Friday, April 30, 2010

All My Bags are Packed.

I am so excited about my life. That’s a great statement to be able to make, don’t you think? I honestly am. There are so many good things happening in my life right now and much to be excited about.

Just booked our travel to do events with the Steelers & Bengals markets. Two NFL markets I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet. I love seeing new places (and meeting new people) so I’m pumped about the upcoming travel. We also nailed down our first fall NFL event this week, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about that one yet, so I’ll wait to reveal that location in a later blog.


Speaking of travel, my trip to Indy (for work & play) is only 2 weeks away. I’m fighting off the little bit of homesickness I’ve started to feel now that it’s been a while since I saw my family by reassuring myself that my time with them is coming oh-so-soon. How spoiled am I? I was pumped to find out that my baby sister is headed home from college today so I will get to see her while I’m home as well. It’s hard to stomach the idea that she just finished her freshman year of COLLEGE! Wasn’t she supposed to stay a little girl forever?


Plans are progressing for the family to finally spend some time together at the beach this summer (in the Carolinas, not down my way). I’m looking forward to the 6 of us being together. I honestly don’t care if we do a thing. I don’t even care if it rains all week long. I just want to be with them.


Also on the radar, less than 6 months out is my best friend’s wedding! Being a bridesmaid in her wedding was a big part of my motivation to work on being healthier before October. When I drag myself out of bed at 6am to go to the gym I just picture myself in the floor length orange gown I will be wearing to be there with her on her big day! I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me. I’m already planning every detail of my trip in my head. Yes, I’m a crazy. I’m aware.


Why stop at those 5 trips when you could do more? Also in the works is a trip to Raleigh to spend some much needed sister-time with my older sister and best friend, Rach. Last year I started what I hope will be a long standing tradition of going to see her and be a part of her world at least once per year. To the best of my ability I plan to keep this going forever.


So there’s your update on my next 6 trips. I love to travel (odd, since I don’t like to fly). I am giddy with excitement about the upcoming months.


Love,
B

Thursday, April 29, 2010

High Fashion Adventures.

I do love a new adventure. Joy at Binding the Broken shot a fashion show invite my way for Saturday evening and at first I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I’m not a Project Runway watcher myself, but am familiar with the show. One of the contestants is from the 813 (Tampa) and it hosting a show right here in town. Not knowing quite what to expect I did hesitate for a moment before deciding, why not? I have been complaining (via twitter) that I’m desperate for a chance to dress up.


So dolled up (in mostly black) we will be attending the District 813 show this Saturday night. If it’s allowed I will snag some video clips with my flip camera and some photos (of Joy and I in our dazzling outfits) to share with you all on the blog next week. A little behind the scenes view of my first fashion show from the audience (my sisters and I use to do them for charities).


I finally have a good excuse to sport the sequin skirt I bought for the Super Bowl after party and then decided against wearing after my team lost and we cut the party short. I almost returned but then thought, hey maybe it will be a great addition to the wardrobe and I can rock it on other occasions. So I’ll test it out on the fashion audience this weekend.

In case you have or want a sequin skirt and are wondering how best to wear one…I found this great little blog article with details here. I love the idea here. Simple, chic, fun.


Love,

B

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mental Health Night.

I cancelled my plans tonight in honor of a mental health night. My life is a beautiful, wonderful, whirlwind and I often remember that if I let it, time will pass me by before I've had the chance to enjoy this incredible season of life I am in. I refuse to allow that to happen. While I don't wish my hands to be idle or my time to be wasted, life is in the little details.

I came home, plopped down on the couch and spent some time with my Savior. Considering and learning about his character, his nature. I wonder how often He longs for just such times. It reminds me of when I'm home with my own sweet Daddy and he wants nothing more than for me to sit by him in the living room. We don't have to be speaking. We can just be together, that's enough for him. I think God interacts with us much in the same way (minus the golf channel in the background). He just wants to be with us.

I made myself a quick dinner which I ate in front of some Tivo I'd been meaning to clean off. I thought of a few things I should be or could be doing but I pushed those thoughts out of my head. This was mental health night. I need to learn to just be. I bought this beautiful little dream home for such nights as these, right?

After dinner I walked over to the gym for an hour of cardio. I treated myself to 40 blessed minutes on the bike with a book. I love to read. I often think if I didn't work, I would read a book a day and never grown tired of it. Literature is one of educations greatest gifts, don't you think? So as I pedaled away with some Jodi Picoult and thought, why do I not have more nights like these?

I finished up my workout running some intervals on the treadmill and as I walked back to my place from the gym I thought this night is perfect. Perfect for the beach. In a bit of an ah ha moment I realized I live 2 blocks from the bridge...why not? I set my ipod and my book inside the door - trading them for my keys and my phone I headed back out. I rolled the windows down in my car to let the 70 degree fresh air in. I drove out to the beaches and back just because I can.

