Journey: Week Twenty-Three

Stop trying to make things perfect. 

"The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done."
I often find myself pining over things I want to have,  feel entitled to have, or wishing and dreaming of "the perfect life". Well, big reality check, thinking about things isn't going to accomplish anything. And although I've always known I need to work toward those goals, relationships and accomplishments, putting actions to words is no simple task.

Although the "perfect life" is completely fictional, I do want the perfect life that was meant for me. It's time to stop wishing and dreaming and start really digging in and doing. To start, though, I'm just going to focus on being thankful for what I already have...

  • My healthy son, no matter how rebellious he is acting at any given moment.
  • My beautiful puppy who is the sweetest dog, even if she wakes me up at 6AM to go outside.
  • My  amazing job and my incredibly supportive, encouraging boss.
  • My friends who keep a smile on my face and joy in my heart, even though they are often hundreds of miles away. 

I'll get to working toward the bigger things tomorrow. Really, I will.


Journey: Week Twenty-Two

Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. 

"Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you."

I am a true believer that all things happen for a reason. Tonight as I decided to pick back up with my journey, my faith was confirmed. I read the passage above and it spoke right to my heart. As if right now was the perfect time to read it, not a minute sooner.

These last few months have not been easy. There have been a lot of bumps in the road and I've caught myself getting stuck in worrying about the future. The worry would create anxiety, anxiety would lead to stress, and stress would lead to me not doing well as a mother, student, or employee. The clarity that I've received from this message has enforced me to really just put a break on things. To just stop a minute and smell the roses. Enjoy what's beautiful in life today, right now.  To not let anything pass me by, to drink everything in--the good and the bad. But especially not to let the bad times dominate my emotions, dictate my attitude, or suppress good memories. I want to live everyday like that

And so I shall [try], and I hope you do too.


Vicious I tell you!

Per my last blog post, you know I'm the owner of two little pups. Part of our new routine is going out around 7AM to let them do their business, then play around for a bit. They're very well behaved and already trained to where when I whistle, they come.

Today my neighbor had a few words for me about how I allow my pups to be in the lawn unleashed. They could attack his wife! They could bite him or an innocent passerby! They could get vicious in a split second!

And you know what? He's so right. I'm going to leash them every time I take them out for the well being of the residents here. I wouldn't want anybody to get injured by these ferocious beasts.


If three is a crowd, what is four??

I can hardly believe that PJ is turning five next weekend (August 18th) and then starting Kindergarten (August 21st). He's a little sponge soaking up all the information and experiences around him. It's astonishing how fast time flies and how quickly he grows.

I  remember talking to PJ on his birthday last year and asking him what he wanted. He specifically said "I want to be 5 years old, mama. And I want a doggie!". It looks like this year both of his wishes came true. 

Please meet Roxy (left) and Angel (right)  the newest additions to our family.

It all started weeks ago when I dropped by the Humane Society to get some puppy-therapy*. The HS is right around the corner from my apartment, so it's not unusual for me to drop by and play with pups (you know you do this sometimes, too!!!). While I was there playing with the two black puppy labs, Banjo and Jack, I started seriously considering adopting one. Then rational thoughts kicked in and I talked myself out of it. I couldn't just buy a puppy on the whim. I need to think it over. Then think it over again. Then ONE more time just to make sure I want to deal with a puppy. 

While re-writing my pros and cons list for the fourth time, I was scrolling through the "Pet" category on Louisville Craigslist. That is where I saw them. The title of the ad was "Beautiful puppies need forever homes", and I think I beat some sort of record for fastest phone call dialed to see if either had been adopted yet. To my surprise and luck, they weren't! 

So the next morning I drove an hour outside of Louisville to go meet these incredibly gorgeous puppies and to pick out which one would come home with me. It turned out that they were in horrible, neglectful living conditions. The people who were re-homing the pups had kept them outside with their Mom as well as 4 other adult dogs. No kennels, no leashes, no invisible fence, nothing.  The puppies were sweet as could be and I fell in-love instantly. I paid the people and said I'd come back first thing the next day (Saturday) to pick up one of them, giving myself that evening to puppy-proof my house and buy all of the things I'd need.

