Sunday, August 5, 2012

Best Week Ever

Seriously this was the best week ever.

It all started last Sunday morning. I closed out our sermon series Confessions of a Leader. I told the story of how I started at CT and what made me scared and all of that (I will post it if I can't get the audio to rip, but something will happen with that). It was incredible. I talked about running (or more accurately how much I hate running, the physical kind). Just before I went up Ryan told me to knock 'em dead (I didn't cry). I made it through pretty well, apparently I talked a little fast at first, but slowed down and hit a rhythm. I got choked up, but managed to recover (though Chris got up to console me if needed, which would have made the crying absolutely worse!). Every word that I said I meant. I truly, honestly and completely love CrossTimbers with all of my heart. The things that God is doing through CT to further His kingdom truly amazes me every day. The communion song was Chris and Ryan playing my absolute favorite song in the entire world: Run by Collective Soul. I don't think this is the best video, but hopefully you get the idea of how incredible these two are.

video


I got big hugs afterwards and made a few people cry, which pretty much made me cry, but they were all good tears!

After worship was done it was time to start VBS! We started in on set up, which lasted until youth. Then we had potluck and more VBS set up. It was a really, really long day, but was absolutely INCREDIBLE.

I won't lie, it took me awhile to get geared up for VBS, but in the last few months (and all the realizations I've had during those months) I completely got on board, although I was happy to have a bit more of an administrative role this year than being directly with the kids! Sweet Becky went home and got her camera and took incredible photos throughout the week.

The adults pretty much ran on caffeine and cookies all week (thank you to Nikki for fabulous homemade ones!). The Fort was our sanctuary from the kids (and hiding spot for the cookies). I enjoyed kidnapping my sweet baby boys each night and throwing them around. I loved every moment of interacting with the big kids and the itty bitty kids and the amazing youth that helped us as well.

When I got home the facebooking started! We posted some photos from the evening (including a rather amusing photo of Pastor Chris) and everyone was commenting and posting statuses about how much fun we were having.

Tuesday and Wednesday were just as incredible. There were moments when I saw God's work so crystal clear. We had the kids do "God sightings" and the things that they saw and watching them see these things truly warmed my heart every single day. Watching them sing praise and dance and have fun did too. It was amazing to see that God wasn't just working in the kids' hearts, but in the adults as well. When I was going through the photos from the week the smiles on the adults faces were just as big as the ones plastered on the kids' faces. People's lives were changed this week, I have no doubt.

Thursday was my concern early in the VBS process: my birthday. I am generally a very giving person with my time, but I tend to be pretty darn selfish on my birthday and I didn't really want to share it! I'm SO glad that I did!

I can honestly say I cannot fathom a better birthday! It started out at 12:06 am when Chris and Jennifer called to be the first to wish me happy birthday! (I finished all CT work at 11:59, by the way). I got to sleep in! I had a serious God sighting with that: I put my phone on silent, but forgot to turn my alarm off (the alarm will sound even if the phone is on silent) and it either did not go off or did not wake me up...GO GOD! I got up and was kidnapped by my sweet Katie-friend for yummy sushi at a place I had never been and wrapped up with cheesecake!

She dropped me off at home and I got ready to head to CT after responding to all the incredible messages on facebook. It was nice to have a few moments of quiet at CT before the fun started again!

This was when I realized the AMAZING people I have chosen to surround myself with. As I was getting all the name tags ready my sweet friends flooded me with gifts and sweet cards. Some of the gifts were hilarious, as were the fabulous cards (especially the ones from the kiddos). I love that I have found an amazing church family where I can be exactly who I am without any fear of judgment. These are people who know me and love me for exactly who I am. All of the fears that I've had about church before are completely irrelevant at CT.

After an incredible time at VBS (and the totally awkward feeling of being the first to leave CT) we headed to the Mont for the traditional birthday dinner and drinks. I had incredible friends that came out. It was a wonderful time to relax and chat after such a long week at VBS.

Friday was a relatively slow day (since I was off work again). We had some stuff come up with a CT member or two and I was once again reminded how we come together if one of us is in trouble or has something happen. I was honestly sad that it was Friday and it was the last day of VBS. It was so incredible to see the lasting changes that have been made in the lives of the people of CT.

Saturday was filled with pool cleaning, Tucker Farley-kins' birthday party and then round two of my birthday. It ended up being wonderful, as I had a bunch of friends come over, but they came in shifts it seemed so I was able to focus on everyone and it didn't stress me out!

Today the best week ever came to an end, or so I thought! Pretty much this best week ever has so far carried into the next week. I stole my JJ who saw that I had cake and said "gimme cake" pretty much the cutest thing ever!


After that we tore down VBS, did some other CT stuff and it was time for youth, which was, as usual, amazing. I cried, but this time it was out of tears of laughter! Seriously best group of kids and leaders you can imagine.

I am on such a high of CT (I guess I've really been there for about seven months) and I just can't get enough. I am so in love with all the amazing things that we are able to do to further God's work here. I can't wait to see what He has in store for us next!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy Heart

Three years ago today I remember sitting in my bedroom crying because I was so unhappy with life and where it was taking me. Little did I know one simple birthday wish and an invitation to a church meeting in a school would change my entire world.

Last night I got scolded for continuing to do CT stuff up until midnight. I then got multiple wall posts from my sweet CT friends. I got a call at 12:06 from two of the most important people in my world. I got a text wishing me happy birthday from my sweet best friend promising an adorable 4 year old singing to me today. I have spent the day flooded with facebook posts, photos, text messages and calls from all the sweet people in my life. I was kidnapped and taken to sushi and cheesecake by one of the most wonderful people I know who has been there through thick and thin.

I am sitting here listening to Babylon by David Gray (posted on the CT facebook page as it is out VBS theme) and I know I get to spend the evening at VBS with some of my most favorite people in the world. Never could I have imagined three years ago crying on my bedroom floor that I would be where I am now. I love everything about my life. There are still things I would like to accomplish, of course, but I would not trade a single moment of the journey that has gotten me here. I would not trade a single person I have in my life now for the people I had to give up along the way. I cannot imagine spending my birthday anywhere but CrossTimbers. I may have whined about VBS being on my birthday when the dates changed, but I am SO glad that I get to spend my birthday there. (Also at the Mont at 8:45 if you want to join!)

My heart is so happy and I am so blessed to be where I am right now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Story Telling


I saw this on Pinterest a bit ago and it really fits with what I've been reading lately and just in general what I've been feeling. Oh, hello blog world, I suppose I'm back, we'll see how that goes and maybe you'll get an update on where I've been later, but for now I have a mild rant.

So this quote above talks about the story that we tell with our lives. You can take this from a religious standpoint or not, either way we only have one life and one fabulous story to tell. So over the last month I have read a couple of books by Donald Miller (LOVE. HIM.). The first was Blue Like Jazz (I promise I'll do book reviews again soon too...it is summer, there has been lots of reading!). This was his memoir about when he was college age. I would call him a writer who is Christian, not a Christian writer, but in the book he talks about friends he had who were not Christian and how he interacted with them. Pretty awesome. So after that came out some movie people found it and say "hey, let's make a movie out of this." What followed was him having to write the story of his life over, in the form of a screenplay for this movie. He then wrote A Million Miles in a Thousand Years about what it is like to rewrite the story of your life.