In the year I was in Indiana I missed the water. I promised myself someday when I lived here again I wouldn't take it for granted. I love Florida. The sunshine. The water. The people. The city. Really, everything about it. I felt trapped in the midwest. Caged in by grey weather and miles of corn fields. Now that I've been able to return home, to the only place that's ever felt like home - I try to cut time out of my life to just bask in it. This is my life. My life that I love. My life that I'm so excited about I can't write about it without smiling.

Mental health night was a success. A great night to be thankful for my beautiful life.

One final thought. I was listening to The Fray on my drive. And I've decided that if I can ever find a guy I would think about with 8 seconds left in overtime of a Colts game - I'm going to marry him because that HAS to be true love.

That is all.

Love,
B

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whirlwind Week.


Hello darlings,

I've been missing blogging this week and craving some time at the keyboard as my week flew by with a few bats of my lashes. The 'off season' for us in event-world was slow and relaxing, making it harder than I thought to jump back into the game this week. We had our first event of 2010 last night at Raymond James Stadium (home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

In general, when you get out of shape in any sense of the word it's hard to get back. I had certainly gotten out of event shape. As I racked my brain for the little details that make the big picture come together, the came back slowly. But thankfully, the event went beautifully. It was special for me to have my small group girls present as volunteers (and two of them brought their families to participate and check out the VIP meet and greet). Always a special treat for me to work an event with Coach Tony Dungy. A dear friend of the family and an incredible man of God. Also, neat to have one of my fellow FPU (finance class) leaders bring his darling daughter out as well.

I'm ready to try'n take is easy this week after a weeks worth of 6am workouts, early to the office, late to leave, and juggling all my other commitments last week. This week will still have lots of workouts since I'm winning the Biggest Loser at my office so far (and I'm starting to like them - gasp). But my evenings will include reading, down time, a facial, etc. The calm before the next event storm - in prep for our Indianapolis Colts event May 14th. Hey Indiana, I'm headed your way!

Oh, after my jewelry party (Stella & Dot) I got to use some hostess rewards on a few things that will arrive in the mail TOMORROW and I had to share some pictures...




Aren't they fabulous? I can't wait to wear them. The 'bib' necklace is a trend I've been wanting to support for a year or so now, but hadn't found the perfect one (under $1000) yet. I should cut back on the In Style reading - I always have a trend I'm dying to try. Dave Ramsey says no maam to me and my expensive taste, regularly. I will say, play hostess for a night to get free items/discounts is a great way to add a new signature piece to your jewelry collection.

Anyone watch the draft this weekend? I was sadly, unable to be stalkerish for all rounds but I watched most of the first round from work while we did prep work. Did anyone catch the kid who went to Oakland in the first round wearing a black tee and having his dog with him? I didn't even know how to feel about that...Oakland makes sense. (Hey Tara - does he count for train-wreck Thursday?)

Sported my new (nerdy) green Bebe glasses today at church and they were a hit. Got several compliments. Hmm. I look forward to getting to a point where I have a little stash of cute glasses so that I don't feel boring wearing the same pair all the time (I have two now). I had a long debate about being practical or buying a fun colorful pair and finally determined to live on the edge with a fun green pair since my black and white Pradas are pretty practical and in their 3rd year of use.

So I'm not sure why I'm getting the hair dying itch lately - but I really want to go darker for the summer while I'm sporting my Florida (slash being part Hawaiian) tan. I finally went al naturale last year though, so I hate to rot my brain with hair dye all over again. Help! Is this just hair boredom?

Ok, expect more posts from me this week. I am back to stay for a week or two before I may disappear again during Colts event week.

Love,
B






Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bridegrooms.

Allison Pittman's novel The Bridgegrooms can only be described as predictable but pleasant. With each of the four Allenhouse girls searching for and finding love, in their own way. A touch of tragity, a bit of betrayal, and the errors of young love - this book touches a spot in the heart of Christian girls everywhere. Simultaneous love stories, all with happy endings. One for the shelves of any Christian romance lover.

I found myself enjoying the lives of Vada, Hazel, Lisette, and Althea. Set in Ohio in the times of horse drawn carriages and in the beginning days of baseball, this endearing set of love stories left me with a smile on my face. Not all stories need a shocking twists. Some happy endings are enough just as is.

Note: This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Deep Breath.

I'm convinced that our bodies were not made to endure half the emotional and physical stress we put them through. With that in mind when I let myself get too worn down I lose my mind. No really I do. Tonight I was worn out from a 6am workout, a weird dream that was keeping my mind in overdrive, and had a crazy week-of-event day at work. I'm driving to church hoping to muster up enough energy to really bring it for my fellow financial peacers...when I think to myself, 'I'm so worn out I'm going to do something totally ridiculous today'.

Guess what it was?

Oh fine, I'll just tell you. I locked my key in my car. Sitting right on my seat. I walked 2 steps away from the car and instantly knew what I'd done. I walked back and saw my key staring at me. Taunting me. For the love of Pete.