Saturday couldn't come fast enough as I took PJ with me this time on the hour long drive to surprise him with an early birthday present--A PUPPY (note that I said A puppy, singular)!  As we pulled up to the people's house, the lady and her daughter were outside looking for the puppies under the porch (where they normally were found in the mornings). They weren't there. They then looked on the other side of the house, in the woods, down near a pond, in their neighbors barn, and before I knew it two and a half hours have gone by and we're still looking for these lost pups. We had hope that they're okay because the Mom dog and one other adult dog were missing too, so we figured they were all in a pack together out playing in the woods.

It started to rain and I decided to finally take PJ home as it came close to the 3rd hour. I was pretty devastated leaving without the pups and my imagination was running rampant with a thousand different things that could have happened to them. Maybe someone stole them. What if they drowned in the pond? What if a larger animal attacked them in the woods? Or worse, what if they were road kill. I tried to push everything out of mind and keep cheery and positive for PJ, who was sad that his surprise had gone missing also. Besides, it looked like an all out thunderstorm was approaching and that would surely flush them out of the woods and bring them back home.

Come Sunday morning, and after a huge thunder storm, the puppies and adult dogs were still not home. I had given up hope and decided to let go of the idea of even getting a dog--I guessed it just wasn't meant to be for now. 

Monday I was working like normal and around 10:00AM got a call from the woman telling me that the puppies showed up! She told me how the two adults had actually shown up late on Sunday evening and how they thought the pups wouldn't return home since the adults abandoned them. Then late morning on Monday the pups came out of the woods and trotted up home together. I was SO overjoyed and ecstatic after I hung up that phone. They survived, and I was still going to get my puppy!!!!

I went right after work (my third hour long trip, mind you) to get the puppies. This time the people put them in a kennel so there was no chance of them running off again. They were in horrible condition. Ticks, fleas, mud, and who knows what else. I couldn't choose just one, so I took them both. Once I got them home they immediately were given tick and flee baths while all kinds of souvenirs from the woods were washed out of their fur. In total there were around 25 ticks pulled off of both pups and we're still taming the flee issue. As of  now they've been to the vet to get shots, de-wormed, and examined for any injuries. Both are a-ok.

Although some people may think I'm insane for taking on this responsibility, I couldn't be happier to be the owner of the Solider Sisters. Plus, PJ is loving his new best friends. All around, these dogs have been a huge blessing in our lives and we are so happy to have them.

* A whole lot cheaper than hiring a shrink! Holding puppies just makes me happy!


Journey: Week Twenty-One

Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. 

" The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly."

Ain't that the truth. I don't know how many times I've said "hind sight is always 20/20", and for good reason! So many times I've made rash, quick decisions without thinking it out. So many times have I come to a very harsh reality of consequence and the road of tough lessons because of just that. But, I believe that having the patience to step back and see the big picture of situations as opposed to the tunnel vision of the "here and now" comes only in time and after making plenty of mistakes.

And, I'm not sure I'd even call them mistakes. I've come to accept and realize that everything in life happens for a reason. Some situations may be more negative than others, but there is something to be learned from everything. That said, I've become a big fan of taking a step back and thoroughly thinking through my decision rather just plunging in.  I think...just maybe, I'm actually becoming a responsible adult!! How did THAT happen?


Journey: Week Twenty

Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. 
"Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right."

This is a beautiful and profound message. Just think on it one more time: Your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe it anyway.

This journey has taught me to be comfortable with who I am and with the choices I've made (and continue to make). The message this week really solidifies and builds upon that lesson and I love that! Without following my heart and standing strong upon self confidence and determination, I doubt I'd have accomplished nearly what I have so far in life. And I'll shamelessly admit, I'm pretty darn proud of myself! Unfortunately though, I definitely recall times that I've looked back and asked "what if" in regards to a situation I didn't take advantage of due to doubting myself and/or caring what others thought. I have quickly realized that I much prefer to live my life with no regrets, only lessons learned- the good... and the bad. 

So, here's to following our hearts, self confidence, and determination. Cheers!

