Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Over analyzing.

I'm currently reading the Biggest Loser's 30 day jump start as I'm back in a BL contest at work (the 2nd, after winning the first) with 2 new competitors. I'm always looking for ways to efficiently reach my goals, no matter what the goal may be. I started to read a little ahead (typical) and the title for Day Three's lesson is 'get selfish with you time'. That title grabbed my attention right away.

I think with getting fit and healthy, as with most goals you do have to allow yourself to have some 'me' time. And I realized as I was reading the lesson, that for the people who go on that show this is a big deal. They've allowed their families, friends, kids, responsibilities, and jobs to hold them back from taking the necessary steps to get their health under control. Something that could easily happen to any of us. I know that I've allowed my friends (and sometimes family) to keep me from the right amount of sleep, staying up with housework, studying when I was in school, etc.

Life is full of tough choices and while we want to make sure those we love know how important they are to us, we also have to make us time. Here's my argument though. I don't think making your health a priority IS selfish. Ultimately, you're taking care of yourself so that you can spend more time with your family and friends over the course of your life.

Balance is sometimes difficult for me. I truly love everything about my life. I love being a homeowner and taking care of my place (though some weeks you wouldn't know it from the looks of it!). I love leading a bible study for young women and growing with them as we 'do life' together. I enjoy my job almost every minute of every day (couldn't say every because data entry does not get me excited). I feel fortunate to be able to travel and see new cities as a result of said job. I'm enthralled with reading and writing. I treasure talking to my family members on an almost daily basis. Amazingly, I've started to really enjoy my daily workouts. I've always loved laying by the pool with a good book. I'm also in a book club, which I'd taken a break from while I was teaching personal finance but am now back in.

I dabble in a bit of everything. Curiosity tends to get the best of me and I find myself doing activities such as ceiling fan installation classes and wandering the library selecting new books. With the 4th of July in a few days it seems only appropriate to point out that we have an incredible amount of freedom to do as we wish. We also have an overwhelming amount of resources to learn, which a sadly small amount of people utilize. That's not a freedom that I take for granted, or that I'm willing to miss the chance to take advantage of.

So here's my challenge...if we're not getting our hands dirty helping others, then we're missing a great opportunity to give back. While I encourage getting time to yourself and doing something worthwhile with it, I truly believe that the best and most memorable times in my life are those spent helping others. The trick, is that you have to find a balance. When you give too much of yourself, allowing yourself to be worn out and pouring nothing back in - you will eventually have nothing left to give. Nothing of value or worth, at least. But when you use all your time for selfish matters, you develop no legacy to leave behind.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New to the Reading List.

As I finish up books 25 and 26 for the year, I'm already thinking of what I will be reading next. I have a nice 4 day weekend of relaxation followed by 6 days on beaches in South Carolina to get some serious reading in. I plan to start with these 3:

I LOVE Kelly Cutrone! I believe I've blogged about this previously but from 'Kell on Earth' to her rolls in 'The Hills' and now 'The City' - I have fallen in love with her straight forward style. She isn't afraid to bring tears to her interns eyes and make grown men cower in fear. I love that about her. Life and success belong to those who go after what they want, without fear of failure, does it not? She is my kind of girl.

I love me some Coco as well and have had this book on my Kindle 'to read' list for months now. I'm finally going to bite the bullet it, buy it and probably soak up all the fabulous advice in a day or two. After reading, 'How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World' I'm kind of into these icon advice type books. Go figure.

A new book from my very favorite author! I was so excited when I found out about the release of Picoults most recent book, House Rules. I've been protesting on Amazon to the Kindle version being 15 bucks, as I think that's outrageous for an ebook. But lets be honest if the price doesn't come down soon, I'll be forced to buy it anyone....I NEED to read this book.
Still taking ideas and suggestions. : ]

Monday, June 28, 2010

8 Days!

So my vacation to the Carolinas is only 8 days away and I can hardly wait! I'm so excited about my trip I'm not even dreading that I will again have to pack a bag (I'm still working on unpacking from my last flight) and take 2 more flights to get there (layovers are the bane of my existence!). Now that is true excitement (for me).

