Thanks, Dad.

On September 24th, 2021, at about 11:30 at night, I sat with my mom and sisters, and held my Dad’s hands as he took his final breaths. Its been just over a month now, and it will probably never stop hurting. It hurts to walk into my parents house, and not be able to walk down the hall to hear the hairdryer blowing on his hands as he starts telling me about this new photography or website project he’s been working on. I didn’t hear him call me Meggie enough. He was the only person that I ever allowed to pronounce my name with the E sounding like an A…. and as much as I hate hearing that pronunciation, I miss it. I miss the deep bass to his voice when he was making corny jokes. I miss how excited he got when I would tell him about new projects. I miss him, and I wish I had gotten to thank him for so much more.

It was no secret to most that knew us, that my dad and I were more often than not, conflicting storms. We were too alike, but I thank him every day for passing on his love for creativity and wonder.

In the days following my dad’s passing, we had to have a lot of difficult conversations while making arrangements. One of the topics, of course, was if anyone would speak at my dad’s memorial. I knew it wouldn’t be right if none of us said anything… Dad always loved listening to me tell stories, so I decided that I would be the one to speak.

I’d like to share what I wrote/said at my dad’s service on October 1st, 2021. Dad had a huge impact on a lot of different communities in his 71 years of life… some of them from all over the country, or the world even. If you’d like to see his celebration of life, we arranged for it to be live-streamed for the friends and family that couldn’t make it to Michigan. You can see that here. Please note that if you get to the part in which I speak, I’m a blubbering mess. You’ve been warned.

Below is what I had typed up to read that day. I like to think Dad was laughing from wherever he is now. So thanks, Dad <3

I think I decided last weekend that I wanted to get up here and share with you all today. But a few good memories or a story just didn’t seem like enough…
If we’re being honest, I probably wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with when I was younger. I mean I’m probably not the easiest to deal with now at age 30, but I DEFINITELY wasn’t back then. Mom can probably vouch for that.
I’m stubborn, hard headed, difficult at my best, and I’ve got a temper. Mom will tell you that I got all that from Dad, which is probably true. Its no wonder why we butted heads all the time. I probably never said it back then, but Sorry, Dad.
Dad and I were constantly at odds over one thing or another. When you’re a kid, you never understand why your parents are the way they are. I didn’t understand it for years; why my dad was the way he was. And I definitely didn’t understand why it felt like he just didn’t understand me.
As I got a little older, and I moved out, Dad and I got along better. We had actual conversations about a lot of different things.  We talked about photography, website design, plants, video games, you name it.
I don’t think I really started to understand Dad until a few years ago...  While mom is probably totally  right, and I did inherit my stubborn attitude and my temper from Dad, it wasn’t all bad, and I inherited a whole lot more than that.
Having Dad’s temper might mean I’m a*little* hot headed… but it also means he taught me to fight for what I believe in, and to stand my ground. He taught me that I may not always be right; and if I’m not, learn from it, grow from it, and change for the better.
Dad teaching me to be stubborn meant he taught me how to be determined, how to not give up even when things got hard and how to work through whatever obstacle might be in my way; he taught me how to be a problem solver, and I think I learned from the best, there.
I may have gotten my temper and my stubbornness from Dad, but that also means I got my passion from Dad. For my projects, for the people around me, and for life in general. Dad gave his all everywhere he could, and he impacted SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Because of it.
Through the Diecast Pub he created a community. He made a huge impact on an entire hobby, and made friends in every corner of the US and even other countries. Reading all of the posts from the people he met over the years showed me just how much he put into the hobby, and how grateful people were for that.
He got to share his photography with not only his hobby friends, but with his family and friends here, too. He took a bunch of our senior photos. And if you have the time to look through the photography albums we brought, and he was SUCH a talented photographer, you’ll see just how much passion and energy he put into every snap of the lens.

When I was younger, I went through high school with just about every hair color I could convince my mom to do for me, but the one that I always came back to was purple. Dad often voiced that he never understood why I wanted to have purple hair. That was one of the things I gave up when I tried to do the whole “adulting” thing and fit in better. 
I may have thought for years my dad never really understood me, but I realized he probably did all along, and really just didn’t know how to show me. Last fall, I finally convinced myself that I could be an “adult” and still be ME, so I showed up to their house one day, with freshly dyed purple and blue hair, and fully expected a comment from my dad about how he didn’t understand why I would want to have purple and blue hair.
Instead, when I walked into the office and said “What do you think?” He thought for a moment, looked at me and said “I always thought you looked the best with your hair like that.”
I may have inherited Dad’s hard-headed attitude and his temper, but it means I learned from the best how to have a passion for life. And I am so very thankful for that.

