Friday, February 28, 2014

Sing a Song

Starting off this Friday with a happy song that speaks to my happy little soul! I'm using it as the first cardio/warm-up song in my jazz classes this semester and every time I play it I see everyone smiling. How can you not when you're alive and doing what you love? Take a listen and see if you don't get up and boogie around this morning!

Have a happy Friday, ya'll! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hello Morning!

This week has flown by it seems! I'm a short two weeks away from Spring Break and this time, even though I'm always excited for a little down time, I'm not praying for it to get here sooner. I feel this is a huge grown up moment for me, not being so overwhelmed I'm wishing for vacation to arrive sooner. I'm staying on top of things, but I'm not caught up, but I'm not freaking's so weird that it's almost freaking me out.

In any case, have lots of grading to do and things to finish up before the next have of the semester starts. Next weekend I'm going to judge my first competition and I am beyond thrilled to do so--it's something I've wanted to do for a while and I finally made some time this semester to squeeze in a few.

This Sunday I'm cooking up a pot of gumbo for Mardi Gras! Gotta do it early since I won't have time with work on Tuesday. After that begins one of my favorite times of the year, Lent. There's something about it that really makes you do some deep thinking and a little soul searching and I find it very therapeutic.

I've also been working on some plans and researching some ideas to make some changes in my life. I'm really excited about them--excited enough that I get butterflies in my stomach and an adrenaline rush just thinking about taking some new steps to make new things happen. The power of positivity and spring time. Seriously, spring time has always inspired the positive change in my life and good things always happen to me in the spring. It's my favorite season, right before fall.

OK--I'm better get my happy butt off and running so I can start the day and keeping focusing on my plans! In the mean time, here's a precious picture of Penny from last week. I can't help it--I'm so excited to bring her home!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Something Furry This Way Comes!

Pryo Man and I had a little adventure to Texas this weekend! We went down to pick out our precious little puppy, Penelope!

Isn't she a doll? So little! So precious! So cute!

We tried really hard to follow the helpful tips for picking out a puppy; flip the pups on their back, see if they can settle down quickly or if they wiggle and fuss too much. Play with their toes and tail, see if they protest or let you inspect. She was a champ. I was pretty well rooting for her the whole time though. When I sat down on the blanket with the pack of fur balls, she wiggled her way to me and snuggled her face in between my knees. I was totally taken. How can you not be? Look at that face! 

And yes, her toenails are painted, but that's so we can tell her a part from her other little brothers and sisters. She get to come home with us in a few weeks and we're excited to get the house puppy prepped! 

Pyro Man and I spent a long time thinking about adding another fur creature to our home, weighed the pro's and con's of adopting or going for a puppy. In the end, we feel pretty solid about our choice and I think the kitties will, time. 

More pictures to come when we get her! So excited to have our little Penny from Heaven come home! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Only an hour

Only an hour until I need to leave my house for the first to-do of the day. I really should be getting ready, putting make-up on, packing my bag for our weekend trip, but no. I'm still on the couch in my green robe, glasses on and coffee in hand. I just don't wanna.

Yup. I'm a grown up adult who drinks wine, pays bills, and files taxes...aaaannndddd I just used the phrase "I don't wanna."

Somehow I piled on quite a bit into my one free day this week--palm to forehead--and now instead of leisurely enjoying my usual morning off,  I have to get my buns in gear. It'll be great though. I'll learn a lot at my workshop, I'll have two productive meetings, and hey, I'm even getting a workout in there before a lecture class. It's going to be awesome.

But the lazy bones part of me is still pouting and saying, "I don't wanna." Oh, Self. You're going to get time to yourself soon enough. Enjoy the busyness of it all, drink an extra cup of coffee, and go get ready. Fifty minutes until you have to leave.

Still don't wanna, but I'm gonna.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Little Happy Things

It's the little things that help keep us going during rough weeks or even put an extra pep in our step. I'm still having a pretty great week and not that it's been rough, it's just felt long. Like never ending long. I nearly jumped for joy when I realized it was already Wednesday. Time felt it was moving at a snail's pace and I was sure I'd never make it to end of the week and here I am, half way there!