The days until then we'll not be uneventful, however. Tonight I must finally cage myself into the condo and get some cooking and cleaning done for this eventful week at home. Tomorrow on our lunch break my department (which is 3 people small) is coming over for lunch. My director has never seen the condo (ack!). On the menu is White Chicken Lasagna - prepared at a previous session at Dinner Done.

While I'm already heating up the kitchen cooking tonight, I'm going to go ahead cook lunch for my Wednesday company! I'm having our interns over for lunch @ my place Wednesday. We have 6 interns this summer, which is intense. But I believe only four of them will be around for the fun. On the menu for Wednesday lunch are double stack dillas (also made at dinner done) and they're bringing dessert, chip n salsa, and drinks. Should be a fun chance to get to know them a little better - outside of the office environment.

Small group is taking a break for the 4th this week so I will have Thursday blissfully to myself before I start a 4 day weekend of relaxation, sun, workouts, and the like. I plan to get a great base tan working before I head up north to 6 days of beaches with my family. That way when I return to work, church, etc I will look like I've really been on a vacay. I love that feeling.

Still not certain how I want to celebrate the 4th this year. Honestly, my only request is that it involves fireworks! I never use to be into fireworks (even as a kid) but in my old age I'm growing more sentimental and my family has had some great 4th of Julys over the years. Seems only right I ring in this years with the traditional watching of a firework show. Considering a festival out in St Pete Friday night perhaps. We shall see.

Update on my reading: I'm still iffy on my feelings towards The Red Tent (62% done) and am closing in on the halfway mark for 'Sweet Ruin', for which my interest is mounting. Hoping to finish both this week so that I will enter July on book 27 of 50 for this year. Though I expect that I will pull ahead of my personal goals for reading over my week at the beach. Between 4 plane flights, a car ride, the beach, and nights in with the fam I expect I will knock out quite a few books in that time.

I'm once again taking recommendations, so if anyones read a good one lately - hit me up.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Grace Under Pressure.

A man has no more character than he can command in a time of crisis - Ralph W. Sockman

This week I had several unique opportunities to show my true character. When caught off guard or in a crisis, we reveal our true selves. Any one of us can dress up and play a part. We can put on a brave or happy face and say all the right, previously prepared words. It is when we extend grace or show character at a time we've been without opportunity to prepare for, that is special.

I am the queen of lending things out. I'm a bit of a collector of 'things' and nothing brings me greater joy than to share something I love with someone else. A little while back I offered a friend one of my designer handbags to take on a trip with her. It went with some of the outfits she had planned and it's always fun to have something 'new' on a trip, right? I was only too happy to lend it to her.

Bless her sweet heart, by an unavoidable accident my handbag was destroyed on the trip and she had to come back (after much preparation) and tell me that it was ruined. I could tell before she even got the words out how sorry she felt and to be 100% honest, I felt way worse for her than I did about the silly purse.

I was able to share with her something my Dad told me after I was in a car accident a few years back. I remember calling him, terrified he'd be angry about my car (even though the accident wasn't my fault). When your 16, $20 feels like a ton of money. I already knew that getting a car fixed was expensive and I was so grateful just to have one. To give you an idea, this 'super expensive' car of mine was a Toyota Camry with 150K miles on it. Not like I wrecked a new benz, but to me it was the freedom I'd waited 16 years for and I loved it every bit as much as a new benz.

I had no idea what he would say when he found out mine was banged up. He said something that has stuck with me for 8 years now. He said, ' Bekes (that's what my Dad calls me) cars can be fixed or replace, it's you that matters''. That my friends, is grace under pressure. That in a time when my Dad had the opportunity to build me up or tear me down, he was able to see through to the big picture. That a car accident makes for a crummy day but in the end, that's just it. One bad day and a few hundred bucks. The way he handled that situation changed the way I looked at 'stuff' from that day forward.