22 and Clueless

Looking back on things you wrote years ago is a funny thing. Some of the pieces you find create instant nostalgic vibes, some of them make you laugh at yourself, and some of them are just straight cringe and you immediately want to burn them/delete them from existence. (For some of my current or past writings that I didn’t completely hate, check out the creative writing category of my blog here.)

I recently found a blog post I wrote when I was 22, and just considering starting a blog. This piece is actually what made me decide on my original domain name, After some research, this domain is owned by Stephanie (and her adorable cat, Kate) and is a new blog about mental health and her life journey. No, I don’t personally know the new owner, but oddly enough, the direction of her blog is along the lines of what I had in mind when I owned the domain.

The front page of what is now 22 and Clueless. I like her tagline and enjoyed her first post, so I thought I’d share.

I still stand by what I wrote, and I think its still relevant even years later as I navigate adult life, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that 22 year old me wrote with you all. Feel free to laugh at me (well, with me. I’m definitely laughing at myself!) Also, feel free to comment and share what the hardest lesson you learned when you first moved out was.

Life at the Age of 22: 22 and Clueless

Unless you know something that I don’t, learning how to “survive on your own” as a young adult can be a rather trying process. A fun one, I will admit, but trying nonetheless.

When you move out, there’s suddenly so much more to do. On top of the standard bills, groceries, mail, and trying not to forget to feed the cat, (or feed yourself, for that matter…) there’s more that you have to do on your own that you realize you never really thought about.

There are a lot of lessons you kind of learn right away. These are my top 5.

1. Food doesn’t just appear.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t just learn this. But I didn’t realize how time consuming the whole food thing is. When you get home, a home cooked dinner isn’t waiting. You actually have to make it. And unless you plan on eating out of a box for the rest of your life, its a little more complex than just throwing something in the microwave. It takes chopping and mixing and measuring and sometimes, a rather extensive (and expensive) grocery list. Basically, unless you plan on starving yourself, search for some “quick, cheap, and healthy” recipes. You would be amazed at the plethora of recipes available online if you’re just starting out.

2. This place is WAY dirtier than home was.

Not that I thought things cleaned themselves. Besides those fancy ovens (yeah, don’t have one of those.) Its amazing how dirty a place can get so quick when you don’t have a mom who cleans it, or tells you when you need to clean something. Or a younger sibling who’s forced to clean it as a chore. Be prepared to wield a sponge and spray bottle a little more than you did with your assigned chores. I really hope you’re not afraid of cleaning a toilet, either. Otherwise, a rude and smelly awakening is coming, and quick.

3. The shampoo doesn’t refill itself.

Remember when you were almost out of toothpaste one night after you brushed your teeth, and in the morning there was a new tube waiting? For some reason, that doesn’t happen when you live on your own. You actually have to remember to go and buy the things you need. There’s no magic backup bottles of shampoo and conditioner under the sink. Bars of soap don’t seem to last quite as long. Oh, and the milk? It expires sooner than you thought it did. Might want to add that to the grocery list we were just talking about.

4. My TV stopped working.

Dad isn’t around to fix things, tell you what exactly is wrong with your car, or move the couch out of the way so that you can vacuum all the dust monsters that keep appearing. Yes, I said monsters. Those things are NOT bunnies. Suddenly, the things that were so easy to do because you had help, aren’t so easy anymore. I recently discovered that when you dye your hair yourself, your neck ends up a little more pink afterwards than when mom helps you. Not really sure how to prepare for that one.  My neck is still pink though…

Prioritizing daily tasks have become far more important than they used to be, don’t you think? You realize now how much you took for granted when you didn’t actually have to do it, or you were given direction on doing it. How much you were used to having around, how much your siblings did around the house, or maybe just how much mom and dad did for you while you were still living at home. Which brings me to our 5th and final lesson for today:

5. You no longer have a human alarm clock

You wake up and look at the clock, only to realize your alarm clock didn’t go off/you slept through it, causing you to oversleep. Now,  you’re supposed to be clocked in, in 10 minutes. So you jump out of bed, dress yourself, brush your teeth so your breath no longer smells like a small animal slept in there overnight, and fly out the door. On your way to work, you make a mental note to make sure your alarm will fully function from now on, or will be a LOT louder. These things seem much more important when you don’t have mom to open your door and yell “BETTER GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF BED OR YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE!” Suddenly, you remember her saying something along the lines of “What are you going to do when I’m not there to make sure you get up?” and realize she’s been right all along.