I've been enjoying the little things around me that have kept me going the last couple of days:

Little Happy Things

1. I've been listening to Brett Dennen's album non stop for a happy pick me up!

2. This week I wore Essie's "A crewed Interest"--love the soft peach color. Not quite nude, but just enough to make me feel girly!

3. Lately I've been enjoying keep my hair in a pom-pom pony with my Goody elastic headbands. They keep the wisps out of my face and my hair in place!

4. I've rediscovered my NutriBullet! I loved using it all summer and fall, but with the winter blues, I'd hadn't been much into the cold smoothies...hello, Springtime though! Time for berries and greens!

5. I enjoy my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar. She always has precious pictures with a perfect quote for the day. I've enjoyed having her daily dose of cuteness on my desk for several years now!

Time to tackle to last part of my day--nearly to the end of the week and I think I can make it through with this week's must-have's!

Little Happy Things

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Week of Greats

This has been a week of greats! I've had several great days and great experiences and great things to look forward to. Don't you love when you hit a jackpot week like that? I've felt like I just wanted to shout, "FINALLY!" all day long.
I made Salt & Vinegar Kale chips--first time ever eating kale.
It's wonderful!

I don't want to over think how or why I've had such a wonderful week, but I'm convinced it's because I've been actively trying to be more active. Endorphins, they do a body, mind, and soul good. It's the only explanation I have for what a wonderful week it's been.
See, I started taking Barre3 classes this week. It's a mix between yoga, pilates, and ballet barre. Is it like taking a ballet class? Not really. No tendus, degages, pirouettes, or grand jetes, but it does move me in a familiar way. I need something that speaks to my dancer heart and while I may not be able to train like I did in school, I can at least find something that's second best to dancing.

Going to these classes somehow tapped in to my creative mind and bam! I found I was much more enthusiastic about creating my lesson plans.

Not only that, new ideas and combinations started bubbling up and it overflowed into my work. I couldn't believe how much more my mind was opened this week. Really goes to show that doing is much more beneficial than sitting and thinking.

I finished a project I'd been working the last couple of weeks on, a crocheted shawl. Again, in keeping with my Use What You've Got theme this year, I finished up a scarf I started crocheting last year and moved on to a project I'd been dying to do. I've always wanted to crochet a blanket--I just needed to learn how, hence the scarf project. Well, this shawl was taken apart and redone I don't know how many times. I was determined for it look lovely and unfortunately I lost count of stitches on more than one occasion. I think Pyro Man despaired if I'd ever finish the darn thing. BUT I DID!

It was also Valentine's this week and we had a lovely one. Flowers, chocolates, steaks, good conversation, and good wine. I don't know that it could have been any better. This was the 2nd Valentines we'd gotten to spend together. Every other one we'd either been living in different cities or working on the actual holiday. But like I told Pyro Man, every day with him really is Valentines (Yeah, yeah,  it's a little cheesy, but I love the guy and he makes me happy.).

I have a feeling that this week is going to be a good one, too. Pyro Man and I got some great news Monday morning and we're off this next weekend on an adventure to check it out. More to come on that soon! Today we're working on the yard, getting it set up for some spring gardening. I've got a tad bit of work and household chores to do, too.

With that, I better swallow the last of my coffee and get the day started. Happy Sunday! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First Rate Version of ME

"Always be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." 
-Judy Garland

I really like that, "be a first rate version of yourself." Isn't that what we're always encouraging people to do? To be themselves? Well, this week I seemed to have had a revelation, an enlightenment if you will, about this particular notion.