This book got me thinking. A lot. We all have a story to tell. We all have things that happen in our lives that intertwine with others' stories, leading to one great big story. While we sometimes like to forget that we're not the main character in our own movie it is kind of refreshing to realize what an impact our life has on the overall story of the world. The question then becomes what kind of story do you want to write with your life?

Let's take me, for example. I am thirty and single. Of my close friends I am one of very few that is not married and does not have kids. Both of these are things that I want, but that's not how my story has unfolded. I had all the plans in the world to make these happen, but that's not what happened. For awhile I was sad about this and I would compare my story to everyone else's and think that mine wasn't as good and wasn't as meaningful, but that's just not true. In the last thirty years (almost thirty one!) I have accomplished quite a lot. Rather than sitting around and waiting for my story to get going like everyone else's I have chosen to live my story.

When talking about what I have accomplished in my life with a friend last week, I said simply "well what else have I had to do with my life?" I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I try to rush things along because I do want the husband and the kids, but every little thing that has brought me to this point has mattered. And you know what, I have a GREAT story to tell. I have had amazing experiences with amazing people. Some of the chapters are sad and some are silly, but they all come together to make the book that is me, and I'm not even close to done with that book!

I'm not really sure at what point in life I became such an optimist, it really feels quite odd, but it's kind of becoming true. I think that comes along with being happy in life. Novel concept really. I am in such a good place right now. I haven't accomplished all that I want to accomplish, I still want to get married and have kids, but when I look back I don't feel like any of the time I have not had those things, no matter how long my friends have, I have not wasted any time. My time is extremely valuable to me and I do good things with it. Sure I am an introvert and tend to enjoy weekend nights home by myself, but that's a choice. It's just that I don't want to go out all the time. I love spending time with friends, but I enjoy spending time at home too, it's how I recharge myself to do all the things that I do throughout the week.

At some point in the future (no guesses on specific times) there will probably come a time when I meet someone that I want to settle down with. I look back at who I've date or who I've wanted to date (that's an interesting trip down memory lane!) and realize that if I thought those people were special the person that I actually fall for will be spectacular. The difference between that future relationship and those that I've had in the past will be the sum of all the chapters of life that I've had to this point. I have learned from my mistakes and hopefully will have a nice stable, healthy relationship (I hear that is actually possible!).

In the meantime I'm not going to let my age, location and marital status define who I am. If you don't like that I'm thirty, live in the Bible belt and am not married then frankly I have little use for you in my life. If you don't like that I'm thirty, own my own home, have a Masters and can take care of myself, then I don't have room for you either. I like who I am. I like what I've accomplished. And I like that my story has had highs and lows, I am thankful for each one because they have made me the strong person I am today.

So go out into the world and tell an amazing story with your life. It doesn't have to be over the top, just meaningful to you!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here we go again...

So I tried this once before with the organic thing...um...yeah here's the update on that:

I drink organic milk, eat organic cereal, gravitate towards organic other stuff when I see it, and well that's about it. Reason: started the organic stuff the last week of March; opened the pool the first week of April, there went the money and the time!

What has changed to get me back to here?

I got a new computer (yay!) so I'm not at my OLD dinosaur anymore thus making it easier (even easier when I get the wireless router hooked up). Plus I have found several blogs that I am becoming mildly obsessed with, plus I think I'm kind of funny and hopefully you agree! Not to mention I'm going to need somewhere to vent over the next semester with all that's on my plate (a plate that looks like a compulsive over eater at a $2.99 buffet by the way...more on that shortly). I also plan to interject what I have learned about pool maintenance over the last few months as well (those are the REALLY funny stories!).

Tomorrow (well Saturday, may be today by the time I finish this) is the last day on my phone calendar that has nothing on it until December 11. Here is what we have:

  • Working 40 hours per week (including a MAJOR move at the end of September to combine two offices into one)
  • Taking 9 hours of grad school (which is full time, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9, and one online class)
  • Becoming a new member of the Junior League of Norman
  • Helping with CrossTimbers’ (my church) youth group
  • Prayer Team at CrossTimbers
  • Book Club at CrossTimbers
  • Planning a charity golf tournament (though I don't play golf!)
  • Keeping up with the pool
  • Relay For Life (though I will miss all the meetings this semester due to class)
  • My adopted son (friend Michelle’s 12 year old)’s football games
  • Landon’s (friend Lisa’s 16 year old) football games
  • Spoiling my new “nephews” (my beautiful friend Valerie’s little one, JJ, born July 6 and my beautiful friend Brittany’s little one, Chase, born August 17)

I think that’s it…oh and breathing and sleeping from time to time :)

I did say “no” to something though! I REALLY wanted to apply for Leadership Norman, but the deadline was today and I did not do it. I have time in the future, when I’m done with school. Hopefully I don’t regret that decision!


So for my last week before school starts I had a very exciting week! Baby Chase made his grand arrival. His mommy, Brittany, is one of my very favorite people. She understands the power of a great pair of shoes! (She’s one of my blogging inspirations!) We go to church together and Chase is just adorable; the only problem is that he was supposed to be CHARLOTTE! We were so very convinced that this baby was going to be a girl and were so very surprised when the ultrasound revealed otherwise. I even walked into the hospital and said “so he really was a Chase not a Charlotte?” Nonetheless I positively adore him and will spoil him rotten. It will be quite fun for him to have JJ to grow up with at church and I will be secretly be turning them both into OU fans! (Brittany is a Texas Tech fan and Valerie is an OSU fan!) Tonight I took dinner to them tonight and will share my newly tweaked recipe (recipe sharing is my favorite part of blogging!) I will get better of taking photos of stuff to post on here! And when I get a release from Mom I will post baby Chase pictures!


Easy Chicken Enchiladas (started at a Tasty Tuesday with a few minor adjustments!)

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)

1 cup shredded cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup salsa

1 cup nonfat organic Greek yogurt

1-2 tsp chili powder

8 burrito size whole wheat tortillas


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken into manageable chunks and cook on stove until cooked through. Allow chicken to cool and shred into bite sized pieces. Meanwhile combine soup, salsa, yogurt (originally sour cream, but a whole lot less fat and calories!), and chili powder. Combine a little more than half of salsa mixture with chicken and cheese. Fill tortillas with chicken mixture and place in 9x13 pan. Cover enchiladas with remaining salsa mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until heated all the way through. Serve with Mexican rice.


Generally one enchilada is plenty for a meal for me! I hope that the Pillers enjoyed these tonight, with my healthy tweaks. I told Brittany to be honest, so we’ll see! :)


Tomorrow is going to consist of a lot of sleeping in and then even more pool work. It has been the dreaded 8 weeks since I last cleaned the pool filter so that has to happen. I really would offer food, alcohol or maybe other things to get someone to do this for me. This time I will backwash before I open the filter (now that’s a fun story for another day!) More to come! :)


Friday, May 18, 2012

Tick Tock

Tonight was one of those bittersweet evenings spent in a hometown.

