Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We laid a lot of memories down.

This blog post has been a long time coming. It was very uncomfortable for me to think about - let alone post it on my blog. I was afraid if I responded to what some were saying too soon I would be very likely to say things too harshly and therefore piss people off. That would just produce more negative, unneeded energy ya know?
As some of you may know I’ve embarked on a fun journey with Team Beachbody. I am learning new things not only about my physical well-being but also approaching life with a positive mindset. I’m really trying to better myself (and you if you’re ready) in all aspects of my life.
Anyways, February is quickly approaching and although it is also a celebratory month for Matt and I (engaged last February!) we had also lost Thomas exactly a week later. We weren’t really able to celebrate our engagement too long before feeling, well, overwhelmingly sad. Earlier tonight, I told Matt I had been wondering for a good 4 months now about how I will feel and what I will write when that day comes along. Will I write about what I was doing that morning? Will I write about how and when I was told? I mean, will I even want to write at all?
I’m just going to write a little about how I feel now. Now is as good of time as ever to respond to things I have heard several times about me and Thomas’ relationship. Not that I feel that I need to clear things up to others or whatever but if someone had said these things to you about your friend who had passed I think you’d feel something inside you wanting to say something too (even if it takes you a year).
To fill you in, it was mostly people saying that I write too much about Thomas on my blog or Facebook or wherever. It was over-the-top and too much. We weren’t even that close – My fiancé was his friend, I was just Matt’s girlfriend…something along those lines.
My first reaction was to bitch out the people who said those untruthful things. Really though, what good would that do anyone? Mostly the people asking or saying these things were people from my past who maybe I was friends with at one time; however, when we went to college we parted ways for one reason or another. So how could I really be upset that they were saying these things when they didn’t even really know me or my life anymore?
My friends that do know me and know who I spend my time with were the first ones calling and texting me that Saturday. Strange texts that made it obvious to me they knew but wanted to know if I knew first so I wasn’t told the wrong way (like via text message – yikes). Even the two roommates that had met Thomas from when he would stop over on his way home from Brookings got a hold of me to send their prayers and love. I’m crying just thinking of how much love and support I really did get from my friends that maybe I’m just now realizing I had. Does that make any sort of sense?
I can’t really tell people how much time together without trying to sound like I’m selling something. Am I supposed to say that he was the only guy Matt let smack my ass and say, “big booty, big booty!” when he was drunk? Am I supposed to say he loved my French dip sandwiches I made? Am I supposed to say I’d pee with the door open or walk around in my towel with him around? Am I supposed to say Cornuts were our favorite treat to share together? Am I supposed to say he begged me 99,000 times to go out to the bars with them but I always refused?
I mean I don’t know what those people want me to say to their statements. I just felt the need to somewhat address the things that I have had in the back of my mind since I heard them. It kind of was bothering me so much I tried to quit writing on his wall or trying to refrain from sharing memories just because of what people said and that isn’t right either. For my own personal grieving, I feel like I need to do what I deem necessary to keep him alive in my memory and in my life.
 I can’t help if I write about him a lot – I miss him. It’s my outlet. Everyone has something they do when a loved one dies that helps them grieve. I’ve known people who have lost people close to them and working out helped them. They said that if their legs hurt their heart didn’t hurt so much. Same with cleaning – if they were up and keeping things tidy it made them feel a little more satisfied and content - It kept them busy. Must like writing here or in a Word document does this for me.
You know, I can’t show people the late night tears or the long talks with God. I can’t show them the memories I have with Thomas or the emptiness in my heart I feel from missing him. Lastly, I can’t let someone’s words affect how I live my life. I had to address it, get it off my chest and move on.  Remember that people in life are sometimes going to say things about you that aren’t very nice - Do what it takes to constructively liberate yourself and live for what you feel is right in your heart.

Tattoos On This Town by Jason Aldean.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

You are your best you because of you!

People are going to tell you YOU can’t do something. Unfortunately, even people that are closest to you – parents, best friends, etc. That’s when you have to disregard what they’re telling you and listen to your gut. What is YOUR gut telling you? Is this the right thing for you?
If it is then continue on – prove those people wrong and work as hard as you can! If it isn’t for you – is it really THAT huge of a loss? Life is about living and learning. Each lesson from every trial and error can be taken to the next lesson of your life. Believe it or not error helps you find YOU! Would you be the same person today if you didn’t go through the triumphs or heartaches of yesterday? Absolutely not.
I also want you to think long, often and hard before you give up. Ask yourself if you’ve really put everything you had into whatever it is that sparked your passion and curiosity in the first place. Do your BEST and THEN move on from it if it wasn’t meant for you. It’s really as simple as that.
There are always going to be people that are NOT cheerleading for you. There won’t be people on the sidelines with old school sweaters with your initials stitched on them shouting at the top of their lungs about how awesome you are! What matters most is your inner-cheerleader telling you can/will do it. Only your inner-cheerleader can really motivate you to do what it is that needs to be done. (Is anyone else picturing the clip from Aladdin with the Genie dressed as a cheerleader? Click here to see what I'm talking about.)
Focus on your goal and work hard every day to get there – pat yourself on the back if you worked so hard for something that you never thought you could do! The people that love you will disregard your crazy ass and stick by you as you conquer the world. Go out there and find YOUR dream and do whatever it takes to get it. Take it one day at a time.
“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?” – The Help (PLEASE go click on the word The Help and watch the video clip that goes along with this quote. Oh! & if you haven't seen the movie you're missing out!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Everythin's bigger & basket in TX.

