Category Archives: thankful thursday

Pursuing the Christmas Spirit

Happy Holidays, Friends!

We usually do a cute holiday card and send it out to friends and family – but somehow the holiday sneaked up on me and we just didn’t do one this year. As I continue to come home to a mailbox full of holiday cards, I feel both guilty for not sending ours out this year and overwhelmed by how much I love my friends and family. As I’ve gotten older and the days of seeing all my best friends and family in the same place at the same time happens almost never (i.e. college and childhood is long over!), I so appreciate getting photo cards and little updates in the mail this time of year.

Since I’m a total slacker on the holiday greeting thing this year, I thought I’d do the next best thing and write a blog to express my holiday cheer to all the people who may stumble across this (which hopefully will include some of my friends and family who bother to visit me here on this blog!). So here we go:

Every year brings with it new challenges and struggles, and this year was no different. In reflecting on the last year – so much has happened in our lives and I can’t help but to dream about next years holiday season and wonder how much my life will have changed in just a few short months. If there is one lesson I’ve learned it’s this: Life happens SO fast.

I have gone through phases in my life where I spent a lot of time thinking about the true meaning of Christmas, and others where I was so riddled with my own personal brand of angst that I couldn’t see pull off the whole “be merry” spirit of things. I have had years where it was all about buying the perfect gift to give to someone in my life, or wondering what someone would get for me. And times of joy in just watching the children in our family enjoy the holiday so much that you can’t help but join in. I have had Christmas day’s where all I could think of was who wasn’t there anymore, and others when I wondered if I would ever find someone to create my own holiday traditions with.

This year, I have so much to be thankful for, including a wonderful husband who has answered my prayer regarding someone to start my own traditions with – and I have family both near and far whom I cherish so much. I have friends starting right next door and extending all the way across the globe who have been a part of my life for quite some time now. I’m so thankful for both these new and continued relationships in my life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the spending of money and picking out the perfect gift part of the holiday season. It’s easy to get bogged down by the last few days of work before a little bit of a vacation. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with trying to prepare your house, or pack your bags to travel during the holiday season. And it’s easy to get frustrated by family members schedules and food preferences and all your relatives’ crazy antics that will be in full force over the next week or two.

But what it’s REALLY easy to do is to forget what Christmas and the “holiday season” is all about. Even if you aren’t religious and Christmas season isn’t about celebrating the birth of Christ and being thankful to God for sending His son to us – I hope you can still appreciate that the Spirit of Christmas is about love, kindness and peace for all mankind. And not just appreciating it – but really actively pursuing that spirit by being kind to others, by forgiving people in your life who perhaps you’ve been mad at for too long. By doing something completely nice for a total stranger because it’s the right thing to do (all year round by the way, not just Christmas time!). It’s about not assuming people in your life know you care about them – and reminding them with your words AND your actions of how you feel. The Spirit of Christmas really boils down to relationships and the appreciation we should have for one another even if we haven’t met yet.

I hope that no matter what has been going on for you this past year – you can spend the next few weeks pursuing the Christmas Spirit – and I think you’ll find just by thinking about how to enhance the relationships in your life (to friends, family and strangers) you may find yourself overwhelmed by how good it feels to be kind to one another. And who knows, it might just catch on.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all my friends – near and far. Be safe, be kind, and remember to pursue the Christmas spirit this year.

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Today I am Thankful

It is getting close to the day where we celebrate Thanksgiving and as I read status updates on Facebook, other blogs, and listen to my co-workers and friends talk about their traditions – it amazes me how much it varies from family to family. It’s supposed to be a day to give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives, and so often I think it gets turned into something else. People stress about making the perfect dish, cleaning their homes to be ready to play hostess, stressing about having family all together in the same room for several hours and so much more. Did you know that Thanksgiving night is the highest alcohol sales for the ENTIRE year at bars/restaurants? More so than New Years Eve which is just basically a big party where you are supposed to go out. What does that say about our culture? What does that say about family time in America? Where people are so ready to leave their Thanksgiving plates in the sink and head out to a bar to get a drink instead of spending time with their families. I just think that is sort of sad. I’m sure there are people who have traditions of meeting up with friends and family at bars in the evening and that contributes to it, but mostly it just makes me think that people want to avoid their families.

