Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Camera, New Photos.

I finally got a new camera yesterday as my old one was AWFUL (sorry Nikon)...snapped a few pictures last night when Jen & Sammy took me out to dinner to celebrate my new beginnings in South Tampa (by them).

Here's a few pics from the new camera.


Hello South Tampa, let's be friends.

Love,
B

Quote of the Week.

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ―James Bryce

Thank you to Real Simple magazine's twitter for this one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Airport Chic.

One fashion topic that has always been of notable interest to me, is how to dress when you travel.  Growing up my family was insane about driving absolutely everywhere.  With Dad's job it was impossible for him to take off time during football season but he always got vacation in a large chunk during the summer.  During these weeks we would take an intense 6 week road trip as a family and live out suitcases, seeing old friends and spending time in the mountains and on beaches.  These are some of my best memories of my childhood.

During these trips my sisters and I usually travels in pajamas or some semblance of athletic wear.  Rolling out at each stop looking a touch above homeless.  I always enjoyed the scrub down that would follow upon arriving at our next destination.  I don't consider myself prissy but I do despise feeling dirty.

Flash forward to now and I almost never drive
 places (mostly because I would be doing so alone).  I do however, find myself flying regularly.  This will increase with my new job, as I will be traveling to events.  I love to travel!  Seeing new cities, visiting friends, being with my family.  Always the people watcher, I'm curious about the ensembles that people wear in the airport.  I use to travel (I'm embarrassed to admit) via airplane with similar outfit taste to my old road trip days.  However, when you reach adulthood it's frowned upon to sport your pjs in airports - or so I've come to feel.

Also, you never know who you're going to meet when you travel.  I've been offered jobs.  Met guys.  Found new friends.  All things I prefer not to do looking like I just woke up.  While I want to maintain a level of professionalism I also want to be comfortable.  Who wants to all dressed up to me smushed between strangers watching Gossip Girl dvds on their laptop? Not I.

InStyle does pictures from time-to-time of celebs in the airport and how they look when they travel.  I also decided to google 'airport chic' and see what I came up with.  Here are the results...

Charlize Theron.  I like this.  She found a way to make a blazer look casual and comfortable.  I would have felt much more comfortable with myself had I met the man who offered me a job dressed in this.  I believe I was sporting a Colts hoodie that trip. 
 
This is Gwenth Paltrow and I found this image on LeFashion's blog.  This one is okay in my book but I don't really prefer that bag-lady-ish scarf.  I know those are 'in' right now - but I just don't dig it.  


This image taken from polygore.com is of Jennifer Aniston.  I think she looks plenty cute but also comfy.

There are a few great individual pieces I like in the September InStyle.  As I'm sifting through my closet this weekend to analyze my work wardrobe I will need to keep in mind what I should wear on my upcoming trips.  I'm headed to my parents home next weekend for Labor Day and taking a 3 hour road trip Saturday while I'm there for a friends wedding in Ft Wayne, Indiana.  I've been looking forward to this trip for months!

If you have any good airport chic thoughts for me hit me up @

 rebeccaholmeschristensen@gmail.com

Love,
B

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seasons.

'For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun'- Ecclesiastes 3:1

Dearest friends and faithful readers,

I write tonight to tell you of the changing of seasons in my life.  I am regularly awed by God's infinitely wise plan for me and my utter lack of ability to see the big picture. My time in Florida so far and my working life with Impact have been incredible.  God has done some serious work in my heart and I know this is only the beginning.  The level of blessing that each of my coworkers at A Woman's Place Ministries and Teen Impact have been in my personal and professional life is immeasurable.  

They have taught me more than I could ever hope to express to them.  They have loved me like I never thought possible in a work environment.  They have prayed me through personal and professional struggles and they have carried me through some intense times including a long and limbo filled off season for my family.


I certainly do not see the changing of seasons in my life as an end to my relationship and involvement there.  My family are long time supporters of the work that A Woman's Place does, even as they have also supported us.  The message of sanctity of human life is near and dear to my heart.  I now more than ever after working with the staff there believe in what they are doing and the need our city has for the hope and restoration they offer.

You can expect to see me support them in every possible way now and forever.  In fact, I already have in mind a new, higher goal for the Walk for Life this year! So I'm choosing not be to sad at the changing in my relationship there but to be excited for the great partnerships and friendships I still see ahead for us.

That being said...it is with great joy that I announce to you the next season of my professional life.  I will be joining the Family First team on September the 14th.  My title there will be Administrative Assistant to the Director of Events and Operations.  Family First, not unlike A Woman's Place has had a special place in my heart and in the heart of my entire family for a great many years.  I love their mission and over the years have grown to love and adore their staff.  It is with much excitement for the open doors and God's direction that I am planning my transition into this new role.

For those of you who have walked me through the past few months you know that I have been challenged in my walk with the Lord to have faith in God's perfect plan for me.  As an expert decision maker I struggle when I find myself having to wait on the Lord for direction.  But I have clung over the past few months to Jeremiah 29:11 which promises that God knows the plans he has for me, and they are plans to prosper me.  


As I was offered and considered whether Child Protection Services was the right job for me and then later turned it down I continued to pray.  I knew God had a plan for me but I sensed some change coming.  Those of you who know me know that I tend to fight God on change.  I'm a bit of a control freak. : ]


But his plan and his timing have been perfect.  I believe he has great things in store for me.  I look forward to this new season and I am so thankful for my season at Impact.  I am blessed.


Love,
B

- this post accidently got deleted so I'm reposting and thank you to Josh for these kind words that I didn't mean to erase from the original post:

Becca, its great to read that you are open to what God has in store for you. It sounds like he's going to use you for great things in the near future! I'm happy for you! :) 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Be a doer.

