Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Grandest of Them All

A light went out in this world on Sunday, December 28th when my dear sweet grandmother, Geneva Libersat Theall, passed. While we all try to find comfort in the loss of a beautiful and lively soul, we've been reminded of lovely happy memories. She was a spitfire and a joy to be around, one we will all surely miss.

In trying to get her affairs in place, I remembered a paper I wrote seven years ago for a Public Speaking course. We were assigned to write a tribute speech about someone we admired. Well, I went to the first person I generally think of honoring in my life, my grandma. She's a special lady, wise and knowing, with a good sense of humor.

She could bring people together during any situation like the time she started a poker game during a layover at the airport. No family event was complete without a roaring round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and every birthday you got a phone call with her singing "Happy Birthday" just to you.

Anyway, I wrote a tribute speech just for my grandmother. I had to dig through the garage to unearth the old laptop and hope and pray that the paper still existed. Luckily for me, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Just for Geneva, Grandma Extraordinaire

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt pegged the women of my family. My mother, my aunts and my sister seem to share the same characteristic of unfailing strength, especially when confronted with a difficult situation. I can’t neglect to mention the amount of love, creativity and positive outlook that flows through each of these women as well. I see these as family traits passed down to younger generations, but the source of it all, I believe, comes from the strongest link of our family, my grandmother. My grandmother, Geneva, is the most positive, caring, creative and strong woman I have ever met and I don’t even think she realizes it.
            After spending five minutes with my grandmother you would immediately understand why she was a first grade teacher for 39 years. Her beautiful smile, bubbly personality and ever-lasting positive outlook on life is perfect for the classroom. She is known in our family for waking us up with a song every morning. Even every day activities like cleaning up or driving to the grocery store has an equally appropriate tune as well. No job is too great or too important that it can’t have its own theme song; to her way of looking at it, that musical ditty only makes the work more fun for everyone, and she’s right. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”  is her classic morning wake-up. She’s always looking to learn something new and keep up with today’s new technology. Take the computer for instance: Grandma can successfully check her email and look up all on her own now. It only took 3 months to teach her how to unlock her cell phone or send a picture without taking 63 shots of herself instead of her target. I’ve even taught her how to send text messages using T9 word—the next task now is teaching her how to make a smiley face and boy, is she excited about that!
When the chips are down no one can pick you up like Grandma. It’s something about the way she encloses her arms around you for that “welcome back” hug when you visit her. Maybe it’s the way she pats your hand and say’s “Chere, baby!” that makes all seem right in the world. Either way my grandmother comforts like no one else! Perhaps she’s had enough practice raising four children and working with kids for almost a half century. She is fearless when it comes to tears. Distance between us makes it hard to get that Grandma-hug in, but she embraces the challenge and comforts us through a simple “I love you” card or offers a comforting word over the phone. No amount of space can keep Grandma from sending her love!
Need help with any project at all? She’ll be there with bells on ready to help in any way she can. She’s a master with projects, too. I’m a poster project princess because of my Grandmother, AKA the Queen of Arts-&-Crafts.  My grandfather was a professor at Texas Tech making both my grandparents advocates for education, but they came to understand that a teacher’s salary doesn’t pay for too much. My grandmother wanted her kids to have the best she could provide, so she used whatever she had to work with. She taught her daughters how to sew and embroider all their clothes, baked goods were used for gifts at the holidays and summer long camping trips were taken as a family vacation and a learning experience. My grandmother taught me how to make a backyard into a jungle full of adventure. She showed me the secret to drawing a perfectly proportioned person and how doodles can turn any school supplies into a work of art. She let me take her childhood stories and toys and turn her house into a time machine. I am never bored when in the presence of my grandmother; she is always full of life and full of fun.
            When I think of my Grandmother so many stories of perseverance and strength come to mind, it’s often hard to pick just one. I think of the strength it took for her five year old self to donate her favorite green tricycle for the cause during WWII. I think of the strength it took to pack up her new family and move to the strange town of Lubbock, making her the first in her family of thirteen generations to ever leave Louisiana. I think of the strength she found as she continues on with her life since the passing of my grandfather, almost 20 years ago. My grandmother has always been an active person, constantly moving and playing with her family. I think of the new challenges she’s facing as she battles against her biggest hurdle yet, rheumatoid arthritis. But she is a determined woman, rising to the challenge and beating the odds. No physical condition has kept her from hopping on a plane to visit her seven grandchildren, see them graduate, dance, run track, get married or perform in some way. She has driven to Mount Rushmore and visited her family roots in Nova Scotia. There’s the challenge of being an older person being in a young person’s world. She is determined to try new things and refuses to surrender to old age. The use of a cane and replacement of teeth has yet to slow her down—though we occasionally have to back-track to airports, video stores and parking lots looking for said teeth and cane, she continues on with life as if nothing is different. The woman is resilient!
            Whether she realizes it or not, my grandmother has passed on many wonderful qualities to her own children who have passed them on to theirs. By watching these role models and learning from the best, I hope to pass these same qualities to my children some day. I look up to my grandmother because she is her caring, positive, creative and strong—to me, the ingredients that make her one of my biggest heroes.
 It might be a little out of date--Grandma had a "Merry Walker" to roll her along, no more cane, and she texted beautifully with her iPhone. Emojis decorated every text followed by a concluding "over and out" or "roger that!" Getting a hug from her was easier since that she lived down the street from my parents and every Sunday in town was dedicated to visiting Grandma for her pill packs, coffee prep, and calendar change. Outdated paper or not, I'm glad I could be reminded of her again.
I cherish every hug, every adventure, and all the time I had with my Grandma.
Je t'aime beaucoup tout mon coeur, Grandma. I miss you so.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Few of My Favorite Things

Just before Thanksgiving I decided I needed a restart--Perfect timing, huh? Just before the holidays it's time to start cracking down on what I'm eating, how much of it, and getting my rear moving.

