I've thought about writing for what seems like ages but I guess it just hasn't been very high on my priority list. With that said, things have been quite eventful since my last entry, hence the lack of time to update. But, 3 months or so later, here it is...
The highlight of November was, of course, Thanksgiving. Brandon accompanied me to my Aunt Vickie's house in Brevard, NC for the weekend. I was really looking forward to seeing my family as it had been September since I'd seen my parents and even longer since I'd seen everyone else. Living in Wilmington, I've felt a little isolated, with most of my loved ones being so far away (but more about that later). Brandon and I made the LONG trip from Wilmington to Brevard (more than 6 hours when you include eating and bathroom breaks) the night before Thanksgiving. Regardless of how tired we were when we arrived, we stayed up until after 1am catching up with the family. Brandon fit right in with their ridiculousness (ridiculous in a good way). As for me, it felt amazing to be away from work and actually relaxed for the first time in a while. Thanksgiving Day was awesome...with an incredible dinner and going with Brandon and the family to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (the second viewing for me). The day after Thanksgiving was spent doing a little Black Friday shopping (couldn't resist) and playing board games until the wee hours of the morning - probably my favorite thing about the whole weekend. When the weekend came to an end, I was sad to leave. It would be less than a month before I saw my family again but I knew this Christmas was going to be very different from the ones before. First of all, it would be the first year I didn't have a long Christmas break, meaning I wouldn't be home for nearly as much time as I usually am. Secondly, Brandon and I would be splitting the holiday between both of our families. It had been a great weekend but the ending was bittersweet. After arriving back in Wilmington, Brandon and I picked out our very first Christmas tree - a real one. Getting it into the apartment wasn't nearly as hard (or as humorous) as getting that thing out. We definitely realized why real Christmas trees just aren't meant for apartments...especially 3rd floor apartments. But it was beautiful and enjoyable while it was up and decorated. Thanks to donations from my family, we had plenty of ornaments. It was the perfect beginning to our first Christmas together.
December was exciting for a few reasons. First of all, this was the first time Brandon and I would be spending the holidays together and, because of our two families living in different cities, they consisted of much travel. The weekend of Christmas, as well as the ones before and after, were spent on the road between Wilmington, Raleigh, and Pleasant Garden. But despite all the running around, we had a really great Christmas. Christmas Eve was spent with my family - Mom, Dad, Grandma, Trish, Robbie, Tiona, Jayden, Brandon, and me. We did the traditional sorts of things (tradition in our family, anyway)...eating finger foods, listening to Christmas music, playing games, including the Wii, and opening gifts. Christmas Day is a bit of a blur. We spent the morning with my family for breakfast and more gifts (Mom and Dad framed my ECU diploma!), then it was time for goodbyes and we were off to Raleigh to share the remainder of the day with Brandon's family. The second exciting December event was that Brandon's sister, Tiffany, and her husband, Mike, came home from Canada for Christmas. It had been 10 months since Tiffany had been home so it was great to see her. And, apparently, the "Canadians" brought the snow along with them because about 8 inches fell in Raleigh while we were there. It was a perfectly beautiful white Christmas. In North Carolina. Amazing. We ate incredible food, frolicked (yes, frolicked) in the snow, played games, and napped for the rest of the weekend. Sadly, much of the snow had melted off the roads by Monday, and I was able to make it home. I surely could have tolerated another day of vacation.
Which brings me to the third exciting thing that occurred in December...Brandon and I made the decision to move back to Raleigh. Actually, it wasn't a tough decision at all. Brandon's job fell through and, since I already hated mine, there didn't seem to be much of anything keeping us in Wilmington (except, of course, the friends we have in town). In Raleigh, we'll be closer to friends and family and the job opportunities will be more plentiful. Fortunately, we learned that we could transfer our lease, which is saving us A TON of money, and we found a nice apartment complex very similiar to the one we live in now. So, on December 23rd, I put in my 2 week notice. I have to admit...I was nervous. After all, I'd never resigned from a job before. Plus, part of me was still wondering if this was even the right decision. In this terrible economy, I was giving up a job with a good salary and benefits. Was I crazy? Everyone I talked to seemed to support my decision but I was getting cold feet. Regardless, I did it. And I've come to realize, especially after a conversation with my mom, that I did make the right decision. No job, no matter how well it pays, was worth the stress and anxiety I experienced while at Youth Villages. Putting in my notice that day was one of the best things I could do to take care of myself.
Brandon and I rang in the New Year at our apartment with good friends - Sam, Andy, Andy, Laura, and Chris. Earlier, he and I had dinner at Bonefish Grill. It was a quiet New Year's Eve but I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way. My last day at Youth Villages was January 7th and, honestly, it was bittersweet. I do miss a few of my co-workers. They were good people and I hate that I was only able to get to know some of them professionally, rather than personally. Leaving my families was also more difficult than I had expected it to be, especially those I had spent several months with. But I had to keep reminding myself of why I was leaving.
Since then, my days haven't exactly been boring. The first thing I've been trying to do is take better care of myself. Brandon and I have been using The Biggest Loser video game for the Xbox 360 Kinect and it is kicking my butt! But I've been working out nearly every day and I can definitely tell a difference. I've also been trying to eat better, get more sleep, take vitamins, take care of my skin, and even pamper myself from time to time (well, if you consider getting a haircut "pampering"). I almost feel like a different person since quitting my job...more balanced. My second focus is studying for the MFT Licensure Exam which I'm taking on February 4th (WAY closer than I'd like it to be). It's tough getting back into the groove of studying when you haven't done it in a while. Fortunately, a lot of the information starts coming back to me as I study. If I pass, I'll be considered "provisionally licensed" and that will open up new opportunities to me. Speaking of which, my third focus is looking for a job. I'm going to be much more cautious about which one I take this time. And my fourth focus is, of course, packing. We move this weekend which, to me, seems crazy. Brandon and I had dinner with Sam, Andy, and Andy Sunday night and, as we went our separate ways, I realized how much I'm going to miss them and, also, how much I'm going to miss Wilmington. It will be toughest to leave Sam though. She and I have lived in the same city for nearly 3 years now and not seeing her whenever I want will take some adjusting. All in all, I'm excited about the upcoming changes. It's been an interesting 6 months in Wilmington but I look forward to what our new adventure will bring!