I came to Ardmore for Landon's graduation (which I made it through with no tears I might add), but it ended up being a reunion of sorts with several people.

First off I walked in and saw all of the Riggle clan, which was to be expected, but before I got too far into the convention center I met up with my middle school, high school, and still best friend Crystal (who used to babysit Landon and was the one that brought him to our Stage Crafts class most of the time we were in high school). We were sat with Lisa's high school choir so that we could be close to the action. The girl sitting next to me, a freshman will be sophomore, asked how we knew Lisa and we admitted that we were alumni. She then asked if we were best friend types that were in choir together or the enemy types. Crystal piped up that we've been best friends since sixth grade. It is hard to believe that almost twenty years have passed since we were stuck in charm school together and were bonded every since. She is now married with two little boys (who are eerily similar to Reece and Landon) and about to start her last year of nursing school. We realized how quickly the time has passed and that we're going to blink and we'll be watching her youngest graduate.

After I hugged the graduate, chatted with Lisa and Randle, and dropped off the graduation gift I headed to the local pizza kitchen to listen to my friend Tyler play. (Side note: my dear cousin was SUPPOSED to meet me there, but he went home to "rest" following two pitchers of margaritas and I guess rested too hard, so I got stood up...BAD cousin!) As I'm sitting there listening to Tyler play and eating pizza alone (real bad cousin) I couldn't help but think of when I first met Tyler. He had just finished his freshman year of high school and played on the tennis team with Haley. It was one of the many summers I kept her and they were living in a house that had a tennis court next door, so Tyler and another friend would come down to play tennis (and maybe because Haley was really pretty) and I got to know him pretty well. He has grown up (way up, he's really tall) to be a great friend and a talented musician.

As Tyler and Meredith were wrapping up (and the restaurant was closing at 10:00...on a Friday...got to love small towns) in walks a darling young lady named Taylor who was headed to the bar next door and happened to see me through the window. Even more memories came flooding back with this one. Starting around fifth grade she was Haley's best friend and lived around the corner. Many days I showed up in the morning and had not one, but two babysitting charges. Taylor has grown up into a beautiful woman with a wonderful husband and and adorable daughter. I met up with them after I talked to Tyler at the new bar next door (kind of forgot I was in Ardmore actually!) and she bought me a glass of wine. Crazy that I'm old enough (by two years) to have my former babysitting charges buying me drinks!

On the way home I was driving a road that I've driven thousands of times before, but memory after memory kept hitting my brain: trig homework at Melissa's, trying to build an airplane at JR's grandparents', pretending a baby doll was a real baby to fool everyone with Lexi, and a million more. I realized just how quickly time is passing. I wouldn't trade my life for anything, but it's amazing how fast the clock is ticking.

As I said to the young lady sitting next to me at graduation, the best is yet to come, but that doesn't mean it won't be hard. High school is wonderful and are memories that I deeply treasure. I also told her to take more pictures than she takes now (she said she took a lot, but I said to take more!). I wish I had more photos from high school, and college, and every part of my life. I still have every memory etched in my brain though.

I probably didn't think thirteen years ago when I graduated that I would be back in Ardmore for Landon's graduation or that I would end up with such a wonderful, adult, friend in Lisa. I didn't think about the fact that as the years pass by the six and eight year age gaps between the kids that I babysat get closer and closer every year. I am thankful that I was able to be a part of these kids' lives when they were kids, but I think I am more thankful that they still put up with me as a friend now.

Time moves faster and faster the older that we get and it is important, in the hustle and bustle of life, to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the people that have shaped the person you have become. All too quickly life can get in the way and years have passed between the times you talk and in our hyper connected world there is no need for that.

BLOG HOMEWORK: call an old friend you haven't talked to in years; go have dinner or a drink with them; I promise you won't be sorry that you did.

PS
Take a picture while you're at it!

Baby Landon Is Graduating!

He's not even close to a baby anymore, but I've known him since he was about two, so he'll always be Baby Landon to me!

At any rate tonight Mr. Landon will graduate high school. I promised him on Tuesday at his spring concert that I would thoroughly embarrass him via facebook on graduation day, but first some stories (fun pictures to follow).

Landon's mom is my dear friend Lisa, who also happened to be my high school music teacher (nope, I don't sing, but I was in Stage Crafts and was the sound tech for the Show Choir...all the perks, none of the sequins!). Landon and his older brother Reece got out of school before we did so someone would pick them up and bring them to the high school every day, so for three years of high school I saw the boys every other day in the afternoons (we were on block scheduling).

My junior year we did Wizard of Oz and the witch melted into an itty bitty witch that ran around before melting entirely...guess who the baby witch was! Landon! The joys of being the music director's son.

Senior year he got a little better deal when he and Reece were little Indians in Annie Get Your Gun. At the end of senior year we all piled onto the Big Red Boat for a show choir competition and I can remember Landon crashing out during our nightly "pow-wows" in Lisa's room.


At the end of my senior year I started going to the youth choir that Lisa directed at First United Methodist Church and was sucked into the world of the church. I helped with VBS and the next year a little camp called Joy Camp for third through fifth grade students where they learned about God through the arts (and in the air conditioning). There were many fun times at Joy Camp that I forgot about until I decided to write this particular post and searched through pictures.





As much fun as posting funny kiddo pictures is I must say how proud I am of the young man he has grown into. He is smart, funny, polite, talented, motivated, goal oriented, and pretty darn handsome. I am so thankful to have been part of your life.


Congratulations Landon! I wish you nothing but luck in college and in the future and I mean it when I say come down to Norman for a home cooked meal (and cookies!).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Declaring for the Draft

Okay not REALLY, but that's kind of what I feel like this post is. Three years ago (and a few weeks) I was engaged and planning a wedding that was doomed from the beginning. That came crashing down around me. I spent the first six months or so wishing, hoping, and praying we would get back together. Then I started grad school, which became the major fixation of my life along with CrossTimbers and Junior League. Now grad school is over (or at least for the summer before I start on LPC classes in the fall) and if feels like something changed yesterday. Yes I realize this sounds crazy. Mom and I went to the designer show home, like we do every year, and it was in Heritage Hills, by St. Luke's UMC, while driving back I detoured around all these fun places in OKC (yes there are fun places in OKC, I just choose to ignore them and stay in my Norman bubble) and all I could think about was "oh that would be a neat place for a date".

Damn it.

So, that being said, I am declaring myself for the dating draft. I have been out a few times over the last two and a half years with little success, but the timing was wrong and I didn't have the time for it. Right this second I don't really have the time for it either, but this summer JL is on hiatus, school is on hiatus, and CT will slow down some. My plan is to lounge in the pool and read a lot, and with that maybe, just maybe, I could go out with cute boys.

Here is where you, loyal readers, come in. I am thirty and have forgotten how to date. Yes, yes, it has been a very long time since I was out there meeting boys. Under absolutely NO circumstances will I do the online dating thing. Yes, yes, I know there are tons of people that do this, and do it successfully, but I am not one of them. Pretty sure God is well aware of this unwavering fact and I will happily die alone in my fabulous new living room before I join eharmony or match.com. I don't particularly care for anything super serious, just fun dates, NO DRAMA ALLOWED.

