Val’s Boldheart Story — How a Snake Led to My Move to Austin

I stared at the ceiling and checked my phone: 2:45 a.m. Another sleepless weeknight due to work stress. I threw off the covers and rolled out of my bed.

I walked down the hall of my small apartment in Dallas, turned on my TV in the living room and plopped down into my black-and-white speckled couch. The room was completely dark, except for the flashing lights of the screen. Maybe I could fall asleep watching the snooze fest of a 3 a.m. infomercial.

Meet Val, a beautiful boldheart!

I was mildly entertained by some cooking device being hawked by a chipper couple when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving in the hallway. I glanced that direction.

Oh, that’s a snake, I thought casually, and then turned back to the TV.

Realization set in two seconds later: That’s a snake!!!

I let out a scream/wail, jumped off the couch, and crawled on top of my nearby kitchen bar counter. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. The snake remained still, then lifted its head and slithered back behind the hallway wall and out of my line of sight.

I waited several minutes before clutching a massive kitchen knife and tiptoeing down the hallway. The snake was gone, completely disappeared. He wasn’t found for two more days when the apartment maintenance staff tracked him down in my laundry room.

I was shaken and desperately wanted to move out of my apartment. I paid the reletting fee to get out of my lease with a 60-day notice.

Soon after, a long-held desire of mine began to resurface. Being from Dallas, I visited Austin several times while growing up. As a child, I toured the capitol building, and I spent a lot of time on 6th Street during college. I was always fond of the city, but when my youngest sister moved to Austin in 2013, she showed me the quaint, laidback, unique parts of Austin that tourists don’t know about. Something about the vibe resonated with me and felt like home.

I tried to make a move to Austin in 2014, but the timing wasn’t right. My other sister and her husband were recently told his cancer treatments weren’t working, and he only had a few months to live. I needed to be with my family through this transition. It wasn’t easy, but we got through his passing together. After a couple of years, our wounds were healing, and life was getting back to normal.

I was restless and yearning for a change of scenery. Maybe all of those sleepless nights weren’t just the result of work stress.

A month before my apartment lease was up, I saw a job posting in Austin that seemed like the perfect fit for me. I applied on a whim. Before I knew it, I was driving down to Austin for a half-day of interviews. Still, I moved forward with my life in Dallas, as if the Austin dream may not come true, and found a new place to live in Dallas that was hopefully snake-free.

With my everything packed and ready for my move, I was hours from picking up the keys to my new apartment when the recruiter from the Austin sent me a job offer. In order to make the timing work, I had to cancel my new Dallas apartment, move my items into storage, live with my parents for two weeks, and find a new place to live in Austin.

A few nights before I left for Austin, I was on my way to dinner with my parents.

“You know all of this started with a snake in my apartment,” I said from the backseat.

“Yeah. And why do snakes shed their skin?” my mom asked. (She’s a therapist who can read situations like a radiologist reads MRIs.)

“Because they’ve outgrown their bodies.” It was silent for a few moments. “Ohhhhhh. I outgrew my life here in Dallas. That snake was a sign of things to come in my life.”

“Mmmhmm,” my mom said, nodding in the front passenger seat.

Life in Austin hasn’t exactly been easy. I’m on my third job and third apartment in a year and a half. I feel like Goldilocks searching for a fit that’s “just right.” My experiences in Austin have been exhilarating, heartbreaking, joyous, frustrating, rewarding, delightful, lonely, scary, thrilling, and satisfying. In other words, they’ve been just like life.

I’m not sure if I’ll stay in Austin long term, but I know that the move has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve met the most fascinating people, had many deep and soulful conversations, and enjoyed some delicious life moments.

Most importantly, I took a risk and a leap of faith to follow my heart. It was worth every emotion to experience the ride.

Don’t Waste Your Time Waiting


I don’t know about you, but I’m usually not a fan of waiting for things to happen.

Unfortunately, though, waiting is a part of life that we have to deal with on a regular basis—we wait for food at restaurants when we’re reaching the point of hangry, we wait to hear back from colleges or potential employers after we’ve submitted applications and résumés, we wait for replies to emails and texts when we need answers, and we wait for lights to turn green as we rush off to the various places we need to be.