My family is not perfect. To some, I’m sure we are weird. When we get together, we don’t do a whole lot actually. We sit and talk. Most of the time, we sit around and watch the pros handle all the cooking and baking. I usually find myself somewhere in the middle – not really that great at helping cook, but willing to try and lend a hand when I can. We watch television, we rest. It is mostly a break from real life…and that is something I’ve always appreciated about holidays with my family even if when I was younger I desperately wanted to be hanging out with my friends or boyfriend instead. But now that I’m older – I’m so happy I grew up in a family that for better or worse – we spent the whole day together. Just being together even if we ran out of things to say and just sat in the same room and watched a movie instead. Thanksgiving has always meant family time to me. I grew up in a family that never drank, so I don’t have any funny stories about a drunk uncle or cousins getting into fist fights over the last piece of turkey. I should mention I grew up in Kentucky and hearing stories like this isn’t so far fetched. 🙂 So again, when we all get together for the holidays – there was no option to just drink more so you could “deal with your family” – that’s not even a part of my family tradition.

As an adult as I’ve hosted a few Thanksgiving dinners at my house – it’s interesting to see what lingers from those traditions I was raised in. I remember one Thanksgiving where several of my friends weren’t able to make it home for thanksgiving – so we hosted a friends thanksgiving at our house. It was just a different type of family! One thing that remained the same for me was I wanted to take a few minutes to say prayer and thank God for all the blessings in my life. This is something we always do in my family. To tell Him how appreciative I was of his forgiveness, mercy and love that I know I don’t usually deserve. I remember that it might have made some of my non-religious friends feel a little strange, but it was my house, and my thanksgiving and the person I am most thankful to is God and I thought it was important to remember that on a day such as Thanksgiving.

This year, I am thankful for so many new things because I have the opportunity to be a mother this year – and being blessed with such a miracle is absolutely amazing on Thanksgiving. I have been blessed with amazing friends both near and far who love me so much – and I’m constantly amazed by the power of friendship in my life. I am incredibly blessed. I have a husband who loves me even at my absolute worst and knowing that we’re going to be a family of 3 is such an exciting adventure we are embarking on this next year. I’m so thankful that I have him in my life. I have a wonderful family (both blood and not) who are supportive and feel more like friends as I’ve gotten older which is such a gift. Mostly, I’m so grateful I’m not one of those people who dread the holidays because they don’t want to see their families – I am blessed to have family who I’m so excited to see and spend time with through out the holiday season.

I know that next year, Thanksgiving will be completely different, my life will be totally changed. I’ll have even more family to love, and for that, I’m grateful for the opportunity to raise my own version of family and add to it the traditions I love so much from my family and new things that will grow to be important and part of my child’s traditions.

I hope that this Thanksgiving – you take time to be with your family if you can – whether that is friend family, blood family, adopted family – whatever. Just spend time with people you care about and be grateful for the opportunity to love and be loved by those in your life. Tell someone you are thankful for them tomorrow!

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Thankful Thursdays: First Days…

Things are starting to become “abuzz” on campus – some students have already started to move in, but tomorrow will be the “big day” – all our new freshman will be coming to campus and getting moved in, meeting their roommates, orientation leaders – and of course, me! 🙂 Okay, well only a select few will meet me this weekend as I do teach a freshman 101 type of course. Our first class meets on Saturday (school on SATURDAY!!??). Want to feel old? These incoming freshman were born in (ready?) 1994. I’ll let that sink in for a second. And that’s not just a random call out for Forrest Gump – that movie actually came out in 1994 to put things in perspective. (You’re Welcome)

 

Phew, back to the post now.

I remember my college move in day and that whole weekend vividly. I went to a college 8 hours away from my home town. I grew up in a small town, went to college in a big city. I knew no one, but I don’t remember being scared. I remember pure excitement! I met new friends immediately, and it was a whirlwind of adventures that first semester in college. I don’t really remember any of the homework assignments, or readings – what sticks with me the most are the friends I made, the decisions I was faced with that first semester of being on my own, and how much fun college was compared to high school.

I had a chance to reconnect with some old friends from my college last weekend. Unfortunately, the circumstances weren’t great – we had come back together to provide support for a college friend who lost his sister suddenly in a car accident. But, it was good to tell stories about the stupid adventures we all got into, the movies was watched on repeat, and we laughed and I thought that was better than crying for a little bit. It reminded me of just how much the people I met in college meant to me, and still do. How that experience connected us with invisible threads we often forget about until we’re together again.

