6 year-old Kari…

 “Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep… wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have you…. The one who turns to his friends and says, ‘that’s her.’

When I was a little girl, I watched the Disney movies about the princess trying to find her prince charming. I believe those were called fairy tales because something so perfect does not really exist, right? What real man would wander through the woods to kiss a sleeping girl who lives with 7 short, fat guys? I mean, really?!  As a little girl I did not know any different though. I just thought that is how it is supposed to be. 

When I was 6, my mom made my Halloween costume. Most little girls my age dressed up as witches, fairies, or maybe even a clown. Six-year- old Kari Elizabeth Neal wanted to be a bride. Yes. A bride. My mom made my white dress and veil.  I carried pink flowers as my bouquet.  Obviously at a young age I had dreams of getting married to a prince charming one day…or at least someone like my Daddy. I had high expectations at a young age.

On my 20th birthday I had a mini meltdown. I was 20, single, living with my parents,  and had a 20 month old little boy. Life was moving oh-so fast for me.  Some of my high school friends were already married and buying houses. I felt like I was so far behind. Looking back, I wish I could smack 20 year-old Kari. Why did I feel like my life was flashing before my eyes? Why did I feel like I needed to be ready to settle down or in other words… why did I feel like I needed to settle at all? 

One month before my 22nd birthday, I took a vow in front of God, close friends, and several family members whom I hardly ever see. My dad and I walked down the aisle of the church I had attended since I was 5 years old. Rachel and Katie stood at the alter waiting for me. Rachel was crying. My mom was crying. I was crying. I wore a white dress and carried a bouquet of pink and white flowers… just as I did when I was 6 years old. I felt like this was what I was supposed to do. This is what was best for Gavin. This was the next step. This is what growing up is all about…

Someone once said “Have no regrets in life. Everything happens to you for a reason. The hard times that you go through build character, making you a much stronger person.”  I do not regret getting married. Do I sometimes wish I hadn’t? Yes. Do I hate being labeled as a divorced woman? Very much so.  I can honestly admit that I came away from my divorce as an independent, confident woman who now knows what she wants and refuses to settle for less than she deserves.  If it is in God’s plan for me to have a second wedding, that wedding WILL BE the last wedding I have. I’m going to do it right the next time. I am not going to settle.

I came across the quote at the beginning of this blog several years ago. I’ve sometimes read the quote and thought to myself, “Ha. Yeah right!”  My theory was that all of the guys like that were either already taken, or just do not even exist. Why would someone as awesome as the individual described in that quote be single? Why would anyone let that guy go?  I now realize that guy may quite possibly exist… somewhere in the southern regions of the United States.  I’m not jumping into anything, but I am definitely starting to believe.

Until next time…

Why is there a wall here?!

“You, me, we should get together now
Cause love may never give another chance
Please don’t be afraid to let me in
Cause we may never get this moment back again”

-“Something to Lose” by Corey Smith

I am at a much happier point than I was on Monday…Thank God. My situation with Gavin is slowly improving.  I have tried really hard to not get upset with him over everything since Sunday night. When he gets upset with me, I just look at him and tell him “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I do love you even if you think I don’t.” Divorce has to be hard on children. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a home with both of my parents; therefore, I cannot even begin to try to understand what Gavin has been through. All I can do is just pray that one day when he is at the age where he might be considering settling down, he will choose to marry someone for the RIGHT reasons. I hope he chooses someone who is his BEST friend and can tell everything to.  I hope when she walks down the aisle on their wedding day, I can look at Gavin’s face and see happiness.  I pray that they will put God first in their relationship. Until then… I plan to be the #1 lady in his life!!   I am looking forward to having a dinner date with him tonight followed by a game or two of mini cornhole. We may even throw in a kitchen dance party if we have time! Oh how I love my dance parties in the kitchen with Gavin. 🙂 

What’s the title to this blog all about?