For the last two weeks I've really been trying hard to make better choices so far it's paying off--two pounds down! Whoo-hoo! Three days into this restart and I already felt better, more energized, and just plain good. Who would have thought that nourishing your body would feel so great?

Here are a few of my favorite things that have helped me enjoy getting back on track:

Health Restart Favorites

Dove Chocolates--Yes, dark chocolate for a little indulgence at the end of the day. Have to. I can't deprive myself so I'll be smart about it and enjoy 1 or 2 chocolates. Yes, moderation and self control--not my strong suits, but I am getting better.

Tea Infuser--This Aladdin tea infuser mug is great at the end of the day. I have to power through sitting and observing for two hours, 4-6, nearly every day. By the time I get home I'm tried of sitting and staring and talk about hungry! So I started drinking tea half way through my observations.

It definitely curbs my appetite so I can make it home and make a good dinner. When you're starving you don't want to wait to make something, you'll eat everything including the kitchen sink. That's why the hot beverage really helps. It keeps the monster at bay.

This mug is great for traveling and I know I won't slosh tea all over my desk while I'm working. The little infuser is attached to the lid. Flip the switch to drop it down and flip it back to pop it out when you're done.

Peppermint Tea--It's the holiday season and mint or peppermint tea just seems like the right flavor. Add a little honey to sweeten it and I'm good.

White Balsamic Vinear & Walnut Oil--Two great items to put on your salad. No need for dressing, this is it! I had an aunt rave about using vinegars and oils on her salads and how she never used dressings again. Well, I've been doing that for a couple years now and I love it.

This is a great combination that's light and fresh. I add salt and pepper for a little seasoning and that's all you really need. Today I did a kale salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, and sliced apples topped with feta cheese. Delicious and definitely filling!

Lunchblox--This great little grouping here is genius! Containers that stack together, with stackable ice packs, make lunch easier to pack and carry to work. All my little containers are useful for holding side items like almonds, celery, peanut butter, and more.

 Halos--Cute small oranges give me a boost of vitamin C for a quick snack and they don't require a whole lot. All you need are your hands for peeling!

Barre3--My job is not 9 to 5 and while I do teach dance, that doesn't mean I'm putting my body through the paces it needs. When you're teaching, you're not focused on your body, you're focused on helping your students understand their own. Being here for long hours, the last thing I want to do is hit the gym. I've done the gym thing and it's great, but I need something that makes me feel happy, like when I dance. Working out should be fun, right?

I do barre3 online. Don't need a set time and place. I can do it any time, any where, any day. I like that. I can do a 10 minute work out or 30. Or 40. Or 60. I can to three sets of 10 minute sessions throughout the day or take a full hour off and get it done right in my office.

I really like how I can focus on my body, settle my mind, and reenergize for the day. It's a time for me to check in with myself and honor my body by doing something good for it. Yeah, yeah, kumbaya and all that, but I really do enjoy my barre3 time.

Is there something you use that helps you make good choices? Or a good choice that helps you feel great? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Best Day Ever

Listening to the radio this morning, I heard this story about a man polling celebrities about their best day ever and of course, the talk show started talking about their best day. You see where this is got me thinking about the best day even in my lifetime.

I couldn't even believe it was happing.
That's tough. I have tons of days I can think of that make my heart light up and it makes me feel incredibly grateful. To pick just one? Man, that's nearly impossible! 

Meeting Maddie for the 1st time.
I think about the day Pyro Man dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I think about the day we stood in front of all our friends and family and did just that. I think about meeting my niece for the first time and ugly crying while I blubbered to my sister how much I already loved Miss Maddie. I think about the day I got my license and my first time in New York City. Both exhilarating!

So proud of this production.
Imagine This
I think about the day I got pulled on stage by Andy Blankenbuehler at a convention because he remembered me performing my solo the night before. Biggest thrill and I still remember how that made me feel. I think about the day I got accepted in the dance department, where I was and who was with me and how it felt. The day my MFA These production took the stage makes my heart swell and my heart race. Graduation when I received my hood, a perfect end to my collegiate career. The day I got the call a job opening for OCU. I did lunges in a sun dress on the stage of my reception venue. In front of a bunch of random strangers. 
Totally cheesin'. Can you tell?