So, as some of you may know, my dear friend Bre moved to Texas a few weeks before Christmas. We had a going away party bus for her which, actually, turned out to be disastrous because I swear I was roofied. I don’t remember a thing and basically went from sober to shit show in 3.2 seconds.
To fill you in, I was wearing a care bear costume, fell down a whole flight of stairs, ditched the bus for God knows what reason, rolled around on the bus floor which equaled me covered in mud and last but not least got kicked out of a bar for not dressing to impress. Apparently a care bear covered in rum and mud isn’t what this “upscale” bar was lookin’ for. Oh! And I lost a diamond from my engagement ring. So to sum that up, I felt awful for ditching Bre and dumb for having no clue what happened. As I get older I am starting to realize I hate black-out drunk.
Anyways, I was trying to think of something special to do for Bre on her going away weekend. I mulled it over and was trying to think of something that would take a lot of time and thought so she’d feel special. I couldn’t really think anything so I decided to do one of my infamous baskets. So I got to work starting with a maiz-made basket (Thank you Wal-Mart) to make her a Texas themed basket.
I used bandanas to line the basket and searched high and low for western-looking stick on letters for my sheriff stars (eventually found at our local scrapbook store). The sheriff stars were traced from a download from the internet (I’m a really excellent cutter if you can’t tell..) I spray painted them silver, let 'em dry and then taped twine to the back of each star and fed the twine through to hang from opposite handles of the basket. 
In the mean time I was trying to think of clever things to fill inside the basket. I wanted a little Texas and a little South Dakota. I collected all my items and then Googled “western” clip art (lasso, horseshoe, etc.) and copied them into word and put in my little message. Then I just cut the soon-to-be tags out, glued them onto western scrapbook paper and cutefully (should be a word..) wrapped them on and/or around the items.

Listed below is what the basket was filled with – some funny, some cheesy, some sentimental and some tasty. I listed the clip art I used first, followed by what the item was followed by my personal message and then a little explanation as to why I picked the item.  
Lasso: Dumbo – "So you have a little piece of me." – I love Disney of course! I didn’t choose this because I’m a Dumbo – although, I’m sure some of you would disagree. J Plus, I know Breanna is trying to collect the older Disney movies.
Cowboy Boot: Old skeleton keys found in our outbuildings – "Keys of opportunity." – I felt this was appropriate because this move is such a great chance to explore a different part of the country and a chance to start fresh somewhere new.
Feather Pen: Stationary – "Two words: Pen. Pals." – Because having a pen pal is the shit. And because Bre and I love to write.
Horseshoe: Bre’s paternal grandmother’s hanky (she had given it to me & then I re-gifted it back to her) – "For homesick nights." – Because I figured she’d miss me and her mother at some point ;)
Longhorn Skull: Dakota Style Honey Mustard Chips/Prairie Berry Calamity Jane Wine (both made in South Dakota) – "Goodies from the homeland." – They taste good. Haha! Simple as that. (dude, the wine is to die for...)
Armadillo: Armadillo Socks – "Rumor is you’re only cool in TX if you wear armadillo socks. I want you to fit in." – I came across these on a side bar on a website I was on. They are hilarious and I couldn’t afford a $150 armadillo basket (Google it). So if you live in Texas and you don’t have armadillo socks you’re not the shit.
Cactus: Air PlantBe courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation." – George Washington – This plant is awesome! It’s an air plant so it doesn’t need to be potted or watered very often. It looks so cool, I think. I chose this quote because Bre and I have been through a lot of ups and downs together. We’ve had some rocky times but we always came back to one another. I love this girl and I’m 99% sure we share the same heart.
For those of you wondering, Bre and I live 17 hours and 55 minutes apart! I'm kinda lonely without her here but I’m saving like The Borrower's so I can fly out this summer. The plane ticket may not be expensive but Bre and I can really do some damage shopping……..and they have outlet malls like my dad loves cornbread.....aka a lot!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ho Ho Ho and Stuff!