Well. Sometimes when I get in my funky sad, depressed moods, I try to shut people out. I tend to not want to share the details of what’s going on in my head with others, so instead I try to be short and pretend nothing is really wrong.  In previous relationships/ friendships, I have let my guard down and let others into my little world. Shortly after the guard came down…. those individuals ran away as fast as they could. Over time, it has taken a lot for me to really open up to someone and let them into my little world due to my fear of getting hurt.  On Monday I was trying so hard not to let someone (put the puzzle pieces together and figure out who) know what was really wrong with me. I was slowly shutting this person out because I was afraid.  Monday night I had the phone conversation that changed everything. I laid everything on the line. I figured, “Well. I’m just gonna throw everything out there. This is me. Take it or leave it. Take  it… Great. Leave it… I’ve gone down this road before. I will survive.” 

I chose not to blog yesterday because I focused my thoughts elsewhere. I instead sent a LONG inbox message thanking someone for proving they are worth my time… proving that nice guys do exist… and proving it is ok for me to let my wall down. 

The last two days I have been trying to fight the cold sickness that is trying to take over my body. I have taken my vitamins, drank my orange juice, drank my water, and slept at least 8 hours each night.  The sickness is winning, but I’m not through fighting!  My alarm went off at 5:50 this morning. As I stirred around trying to find my phone so I could start hitting the snooze button every five minutes, I thought to myself “Ugh. I feel worse today.”  After I hit the snooze and laid in my bed a minute, “Something to Lose” by Corey Smith started playing on my phone.  I automatically had a huge smile on my face because I knew what this meant… someone was calling me!  I didn’t find my phone in time to answer the call, so shortly thereafter I received a text asking me if I was awake. My response was “barely”.  I decided to go back to sleep a little while longer. At 6:27 Corey Smith started singing to me again…  I love good morning phone calls so much, even when I feel like death. 

Until next time…


“It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.” –Joyce Maynard

I am currently fighting an inner battle with myself and a more noticeable battle with my 7 year old precious angel, Gavin. As a parent, you always want what is best for your child. Luckily I grew up in a home with a loving father and mother who at times I felt were too strict and had too many rules. It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I finally realized why they did the things they did.

Being a parent isn’t about buying your child everything they could possibly want. It isn’t about rewarding your child for good behavior with a video game.  It isn’t a contest to see who can be the favorite. Unfortunately my child does not see it that way.  I can’t help but blame myself for this.  When I was pregnant with Gavin, I made my mind up that I would graduate college with a bachelors degree.  From January of 2004- August 2008, I was enrolled as a full time student in college.  I worked through college as well.  The entire time I kept telling myself this would all be worth it one day because if I would be able to provide for Gavin when he got older.  Little did I know that at the age of 7 my sweet little angel who I love with my entire heart and soul would one day “hate me” for not being the fun parent. Yesterday Gavin broke my heart into a million pieces by saying things to me that a 7 year old would not normally say.  If I spoke to my mother the way Gavin spoke to me yesterday, my Daddy would have “jerked my tail up” and made me apologize to my mother.  With Gavin, I can’t do that…. he is only repeating what he has overheard.  With Gavin, if I hurt his feelings or he doesn’t get what he wants… he automatically requests to “go home” and starts telling me how terrible of a mother I am and how much he loves his Daddy and he can’t wait until he no longer has to see me.  Coming from my sweet little baby… this rips my heart out every time.  For those of you who knew the struggles I had with my pregnancy, you probably understand why this breaks my heart so much.

Yesterday I reached a point where I had enough.  I told Gavin I loved him and if he doesn’t want to spend time with me just because I won’t shower him with gifts or take him everywhere he wants to go… that’s fine. I tried to explain to him that “giving him things” isn’t what being a parent is about.  He then tried to argue that his Daddy loves him more than me.  I looked at him with tear filled eyes, shook my head, and walked out of the room.  I shut myself in the bathroom and cried my eyes out to the point where I couldn’t cry anymore. While I was in the bathroom, Gavin cried and screamed “I want my Daddy. I hate you! I don’t like being here!” I pray that one day when Gavin is older he will understand.  I don’t want him to know all of the details. I just want him to understand why I had to move out. I want him to understand why I always had homework. I want him to understand why I couldn’t afford to take him everywhere he wanted to go. I want him to understand what a healthy relationship is.  I want him to understand what a happy marriage is.  Maybe once he understands those things… things will be different. Until then, I just have to pray. I have to rely on God for the strength I need to get through this trying time.