Sometimes waiting is natural, and we don’t really think much about it because we have so many other things going on at the same time. In other situations, though, we become less active in our waiting and essentially spend too much time waiting—not so much in anticipation but often in worry that what we’re waiting for might not happen—wasting precious moments that we could actually be enjoying.

And this seems to be especially true when it comes to guys.

What is it about waiting for a reply to a text message that gets our heads spinning and our hearts pining? Those letters that form words on a screen suddenly become so essential to our very beings, and we wait very impatiently, wondering whether those guys have read the texts and are waiting the standard 10-minute minimum (or is that just a girl thing?) before replying, haven’t even seen them yet, or (the worst one possible) already read our carefully crafted texts and simply haven’t cared enough to respond.

It’s so non-dramatically emotionally draining.

To be perfectly honest, I should probably be embarrassed by how much time I’ve spent wondering what some guy I think is really special is going to say back to me, only later to realize that he really wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped and imagined, and his replies were essentially a waste of my eye strength. For instance, I once texted a guy to see if he wanted to go watch a football game on a Friday night with me because I thought that would be something fun. I sent the text and then waited. And waited. And waited. And then the panic set in.

Why hasn’t he responded yet?
Did I try too hard to be funny but was stupid, instead?
Should I not have sent it?
I need to go crawl into a hole and hide forever.

Like I said, none of this is dramatic at all.

You know what that fella I fancied so much said back to me? That he had to stay home and do chores. On a Friday night. As a 26-year-old who lives alone and can do chores whenever he wants.

Talk about a complete waste of time waiting on that one.

We wait and wait and worry about the silliest things sometimes when we really could simply enjoy the things right in front of us so much more than we already do. Rather than agonizing over a mere text I had sent and what the guy would say back, I could have just sent it and not worried about it so that I could channel my energy toward more important matters—you know, like if I was more in the mood for a chicken sandwich or a cheeseburger for dinner.

Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to wait at different times in our lives. But waiting doesn’t have to be such a huge world-stopping thing. Seek to enjoy those moments or long periods when you’re waiting, especially if you know what you’re waiting for is worth every single second.

Just make sure you don’t miss out on the wonderful things happening right before you because you’re too busy waiting during your times of waiting.

 

When was a time you had to wait on something and spent too much time just waiting?

Have you ever been a victim of the dreaded waiting-for-a-text-from-a-crush situation?

We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

Don’t Rush Life


When you’re a little kid and even a teenager, life seems to go by much more slowly than you would like. You wait in line
forever for that ride at the amusement park. It takes forever for your mom to get home with or finish cooking dinner. It seems like forever before Christmas gets here when the school year begins. And you wait LITERALLY FOREVER for your first boyfriend, while all of your other friends have had multiple guys take them out.

Girl, that version of forever sure goes by quickly.

It feels like the older you get, the more quickly time seems to fly by. I mean, it’s mid-May, and I’m pretty sure that it was Christmas yesterday. You graduate college, and the next thing you know, you’re buying tickets for your 10-year high school reunion. I’m not saying any of this to freak you out and make you feel like you’re about to lose all of your youth before you’ve even enjoyed it, but I do want to caution you to appreciate the moments that you have right now—because you will never get them back.

If I think about my own life, I remember how badly I wanted a boyfriend when I was in high school. And then in college. And then in my 20s. I’m in my early 30s now, and it still hasn’t happened. You know what, though? Oddly enough, I’m actually thankful that some of those relationships never actually happened. Though I really did have feelings for the guys, in more than one of those cases, I probably wanted a boyfriend more than I wanted the actual boy.

It was the same thing with my first kiss. I waited more than 27 years for that kiss to happen, and even though that was a special moment that I’ll never forget, I often wish that I could erase it because the guy who captured that kiss did nothing but lead me on and then break my heart.

The good thing about life is that each one is so unique and so different. No two people were created exactly the same, and no two people are meant to live exactly the same, either. There’s no timeline that you are required to follow. Just as all babies don’t start crawling and walking when they are a certain amount of days or months old, all young women don’t suddenly get boyfriends or kisses or a number of other things when they hit one specific age.

Let your timeline be yours, and trust that it’s right for you.

I won’t say that it’s always easy—patience isn’t exactly the most enjoyable of the virtues. I’ve probably wasted more time than I’m comfortable admitting wishing and hoping for the things I didn’t have when I could have been enjoying so much of what was right in front of me.