I have yet to meet a person who has a hard time coming up with things they'd like to do, be, own, master, learn, etc. However, we all know more than a handful of people who are constantly talking about these desires without taking any action to get them closer to those goals. Our world is not without wanters, it is without doers.

Growing up one of my least favorite conversations with my Dad would start with, 'who do you want to be'? He would proceed to drill me about the type of person I desire to be. My future career path. What does my life look like five years down the road? Ten? Twenty?

After all, my Dad's job is essentially to take incredibly talented, hardworking athletes and make them better. He pushes even the Marvin Harrisons and the Reggie Waynes of the athletic world to achieve. So, for a living he motivates, tweaks, and pushes. This is a skill he also used/uses in parenting the three of us girls.

He always finished this conversation however, with a concept I've come to appreciate. That is he would always follow the drills about who I want to be with this loaded question, 'Now what are you doing to get there'? Ah ha. This is where wanters move over to join the ranks of the doers. What are YOU doing to get where you want to be? This question places a great deal of the responsibility for your success on the rightful owner, you.

Now don't get me wrong, this is an incredibly frustrating line of questioning. Especially when I was 16 and I felt like I shouldn't be expected to know what I wanted my 40-year-old-life to look like. After all, wasn't high school enough to handle at one time? I dreaded those conversations like you wouldn't believe and have only recently since being out on my own, come to appreciate what those questions lead me to do. A. take responsibility and realize that ultimately - nothing is handed to you & B. if you're not thinking about your future than your present isn't purposeful.

There is much value in living in the present. However, don't let enjoying today keep you from seeing tomorrow. The work you are doing now should be propelling you towards the future that you desire. Are you with me?

I tell my friends and students who haven't entered the working world yet that when you consider your major in college, the internships you take, and your post-graduation job make sure that you're building a life, not just a career. If you want to get married and have lots of kids and be a stay-at-home-mom (as many of my girlfriends do) then pick a career that will allow you to contribute to your family should you need too, without working full time. If you want to travel the world than either pick a job that will take you around the world, or a career that will enable you financially, to do so on your own.

Often you see 20-somethings floundering about in the their careers thinking they 'just need a job' but the truth is you should interview your future employers as much or more than they interview you. You do not want to be the employee who's ever bouncing from job to job and the quality of your work will suffer if you take a job just for the money. My disclaimer to my previous statement though, is that you sometimes you do what you must to survive. For some, that will mean working just for the money at a given point in time. It happens. But as much as you can control it, always be working towards the future you want.

A close friend of mine recently made some life changes that may have seemed on the surface to be taking a step back career wise. Her goal is to make it to New York City as a writer however, and what could be perceived as a 'step back' was really a step towards where she wants to be long-term. She could have continued in the direction she was headed and worked her way up within the company she was currently with but it wasn't going to lead her where she wanted to go.

Your twenties are for bold moves. Going after you want whole heartedly and not being afraid to fall on your face a few times in the process. More than likely, you won't. If you do, use it as motivation. In the roughest patch of my life I kept my eye on the prize and used what I was unhappy with in my life to fuel my fire to achieve what I wanted. That is ultimately how I ended up in Tampa, back where I wanted to be.

Even when you get what you want, keep the attitude of forward thinking. When you land the job you desire or you make it to the city you want to live in, that doesn't mean you don't have to be considering your next move. Being content doesn't mean being stagnant!..

Who do you want to be? Now tell me, what are you doing to get there?

Love,
B

Also if you haven't already, please watch the video of my Daddy from my previous entry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Decision Makers.

video

As I've been gearing up here at Impact for this years Fall Retreat I was reminded of this time last year when I was visiting my family back home in Indiana. I asked my Dad to record a video for us, giving a message to the teens in our program. Impact is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping high school students build healthy lifestyles. Our Fall Retreat's are an amazing experience and if you're in high school (or have a high schooler) here in the Tampa area I encourage you to come/send them! We are building strong leaders that as my Dad says in the video, we need!

Regardless of your age I hope you could relate to the video, as I know I can. I am always striving to be the kind of decision maker who has an Impact.

For more retreat information or to learn more about our program visit: http://www.whatisimpact.com/

I hope you enjoyed a little view of my Daddy & my work.

Love,

B

Running into Old Friends.



While representing Impact @ Freedom High School last week I ran into a long-time family friend, Zee! It's been neat since being back in Tampa after a 7 year stint in Indiana to continue to run into people and hear what God is doing in their lives! I was 16 when we left for Indiana, so there is certainly plenty to update on and be updated on.

It was neat to hear about Zee's 'Legacy' ministry here in Tampa. It's a students disciplining students program he's building in the area high schools. Challenging the Christian youth of our area to leave a Legacy at their high schools and amongst their peers. What a great message and challenge! I could tell that they are doing big things at Zenon Ministries and I look forward to being able to see more of them in the future!

We got a few good hours of catch up time while we were doing club sign-ups and had time to snap a photo (above) on Zee's iphone to send my Momma back home in Indiana.

It is always refreshing to run into old friends.

Love,
B

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Adventures.

At the suggestion of my new small group coach, Paige, I've signed up to start reading and reviewing books! It's seems like a great way to get FREE books and it will keep my skills for reading and writing tuned up as I have to write a review on my personal blog and for amazon or a similar company. I will be writing for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers (link at the bottom of my page).

Paige has been writing reviews for a while and you can check out her personal blog at www.sincerelypaige.com - she's great. I've enjoyed getting to know her more throughout my journey towards small group leadership (for my church).

