Tuesday, June 07, 2016

lessons learned in thriving: may

(inspired by Emily P. Freeman's monthly reflection)

As awesome as I am in my current role, I appreciate having a boss who challenges me to think about what I want to work toward. I have no idea what that looks like yet, but I am grateful for the strong encouragement to consider it.

I am capable - so capable! - of being the type of person who gets up early (which, for me, is 5 am) every morning to exercise. It's just a matter of determination. (Seeing "200" on the scale for the first - and hopefully last! - time in my life certainly helps in the motivation department.)

This delightful sentiment from my evening devotional was just what I needed after a couple hectic weeks preparing for Commencement:

"My impulse is always toward work...But what restores me...is almost always the opposite. And I'm finding that when I practice things like rest, grace, peace, prayer, self-care and slowness, the work gets done just the same."

I can handle one frustration at a time. But the real fun happens when they start stacking up, accumulating, not giving me room to breathe from one to the next. When disappointment decides to join the party, life gets entirely too emotionally interesting for my tastes. Sometimes the best thing I was able to do this past month was make it to bed time.

That said, the month of May was also a valuable reminder to not let disappointment and unmet expectations get in the way of a good life. Just because things aren't working out how I'd hoped doesn't mean there aren't still beautiful moments happening. (Thanks, Daily Garnish, for the exclamation point on that!)

Disappointment also wormed its way into my heart courtesy of a small bout of loneliness - of feeling a sad disconnect in my various communities and circles. To combat that, I took advantage of whatever opportunity I came across to nurture relationships - from hosting dinner for a former student, to making the time for lunch with a dear friend who was in town unexpectedly. Those small drops of delight were truly balm to my soul.

More than anything, the month of May reminded me that I am strong and able...that I have (and always have had) the ability to bloom where I am planted...if only I will soak up and revel in the goodness all around me. I am living a good life, if only I will let myself see that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

surprise date - patio edition

Saturday evening, we'd planned to stay in. Then, a little while after showing Wildcat Guy a scrapbook page I'd made that afternoon of my 2012 birthday dinner (eaten on the patio of one of my then-favorite restaurants back in Lexington), I was somewhat surprised to hear him say we should go out for dinner. When I asked him where he wanted to go - Crispelli's, a local pizzeria, he said - it all made sense, though. The one and only time we've been there, we ate on the patio.

I like it when I can understand my husband's logic!

Thus, it was off to Crispelli's we went! As yummy as I knew the meal I'd planned to cook would be, I am never going to turn down the treat of going out to dinner on a Saturday night with my love.

Something I appreciate deeply about our dinners out is being in a situation now where, after some very tightly budgeted months when we first moved to Michigan, we can be a little less frugal these days. I may not always order a cocktail with dinner, but it's nice to feel okay splurging when I see something tempting on the drinks list!

So while Wildcat Guy enjoyed his Italian margarita (complete with a floater of amaretto), I sipped on a Moscow Mule. Ever since I tried a Dark & Stormy on our anniversary vacation in 2014, I've found myself drawn to cocktails with ginger beer; and this did not disappoint. (On a side note, I also appreciated that the drinks seemed to be poured with a moderately generous hand - even if it meant my cheeks were strongly flushed only a few sips in.)

The last time we were here, we'd really enjoyed the pizza. So Wildcat Guy decided to build his own deep dish, topped with sausage, bacon, tomatoes, and caramelized onions. Those onions - mmm.

I had a harder time deciding, because the menu is just full of delicious-sounding options. In the end, I went with the flank steak sandwich; and nothing makes you feel quite as confident in your selection as having your server respond by saying, "Excellent!" 

And excellent, it certainly was. The sourdough bread was perfect, the meat was flavorful - I savored every bite of it.

Then, as if the good food and tasty drinks weren't enough, we went for dessert. Something I adore about Crispelli's is the way their dessert menu is a perfect reflection of the entire restaurant - a fun blend of elegant and casual. My love chose the chocolate mousse (which was thick and rich and perfectly chocolate-y)...

...while I went for the pure simple delight of a warm chocolate chip cookie. 

Just look at all that chocolate! Sigh. My mouth waters thinking about how yummy that cookie was.

And to bring the story full circle, I can't resist sharing a photo of our table. There's an indoor patio that joins two sections of the restaurant, and our table was on a little balcony-esque landing all on its own. That was fun, to have a somewhat private table. But if you look through the door in the background (labeled "Not an Exit"), you can see the table where we sat (on the outside patio) the first time we visited Crispelli's.

That made me smile one last time at the end of a dinner full of them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

lessons learned in thriving: march

(inspired by Emily P. Freeman's monthly reflection)

Sometimes making the most of a difficult circumstance means just having fun with it.

I'm also becoming more comfortable just trusting. (Thank you, singer Lauren Daigle, for your most recent song that calls me to trust more easily!)

Having a regular yoga practice - especially a regular Ashtanga practice - feels so good to my soul.

Doing ab exercises in the morning is absolutely essential. Because no matter how convinced I might be that "yes, I'll do it when I get home," let's be real. I don't.

Making the creative part of myself a priority has been so invigorating. Crafting...scrapbooking...home decor...I have been enjoying it so much that, the other day, when I couldn't focus at work, all I could think about was coming home and scrapbooking.