If  you're reading about my Journey the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here


Welcome the Frugal Rican!

Mario works at a financial institution and has a huge passion for money. When he’s not working, hitting the gym, or spending time with his better half, he shares many tips about anything and everything money related over at Humorous, but practical, this blog is a great read and awesome if you’re learning how to budget, cut back, or keep money in the bank! In this day and age, I’ll take all the help I can get! Be sure to check him out (also on twitter: @frugalrican), but not before reading his guest post here at Life of Ikkins first! Enjoy.  

  • Tampons
  • Lip Gloss
  • Hair Brush
  • Compact
  • Wallet
  • Gum
  • Hand cream
Any woman reading this right now immediately recognizes this as the everyday contents within their purse. Every guy that just read this, thought this was a random list of my just spouting out objects for absolutely no reason at all.

As the Frugal Rican, I've had my own share of personal experiences when it comes to saving money, but I never figured that gender would be a major reason and influence when it comes to how much I could possibly save over the length of my lifetime. Out of those 7 items I listed, I currently carry only one: Hand cream.

Just kidding.

Most men carry a wallet with the basics: Cash, cards, phone numbers. That's it. There are no personal items, there are no emergency female articles, and definitely no "beauty" products to powder our noses. It's this great divide that seems to hold us back from understanding why women spend so much sometimes. It seems like being female comes at a quantifiable cost that males cannot understand and it wasn't until I WANTED to understand, that I came to actually begin to comprehend, how much more it can cost to be female. Yep, you read correctly, just your gender alone can determine how much you are going to spend and how much you are going to save.

I definitely don't worry about having a spare tampon laying around, nor having a hand cream to moisturize with, nor does having a hand brush ever come across my mind. And if you are completely curious, I scoured the internet for lists of the most common things that are found within a woman's purse (including asking Nikki) and then compiled a much more condensed version based on those lists. I was surprised and, yet, not surprised at the same time to see such a huge difference in just the common objects that women carry around that men do not.

It's a harsh world, in these economic times, so I do feel a hint of compassion with all the women that are trying to save while still trying to be feminine. It isn't easy, but at least you have one more that understands your pain. Stay frugal, ladies. Hopefully one day we'll definitely understand what you, as a gender, must go through to keep us all smiling.


Journey: Week Nineteen

Stop letting others bring you down to their level. 

 "Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs."

Sorry I'm so late on getting this weeks post up! I've been busy with finals and some events over at Scary Mommy. I also have some really exciting news to share, but I'll announce that later this week (how's that for suspense?)!! And now on to my thought for week nineteen's theme....


I think that's the shortest review for this Journey so far.

In other totally unrelated news, I went to a gun range for the first time today!! I was initially pretty nervous and completely unsure of what to expect. Once I shot the first round I felt right at home though and I can't wait to go back again!

If you've ever gone shooting, let me know how your experience was in the comments!

Almost hit the bullseye!


Journey: Week Eighteen

Stop holding grudges. 

"Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time."

I could blame and hold grudges against a lot of people for a LOT of things that (I feel) have "gone wrong" with my life. But, ultimately as I've learned over the years, the definition of "gone wrong" is simply another opportunity to grow. I learned this at a very young age and am a very lucky woman that I did so.

Through my eventful youthful years I have experienced several agonizing situations. And you  know what? I have become the person that I am today because of those experiences. So, in short, what I'm really trying to say is that there is no way I would ever hold a grudge. If it weren't for those situations, those hard times, those lessons learned.... who knows where or what I'd be in life today. And today, I can say with absolute certainty and confidence that I have already achieved many of my dreams and goals. Today I am one happy girl with a beautiful healthy son and the most wonderful friends.

So, the bottom line is, in a way that I don't even want to admit (especially to a select few people), I am really saying "thank you" to all of those individuals for helping me become a better person.

On a side note, I'm going to be 23 in  one hour and fifteen minutes. How did THAT happen!? 

Until next week....


Journey: Week Seventeen

Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
"Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be."