Uh oh…. What other things has mom been right about…?

Getting Organized: Planners 101

When you’re trying to do the adulty thing and be more organized, sometimes it requires a planner. A lot of people prefer to use their Google Calendars (you should see my boss’ Google calendar. Its remotely terrifying to look at), a lot of people prefer to have it all written out. I’m in between these two groups of people. While having your Google calendar constantly reminding you of your schedule is nice, I love the idea of a physical planner. I can write myself notes, write in appointments, make to-do lists, and who doesn’t love color coding?!

Pros and Cons of Planner Types

The problem is, there’s like 10 bazillion different planners and planning methods available. It might sound like I’m exaggerating the number, but I’m honestly scared that its not an exaggeration. I’ve tried quite a few, but in comparison I’ve only tried a small portion of what’s available.
I’m a creative person. I’m crafty; I LOVE making things my own. A big con to this is that I’m a perfectionist when it comes to projects. I want perfect, I want to do it ALL. So I learned after a few tries, that a planner that I had to put any work into setting up or making pretty, was a really bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it! But when you take more time making your planner look pretty than you do actually filling it in, it might be a problem. So, simple might be better.
The other issue you run into, is price point. There are some absolutely gorgeous planners out there! But, some of the “designer” planners cost me 1/10th of a paycheck, and that is so not okay in my book. I’m ballin’ on a budget, and I can’t fathom spending my ice cream money on a planner. The thought hurt my soul.
So I compiled a mini list of a few of my planner experiences, as well as links to find them if you want. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! After all, what’s a creative-but-trying-to-be-adulty gal to do without a new planner to try next year?

The Happy Planner: Create 365

I LOVED THIS SYSTEM. Its so fun to make different themed layouts and put all the stickers in the boxes. Since it uses a specific ring bound system, you can add and remove pages as you want and it makes it super customizable, though it already comes in a variety of themes. You can even make your own cover! It’s a great set up, and there’s an entire community surrounding it. It makes getting inspiration and ideas for layouts super easy.

I stopped using this system because I was having way too much fun (and taking way too much time) making the layouts. However, I still follow a few Instagram accounts who post content using the Happy Planner, and love seeing what people come up with!

Bullet Journaling

I probably liked this even better than the Happy Planner because it was 100% customizable to my needs. You just get a grid dot notebook and create your layout yourself. For me, this was a LOT of fun and took less time than the Happy Planner did because I would overthink it less. Plus, you can make it as decorative as simple as you wanted. I got a lot of my inspiration for my bullet journal from Pinterest. There’s a basic system you use by creating yourself a key, and an index, and then you can add whichever features you want. One of my personal favorites was a habit tracker, like this one.

Habit tracker used in a bullet journaling type of planner. Habit trackers allow you to track daily activities.
You can add whatever “habits” you want to a habit tracker. I added things like making sure I worked out, took my vitamins, ate breakfast, or posted to my blog!

I used a bullet journal for a full year until I decided to try something different and a little less time consuming, but I still love the bullet journal planner method.

Erin Condren Planner

The Erin Condren planner isn’t one I personally used, but a close friend did and LOVED it. It offers a really nice hourly layout, as well as a weekly, monthly, and yearly spread. It also comes with fun stickers and you can choose from an assortment of colors and themes. That’s always one of my favorite parts about picking out a new planner! The Erin Condren planner is one that I couldn’t bring myself to shell out the extra money on, but its still definitely on my list of planners I want to try. They do offer a petite planner now as well if you want more of a cross between structure and a bullet journal type vibe. They also have a few niche planners for wellness and budgeting, which I always think is a plus to have.

The Bloom Planner

The planner I currently use is one I found on Amazon, The Bloom planner. I chose this one this year because it offered a lot of the same features that some of the bigger planners offered, but in a smaller size and nicer to my budget. The fact that it offered more than just schedule planning, like goal setting was also nice. I did wish it had an hourly view like the Erin Condren planner, but for the price point its at I couldn’t complain too much.

When looking for my next planner before choosing the Bloom, I did a lot of comparison shopping. You have to find something that works for you. Make a list of all the things you need from a planner, if you have to. Maybe you have to have that hourly layout (looking at you, students!), or maybe you need a bunch of extra note spots for all the lyrics in your head. Maybe you really need a pocket sized planner. Its a personal thing. I’d love to hear what paper planners you guys are using or suggest! After all, 2020 isn’t all that far off.

Or maybe, you’ll choose to just stick with a Google calendar, and create one to rival even my boss’ absolutely insane calendar. If you do, all my positive vibes are being sent at you. You’ll need them.