Thursday, December 9, 2010

A New Morning Routine

That little exercise yesterday hit me a little harder then I had anticipated. Although I knew my priorities were off a little bit I didn't realize how...trivial my life is seeming on a list. I know my life is defined by way more then 10 things but it was a good reminder of my priorities and making sure that my time is portioned out to things that are long term goals of mine.

I felt a little overwhelmed trying to figure out where I would find more time to do things I loved, and it dawned on me that getting up earlier would be a great time to get a few more hours to do whatever I felt like. Normally I am up at 7:30 since I don't have to be at work until 9, but I decided to get up at 5:30 am with my husband (he's a teacher) and see what I could accomplish.


I started out my morning with reading some scripture and meditating and journaling to get my mind and soul prepared for the day. Scott was sweet enough to make me some coffee- it makes me a little sick to drink caffeine on an empty stomach so it was mostly for smell and mood effects until I got to breakfast.

After journaling and kissing my husband goodbye, I threw on some jeans and a hoodie, grabbed my camera and slipped into the backyard. It was beautiful out. It was still and quiet and smooth and creativity seemed to just permeate the air around me. I've never considered myself a morning person (although I really want to be one), but I could definitely see the appeal. I took pictures of EVERYTHING in my backyard- grass, leaves, dirt, bricks, fences, houses, and of course- the biggest stars of the morning my 2 dogs Boomer and Bella. They sure didn't mind showing off for the camera!

In fact, I figure if I can successfully photograph those two I should be well on my way to photography victory- I am betting most clients won't bark at each other, run in circles and bite each other's legs. Although you never know?!!? Haha!!

I was really appreciative and in awe of the sunrise this morning. What beautiful colors are swirled in the sky!! I never take the time to appreciate the little things. I grow almost numb and unbothered by the unique beauty of the orangey-pinky-blue canvas. The trees were almost completely bare except for two leaves- still green and growing upright rather then brown and wilted. Hope. Spring will return!! I miss the warm weather!!

After attempting to dethaw my hands, I decided to whip up some pumpkin pancakes. I used multi grain pancake mix and added Organic canned pumpkin, Allspice, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of Organic maple syrup. Doesn't it look like art?

Breakfast consisted of 4 small pumpkin pancakes topped with blackberries and a little Agave. It was SO good and literally kept me full until 2pm.

At work today, I decided to take a bold step that I have been wanting to do for a long time. I decided to throw out a special "promotional" price on my photography on facebook to see how many clients I could get. Within 4 hours I had booked $400 worth of photography. Which is mind blowing. People are totally willing to take a chance on me. I am humbled and excited, but also practicing taking pictures like crazy- I have a couple shoot on Saturday and a Newborn on Sunday! :) Who knows what the future will bring. I'm just mostly excited about the posibilities of it all!

For dinner we decided to do something different and made Angela's Vegan Mac and Cheese. Oh my was awesome. She is brilliant- literally every recipe of hers I have tried is awesome! I also threw together a quick side salad with mixed greens, blackberries, carrots, sunflower seeds, and homemade vinaigrette. (I also put blue cheese crumbles in it...that doesn't even make sense to do with vegan mac and cheese...but it was delicious!!!)

Vinaigrette Recipe
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon Opa Seasoning

Vinaigrette is superfun to make because there is a lot of creative freedom. The biggest "rule" is to keep the vinegar to oil ratio a 1:3, but I break that all the time because I like mine a little tart, especially when I have salads with fruit. It helps bring out the natural sugar of the berries. In fact, berries and vinegar together are lovely (my 2 favorites are orange vinegar and balsamic for fruit).

The big picture:

YUM. Incredible dinner. I also learned a fun fact when making the dressing- my mother was telling the truth about vinegar and sunburns after all!!

Have a wonderful night!!


Top Ten

A Coworker of mine told me a great story about his life once. He told me he went to a self-help workshop years ago, and they had a seemingly simple exercise that really changed his life. They had him list out the 10 things he wanted most in life. He filled the list with things like becoming a husband, raising a family, enjoying his free time, traveling the world, etc. Then they had him write a list of the 10 things he actually spent his time doing. He realized what he spent his time doing was not at all contributing to what he wanted to do. He was spending his time buried in legal briefs, working late, not dating seriously, too swamped and busy to even think about traveling, etc. It was this “simple” exercise that changed his life. He quit his high paying legal career in order to take an average paying insurance job that allowed him to have free time and “sanity”.