So here I am 8 years later, down one designer purse and faced with a tearful, (and fearful) friend. Do you know what came out of my mouth before I even realized it? "It's just a purse and purses can be replaced'. And you know what, I was right! Stuff comes and goes and sometimes it's sad when your favorite pair of jeans finally bite the dust or you leave an open pen in your handbag, or you snag a heel off a great pair of shoes on a cracked sidewalk. It's important to realize that those things can always be replaced - it's the people in your life that truly matter.

I said that I had several of these opportunities lately. Two more situations that were quite intense (though less of a ball-in-my-court kind of deal). As you get older it must be true that you turn into your parents because as I can imagine both my parents doing in those situations I gave them scriptures I have hidden in my heart and I prayed with them, on the spot. My parents among so many wonderful traits are prayer warriors the likes of which I have rarely met. Anytime, big or small, I need help I call my parents and ask them to pray with me. Over the years I have watched as my parents have worn there knees out in prayer for my sisters and I. Of the great many things I owe my parents for, their prayers are indeed the top of the list.

I guess the point of this blog entry is that when we are faced with the unexpected our character finds it's way out. We have to be preparing ourselves before hand to deal with those situations with grace. I leave you with this...

'Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live' - Jackie Windspear


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Updates, Updates.

Hello Darlings.

Life remains busy in the bay area for this go-getter. Booked 2 more flights for 2010 this week - to Indiana for Candy's Wedding (free flight courtesy of Southwest - love ya!) and to Nashvegas in August for work. I leave in 12 days for Myrtle Beach & Isle of Palms with la familia (that's pretty much all the Spanish I know, be impressed). I fly as much as a bird these days...I may just forget how to keep my feet on the ground by December.

This weekend I'm staying put and spending time with my Tampa family - the Huhtas. Sweet Bryn's turning 18 this weekend! Can't wait to celebrate her @ Ellas in Seminole Heights (the cutest little place you ever did see!). Can't decide what to wear...what do you all think of this dress:

Image borrowed from here.

This dress was a fabulous on sale find at the local Marshalls btw - Dave Ramsey approved. I've tried it with nude Guess heels and with a Stella and Dot bib necklace and black peep toes. Votes are welcome for which to sport this weekend. I guess nude heels little or no jewelry would be more casual. Hmm.

Found a cute pair of jeans on sale at Gap for $13 bucks today. No lie. $13. Amazing. Every once in a while you walk in and hit the jackpot. I rarely even set foot in a Gap since preppy isn't really my style. I like a little more color and glitz in my life then the typical Gap shopper - but as with any store you never know what you'll find that you can work into the perfect little outfit.

You may have noticed I've been adding quickly to the book list on the left side of my blog. I am almost halfway through my 25th book of 2010. We're currently reading The Red Tent for book club. Jury is still out for me on how I feel about it. Fictional stories based on biblical characters are always a bit intriguing to me. Theres a little more of a sexual vibe to it then I care to read typically - maybe it just freaks me out that 4 sisters are married to the same man. Having 2 sisters of my own, it's hard not to be a bit creeped out by that...even realizing that social norms were different in biblical days.

For those of you who caught my video blog, you already know that I am now leading a small group (bible study) in my home! That is going amazingly well and I continue to be inspired and challenge by our current study entitled: Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. She's refreshingly frank and I appreciate a to-the-point gal. I am pleased and grateful for how the group is taking off...God is so good.

Oh yeah, I can't believe I almost forgot... I won biggest loser (the work edition). It always feels good to win but honestly, the contest itself was great for all of us and together the 3 of us lost over 40 lbs in 10 weeks. So it was a great team effort to get healthy and fit for the summer (and forever). I considered showing you all my before and after pics but just couldn't bring myself to post my double chin on the internet. Gross.

Who's got exciting plans for the 4th of July? My only request is a tan and some fireworks. I don't care where or with who. Still working on those deets.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Back from the Nati.