College was this magical experience for me. The people I met, the lessons I learned (inside and outside the classroom) shaped who I am in my adult life. I often think because of my college experience – it made me want to continue to be in that environment as part of my career. Here I am, almost a decade later, still sitting on a university campus – nervous energy bubbling up about the adventures of yet another school year. Wondering what amazing things I’ll learn this year, what new students may darken my doorstep and if maybe I’ll have the chance to help them grow and develop the same way the faculty/staff at my college helped me grow into the woman I am today.

I have a role where I get to meet new people every single day, and they are often searching for something. Someone to help them figure out a game plan, find an internship, to share excitement about a job offer.  I’ve also had the chance to connect with students on a deeper level and that has lead to a whole host of other types of conversations about life, relationships, healthy behaviors, and so much more. I often get bogged down by the paperwork and process part of my job, and I forget what a wonderful opportunity I have everyday to make a difference in someone’s life. Sure, I’m not SAVING lives by any means – but it’s so awesome to be in a role where the people I work with are in this magical stage of their lives where big decisions are being made. When they are learning how to be independent, gaining confidence, learning to tread water gracefully instead of just splashing around.

My hope is that every now and then, I can make an impact – even if it’s a tiny one. We all have the chance to open our hearts to helping others – and while I’m not a huge “volunteer-er” I have a big heart for helping my students and people around me so they can be happier with the choices they make as it relates to their work, their careers, etc. It’s a big responsibility, but I know I owe it to them, because someone took the time to mentor me, to be-friend me, to challenge me, to train me, to knock me off my soapbox when I needed it – and mostly, just to believe in me.

Today’s post isn’t about motivating you to lose weight, work out more, eat differently or anything like that. It’s about taking pride in who you are, how far you’ve come, and giving back when you have the chance. No kind thought or words are ever too small to make a difference!

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People Along the Way

What adventure are you on?

For every adventure, there are people you meet along the way. People who may change your course, obstruct your course, help you over an obstacle or just be there to go through it by your side. It really wouldn’t be quite the epic adventure if there weren’t people along the way, right? I mean, how interesting would Harry Potter’s situation be if it weren’t for Ron & Hermione?

The last four years of my life have been a pretty amazing adventure – one that I didn’t quite expect to happen. I’ve been on this adventure of trying to figure out what the best version of me is – really and truly. And while that has had me focus in a lot on weight loss, better eating habits and things that impact my physical self – it’s also been a quest to understand who I am a little bit more than I did before. All in all, it’s helped my soul heal a little bit from a lot of years of self bashing, and a few years of letting someone else drag me down.

As I’ve been up in the mountains and down in the valleys so to speak during these 4 years – I’d like to say I’ve learned a lot along the way. But there are some things that really ring loud and clear for me – and as I was thinking about it all of these lessons are kind of connected to a person (or persons!) and I wanted to take this Thankful Thursday (I know i’m a slacker at doing these every week) to recognize some of the “people along the way.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (but you should believe it, too)

I learned this lesson when I met my husband (for the 2nd time – but that is another blog post). I was really at the bottom on my personal barrel in a lot of ways. I was the heaviest I’d been in a long time, my heart had taken a major beating and I was just so tired of everything, including myself. When I met him and he thought i was funny, interesting, pretty and smart – he helped me start believing in myself again. I am so thankful to have him in my life everyday and he never has stopped believing in me, even when I wasn’t sure I could do something along the way.

Being healthy should be a part of your lifestyle

Growing up, I just wanted to be skinny like my friends. And I always had the concept that if i worked really hard for a while – I would hit my goal and then I could go back to life as normal. Obviously, this is not how it works.  Now, I get that being healthy is a result of making good decisions on a regular basis. One of my first friends at work who directs all the fitness programs here at our university is the person who really brought this to life for me. She was an amazing example of being healthy – and backs it up by really living the life. She even taught me how I could have fun while doing some of these things which I NEVER thought was possible before.

Thanks to her, I can say i’m a certified TurboKick instructor – she was a MAJOR inspiration in my decision to pursue that goal. It’s my hope to be able to show other people that working out can be a fun time (even if you will sweat a lot!).

Find a Bandwagon

I know this sounds bad – but it’s a lot easier to make better decisions for yourself when you align yourself with similar people (I would argue the opposite is just as true – as in, it’s easy to eat badly or not workout when no one else is either!). This doesn’t mean you aren’t friends with people who have differing views by any means – but it does mean  you should seek out people who have similar goals. I’ve met a ton of new people this way, and reconnected with old friends, too, who I hadn’t talked to in awhile. I also have been lucky to have a few people along the way who always stuck by my side in this adventure. And even though they might have different perspectives on how to “climb the hill” or “get across the river” – we’re still rooting for each other every step of the way.

