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!

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