Well, I had full intention of getting my Christmas cards out the door and on their way to your doorstep. I had the envelopes addressed, stamped and even stuffed with this letter. It soon became overwhelming to me though that we had over 100 people to send Christmas cards to and so I easily gave up (lame sauce..) I decided that I still wanted to send a letter but thought that sending a Christmas card now would be kind of  dumb. I was talking to my physical therapist and she said she has a family that just sends her an e-mail of their Christmas letter so I decided I would just make a blog post and post it on your walls! :) So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..................................a little late! Now I know why someone came up with the phrase, "better late than never!" ;)

Dear Friends and Family,
We are proud to announce the arrival of our first Christmas card! I am so excited to update you on what Matthew and I have been up to this year. So many things have come and gone in the year of 2011 and is a year we can certainly say we are eager to say good-bye to.
In December of 2010 Matt and I officially bought our first house! We are located in beautiful metropolis area we like to call Garden City. The city of garden is a mystical place buzzing with sparkly meadows, whispering wildflowers and beautifully flowing chocolate rivers. We sure do love it here! Care packages can be sent to:
(I took my address offline - e-mail or Facebook me if you'd like my new address!)
Anyways, we bought this house last December and it needed some heavy remodeling. With the help of our parents and a couple of close friends we were able to do all of the work (minus electrical/plumbing/mudding) to build this house into our home! It was about 7 solid months of no free weekends which I can say from personal experience is not too fun for a 21 year old...or any age group really.
We’ve been asked several times if we knew how much work our house would have been if we’d do it over again. The answer is always yes! Matt has room to tinker around in the out buildings and shelter belts doing boy stuff and it’s the same area I grew up so it feels like home.  We enjoy living near our families. You know in high school when I said I couldn’t wait to get out of the town I grew up in? Well, I live 1.4 miles north of my parent’s and about 7 miles south from Matt’s parents! We all live on 432nd Avenue in three different zip codes. (Clark, Garden City, Bradley). Never a dull moment here!
In January, I left Jimmy John’s and started in a verifying position doing background screenings with Verifications, Inc. in Watertown. I truly love this job! It keeps me interested and is flexible enough to allow me to attend school at Mount Marty College.  Please, don’t ask what my major is…after 4 years I’m still not sure. At this rate I will have a Bachelor’s in almost every subject offered. Matthew recently left his position with WW Tire in Watertown and accepted a job with Westside Implement in Clark.
February 18th, Matt proposed. To my surprise, I came home from work to find Matt in a suit (complete with boutonnière) and our house covered in rose petals and candles. He and I aren’t exactly sure what he said when he was down on his knee but the nervousness in his voice was adorable. I’m not sure if he thought I was going to say no but he hadn’t ate the entire day and could barely speak when giving his little schpeel. Anyways, I said yes and now my dream of marrying my knight in camouflage armor will take place on September 14th, 2013. Mark your calendars!!
To our dismay, the following Friday our dear friend, Thomas Bjerke, passed away. To say the least, it has been extremely tough and tiresome for Matt and I and all of Thomas’ friends and family. We are doing our best to keep the memories close to our heart and take with us the lesson of how fragile life can be. We miss him more and more every day.
We spent the following months trying to trudge through our pain by working hard to finish our house. Through February, March and April we were painting, adding carpet and trim, appliances being delivered, etc. Mid-May the inside was complete and we began tearing off siding and then re-siding. I got the extremely fun and important job of hauling and stacking all the old rotten siding onto trailer beds. My family and fiancé don’t trust me too much with a hammer and nails – even though I am a Carpenter. J
After our house was complete we spent the summer settling in. We set up a fairly large swimming pool, planted some trees, went fishing, barbecued, etc. We knew fall would be hectic with school starting and hunting/trapping so we spent a lot of time at home enjoying our new space and of course, each other.
We anticipated hunting season to be hard without Thomas who not only was Matt’s best friend but his fellow die-hard hunting buddy. All those times Matt and Thomas thought it was so funny to irritate me by waking me at 4am with their goose calls was something I never imagined would be something I missed, but I surely do. I’m very happy Matt continues to go hunting because it’s a past time he and Thomas loved to do and made so many memories doing so.
Another hard loss for me and my family came in late fall when my grandpa, Rod Valentine, passed away due to cancer.  It was another one of life’s sobering reminders that our time on Earth is far too short. I’ve learned to really try to spend each day like it’s my last because as my grandpa said, “There’s something they don’t make more of and that is time.” What a simple, yet powerful statement and words I will keep dear to my heart.
So this Christmas season and the upcoming New Year I hope you keep in mind how precious your life and your loved ones lives are. Try to flash a smile and kinds words to someone who needs it, attempt to end every phone conversation with your loved ones with, “I love you!” and strive to end each day thankful to God for all He has blessed you with. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

With Love,
Brandi Carpenter and Matt Lenzen

Matt and I in Las Vegas for my 21st!