What else is going on with me?  Well personally I want someone to lose my cell phone number.  Funny how alcohol sometimes makes you want to text someone you shouldn’t, right? I cannot even believe I am allowing this to bother me, but I just don’t understand why someone would treat another human being the way I was treated.  Just when I thought I was over it and putting the pieces to my shattered heart and soul back together, I get these stupid text messages.

Needless to say, my weekend was not as fantastic as I had hoped it would be.  I did have the chance to laugh and have fun before everything fell apart.   Jonathan made the trip to Tennessee on Friday to visit and meet several of my friends. Yes…he is “that boy” I referred to in one of my previous posts. Hopefully we haven’t scared him off.

Until next time…

The Little Things In Life.

I woke up this morning with this throbbing pain in my head. To some, this pain may be considered a headache, but to me it is considered the beginning of the worst day ever.  Throughout my ever-so-stressful divorce process I would get these terrible headaches/ borderline migraines. This morning when I woke up feeling like poo with a throbbing head, I was slightly confused since I’m not currently under any stress.  Thank God for Excedrin (sp??)Migraine and a HUGE coffee pot! After my first cup of coffee I began to feel much better. I’m not sure if it was the caffeine or the fact I have discovered French Vanilla liquid coffee creamer is a gift from the heavens above.  Either way, I felt much better. 

After my coffee pick-me-up, I drove to Lynchburg to meet my Daddy to sign some papers for my Corolla.  Driving to Lynchburg was absolutely breath taking this morning.  What an amazing gift from God! The snow on the hills off of Hwy 82 was just beautiful. If I could’ve figured out a way to drive 55mph and take a photo with my phone, I probably would’ve taken a million photos. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. 

Probably the best part of my morning was the moment I got out of my car and saw my Daddy.  I am a total Daddy’s girl and throughout the last few months I have depended/ leaned on my Daddy so much. He has made sure his little girl is taken care of and I thank God daily (sometimes twice daily) for the support I have from my parents.  We were in a slight rush since both of us had to get to work soon, but for those brief 15 minutes, I was excited to see my Daddy.  It is so hard to believe I felt the need to push my parents out of my life just a little over a year ago.  In hindsight, I almost feel ashamed for taking that time for granted. There are so many people in this world who have lost their mom, dad, or both parents and here I was pushing my own parents out of my life. How selfish of me. 

Until next time…

The Beginning of a Good Thing

“I don’t know where this is going,
but it sure feels right…”

I recently discovered Steel Magnolia.  The quote at the beginning of this blog is a verse from their song “Last Night Again”.  If you haven’t heard it, you should definatly check it out.  That verse is by far my favorite part of the entire song.  It kinda rings true to my current situation. I have no idea where this is going, but oh my goodness it sure feels right…for once.

What. A. Weekend.  I still get that warm, fuzzy feeling when I reflect back on the weekend.  Saturday morning began with Gavin’s first basketball game of the season. He was such a little man out there! He stole the ball a few times, scored four points, and even grabbed a few rebounds.  I tried so hard to control myself and not jump up and down everytime he did something, but it was just too hard. I couldn’t sit down. I ended up standing most of the game and cheering for him.  I tried to keep it under control so I wouldn’t be considered the annoying mom.  Gavin even agreed that I wasn’t too annoying. Mission accomplished.

After the excitement of Gavin’s game, I began packing my last minute items for my highly anticipated road trip to the great state of Alabama. At 2pm Caity, Ashley, and I were in the car singing Jason Aldean at the top of our lungs and laughing.  It was such a fun 2 hour drive! Once we finally arrived at our destination, I went though a moment of “oh my goodness. How am I ever going to make it through the evening?”. I was a nervous wreck! I don’t know what I would have done if Caity and Ashley weren’t there with me!  As the night progressed, the nervousness slowly passed and I was able to take in every moment. 