He began enjoying the little things in life, volunteering and really spending time cultivating things that would help him attract and keep a wife and family together. He cooked, he cleaned, he even decorated- he took the time to have fine wine and enjoy good cooked meals with loved ones. My coworker began to save and plan a trip to Europe, something he had never had the chance to do (for leisure) and took off by himself for an amazing 3 week trip, cumulating in Italy. There, in the middle of Italy, on a tour bus, he met a woman traveling by herself from Russia, on a similar quest to see Europe. He was never able to get that woman out of his mind, and a few months later they were married as she came to join him in the United Sates as his wife. They bought a home, and year later they had the most incredible little girl (who I totally adore). Now the happy family of 3 travels and loves like few others I know.

Today my coworker has an attitude most would envy. He is not easily stressed or reaching for bigger, better things. He iscontent. What would it be like, to, as he says “be living my dream”? Can any of us really say we are there?

Here are the 10 things I want most out of life:

1.To glorify and honor God with every ounce of my being.
2.To be an amazing wife to my incredible husband.
3.To have a large family, and for our families all to be close and full of life, laughter and love.
4.To develop incredibly deep friendships that sustain us through our entire life.
5.To be healthy, in mind and body.
6.To own some land of my own someday with a house that is almost all our own design.
7.To travel and see the world.
8.To be a photographer- to take pictures of ordinary things and make them completely beautiful.
9.To write, to pour out my heart and soul in the art medium of words.
10.To give to the people in the world who need it most, to help others receive simple things we take for granted daily, like clean water and unspoiled food.
Here are the things I actually spend my time doing:

1.Working at my job- something I’m good at and mostly enjoy, but not something that’s in a field listed above.
2.Spending time on social media sites, like Facebook.
3.Spending time with Scott
6.Reading other people’s blogs
7.Shopping- buying things I really don’t need.
8.Spending time with friends and family
10.Church related things- church, small group, personal quiet time, etc.

As we can all see- room for improvement! A lot! I have more thoughts on this that I’ll be sharing later, but this is definitely an exercise worth doing and mediating on- who knows, like my friend, it could change your life!

What are the 10 things you want most out of life? And what are the 10 things you spend most of your life actually doing? Do they line up?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

My best friend got married this weekend.

It was weird.

I don’t mean that to say that it was odd for her to get married, or anything outside the normal happened at her wedding. In fact, it was a seamless evening and she was (of course) dubiously happy. As her Matron of Honor (I begged her to not make me be a Matron, but rather a Maid- she said that was the trade off for having a year longer of wedded bliss. Boo.), I had a lot of duties to do and a lot to keep me busy, but my mind couldn’t help by wander.

Holy Cow, I can’t believe we have actually both done this.

I remember Christy and I, all of 17-18 years old giggling at fraternity parties and talking about how weird it would be to have a boyfriend, or even just a date. We had our fair amount of attention because we are both redheads and everyone around us was (and sometimes is) convinced we are twins. But, I’m happy to report, we were both pretty choosy in our frat going years and always left the parties alone together, arm and arm.

I remember at 18, a few weeks before college having a real encounter with God and giving my heart, mind and soul to Jesus, never regretting and never looking back. Sweet Christy followed a few months after, and we experienced the most incredible and sweet spiritual growth, running back and forth to each other’s rooms with new Bible verses to share-Can you believe he has numbered each sky and knows them all by name???? That particular night at a college worship service “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin was played- a song about God knowing and numbering stars in the sky. God was romancing and serenading us in a way only He could.

When I was 20, I had my first boyfriend. Although we were together almost two years, that relationship was long distance and only slightly changed Christy and I’s relationship, although I was with him a lot on weekends. She knew he wasn’t right and that it wouldn’t last. And she was right. Although that relationship took me through Junior year all the way through graduating and moving back to Texas, she was there for me to cry on and was incredibly supportive of all my sappy wailings of being “alone forever”. She assured me I wouldn’t.

Again, she was right.

Although I was single for almost exactly 1 year (2 weeks short of 1 year exactly), she assured me the entire time that God had the right man for me and He was preparing us both for each other. I had my first date with Scott February 1st and wasn’t sure 100% what I thought. I had made a vow, see, not to let my heart get carried away with a man until I knew for sure he was right. She told me to give it time.

I’m so glad she did. A mere 2 months later, on a trip visiting his extended family, we stole some time alone to take a trip to Savannah, GA. There in the courtyards of a beautiful church on a park bench in the sunshine we fell in love. (Well, we had been falling, but that’s the point we both count of knowing). Sitting in silence of a that moment, sun warming our faces, butterflies in our stomachs and Goosebumps on our flesh- we knew. This was something different. It was almost sacred.