Well I'm back and 48 hours later, still recovering from my quick trip to the 'nati. Good ole Ohio. The trip was actually a blast. We got to eat an some famous Cinci locations. Loved getting a little best friend time with Candy who was so sweet to drive 2 hours to get up at 4am and work like a dog with the rest of us to pull off what was a terrific event despite some weather complications. I'm truly blessed to have her in my life - she's incredible!

Finished my 24th book of 2010. I'm finally getting caught up after a couple weeks of feeling behind in my goal of 50 books. Need to finish 25 by the end of July to be halfway by halfway through this year. Wow, hard to believe half of 2010 is already over, isn't it?

Here's some advice for my young female readers, beware of murder mysteries even if they are free on Kindle! I about broke my hairdryer on the wall killing my own shadow. Realized just in time that there was in fact, no intruder. Whew. But really, Hide was certainly suspenseful and for once I didn't figure out the ending before I got to it. Amazing.

I'm not keeping my feet firmly on the ground for 2 whole weeks before I head north for vacay with my wonderful family. Of course my fam picked the beach which has lost some of it's vacay appeal since I live 10 minutes from it here in FL and our beaches are arguably superior to the Carolina beaches anyway. But since family time is the point, I guess it doesn't matter. Plus I never complain about a couple extra hours of sun on my saturated skin.

In light of my recent life of being on airplanes I've developed a like to the below song. Excuse that while it's an edit version they do say the h-e-double hockey sticks word. But after hearing it a few times I frequently wonder if it's inspired anyone to start trying to wish on airplanes and if in fact, anyones ever wished on the airplane I'm on.

For those of us who have known what it's like to wish for a different life, there's something relatable about this song. And for those of us who have seen some wishes come true, it's a good reminder.

I don't wish on airplanes myself, I have a different method for directing my prayers...long, rather humorous conversations. I'm frequently teased about just how real I am in my prayer life (mostly by the girls in my small group).

Anyway, it's good to be back home and back on the blog.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Miss Me Too Much...

Well darlings, I have to say ta ta for now for 2 days starting tomorrow. I will hop a very early flight to 'the nati' (Cincinnati, OH) to do our last spring event. My first ever trip to Paul Brown Stadium, home to the Cincinnati Bengals. It seems to me that this year has brought up more Bengals talk than ever before. Perhaps because a large portion of my friends and coworkers (and even family) are Dancing with the Stars fans and grew to love them some Ocho Cinco.

Looking forward to meeting our alumni and current player reps in that market: Anthony Munoz, Chris Crocker, Richard Cary, and Jim Breech. An all star line-up coming out to share the importance of Dad's being active in their kids lives. The event is sold out and we expect 1500 Dads and Kids! How faboosh is that?

On an exciting personal note, my best friend Candy will be joining me for the event! She's driving to Cinci tomorrow afternoon to do dinner with our team and stay the night in the hotel with me! Eee! You know you have a loyal best friend when she agrees to get up at 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday to help you out with your works event. She is a trooper to the max. When she comes she's bringing my bridesmaids dress for her wedding in October! I can't wait to try it on even though, thanks to BLer it will have to taken in a few notches. I still want to try it on and figure out how tan I'd like to be by October.

If you think my life will be boring and travel-less after the end of spring event season, take heart. I will be traveling once in July for pleasure (hello Carolinas) and will have plenty going on here in town the other 3 weeks. Then it's back on the road for more events starting with the Tennessee Titans in August to kick off our fall event season. Never a dull moment, or a fully unpacked suitcase for this girl.

In other news, we finish our office's 'Biggest Loser' competition next Tuesday and I'm ahead to win the 'big cash money prize'. Which isn't that big but might buy me a new pair of jeans or something. Stay tuned.

