December 31, 2014

"Cheers to a New Year and Another Chance for Us to Get it Right" -Oprah

Well, the past 365 days have been nothing short of an adventure. There has been amazing days, good days, blue days, and pretty ugly days to say the least. 
Let's start with those raw, not-so-good moments first, since it's always nice to finish on a good note. :) Here is the ugly truth of 2014:

They say the first year or two of your marriage is the hardest. I never believed it. Logically, it didn't make sense. How could marriage be so difficult right in the beginning, when you finally got what you wanted? When you get to go to sleep and wake up with your best friend? When you get to cook together, laugh together, and travel together? When you get to stay up as late as you want eating Oreos and milk, while watching "The Office"? Well, after about six months of the "honeymoon stage", our marriage got really hard. 

Race and I fought a lot this year. The funny thing is, looking back, there wasn't really ever anything to fight about. We dwelled endlessly on insignificant things. I think we were just stressed about school and money and NEVER seeing each other, that we took our frustrations out on each other. There were times when we simply didn't want to be around each other. There were plenty of nights that we went to bed mad, and that is OK. We screamed at each other over who didn't do the laundry, and threw things at each other because the other person didn't read our mind. We learned a lot, to say the least, through trial and error. We learned our roles as husband and wife and best friends. I thought Race was my best friend before we got married, but I was wrong. I never wanted to gossip with him or talk to him about random things that happened that day, but now I do. We gossip together and laugh together. We really have become companions (like Frodo and Samwise). The last few months of 2014 have been amazing, because we haven't had many disagreements.. I think we're starting to finally get the hang of this marriage thing. ;)

I think one of the main reasons we fought so much is because Race was constantly gone. At first, it was hard to appreciate each other when we never saw each other. Sometimes, it doesn't even feel like I have a husband. Although I hate Race being gone so much, I can now attest to "distance makes the heart grow fonder". I've never loved him more, and it's because he's always gone! Probably the hardest part of our marriage can be attributed to basketball. He's gone most of the time, whether he's on the road or at practice (too many times a day) here in Cedar, and I get very lonely. Race has missed out on birthdays, celebrations, parties, and family gatherings. He's missed Christmas parties, left on Christmas and New Year's Eve, and hasn't been there when I needed him most. I know it's not his fault, but it's still hard on me. Not to mention last season and this season so far haven't been going all that well. It's hard for him to have worked so hard all of his life (he would eat, sleep, breathe basketball) and have it not pay off. Hopefully it will start to! It has put a strain on our relationship in some areas, but has strengthened us in most others. (It's interesting... As I write this "bad" list of 2014, I'm quickly realizing that most of the bad stuff has turned into good stuff. Weird!)

Financially, we were not great this year. I mean, we had just graduated high school, and we were both full-time student-athletes. Where were we going to find extra time to get jobs? We couldn't muster up any time to work. I heard the quote, "This is the time for small paychecks and big memories" a while ago. It couldn't be more relative to our relationship. However, we pushed through and are still pushing through (thanks to FAFSA, SUU, other scholarships, and our parents). I've never necessarily had to live frugally, but since I've been married, I sure know what that word means. And who knew being poor, married, college students would be kind of fun! 

I don't know whether to put the following in the "ugly" column or the "amazingly fantastic" one for 2014, because it's been both: I quit college golf. There, I said it. I think, in the beginning, it would have been characterized in the "ugly" portion of my 2014 list, because it took a lot of courage to quit the sport I loved, and to start anew. It was hard to tell people, when they asked, that I wasn't playing anymore. A lot of the time, I felt like I was a failure, and that people had looked at me that way. 

Many people didn't understand why I quit. They would say, "But you were so good and you could go so far in golf!" or "How are you going to pay for your school?" (That hasn't impacted my financial aid at all, thank you). Some would say, "You're wasting your hard work and talent!" The one that bugged me most was when people assumed I quit because I needed to be a wife. I was a fine wife already, thank you very much. I've always been independent, and pretty sure Race didn't need me to step up wife-wise. Anyway, I was just straight up embarrassed to tell people that I had quit. I'm not going to sugar-coat it with excuses. I QUIT, plain and simple. That was just fine in my mind, but it was so humiliating to tell people that I had given up golf, and sometimes I lied to people and told them that golf was going really good. Obviously, it wasn't, because I wasn't even on the team anymore. I got tired, after a while, explaining to people-with-blank-stares why I had quit. Essentially, I was tired of making up excuses. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I had quit not because I wanted to be a better wife, or see Race more, or get a job, or any of that. The reason was: I desperately hated playing golf. I loved the game, so so so much, and I still do, but I was just done playing it competitively. 

In high school, when this whole collegiate-athlete journey began, I had to force myself to sign my National Letter of Intent to play at SUU. I didn't want to do it, but I didn't want to let people down. I wanted to feel competent and feel that my years of hard work had not gone to waste. I didn't want to disappoint my dad, my golf friends and coaches, the community, or my future coach. Golf was all people ever wanted to talk to me about, and I felt like I owed it to everyone to play post-high school. I watched Race sign his NLI for basketball, and I felt like I would be missing out on something if I didn't play golf. I don't know why I was so worried what other people thought, because I had never been that way. However, I fell to that stupid pressure and signed the NLI anyway. 

