2 Years Since I Last Blogged?! How’s Everyone Doing During the Pandemic?!

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WOW! It feels like yesterday I started my little mini-blog, but it’s actually been four years and it’s been two years since I’ve been on. HOW?!

I guess I lost desire and motivation to continue because I didn’t gain a huge following – but hey, that’s the joy of it being a blog, right? You can write for no one, even just for yourself, and if people happen to stumble upon your content and like it too, that’s even better!

SOOOO what have I been up to for 2 years, one might ask (other than trying to survive this pandemic with the rest of the world)?! In January of 2020, I finally graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Although I finished my last two years of school online and my “graduation” consisted of me hitting ‘submit’ on a screen in the loneliness of my tiny apartment kitchen in the middle of the day on a Thursday, it was still, by far, one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I felt so accomplished and I proceeded to dance around my apartment with my dog.

I worked in long-term care both while I was in school and after I graduated and, of course, continued through the throes of COVID-19. In late April of 2020, I tested positive for COVID-19 and, although I was very ill, I am blessed to say I never had to go to the hospital and I survived. I will never forget the day I just KNEW I had the virus and I was filled with total dread… So here’s that story: It was Friday, April 24th (sad I didn’t even have to look at a calendar for that, it’s just that memorable) and we found out our first employee and first resident at the facility I was working in were positive for the virus. Now, mind you, this was AMAZING at the time because most facilities around us were absolutely drowning in COVID by mid March – but here we were, almost in May, thinking we were really going to keep this thing out, but this dreadful day came. We were donned in full PPE, going about our day, trying to keep our residents isolated and safe, and with it being Friday, we were preparing for another week ahead – a new one, with COVID. I was changing out the employee masks (we all received one mask per week and I had the awesome privileges of changing everyone’s nasty mask out for a shiny new one) and I remember telling my coworker I didn’t feel right. She told me I was probably overtired and that whatever I was feeling was probably psychosomatic since we knew we had likely been exposed. My heart was racing, I was sweating (it was 30 something degrees out and I was in a basement that wasn’t too warm), and my head was pounding. I drank some water and continued my day as there was about an hour left. As I was leaving work, I said to my coworker, “see you in 10 to 14 days” just knowing. She laughed and told me I was nuts. That night, I made a lovely meal for my boyfriend (now fiance, we’ll get there) and I from a new cookbook I had. Man, no matter how much garlic I put in there, I couldn’t smell it. Now I really started panicking. It was time to eat – couldn’t taste it. FULL panic and feelings of impending doom set in. The next morning when I woke up – I could feel my heartbeat through my whole body, my lungs were absolutely FILLED with phlegm, and I had a high fever. Off I went for a COVID test, already knowing what my fate would be, and the following day I got the call saying I was positive for the COVID-19 virus and that my local board of health would be contacting me. It took 9 days for my heart rate to reduce from the 130/140s… I thought I was going to stroke out at 26 years old. It took me approximately 10 days to feel well enough to return to work and normal life, although it took 3 months to regain my taste and smell. I think that was the worst part of my experience, if you ask me, because I love food, especially my daily coffee. I was a sad, sad camper. I became very fond of Tabasco sauce during this time as it was the ONLY thing I could taste – only because it left a zing on the tongue! LOL

After my own COVID experience, I returned to work and, let me tell you, it was the worst experience of my entire life. Working in long-term care pulls at your heartstrings on a daily basis as it is, but when your residents can’t see their loved ones, are taking their last breaths alone with just you by their side, are dying by the day, it only sets you up for heartbreak. All I have to say is – to anyone out there that lost a loved one to COVID-19, my heart is with you. This virus was nothing we expected or were ready to handle.

My heart aches just seeing this and remembering how I felt.
Can I just say… those plastic face shields HURT.

In July of 2020, I finally completed the last of my 11 operations for my skin graft removal. It was a painful two years of medical treatments, but so worth it. I am so happy with the results and can’t wait to put my new body to use when I am pregnant someday… which will hopefully be within the next couple of years because……..