On top of that, I'd changed from my tan patent leather Coach bag to my burgundy distressed leather Brio bag (italian, you know) and I left my AAA card in my Coach bag. Gr. So I'm stranded at church with my key mocking my and no AAA card. So I whip out my blackberry, track down AAA and graciously they look up my account without my card.

Blessedly it only took him 20 minutes to get to me. He was gracious enough not to make me stand in the pouring rain (oh yes, it started raining immediately after I walked outside). Took him 2 minutes and he even gave me a water bottle (random, but thoughtful).

The moral of the story is that when you're stressed out you make silly mistakes. Also, EVERYTHING feels like a crisis when you're already stressed out. We've all got to find ways to relieve stress other than getting stuck in the rain with AAA. Preferably before that step.

Ok time to put this day behind me.

Love,
B

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Worthy Cause.

It seems to be the time of year when we're all getting hit up for money! On an almost daily basis I'm being asked to contribute to a worthy cause. There are so many great ministries and service related organizations out there! To be honest, I find this encouraging. In the tough times our country is currently facing, it's great to see people stepping up to serve people in need.

As much as I hate asking anyone for money, I've been raising money for the Walk for Liyfe. It benefits a local Crisis Pregnancy Center and a cause near and dear to my heart - giving babies the chance to live! I may or may not have shared how this cause came to have such a special place in my heart. My Dad's story is what would now be considered an obvious 'abortion case'. His birth mother was 15, his birth father out of the picture. But in a time of great crisis that woman's sacrifice lead me to this point. She gave birth to my Dad, who later fell in love with my beautiful mother and had not just me but my two sisters as well.

Her gift of life to my Dad and to his (adopted) parents has provided all of us the chance at life. As a result my family has all taken the challenge to fight for the right of life for the unborn. Each of us in our own way. Mom counseling, Dad speaking and sharing his beautiful story, and my sisters and I giving what we can, where we can. Last year I raise $1500 for the local crisis pregnancy center by 'Walking for Life' and this year, with a later start and less time (read: event season) my goal is $1000. I'm almost halfway there with 2 weeks to go.

But my point in all this is that you have to find a cause you believe in, a worthy cause and give back. When we get outside of ourselves and we sacrifice some of our time, money, and/or resources then we really learn to appreciate our lives. We have been given so much. If the money I raise (even though it requires me asking for money which I hate doing) can help save even one life, it's all worth it.

Love you guys & love the babies!

B

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time v. Money.

Time is money and money is time. So how do you determine which is more important? What is a good balance between saving time and saving money? It’s easy to err on either side. Many spend too much money to save time and end of crippling their finances while others spend so much time obsessing about saving they forget to have a life outside. I can think of someone who fits each category and another who’s balance of the two inspires me.


I could probably write a novel about my thoughts on this topic but I’ll spare you that much reading this evening and we’ll just cover a few things that as I pondered this, came to mind. Starting with, I worry less about saving on items or events that have sentimental value. My best friend’s wedding, a trip to see my sister(s), a good digital camera, unlimited long distance so I’m never cutting anyone off, etc. These lasting memories, filled with the people who mean the most aren’t worth saving a few bucks over. This is the category I do not skimp in.


Another category I don’t torture myself over is books. While my Mom constantly argues that with as much as I read I should be hitting up the library – I just can’t do it. I love to own books. What if it’s a great book I want to lend out? What if I want to write in the margins or underline my favorite quotes? And most recently since I added a Kindle to my daily life – it’s just freakin convenient! I can download a book while waiting for a flight to my next event and have it read by the time I get back. Can a library do that for you? I think not. For the time it would take me to library it several times a week and keep track of those dates, I spend the money instead of the time.


For now, I don’t deprive myself of cable TV. While I’m more than willing to admit that it’s not a necessity – I live alone and enjoy being able to hit up the Tivo on the off chance that I have a few minutes to do nothing. I also like to catch up on my favorite shows or let’s be honest, Sportscenter while I pack my lunches for work or do dishes at night. I’m just not at a point right now where I think it’s worth giving up. I pay extra to have a DVR so that I can watch what I want, when I want. Could I go to a friends to watch my favorite shows? Sure. But again, this is a time over money issue for me.


Groceries are a great area to care enough to save in. A. It’s freaking easy! With sites likewwww.southernsavers.com that map out the savings for the stores in your area and inserts like Publix sends in the mail, saving is made easy. Plus, who really wants to eat all the extra money in their budget? If you can do buy 1 get 1 deals and clip a few coupons to make room in your budget for an extra trip with a friend per year or a much needed, larger memory card for your camera – why not? So I spend time here, keeping up with the sales so I know when to buy what and where. I also spend time getting the newspapers on Sundays and clipping the needed coupons before I head to the store every week. It does cost me some time BUT I get tons of totally free items and plenty of groceries under $1! Worth it.