Guilty as charged!! I wallow and complain and whine and cry about past situations and I'll be the first to admit it. After reflecting on the past several years of doing just that I've realized it has only ever gotten me to a deep dark pitiful place. Sure, everyone needs to vent and talk about past situations, but wallowing in that pity is a whole different story. 

I am of the belief that everything happens for a reason. At some points I screamed "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!" to the Universe, but let me tell you,  hind sight is always 20-20. I've slowly but surely learned that every situation is a blessing in disguise. 

No matter what I've walked through, good or bad, I've been blessed to have learned from it, grown, moved on, and become a better person than I was. Those lessons and strengths have been the only thing that has gotten me through the past five (almost six) years. 

If you're going through this same thing, good luck! And trust me, I'm preaching to the choir on this one! It's a daily battle.

If  you're reading about my Journey the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here


Yep, I'm in love

I’m completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love!!!! I knew at first sight that it was meant to be. Perfect and wonderful and everything I’ve ever wanted!!
My new blog design, that is!!! I mean, just look at it!! It gives me warm and fuzzies every time.
If you recall, last year in September Katie from Priceless Design Studios revamped my blog. Well, I was itching to change it up around here and yet again she has absolutely amazed me with her work.
So, welcome to my new look!! Hope you love it as much as I do!!!
And please, please, please, check out Katie at Priceless Design Studio if you ever need anything! She is a miracle worker!


Journey: Week Sixteen

Stop being jealous of others. 

"Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Well, that was pretty loaded. Of course everyone is jealous of something or someone at any given point in life. Would I love to be a successful individual who lives to where money wasn't an issue? Or envious of others who don't have to bear the burden of single parenthood? Or jealous of certain friendships or relationships? Hell yes! Do I drool over their lives and try to live vicariously through these people by watching reality TV, pouring over tabloids, or sitting around daydreaming about "what if that were me"? Absolutely not. I have way too many other things that demand my time and attention than to waste energy doing that. 

I have no clue what I possess in life that anybody else would want but honestly it doesn't matter to me. My son and I live comfortably, we always have food on the table, and we're happier than ever. Life is too short to focus on envying others, live and let live.

If you're reading about my Journey the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here


Journey: Week Fifteen

Stop trying to compete against everyone else.

"Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only."

The only thing I can think to share for this week in regards to the particular theme is a quote I just recently read out of Bethenny Frankel’s book Place of Yes, “Life is easier when you settle for less than your dreams, but "good enough" is not good enough for me." In my opinion, those are words to live by and as long as I'm going after my dreams, while I hope for the best for others, I'm too focused on my path to worry about how I'm doing in comparison.

In other news non-related to this week’s theme, I wanted to share some pictures of my recent trip to Virginia/Maryland. I was blessed to be able to go on vacation the entire week and I had an amazing time catching up with old friends and family. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip:

PJ at the park

My first wine tasting!

Meeting Jill!
Spending time with my sisters Madison (7) and Dani (25)

And I got to come home to a wonderful belated Easter dinner. This steak was so incredible, and the picture is too awesome not to post.


Clerks 2

It's been WAY too long (7 months to be exact, yikes!) since my last pop culture update, so I watched Clerk 2 yesterday! And the verdict is....I'm drooling over this movie! I absolutely loved it. So much that it’s probably in my top 5 favorites of all time!

I laughed from the beginning scene through the entire movie. This is also the only movie I’ve ever seen that was able to successfully balance crude humor, romance, and deep sentiment. Kevin Smith did a phenomenal job.
A few favorite things:
  • Pillow pants. Now THAT is funny shit.
  • The Lord of the Rings references/jokes. "One ring to rule them all" LOL!
  • I think it’s awesome that Kevin Smith played the role of Silent Bob… “I got nothing”
  • I think it’s even more awesome that a lot of the cast were friends of Kevin Smith’s from college and they all got together to do the movie.
  • Rosario Dawson. Need I say more?
  • Sometimes I just sat there thinking "What the F?!" but in a way that was something I really loved about this movie--there was always a twist! Kelly and the stud, anybody?
Ahh, I’m so excited to have watched such an awesome movie. I’m going to watch Clerks soon, too.
21 down...69 to go....
The List:

12 Monkeys
A League Of Their Own
American History XAnimal House
Best in Show
Better Off Dead
Big Trouble in Little China
Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure
Blade Runner
Blazing Saddles
Boondock Saints
Bull Durham
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Casino Royale
Clerks 2Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Daze and Confused
Evil Dead II
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Field of Dreams*
Fight Club
Lethal Weapon I
Life as a House
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
My Blue Heaven
Naked Gun
National Lampoon's Vacation
Office Space
Pale Rider
Planes Trains, and Automobiles
Policy Acadamy
Pulp Fiction
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rambo: First Blood
Raw Deal
Red Dawn
Reservoir Dogs
Robo Cop
Run Lola Run
Say Anything
Sixteen Candles
Stand By Me
Star Wars: A New Hope
Star Wars:Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator: Salvation
The 6th Day
The Big Lebowski
The Breakfast Club
The Godfather
The Golden Child
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
The Goonies
The Jerk
The Karate Kid
The Natural
The Professional
The Shining
The Three Amigos
The Usual Suspects
The Warriors
Top Gun
True Lies
True romance
Young Frankenstein

Is this your first time following my Pop Culture Challenge? Read what it's all about here


Journey: Week Fourteen

Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work.

"In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you."

I’m traveling this week so I apologize for the delay in getting this post up! 

Taking a step back looking at the big picture, I absolutely agree that every person comes into your life for a reason. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people (recently and in the past) and I’ve also had the misfortune in getting mixed up in some bad crowds. Whatever the situation, I’ve found that every person brings something to the table whether it be a learning experience or love and laughter, there is a purpose for everyone.

It’s very eerie that this theme has fallen on this particular week given the context of some recent events. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting an incredible person who has brought a lot of light and laughter into my life. It has been absolutely terrifying and exciting at the same time. I’m trying to keep an open heart and mind while staying in my “safe zone” and laying low like I said I would in Week 12. Fate has a funny way of twisting things though, so we’ll see what happens. 

If you're reading about my Journey the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here. :o)


Journey: Week Thirteen

Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons.

"Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely."

I’m working on this. I really, really am. I’ve been learning how to embrace loneliness in a very healthy, fun way. And you know what? It sucks a lot. More than a lot. I’m often feeling unhappy or just plain sad being single, but I know that I need this time to find myself. Then and only then will I be able to enter into a relationship.

Life has recently thrown a wrench in my "master plan" (always has a way of doing that, huh?), but for the moment, I will continue to overcome loneliness and embrace contentment. It's only fair to myself and any person who I hope to be able to make happy in the future

If you're reading about my Journey the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here. :o)

P.S. Can I just give a huge shout out to the University of Louisville!? Made it to the Final Four AND are playing our arch rivals, the University of Kentucky wildcats. Unbelievable, way to go guys! Go cards!!


Journey: Week Twelve

Stop thinking you’re not ready.

"Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first."

I literally half-snarl, half-grunted when I read the title of this week’s theme. As I type this, I still haven’t read the blurb on it. Here goes nothing…..

Well, it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of classic clichés. Clichés that sometimes make me want to gag (even though I know it’s true), like “all great things take time”. But you know what? Internally I scream “I don’t want to wait, I want my great thing and I want it now”. The typical impatient attitude, right? Come on, you know you do it too! I refuse to believe I’m the only one who operates that way. But, I digress…

I found the blurb to be refreshingly different. Instead of the well-meant “all great things take time” being shoved down my throat, this theme said “you need to step out and take chances in life when opportunity presents itself”. And, as many of you know, I love adventure. “Stepping out” might as well be my middle name. With that said, I think it’s still safe to say I’m going to continue laying low for a while. At least until I’m done with this 30-week Journey, that is.

To all of you readers that may be playing it safe and not taking a chance on an opportunity, I hope this helped you in some way. I want to encourage you because you will never make a mistake stepping out, every situation you go into will teach you something (take this from the woman who has lived through enough experiences to last a lifetime). Who knows, that opportunity may just change your life for the better. You won't know until you grab it by the horns!

Until next week…