In July of 2020, I said yes to being Mrs. Cousineau! Photo by: @stephanieberensonphotography

Then, in February, 2021, we decided to pack up our little life in the tiny apartment we had dwelled in for 3 years and we moved down the east coast to Florida to join my family! We couldn’t be happier. While it was quite an adjustment period when we first came down, we are thriving and can’t wait to soon buy our first home and finally tie the knot!

What a whirlwind of a couple years it has been! And yes, I am still a total bibliophile – I read the entire Harry Potter series (yes, finally as an adult, yes) and it was amazing! I was gifted a Kindle Paperwhite (https://amzn.to/3lxvVJp) for my birthday and I have been LOVING it! For Amazon Prime members, Prime Reading is amazing! There are a slew of free books offered monthly for prime members and it’s great for bibliophiles like me who either don’t know what to read and don’t want to spend money on a “maybe,” or if you simply can’t afford a book.

I can’t wait to continue blogging and doing some book reviews! Follow me on GoodReads to see what I’m reading now 🙂

Online University.. Anyone else out there?

I attend university online… Are there any other bloggers out there that are on that journey too?

Allow me to rant for a second.

ONLINE. SCHOOL. SUCKS.

I have never so desperately wanted to sit in a classroom and have a professor lecture me. It is absolutely impossible to find the motivation to sit down, on your own time, open up your computer, and do the readings and assignments that need to be done.

I don’t know about you guys – but when it comes to reading a 31 page article, I can’t read it all on a computer screen. I have to print it so I can write on it, highlight, take notes, etc.

Do. you. know. how. much. ink. I. go. through…?

At this point, I may have spent more money on ink than my tuition.

Also, online school is so impersonal. I don’t know what my classmates look like, half of them are halfway across the country/actual Earth, and the most I know about my professors are from a shpeal they write at the beginning of the term and a little tiny icon picture of them.

As an actual physcial college student, I used to love to go to my professors after class or during office hours just to get that extra leg of help or confidence I may have needed. Now, it literally feels like I am on my own. To teach myself. To be the professor and the student.

Not to mention, these online classes are 8 weeks long when a real semester is 16. SO you’re doing DOUBLE the work.

And my not-so-smart self decided to take 2 classes at a time (which categorizes you as a full time student) and MY OH MY is it a LOT of work!

So this whole thing brings me back to my Time Management post… because I SUCK at it. Any advice on time management and how to organize my time to include homework, blog posts, and reading?

I’m personally feeling unmotivated, unproductive, and completely debilitated. Someone motivate me!

On the upside to all of this, my new books came in yesterday:

  • How To Walk Away – Katherine Center
  • Girl Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
  • A Spark of Light – Jodi Picoult

I am so excited I don’t know which one to start with! Most of the bloggers I follow have either read these or are currently reading them and no one has had a bad thing to say about any of them, which makes for a harder decision! Thoughts on these reads?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Saturday!

xo – liv

Time Management… Any Planner Tips?

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BOY am I HORRIBLE at time management.

Mostly attirbuting to my laziness or carelessness, but also greatly due to lack of motivation.

I’ve been obsessed with planners/agendas my entire life. My go-to planner for years has been the Day Designer for Blue Sky. I find it affordable for a planner (they can be upwards of, like, $70! I love planners, but I kinda love my bank account a little more). Not only affordable, but definitely has a lot to offer! There are sections for yearly goals, achievements, monthly plans and reviews, contacts, birthdays, and more. There are monthly calendar layouts and also weekly layouts. I’ve been using this planner since the beginning of college (circa, 2012) and love it!

If I weren’t a broke college student, I would definitely purchase the Erin Condren LifePlanner. They can be purchased on Amazon or you can personalize one online on her website ErinCondren.com.

Now… some people might be thinking, “what about bullet journals?”