Gifts. Now before you go off on me about being stingy, hear me out. When you need to buy a gift for a wedding, birthday, etc it seems to be that time is of the essence and in the interest of saving time you spend more money. For example, if you buy a gift card for a wedding you feel totally awkward spending less than say, $25, right? BUT you could find an awesome gift at say, Ross or Homegoods for $10-12 if you thought ahead to make a trip. It requires a bit more time and effort but if you saved $15 bucks on each gift you bought throughout the year, that could really add up. I’m not saying buy the first cheap trinket you can find but I am saying think through thoughtful, useful, thrifty gift giving ideas! Save money, not time on gifts.


Beauty. Oh yes, I just went there. Now in the past I’ve had $50 haircuts and $15 haircuts and if I’m being honest – the quality was quite similar. The difference throughout the year if I get my haircut every 8 weeks (which I do) is $227.50 per year. On top of that, I use to get my hair colored. Not because I have grey hair or a particularly terrible natural color, just to ‘change things up’ from time to time. Turns out, you can buy professional color at Sallys for about 5 bucks (including the processor) and they’ll teach you how to mix the exact color you want while you’re there. For those of us use to paying 100+ dollars every 6-8 weeks, this is life altering. I later decided to go natural again, which I have done now BUT I did save quite a bit of money throughout my crazy hair color days in college by learning to mix my own color.


Beauty savings aren’t limited to hair though. You can get a facial at a beauty school for about 20 bucks (give or take) – instead of 60-100 at a salon. If you’re trying to overcome skin problems as I once was, these can really help clear you up! They’re also amazing and relaxing…just fyi. This applies to waxing, pedis, manis, and sometimes even massages. I will say that because they’re still learning and have to be checked by an instructor is take more time to get your hair, etc done by a student over a salon professional but the money you save is worth the extra time – at least to me. For hundreds of saved dollars in a year and the freedom to continue to enjoy some spa days without guilt; I do my research and I go to affordable priced locations.


DIY? I figured out a year or so ago that I enjoy doing some small maintenance on my own vehicle (a Toyota Corolla). Buying a $10 inside air filter at Discount Auto Parts actually saved me $25 in installation pay. How did I know how to change it? Youtube. You can learn just about anything on the internet these days. I change my inside and outside air filters on the regular now. Maybe being your own grease monkey doesn’t thrill you but you may find another area you don’t mind being handy in.

My most recent discovery for savings? Know your benefits. Turns out that if you dive into your benefits on your insurance plans website you may find that you’re missing out on services that you essentially pay for. For example, my work has vision insurance which I opt into having since I’m blind as a bat (no really, blind). Once per year I get a $5 exam AND $180 towards new frames with only a $10 copay for lenses. If I hadn’t realized this in time to snag my ‘free’ glasses for this benefit calendar year, I would have lost them come June! Check your plans – you may find that you’re missing out on ‘included’ items that you should be taking advantage of!


OK, there’s your time v. money thoughts of the day. Feel free to share some of your own with me in comments, I love other people’s money pointers. I’m always trying to be more efficient.


Love,
B

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Worry.

Thanks to the biggest loser challenge I'm competing in with a few girl from work, I've been up since 6 (getting a workout). As I was reading over my bible study lesson for tonight's small group I had to pause for a few minutes to share a few thoughts about worry with you.

I don't consider myself someone who worries often. In fact, I'm scared of few things. I'm eerily comfortable with the fact that I will not live forever and that like everyone on earth my days are numbered. I love my life and I'm living it to the fullest and it is rare that I fear anything or really have a cause for worry.

I was struck however by the comment the author makes when she asks if we ever worry about something because we're convinced that will keep it from happening. As I searched my own heart for the answer to that question it was all so obvious. The example she gave was worrying about her parents while they were on a trip and when they returned safely feeling on some level as though her worrying kept the bad things from happening to them.

I worry about my Dad during football season. He's on planes every other weekend, flying all over the US. I worry that if one time I forget to pray for his safety something horrible will happen. It will be the day of his flight and panic will seize me as I go about my own day and I will have to stop and say a little pray for him to make sure he'll be ok. This 'fire insurance' style of worrying and praying pleases not.

In Proverbs 12:25 it tells us 'an anxious heart weighs a man down'. Who wants to be weighed down with worthless worry? More than that I needed the reminder (read: kick in the pants), 'Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?', as said in Matthew 6:27. I know that I have not added a single hour to my Dad's or my own life by my worry. God will certainly not punish me for forgetting to worry. Why not then, use my prayers for more constructive conversation?

Worrying is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere. Many of us have heard it said but how many of us have taken it to heart?

In the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, the author lists What We Worry About...

40% are things that will never happen.
30% are about the past - which can't be changed.
12% are about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% are about health, which get worse with stress
8% are about real problems that can be solved

Love,
B

(Note: these thoughts were brought on by the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World written by Joanna Weaver).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not my problem.