So friends, bring on the boys. I prefer they to not be creepy, no active (or past) VPOs, no girlfriends, fiances or wives, I do my research (OSCN is my friend), but I am actually for the first time, in some time, not entirely opposed to the idea of dating...ugh. I guess if I want to get married and have kids dating is kind of a requirement at some point.

The Story Behind the Palm Tree (aka: I Hold a Grudge)


That's my cap for my Masters graduation. "Why a palm tree?" you might ask. You will especially ask this if you heard the story of how much I am not a cruise or beach person, so since you asked (whether you did or not) I will tell the tale.

It all started about thirteen years ago in a little town called Ardmore. It was the day of my high school graduation and my friend Ashley had decorated her cap for graduation that evening. Hers was pretty and sparkly and said "gimp" as she was hobbling around following an injury during the senior powder puff football game. When I heard about this I thought "I need to decorate my cap too!" and after a quick thought I came to the idea of a palm tree. You see my high school show choir had just gotten back from a cruise on The Big Red Boat and our prom theme had even been "Bon Voyage" with a cruise ship in the background of our formal pictures. It seemed natural. So I grabbed some paper and markers and drew a palm tree, cut it out and taped it to my cap.

Then the drama unfolded.

I must say that I didn't feel too much of a closeness to my high school class through our four years at AHS, but that all changed the night of graduation. We bonded. We bonded over the ridiculous rules of our administration. Now I have to admit that I already had some "issues" with our current principal (who had taken over the position the second semester of my senior year), but we'll just leave it there.

We all walked in, Ashley and I were the only decorated caps. Our lovely former principal, who was now an assistant, pulls me into the office of the field house and explains that if I don't remove the palm tree from my cap I will not be allowed to walk.

SERIOUSLY?!?!?

This is MY high school graduation, not his, or the other principal's. They wanted to keep this ceremony very serious, I suppose. I guess it was supposed to reflect the maturity of the school and whatnot. Well, funny story, we might not have been a class that got along, but by gosh we came together that night to make our high school graduation memorable and very unique to us.

After he tells me to remove the palm tree (and wouldn't let me take it with me), in one of my more rebellious moments in high school, I slammed it on the desk, said "this is the biggest bunch of bullshit I've heard", and stormed out. Now I am not advocating that every high school senior does this, but I'm also hoping that the administration of your school respects you more than ours did and allows you to be individuals and take ownership of a ceremony that is meant to celebrate you.

After that I was furious, just as I had been many other times in the past. Luckily we had two pretty amazing teachers that calmed us all down. Ashley had to walk without a cap at all (since hers was done with glitter and paint), but Alex was the smartest of us all! He had a paint pen or a white out pen and as we were walking used it to write "#3" his class rank (he thought, along with most of the rest of us, that he would be valedictorian). Ah, we were a smart class and in the end we won.

Through the ceremony we also had four beach balls that were blown up and bounced around, one friend who got up in the middle of a forty five minute speaker's speech and started applauding, and a silly friend that danced across the stage and left the president of the school board with a perplexed look on his face. Overall it was probably my favorite memory of high school, so for that I'm glad. I'm glad that were able to come together against a common enemy. You might be reading this thinking that I'm crazy or at least disrespectful to authority, however I believe that in order to get respect you must first give it and the administration had little respect towards us through our four years at that school.

Now all of this being said, last year I was at Haley's convocation and saw all the caps that were decorated. That was when I got the idea to recreate the palm tree, only better! I spent ten months planning. The Friday before Graduation Gear Up I went and got the jewels. The first day of GGU I bought my cap and gown, pulled the cap from the plastic, found a palm tree in clip art, made it the right size and started laying out the beautiful jeweled palm tree above. I am quite proud of it, even though the cruise that I went on before graduation this year was kind of a bust, it was perfect. A lot of people figured I would have the New York City skyline or something of that nature, but what can I say? I hold a grudge.

The Graduate

Well I did it. After two and a half years I have a Masters degree. It really seems like yesterday that I got this crazy idea and started asking friends with MHRs what I could do with it. I won't lie, it has been stressful and exhausting, but I am so glad I did it. So glad, in fact, that I'm going back in the fall to work on my LPC and figure out a Ph.D. program. So I'm a glutton for punishment. I figure if I'm not changing my name anytime soon I should at least accessorize it, right?

And here is the story of graduation.

Friday night was commencement. This is when all the graduates hang out on the football field while they announce the doctoral candidates and there is a speaker. I skipped this detail in undergrad and since I decided I was going to do everything for my Masters I was going to go. Then I talked myself out of it. Then I heard who the speaker was and talked myself back in. Then Friday it rained all day and they moved it inside to Lloyd Noble and I almost talked myself back out, but I didn't.

So as I'm walking into commencement I had no idea how to work my Masters' hood. I figured someone inside would know. I was wrong, but I made two new friends while we all tried to figure it out. We fussed over the hoods and sat ourselves down. Then we got moved. I had decorated my cap (story to come later) and was mildly worried when I walked in that I would be the only one. That was silly, there were decorated caps everywhere.

We settled in for the ceremony. First they did the honorary degrees. I actually think this would be the best way to get a doctorate because you get all the bells and whistles and no classes or papers. However, I am way too impatient for that, so I'll just bust through school to get one. Apparently my two new friends came from the same line of thinking I did because we all noticed that the doctoral candidates had different hats. Some had the flat mortarboard and some had the nifty poofy hats.

The speaker did her thing and was truly inspiring. She talked a lot about being a community and having empathy towards others. These are things I truly agree with, so I knew I had made the right decision to go. She also talked a lot about football, being that she grew up in Texas, and I knew I'd made the right decision!

After that the doctoral candidates were recognized and I tried my darnedest to figure out the hat thing, but every time I would catch a name and find it in the program it would be the same degree with different hats. The night ended with me having no idea why they were different, but knowing that I had to figure it out because I would be VERY upset if I made it through a PhD. program only to end up with a flat hat again.

At the end of the ceremony we sang the OU chant, yes the chant is a song and the fight song is more of a chant, oh well. They gave us all glow sticks and turned the lights down. After that instead of throwing their caps people threw their glow sticks. I got pegged with at least two and they hurt! They also shot off streamers, which weren't as cool as fireworks, but I guess they were okay.

This is the only picture I got of commencement.

Then came the College of Arts and Sciences Convocation Saturday morning. This is the one where my name is read and I get to walk across the stage. The morning started off not so great as I hadn't slept the night before because my dog was sick and wouldn't calm down enough to go to sleep. After I kicked her out so I could get some sleep (yes I felt horrible) I got up to her still feeling bad. Needless to say I was pretty much ready for the ceremony to be over so that I could get home to check on her. (For those concerned she was fine when I got home and is as good as new today)

So for my graduation ensemble I chose a new black dress and pearls with hot pink peep toe high heels (shoes are very important). When I say I "chose" an LBD and pearls I mean that Brittany pretty much informed me that I would be wearing it, which she was spot on right about and it was the perfect choice. The heels (4 inches) were a bit of fun. I had to walk down the ramp at LNC, I was praying the whole time that I wouldn't fall. After that I was ushered into the A-L room for my major (Human Relations) and given the card to fill out with my information on it. I had managed to get all my flair on before walking down.