From that moment there was no looking back. 4 months later and we were engaged, a year later and we were married. Christy was there for the parties, and of course the wedding, making the dull 4 hour trip between her house and mine without complaint. When I bought a house, she was there to decorate it. When I was worried about wedding planning, she was there to make me laugh. Always just a text, email or phone call away, I knew she had my back.

Then I was in wedded bliss.

I so wanted the same for my sweet friend, but she was happy as she was. She told me she’d be fine and when the time was right her man would come. So I didn’t worry.

On Valentine’s Day of this year, Scott and I were celebrating our 2 year anniversary of our first kiss. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, Christy and Casey were having their first date. He arrived with a single red rose to take her out for sushi then desert. They were both hooked.

They got engaged August 25th and were married December 4th. She was gorgeous. Literally a fairy-tale bride. We toasted, we danced, we giggled…and before she left, weremininced. As we were lining up to do their grand exit, panic fluttered into my chest- I had forgotten to say goodbye! I ran to the brides room and found her and Casey there, looking totally radiant. I gave her a hug, and with tears in my eyes told her that we finally were both here, and that marriage was incredible. That I loved her and would pray for them every day.

Which I do, and I will.

It’s a funny feeling when you are that close to someone and get to see them go through a life-changing celebration. There is joy, there is memories, and somewhere, deep down, there is a hint of bittersweet. I wonder if she felt that way about my wedding. Perhaps when she gets back from Hawaii, I’ll ask her.

Until then, congrats Christine and Casey. Love you dearly!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Death, A funeral & Other Random Bits

So since I last blogged 3 months ago there have been some changes.  I was 1 week into my "Vegan lifestyle" trial and doing well when…death happened.  A family member of my husband passed away.  He wasn't someone that I had the opportunity to grow close to but in the few times I was with this man I was touched by his strength and love for his family.  He was a good father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather.  It wasn't without warning.  Cancer always lets you know it's coming to collect you and take you home, but that doesn't make it any easier.  There was mourning and grief.  I grieved for Scott (my husband), and my sweet in-laws and sobbed my way through the beautiful funeral.  Death isn't something that is new, but it is still a hard lesson to partake in.  

To get to the funeral we did a 14 hour drive to South Carolina with my husband's sister and her husband.  They are a wonderful couple so 18 hours in a car together wasn't awful. J Needless to say there wasn't a whole lot of healthy vegan options along the way, so that, coupled with grief, coupled with amazing South Carolina BBQ lead me to break the diet.  

That wasn't the end of the journey with experimental Veganism for me. I have been accepted as part of a clinical study for weight loss doing a 4 month vegan study. I will get to meet with nutritionists, get meal planning advice and have access to the country's top physicians who will be flying into Dallas to meet with lil old me and 60 other co-workers. JHopefully we'll start the program in January.  I'm excited to see what happens.

At the beginning of November I completed the Susan G Komen for the Cure and walked 60 miles over a span of 3 days.  As tough as the walk was physically, it was nothing compared to raising $2,500 to participate! But we made it and I was really proud of us. It was incredibly emotional and touching. I would recommend anyone to try it at least once! After the walk the weather grew chilly and my body and mind grew lazy and I had a pretty rapid weight gain of 7 pounds over a month.  I have snapped back into the mindset and started monitoring my portions and exercising.  I went for my first run in 6 weeks on Wednesday.  It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be but I definitely have lost some of my endurance.  It will be a fun challenge to build it back up!

In other non-health news my birthday was in November and as his gift to me Scott turned our library into a craft room! It was a fun challenge for us, he painted the room an amazing creamy teal that screams out "Martha Stewart!" (aka let's get crafty!).  We custom built the half of the desk using scrapbook storage kits and some creatively jointed closet shelving.  It's great to have an outlet to use when it's unbearable to go outside.  I've been making lots of cards using my Cricut (funnest machine ever), and started sewing a bit.  We got a great deal on the Cricut and a Sewing Machine on black Friday! So who knows what I'll craft up next? It's officially my favorite room in the house though!

I also have been really getting back into photography and studying that art.  Scott and I are taking a Photoshop class during the Spring Semester- it'll be fun to be in class with my husband! I've been reading up about lenses- my three next purchases (slash desired Christmas gifts) are a Kelly Moore Bag (so cute!) , a 50mm lens and a 28mm wide angle lens.  If only photography equipment was cheap!