Walleye Princess - Summer 2011

Early December 2011

It's standard to include a picture of your engagement ring, right!? :)  

Matt Dove hunting - Brandi photographer

Workin' hard or hardly workin'?

The backside of the house before - new windows and filling in the rotting door already done.

Dad and Matt nailing on the last piece of siding! Very exciting and relieving moment for all!!

Backside of the house after!

Date night and silly picture of us from the New Year! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All My Single Ladies...& Guys too I guess.

Now that the festive craze is starting to descend from the snowless holiday season I have noticed a trend in my single Facebook friends and my normal** friends as well. That being my single ladies (and even me sometimes) becoming annoyed bonkers with the twelve thousand engagements and baby announcements in the last 4 weeks. Seriously, I know of 12 couples to get engaged within the last 3 weeks!
Maybe I shouldn’t say annoyed because I think a major part of my friends’ holiday-engagement hangover is just because as a society I believe we’ve been raised to have a certain stigma engrained in our minds.  A certain “life-stage rule book,” if you will, about at what age we need to be serious with a guy, be graduated from college, then engaged and married soon thereafter at again, a certain age. And, of course, followed by a career making an annual half a mill salary… OH! And we can’t forget the adorable [screaming] babies.
I can say that I’ve been in a similar situation. I wasn’t quite to the age where every time you turned around someone had a shiny diamond on their finger or had a creepy 3D ultrasound picture posted on their wall but I was once the 3rd wheel. I literally felt like the loneliest person on the planet. I felt I wasn’t worthy, pretty, funny – I mean absolutely anything “enough” to have a man!
What I’ve learned from life is that there is absolutely no rule book. Sure, it may seem everyone and their dogs are tying the knot or whatever but think about this:
 Most of the people who I’ve talked to who feel “behind” are 20-25 years old! You have your entire lives ahead of you! (Don’t roll your eyes at me…)
Statistically, 65% of marriages end in divorce anyways! The longer and older you are it takes you to find your prince charming the more likely you are to know what you want in life and in a person. You’ve sewn your wild oats and are ready to settle down.
Why do we have to compare ourselves to another person’s life? Just because SOCIETY thinks you should work, get married and have kids doesn’t mean that it is God’s plan for your life. What if you’re meant to travel the world first or write a book? I mean anything!
I’m sorry but who the eff said you need to be with someone and have a baby to be happy and/or successful?
I know, I know – easy for me to say right? I’m not the one feeling lonely and out of place? Truth is, a man doesn’t make you feel less lonely, more this or more that, etc. I’m on the fast track to happily-ever-after but I still have down days where I feel I’ve lost touch with old friends or hate how I look or am frustrated about how my future didn’t turn out how I envisioned it (especially school wise…). I think that if you’re depending on someone for your happiness you need to take a step back and find a way to truly become happy with yourself and LOVE yourself before you let someone love you. Maybe, that’s what God is waiting for.
Feel like you’re doing everything right but every man still seems to run from you like the plague?  What I learned way too late in the dating game is that a man that WANTS TO BE WITH YOU…WILL BE WITH YOU. Chasing is for shots and Tom & Jerry – if he doesn’t see your worth that is HIS problem, NOT yours!
This is probably the most frustrating for me to watch as a friend. I have been there. I’ve ran after people I should have let go because I wanted to be with them. I believe, when you find the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with it will just be magnetic – not even a question of letting go.
Sometimes we’re just not compatible with people and that’s why the first couple dates with different guys don’t go so smoothly or you change and your interests and beliefs have evolved and now reside opposite ends of the spectrum with that of your boyfriend (now ex). Don’t beat yourself up over it! Again, they just weren’t the one – take the life lesson and apply what you’ve learned to other aspects and future relationships when they come into your life.
You’re beautiful regardless if you have man candy or not. I truly believe there is someone out there for everyone. Some people find them and some people spend so much time obsessing over a past relationship they are blind to the future right in front of them or perhaps they rushed into marriage and met “the one” already after they had said their I dos.
Try to enjoy your moments now instead wishing your life away. I look back and want to kick myself for being so miserable – because, like I was always told, everything works out in the end. It did and I can’t imagine how awfully unhappy I’d be if I would have ended up with the guy I spent so much time chasing.
Keep your head up and focus on yourself for now! I am also a fond believer in, “when you stop looking for love, that’s when it finds you.” In the mean time, hit the gym, join a book club, make baskets, take shots for every engagement and/or baby picture posted, etc. Just do you and remember that you’re beautiful!  

**normal as in no one is normal but the fellow crazy asses I surround myself with in my non-cyber life.
Also, my blog is still in the process of being designed! It's taken quite some time but I can’t wait for all of you to see it!