My flair included:
  • Graduation gown, complete with wings - I totally freaked out when I pulled it out of the bag Tuesday, but everyone explained that's how it was supposed to be, I still think it looks dumb, but was a nice place to stash my phone while I walked across stage
  • Masters hood - while there was no one to help with the hoods on Friday, Saturday morning one of the HR professors came by and checked all hoods to make sure they were right...thank goodness!
  • Chickasaw honor stole - I went back and forth on wearing this, but ended up doing it, even though it had feathers, I figured they paid for my Masters they should get some credit, plus it made me stand out a bit more, though there were at least three others, including a guy getting his MHR
  • Phi Kappa Phi honor cords - I worked my tail off to keep a perfect 4.0 GPA through grad school and was extremely excited to be nominated for PKP, which honors the top 10% of graduating Masters students
  • PKP pin - see above
  • Golden Key pin - okay I just did this one to have more stuff for the resume and more flair
  • Human Relations pin - I knew other MHRs in the past had gotten pins and I was happy when they went through and handed them out before the ceremony (I like my flair)
Okay so I was decked out. Surprisingly for all the people that were graduating I really didn't know that many, so I made more friends. I am very introverted, but in certain situations (graduation apparently being one of them) I make friends very easily. I met a guy who was a Marine who had done his whole program overseas, mainly in Japan (yet another thing I love about the HR department) and a guy who was in the Air Force (he was VERY tall). Also, I must admit, when I walked in and got lined up and knew I had another hour of waiting, I took off the good ol' 4 inch heels. Hey it worked, don't judge.

A little while later my friend Kelsey came in. She was a student athlete at OU (track and field) and had gone to the student athlete reception the day before. She had the prettiest ring that was clearly OU inspired and I asked where she got it. She said it was her gift from the athletic department for graduating. I immediately decided that I have four years of eligibility left and I need to find a sport! Okay I am totally kidding, but the ring was really pretty!

We lined up and headed in (I got my shoes back on just in time!). We walked to our assigned area and sat down. I must remind you that when you are in LNC the smart phones (or mine) aren't very smart, so getting text messages were few and far between. Eventually I had three come through from Chris and Jason asking where I was. I FINALLY got one back to Chris saying to look for my hat and described it (the specifics will be in another post all to themselves :)). I learned today that Chris was being ornery to Jason (big shocker) and kept saying things like "oh there she is, she's in a black robe and has something hanging from her hat" Jason would look and then realize that EVERYONE had on black robes with stuff hanging from their hats. Then when they asked the graduates to please rise Chris said "oh she's standing up" and Jason looked and realized that everyone was standing up. Apparently everyone around them was laughing. I certainly did when I heard the story!

Okay so next Dean Bell gives a little talk. Then the chosen student (always an undergrad) gave her speech and it was time for us to walk. My favorite part about Dean Bell is something he says every year:


If you read above the closed captioning says "other demonstrations of support and affection are strongly" the whole thing is this:
Noisy outbursts and other demonstrations of support and affection are strongly encouraged.
As you will read later in my post about my cap this was not the case when I was in high school and it made me a little bit angry (as did most things at my high school).

So I watch as many friends come by who were also getting their Masters. The guy next to me was checking out everyone's shoes (I told you shoes were important!). Kelsey and I were chatting. Chris said he and Jason figured they would look for someone playing on facebook during the thing (who me?) but because of the lack of cell service I resorted to talking, so they weren't surprised when they finally located me and I was talking to the person to my left and then the person to my right and back and forth...always the social butterfly.

We finally got to get up and head for the front. They took our pictures and then the lovely gay guy had us move our tassels to the back for the photo of us shaking hands to get our diploma cover (he was quite fun). I got my cover, shook a lot of hands, said a lot of thank yous and walked back to my (new) seat. Waiting to go up and walk wasn't so bad, but waiting for the thing to be over was awful. Needless to say we were counting down the departments left and everyone cheered for the last person to walk. After that it was the fun madness of trying to get out, with feet that were killing me, so I took off the shoes and peeled the robe as soon as possible (those things are hot!).

Overall it wasn't too bad, fun stories that I will remember, just like the last two. I'm very appreciative to those that came to support me in person and those that were with me in spirit and those that liked my check in on facebook or made comments. All of you have helped me get to where I am today and for that I am extremely thankful.


PS
My friends from Friday night figured out the doctoral hats! One came over and told me that you just pay more for the poofy ones. I can so do that! Next stop: PhD!

Hunger Games


I was not supposed to like these books, at all. In fact I only read them because my youth group kids were so excited about them and the movie was coming out. When Kali said they were about kids killing each other I truly wanted nothing to do with them, but wanted to know what the kids were reading, so I grabbed the first one and took it on vacation with me. I also saw a youth group series that a friend of mine was doing called the Hunger and Thirst Games and it was kind of necessary to read the books so I knew what the heck the series was talking about.

It took the first section before I got hooked and then I couldn't put it down. The same followed with the second one and not as much with the third, but I had to know how it ended. After reading all three and watching the first movie, which I hear the screenplay was written by Suzanne Collins, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them. I have a political science degree, though I forget, so the political chaos that runs through the book got me. I also have a natural rebellious spirit, so that kind of grabbed me too. And who doesn't love a love triangle? It was interesting, I must say, that I read these as I finished rewatching Dawson's Creek (the complete series) and some of the parallels between the characters in both with people in my own life. Kind of gave me some closure actually. Very interesting.

The three books are easy reads (literally two days max for each). I enjoyed the second one the best. The ending was pretty much what I expected. I am super excited for the next two movies because I think they are great accompaniments to the books. Overall, go read them and learn what the hype is about!

Mere Christianity


Oh C.S. Lewis, you and I are just not friends. This book made me angry more than it made me happy. Honestly I didn't finish it. We were working on it for our small group and we threw in the towel and gave up. It was a recommendation from someone and I just couldn't handle it. Lewis is very black and white in this and in my world there is a lot of color. I have been told to read his other works because they are a lot better, but it's going to take some time before I want to try Mr. Lewis again.


I Heart New York


I have a habit (bad for my wallet) of going to the bookstore and just roaming the shelves until something jumps out at me. That's how I found this jewel. Clearly this was going to be a perfect book for me because in fact I do heart New York very, very much. What I didn't realize is how much I would actually relate to the book. First off it starts with a girl at her best friend's wedding who finds out that her fiance was cheating on her (catches him in the act during the reception actually) and then finds out that her best friend knew about it the whole time. Now that's not exactly my story, but it was close enough to have me enthralled. The next day after a good cry (and peeing in his toiletry bag) she hops on a plane and goes to NYC knowing no one. I threatened to do this many, many times following my own wedding being cancelled, but never got the balls to do it. I got to live out what I wished I had done through this. She ends up making friends with the concierge at the hotel she stays in, meetings beautiful men and has fun dates (after a fabulous makeover). It was kind of cathartic to read this having been through something similar (minus the dating, but we'll get to that). Overall it was wonderful, it was set in the best city in the world, it was fun to imagine all the places that I have been to countless times, and I just loved it. Absolutely a must read.