***

Ready?

These 3 things don’t represent every aspect of my 4 years of adventure – they are just a quick snapshot of things I’ve learned along the way – and hopefully a “nod of thanks” towards those who have been on this adventure with me for at least some portion of it!

And hopefully, there might be a few nuggets of wisdom or advice you can take with you on your adventure as well – wherever you may be going. Regardless, thank YOU for being on this part of my adventure with me.

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Obligatory Birthday Post

No, seriously – pay attention to me. 🙂

I’ve written a lot of birthday posts in my life. Some celebrating others, some reminiscing about things I’ve learned so how about another birthday post for my ever growing collection?

Today is 31 for me. My friend/boss asked me if I felt any older today and as I pouring a ginormous amount of coffee into my amazing Tervis Tumbler (Thanks Caroline!) I said – “No, not really.” She then proceeded to ask me if I was having any new pains or aches, and I just smiled and admitted that I think I’d always had those and getting older had nothing to do with it!

Here’s the thing – I feel better about myself and my health at 31 than I ever did at 21. I am more active, more educated, and more energetic at this point in my life than I’ve probably ever been. My fitness mentor (Chalene Johnson), says that building muscles and working out is the true fountain of youth and I totally can get behind that statement. I hope I remain active for the rest of my life – as of right now, that’s my game plan.

Today marks yet another first for me. This is the first time in all of my 31 years that I’ve woken up early to work out on my birthday. As much as I hated my life this morning when my alarm went off at 5:30, I realized that making time for healthy habits is the best gift I can ever give to myself. It took me a long time to figure all this out…but as I’ve “grown up” over the last few years I’ve finally figured out I need to be taking care of myself in order to be fit to take care of anyone else in my life. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. And I’m glad to have figured it out by 31 instead of 41.

This next year holds lots of opportunity and promise for my life and I’m extremely excited about it. I know a lot of people who stop celebrating their birthdays because they don’t want to be out of their 20’s – but I’m embracing every day I get here and trying to see it as another opportunity to do something awesome. I have heard a lot of women say that their 30’s were the best decade of their life because they finally were comfortable with themselves and knew what they wanted out of life. 30 was a good year for me, but 31 is going to be even better because I’m going to work hard to make sure I’m squeezing all the good stuff out of it along the way before I give it up for 32.

I am so thankful (appropriate since today is THANKFUL THURSDAY!!!) for amazing friends and family in my life both near and far, old and new. It’s hard to keep in touch with every single person in my life and I’m blessed to have such awesome people in my life who work to stay connected with me even when I’m not always awesome at it. After re-reading my blog from last year (Note titled: 30 in the bag – for those of you who are my FB friends) I’m really pleased to feel like I’ve progressed this year with a lot of the goals I set for myself.

But as always – every year brings new trials and the  chance for change. Mostly, I’m looking forward to a new year of opportunities to push myself more than I ever have before. So 31 -bring it. I am open to all your possibilities.

 

 

 

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A New Day

I’m feeling better today. Thanks for those of you who reached out.

Emotional Eating 101

 

Today is a New Day. It’s a Thursday, which also means that tomorrow is weigh in day. After my weekend of “family style eating” I’m hoping that keeping up with my workouts and being (mostly) on track this week will mean good things for tomorrow. I did let my emotions get the better of me yesterday. I had a glass of wine, some olives and a mini organic dark chocolate bar after work (see my amazing photo skills).

On the up side, instead of getting a giant chocolate bar, I got the little one which was only 190 calories (although I’ll admit I couldn’t bring myself to check the calories until I finished). I only had ONE glass of wine which I slowly sipped. And I don’t know – olives just seemed like a good idea. I love olives and can’t  believe I haven’t been eating them my entire life. What was wrong with me? So many years without olives, I’m ashamed. Of course, I didn’t eat the chocolate and olives together – don’t be crazy. I spread out my emotional eating over the course of the evening. 🙂

We had a light dinner though – grilled ham & swiss on some light bread and our squash casserole we made over the weekend. Yesterday was my one day off from working out, and I hate that I ended up spending it feeling so down in the dumps instead of just enjoying my down time. I did spend most of the evening curled up reading a book which is something I don’t get to do very often.