I was sittin at home just so
frustrated,aggravated
wondering why I let people make me so crazy
then realized it's my fault by being around
negativity
Cuz I don't have to know them and they don't have
to know me
-- Eden's Crush

It's been on my mind lately that for someone who keeps their life low-to-no drama, I'm frequently sucked into other peoples problems. This is a curse I'm not sure how I acquired. While I want to be a good friend to my closest friends, it's the peripheral people in my life whose problems drain me. I want to offer advice, support, a shoulder but I find myself baring the weight of issues that don't belong to me.

How do you politely tell someone it's their problem? I mean, it is. And while I don't want to be rude or unsympathetic, I also chose to keep drama out of my own life for a reason. It's not worth the thought and effort. I feel drained when I think about the recent friend problems that have been weighing on me. Then it occurred to me over the weekend that I don't owe anyone else my emotions. Getting too involved in their problems was getting ME down. For a best friend this is a given but for others?

Along the same lines I was pondering personal responsibility on a lounge chair by the pool (this is why I blog - my head swirls with ideas). Blame shifting plagues my generation. We take little to no responsibility for our current situations. It's everyone's fault but our own. With this I was reminded of the quote from a recent sermon at church which said, 'You are the sum total of the decisions you've made'. Guess what? Life is hard. For everyone. We make choices. Sometimes the wrong ones. The consequences of our actions bite us in the butt or even kick us when we're down. I find it to be an important first step to realize that we chose our paths in life, for better or worse. The path we chose lead us here. Frequently to get to a better place in life we have to pull ourselves up by our boot straps and do the hard thing, the right thing.

Love,
B


Monday, April 12, 2010

Forget Me Not.


Murder. Mystery. Political agendas. Romance. Christian fiction? Vicki Hinze boldly goes where few Christian authors have gone before in her novel, 'Forget Me Not'. Benjamin Brandt whose wife and son were brutally murdered, continues to keep his wife's crisis center open without setting foot inside himself. That is, until a woman, baring striking resemblance to his deceased wife and having lost her memory in a brutal beating, shows up claiming to be her. Ben finds himself sucked into the race to find out the mystery woman's past before her enemies catch up with her. Can he protect her from those who seek to kill her while still guarding his heart and remaining distant and disconnected?

Hinze weaves an intricate web of mystification. While keeping you guessing and drawing you forward in the story she also gracefully includes a romance in the midst of tragedy. This is one love story heavy on the drama. A good reminder that love never fails.

This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah. You can pick up your own copy on the website and by all means, share with my your thoughts. Happy Reading!

Love,
B

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm Up Late.

Normally I'm in bed by 10:00, so this is a late night for me (though I guess I do occasionally see midnight on weekends). I therefore take little to no responsibility for what is said in tonight's post - as I've been up since 6am and my eye lids are drooping.

I do have a few things I'd like to get off my chest before bed tonight. Starting with the fact that for a great number of reasons, I am not a Chad Ocho Cinco (formerly Johnson) fan. No, I'm not just saying that because he plays for the Bengals and not beloved Colts. It all started when for a hot minute I tried following him on twitter only to figure out that he's quite possibly the most ridiculous 'tweeter' (read: person) in twitter world. From sending pictures of himself in his boxers (in what looks to be a dressing room at the mall) to getting rejected from Eharmony (probably for being a creep) - he managed to grate my nerves on a fairly regular basis.

Why are people so scared of 'home sales parties'? I know I'm abnormally comfortable with most things that make normal people squirm but seriously people, you don't have to buy something. If you don't like it, say no. I hosted a double-whammy part tonight with a new friend who sells Mary Kay & someone from Stella and Dot jewelry (which I recently fell in love with). When I met A at a Mary Kay party hosted my a girlfriend of mine, I thought she's fabulous and not in the least bit pushy. I didn't buy anything (because I wasn't sure what I could add to my crazy skin care regimen) but decided to host my own party! I love a girl who's taking initiative and getting after it in the business world - why not help a sister out? The party tonight was glorious - loved it. Everyone who came had fun & without being pressured in the least, walked away with something they couldn't live with out.

The funniest part was that I had several people who wanted to order stuff but felt intimidated by coming to the party (which is entirely about hanging out and dabbling in cool loot). I did orders for them in advance but I couldn't help thinking it's a strange concept. You assume people are scared to come because they don't want to HAVE to buy something but then, come to find out, more people are scared of the actual party. Fascinating.

Anywho, while I'm on the topic if you want to checkout the jewelry I've been drooling over you can see it on their website here. And hey, if you find a piece (or 5) that YOU can't live without, go ahead and order and if you please, select me as the hostess so maybe I'll earn more freebies. We all know I looove freebies, yes? Looks to me, from here, that Stella & Dot is all the rage. Where have I been?

I need a new, light weight vacuum. Do you have any idea what my 5'3 self looks like wrestling my huge vacuum up and down 2 flights of stairs? Youtube worthy, that's what. Not to mention that it look me an hour to stop sweating afterwards. Gross. I should really do this a day in advance of entertaining. Whew, I'm getting tired (and sweaty) just reliving it in my mind!