Back in the Swing of Things

Okay it has been a minute (or a month) since last I blogged. One might have thought I gone blown away with the tornado from the last post, but I didn't. Instead I have been fighting with a fun (I use that term extremely sarcastically) home improvement project (or ten) that have thrown me into a nervous breakdown (or several), plus school wrapping up, plus Junior League, plus CrossTimbers, plus juggling that thing I call a social life. Enough for excuses, I'm back! In the meantime of regular blogging I have redecorated my living room, started on the kitchen, and have decided to mix up the bedrooms, plus work on the pool (we'll get to all of that soon, I promise, the stories are way too crazy not to share). I also graduated with my Masters! (insert screaming, laughing, crying and a huge sense of relief) I'll also get to that. So all of this being said, get ready blog world, there is a log of blogging coming up at Little Black Dresses and Pearls, so stay tuned!

Friday, April 13, 2012

What an End to This Week...

Okay so this has been just a HORRIBLE week on oh so many levels and I thought it was quite amusing that it was ending on Friday the 13th. What I did not anticipate was the tornado around 4:00 this afternoon, so here is that part of the wretched week's story.

I got a call that there was baseball sized hail around Riverwind (opposite side of Norman from my house), so I asked my friend Brianne to follow me home so I could put my car in the garage (the garage which was "cleaned out" at lunch so I could cram the car in when I got home from work). By the time we get to my house, which is three minutes from the office, it had started to rain. We crammed the car into the garage (literally) and I got the big dog in the house and in the hallway and we headed back. By this point it had started to really rain.

Darling Brianne turned the wrong way and the sirens started going off. We were trying to call the office to tell them we were on our way back and couldn't get anything to go through. We were listening to the radio on the way back and if you listened carefully one 1/8 mile wide tornado started on Highway 9, bounced to the mall, then back to the weather center, then to OU's campus, up to Norman North, back to Norman High, and over to Norman Regional (across the street from our office). Needless to say they were being over dramatic.

We make it back to the office, get DRENCHED while running inside and everyone is downstairs in the hallway. We hang out there for awhile, everyone attempting to get cell service (ha.ha.ha.) Someone had a radio on and it was more melodrama and them making it out that all of Norman was leveled. I'm not discounting that there were storms nor that they were bad, but the guys on the radio were saying so many things that were so conflicting it was impossible to tell what was really happening.

Eventually the storms passed, we went upstairs to get our stuff and Brianne took me home, where all was safe and sound. That's when the texts and voicemails started coming in. I had people all over the place checking on me and I felt so bad because I couldn't get anything to go through. Occasionally I would get the voicemail to work so that I would know who was checking, but overall cell phone service was awful. Wait did I say it was awful? Because an hour later it still isn't working.

When I got home to electricity and internet I updated my facebook to check in with people since nothing would go through on the phone. Eventually I was able to check voicemails and the best one came from darling Megan England:

Hey call me or text me or update your facebook status so I know you're okay.


You never have to wonder if we think alike! So once again, in severe weather facebook saves the day. So if you are reading this and I have not updated you on my status that is why and all is well and those of you that did check on my you have no idea how much it meant...love you all!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cheetoed

Let me just say that I had the best of intentions and I take full responsibility for the ramifications of my actions.

That being said here is the story of a spray tan gone horribly wrong.

It all started this past weekend when I realized I was really, really pale. I leave for a cruise on the 18th and considering my plan is to lay on the deck in the sun with a book my pale skin was not going to do very well. If I can get a base tan then I tan really, really well, but it takes a bit of work. I decided that I would take matters into my own hands and go to the tanning salon for the two weeks prior to the trip.

I went, paid my money, bought my lotion and day one went for 8 minutes. It was fine, no burn at all, so day 2 I bumped it to 10 minutes. That was a mistake. I got a bit, well, crispy. Tan and Tone was running a special yesterday that all their tans were $1 and the magic tan was $10. After talking to the girls that work there I decided I would try a magic tan, because I couldn't get in a tanning bed due to the burn and Junior League Charity Ball is tomorrow night. I thought that was just the PERFECT solution.

Now I have never done this before, generally I am a Jergens Natural Glow kind of a girl. And I also have a tanning spray gun, so I've done that myself and had sweet Mary airbrush me too. Both of those were fine and I figured this wouldn't be that much different.

BAHAHAHAHA!

Okay so I watch the video, learn the poses, am explained it all again by an employee. Forty five seconds later I am tan. But I don't see much. The girl that explained it all said that wiping it off was the most important part. I suppose I may be too analytical because I really needed to understand how this all actually worked, because in my extremely logical mind the jets sprayed the tanning stuff on for about 8 seconds per side and then I jumped out and wiped it off, how on earth was this going to leave me tan?

Well, kids, let me tell you what, learn from me, it does. So I did the wiping, still worried that I would have no color in the morning. I went home and avoided water for the correct amount of time. I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror...O.M.G. I scrubbed as much as I could before work. When I got to work I went straight to my cave and stayed there. I IM'ed my friend Brianne and asked her to come look to see if I looked like Cheet-o. She thought I was wearing orange, not that I let the spray tan gods work their magic on me.

Here's what I learned:
  • use the barrier cream and use a lot of it
  • when you wipe off the tanning solution keep it far, far, far, far away from the places with the barrier cream
  • cuticles and palms, even if you put barrier cream on still end up looking orange
  • you can remove some of the Cheet-o-ness with rubbing alcohol
Brianne's exact words were "well it's not good." I guess I know that if I want an honest opinion I have a friend for it! :) She left and I rubbed on my skin with rubbing alcohol. Apparently the really bad place was around and on my nose. When she came back over to check on me (because I wouldn't leave my desk without approval that I wouldn't frighten people) she said "oh it looks so much better! I didn't realize how bad it really was until I see it looking better now!" I really, really, really love her!

So that is my tale of the spray tan. I'm not going to say I'll never do it again, though the idea of someone airbrushing me is sounding like a MUCH better plan, but I will take some valuable lessons from this experience. Tomorrow may be Charity Ball, but I'm not taking a date, just hanging out with wonderful girlfriends who will get a huge laugh out of this little adventure and really, if you can't laugh at your own flubs then what fun is life?

My feet after an INSANE amount of exfoliating tonight...

Mastered


That letter means that those crazy people at OU are going to give me a Masters degree! This also is the reason that I've been completely absent on the good ol' blog. I finished my comprehensive exam which was a twelve page paper that incorporated facebook, church, young adults lacking permanent, consistent emotional support, existentialism, and my future plans. Sound random enough? Well apparently I put them together in a coherent manner worthy of graduate level work and they are going to let me graduate in May.

Last week I also found out that I was invited into Phi Kappa Phi, an honor society for the top ten percent of graduating graduate students and Golden Key Honour Society, which is an honor society for cool people (okay really I haven't the slightest clue and I got the invite last fall and ignored it, but then decided that I wanted more flair for my cap and gown).