Time to chop the mop this evening. I'm going to cut off a few inches and enjoy a little bit lighter 'do' for the summer, while taking my color a touch darker to a deep chocolate brown. When I polled you all via the blog and asked my nearest, dearest and most trusted friends - you all agreed: do it. So I'm taking your advice to heart (and scissors) and may even post the results for you soon. See future haircut below:

I wonder what my Dad would do if I got random rainbow wings tattoo'd on my back? (good thing he does not read this blog).

Excited for small group tonight - studying 'Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild' how perfectly fitting for a south tampa small group, don't ya think?



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quote of the Week.

'Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else'
- Judy Garland

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stupid Girls?

In a flash of inspiration I bought 'How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World' on Kindle yesterday. As I've admitted previously I enjoy the occasional 'reality' tv show, I like to shop, I have some shallow habits for lack of a better term. What I've recently become more aware of is just how out of control many girls my age have become.

You may remember when Pink released her video 'stupid girls' a year or two ago and opened fire on the girls who plague the front page of the gossip magazines at the grocery store. She took some digs at Paris, Jessica Simpson, the Olsens, Nicole Richie, etc. In general the attitude of the video can be summed up in the lyrical line: 'what happened to the dream of a girl president? She's dancing in a video next to 50 cent'. In a time period in which women have more opportunities than ever before, many reason that their time is better spent tanning, toning, and talking (while driving) - or so Pink seems to think.

The book title was catchy and I thought, why not? I would much rather be a Hepburn than a Hilton, at least when it comes to class. So after finishing book 21 of my 50 for this year, I started 22 this evening with Hepburn. In the first chapter I was struck by this quote from Hayden Pannetierre who thus far remains true to herself and has managed to keep unflattering rumors and photos from the tabloids...'My mother always says you are the books you read and the people you surround yourself with'.

There has to be some sort of balancing act that few have mastered but still exists. See for those of us who live as Christians we're called to embrace all people with Christ-like love, right? I mean Jesus dined with high-profile-sinners. However, they weren't his best friends and his name wasn't constantly tossed in with theirs. Reputation deserves more attention than many people give it. Maybe you are who you hangout with.

I haven't read enough to review the book, I'm only chapter in. I thought it appropriate to share with you that I'm on a search for what a 'lady' looks like in todays society. I'm doing a bible study in my home (starting next Thursday) called 'Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild' that I couldn't be more excited about. Doesn't that sum it up? I wish to be wise but I'm surround by the wild.

I leave you with these excerpts from chapter one of the Hepburn book ...

Through hard work and high standards, we can become class acts that outshine the cheap stars. We can turn in our tube tops and gum chomping for pinstripes and promotions. We can ditch the party hats and all-night benders for burgeoning careers and real friends. As we step up to the place, become more informed, and begin to influence those around us for the better.

I'm convinced that our new classy standards can raise the cultural bar...

- Jordan Christy

This should be interesting research....


Revisiting Organization.

Early this year I wrote this entry about organization.

I thought I'd come back full circle and talk about the progress in my organizational life since that entry. I now deal with my mail as it comes. This mostly means that I throw out the junk mail in the trash can outside our mailboxes at my complex. I only get one real bill in the mail and I try to put it back in the mail within 48 hours when it arrives. I use Sundays to send personal notes to my friends who graciously pen pal me on a regular basis because they know I love hand written letters.

I still admit to more than my fair share of facestalkage BUT in my defense I've been doing better about keeping it short and sweet (speed stalking?). I've also found a way to stay on top of my e-mail both at work and at home. This is huge...huge I tell you. You have no idea how much I hate e-mail. The world we live in requires e-mail it seems so I'm finally mastering a system for staying on top of it.

My creepily organized and cryptic planner remains the same. Despite having more than usual on my plate lately, I have managed to stay on top of my appointments, commitments, works schedule, bill cycles, and even map my workouts so I remember when I worked which areas. I do sometimes wonder if I lost my planner if I'd remember anything! Maybe I'm crippling my memory. Oh well, it's working. If it ain't broke...