Have you ever noticed that people ask you advice about things even when they know they're going to hate your answer? I've got a new tactic for handling things of this nature. Since I believe most people already know what they should do - I flip the question on it's head. I say, if you were me what would you tell yourself? Amazingly, they can usually give themselves better advice than you'd give them. If they're sad and misguided then by all means, set them straight. But it's more inspiring when one comes to their own conclusions about the usually obvious. This works abnormally well with dating related dilemmas. If they say in 5 seconds or less that they would never let you date the loser their dating, well, wah-la - answer. You will appear incredibly wise for being able to draw out of them their own intellect.

My blackberry is possessed. It has been randomly switching numbers in my phone under different peoples names. I jest not. This is incredibly awkward when you send a personal text to the wrong person, only to confuse them beyond explanation. Yikes. I'm about to quit team blackberry if this problem doesn't die off.

Ok, I can't stay awake longer.

Love,
B


Thursday, April 8, 2010

A little Self-Eval.

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by all the self-improvements you know you need to make that you’re not sure where to start? I think about this often. It’s big in my family to self evaluate and set goals. My parents always instilled that in us. Now I do it naturally. I’m always thinking of areas in my life where I’m lacking discipline and needing to refocus.



When I moved to Tampa I knew if I didn’t start with getting my spiritual life right, the rest wasn’t going to matter. I was disconnected and I disillusioned and I knew that if I didn’t get my feet on solid ground I was never going to be able to find my joy again. I believe I’ve written a bit about this but my last few years of college I was a bit of a mess and I left 24 hours after finals to move, still a hot mess. So I sat down and started evaluating my priorities and I knew my first step to improvement had to be spiritual. I had to get plugged in at church and be committed. I had to find the right kind of friends who would help me on what I knew would be a tough journey. That was my jumping off point. I spent my first year accepting no volunteer or leadership opportunities. I needed to focus on me. My cup was so far from over-flowing that I wasn’t sure how I could pour much of anything into someone else’s life. It had to gut my insides and start over. And that’s just what I did.



After that I knew the next big thing I needed to tackle was my finances! I was finally REALLY on my own (college didn’t really count for me, money wise). I had to quit spending everything I made. I need to pay off my car & start saving for the next one so I wouldn’t be a slave to a car loan ever in my life. I need a savings account that could actually be called a savings account. If I didn’t get a handle on my shopping and get a focus for my money, I was going to land myself right back at home with my parents. I was determined that step two had to be dealing with this!

After Step One, I wanted to do this by Godly principles so for me, that meant taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at my church (Grace Family Church). I signed up thinking I wasn’t in too sad of shape. By then I was debt free (my car was paid off, my education was paid off, I was making it). The truth is, I really wasn’t as bad off as many of the people taking the course but my attitude was all wrong. I had plenty to learn! I diligently poured over the materials both and out of class, soaking up the wisdom of people who were doing it better than I was. As with most areas you want to improve in it’s important that if you seek advice, you do it from the right people. It’s ill-advised to ask for the counsel of friend who’s in the same or worse shape than you. I consulted my Dad. I know few people who have been as wise and as God-centered with their finances as I have watched my Dad be my whole life. I called him every week after class to compare my notes with his knowledge.



I saved an emergency fund, bought a condo, and came back for the next round of the class at church to be a leader. I’ve learned to be more generous but also wise in my spending. I’ve quit spending 25% of my take home pay on clothes (I have closets full, I really don’t NEED them). I’m still working on learning to distinguish wants and needs. That’s a struggle for me. My budget isn’t flawless, but the progress has been huge. Even HAVING a budget that I use is huge for me from where I once was.



Learning discipline in your life is never easy. From spiritual and financial discipline, the rest seemed a bit easier. I was having all kinds of problems with my skin when I first moved down here. Stress? Weather changes? My face hating me? I’m not really sure what the problems were but I need to get them under control quick. I started seeing a dermatologist and an esthetician. Turns out my lack of life disciplines even applied to my face. With their help and by building a routine and stick to it, I’ve managed to get my skin clear and back to its former glory. In fact, since adding more water (and therefore less diet coke) to my daily intake it’s improved yet again these past 2 weeks.



Smaller changes included cutting down on my TV and increasing the time I spend reading. I’ve also broadened my horizons of what I read from true stories, to fiction, to biographies, and recently I’ve acquired a taste for books written by various pastors. After college it’s so easy to let your education end, not to push yourself to continue to seek new knowledge and expand your vocabulary and creativity. If you don’t make a conscious effort, you could go months without reading much more than street signs and e-mails.



Now I’m finally working on my health a bit more. Events is a fun, exciting, and sometimes quite fast-paced line of worth. These are the qualities that make it perfect for me. However, it’s easy to get run down working 6 day work weeks, traveling with germy people and re-circulated air, and sometimes enduring some stress with ‘day of’ chaos (or even ‘week of’). It’s important to be in good health so as not to let your body get run down and sick. So, my new found disciplines for eating healthier (and less) as well as upping my 3 days a week exercise habits to 5 days a week has helped. I’m also being committed to getting good nights of sleep.