I just picked my first book to review and it is titled, ' Fresh Start' by the youth pastor from Saddleback Church. I'm excited to receive it and 'get to work'. I have come to enjoy blogging so much in the past year that I want to continue to try out new ways to expand my arena as a blogger. Suggestions are welcome.

Also, I want to continue to review events, especially ones that benefit charities so please keep me posted if you have one in mind you think I should be attend and write about. I use the term review lightly because I haven't written a negative charity event 'review' yet. I enjoy experiencing events and helping out and writing about them gives me a chance to share that with you and hopefully encourage people to also get out in their neighborhoods and support the people and organizations that are trying to make a difference in our community! So keep me posted.

Love,
B

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shop Smart.

For twenty-three glorious years as a shopaholic I have operated under the idea that when it comes to the art of shopping, practice makes perfect. And practice I have dear readers. Faithfully and with an intensity that keeps shopping with me from being a sport for the faint of heart.

Since graduating college and moving into the realm of young professionalism though, I have changed my shopping attitude a bit. In middle school and most of high school I was in the quantity field. Always wanting more, more, more. If I could go a month without wearing the same thing twice I was happy.

In college I started to refine my style. No more graphic tees for this girl, it was time to start building the wardrobe of success. The one I could take with me. And so I began. Slowly but surely I started to dress more seriously, more professionally. I found this promoted my professors as well as my coworkers and fellow students taking me seriously. An idea I rather liked. I began to shift my focus from quantity to quality!

There's a piece in the September InStyle with 75 tips for shopping smarter. Some of these I've come to live by and it has dramatically increased the quality of the wardrobe as well as reduced the amount of time, energy, and money (overall) that I spend maintaining it.

Here's a few highlights for all you shopaholics out there, trying to refine, simplify, and streamline your own collections.

- Know what you have.

A great way I've found to keep up with what I have (so as to better know my needs and even my wants) is to go through my closet(s) once per month and reevaluate. I have yet to do this without finding at least a handful of clothes and accessories I'm ready to retire. I keep a laundry basket handy where I place these things to be taken either to the consignment shop I use, or to Goodwill. This dramatically reduces my hanger crisis as it keeps me from wasting space on items I haven't worn in months.

-Keep a running list.

One stylist who contributed to the article says they keep a list per season of their needs. That way when they're shopping they can stay focused. This would be helpful for me as I tend to be easily sidetracked by fun colors, new trends, or a great pair of shoes. Now that I've been able to build a sizable wardrobe I really only need a few items per season to keep it fresh.

- Shop before noon.

They suggest that you shop early while the sales people are fresh and available. Before they get overwhelmed, annoyed, or just distracted. After working in retail with Coach for a while I would say this is a great tip! It's easy as the day goes on to get too busy to take the same amount of time with a customer at 1:00 in the afternoon as you can with someone who comes in at 10:15 and asks you to help them pick the perfect career bag.

Another section of the article lists what is splurge-worthy and what you should save money by skimping on. I was in nearly complete agreement with these lists but to highlight a few for you...

Splurge worthy are: a great handbag. The right designer handbag should be a staple in every 20-something's wardrobe. It can make an outfit. It can inspire confidence. I think back to when Lauren 'LC' Conrad from the Hills got her first designer handbag. It was a black Chanel tote bag. Gifted to her by her then-boyfriend (Jason), she's carried it for years. Simple, classic, but stylish.

Great designer bags can be carried for extended periods of time. Now, this is not me giving you license to carry the same dag-gone-bag everyday for 5 years. Chanel or not, please don't. Black doesn't go with everything. Change it up. BUT you could have one really nice designer go-to bag, and spend less on the others.

Also spurge-worthy are shoes. Don't pick cheap shoes, it shows. That doesn't mean spend a fortune on every pair. A $5 pair of flip flops is great for a day at the pool. But spend a bit more on your shoes for interviews, banquets, and dates. I've never worked in shoe sales myself but I can spot a 20 dollar pair of pumps from across the room. Cheap footwear takes a toll on your first impression and on your feet. Have you ever tried to walk a great distance on cheap stilettos? No thanks.

Staples - also worth a splurge. If you can match it with anything and wear it forever, spend the cash. The example used in the magazine is a Burberry trench. Classic. Timeless. Effortlessly fashionable. I would love to have one myself, though in Florida that doesn't seem the most practical choice of a designer staple. You get the idea.

So where can you skimp and still be 'InStyle'? Tees. You can find great tees for reasonable. A few retailers that were recommended in the article: Topshop, Uniqlo, and Zara. Funny they should mention Zara since Candy turned me on to them when she hit International Plaza (here in Tampa) while visiting me. She ranted and raved about how cute their clothes were and I hit it up myself a month or so later. I just bought a darling grey tee there this weekend! Better than the look and price - the feel! It's the softest tee I've ever felt. I'm.in.love!

Save on trendy pieces! If it's going to be tossed at the end of the season, it's not worth premium dollar. InStyle said it, I agree!

Baggy items also made the save list. Tailor items may be worth a little extra but if you're going baggy (which is so in right now) then save. Not worth the big bucks.

I think the key is learning to pair the right pieces. The article mentions that you can wear a $10 tank top and your oldest pair of jeans with a killer pair of shoes and it changes the whole outfit dynamic. I feel the same way about that splurge-worthy designer handbag, you can pair it with a cute sweatsuit and make the outfit (think Victoria Beckham). In my book, the accessories often times make the outfit.

Well there's my shopping 411 for the weekend. I did my research so I thought I would share it with you. That's my final tip in fact, do your own research! You can get great deals on your dream items if you do enough research. I've gotten some of my favorite handbags that way.

Best of luck.

Love,
B

Quote of the Week.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what it is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Weekend!