Ashley made a comment on Facebook today that read : ” I just LOVE you! and it’s now your time to SHINE! :)”   I could not agree more.  I have been in so many unhealthy, one sided relationships where I gave everything I had and rarely got anything in return.  From crying myself to sleep and hoping I would wake up to at least a text that said “hi”  to the nights of being ignored because it isn’t cool to text when you’re with the guys to spending night after night wondering why it is so easy for someone to treat another human being the way I have been treated by so many people in my past.  Don’t get me wrong. I am comfortable enough with myself to be completely ok with being single. I don’t need a male in my life to “complete” me or make me feel important. With that being said,  I do see so many of my friends in happy relationships and I can’t help but think “Hmm… I wonder what that feels like?”  So here’s to a New Year. Maybe it is my time to shine? Maybe this is part of growing up? I had to go through the storm before I could experience the rainbow. Trust me. I do realize how cheesy that sounds, but I don’t really know how else to explain it.

 If you haven’t figured out by now… There’s this boy… and well I don’t know where it’s going but it sure feels right.  🙂 

Until next time….

Finding Inner Happiness- Pieces to the Kari Puzzle

“Being happy is something you have to learn. I often surprise myself by saying “Wow, this is it. I guess I’m happy. I got a home I love. A career that I love. I’m even feeling more and more at peace with myself.” If there’s something else to happiness, let me know. I’m ambitious for that, too.”

– Harrison Ford
A few months ago a friend told me that before I could expect myself to be happy in a relationship, I had to first be happy with myself.  This advice not only applies to relationships with members of the male gender, but also relationships with friends and family.  It is so hard to believe that there was a point in my life where I felt the need to shut people out just because I was so unhappy with myself.  I allowed myself to become someone I did not even know.  I was unhappy with my decisions. I questioned everything I did.  I tried to fill a void with unhealthy relationships with people who did not even deserve my time.  The crazy thing is, my best friend of 17 years told me time and time again that I deserved better. I was settling for what I felt was what I needed to make myself “happy” and could not even see for myself that I was actually bringing myself down.  After tears, stress, heartbreak, and prayer after prayer after prayer… and of course leaning on great friends, I finally realized.
Moving forward from my realization,  I had to discover Kari.  I had to sit alone in my apartment and cry sad, lonely tears on Friday nights.  I had to wake up and feel completely empty and used.  I had to go to the movies alone.  I had to go out to eat by myself. I had to learn to be alone.  At my rock bottom point, I realized what was missing in my life.  I grew up in church. My parents took me to church every Sunday for the 21 years and 11 months I lived with them unless I was sick.  Somewhere between the age of 21 and 25 I put my relationship with God on the back burner. I quit attending church on a regular basis and started making excuses.  About a month ago I realized the only way I could get myself out of my funk was to “let go and let God”.  I had to turn my troubles over to God. The Sunday morning after I finally realized this, I woke up, got dressed, grabbed my Bible, and went to church. I didn’t know anyone at the church I chose to attend that Sunday, but by the end of the service, I had met a few friendly faces. I listened oh so closely to the message and I felt so relieved and whole after the service. It was almost like that was a piece of me that had been missing. I wanted to hear more, so I called my parents and invited them to attend the Sunday night service with me. That night, my parents drove 30 minutes to Shelbyville just to go to church with me. I am still working on my relationship with God. I know He is still working on me though.  I know He has a plan for me and I shouldn’t stress or worry. 
After placing my trust with God, I was able to work on my relationship with my family and friends. A simple “good morning” text can put a smile on someone’s face, so I made it a point to send “good night” or “good morning” texts to friends.  I started calling my parents more. I stopped sitting at home alone and instead went home to Lynchburg to be with my family.  Surrounding myself with positive people who love me was just what I needed.  🙂
So here I am today, January 7, 2011.  I am at a happy place in my life. I wake up and cannot wait to see what amazing things the day has in store for me. I thrive on the happiness of others. If someone tells me I made them laugh or smile, it warms my heart. It makes me happy to know I made someone else happy. I still have things about myself that I need to work on. I do have weaknesses, but I know for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am happy. Words cannot even begin to explain the warmth I feel inside each morning when I wake up. 
Until next time…

2 More Days!

Sigh.  Thank goodness today has not been quite as crazy as Monday- Wednesday of this week! The week has finally calmed down and I can actually breathe… and blog! 🙂 

Oh my. I have so many positive things going on in my life right now! It is so hard to believe this is MY life! I am the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. I have the most amazing friends. I have a fantastic job. I have a supportive family. The most important thing is I’m working on “repairing” my relationship with God. 🙂

Yesterday my dad surprised me with the purchase of a new (to me) car! I’m the proud owner of a 2004 Toyota Corolla (almost). I am beyond excited since a new car is something I have been in the market for over the past several months.  Isn’t it funny how God works sometimes?  Just last week as I was working on my budget, I thought to myself, “I am going to need a car soon, but I just don’t know if now is the right time for it.”  I thought long and hard about it and prayed about it and yesterday that door opened for me thanks to my  Father and of course my loving and supportive Daddy.  