I did not make any of these decisions as a result of ‘New Years Resolutions’ by the way. I’m just purposing to be more disciplines in many aspects of my life. Oh wait, I guess I did commit to read 50 books in 2010, which was kind of a resolution. That’s about a book a week, which is hard with my crazy schedule but without goals, I accomplish little.



Self-evaluation and learning self-discipline has been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you here. Maybe putting it out there will make me more motivated and conscious of it as well.



Love,

B

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sometimes I Feel like I Live in Grand Central Station.

Yes I did just quote Beyonce in her collaboration with Lady Gaga, but bare with me for a second here. The Ga has a point in her song 'telephone' when she talks about being sick of hearing her phone ring off the hook like she's being called by a collector. Haven't we all felt that way? Saturday I hit my boiling point with my blackberry when by 3pm I'd already gotten over 100 texts, pix, vids, calls, and e-mails. Where can you go to escape your phone? It dings all day and all night. In fact, mine went off at 4pm last night. Reeeally?

My generation it seems has some serious separation anxiety when it comes to 'being connected'. I'm including myself in this horrible phobia. Turns out the world doesn't stop turning when my crackberry is turned off. I tried it...once. So the new me is going to unplug a day or so a week and just be away from my phone and fully there, wherever there might be that day.

'Tonight I'm not taking no calls cause I'll be dancin'.

Love,
B

Monday, April 5, 2010

A New Appreciation.

The older I get the more I appreciate how much easier my life was when I was living with my parents. My Mom is incredible. She made my life so easy and I didn’t even realize it until I got out in big girl world and realized how many things weren’t magically doing themselves all that time but were being done by my sweet Momma.



One would think as I near 2 years of being here in Florida I would be in a perfect little routine by now, but no. I’m FINALLY dealing with understanding my benefits and scheduling appointments to go to the eye doctor and dentist. I never knew how much work it is to know your policy, what you’re allowed, what services costs, etc. Go figure. Where’s my Mom when I need her? I stumbled through my own research to figure out what I can get done within my budget (gr) and what I need by when. It wasn’t terrible thanks to online accounts, it’s pretty easy to get through your benefits quickly and list out services.



I did however, pick the closest eye doctor to my house (that was recommended by my insurance policy) because I had zero idea how else to pick one. Oh, you’re less than a mile from my house? You will do. Oh it says Family is your name? Perfect. That should do. What else do you do but give one a try? If I hate them, I’ll try number 2 on the list next year I guess.



I have a rather laid back approach to being an adult. Not to be confused with being lazy, which I am not. I have accepted that in large part growing up and taking on adult life as a single girl in a big city is a process of trial and error. I choose to laugh at myself along the way, when I realized I’ve been doing something all wrong. A great example would be that for my first year living here I was so scared to take routes off the main roads I knew, that I later realized I was driving COMPLETELY out of the way to practically everywhere just to take roads I knew. Well, you do what you have too, right? Or as some say, you do the best you know, until you know better, and then you change.



I make plenty of silly mistakes. Like setting the microwave wrong and cooking something for 12:00 minutes instead of 1:20. Charcoal anyone?


Turns out there are rules about how you put your trash out…oops. In my complex they’re especially nazi about these rules which include that you can only use white trash bags, not black and you can only put the trash out during a 5 hour period each day. Oh yeah, and cardboard? Not happenin’! Thanks to a friendly neighbor I was saved before the $50.00 per bag punishment was inflicted on me. Whew.



Other lessons I’ve learned from being on my own? If your first bill from a company doesn’t come for 3 months, it’s not because they’re slow it’s because something went terribly wrong and you should call before said utility is shut off. Ah, so na├»ve I am. If you fall walking down the stairs carrying a kitchen chair you WILL poke a hole in your wall that has to be fixed. Gr.When you hire people to redo your flooring, one week into being a new condo owner you may want to hire a translator so that when they can’t understand you as you explain it’s 8am on a Saturday and their Spanish hip-hop music is so loud they can hear it in Russia – they will actually understand you. No such luck for me. In fact, my condo had a real live musical with dancing and singing. Who knew that there was a Spanish version of My Heart Will Go On the remix? Not I.



You realize as you encounter these hilariously awkward or out of sorts moments in your life, that your parents are so much wiser than you thought. Or maybe they just made their mistakes before I was around to notice. Either way, I miss having their help. Life is like that sometimes.



Love,

B

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Wish I Could Save You.

I can tell, I can tell how much you hate this
And deep down inside you know it's killing me
I can call, wish you well and try to change this
But nothing I can say would change anything...

