, but it was slow moving. Progress wasn’t coming easily, and so I was referred to a psychologist. She changed my medication and, with continued therapy, I began to pull myself together. As I have posted before, I finally got a job and now I’m back in school…

Having big dreams is tough for me because I get discouraged while overthinking things (like how many people read my last blog and I wonder if anyone really wants to hear what I have to say). I want to continue to grow and build on the foundation I’m laying, but sometimes life just gets me.

I didn’t expect to be lonely when I got to the University of Iowa. I expected to be super busy almost all the time and I thought I would be hanging out with my friends more often than I have been. I also thought that I would be making friends at a faster rate, but so far it’s just been my roommates.

I miss my dog. So much so, that I considered getting another one. I love the company that my dog provides, but she really wouldn’t do well near the college campus. I miss her so much, in fact, that I am moving to a place she is allowed when my lease is up here (three months from now).

Here’s my silly girl, Dymond.

The number of times I have thought about throwing in the towel on this whole college thing in the few weeks that I have been here is astounding. Almost every morning when I am getting ready for class I think about going home. Nighttime hits me the hardest, though… when I am ready for bed, teeth brushed and pajamas on and just laying in my bed alone, I really crave being home. I want to be snuggled up with my dog and I want my mom to rub my back until I fall asleep. Needless to say, I am not adjusting as well as I thought I would to life on my own. I enjoy the independence and I appreciate that I don’t have anyone telling me what to do. But I miss having someone to go home to (whether it be a human or dog) and I miss being able to eat with my family.

I feel like I have been putting on a mask to get by these first couple weeks. My social anxiety has really been a hinderance on getting to meet people and do things here. My roommates are wonderful and I have enjoyed getting to know them, but I still feel alone. I thought that this whole experience would be going quite differently, so I think I am kind of shocked that I haven’t been doing well.

I have made an appointment to see a counselor through the university, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back into expressing my feelings in a constructive way. If anyone has any advice, I would love to hear it!

Thank you all for hanging with me while I get a grip, here. -Elle Renee