After all of that excitement I got my final grade for grad school last night: A. That means that when I finish my Masters I will graduate with a final GPA of 4.0.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't completely and totally excited about all of this. When I was in high school I graduated with honors and had a GPA over 4.0 (thanks weighted grades), then I got to college. I was really good at undergrad, at least the social aspect; the school aspect I really didn't care about and my GPA reflected it.

Grad school was not in the plan. Three years ago I was planning a disaster of a wedding. I wanted to be a wife and mom, and while I see nothing wrong with either of those things that wasn't the direction my life path ended up going and I'm okay with that. Wife and mom are still on my to do list, but I really love where my life is at. That being said I did get sad today when I was ordering my announcements and saw undergrad couples that were purchasing all their stuff together and knowing that when graduation rolls around they will take pictures together and have those memories, together. I'm sad that I won't have those graduation pictures with whoever "the one" is. In the end it will all work out and I know that. I also know that had I been dating someone during the craziness that was me in grad school it would have never worked. I rather enjoyed being able to pull all nighters and then retreat to the pool or the comfort of my bedroom to watch Sex and the City or Dawson's Creek. Had I been in a relationship I would have, knowing me, sacrificed some part of this experience and I wouldn't feel about it the way that I do, and I'm really, really proud of myself.

All in all the last twenty six months have been busy, crazy, fun, and completely and totally worthwhile. In sixty four short days I will walk across a stage in a sparkly decorated cap (more on that later) at Lloyd Noble Center, hopefully with some crazy kids screaming and yelling and blowing air horns, and they will give me a Masters. Now that I have the school bug I don't think it's going away any time soon. I've already decided that I'm going to get my counseling license and a Ph.D. is completely not out of the realm of reality (I really want the poufy hat!).

Who knows where I will be in another three years because where I sit now is not at all what I could have ever imagined one thousand ninety six days ago (yes I counted Leap Year day :)), but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saving Myself for Donnie Wahlberg…

Well maybe not really (or maybe so, who knows!) Here we are again that wonderful day of the year we all love so very much: Valentine’s Day. Last year I was pretty upset by this little twenty-four hour period, but this year I’m just really not. I really just don’t care, it’s just another day.

So why then am I writing a blog for the first time in a month and a half over the subject?

Contentment.

This is my word of 2012. I’ve had real issue with this word in the past because I thought that if I said I was content with my life that meant that I was happy staying where I was, which I’m not. I want to get married and have kids and that’s not where I’m at, so I didn’t want to tempt the fates into thinking that they could just leave me here and I’d be happy about it, because I wouldn’t be. Then a friend encouraged me to watch the movie Courageous. I won’t go into my analysis and critique of the movie because it isn’t relevant here. What happened was that the movie didn’t come out on DVD for some time after I was told to watch it, however I noticed a book at Barnes and Noble inspired by the movie: The Resolution for Women (there’s a men’s version too). I started this book at the beginning of the year and I’ll admit I have not been diligent about reading it every day, but I’ll get through it eventually.

The main point of the beginning and what struck me so much was this idea of contentment. The book laid it out in a manner that I not only understood, but completely and totally agreed with. It suggested the idea that we all have different seasons throughout our lives: seasons to be single, to be married, to be a parent, to be a student, to build our career, to be a kid and so on. The idea of contentment isn’t the idea that you have to be satisfied forever with what you have now; rather it is the idea that you are content, happy and enjoy what you have in the season that you are in. It was like a light bulb went off there in my bedroom.

Contentment doesn’t mean that I am giving up and saying, well I guess this is how it’s going to be and I have to live with it. Rather it gives me the opportunity to live my life to the fullest and enjoy this time I have. Now I’ve known all of this for years and for a long time I’ve told myself I need to learn to live in the moment, but they were just words and the voice in the back of my mind was telling me that I was biding my time until my “real” life started: the get married and have kids life. I don’t really know what the major difference this time was, but I really and truly got it this time around. I realize all the great things that I get to do because I am single.

I took an amazing trip to New York and DC in November and got to enjoy just spending time alone, which was amazing. That trip was all about having new experiences and finding myself along the way. I had never flown by myself before and that felt like this huge thing, that wasn’t really all that big of a deal. At the same time I made all the arrangements myself (besides a bus ticket to DC) and got myself where I needed to be all by myself. I’ve always been a very independent person, however I tend to stay in my own comfortable bubble and that trip pushed me outside my bubble and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m finishing my Masters. During the month of February not only have I completed my last class, but I also have to write my comprehensive exam (which I still don’t think is THAT big of a deal, but everyone else is flipping out about). To be honest I’m glad I’m single because I just really don’t have time, right now, to factor someone else in. I am doing everything I can to just have some “me” time in between class and paper writing.

On top of this we are starting some new things at CrossTimbers that I’m ridiculously excited about, but that are also kind of time consuming in the beginning planning process. (And, no, I’m still not 100% certain how this all ended up happening at once.) This has become an amazing opportunity that allows me and a group of people to truly make a difference in other people’s lives as well as our own and I’m so excited about the direction it is going.

February also includes seeing a dear friend in one of my favorite musicals, the birthday of a beautiful little girl, whom I adore, that must be showered with birthday excitement, a women’s retreat at my home church that I am beyond excited about, and to top it off a trip to Dallas with one of my most favorite people for the Jordan Knight solo show (because if you couldn’t tell at the beginning of this I am having some NKOTB withdrawals lately).

So all in all February is a really busy month for me. If I had been put in a relationship at this point the person I was with would probably be feeling abandoned or I would be focused on them and not all the other things I need to do. That’s kind of how my life has been these days. It’s not that I don’t want to be with someone; it’s that simply this is not the season for that.

I don’t know how long this season of my life is going to last. Maybe it will be that mystery date in July or maybe it will be sooner than that, but if it happens to be longer than that, then that’s okay too.

For the last few months I have been toying around with the idea of finishing my LPC (license professional counseling) classes. The class I just finished up sealed the deal on that. Basically I’m signing myself up for another year and a half or so of school, but I’m okay with that. I truly feel like it is the place that I’m supposed to be in this season of my life. I’m not really sure what this means in the long run of my life, but I feel certain that I’m going in the right direction and certain things that I thought would be happening right now are on hold for a reason, though I don’t know that reason yet. I figure at some point it will all make sense, why I have shifted my passion around, or put a major passion on hold for a little while.

For the time being, I am enjoying the fact that if I want to lock myself in my room and watch Dawson’s Creek for hours I can. If I want to hop on a plane to NYC I can. I am going to enjoy that I can do whatever I want at this point in my life. I fully believe that in the right time I will get all the things that my heart desires, but I fully believe that this is not the right time. I would rather enjoy my life now, single, than push for a relationship that isn’t right and end up more miserable in the end.

For the first time in a long time I am really, truly happy (albeit very busy and slightly stressed, but happy) and content with where I am. I would rather have a million Valentine’s Days alone than be in an unhealthy relationship again. All the things I have learned will go with me into my next relationship, which I will allow to happen naturally and not push for or try to force. That’s just not the way this crazy life works. And if you have a problem with me being thirty and single and my life not matching how yours looks, then that's your problem, not mine, and it probably means there is something lacking in your own life. I encourage you to take a look and try to find the missing piece. It took me a long time to put all the pieces back together to become whole and I’m glad I took that time because I would not trade it for anything.