I'm setting this to post at 5:00pm so that it will officially be the weekend! This video makes me smile everytime I see it. So, happy weekend to all and enjoy.

Love,
B

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AHzIq_n-DQ

Brilliant.

My obsession with magazines is going to be wicked obvious if I continue to blog about my finds...oh well. Real Simple magazine has helped me with a wide range of things from shopping and snack ideas to organization and now packing. If you travel frequently (like I) then here's an article about how to pack smart for the weekend to reduce over packing...this is a flaw I'm building a reputation for. Must learn to pack less. Especially now that bags on airlines other than Southwest are costing an arm-and-leg these days. Maybe I will use these tips for my Labor Day trip to Indianapolis.

Enjoy.

http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/travel/planning/pack-weekend-bag-00000000002231/index.html

Love,
B

Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 Reasons I Love Fall!

Fall is just around the corner and I for one couldn't be happier! There are so many reasons to love fall, don't you think? Granted, there won't be many leaves changing here in Florida BUT I still have plenty to be excited about. Here are 10 Reasons I Love Fall...


- Great deals on sandals! I love sandals more than is healthy. This pair I got last week on sale at DSW (my favorite). I already have them in snakeskin. Made by b9, they're fantastic and comfy. Hit up www.DSW.com for more fantastic deals. This website may also help you with the next reason on my list...

-Boots season! I love a good pair of boots. From Uggs (which I admit are ugly, but make my feet feel like heaven) to knee high leather boots (also got a pair of those at DSW last week). Fall rolls around and I'm ready to bust out some boots.



- Football. My favorite season is football season. Seriously. Must have for fall number one for me is tickets to football games. Sunday afternoons & Monday nights are date-night with my TV! I'm ready for some football...a Monday Night par-tay.

- School supplies. Ok, so I'm not IN school but who cares? I can ALWAYS get excited for 30 cent packs of paper and a new box of crayons. I mean, surely I can find a 'real world' use for glue sticks, right?

- Burberry. Three years later and I still never get tired of the time of year when I get to pull out my Burberry scarf and sport it like it's my job. I love me some BB-plaid!

- My birthday! Who doesn't love their birthday? And mine is in the Fall! It's hard to believe I'll be 24 next month (and Ruthie will be 19!).



- Holidays! I love the holidays. Halloween because I get to wear costumes. Thanksgiving so I can see my Mom's whole side of the family. (And Christmas but I realized after I wrote it in, that's actually winter)

- Warm days, chilly nights. That's my favorite kind of weather.

- Fall clothes. Layers. I love layers.

- My hair doesn't struggle nearly as much in the fall as in the muggy summer here in Tampa. Good hair days, what more could I person want from a season? Oh yeah, and my makeup doesn't melt! Whoo hoo.

Love,
B

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Verses.

Having been going through a time of uncertainy in my own life and waiting on God to reveal some answers in his own time, these verses really struck me today. Throughout the 'limbo' of recent weeks and even months, I have really sought to find my rest in him...

'Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,' - Matthew 11:28

'He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty' - Psalm 91:1

I hope you find rest this week...

Love,
B

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arms.

My recent post 'hands' meant to talk about lending your hands to those in need as I took the time to do with the Laundry Love project got quite a little stir going. Thanks to each of you who encouraged me with your thoughts on the project and on my involvement. Honestly, it was I who was blessed by the experience more than I'm sure I was able to bless anyone else.

This post reminds me a bit of the same song I used in that entry but another line...

Give me your arms for the brokenhearted...

This past weekend I attended a benefit concert called Sing: Freedom. The concert put on my CoffeeandPieStudios was to benefit the Florida Coalition against Human Trafficking. I was feeling more inspired for this cause a day or two before the concert when in casual conversation I heard a guy (in his late 20s) say, 'slavery doesn't exist in the US anymore'. You know your from America when you find ways to keep injustice from your mind, or in some cases ignore that they even exist. I (and perhaps we) live in a country in which it is easy to overlook our responsibilities to those less fortunate than ourselves.

The US Department of Justice states that 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders every year. 18-20K of those victims are brought into the US, with Florida reportedly receiving a large percentage of those victims. Not only does this mean that slavery is very much alive in the US and in my own state of Florida but it is thriving in the desperation our economic crisis has brought on.

One story on the website speaks of an 11 year old girl sold into slavery by her own mother. That is how she came to live in the US but thankfully, that's not how her story ends. While her innocence and childhood were taken from her and her rescuers cannot hope to restore those, she has been freed and is living what the story describes as 'the life of a typical teenager'.

A difference is being made.

Sing: Freedom raised awareness that trafficking is happening even here in our own city. A speaker from the Coalition was present to tell stories of recovered victims who have been and are still being rehabilitated. Sing: Freedom also featured the musical talents of several local artists that included Pam Affronti, The Broken, Glasgow, and Watermark Church's worship band. It was an eclectic mix of styles but I was impressed with the talent of each group.

My eyes were opened to the issue of Trafficking by a coworker of mine who even now is in Cambodia working in a prostitute recovery facility for those coming out of this life. Her love for those who this injustice has broken down speaks volumes to me and to others around her. It was special to join her for the concert and in support of a wonderful cause. I hope to see in the years to come freedom for all who live on American soil, as well as those in other countries. I am not naive enough however, to believe that change can happen without me getting involved.

It is easy to want a change. Change has perhaps been the most overused word in the US vocab since the election campaign and continues to be thrown around flippantly nationwide today. Change requires action, from each of us. Hope all you want, but don't forget to get your hands dirty for a cause.

To join the cause, visit: http://www.stophumantrafficking.org/News.htm

If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other. - Carl Shurz

Love,
B

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Money money money!