When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and get out in the real world. There were a lot of things I didn’t do because I was working multiple jobs or taking part in internships so that I would be ready for whatever was ahead in my career. While it’s great to take on responsibilities, I think it’s also important to be a kid while you’re still a kid. Sure, being an adult is really great, but it’s also really tough. And I didn’t even end up sticking with the same career that I worked so many unpaid jobs and internships for all of those years ago. I wish someone had taken me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said “slow down, sweet girl.”

Whether it’s with work or guys or experience or whatever, slow down, sweet girl.

Life is full of way too many incredible moments to waste them worrying about the moments that haven’t actually happened yet. Just as you shouldn’t rush an artist who is working on a masterpiece, you shouldn’t rush God as He’s working on His masterpiece (you).

Something Borrowed: Giving Away Our Dreams

For some reason or other, we can tend to deny ourselves the things we want in life. And we can tend to sabotage our best chances of seeing those dreams come to fruition.

One of my mother’s and my favorite movies is Something Borrowed. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s based on a novel by the same name—though I liked the film better (a first for me). The film follows the story of two lifelong best friends. One, Darcy, is outgoing, bubbly, and flirty. The other, Rachel, is mousy, studious, and lacking confidence. Maybe the contrast between the two of them is too stereotypical, but it paints a picture we all see growing up.

The gist of the story is that Rachel befriends a fellow (and very cute) law school student. There are clearly feelings there (between both of them). As they near graduation, Dex asks Rachel out to celebrate. Rachel’s lack of self-confidence causes her not to realize he clearly intends it to be a date, and when Darcy shows up (flirty as ever), she completely self-implodes. She ends up making an excuse to go home early, leaving a confused Dex to hang out with Darcy.

Flash forward a few years: Darcy and Dex are engaged, and Rachel passively helps Darcy plan her wedding. Once Darcy was added to the equation, Rachel thought she couldn’t compete and, thus, removed herself from the situation instead of fighting for what she wanted.

No one would really be that much of a pushover, right? Well, I’ve seen it in my own life, and my mother recently called to tell me about witnessing a Something Borrowed situation in real life. She had watched a young coworker fall into the same trap, encouraging another girl to go out with a guy she clearly liked.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I think we get scared when our dreams actually seem within reach, and so when competition appears, we practically hand our dreams over. It’s like we’re saying, “Oh, right. I knew this was too good to be true. Here you go.”

And this doesn’t have to be about a guy. We can do this with career goals, in friendships, and in all aspects of our lives.

If you want something in life, you have to know that you deserve it. You have to ask for it. You have to pursue it. It will most likely not be handed to you. You have to fight for it.

You’re not a bad person if you speak up. If you want a chance to work on a dream project at work, but it’s been given to someone else, it doesn’t hurt to ask to join or to ask for a similar project in the future. If someone else develops feelings for the person you have feelings for, you’re not wrong to be honest with the other girl and pursue those feelings.

Unfortunately, sometimes when we want something, it means someone else won’t get it. A promotion. A contest. A romantic interest.

If you’re anything like me, winning any one of those things—particularly if you know the others competing with you—can cause massive amounts of guilt. But you know what? Don’t feel guilty. Those competitors will win other competitions that you won’t. They will see other dreams and goals accomplished—if they fight for them.

Worry about your own goals. Fight for what you want—because no one else will. People cannot read your mind. Not your boss. Not your boyfriend. Not your friends. Not your crush.  You have to speak up and state clearly:

This is how I feel.
This is what I want.

If you’re too afraid to speak up and be honest about what you want, you may wake up in a few years planning a wedding for someone else. One that could have been yours.

Don’t leave the dinner early. Stay and fight.

Friendships and Growing Up

Friendship. Two girls at the beach.When I was in high school, I had a really fantastic group of friends. I felt so safe and comfortable with them, and the knowledge that we would all go our separate ways for college was really hard for me to come to terms with. Everyone told me we would lose touch.

People grow apart, that’s true, but I don’t think it’s something that has to occur. Friendships (like relationships) require a lot of work and effort. If you acknowledge and understand that every single one of your friends will change—and if you decide to love all of them no matter what—those friendships can adapt without growing apart.

You will naturally change as time goes on, too. You will meet new people, and you’ll find different friends who better fit with the stage of life you’re in. But, there is something so special about having people in your life who you’ve grown up with and who knew you during vital milestones in your life.