I think about days spent with family and friends, special moments that made that day meaningful to me. But as I'm sorting through all these incredible days, I can't help but return to one day in particular. Everything about that day, what led up to it, how the day went, who was there, it all really shaped who I am today. At the time it really was the best day ever, but really looking at it now, really thinking on it, I know that's a moment that really changed me. 

The day I won my first dance competition with my solo. I was fourteen and I'd busted my butt all year long working on a piece I dearly loved and felt connected to. I remember hearing my name called to perform it for a second time that day in front of an entire gymnasium full of people. I remember the feeling of laying my heart out there on the floor, pacing myself, controlling each extension, each turn, and feeling elated when I heard the applause at the end. If nothing else, I knew I made it farther than I ever had in competition before. 

Every time I hear that song or see a picture of that dance, I'm reminded of how I learned what hard work really was and that if I put in the time and effort, good things could happen. I'd never realized you get out what you put into things but that day really struck a chord for me. I was reaping the rewards of putting my all into something I was passionate about, something that meant a great deal to me and it paid off. Incredibly life lesson all if one day, huh? 
Baby face. Just so young...

Receiving that honor made me smile like I'd never smiled. My family was there cheering me on, sharing in this exciting achievement I'd worked so hard to attain. I was on cloud nine!

My confidence soared and I kept telling myself every year after, if I want it I have to work for it. The trophy is gone and I don't remember the choreography any more, but the feeling of that day, I still carry it with me.

If you had to choose the best day of your life ever, what would it be? 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Focus, Focus, Focus

My goodness, it's hard to concentrate this time of year! It's the last week of classes and I have so much to do between now and when grades are do, but I'm having the hardest time focusing today!

I think it's because I have packages waiting to be wrapped and a few more arriving today--can't wait to wrap up these special goodies for the ones I love! Oddly enough, I really enjoy wrapping gifts, especially at Christmas time. I always wrap them while listening to Bing Crosby's Christmas album.

AH! Come on 6:00 pm! Hurry up and get here! I've got holiday fun to do tonight!

What could it be?

What's are you excited for today?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Happy Heart

Thursdays are my Fridays which is stellar since Thursday is my favorite day of the week! This week especially I've had a very full and happy heart!

I can't put my finger on any one thing that's put a pep in my step, but I can tell you a few things that certainly have made this heart so light...

A decorated tree to sit by and admire all day long...
Festive dishes to eat upon and mugs for warm drinks...

Good food to fuel the body...
Kitty snuggles on the couch...
New toys to play with...

Fuzzy models to play with...
 Moral support during workouts.
 All the little things that make me smile or my heart go pitter-pat, they add up throughout the week and I always feel full of happiness. Weeks like this one, I could live off that joy forever!
What makes your heart happy?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Passion Planner: My Passion for Planners

Last post I warned you about a nerdy post. Well, here it is...

I love planners. And calendars. And clocks. I do and yes, I know it's weird. From the time I was a little girl I've adored writing in my planners and keeping track of all I do and have yet to be done. Again, I know that's weird.

The last couple of years I've stopped using written planners much to my disappointment. I just couldn't find one that felt functional for my new adult life. So I went to using my phone calendar alone--which is great, don't get me wrong! It has great features and reminders that help remember things like birthdays, medicine refills, appointments, and more. I love that reminder feature. But when it came to keeping track on my to-do's with my daily schedule, forget about it. Doesn't really work with the phone.

A couple weeks ago, my friend sent me this awesome link for basically the neatest planner ever! Fortunately she is weird like me and loves calendars, too, so I I knew I could trust her planner picking skills. It's called The Passion Planner. Y'all. This Passion Planner is the bomb dot com!!

All my trial sheets--not the best shot, but you get the idea.
It's so functional to my brain and my needs, especially in this time of my life. I'm not in school as a student any more, but I still have career aspirations and dreams to work towards. Each week and each day I have a focus to concentrate on, which is great for me. There's a split box for to-do's: personal and work. Hallelujah! Because there IS a difference between what needs to be done for work and home life and both are equally important. I tend to push a lot of personal to-do's to the side. But what's even better is that it divvies up the personal work to-do's in two sections, "top priority" and "priority." There's even a big box to free write, draw and take notes. Loved using that for whatever pertinent thought crosses my mind.

To be honest, I wasn't too sure about this planner only because it lacked color. It's just black and white. My gut told me, "buy it! It's perfect for you!" while my creative brain hollered back, "Where's the color? The intrigue? The imagination?!" Point taken so I went on a research binge of planners. I looked at every designer planner I heard of, polled facebook of all my planner friends to give me their recommendations, and dug a little bit deeper in the personal planning world. I tested example print outs and studied each potential planner carefully until I circled back to what my gut told me, the Passion Planner was the way to go.
I've made my purchase and I'm anxiously awaiting it's arrival in January! In the mean time I've printed off their trial forms and have stapled those together for the duration of December. It really is that wonderful that I couldn't wait until January!

Planners can be very personal and it does take some time and trial and error to find the right one for you. I'm pretty excited about my find and maybe I'll help another lost planner find the daily planner of their dreams!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Big Sighs and Homemade Pies

When the clocks strike 6:00 pm tonight, I'll officially be on vacation! I've been looking forward to a little down time especially since I'll get to spend a couple extra days with my main squeeze!