On happier notes, my deck furniture arrived yesterday and looks like we’ll be slowly putting together the chairs, umbrella and table over the next few evenings. My husband has already read reviews of putting together this furniture and is preparing me for it to be long and frustrating. YAY! There is nothing I enjoy more than to watch my husband become frustrated while putting together furniture. (riiiiighhhht). There will probably be on going picture updates of me drinking more wine or pouring him beer to soothe his our nerves as this project plays outs.

In terms of “lessons learned” and a last minute attempt to contribute to my “Thankful Thursday” idea (I’m a slacker on this, I know):

I am thankful that I didn’t end up being ridiculous about my emotional eating yesterday. I could have stopped for a giant milkshake (totally done that before), or gone out to eat for lunch and then picked up something equally fatty and fried for dinner. I’d like to think that my attempt to still be in control in some way, shape or form is a sign of personal progress. I feel good about the fact that what I did indulge in didn’t make me feel sick or totally derail me from my goals.

I’d love to think that one day I won’t want to turn to food to make me feel better. I guess sometimes I do consider going to work out when I’m feeling stressed out, but now that I’m working out 6 days a week – I just couldn’t bring myself to workout on my ONE day off from it. So i guess there is still room for growth here, isn’t there always?

I hope to bring you good news tomorrow on my progress, after all tomorrow is another new day. All my fingers and toes are crossed. Yours should be, too.

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My First Thankful Thursday

One of my blog/real life peeps does a Thankful Thursday post on her blog and I think it’s a pretty good idea. I’m not sure I will be able to keep up with that particular topic every Thursday, but today I do have some thoughts I wanted to share with you that relate to the topic.

This morning I did a presentation for a Christian women’s group here in town on interviewing. I’ve been a guest speaker several times over the last few years as a result of a conference presentation I did in the community like 3 years back. Every time I go, I meet women who are trying to get their lives back on track. They participate in these 2-3 month long sessions where they come and learn new skills (like computer and budgeting skills) and then I typically come in at the end of the sessions to discuss how to translate all that into an awesome interview.

Several years ago when I was asked to be a guest speaker at a job skills conference for the community, I agreed because the date seemed like a long ways away and why not? I remember as the date got closer, I started getting more and more uncomfortable about doing it. I’m just not used to talking about job skills with folks outside my every day world which is ….at a university. Just saying it makes me feel like I’m a bad person – but it’s true. When I went to the conference, I still was nervous, not because I don’t know my stuff but because I wasn’t sure how to tailor it for a non degree seeking candidate. My examples usually come from on campus involvement, leadership, class work and mock projects, etc. I was really at a loss. But apparently I did an okay job because at the end a lady came up to me and asked for my card and wondered if I’d ever be a guest speaker for her women’s group. Of course, I said yes.

I didn’t hear from her until almost 2 years later. Again, that sinking feeling of talking about job skills and interviewing to an audience that I felt like I didn’t have much in common with – it made me nervous and I’m not usually nervous when speaking in front of people, I do it all the time. But, I went – and I took my intern with me who just recently graduated with her masters in counseling and I thought she would be excellent back up for me. The session went great. The ladies had so many questions and I discovered the questions weren’t really that different after all. I had something to offer them.

Anyway – this morning was my fourth visit to this group – different women and different situations every time, but ultimately these women are there because they are trying to make a positive change in their lives. I’ve gone from feeling nervous about doing this type of work to really being hopeful that I can help make an impact in some way. Maybe just one thing I say, or one “trick” I tell them to use to help them answer a question more specifically during an interview will stick with them.

One of the women shared with me today that just a few years ago she had been homeless and on drugs. The other lady shared with me that she was nervous about background checks because she had a record but desperately wanted to help make a difference in other teens lives so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes as her.

As I sat there listening to their stories, their questions and their fears I felt ashamed I had ever thought about not going to help at this event because I couldn’t “relate.” I remembered that at core of every one of us – we are human beings with souls and that will always be enough to help you relate to someone else even if nothing else matches. I realized what they really needed was help in learning how to talk about their struggles and demonstrate the strength and determination they had to change their lives.

Today – I’m thankful for opportunities to be humbled. We get caught up so much in our own drama, our own priorities whatever they may be and we forget that people all around us are fighting so hard to just have the things that I take for granted.

I know this group invited me to help them out, but they ended up helping me. It’s just a tiny interaction, but I was just so touched today by talking to them and trying to help them see they had something valuable to share with someone else. It was a good reminder to be grateful everyday for our families, our homes, our jobs and all the millions of other “non essential” things in our life that we think we can’t live without.

What are you thankful for today?

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