My friends from high school have all gone different directions in their lives. Some are working full time, some are in graduate school, some are still figuring out what they want to do in their lives. Some are single, some are dating, some are married. Our lives are all at different stages. Because of that, things are very different, but I think we’re all pretty good at understanding that we can change and still care about one another.

We might not think the same things are funny anymore. We might not have the same views. We might not like the same movies anymore or enjoy our old favorite hang out spots. But still, we can come together and reminisce and share about our new lives.

Many more changes will come as the years go by, but no matter how much my dear friends change (and how much I change), I will choose to love them. Love, like friendship, is very much a choice.

As your friends change, choose to embrace them and enjoy getting to know who they are now. It may at first hurt if the changes seem to be going a different direction than your own life or the lives you guys dreamed of during younger days, but it’s so much better to understand and support their new goals—unless it’s something that can harm them (but more on that at a later time).

Friendship, like any relationship, is a two-way street. Even if you love your friend through change and growth, if your friend doesn’t make time for you, then, unfortunately, it may be time for you to move on. Still, keep in touch when possible, but utilize your time on others who have the same love and respect for you!

And remember, friendships need constant love to thrive! Are there any old friends you can reach out to today? You’ll be glad you did.

Mr. Right & Love: Finding Your Rick O’Connell

My Post (20)I still remember sitting in class at 16 years old and being told that I was far too concerned with getting married for my age. I had been telling a cute story our pastor had shared at church about him and his wife (she was one of the church’s worship leaders—does it get cuter than that?), and I wistfully shared that I couldn’t wait to be married like them.

A friend—with good intentions, I’m sure—shared his concern that I would even be thinking about such things. We were 16, after all!

The thing is, it’s perfectly natural for young women (and young men) to dream of their “happily ever afters.” We all do it.

I was always a romantic in the very traditional sense. I was waiting for my Brendan Fraser (circa The Mummy movies) to come sweep me off my feet since I was 8 years old. In that sense, I guess it was only natural that, for most of my teen years, I hoped to soon meet that person who would be by my side, who would fight for me, and who would be just mine.

While all perfectly normal feelings, I wish (and that’s why I’m sharing with you) that I hadn’t looked so hard to find Mr. Right because the result was relationships/crushes with guys I didn’t really have feelings for and being more in love with the idea of love than I was with any guy.

Your time will come. Don’t be so in love with the idea of a boyfriend that you ignore warning signs or settle. Ladies, instead of focusing on what you need to do or who you need be to find Mr. Right, I encourage you to instead focus on what you need to do in order to grow into the woman you want to be.

Don’t worry about what type of girl your crush wants. That type of thinking will drive you crazy and lead you down a path of turmoil. If you have to change something about yourself to get a guy to notice you, he’s probably not right for you.

Instead, worry about what type of person you want to be. Work toward your dreams and goals for your future. That will make you far happier and build up your confidence—both qualities that are way more attractive than attempts to be a different version of yourself for each new guy you’re interested in. The right guy will like you for you.

And, speaking of Mr. Right, instead of worrying about if you’re the type of girl your crush wants, focus instead on if he has the traits you want.

Make a list of qualities your future guy needs to have. My list back in the day would have looked something like this:

  1. Christian
  2. Makes me laugh
  3. Ideally, similar political beliefs
  4. Same family goals
  5. Adventurous/outdoorsy/wants to travel someday

Of course, I spent too much time worrying about if I was an ideal girlfriend or crush than focusing on if the guy was actually anything close to what I wanted. In fact, time and time again, I avoided the fact that some of my crushes weren’t Christian (the first thing on my list, for goodness sake!). Maybe with time, I’d think.

If a guy you like isn’t exhibiting a key trait on your list, do not think you can change him. That is not a position you want to be in. That is not a path to true love or happiness. It is a path for bitterness and pain for both parties.

While dreaming of your future “happily ever after” (more on that in a later post) is perfectly normal and exciting, don’t let it consume your life. Enjoy where you are now. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your family. Grow into the person you want to be, and everything else will fall into place. You’ll meet your own Brendan Fraser soon enough.

The Dangers of a Pinterest Life

Pinterest image collage.