Dear Suze Orman,

You have ruined all my fun. My savings account thanks you.

Love,
B

So, since being the money nazi to all my friends for the past few months and doing well with my money myself...it was time to take my relationship with financial savvy to the next level. Time to pour over my last 3 statements and add up exactly where my money's been going in June, July, and August.

If you would like to be thoroughly depressed, start here. Despite becoming increasingly better at saving and getting ahead financially, this was still a revealing process. I see now where my money is going and where I need to reevaluate and cut back.

Oh cut backs, no one likes those. But learn now, benefit later - right? For me this starts with eating in. Blah, I know. Eating out with friends is more fun and doesn't require doing any dishes - but there's heck to pay on my budget when it gets out of hand. That's category #1 in the new cutback plan. Thankfully, I have great friends and so, I'm teaming up with some of them to make eating in equally fun and social. Cooking for friends is more fun & still less expensive than eating out...especially when they take turns and cook for you.

Depending on how long you've been reading my blog you may already know that I've been on a finance kick since the New Year. I decided 2009 was my year to dominate the world of personal finance. 5 books and a few budget cuts later I'm debt free and saving hard. BUT in the name of being a life-long-learner I am signing on to take Dave Ramsey's 'Financial Peace University' class at my church next month.

Dave Ramsey is one of the few guru's I haven't explored yet. I hear however, he's quite the extremist. The cut-up-those-credit-cards-and-live-in-cash types. Hmm, we shall see. On that note, one of the best things I've done for myself in 2009 is use my credit card. Now before you let your imagination run away with you, listen up. I have never paid interest on a credit card, ever. I pay it off. I use my credit card and then I pay it off weekly online. Why? Because I'm all for getting something for nothing. My credit card points have earned me all sorts of rewards and it hasn't cost me a cent.

My disclaimer is this, until you've gotten yourself under control financially - don't try this at home. Plenty of people have used credit with the best of intentions and gotten themselves in trouble. If this is your struggle than my game plan is not for you. However, if you're good on a budget and can tell yourself no, it's a great way to get some freebies.

I've studied my money, money, money this weekend and now it's back to the grind.

Love,
B

Quote of the Week.

'Nothing great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without passion' - G.W.F. Hegel

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Glamour article on Sex with Strangers.

Spending the last fifteen months of my working life in prevention services for a crisis pregnancy center has certainly taught me new things about sex, love, relationships, children, and lets be honest - STDs! Despite the new knowledge brought on by my position here I rarely go a week without learning something new that shocks me, even within my own 'workspace'.

I received a free subscription to Glamour magazine a few months back for a purchase I made on one of my favorite fashion websites, www.smartbargains.com . They signed me up and the magazines started rolling in sometime near the beginning of the year. I doubt I would have signed up or paid to receive a subscription myself but to be honest, I have enjoyed having it!

When you work with high school students you can never be too informed on pop culture. If the students in my program are reading it, why shouldn't I be? Also, I love hair, makeup, and fashion tips as much as the next 23-year-old-girl.

There was an article feature in the September issue I received this week that really caught my eye. 'Sex with a Stranger' was the title that jumped off the page to greet me as I neared the back of the issue. If you'd like to browse it for yourself you can find it on page 274. I would have linked to a copy of the article but it was not one featured on the webpage.

Glamour writer Genevieve Field investigates into the world of women who are meeting guys for 'sex only' relationships, via the internet! Most of the women whose stories were featured are alarmingly close to my age, the early 20s. Using sites like Craigslist and AdultFriendFinder to search out sexual partners. Reasons? These women say it's to have sex without rules and to feel in charge.

Scarier still Field reports that these websites receive more attention than even traditional dating websites. In May of this year, she reports, Match.com had 5 million unique visits, which pales in comparison to AdultFriendFinder's 24 million new viewers in May of 2009. Who ARE all these people?

Perhaps the answer to that question is what should bother us most. They are talented, attractive, young women who I must admit I think are completely lost. While I don't have an issue with looking for love on the internet through venues such as eharmony, I find is devastingly sad that Field reports that 50,000 new FEMALE users per month are using a website called 'OnlineBootyCall'. Yikes.

Talk about looking for 'love' in all the wrong places! One girl in the article admits what she's really looking for is a husband. Hoping one of these 'hook ups' may just turn out to be her Mr. Right.

I'm still feeling a bit overwelmed by all this new info but in contrast, watch for a post soon with insights from a reverse perspective - thoughts from an author who got out of the loveless lifestyle and reports from the flip side. Coming soon...

Love,
B

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend.

Today I will say fair-well to a coworker over lunch as she heads to Cambodia (in southeast Asia) for two weeks!  While there she will be working in a center that rehabilitates women coming out of sex slavery.  Many people in the US are shocked to realize that not only is slavery still very much alive but spreading like wildfire in the plummeting economy.  Here's a video my coworker, Joy, made for her blog about Human Trafficking:



Until Joy entered my life Human Trafficking was not at the forefront of my mind.  She has educated me on several occasions and opened my eyes to how much human slavery there is here in my country, my state, and even my own city.  I love her heart for people caught in this trap.  Her desire to see the the broken healed.

If you'd like to follow her in this journey you can read her blog at: http://bindingthebroken.blogspot.com/

Tonight I'm going to a benefit concert the proceeds of which will benefit the Coalition for Human Trafficking here in Florida.  Put on by a group of fabulous young men at www.coffeeandpiestudios.com I find that I am even more excited by the idea of college-aged boys being aware and active in this cause.

I will be going out to show my support and enjoy the musical talents of those involved.  You can watch for a blog soon after.  Or better still, if you're in the greater Tampa area and just didn't know about Sing: Freedom yet, e-mail me for details - you can come along!