Got a big project accomplished and turned in this week, so big sigh there. Nailed down a great summer opportunity for me and I'm really looking forward to this big step--hoping it opens up some new doors. Overall, there's been a lot of positive things going on and it feels nice to see things moving for me.

I've still got a few Thanksgiving to-do's to get done, but I made up a two batches of mock mince meat pie filling for this year! Can't wait to serve up a big piece of this!

Essentially a spiced fruit pie. So. Dang. Good.
I also tried my hand at Pioneer Woman's batch of Cinnamon Rolls. Lord have mercy because those are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had in my entire life. Not to mention they make a ton--like three pie plates and casserole dish ton--I couldn't freeze them all and I knew there were too many for just our family. So, I shared a whole pan with folks at work. Thankful to have such lovely co-workers who will help a gal out!

After...sooooo delicious!

And even though I whipped up a batch of those decadent rolls, I still resisted the urge to eat one this morning and hit the restart button on my health.
Eggs, toast, tomatoes, and avocado. Fills the belly up and fuels the body for sure!

Yes, only days before Thanksgiving, too. But I really needed it. I've let a lot of thing slide and my choices in eating and exercise to just got out the window. 

Three days of early morning walks and slow jogging has helped boost up my energy so far. I'm feeling determined to keep it up this time. It's so hard to start over. I'm hoping this is the last start over and I can just maintain good habits. Fingers crossed.

Apple cranberry walnut spinach salad with grilled chicken.
Best part of today? I ordered myself something special and I can't wait for it to get in! I'll share a little bit on that later. Nerd alert, ya'll. Just prepare yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Have safe travels!
What's your big accomplishment for the week?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Tunes

Saturday mornings when I'm up at work I always need some background music to keep me going. Today I discovered a new band to add to my playlist. Thanks to Today's Letters for posting one of their songs!

The Mighty Oaks

What are some of your favorite bands?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Winter Is Coming

Not coming, winter is by golly here! Last night we dropped 20 degrees in one hour--what the what?! Yesterday is was 79, today it's 33. That's right, people, winter has arrived.

Last night I tried to prep for the big artic rush and someone decided they needed to "help" in this process. There's a $3.50 faucet cover totally demolished. Darn thing lasted a grand total of ten minutes. She just can't help herself sometimes...Oh, Penny Love.

Me? I was all too thrilled to pull out the warm hats and scarves for this year! I'm sure I'll be over the cold soon enough, but for now I'm excited to bundle up! Who's with me?!

Can't you see the excitement? Or maybe that's the caffeine...hmm...

Do you get excited for colder weather?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This Week's Happy Heart

Brought to you by...
Successful pie crusts and...
homemade pot pie is pretty blue dishes.

Freshly manicured nails from...
a long over due girls night out.
What has made your heart happy this week?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Be Brave

In recent days I have come to realize how much I procrastinate and how often it tends to happen. More than that, I've come to realize how many of the things I put off are important personal things. It's been a little shocking and now that I know I do it, I find myself getting more and more irritated that it happens. But this realization has done wonders for me, too, because it has lit a fire under my rear end!

When I get irritated I get determined and when I get determined just watch out, that usually means I'm about to be on a pretty productive roll. There are lots of things that need to get done, but what I want to focus on are the steps I need to take to make my dreams a reality.

I think I've been slow to start in part of being scared, a little timid to start the steps in moving forward. In some ways following your dream can be a somewhat terrifying. You just don't know what's going to happen when you start down that path. What you hope for is the best, what you can expect is anything, and the outcome will always be a mystery.

I can hear the doubt in my head--I am my own worst enemy. They creep in, those tiny little questions of skepticism and they snuff out any light of hope for a dream. Isn't that awful? The one thing standing between me and my desires is me. Hence the procrastination. I'm putting off moving forward to prevent the doubt and pessimism, but it's not working. Instead I'm stuck in the middle of the road watching other friends and family move forward. I know though that deep down in my heart I'm going to regret not trying. I'm going to regret playing it safe and ignoring that thought of "what if?"

Bottom line is that if you want to live your dreams and give it a shot, you've got to take that leap of faith and do it. It's like Indian Jones stepping off the ledge onto the invisible bridge--you've got to trust. Of course, there's a lot to put into place to cover your hiney as much as possible but at some point you've got to let go and let God. Be. Brave.

So I'm starting small, baby steps in the right direction. Every tiny step forward makes my heart race with joy. That feeling right there is enough to keep me moving on to the next step. As I do, I'm going to keep telling myself, "Be brave, Julie. Keep going and be brave." It's all going to pay off if I just keep my chin up and keep on pushing through it all.

What makes you feel brave? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Back to the Grind

The weekend is never long enough. I've got a list of things been trying to complete around the house and I didn't get as much done as I wanted to this weekend. Now here it is, Monday again. But I've already gotten plenty of work done from the comfort on my own bed so I guess that makes up for it.

Enrollment started and as an academic advisor I have to enroll my students for the spring. This year I jumped up, grabbed my coffee and computer and dove back into bed, ready to get started. Genius idea, y'all. Genius.

