March 23, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Pride

This post is going to be far from humble--just a forewarning ;)

I'm not sure why this topic popped into my head today. I was making seitan and then I thought, "Three Things Thursday--I could write three things I'm proud of." Completely random. Then it was kind of hard to come up with three things, haha. But when I mentioned it to Jerry, he said I sell myself short and he started naming some things that I should be proud of.

I'm not going to count the most obvious one, which is losing more than half my body weight through diet and exercise. I'm certainly proud of that and I have no qualms about saying so! But since I've written about that all over my blog, it feels redundant. Instead, here are three things that may not be so obvious.

1. Remodeling my house.

I knew absolutely NOTHING about building, tools, plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, and a million other things when I started. I had no plans of completely redoing everything! I just wanted to remove the textured ceiling... which led to drywalling... which led to painting... which led to molding... which led to flooring... and so on. I didn't have any real tools to speak of--just the token hammer, drill, circular saw, and probably a couple of other small things I didn't know the names of.

I didn't have a miter saw until after I'd cut (by hand) all of the casing and molding in the dining room, living room, and kitchen. When I bought a miter saw from Facebook Marketplace, I was STUNNED. I couldn't believe how easy it was to cut boards! I had been doing it by hand and it took such a long time. When I learned the power of a miter saw, I got really interested in other tools.

There were a lot of back and forth texts and phone calls to Brian (my older brother) asking him questions about each things I decided to DIY. The first really big thing I took on was the drywalling. I didn't have to hang drywall at that point; I just had to tape and mud (I didn't even know what that meant) where the ceiling and walls meet. And honestly, that's the thing that I am most proud of--even though nobody coming into our house would notice--because it made the biggest difference to me. 

Removing the crown molding and taping those seams was a pivotal project for me--I learned that I am capable of doing SO many things that I never would have dreamed. And I was excited to do more more more! I started watching YouTube videos each time I moved onto something else, and I taught myself so much.

It's kind of funny to go through the house now, because I can tell which rooms I did first and which I did later--because I learned from each project what NOT to do, haha. There are certain things that I kind of cringe at, but every single one of them was a learning experience.

Looking at the before and after photos, though, makes me feel proud. I did 95% of the work myself. I went from someone who had never even used a saw to making my own laminate countertops and building a closet and building an island... I didn't even know it was possible to do those things!

(You can find all of the posts and photos and stuff like that on this page.)

2. Paying off credit card debt.

In early 2017, we were $14,000 in debt--and that didn't include car payments or mortgage or anything like that. It was solely credit card debt. We lived paycheck to paycheck and we were always worried about money. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started medication that I was able to come up with a plan to pay off the debt.

I read about zero-sum budgeting and I wanted to try it. I wrote a budget and I stuck to it meticulously. And over the next 14 months, I paid down our debt. When I made the final payment, I felt SO FREE. It was amazing! 

After that, I continued the budgeting. The money that I'd been paying onto the credit card then went to materials for working on the house. And when the house was done (is it ever really done?) I continued the budget to build a savings account. We had never had a "real" savings account!

We still do zero-sum budgeting and I love it because I know that we already have the money for the following month; I don't worry about whether we'll be able to pay our bills by living paycheck to paycheck. Last year kind of wiped out our savings--we had so many unexpected expenses like the new roof and water damage in the bathroom and bedroom, stuff for our cars... I'm disappointed that we had to use our savings for it. BUT--if we didn't have that money saved up, we would have added another $20,000 of debt.

Right now, I'm working on building our savings account again. I'm really hoping that we can get though this year without big (but necessary) expenses so that we'll have savings to fall back on in the future. The zero-sum budgeting was a huge game changer for us--we are still able to buy some (unnecessary/fun) things we want while putting some money in savings. And I'm proud of that!

(I wrote a post about zero-sum budgeting and how we paid off the debt, which you can find here.)

3. Riding the Breezy.

This one is completely odd and most people would think it's ridiculous that I'm proud of it... but this was HUGE for me. I was always absolutely terrified of flying. Brian became a pilot when I was about 12 or 13 and my first flight was in a tiny four-seater airplane with my brother as the pilot. (That had nothing to do with my fear--I was scared long before he got his pilot license.) I cried the entire 10-minute flight.

I did fly a few times after that--I had a penpal (remember those?!) in North Carolina and I visited her a couple of times. I went to visit my friend Adam at Harvard when I was about 18. I went to Florida with my family when I was about 19. I went to Vegas with my mom and best friend when I was 21. I was still terrified and hated every second of it--even with Xanax and alcohol (which you're not supposed to mix, I know, so don't do that)--and after the Vegas flight, I just couldn't bring myself to fly.