Sunday I will say goodbye to a precious student and friend of mine as she heads to college!  She's been involved in the program I run here in Tampa since long before I was on staff and while I'm excited for her to move on to bigger and better things.  It will be bittersweet however, because I will miss her here.

In keeping with the theme of goodbyes my precious Mer is headed back up to the midwest for good this weekend.  I miss her already.  Thank goodness I have Alyssas wedding in a few weeks to look forwards to seeing my Indiana girls at.

I look forward to seeing all of these wonderful women do big things in the near future. 

Love,
B

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Props.

My recent review of the Laundry Love project continues to get props!...Facebook, twitter, and even a mention here: http://engagecurrent.wordpress.com/

It's encouraging when you find your voice and you find that people are willing to listen.

Love,
B

Spreading the Love.

One of the best features of the internet and more specifically blogging, is seeing great things spread! My recent entry (see below) about the Laundry Love project reached a friend of mine living in Indiana. He wrote his own post about the project and reposted the videos from my own entry. The Laundry Love project was a great experience for me and a great concept from Current (http://www.engagethecurrent.com/).

Moving forward I hope to be able to be involved with the future outreach projects of Current. If you're in the Tampa area, you should join me. If you're not, consider what this type of project could look like in your own community or consider giving towards the next Laundry Love project.

It's great to see young people fired up to make a real difference in the lives of people. Read what Josh had to say about Laundry Love after reading my entry on his blog here: http://joshatepic.blogspot.com/2009/08/laundry-love.html

Also, I was informed yesterday that my original entry is going to be sent out to Current donors!

Love,
B

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Myth Buster.

Tailgating.

Football season is HERE!  I for one, couldn't be happier.  I hate when it isn't football season with a fiery passion.  Every time another sport comes on I wish it were football season again.  In my book no other sport can come close to competing!  

In honor of the beginning of another football season I wanted share with you an aspect of being a coaches kid that I have a love/hate relationship with.  Questions.  When people find out your Dad is a football coach they are eager to ask you questions.  Some of them are valid, while most of them are completely ridiculous.  We will dwell on my favorite of the later, because it's funny.  And I for one, like laughter at the expensive of poorly thought out questions.

My all time favorite question people ask me when they find out I'm a coaches kid (and keep in mind I've answered this well over 100 times) is... *drum roll*

Do you sit on the field?!

Well gee, have you ever noticed an entire section of families sitting on the field? No.  Do you know why?  Because in the name of all things football worthy, it's a full contact sport.  We don't sit on the field because no one sits on the field.  I sit in the stands with everyone else and scream my guts out.  And on a few choice occasions, scream at some ignorant fan who makes the wrong comment about someone I care about. 

I will admit though, this one still always make me laugh.  Actually, I guess while were on the topic if you have any reasonable questions (that cannot include how much money coaches or players make) shoot em my way via e-mail or comment and I'll answer them.  If they're stupid, I do reserve the right to mock you openly though. : ]

I can't WAIT for Colts games...I'm so excited I can hear the warmup songs in my head.

Love,
B

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hands.



Photo credit @ www.engagethecurrent.com - visit the site, support their cause(s).  They're doing big things.

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see//Brandon Heath


Saturday morning.  What were you doing?  Any other Saturday morning I would have been pulling on my beach bag and headed to the pool with Jess, texting Audra to ask her if she'd at least come out for an hour.  This Saturday was unlike most though.  Jason Sowell, a friend & the founder of Current has sent me an invite to the Laundry Love project.

Not unlike yourself I would bet, I get my fair share of facebook event invites.  I rarely click to read the 'event details' but Laundry Love caught my eye.  I opened the invite and even watched the video they had posted detailing the point, purpose, and plans for Laundry Love.  I was instantly drawn in.  Doing laundry to show love to those who may be in need, hurting, or at the very least, unexpectant.

Having stayed up later than I should have Friday night there was a moment of honest hesitation when my alarm went off Saturday morning.  I could stay in bed, take it easy until my later, 1:00 commitment.  I'd volunteered the night before then stayed out late with friends, I deserved to sleep in, right? As I punched dismiss on my alarm and my feet hit the hard wood I thought, or I could give up a few hours of my day to dedicate to a purpose higher than my own relaxation (or just plain laziness).

Current had organized everything so all I had to do was show up and love on people.  Boxes of quarters, detergent, coloring books & crayons, refreshments, and even take home bags of extra detergent were already prepared before I arrived.  The other volunteers were from a church down the street, one in Palm Harbor, and from Current itself.  Everyone involved was darling, excited to be lending a hand to serve the people of Sulphur Springs.

My favorite family was a lady & her six children.  Three boys & three girls.  She didn't speak english but her oldest son translated enough for her to understand that we wanted to pay for her laundry, provide her with soap, and offer her kids entertainment while she waited.  Smiles, it turns out, are universal.  They span the gap created by our inability to speak each others language.

Pictured above are some of this woman's beautiful children.  The gratitude spread from her to each of them as I helped them put straws in their juice boxes.  To think had I hit snooze I would have missed that smile, caught by the camera at the event.  We helped them with ten loads of laundry that included what I imagine was every piece of bedding they owned.  We washed them, we dried them. 

What perhaps I love most is that nothing about the Laundry Love project suggested a subliminal message.  We didn't hand them tracks or try to guilt them into attending one of the churches present.  We just served them.  We got our hands dirty to reach them where they were.  

I leave you, with this thought (thank you Tami Kent for reminding me this quote this morning)...

'Preach the gospel at all times - If necessary, use words' - Saint Francis



Friday, August 7, 2009

No rest for the weary.