I'm hoping this is how the whole day stays, productive yet comfortable. I could do with a little less productive stressful days--those just wear me out body and soul.

How do you like to start off your days?

Broke out the Thanksgiving mug today. How can it not be a good day?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TV Confession

Everyone has their favorite shows that they watch on TV and I know every one has at least one guilty pleasure they watch. Whether it's trash TV, reality shows or infomercials, everyone has something that they watch that is totally self indulgent.

Me? Well, I discovered 19 and Counting last week on our fall break. I watched as Jill Duggar and her now husband prepared for the wedding. Last night I was totally wrapped up in watching their two hour wedding special.

Ridiculous. Can't even believe I got suckered into this show--I've never been one for reality TV, but this family is a complete fascination to me. The wedding, the engagement, now that pulled me in because I got suckered into their love story. Long distance relationship? I totally relate! The excitement of finally being together and building a life together? I totally relate! Something about watching a recap of their love story, engagement, and wedding just made me think back on my own and I was entirely sucked into it all.

What's your guilty pleasure show?

Monday, October 27, 2014

100 Happy Days

Way back in the summer months I started this challenge, 100 Happy Days. Look it up and try it for yourself, it's pretty fun.

I say that and then you'll read this next bit and think, "oh yeah right, loads of fun." But it really was...up to a point.

Somewhere around day 62 I just stopped posting for a few reasons. One could have been because life got really crazy with work. Another reason could have been that I only saw food and coffee as being the highlight of my day and that got old after a while. Or one could have even been that happiness was found in sleeping, not searching for my happy. These, of course, are only possibilities. I'm not saying they're true or anything.

In any case, there has been some relief of stress and therefore a little more opportunity to see the beauty that is around me (And not just in food or cups of coffee). So I've restarted with day 63 today and I'm hoping my eyes will be a little more open to the happiness that is all around me.

Can you find anything in your day that makes you happy?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Tunes

Every other Saturday of the month I come up to work while our community dance classes go on. Now most people would scoff at weekend day spent up at work, but I find that I can be pretty productive here in my office. It's three solid hours spent catching up on emails, grades, assignments and what have you. I'm actually pretty grateful for the built in office time--it's time set aside specifically for work.

Plus it gives me a chance to explore some new music. Case in point: you + me

And yes, if you think that female voice sounds a bit familiar, you're probably right. Check out their story here and then go savor the entire album this afternoon.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I've been thinking...

I've been thinking and pondering and cogitating on this dusty old blog. You know it's five years old? That seems ancient in blog years. Heck, I've had this sucker longer than I've had my husband. That's a long commitment to a blog if you ask me. And yet I'm still thinking on it.

I've been waiting for the right inspirational story to write, the right comedic relief moment to share, and mostly I've been waiting for a chance to write. I miss it--miss the clicking of my keys while I watch the words trickling across my page.  I miss the editing moments that makes me lean back in my chair;  I'll sit contemplating the text while I twirl my hair in my ponytail just long enough for the right thought to hit me so hard it propels me into the screen in a frantic frenzy of typing. And instead of doing all this, I've been thinking.

Which apparently is not what you want to do in the blogging world. If you want to blog, you do it. How simple...and yet, here I sit still thinking. Well, what is my blog? What is it's purpose? I know I want it to be something, but what? What will people want to read? Why will they want to read my blog? Should I change my handle? What should it be instead? A blog about dancing or a blog about me? Or should it be something all together different? Why is this so hard? Why can't I just write? These are the questions that make me think so much.

Deep in my heart I'd like this little blog to be what I consider a success and that means steady readers, followers, and in my wildest dreams, a book deal. Because if you were to ask me today what a fun job would be, I'd say blogging. I think writing about what you know, posting pictures of projects, and sharing little life moments is pretty awesome. I adore reading so many blogs because they give me something that I need or am missing in my life; a reminder of gratitude, a to-do on just about anything, or a good afternoon laugh. I think life can be portrayed so beautifully through words and pictures, and even if the moments are not always the best, there's always something good to be found.

I love my job and I have aspirations for myself--some of which I'm still figuring out, That's kind of the beauty behind being a grown up; there are so many more options than you could possibly imagine. Even so, I still love my little blog. I think about it often and miss it when I'm not on it. I daydream about what it could be or might become. Now that things have slowed down a bit *ha ha* I guess my thoughts are turning to it more and more and it's made me realize that I really need to stop thinking about it all together.

You heard me, I need to stop thinking about my little blog. I do. I need to stop thinking and start doing. It's the only want to even begin making headway with my little blogging dreams. So there you go. Problem solved, self.

But I know all too well I won't stop thinking. I can at least start doing more and work through my burning questions as I go. Might not be the most riveting post I've written so far. I am, however, hoping it'll be the shot in the arm, the pep talk to get me back at the keyboard again.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Best Person to Be...

Amidst all the travel I've done this month, I've discovered a bit more about myself. I suppose that's what naturally happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. And to be perfectly honest, it's been some time since I've done that.