So that leaves my last weak car. Now in the catagory I still have to give myself an epic fail. My car hasn't been washed within the last month and needs to be vacuumed something awful. It also needs to be treaded with armor all...waxed...etc. Oh and I'm even creeping up on being overdue for an oil change. Hot mess.

I did however do some serious work in my closet on Sunday. The floor was covered in the laundry, the shelves had become a catch all, my shoes were scattered all over my house in random containers, and I had had it! So, I present to you my newly organized closet...

The whole affect....aaaah.

All of my colorful sundresses - love love love them.
I admit, this is less than half of my shoes (since it's only heels and some sandals underneath) but I'm proud of putting those racks together on my own.

Even a place to stash the dirty clothes as the week progresses.

The End.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pittsburgh, PA.

Candace and I's room @ the hotel.

Me and my crazy coworkers out @ the Pittsburgh Steak Company for dinner.

Candace and I - not a bad pic after a loong day.

Coach Tomlin and his daughter Harley at our event - bad quality thanks to my blackberry.

So I spent this past weekend in Pittsburgh, PA for the first time ever (at least that I remember) - who really knows with my family. Anywho, I flew up with our Steelers event team Friday morning. Candace and I managed to get a bad case of car sickness on the way from the airport to the UMPC Sports Performance Complex. Who know that PA was mountainous and the roads full of sharp curves? Yikes. But we rallied once we arrived and got to work stuffing good bags and dropping tables.

After event prep we headed to the hotel to check in. The hotel was brand new this year and absolutely beautiful. We all loved it. Candace and I were bunked up for the weekend as roomie and we settled right in before a quick freshen up and off to dinner.

Our lone Pittsburgh coworker (who telecommutes...or whatever they call that these days) had picked a restaurant for us to try. Her favorite on the 'south side' of Pittsburgh. It had an old irish pub feel to me but their speciality is a steak salad and has french fries on top of it. Healthy, right? I didn't try the infamous salad but I did try their steak.

A few of us ladies caught a workout back at the hotel before lounging in our (gorgeous) hotel rooms. Candace and I promised ourselves about 100 times that we were going to stop talking and hit the sack, knowing our 4:30am alarm was going to come faster than we liked. We finally fell asleep around 11. It was Candace's first on the road event with All Pro Dad (she works on the Family Minute) and she made a great roommate!

4:30 did come fast. Almost as fast as the rest of that day went. Our event with the Steelers went amazingly and as my Dad promised me, I was incredibly impressed by Coach Mike Tomlin, our spokeman in that market. He participated in the event after speaking with his 4-year-old daughter, Harley. They were a precious pair to watch and I'm glad they were able to enjoy the event together.

Two hours after the event we hopped a plane back home to Tampa. I had promised a few friends I'd meet them at an event at church so I threw my bags down and headed back out. It was a great day but exhausting. Hopefully spending this weekend in town will give me a chance to catch back up.

Next up is Cincinnati, Ohio to work with the Bengals on the 19th. I'm so lucky to have the most incredible best friend who's driving from Indiana to stay in the hotel with us and work the event Saturday. I can't WAIT to see her. I've been spoiled rotten with getting to see my family and friends from out of town lately and I'm treasuring every second.


Friday, June 4, 2010

The Ugly Truth.

“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.”
- President Clinton on International Literacy Day, September 8th 1994

“Literacy arouses hopes, not only in society as a whole but also in the individual who is striving for fulfilment, happiness and personal benefit by learning how to read and write. Literacy... means far more than learning how to read and write... The aim is to transmit... knowledge and promote social participation.”
- UNESCO Institute for Education, Hamburg, Germany

Ok, take a walk on the slightly nerdy side with me as I explore something that’s near and dear to my heart. Literacy. Living in the ‘land of opportunity’ does not, unfortunately, mean that our country is functionally literate. Now, some of you may think, who cares? Honestly, I do. In 2003 in the state of Florida 20 percent of sampled adults were found to be lacking basic literacy skills. That’s just basic…meaning that 20% of my home state does not meet the basic literary requirements considered necessary to function in society. A fifth of my state?!? This breaks my heart.