Tonight my brother will be coming over for some much needed brother/ sister hang out time while we eat pizza and watch the MTSU game on ESPN.  I am beyond excited about spending time with my brother. Our lives have gone in crazy directions over the last three years, and we haven’t been able to see each other as much as I wish we could.

The Road Trip. Oh the road trip. Well the hotel is booked, the plans are falling into place, and I’m so excited! Not once have I thought this is a bad idea.  Usually when I do spontaneous things I have a moment of “Wait a minute. Do I really need to do this?”.  Not this time.  We will see how it goes.

Until next time…

Manic Wednesday

Let’s face it. When I was younger all I could think about was, “Man I can’t wait to be older so I can do whatever I want.”  Now that I’m older, I can do whatever I want as long as the bills are paid, the laundry is put away, and I actually have the time.  Now that I’m older, I have this thing called a career that takes up 40-45 hours of my life each week and a little boy who is constantly involved in sports that require me to drive too fast from Mboro to Shelbyville 2-3 times a week. So basically now that I’m older, I have more responsibilities, less time, but maybe a little bit more money?  This grown up nonsense is totally overrated!  I’d give anything if I could go back and tell 16 year old Kari to take in every moment and not wish her life away.  Oh to be 16 again!!  Sigh.

This week has been absolutely crazy.  I should probably be doing something productive instead of blogging, but to be quite honest, I needed a change of scenery for a moment. The week started with me trying to catch up from the holidays at work while also attempting to book a hotel for my much anticipated and potentially life changing (err…that sounds creepy. I know.) road trip this weekend.  I will admit I felt very relieved when I printed my Expedia confirmation; however, I also suddenly felt nervous/ anxious/ excited all at the same time.  Hopefully the road trip will go well and I will be able to blog more about it later, but for now the only important detail is… I’m going on a road trip. What did Tuesday bring? Well Tuesday felt like Monday. It was hectic. Gavin had basketball practice Tuesday night, which should’ve been a happy time, but for some reason I still feel awkward amongst all of the basketball parents because they are all older than me and most of them know Micah. I’m now labeled as “the ex wife”.  I’m sure the title will grow on me soon enough, but for now it still makes me feel icky on the inside. I’d prefer to just be known as “Gavin’s mom”.

So here’s to a Manic Wednesday.  The week is slowing down, but at the same time I’m in such a frenzy trying to get myself prepared for this road trip! Hopefully by Saturday my nerves will be calmed. Ahhhh.

Until next time…

A Fresh Start for 2011?

New Year? New Kari? Maybe not.

Eh. This year I’m staying away from a new years resolution. I never stick to one anyway, so I might as well go ahead and save myself from the disappointment, right? I think so.  So what am I going to do in this New Year? Heck.  My divorce was final (thank God) on December 17th.  I’m finally Kari Neal again. *breathes sigh of relief as rubbing left ring finger*  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not running around celebrating at all hours of the night and parading around announcing my newly discovered freedom from the bonds of marriage. I’ve taken time to cry, pout, be depressed…and eventually get over it. 

The first step was to realize this isn’t the end of the world. So what? I’m 25 and have a 7 year old. If it is in God’s plan for me to be single the rest of my life, I’m ok with that. If God’s plan is to send someone into my life to sweep me off of my feet, I’m ok with that too.  I’m not going to dwell on which will actually happen. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy. 

In 2011 I’m going to continue doing what I was doing at the end of 2010. I’m going to be the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m going to text/ call friends and family almost daily.  I’m going to learn to embrace my time by myself and enjoy my time with Gavin.  So really there isn’t going to be a new Kari in 2011…. there’s just going to be a continuance of the Kari we all knew years ago… Happy Kari.