I was reminded to proudly put myself out there, no matter what the reaction. Patience is all about breathing. I found that some fears can be overcome...thanks in part to time and also brilliant apps. When I think I'm the only one, I'm reminded that I'm not. No matter my age, dancing it out will always help me feel better. Sometimes I have to let go of the railing and just enjoy the ride.  I don't have to be what someone else has decided I am. It is possible to grow and change if I take the chance on myself to do it.

Discoveries, they don't always happen in the most profound way. Usually it's a tiny moment that blows your mind while you try desperately to keep a pretty natural exterior. You know, not around jumping through the air shouting "EUREKA!!! I'VE GOT THE ANSWER!!" That catches people off guard sometimes freaking them out--just in case you were thinking of trying it.

And if I probably told you how I  made all these discoveries or what was going on at the time these thoughts popped into my head, you'd think I was ridiculous, pulling something out of nothing. But I know deep down what those silly simple moments meant something to me.

Today I had one last little simple realization, probably one of the most obvious one a person every has in their life. It's stupid easy but until you believe it, I mean truly believe it, it's just words.

Today I realized for the very first time that I don't have to be anyone else but me. Brilliant, right? Uh, hardly. This is something we've heard all our lives, "the best person to be is you," "be yourself," and on and on. Well, I guess some of us don't figure it out right away, takes us a little bit to really buy into it.

I've spent a lot of time comparing myself lately, questioning if I should do things like this person or that, as if there are no other choices in my life. Ever tried to fit yourself in someone else's shoes? It's exhausting and frustrating, not to mention uncomfortable because HELLO! They're not meant for you! Wear your own damn shoes for Pete's sake!

Maybe it was all the traveling, maybe it was taking a couple of steps out of my comfort zone, maybe it was something else all together. Who knows. In any case it put a pep in my step, gave me a boost of confidence, and made me feel a little bit lighter today. I hope that feeling sticks with me, especially those times when I really need it most.

What's your "aha" moment?  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Shot In the Arm, Thankful Thoughts

There are lots of times when I feel blue or down or just lost in a bunch of questions. But there's nothing like an unexpected shot in the arm to lift your spirits and set your feet on sunny road ahead. My full and happy heart is brought to you by:

My sweet nieces and nephews. 
Spending five minutes with them perks up my mood and gets me to reconnect with my inner child. 

My family. 
Whether we're family by blood or family by marriage, they're incredibly supportive and so loving. 

Since May I've been off of it but I had a couple cups this weekend and I'm reminded how wonderful it is. I truly savored every sip. 

Fur creatures. 
They bring a lot of life to what might be a quiet house. When you need a hug, they're there. When you need a kiss, they'll gladly provide. When you need a woobie, they'll bring their favorite. Even when my patience is tested, I'm still grateful to have them close. 

A blooming garden.
No matter the age, we're always amazed by what nature can grow and provide. Picking a bright red tomato is exciting. Seeing the start of a fruit astounds and watching vegetables grow plump makes me giddy. I love waking up each morning and seeing a new surprise. 

One of my favorite quotes has kept popping up in my mind this week and I've tried to remind myself every day of it. 

Sometimes in my little mess I forget how big I'm blessed.

What gives you a full and happy heart? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rainy Day Catch Up

Happy Thursday all! It's been a beautiful day so far for me and I hope you're having an equally splendid one, too! I've been a little slow to blog once a week...whoops.

It started up with a delicious bowl of muesli, yoga pants, and a comfy grey sweater which was perfect for this rainy morning. Honestly, I wanted to stay snuggled up in bed, but I didn't want to miss out on a Barre3 class. Best way to start the day, hands down.

I also got to knock a few things off my Birthday List! Last weekend my mom and I took a trip to Ham's Orchard in Terrell, Texas. Picked up a huge bag of peaches because we unfortunately could not pick the peaches off the trees. *Sigh* So I sort of checked off #14 (Go Pickin'), but not really...guess I'm going to have to find another orchard and try again--darn!

Fortunately I got closer to checking off #3, Try 5 New OKC Restaurants or Stores. Yesterday I tried S&B Burger joint, yum! Didn't snap a picture because I was too busy devouring the amazingness that was that burger. Sorry, kiddos, maybe next time.

Today I popped into a coffee shop to do a little work, Vintage Coffee. Pretty chill little coffee joint with a mean Chai Tea Latte. Verdict? Excellent. So that's two out of five places, but I like this "trying new places" thing. I'm a creature of habit and getting out of my comfort zone takes a little more effort.

What's your favorite coffee shop? 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Coconut Cream Smoothie Update

Hey! Liked that Coconut Cream Smoothie? Well, next time try adding spinach and some flaxseed to it for an added health bonus. Happy healthy eating, y'all!

Challenging Myself

The Barre3 Spring Challenge is finally done and the day after it ended, I started the eight week challenge. Why? Am I crazy? Nuts? No, actually. My head is completely fine and I've decided to do this because when I committed to the challenge, I felt better.

I hit the first two weeks of the challenge with total determination to see it all the way through. I didn't really count on how serious my sugar cravings would be, never took into account how hard it would get watching my husband enjoy his burger and fries. Did I feel better without the sugar and the grease and salt? Absolutely! But the temptation was there.