LOVE the idea of bullet journals, but my artistic skill level is subpar to that of a preschooler’s. I’m constantly scrolling Pinterest and looking at/re-pinning bullet journal pins and I’ll sit there and drool over them. Then I will make up this idea in my head that I will start one! The minute I begin to come up with an idea and put the pen to the paper, it’s game over. I can’t draw. I’m not creative. I may be creative and eloquent with words, but not artistically with drawing, painting, crocheting, none of that.

Physically, I was an artist my entire life. I was a dancer – I attended college for dance. So yes, I’m creative, but not when it comes to creating images on paper.

How many of you out there make and follow bullet journals? I’d love to see your ideas and hear your inspiration!

When it comes to my planner, I’m always really excited to fill it out, but I’m really bad at actually following what I wrote down. Any tips?

I sometimes become lazy and recently, since my surgery, I’ve become very isolated and lonely and my depression has kicked in. My motivation and time-management are totally depleted. Any advice?

I’d love to hear from some of you and see your ideas!

Happy Sunday!

xo – liv

New Year, New Me? No.

It’s that time of the year. It only comes once. The one-month span where everyone’s like “New year, new ME!” all over your social media feeds.

 

Shut up. Get real. Y’all woke up the same on January 1st as you did on December 31st.

Except you might’ve had a little more of a hangover that day.

Then there’s the whole “new year resolutions” cliche too.

 

If you ask me, these ideas that come with the new year are actually just filled with PRESSURE. 2017 sucked (for myself), more or less, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to slave my mind over making 2018 the greatest year that ever happened. You can’t plan a year. You can barely plan tomorrow. Nothing is ever guaranteed. So instead of trying to make 2018 the best year of your life, try to make TODAY, this MINUTE, the best.

Here’s a long, long, yet still abridged story of my life the past 5 years. My proof as to why you can’t plan shit these days.

I grew up making plans for myself. Plans that I thought I could see being accomplished as clear as day. I wanted to be a dancer – go to college for dance, open my own studio, perform on big stages with professional companies… OKAY… So the first part happened. I went to college for dance back in 2012. The master plan I’d had since the age of 5 was officially on its way.

Remember how I just said “you can barely plan tomorrow?”

One month into my college career as a dance major, I fractured my ankle. Who needs ankles to dance?! Oh yeah, everyone. So that sucked.

A month later after I recovered and was back in the studio, my grandmother passed away 3 days before Thanksgiving. I found out over a phone call and was the only grandchild who didn’t get to say goodbye.

Let the depression strike – round 1.

I came home from school and told my mom I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to dance anymore. My heart just wasn’t in it. This was a shock for EVERYONE, including myself. I ate, slept, breathed dance. My mom tried to pick me up and tell me to take on second semester head strong and give it my best.

So I did the whole “new year, new me” thing.

I went back to school in January for second semester and was struck with mono within my first 2 weeks. After that, I stopped going to classes…

I was notified that I was failing – something I’d never heard before in my life. I grew up as an Honors student. Cried if I got even an A- on a test. I was THAT kid. But ok, so they tell me I’m failing and push me to see a school counselor who then advised me to take a medical leave of absence for clinical depression. So in March of 2013, I withdrew from my first year of college, and my dream school.

Wow, this new year new me thing was going REALLY well, don’t ya think?

Fast forward to May of 2013. I COULD NOT STAND NOT BEING IN SCHOOL. All my friends were in school, I felt dumb and like I was losing knowledge by the minute, but one thing I didn’t really miss… was dance. Maybe this was a new me?

I really wanted to go back to school. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do since for as LONG as I could remember, all I ever wanted to do was dance. I really didn’t know anything else. I started searching local schools to see what might interest me; found nothing, besides nursing, but I couldn’t afford to do that kind of schooling. (That’s a WHOLE other ball park of a story)

My psychiatrist mentioned studying Dental Hygiene to me. It was a quick degree – could get your Associates OR your Bachelors. She introduced me to Mount Ida College in Newton and I fell in love. The campus was beautiful, the hygiene clinic was stunning, the student body was small (which I prefer), and I even had eligibility to be an athlete.