I've always felt like I've been true to myself, done things in Julie fashion, but lately when it comes to my work, my creativity, my outlets, just me in general, I've felt a little out of sorts. Something just isn't fitting on me. I'm spending more time worrying about how things look, I look, what I'm doing, but mostly about the future--in other words, I've just been standing in the middle of the road wondering which direction to go next. The worst part is in the process of worrying and wondering, I've nearly forgotten what it is to be me. When you sit in the middle of the road, you have plenty of time to stop, look back at past dreams and when you're done with that, you start looking at everyone else around you. That really doesn't help. Not in the least bit. When you're trying to pick a path or direction for you, looking at everyone else doesn't help because you start wondering if you should follow down the path of all those other people.

Say what? I know, like that sentence, the predicament is a bit of a mess.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a point in my life where a lot of my friends are making some life changes. Changing careers, going back to school, having babies, moving, buying houses or cars--I mean these are some big changes. Meanwhile, I'm still getting used to my hair style that I changed A YEAR AGO. Seeing everyone, I can't help but wonder if I'm supposed to be making a life change, too. But I'm not really ready, but everyone else is. But I should be...because everyone else is. But I'm not ready...but I should...Do you see the indecisive nature of the position I've put myself in?

I'm driving myself crazy! I've started focusing on everything else around me and in the process, I've gotten myself stuck, rooted in one place, one terrible, awful mindset. I've let myself wear holes in the floor and practically smothered all the creative portions of my brain simply by focusing what everyone else is doing. If I listen closely, I can hear my imagination calling to me from under all that negative junk.

The simple fact of the matter is I'm not everyone else. 

I shouldn't be worried or concerned if I'm doing whatever everyone else is doing. My life is not a standardized test where I need to follow the same directions as other people. None of us are the same.  The choices I've made, even in the last three years, have drastically shifted my life road map. Instead of letting go and getting lost in possibility, I've paralyzed myself in one place by the sheer fear of not keeping up with everyone. 

You know those Dr. Pepper commercials? I feel like I need to make one to remind myself I am one amazing individual. I've got to remind myself that my life is an unique as I am and in doing so, maybe I'll regain what it is that makes me unique.
"Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun."
-George Scialabba

So you're probably wondering, if you've been able to keep up with me so far, "where the heck are you getting all this?" Well, a couple of different things, small issues that kept niggling at me, but the seed was planted about a month ago. 

I heard this wonderful speaker that stressed how important the imagination is, how fundamental it is to life. We need to value our imagination. Gosh, yes! Thanks be to this wonderful person who validated what I knew deep down in my bones. OUR IMAGINATIONS ARE EVERYTHING!

While at one point in time I would have said, "I totally value you my imagination," *insert hair flip* I've come to realize that the older I get, the more adult challenges I hurdle, the more I wet-blanket my imagination and dismiss it. So much so that I feel empty, drained, and unfulfilled in most of my day to day activities. When I try to tap into my creative juices, I find I'm not tapping into what's inside me, but instead looking to others for a spark. Not that there's anything wrong with getting inspired by someone or something. My problem is that I'm now depending on outside sources to bring out my original ideas. Talk about bass-akwards.

It seems to me that without being me, without listening to my imagination, I've been trying hard to fit myself into a mold that just isn't fitting right. Much like trying on a dress that's not cut for my body and desperately trying to convince myself that it works, the reality is it just simply doesn't. Why am I trying so hard to squeeze myself into something that's feeling awkward and unnatural? Why am I fighting what comes naturally to me when I relax and let my brain open up and create? Probably because I so desire my life to look like these beautiful things or people that I see. I'm thinking that's what I should look like, that's where I should be at this point of my life. I'm looking at a particular picture of what I believe I should be doing or what I want my life to look like. Wrong. That's plain wrong to do to yourself. Comparison is so unfair.

What is wrong with me? Why am I having the hardest time being myself lately? This is totally and completely an internal struggle, probably not an open advertisement I walk around broadcasting on a T-shirt to the world. I love my life, truly--although it probably doesn't sound like it, but I do. I like the quirks, the weirdness of it all which is probably why I've been struggling trying to make it all fit what I think is "the norm." Earth to Julie! Your life is your own. You are you and there's no one better to be--so quite worrying!
I wouldn't call all this an "insecurity" so much as an identity crisis or rather a search for the perfect self--could be compared to the search for the perfect pair of jeans. You feel me? It's going to be a long search.