The workouts? No sweat. Well, okay there was a lot of sweat, but I didn't really struggle to keep to the workout regiment of four classes a week--often times I'd go five or six times. I truly love taking class, the environment of Barre3, and most importantly, the philosophy of the company. It speaks to me. In any case, sporting my spandex and doing my barre3 one inch movements were totally worth it. I can definitely see the changes in my arms, my hips, my legs.  The meal plan though? I succumbed to sugary treats once or twice...maybe more.

The last two weeks I struggled with keeping the course. Birthday fun threw me off track and I couldn't get my mind back in the right place, the place where I was focused and committed to making a good change. I need a good change, want a good change. Clearly physically moving wasn't the problem once I settled on something I liked. It had to start with my eating habits.

So there ya go. That's why I've decided to keep going and staying the course. I liked the recipes and I enjoyed experimenting with new flavors and foods. The whole experience was such a positive one and I'm looking forward to pushing myself in this next one.

For now, I've got to go play with a puppy. She keeps trying to chew the computer and dropping toys on the keyboard. It's like she's trying to tell me something... Until next time...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Coconut Pie Smoothie

Today I had to have coconut pie. I did. Ever since we moved into this house I've been dreaming of all things coconut. Weird, right? 'Cause we're in Oklahoma and I have yet to see coconut advertised as a local flavor.

Nevertheless, when we moved in my mom and I discovered this fried pie shop down the street. It's actually the same fried pie shop that's nestled safely in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma. If you're driving up and down I-35 from Dallas to OKC then you've seen it and hopefully you've stopped in. 

Mom and I decided to pop in before they left town so that we could enjoy a bite of our favorite flavors. For some reason I decided to steer clear of my favorite cherry flavor and even passed by on the delicious apricot flavor, another favorite. No, that day I went for the coconut and thus began the year long obsession with all things coconut. 

I've posted dozens of coconut recipes on Pinterest hoping for the perfect occasion to arise when I could finally taste that sweet flavor again. I've always adored coconuts. I used to love the Sonic Coconut Cream Pie shake and I remember begging my mom as a kid to buy a coconut so I could have real coconut milk--it was not what a five year old would expect. Mostly I get my food obsessions from books. I'm sure that's where the coconut craze came from. Some character eats or makes something and it sounds so fabulous that I go on this food quest to recreate it. It's how I found the mozzarella and tomato panini from Panera, a grown up grilled cheese that I adore! 

Back to coconuts! I just had to have something sweet and I'm trying really hard to be better this week with Barre3 menus. I've only got one week left of the challenge and ever since my birthday I've been struggling to get back on track with the menu and not grazing to the "off limit" items. Once you cheat it's nearly impossible to go back to where you were. It's truly been a case of me stating all over again, only much harder this time. 

In a serious attempt not to cheat, I took a recipe I made earlier this week and changed it up a bit. The end product...
The Coconut Pie Smoothie

It's super simple and pretty dang close to the real thing. Here's the recipe: 

1 medium/large banana
1/4 - 1/2 cup of almond butter 
1/4 - 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk 

Toss everything in the blender, mix it up really well, pour it in a glass, and enjoy. So. Dang. Good. It's also great to share it with someone cause this drink is RICH. Hindsight is 20/20 though...

Sure, I guess you can call it gluten free, vegetarian whatever. I just call it good! Now all I need is an umbrella, a beach, and a good book! 

What's your favorite smoothie? 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feeling Creative

Feeling a little creative tonight and doing a little day dreaming...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What a Beautiful Day

Birthday has come and gone and what a beautiful day it was! I started the day with a Rise & Dine at Barre3--A class is given on the patio of Cafe 501 and then we all go eat a delicious brunch after it's done. I got the chance to catch up with a college friend afterwards and I thoroughly enjoyed every story and every belly laugh!

The chips and treats were for my "splurge" day
--no, I didn't eat it all!
After a great start to the morning, Pyro Man made me wait a little bit longer before coming home. Why? Well, he had a little surprise for me. I walked into to see a beautiful table laid out with bright flowers, a buttercream frosted cake, cards, a couple of gift boxes from friends and family. But the sweet surprise wasn't over. I unwrapped a book while Pyro Man handed me a pen and sticky notes. "You're going to need this, he said."

In my book was a list of page numbers. I carefully followed each page number and found one letter underlined. At the end of it all I had a simple sentence that started a birthday scavenger hunt! I raced from room to room, all around the house, front yard and backyard until I finally made it to the garage. With a little guidance, I finally found a package inside of his bow case. Very appropriate, right?

Cheesin' with my new iPad!
Well, my sweet surprise was an iPad! I couldn't believe my eyes! I kept stealing Pyro Man's for recipes and Pinterest projects. Truly this gift is not just for me, but for him two. Now we can both do our projects without having to share the same "computer." I'm in hog heaven!

We spent the afternoon searching for the perfect cover when we ended up finding one online for half the price. PLUS I got this cute fold up keyboard. But it was all about being together that afternoon, no matter if we walked out of the store with anything or not.

The day ended with drinks and dinner with a group of friends. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day, a round table of conversation, laughter, and good food. How could I ask for anything more?

And, of course, no birthday is complete without a little cake. 