On the flip side, honoring that lack of interest in blogging that has been lingering in the past few months was the right thing to do. Because now, as I start to feel that blogging itch again, I feel refreshed and ready to see what might happen.

When the barista at the local coffee shop describes the mocha chai latte as "a chocolate muffin with cinnamon," you order that. Then you delight in how accurate that description was, and sip away.

I feel like I'm settling into my skin a way that I haven't felt in a long time. I am grateful for that growing sense of comfort and confidence.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

day in the life 2016

 I was so happy to participate in Ali Edwards' Day in the Life project yesterday! Here's what my Tuesday, 29 March, looked like in pictures...

6:07 am - Starting my day with a cup of lemon water (and yes, the bathroom clock is seven minutes fast - oddly enough, it helps me stay on track in the mornings.)

 6:15 am - Working my way through my toiletry basket - one of the few areas in my life where I feel like I've truly mastered the minimalism and utility of storage.

6:41 am - Appreciating kitty's company.
 6:58 am - Taking one last look in the mirror and liking what I see.

 7:03 am - Feeling grateful - as I do every morning - that I take the time to put my bags in order the night before.

7:08 am - Listening to Christian radio on my way to work (and feeling grateful that I could borrow Wildcat Guy's truck when mine has a leak).
7:40 am - Heading into the office, happy to have sunshine after a couple days of rain.

 7:47 am - Making do for breakfast. These protein bars have been an easy approach in recent weeks, even though I recognize they are not as healthy as they claim to be.

7:48 am - Logging onto my laptop to get my workday started.

As a side note - I did take pictures of my actual work during the day, but to respect the privacy of my students and my office, I'm keeping those to myself.
 9:14 am - Treating myself to a hot chocolate to take the edge off the chill in the office.

12:11 pm - Eating a reasonably healthy lunch (and getting caught taking a picture by a colleague).
5:53 pm - Giving myself no excuse to skip the treadmill after a full day of work. I may not have walked far, but I walked.
5:54 pm - Discovering the appeal of podcasts as a way to pass the time on the treadmill.
6:46 pm - Throwing the window open to the mild air and brilliant sunshine as soon as I got home.
6:58 pm - Being amused by this full-size carrot that I found in the bag of baby carrots while I made dinner.
7:12 pm - Watching Gru gobble down the handful of treats I scattered out for him.
7:16 pm - Settling in for my own dinner, a chef salad that I always find delightful.
8:01 pm - Curling up on the couch with dessert and a new book (that I have to read by Sunday when I see her speak!). 

9:33 pm - Trying really, really hard to beat this level! (I am not a fan of the bubble gum.)
9:59 pm - Feeling good about the flow of my day.
10:06 pm - Hurrying to finish my preparations for the next day, so I can join kitty in his slumber.
10:19 pm - Easing into bedtime with a nightly ritual of Instagram and devotion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

counting on two hands

Today, Wildcat Guy and I celebrate the fact that, six years ago, I worked up the courage to ask him - in a very bumbling, hilarious kind of way - what our status was; and in that same conversation, we decided, "it's just me and you."

Every time I hear this song by country artist Kelsea Ballerini, I am reminded of how grateful I am that we made that decision:

If you're gonna hold me, hold me like I'm leaving
If you're gonna kiss me, kiss me like you need it
Baby, if you're not, you best get to leaving
If you're gonna love me, love me like you mean it

If you're gonna talk the talk, you better walk it
If you wanna keep me, keep me like you lost it
If you're gonna say it, make me believe it
If you're gonna love me, boy, love me like you mean it

Because even on our difficult days, all it takes is a hug, a kiss, even a look to know that he loves me and means it.

(photo from March 2010 - our first as a couple)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

this week was good because...

...I had an opportunity to reflect on the various privileges for which I'm grateful when it comes to winter weather. Simple things, like a little old pick-up truck that still gets me home in the middle of a snowstorm, and administrators who understand that employees want to leave work early to just get home.

But also things that are a little more complex, like the full-time, salaried position that enables me to feel financially okay when a work day is cut short (or when, in my case, I also decide to take the next day off). Like the emotional security of auto insurance and roadside assistance should something go wrong. Like the comfort of having a safe, warm home to return to.

Even on the days when I feel like my husband and I struggle, it's important for me to remember how fortunate we really are.

A lot to think about, sure, on a wintry day; but something that settled in my heart on Wednesday afternoon and weighed on my brain ever since.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

lessons learned in thriving - january

(inspired by Emily P. Freeman's monthly reflections)

If I ask God to help make better choices, He will. I just have to be paying attention...and willing to let His direction lead me. That last part is especially important!

Comparison is a bad thing...but not as bad and not as powerful when I can recognize that temptation and make an active effort to move past it.

Something else to move past? The guilt and lament over how friendships evolve as life changes and evolves.

This might be a year when I don't do much crafting outside of scrapbooking and cardmaking. I'm not sure yet. Right now, I'm so in the flow with my scrapbooking - a super intense flow - and it feels awesome to be getting so much done.

I can only be so frustrated with my weight and health before there's nothing left to do but do something about it. That will definitely mean eating fewer sweets - lots fewer sweets! - and I know that will be difficult.

But I also know that thriving - living fully and intentionally - requires choosing better.