I wish I could save you
I wish I could say to you I'm not going nowhere
I wish I could say to you
It's gonna be alright

-- Save You, Kelly Clarkson

My heads been stuffy with thoughts all evening. I was wandering the house trying to make sense of them all. Finally I started to feel a bit suffocated so I changed and hit the gym, hoping that I could pound out a few of the thoughts and hang out to the good stuff. I was sweatin it out on the treadmill to Kelly Clarkson when the song Save You came on. I haven't listened to Kel in a while but when the familiar lyrics started flowing through my head they almost stopped me in my tracks.

I am always trying to save people. Years of my life could be summed up by that statement. I don't just mean this in an I-went-to-school-to-save-the-marginalized kind of way. This is before, during, and after my social worker career (which was four years long and involved school and 1 summer internship only).

I know it's not my job to save people. In theory, I accept this fact. Unfortunately, I'm a magnet for the broken. I've wondered a time or two if they can sense that I understand? I've been broken before, in more then one sense of the word. Once you've hit rock bottom and bounced back you're sort of inclined to being sympathetic to those still going through it, in that 'Man, I've been there' kind of way.

I've learned two important lessons about people who are self-destructing:

First off, when your dreams for someone are bigger than their dreams for themselves - you have a problem. You cannot no matter how hard you try, force people to want more for themselves. They have to find their own dreams. You can't help people who aren't willing to help themselves.

Secondly, sometimes you can't save people (or help them save themselves) and you have to bail out before you sink with their ship. The important thing is, learning to recognize that point when you arrive. I've stayed too long before and I've jumped too early. I'm still figuring this part out. How far you can guide people and support them through their tough times before you recognize that they're bringing you down more than you're bringing them up. Sometimes you gotta abort mish.

Note: I don't mean your closest friends. Those are the ones you are there for no matter what, for as long and ugly as their hard times get. Just so we're clear.

B





Thursday, April 1, 2010

Whoever said pale was the new tan...

Three day weekend starts now! Work was generous enough to give us good Friday off this year, which I’ve never had off from a job before. I was pumped for a three day weekend, with not too much on my plate this weekend. My one must accomplish task this weekend that I’m forcing myself to get done at 9am tomorrow is my taxes. Anyone else dread this process? I had a lovely H&R Block rep last year (though he was very flirty with me even though my Mom was present…awk). I have no reason to hate this process since for the second year in a row I have something funky on my taxes (this year it’s a new condo!...qualifying me for the 8K tax credit) so someone else will actually be DOING my taxes this year. I do however, dread this process a bit.

Anyone doing anything fun with their returns this year? A few of my friends have bought fabulous new clothes or purses. I’m taking the responsible route this year and paying down my ‘mortgage’. Ah, being a big girl. Tough stuff. But I do like to make progress and that’ll take a pretty decent sized chunk off what I owe to be house debt free (a goal of mine). Maybe my attitude towards taxes this year is lackluster because I know I won’t get to play with any of the extra money coming back in. Yeah, that’s probably it.

I plan to spend the majority of my weekend by the pool enjoying the high 70s and sunny weather we will be having in the TPA this weekend. Whoever said pale was the new tan (I believe this was Marie Claire?) was ‘seriously disturbed’ (mean girl voice). When I get pale I look ill. Not a fan. I look so much healthier with a glowing tan. Before anyone gives me a skin cancer lecture, I use sunscreen every time I lay out (despite that my Hawaiian skin doesn’t actually burn) and I get my skin checked once per year. So, relax friends.

Some of you know I lead a group for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class (personal finance). I’m going tonight to get a desperately overdue haircut from a group member of mine who just struck out on her own and rented a room. I’m so proud of her and headed up north to show my support after work. If any of my Tampa girl (or guys) want an inexpensive haircut, she’s very reasonably priced and conveniently located at Bearss & Dale Mabry. So let me know if you want her contact info, and I’ll let you know how my hair comes out. ; ]

Other than haircuts, taxes, and tans – I plan to win a few games of Spades against friends late tonight & see my boy Daniel Mogg (he’s a DJ too, if you ever need one) dominate on the baseball fields tomorrow evening at the University of Tampa. Daniel was an intern at Family First in the first round of interns that started after I joined the staff. I’ve missed him every day since he finished his internship in December, he was seriously the most fun guy to have around the office. So, I’ll be hitting up the baseball game with my friend (and coworker) Candace tomorrow night to watch him win.

Last and certainly least selfishly, I will be volunteering at the Laundry Love Project tomorrow morning doing laundry for those going through some hard financial times. The best part about this is that it is entirely less daunting to help someone else do their laundry then to actually face the walk-in closet full of dirty clothes I need to wash at my own place. You can read about my first LL experience here for more deets.

I will spend Sunday celebrating the greatest gift of all – Christ’s son. For me & my fellow Christians easter is about way more than a bunny (and chocolate). I will be celebrating with my home church, Grace Fam as well as spending the day brunching and poolside with my girl Auburn. I hope that as you have a restful weekend you too remember what this weekend is all about. Thank the Lord we don’t always get what deserve…

Love,
B