Want to know about your state and/or county? Check it out here.

Being homeschooled myself, I didn't really witness the literacy (or lack thereof) of the average young American until I started college (at 16). My first semester I took an English course that required a mixture of basic literature reading and analysis skills as well as the ability to write a 3-5 page paper. Cake, right? False.

After being paired with a partner to exchange papers and 'peer review' each others writings I was somewhat terrified by the results. My partner didn't correct one thing on my paper (which was far from perfect), handing it back and saying, 'Wow where'd you learn to write like that?'. I managed to mark up her entire paper with run on sentences, mispellings, elementary-level vocabulary, etc. I felt terrible after for marking so many flaws in her writing when I knew I was by far the youngest in my class and had a long way to come as a writer but honestly, a 6th grader could have written that paper.

After I left downtown Indianapolis's IUPUI to further my education at Purdue University (when I was 18), I found that college was an interesting mix of people. Including those I couldn't in my wildest dreams determine the reasoning behind their acceptance into higher education and people who were far smarter than I and probably could have taught my profs a thing or two. How could there be such vast differences in the educations of students raised primarily in the same several states? Is it lack of education or lack of motivation that should be credited for the flaws in my fellow classmates educations? As for those who wowed me with their expertise, how did they get so far ahead? Being a social worker by nature and trade I'm always interested in people, so I learned as much from my observations in college as I did from any of my textbooks.

Later, after graduating from Purdue and taking a job that involved teaching in high school health classes (here in Hillsborough County) I was shocked to experience first hand (for the first time) the local public school system. In one class (I will leave the high school's name off out of respect) I was informed that they were to turn in their big assignment on my 3rd day of teaching. I inquired about said assignment to find out it was a binder they were to keep the notes they were given in, and turn in at the end of the year. Best assignment ever if I were still a 16-17 year old...they didn't even have to take the notes themselves! This was to be 75% of their final grade (the rest was determined by attendance and such). On the day this was due I watched as 4 students handed in the binder.

I was confused. I asked the teacher again if I had the correct day and she sadly said yes, that most of the students would return to repeat health the following year for not turning in their binders. Some of her students had actually been in the course previously and would return for a 3rd time before they would be allowed to graduate. Are you kidding me? All you have to do is turn in a binder of notes you were GIVEN and you don't bother to turn it in? How could you possibly let that keep you from graduating high school?

As my friend Joy and I decided in December that we would make a pact to read 50 books in 2010 I was relieved to have a challenge and motivation to continue reading regularly (more than just e-mail and text messages, that is). So few people my age do much reading after their education ends. I love finding other readers. In joining a book club I found out I actually read quite a bit less than many 20-30 year olds....or at least 5. I have a hard time imaging life without the ability to read and write. I'm left wondering this week how I can help lower illiteracy in my area. I consider this to be a horrific social injustice that in a country where I feel somedays like what I pay in taxes alone should send few of the kids in my county to a good public school. With such a large problem, where do you start to find the solution?

Ideas are welcome.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oswald is the Man.

My Dad got me to love Oswald Chambers. What an incredible wise man he was. So from my current small group study I offer you these wise words from Oswald (who my Dad says is 'the man').

All God's revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience...Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up...God will never reveal more truth to about himself until you have obeyed hat you know already.

Taken from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.
A special thanks to Island Gal whose blog I've come to love and adore as of late for the following award....

I'm going to start by passing if off to my favorite former intern Daniel Mogg at The Mogg Blog who just got back from Cannes and meeting a bunch of famous people. You are fabulous.

Also, to Tara at That's Why Her Hair is So Big for starting Target trends...get it girl.

And Nicole because I really like her and reading both her blogs is tre trendy (I say so).

Pass it on loves.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tricks of the Traveling Trade.

Photo Credit.