I've been wandering in circles around myself, banging my head against the wall thinking, "how can I be me? What is 'me' at this point in my life?" I suppose we all have moments where we discover a part of us has changed, dreams have morphed, and your life isn't what you thought. Thank goodness for that! Now it's time to embrace it. I think I've finally reached that point in my life.

I'm not delusional. I know as soon as I figure out who I am in this moment of my life, something will propel me into the next stage and the search will begin again. I'm sure we can all think of a moment in time when our lives changes and we had to change with it. It's an out of body experience looking down at what's going on and thinking, "Holy Hannah. This is me now." There's a distinct moment. Today is mine, I guess.

Instead of being in denial about where I am and where I am not, I need to start dreaming up new dreams, figure out what it is I want to do with my life from here on and start working towards it. I don't need to reinvent myself, I need to embrace myself. Gosh, this could be the endorphins and the coffee talking (I've had a lot of both today--yay exercise and coffee!), but I'm ready to shed this heavy coat of questions and just start doing. I'll figure it out as I go, all I need to do is follow my gut, do what feels right for me and quit worrying how it fits in. I want to be the first rate version of myself.
Stand out in a crowd. 

Sunday Pyro Man and I heard this wonderful quote, "Don't dream you life, live your dream." Good golly, I needed to hear that. I've been telling myself 2014 is the year I'm going to live my life, do things, get out of the house, and start living. In order to figure out what my new dreams are, really start to put them into shape, I need to break my routine up a bit and branch out. I've got dreams that I keep thinking about, but thinking and doing are two very different things. Wake up, Julie! It's time to stop being scared and start getting prepared. Put pen to paper, make a plan, get your butt moving and start doing! LISTEN to your imagination, it is TELLING you what's on that life road map you've been praying will drop into your lap! Follow THAT voice, not that worry wart in your head.

I guess what I'm all fired up about is embracing the me right now; The me that's been questioning her choices, trying to mold a form of herself and missing out on doing a little self-discovery and changing a bit. It is past time to finally move off this worn out part of my life's path and keep marching to the beat of my own drum. In one of my lecture classes, we talk a great deal about personal style. The best way to figure out what your style is is to try different ones on, follow your gut instincts, practice, and most importantly, be you. I guess I need a spoonful of my own medicine.

We're all trying to be different, new, innovative, basically the original individual. Here's the thing though, all I really want to be, all I really need to do, is be me. I think if I listened to my gut, followed my heart, and let my dreams guide me, I'll be the best me there is and I think, in my humble opinion, that being a first version of Julie is probably the most different, new, innovative, original thing for me to do.

*If you want to watch the clip from that wonderful speaker, here it is. That is, if you want to feel inspired to live an extraordinary life, this is something to see. It's an hour and all wonderful, but the best part is from 6:43-11:16. Thank you, John O'Hurley. I will value you my imagination because that is how I will live my extraordinary life!* 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Love Looks like a Hair Straightener

With Valentine's Day only a week away, it's hard not think about love. I understand what it is and what it means, but here recently I've been thinking about how love looks to me. It comes in many different forms and it's become increasingly apparent to me that I will continue to uncover love in the most surprising ways.

Yesterday Pyro Man decided to gift me with a Valentine's day surprise early. I couldn't even begin to guess what he had cooked up. This is a man who never ceases to amaze me. He ran off to grab the gift and promptly returned with an opened brown amazon box. "Here," he says, "I wanted to get you something you could use and something I know you'll appreciate having." He really is the most practical gift giver.

I opened the cardboard box to reveal a brand new Nano Babybliss hair straighter. Be still my heart. What. A. Perfect. Gift.