So happy Valentine’s Day to all (and especially to Donnie Wahlberg…I’ll be here patiently waiting… ;))

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolved

Prior to last year I was never big on the whole New Year's resolution thing. BUT in 2011 I set one. Granted it was something that I shouldn't have had to resolved to do in the first place, but after the way 2010 went it was something I needed to work on. Now for you that know what this was you probably think this is pretty funny, but if you don't know, well let's just say I managed to make it the full year without breaking the resolution (although there was one time that I almost slipped, but it worked out that I didn't).

So with this successful attitude I am setting a few more this year. I will share them with you.

I have several friends that have done or are doing this 1000 mile running challenge. I hate running, I really want to love it, but I really don't, but I do love to walk long distances, therefore I am setting the same challenge. I am already 6 in. I figure if I do three miles a day, which is my norm then I will not only successfully complete this challenge, but actually have 32 days throughout the year free.

Next big thing: fix my house. There are a lot of things that need to be done around here and it needs to be where people can come over. I have kind of let it go so that people couldn't come over and I think that was because in 2011 I really liked being a hermit. Now that it is 2012 I need to get out of the hermit mentality and become a people person again. Of course I need to keep plenty of "me" time, but I want to be in a place that if someone stops by unexpectedly I would let them in and have food and drinks to share with them! Or feel comfortable inviting someone to come visit for a weekend.

The biggest thing, however, is that I want to strengthen my relationship with God. I have an amazing faith, if I didn't there would be no way I would be where I am now, but I want a deeper, more personal relationship. I have started several different things that are completely "doable" for me and that on day two of the new year are already speaking volumes to me. It should be a pretty exciting journey and I'm really ready for the challenge.

In relation to that I am taking on a more active prayer life. I am resolving to pray for certain people in my life every day, no matter how frustrated or angry I may be with them on a given day. There is at least one person that this is completely for. It will be interesting to see what happens after a year of deliberate prayer for them. It might be interesting! I will probably pick up others along the way, but there is one in particular right now that I think needs it.

I am also going to focus on worrying less and living more. Yesterday at church the sermon involved two videos. Both were great, but there was a line in the second that spoke volumes to me:
May God grant me the ability to seize the day; to seize every second and unravel His purpose, His potential for me.

This is my prayer for 2012. I tend to rush life and not enjoy the moments I'm living in. Ironically the study I started for quiet time focused on contentment for the first chapter (pretty sure I picked the exact right book for me). I need to live in the moment more and realize that the future is yet to be, but when it is it will be amazing. I think reflecting back on my past has shown me that as well. I've been thinking about high school a lot for various reasons and as much as I loved it I was always ready to be done. In retrospect I wish I had taken more pictures and done more things and kept in contact with people better. Since I can see that now I pray that I can take that and do it now so that in another fifteen years I'm not thinking that about this season of my life. Life is too short as it is to go wasting it waiting on the next big thing.
I don't see that any of these "resolutions" or goals or whatever you want to call them are not attainable. Some will take more work and focus than others, but if I can manage to follow them I cannot even begin to imagine how amazing life will be.

Good Riddance

Well here we are in 2012, which according to the Mayans will be the last one. No I don't fall into that crazy thinking, but who knows really? :) Anywho this is the time of the year when we have a whole brand new year ahead of us and we reflect upon the previous year. I am just as guilty as the rest of you about doing this, I just choose to put it down on a blog for all of you to read!

So what was 2011 to me? Well part of it was really, really, really crappy (the month of October to be exact) and part of it was really, really good (November and December). Part of it was kind of self inflicted loneliness/recuperation (summer) and part of it was a lot of stress (first semester).

This last year saw me making big decisions with my life and temporarily ending some friendships that were unhealthy for me to be around (thankfully I recovered and we're as close as ever). I spent the academic year of 2010-2011 with so much going on that by the time May rolled around I couldn't be around anyone, so I wasn't. I spent the summer lounging in my pool all by myself. I only had people over to swim three times all summer. It was wonderful. I am, by nature, an introvert and those nine months completely and totally wore me out physically, emotionally and spiritually. I needed some "me" time. I think a lot of my friends didn't really understand what was going on with me, and frankly until the last week or so I didn't either, but I knew that it was what I needed.

As 2011 left us I realized that I have 33 out of 36 hours of grad school completed, two years ago I didn't even know I would. In 2011 I was asked to be a committee chair for Junior League (in my first active year) and was chosen to be the Community Vice President on the Board of Directors for 2012-2013. I spent a lot of time at CrossTimbers, mainly doing stuff with a crazy, yet amazing youth group. I have reconnected with old friends and spend a lot of time with them now, which is amazing.

Several tragedies struck this year, including losing two people that I never met that greatly impacted me and losing two that I knew very well.

I conquered some things that I don't know if I could have done before. The main one was taking a week long vacation by myself, which was amazing. I made all the plans and flew all by myself. I navigated NYC by myself for the most part and in the dark (which terrified me before). I managed to make my way to DC from NYC (though I did some planning help on that one). It was a trip that was all about experiences and I had plenty of them. I had to step out of my shell a lot and usually I'm pretty cozy in there, so I'm glad that I did it. A lot of things got marked off my bucket list and made me grow as a person. I am so thankful to the people that helped with that.

I came to the realization this year that while I have an amazing life I need to work on having a bit less structure. I function well with structure, so it is hard to let go of that. I spent an amazing evening in my hometown, of all places, last spring that had no agenda and it was amazing. NYC and DC followed that pattern as well as being shipwrecked at home for a few days last week. I think I have realized over the last year just how important my high school friends are to me. It's not that I don't value my college or adult friends, but there is something true and pure about the people that knew you at that age. We spent so much time together and knew each other so intimately. I find it so reassuring that I can be with them and it is as if nothing has changed and we are 16 again.

This last year I realized that as much as I say I hate it I'm really glad that I grew up where I did and when I did. I have valuable friendships that have lasted through everything you can imagine being thrown at them and contacts that will help with my future.

And about the future. I turned 30 this year and convinced myself that what I needed out of life was to pick up and move to New York. While that would be wonderful and something I would like to do temporarily still I realized that it won't solve anything. Last year (2010) I read Eat, Pray, Love. I know a lot of people that read it and didn't really like it. I will be the first to admit it was a hard read, however I totally understand it. I think I have gotten to the point of understanding pleasure and understanding spirituality and responsibility, but I'm still working on balancing the two. I tend to be go, go, go and feel like my life has to be booked solid, all the time, but what I then realize, when I get a few moments free, is that I really, really hate that. I still haven't figured out where the balance between structure and free spirit comes, but I know it is something that I need to work on and strive for. I know I cannot just not have a job and travel the world all the time, that's not how life works, however it seems that it is when I am most happy. The question becomes how do I do both? I'll be honest, I don't know, but I'm working on it.

For many, many years I have had a feeling about 2012. I truly think this is going to be the most amazing year and I think the things that happened in 2011 have set it up that way. I'm kind of curious about the post I will write a year from now (assuming the Mayans were wrong, of course). Where will I be and what will I be doing? For some reason I think it is going to be totally different than where I am now...