Airports. Let’s chat about them. I know many of my readers (whose blogs I also read) either travel frequently for work or are headed places this summer for vacation (hopefully both). I’m wondering if you all find airports as interesting as I do. I never have a dull travel experience and I fly a lot! In fact, my flight schedule for the next few months involves…

Pittsburgh, PA
Cinci, OH
Myrtle Beach, SC
Isle of Palms, SCIndianapolis, IN in Sept, Oct, Nov (x2), & Dec
Raleigh, NC
And a few more I can’t publicize just yet.

First off, let’s talk about the people you meet when you travel. A few years back on a flight to Hawaii I slept on the shoulder of a man with no teeth. Crap, now you know how to get me if I ever play ‘Never have I ever’ with you in the future! Gr. Confessions….Nice guy though. When you’re exhausted and dirty from traveling for 12 hours, you aren’t picky about your travel friends. Or at least, I wasn’t.

On a flight to my sister’s wedding (2 flights, actually) I met a guy who happened to be on both my flights, in the seat next to me and was from my school. Fate? Perhaps. Regardless, we’ve been friends for 3 years now since our airport meeting and we check in from time to time to see what the other is up too. He’s working on his PhD (still at Purdue) and I’m in Florida working, obviously. He’s one of the only travel buddies I’ve ever been daring enough to share my personal info with…we started as only facebook friends.

Flying home (to Indy, I mean) I was offered a job with Verizon once! That was interesting. I met two men who headed up sales areas in the Midwest and after gabbing with them for an hour or so they took a liking to me and gave me their cards, saying if I ever wanted to move home and work for them – they would have a place for me. Presh. I’m happily employed and settled here in Florida but the gesture warmed my heart and it’s always encouraging to make a good first impression (hard to do while looking a hot mess en route home).

Let me share with you a few words of wisdom about travel (feel free to comment some additions, my traveling friends)…

- Never take a layover to save 50 bucks. In my experience your time is worth a lot more than your money when it comes to traveling. If it’s the difference between 200 and 250 bucks but you have to stop in Detroit on the way, don’t do it. Fork over the money and fly direct. You will thank me.
- Unless Atlanta is your ‘final destination’, avoid it like the plague. I have honestly NEVER had a good experience with a layover in Atlanta and en route to the Super Bowl this year my sister actually had to sleep in the ATL airport, without her bag, which they’d lost by then. Yeah, ugly stuff.
- Don’t wear complicated shoes. You’ll be in a full sweat by the time you get through security and the people behind you (who will inevitably be on your flight and close enough to glare at you) will hate you by the time you successfully get them on, on the flip-side. I recommend shoes that slip on and off… flip flops, ballet flats, sperrys, uggs, etc. (I don’t know enough about men shoes to have lots of creative ideas for them, so sorry). Please avoid crocs….please.
- Dress for the summer, plan for the arctic! It never fails if I dress for the plane to be 60 degrees, it’s 90. If I plan for it to be 90 degrees, it’s 60. I’ve learned to layer so that regardless I’m not dealing with chattering teeth or sweaty pits.
- It’s over your head. If you’re going to carry on, practice lifting your bag above your head before you leave your house. I always pick my carry on up and make sure that I will be able to lift it (even if slightly awkwardly) over my head and into the bin. If you don’t, chances are you will either crush your soon-to-be plane neighbor OR you will have to ask for help and lets me honest, people are cranky on planes! I like to be prepared…if it’s wicked heavy, take a pair of jeans out. A southwest employee taught me that.
- Establish Boundaries/Learn to Ignore. If you want get anything done while flying I highly recommend setting the expectations early on. If I plan to read or sleep, I sit down, put my ipod on and proceed to ignore the people sitting next to me (assuming I don’t know them, of course). If you start chatting at the beginning you’ll get stuck chatting until you touch down. Sometimes, I don’t mind this (in the case of attractive, single men for instance) but for the most part I prefer to be left alone with my Kindle.

If I sat here long enough I could probably tell you 100 more stories and tips but I’ll spare you. You now have the force, Luke (Star Wars reference, don’t judge). Use it well.