'One day you look at your life and it has purpose. And someone that makes you feel very special. And friends. And it's like all of the sudden all of the time and pain that it took to get there...just doesn't matter anymore' -- Payton Sawyer, One Tree Hill

Came home early today, to avoid having overtime at work this week. Put under house arrested by waiting for the Geek Squad to come work on my LCD TV, I debated napping or being productive. No rest of the weary here, I decided to finish my essay for the Real Simple contest. The task was to write an essay that answered in 1500 words or less, 'When did you first realize that you had become a grown-up?'.

I had walked away from my essay over a week ago and thought nothing of it since. Reopening the document this afternoon to find that I had written my soul into that essay. I admit to being a somewhat sappy and sentimental writer to begin with (you should see my journals from middle and high school). This is different. There's a piece of me in this essay, one that is rarely if ever, shown to the world. When I reread it I was surprised, I hadn't seen it in the writing when I first put the words to page.

Great writing spans emotions, does it not? In a 1000 words you can see my heartbreak, courage, insecurities, and finally my triumphant success. Whether or not it will win over the judges of the contest, I won't know for months to come. To me however, the essay is already a prize-winning writing because I managed to put into words thoughts I have never successfully conveyed with my spoken words.

The contest isn't over until September but in the future I'll keep you posted. Also, if it doesn't get win, I'll post it here.

Love,
B

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Clutter.

'Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty is opportunity' - Albert Einstein

I would just like to take to time to say...WHEW!  Sitting amidst the clutter and chaos that was my desk I have felt bogged down in work yet to be done lately.  Trying to find anything in that mess was murder!  So today I took a break from the endless sea of to-do's and I went trash crazy!  I filed all the important documents and anything laying around for whatever lame excuse I'd made to keep it got trashed.  My files are in order, there are no stray papers, I brought 2 bags worth of my personal items that had somehow made their way to work home, and I can now breathe in my office again!  I might even be able to find a document for you, should the need arise.

Success!  

I feel relieved and ready to take on the tasks at hand.  Good timing as tomorrow is a 13 hour work day for me.  Bring.it.on!

This weekend I'm going to tackle my clutter at home.  Eeeck.  Things to look forward too.  Just wanted to blog to say that I have trashed the clutter in my work life and you should too.  Going into tomorrow I'm thinking 'simplicity, harmony, and opportunity'.  Who's with me?

My post-cleaning tweet: 'Dear desk @ work, you have been OWNed.  Love, B

Off to shower and head to church for a small group meeting.  I'm considering being a leader in the future!

Love,
B

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Culture shock confession.

If I haven't written this before, I will now. I'm a member of a book club (so far, I have yet to miss a meeting). It includes mostly ladies from my work or who at some point worked where I do and a few lovelies from the church of our leader. It's been a great experience for me, encouraging me to read books I might never have picked up otherwise. With only one exception I can think of off hand, I've enjoyed each of them!  It was a goal of mine to continue reading and writing regularly post-college and book club membership has helped. Also, it's just plain fun!

This months book titled, 'The Unlikely Disciple' is about a Brown University student who decides that in order to study a subculture he will not leave the country...he will go to Liberty. Liberty for those of my readers that may not yet know of it, is a conservative christian school in Lynchburg, VA. A far cry from the liberal ways of Brown.

I'm not finished with the book yet (I know, a book club no-no) but it did bring me back to memories of my own 'in house' experience with culture shock. After a radical change from Fine Arts Photography & Printmaking in college to Sociology (a midway through junior year decision), I decided it was time to get my hands dirty in the social work field. I signed on for a 300 hour internship with Americorp. Quite possibly my best educational decision to date.

My placement within the program was to teach classes during a summer program at a Boys and Girls Club in inner-city Indianapolis. I didn't go into the summer expecting it to be an easy, mindless job but I also didn't expect for those children's lives to be as shockingly different from my fairly simple upbringing as I would later discover.

I will pause now to address the questions I know some of you are already thinking...'simple living'? The truth is despite my Dad's career within the NFL my parents purposed to raise us simply, with the focus first and foremost on God and our relationship with him. After that, family, friends, education, charity, etc but never fame and never fortune. We did have some unique opportunities to experience things within the sports world that many teenagers never will. However, I would say that all-in-all I've lived a wonderfully simple life filled with love and not 'things'.

I didn't get a brand new car for my 16th birthday, or a car at all actually. We didn't go on wild vacations to exotic places. The farthest I ever traveled for Spring Break was Tampa (once living in Indiana). My parents believed in driving on all family vacations to promote 'bonding'. I worked consistently from 15 on to pay my own gas, car insurance, etc.  So I thought, my life is great but not fancy.

Well, that all might have been true in 'my world'.  Come to find out while inner-city Indy was less than an hour commute from my parents posh Carmel home, I might as well have gone to another country with the stark contrast of living conditions.  Later, I would learn that having my own bedroom and bathroom was a luxury I'd never given much thought too. So was my parents having a car even in the days when I didn't. Having proper supervision. Eating three meals a day regularly. My family never had to share a home with another family or live with our grandparents. I didn't grow up in fancy neighborshoods but I could also play in the streets without fear.

I was able to finish my high school education without being considered a provider for my family financially.  College wasn't just an option, it was attainable and expected.  My parents never dealt drugs to put food on the table for myself or my siblings.  I wasn't taught to steal or bully as a mode of survival.

Before you judge me for being so naive, put yourself in my BCBG heels!  I was going to Purdue University at the time and my day-to-day life put me in contact with an array of people from different walks of life.  Heck, I thought every day was expanding my knowledge of how other people lived.  It was, in fact.  However, the majority of the 40K students that attended my school came from families who were able to afford them a few more luxuries than the children I would encounter that fateful summer.