I first discovered Pinterest sometime in my senior year of high school. I remember first signing up and having to wait for access (fantastic marketing—exclusivity definitely made me more curious) during its beta stage.

I didn’t use it much until the following year: my freshman year of college. Freshman year was not easy for me. While it was a magical time in some senses (falling in love with my now husband, newfound freedom, Taylor Swift’s Red album release, etc.), I struggled a lot that year. I was homesick, felt alienated and isolated from my peers, and was dreaming of an escape.

I spent most of that year dreaming of five years in the future. A future where I was finished with college, finished with the people I so greatly differed from, and no longer had to say goodbye to Nicholas at the end of the day (Wouldn’t it Be Nice by The Beach Boys was my mantra).

Pinterest became my escape. I had a “Future Home” board, “Future Apartment” board, the “Clothes-I-Want-to-Buy” board, and—of course—the “Someday Wedding” board.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have these boards—heck, I still use all of those boards (except the wedding one of course). The issue arose when I spent too much time dreaming, wanting, and wishing away the present, and Pinterest provided an easy outlet to take me from daydreaming to actually wasting hours and hours planning my “perfect” future life.

The danger of Pinterest arises when we start to spend time in constant want and eventually start to consider those wants needs. I want a winery wedding under a big oak tree. I want a breakfast nook in my house. I need to have that dress. I need to redecorate my room/apartment.

Pinterest can lure us into lives of dissatisfaction if we aren’t careful. Harmless pins of someday wants can quickly become all-encompassing thoughts. Constant pinning of future desires can rob you of your present and rob you of your contentedness.

Pinterest is a fantastic tool and one of my favorite social media sites (You can even follow Tower318 on Pinterest for inspirational and motivational quotes!), but anytime I start to fall back into my old habits of living in the future or suddenly needing a bunch of new things I pinned from there, then I know it’s time to take a break.

I spent too much time at 18 dreaming away that year, when instead I could have been making healthier changes to better enjoy that time. Take it from me, and don’t miss out on your now. Dreams and plans for the future are very important, but don’t get so lost in those dreams that you forget to live in the present or find yourself thinking, “I’ll finally be happy when [blank] occurs.”

Live in the now, and enjoy every day. Work toward the future daily, but don’t think you’ll only find happiness once you’re there. Take a step back from desiring that perfect life you’ve designed on Pinterest; enjoy where you are now.

Let’s Chase Our Dreams Together

Somewhere along the way and for some reason none of us may ever know, girls started competing against each other in areas that warrant no competition. Look at the movie Mean Girls for the perfect example: Regina George and the Plastics strive to be better than everyone else and want people to know this by becoming exclusive in everything they do, and they often sabotage situations so that other girls’ emotions are hurt.

Why is it that so many women—both young and old—feel the need to make others feel inferior? Aren’t we really all on the same team?

Take a moment to think about your daily life and the conversations you have. How often do you find yourself thinking or saying things that aren’t so nice about another girl or woman? What is it that makes you think those things and sometimes even share those thoughts with your friends?

Hopefully you’ve heard of the Time’s Up movement with the trending #MeToo from this year. Multitudes of women have come forward in the entertainment industry and are banning together to stand up for what is right—to stand up for each other. Friends, rather than tearing each other apart, we need to be building each other up. Women are truly powerful individuals and capable of such incredible feats, and you are no exception to that, regardless of your age or status.

And, together, we are even more powerful and capable.

Try to remember a time in your life when another girl purposely did something to make you feel lesser. (If that’s never happened to you, you’re one of the lucky ones.) Wasn’t it hurtful? Didn’t you wish that it wasn’t happening to you? The next time you are about to do something or say something that pits you against another young woman, think back to that moment when you were suddenly an unexpected rival of someone, and ask your heart if it’s really what you want to do.

Competition is meant for places like the basketball court and the soccer field, not for living life among your peers.

Ladies, let’s unite. Let’s stop putting each other down—whether it’s behind each other’s backs or to each other’s faces—and let’s start building each other up. Let’s choose love over hate. Let’s stop competing over every single thing, whether it’s boys or fashion or popularity or grades or ranks or possessions or status or whatever, and let’s cheer one another on as we run toward our passions. Let’s support each other’s dreams instead of trying to one-up them. Let’s be friends and not enemies.

After all, to hop on board the train to Cheesetown and take big lessons from High School Musical, we’re all in this together.

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