 How do you like to spend your birthday? 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Birthday List

Happy Birthday to me! 

Throwing it back to the early years in honor of my birthday! 
Birthdays are always so fun to me and I love celebrating them! Everything about birthdays are wonderful. Sure, we celebrate our lives every day but there's only one day a year that you can "Hey World! Thanks for another year on this earth!" Plus there are delightful added goodies to the day like the cards you get in the mail, the sweet phone calls and text messages, and of course, the cake! Buttercream, please!

Well, this year I'm doing something special to keep me celebrating my special day all year long. A Birthday List! If you missed my post about it, check it out here. Before I reveal it though, I have to make a small confession. Coming up with 27 things was incredibly difficult. So difficult, in fact, that I decided to cut my list to 15. Yes, I know, that's 12 short of my initial plan, but I had to. It started turning into work projects and to-do's...totally not what this little list is all about.

So here it is, my Birthday List, the ultimate year long to-do list of awesome goals!

1. Attend a concert of a favorite artist. 
So many talented artists come through OKC and I always miss out. What's funny is that I'm always telling myself I want to go see some of these people live. It's time to stop missing out! 

2. Go to a Thunder game!
Here I've been in OKC since the Thunder was assembled and I have yet to go to one game. Not any more!  

3. Try five new OKC restaurants or shops. 
Even though I've been hear for nearly ten years, I've yet to explore OKC as much as I could. Plus, when I go out to eat, I tend to go to the same places and order the same thing. Time to branch out!

4. Blog once a week for a full year. 
That's 52 posts! In my spare time I dream about this blog, about making it something wonderful. I can't do that if I don't commit to it. So here goes. 

5. Donate my hair to Locks of Love or another similar organization. 
I've had friends donate their hair and I've always admired that act. As a woman I value my hair and always been a part of my identity. I can't think of a more selfless thing for do than donate my hair to someone who needs it. Might take a little bit to grow it out a little more, but it will be worth it all. 

6. Read 15 books. 
I can read ten in a summer and if I'm able to squeeze in five during the school year, that would be amazing! I love reading and I want to make a better effort to do it more often. 

7. Once a month date night with Pyro Man. 
We're both busy and we both deserve at least one night out with one another outside of the house doing something fun! 

8. Go to the theater more and shoot to see five shows this year. 
I just need to see fresh material, renew my love of musical theater, and remember what made me dream to be a dancer. 

9. Travel during my school breaks to new places. 
I tend to go to the same place on vacation times, home. Don't get me wrong, I love being with family but I want to explore the spots I've always wanted to see. 

10. Stick to a healthy regime.
Since starting Barre3 I've found a whole new form of exercise that really speaks to me. I want to stick with it for the next year and all the great recipes I've acquired, too!

11.  Try my hand at photography. 
That's a very personal one I've been wanting to do since I used to pose my American Girl dolls in my mother's flower beds for photo shoots. I've always wanted to pick up a camera, but I've been to scared to really learn about it. I'd like to try it out and see how I really like it. 

12. Stay crafty with four new projects! 
I've enjoyed testing my crafting skills this year and I plan on continuing to explore sewing and crocheting. 

13. Pay off my smallest loan. 
I have several, but paying off one would feel like the biggest victory and I'm so close to doing it. 

14. Go pickin'!
I've always want to visit an orchard and pick apples or peaches or just about anything! It's going to happen this year. 

15. Teach myself something new.
This year it was sewing, last it was crochet, the year before embroidery. What next? Hmmm...

There you have it! My whole Birthday List for the next year of goals to accomplish. Can I do it? Sure I can! Just got to set my mind to it and make the effort. I'm excited about some of these and I look forward to writing about them, too. 

Happy birthday, ya'll!

How will you celebrate your birthday this year? 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Top Five: Didn't Know I Liked!

I pretty much spent all last week stretching my taste buds a bit and enjoyed some new and interesting flavors. I've never considered myself a picky eater, but I know I would have turned my nose up at a few items just because I'd never had them before or didn't care for them in the past. Me oh my, how surprised I was!

Top five things I've tried and didn't know I liked:

1. *Sung to the tune of "I Kissed a Girl"
I tried eggplant and I liked it! Baked up, it was so fantastic!
(And if you were wondering, I was singing this in my head the entire time I was eating it. Yes, it was just that good. )
2. Turnips--who knew turnips could make a rockin' soup?!
3. My peanut butter obsession grows to almond butter and sunflower butter.
4. Coconut milk? Yes please!
5. Well, I've always liked asparagus, but asparagus and eggs for breakfast is actually pretty awesome!
BONUS: Tahini--never used it before, but it's going to be a staple now!
The adventure continues this week as I start Week 2 of the Barre3 Challenge. I'm done a few pounds, feeling pretty great, and enjoying trying new and interesting dishes. What new things have you tried lately?
Quinoa bowl with chicken, steamed veggies, and a delicious Asian style sauce!

Shrimp and quinoa bowl with sugar snap peas, red cabbage, carrots, and flavorful dressing.

Energy smoothie--banana, coconut milk, berries, chia seeds, and almond butter. A new favorite for sure!

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