My beloved and favorite straightener kicked the bucket at the beginning of the year. It's incredibly hard to straighten unruly hair or stylish bangs when one's straightener has a short in it and therefore cannot stay hot for more than a minute. For the last month, I have somehow been able to rig my straightener to stay on for a good enough amount of time so that I can at least straighten my bangs. As for the rest of the hair of my head, I've just gotten creative in my stylings. It's sort have been a blessing in disguise.

I've been so determined to stick to my New Year's Resolution to "Use What I've Got" that I was determined to wait out the year before buying another one. I'd already figured out how to make it work to the best of it's lifeless ability. What was the rush?

Anyway, after noticing a rather aggravated burn on my neck--so it's been a while since I've wheeled a curling iron--Pyro Man thought it best to present his gift, my brand new replacement. I was so surprised by his thoughtfulness, I actually teared up over a straightener. But really, it's not the straightener. It's the fact that my husband knows me well enough to pick out something for me that means something to me.

There are plenty of things in our home that I can look at and be reminded of my husbands sweet gestures, things that tell me he thought of me or that something reminded him of me. I can go back through my mind and think of the flowers, the loving comments, the tender moments that tell me how much he cares.

So when I think of love, true and real love, I don't see what's typically thought of by most. I see love through the eyes of the people who love me and it all looks so different.

Love looks like a carton of my favorite soy milk in my parents refrigerator when I visit.

Love looks like a full tank of gas before I hit the road home.

Love looks like shamrock green ceramic mixing bowls full of baking possibilities.

Love looks like a bottle of cold coca-cola on a walk with a friend.

Love looks like a child reaching for your hand and passing you a half eaten cracker to share.

Love looks like a soft orange kitty rubbing on your feet.

Love looks like a clean sink and an empty dishwasher.

Love looks like a window box of fresh herbs. 

Love looks like a text message hug o-:)-o

And of course, love looks like a hair straightener.

What does love look like to you? 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Snowy Day in February

Well, more like a snowy week! We're experiencing some serious cold weather here in OKC. Yesterday our second snow storm for the week blew through and another is supposed to hit tomorrow with yet another one on it's heels. Get a grip already, Oklahoma. We get it. It's winter.

I am nearly ready for spring. I would just love one good snow day to bundle up, read, crochet, bake, take a nap, chase the kitties, and play a little catch up. It's not too much to ask, right? Perhaps it is. There's nothing like a snow day. It's as if you're playing hooky from all your "supposed to-do's" for the day and oh my, how thrilling it is!

But, Mother Nature is in control and she's decided she'll only tease us this entire week. *Sigh* She is a fickle thing. And with that, it's back to the grindstone I go!

What do you like to do on a snow day?

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Little Bit of Thanks

Ever had a day where you feel like you're going to crack at some point? That if someone or something where to hit you in the right spot with just the right tool, you would actually start crumbling apart?

It's been a day. Nothing terrible, nothing great. Just a day. And on this particular day my mind feels cluttered and my heart feels heavy. Perhaps it's the winter blues. In any case, I'm going to banish my winter blues away with a few grateful thoughts from today. Thank you Today's Letter's for the inspiration (If you've never read this blog, you should. It's probably one of the sweetest, most uplifting blogs for me to read.):

I'm grateful for this incredibly unique job, the wonderful faculty I work with, and the fantastic students I get to teach.
I'm grateful for big blue water bottles that keep me hydrated during the day and cute little coke cans that give me pep on days that I need a lift.
 I'm grateful for purple pens that make corrections look pretty and inspirational quotes that fuel me to keep going.
I'm grateful for morning kisses from my Pyro Man before work and good evening kisses when I get home.
I'm grateful for my orange fuzzy motor who refuses to leave me alone until she gets her daily dose of lovin'.
I'm grateful for crochet projects that satisfy my need to create and allow me to stay busy while simultaneously taking a break.
I'm grateful for phone dates with friends and the chance to catch up after too many missed opportunities.
I'm grateful for today.   
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