I applied (very late) to Mount Ida with a warning that I probably would not get in due to the timing. Within 3 days of my application, I was accepted into the Pre-Dental Hygiene program and was so ecstatic to start this new journey of mine that fall. It really was a new me!

Fast forward to September 2013 – I began school at Mount Ida. I had tried out for and made the cheerleading team and was making new friends. I felt good! I also worked outside of school so I could pay for gas and food and a life. It worked out fine for me.

 

Then… I met a boy. BAD IDEA, GUYS. BAD IDEA.

I can joke about it now, years later. But it so wasn’t a joke then.

I completely fell head-over-heels for this boy. I say boy because he’s so far from a man I don’t think he will ever become one. This boy was a master manipulator. He had a way about him that was charismatic and charming that pulled you right in. Once you were in, you were trapped.

 

I was abused. Physically. Emotionally. Financially. And I let it happen. I didn’t know any better. I was scared to tell or I’d get hurt. I was always on the defense for him saying how great he was. All the abuse happened behind closed doors. I would’ve looked like a liar if I had said anything to anyone.

Fast forward to 2015. At this point, I had been accepted to the Dental Hygiene program, elected class president, treated over 14 patients in the clinic, and removed from the Dental Hygiene program. Throughout all of my schooling, I worked 4 jobs to keep myself afloat. This caused me to “fail” a course by 0.01 point… a 72.9% out of 73%, which was a passing grade. I was removed from the program. For the record, I was still with the boy at this time. I was “punished” for my “stupidity.”

I worked extremely hard. I never could have “planned” for this to happen. It just did. It was fate. So I had to decide what the hell to do next. So I changed to a Pre-Medical Biology major, as I had already taken many of the courses that are involved in the degree and I was pretty close. I was doing really well until March 2016. One fine snow day that March, the abuse from the boy went too far. He broke into my dorm room and basically took away my dignity and strength.

It took everything in me to bring myself back after that. I found myself an advocate, went to court, got my safety and dignity back and finished the school year strong. I was proud to have finished the school year at all. I had a full semester and then a part-time semester left to graduate and was finally on my way to getting the degree I worked for.

 

That summer, all of my college finances were taken away from me (long story, but safe to say, wasn’t planned) and I was not able to return to school for my last year.

 

I felt absolutely DEFEATED. I lost everything I worked for. Dance major? Gave that up. Dental hygiene major? Got kicked out of that for all my hard work. Pre-Med? Had no choice but to give that up.
So here I was in 2016 – 4 rocky ass years of college, no degree, and no one to help me finish to get it.

 

Fast forward to 2017. I couldn’t take not being in school and having no degree. It was impossible to find a job outside the realms of the food service industry or retail. SO NOT ME. I decided to take my education into my own hands.

 

You see all those cheesy commercials from SNHU of people receiving their degrees, like, in the middle of nowhere, because they received their degrees online. A degree is a degree. I looked into it, decided to spend my last $50 I had in my bank account to apply for any health related program I could, wrote an essay pretty much like this blog post, honest and to the point, and was accepted a week later with a financial aid package that covers my courses each term. Did I plan that at the beginning of 2017? No. Did I plan on going to school online ever? No.

MORAL OF THE STORY…

My life has been a ROLLER COASTER. I’m only 23. I have so much life left to live and I want to live it happily. I’ve been knocked down like bowling pins time and time again, but I won’t let it defeat me. New year, same me, just different goals. You can’t plan everything because you never know the unexpected or unknown. You can’t fear the unknown, though. You have to run into it head on with no fears. Take what life throws at you. It might suck some serious nuts, but you’ll get there!

 

NEW YEAR. NEW OUTLOOKS.