In 2010, I felt great about myself. I had lost about 100 pounds at that point and we drove to Minnesota to visit Brian. Brian's friend Steve owned a few airplanes and he invited us to the airplane hanger for a cookout. When we got there, Steve asked if we wanted to take a ride on the Breezy. When he showed us the Breezy, I thought he was joking--it looked like a half-finished airplane!

I didn't let the kids ride it, but Steve took them on a different "finished" plane. It was their first flight and they loved it!

Just the very thought of riding on that made me feel nauseous. I declined, of course, but Jerry was excited to go. When he came back and I saw the pictures he took from the air, I thought they looked so cool! And I started to get this nagging voice in my head that I should do it. Because back then, a Facebook profile picture was everything, haha. And NOBODY would believe that I rode on not just a little airplane that my brother's friend was flying--but the BREEZY.

When I started considering it, I felt extremely sick. I had a panic attack. I went in the bathroom and was literally dry heaving. I wanted to do it so badly because it was so unlike me. I had overcome a lot over the past year and it almost felt like it was meant to be--a new beginning, a new leaf, whatever you want to call it. I felt like it was a moment that would change my life.

I made up my mind, and I told Steve that I was going to do it. I said, "When you take off, I'm going to be crying. And I'm going to cry horribly until you get back on the ground. But I need to do this. So please don't do anything crazy and don't let me freak you out. Just fly." I knew with 100% certainty that he wouldn't do the crazy stuff he and Brian did for "fun"--he knew if he did that, I'd never get on a plane again. I was practically choking with panic when we started to taxi. We started picking up speed as my panic grew.

The plane gently lifted off the ground. And then? Peace.

I immediately stopped panicking and I felt AMAZING. The view from that little plane was astounding. Steve turned to look at me and grinned when he saw a huge smile across my face. I was trying to take a selfie (with a regular camera) when he motioned for me to give him the camera--while he was flying the plane--and he took a few pictures.

We only flew for about 10 minutes, but I loved every second of it. When we landed, I felt the biggest adrenaline rush I'd ever felt. I called a few people from my cell phone to tell them what I'd done. Brian is very hard to impress, and even he was clearly proud that I did it.

If given the chance to do it again, I would hop on the plane in a heartbeat. I felt so good about it that I even flew to Minnesota two weeks later and ran my first Ragnar Relay with Brian! I still hate flying, and a lot of times I white-knuckle the entire flight to my destination, so that hasn't changed. But the fact that I pushed myself to get on the most terrifying-looking contraption I'd ever seen remains with me. I am really damn proud of myself for facing that fear!

I didn't know Brian was recording while I was on the Breezy, but he put together this video for me. The music he chose is highly appropriate, considering I was diagnosed crazy seven years later, hahaha.

And there we have it--three things I am proud of :)


  1. Dang Katie, you are one brave girl flying in that Wright Brothers contraption! You're like Snoopy the Red Baron! Well done. You should be very proud of yourself. And not just for these Three things! You are "Kool Katie!!"

  2. Cool video, and I LOVE that song! I just can't fly. Wish I could and didn't have anxiety disease. Mines pretty severe, and I'm not adventurous. But you can get where you're going so much faster than driving.

  3. Amazing!! You should absolutely be SO proud of every single one of these items!! Your house is so beautiful, paying off debt is no joke and omg that plane! I don't know if I could do that one! Flying is definitely low on my list of favorite things ;) We should all sit back and think of 3 things we're proud of ourselves for doing. Sometimes its hard to give yourself a compliment or credit but you 100% deserve that!! >3

  4. This might be one of my favorite posts of your EVER. You're always so hard on yourself despite the fact that you are AMAZING!! Thank you especially for the last bit about the Breezy. Big hugs and go you!!

  5. Katie- I’m so impressed with you! The house remodeling is incredible. You just studied and learned it and did it. Wow! Paying off your debt is equally impressive. Way to go.

    The little airplane ride looks like a blast but I certainly would be scared on it. I have flown frequently on commercial flights with no issues but inside I’m a little scared and feel relieved when the wheels touch down. You aren’t alone.

    I want to suggest you start doing the occasional before and afters you used to do. Those were so much fun and I looked forward to them. You even did one of mine-the bigger front porch and sidewalk. I have more!

    If you don’t have enough for every week maybe you can do it once every couple of weeks or once a month.


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