It took me exactly five minutes to fall in love with those kids.  By the end of day one I would have taken every last one of them home with me.  They were funny, bright, energetic, and endearing.  They made me laugh, often times at myself.  They beat me at pool every time (even the five year olds) and they tried to teach me to pop, lock, and drop it.  A band of them would meet me at my car every morning to carry my things for me, into the club and to my classroom.

The saddest moment for me was when I was given my curriculum for the summer.  A program called 'Methsmart' meant to teach the kids the dangers of getting involved in a lifestyle of using, abusing, and distributing methamphetamine.  I was to take the binder home the weekend between training and our first week of summer and prepare for my classes.  My class were to by of 5-7 year olds and 8-10 year olds.

I remember going up to one of the leaders at the site I was posted and saying, 'I can't possibly teach this to 5 year olds, they're not even going to know what I'm talking about!'.  Bless her heart, she didn't laugh in my face for being so ignorant.  She encouraged me to go in the first day of my classes and ask the kids what THEY knew about this drug that honestly, was pretty new to me at 21.

I won't elaborate on the answers I got except to say that when they started naming ingredients I almost had to remove myself to cry for them.  Indianapolis it turns out is known for being quite the hub for meth and some of these darling children I wanted to keep for myself were going home at night and seeing their own parents make this deadly drug in front of them.  I was mortified to say the least.

I drove home that day and sat down with my baby sister.  She was 15 or 16 at the time and I asked her what she knew about meth.  She didn't wasn't even sure what I was talking about.  

That summer changed my life forever.  Not only because it confirmed in my mind forever that I want to serve people.  I love social work in every aspect because it's being proactive towards bettering peoples lives. What could be more rewarding than that?  Beyond that those children opened themselves and their lives up to me and allowed me a 3 month glance into their souls.  They will never know how touched I was by the experience.  I love each child I spent that summer with and their pictures are up even today in my Florida home.  Reminding me of not only how fortunate I am but to inspire me that I have a duty to fight for those who aren't in a position to fight for themselves.

I will close with one funny story about that summer...

My family was fascinated by my response to that summer.  I survived a horrible car accident during my week of training from an uninsured driver.  I was fortunate to recover with no permanent damage.  After which, I was back in action immediately and excited every day to go to work.  Finally, I invite my Mom to join me for one day at the club.  I wanted her to see why I was in love with those kids. I wanted her to love them too.

On this day one particular girl hung around my mom the ENTIRE day.  Finally, she told my mom simply 'I want to stand by you all day because you smell just like febreeze'.  My mom and I laughed until we cried about that comment in the car, afterwards my mom mentioned that Burberry may not have appreciated the comparison.  But the truth is, febreeze was probably the best thing she smelled in her life their so to her it was the highest compliment.

All this to say, you don't have to travel to another country to experience a culture unlike your own.  I challenge you to place yourself outside your comfort zone and keep your mind and heart open to the experience.  It just may change your life.

Love,

Thank you!

My blog JUST hit 3000 viewers today! I was hoping to have acheived that by the end of August and today is only the 4th! Just wanted to take the time to say thank you to each of you for the readership, feedback, and for taking this journey through the 20-somethings with me! I've got 2 entries that should post sometime this week, so stay tuned!

Love,
B

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Motivation.

The theme for my generation it often seems is the insatiable desire to have it all.  To be, to have, to consume,to experience, to marry, and later to raise the best.  This pursuit takes all of our resources from time to money to what may now be considered most important of all - our connections.  Are we not the generation of 'who you know'?

I often tell my students that I'm glad I never have to repeat the process of getting into college.  With each passing year our nation comes to expect more.  We should be smarter, faster, and more dedicated.  On top of that we should do it with less.  Less money, less sleep, less food, and less family time.  

Barely ahead of the curve is how I would describe my success thus far.  I got into every University I applied too, which was four.  I had good grades but an average SAT score.  I had 25 college credit hours to show I had what it took to survive the college world which I imagine helped my case considerably.  Boiled down, I was a very good candidate.  I wouldn't say I was special or elitist though.

I graduated college with a job lined up in the city I most desired to live in.  This too happened just in the nick of time.  My friends who took an extra semester or year to finish, found themselves taking part-time gigs to make ends meet, trying to find something, anything to use as a jumping off point.  I was fortunate enough not to have to endure this phase.  I interview over spring break my senior year of college and had lined up my job by april before I would graduate.

Now is a tough time to be entering the world of young professionalism.  Expectations are higher than ever and the benefits/salaries are steadily decreasing.  Not the ideal combo.

I imagine the inspiration for this post comes from my reading of the book by Kate White, editor and chief of Cosmo magazine.  The book entitled, 'You on Top' is supposed to guide you on how to get ahead in life, love, and the workplace.  I continue to be struck by the hoops that I'm supposed to jump through, especially as a woman, just to be 'good' at my job.

Now granted, White and I are not on the same page as to what equals success or professionalism (the amount of 'sexiness' she pushes for doesn't sit right with me).  But, she's on to something with this book as she herself has managed from a secular standpoint to dominate one of America's toughest industries, entertainment.  This earns her on at least some level, my respect.

The key I believe is motivation.  Once you've been in a position for a time it's easy to become complacent or comfortable.  To get to the top you have to find  way to keep your motivation to be successful.  I found this great quote today about motivation and I wanted to share it with you...

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily. -Zig Zigla

Love,
B





Saturday, August 1, 2009

First vid blog!

My first attempt at making a quick vid blog.  Totally dorky. I laughed when I watched it, so of course I'm sharing it.  Should have my picture back tomorrow so look for those soon!

Love,
B


video