When I was in high school, especially the last two years, I spent sun up until sun down playing golf. By gosh, it was FUN! I loved it, and I loved improving. After I won my second state championship in golf, it was like a switch flipped. It was strange. I didn't want to play anymore! The summer before moving down to Cedar, I played golf maybe 10 times that summer - if that many times. I just didn't have a desire, and I knew it would cost me when I went to SUU. I was terrified because I knew I wasn't going to play good in my first tournament. I got to SUU and immediately hated playing golf. I realized that even though I could be successful at golf, I didn't want to play it anymore. Each day, after four hour practices, I would come home and cry, and tell Race how much I hated it. Not because of my teammates or the coach or because I was struggling, but because I just hated it. I don't know why, but I didn't feel like that was what I should be doing at that point in my life. I was ready to move on from high school sports, and get my education. There was just a point, after four years of grueling athletics, that I was emotionally, mentally and physically done. I was successful in high school in both volleyball and golf, and I was ready to move on. So I did.

Since then, I think I've learned a really big lesson for my life: If you want to do something, then do it. If you don't want to do something, then don't do it. Some people won't agree, and that's okay. Quitting golf was one of the best decisions I have ever made, because I finally found the strength and courage to say "I'm not going to do this anymore", no matter the costs. I was lost for a while, I'm not going to lie. I didn't know what to do next, besides go to school. I struggled finding a job, and wondered if I had made the right decision. Through hours of prayer and talking to those closest to me, I decided that I had made the best decision for me, despite what others thought. I don't regret signing that NLI, and I don't regret playing at SUU, interestingly enough. And I definitely don't regret quitting. 

See what I mean when I say that I don't know if that fits in the good or bad column?

Should we skip to the good stuff? The things that make our hearts light and happy? Okay. :)

As difficult a year 2014 was, looking back, it was also full of some of the most wonderful and special moments. We became better at being husband and wife. We went on wonderful vacations to St. George, California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Alaska. We ate some really good food. I got Race hooked on my favorite show "The Office" and we laughed together until the wee hours of the night. Celebrated our first anniversary. Met new friends. Got church callings. Moved from a ghetto apartment. I think we both gained 5-10 pounds this year from eating oreos and milk every night before bed. We can't go without dessert. We both got all A's both semesters this year (hellllloo Dean's list!). I got Race to love whole milk just as much as me. I kind of learned to cook, but I now know I love to BAKE! We saw amazing movies, read impressive books, and went on soothing drives. I got a job in retail - so fun! I got Race to wear skinny jeans, hooray! We went to Disneyland, just the two of us... craving to go again! Anddddd..... You can now call us Aunt Carly and Uncle Race, thanks to the chubbiest, cutest baby Heaton ever! Being an aunt is the best role. I just wish I could see that little chunk more. 
I have a plethora of positive things on my "good" portion of my 2014 list, but I'm not going to lie, I think the happiest blessing this year has been getting a dog. I never knew I could love an animal so much! Gus drives us crazy most of the time, and has chewed on too many things to count. He's ruined our Christmas tree and countless cords (TV, Nintendo, Xbox, computer, phone cords, you name it), shoes, backpacks, purses, cosmetics, and even chewed our leather couch. He's basically ruined our apartment, so we don't have any hopes that we'll get our security deposit back when we move. He's completely ruined our carpet, and we are going to have to replace it. Luckily, he is a good boy when it comes to going to the bathroom outside, so our house smells wonderful always! :) He whines constantly, and gets us in trouble with our landlords. He's a big softy baby, but we love him anyway. Even after he completely causes destruction to everything in our apartment, and sleeps on my face, I still love him more than words can describe. Race is worried I'm going to want 10 dogs before I ever want kids. He just might be right. Oops. 

I can't forget to mention that in 2014, I started this blog! I really don't think anyone reads it, and that's okay. It is my way of releasing my feelings, frustrations, and goings-on in life. I am so grateful for social media and blogging!

In 2014, I learned. I've always been a learner. I'm always giddy to go to school, learn new things, and ace a test. I like to ask questions, gain knowledge, and change my opinion (though it be hard!). 2014 was a year of LEARNING!

I've learned patience this year. I've learned to be patient with myself, with God, with Race, with basketball and his coaches, with friends, with school, with jobs, and with family. I wasn't a very patient person before this year, and I am still not very patient now. But I am learning, and that's all that matters. I am more understanding and I have developed more empathy for others. I have learned to be an active listener, and care about what others care about. I have learned and gained qualities that I will need to be a professional in human services. I have learned and gained qualities to be a better person in GENERAL!

I have a lot to work on in my life, but I think I've become a better wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I have learned so much about my role in this stage of my life, and look forward to continuing my learning! 

I've never really been a very ecstatic, happy, enthusiastic person. I am kind of straight-forward, serious, and get-it-done type of person. I like to think that it's okay not to be giddy and happy all the time. That being said, I found this quote a few months ago, and I believe it's now my new favorite for my LIFE: "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here's to a new year, where I want to be useful, honorable, compassionate, and make a difference by living well!

Thanks, 2014, for teaching me things. That's all I really wanted. Now, I wonder what's in store for me for 2015! Last night, we went to Night at the Museum 3. It was kind of cheesy, but I loved the conversation at the end of the movie between by Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Larry Daley (Ben Stiller). Larry says, "I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow." Teddy replies, "How exciting!"

I think 2015 will be exciting. It's just a blessing to be able to have a 365 day long clean slate. And no, we won't have a baby next year. Or in 2016, 2017, or 2018. Maybe, just maybe, in 2019. :)


PS - Sorry this post was all over the place. I think it just symbolizes just how eratic this year has been!

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