Monday, January 31, 2011

A Few Random Thoughts.


When LC was still on the show, I was really into The Hills on MTV. Well now I can feel a little more like her because Tampa is getting our first ever Pinkberry - the fro yo place Lauren and Lo loved on the show and would eat for meals. Jess & I will have to analyse this as we have become fro yo connoisseurs and we've tried literally every fro yo joint in the greater Tampa area. So far, our hearts belong to Yogurtology in South Tampa but we're open to new loves if this Pinkberry turns out to be as great as LC seemed to think.

I also took the advice of a friend I don't believe is a blog reader who told me after I fell in love with Joe's Jeans and told you all about them that I should just check out Paige Premium Denim. Well it was my lucky day - on lunch I found a pair in my size at our new Nordstrom Rack in S. Tampa for ...drum roll please...31 dollars. Marked down from 80, rack price. They denim is super comfy. I will have to have them hemmed so I plan to pop by the tailor tomorrow and get that done since, sadly, I won't be seeing my Mom soon enough for her to hem them for me. Wah.
Over the weekend I did book a flight for 4th of July to spend it in Scottsburg, Indiana with my bff and crew. I'm pretty stoked for that. You may remember from my entry about my last trip that I promised myself I'd be more purposeful in spending time with her and the ones she loves on her turf, not just mine. So while I'm stoked to soak up the Florida sun with her here in Feb, I'm equally pumped to do whatever it is they do to celebrate our independence with her fam and friends.

Bottom line, I'm excited about my life lately. Things are ticking along nicely and I feel like I'm getting some clarity on a few things I have yet to nail down. Life is good. I had 2 things that really needed to fall into place to free me up to do what I wanted in 2011 and over the last 2 weeks they've both happened. I'm pleased to annouce that in April I will have a new roommate. A dear friend of mine who's ready to for a fresh start in the sunshine state, much like I was a few years ago. I'm not sure if she's told everyone yet so I'll keep her name hush hush for now - but I look forward to welcoming her as a batch in my 'batch pad' in the near future.

In addition to my work travels you can look forward to hearing about a Nashville, TN trip in 2011 as well as a Jacksonville trip - 2 destinations I plan to visit in order to see the Colts play as much as possible this year. Plans are in the works to make both of those trips happen this year and I couldn't be anymore excited for that.

Here's to 2011 being the best year yet because it's off to a rockin start.

Love,
B

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mental Health Day.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by my life lately. I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend spending time with someone special to me this week but sadly, that’s had to be postponed. So in a different sort of way I hope this weekend will be a bit of a mental health weekend for me. I have much to get done and places to be but I’m still hoping to find some time to pound out a few frustrations at the gym, read by the pool, and wrap my head around some new developments in my life.

I look forward to the fast providing my some clarity as I continue to try to streamline my life. I feel a little bogged down in some white noise of distractions lately and I need to cut that away so I can really focus on what matters. I never want to be too busy ‘doing’ to remember the point of what I do. I’m fighting that a bit lately. I don’t want my life to be to do lists full of check marks but some weeks that’s how I get the job done.

Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you have nothing to give the people who are trying to take the most from you? That sounds odd but the truth is with my closest friends it never really feels like work, our friendships are rather seamless and comfortable. It’s kind of the next ring of friendships that can feel draining at times. You pour into your closest friends and sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough left. Am I the only one who gets that feeling?

That’s when I know it’s time for a mental health day. I’m giving myself that today.

Love,
B

Friday, January 28, 2011

Using Your Gifts.

Are you using your gifts? This was a question that was recently posed to our church congregation on a Sunday morning but I think can go beyond those of faith. We all have gifts and talents and we are most fulfilled in life when we're able to use them, don't you think?

I have strange talents. I'm not particularly coordinated but I happen to be excellent at organizing things. I'm not sure if this came naturally or if it's the product of my OCD combining with my current career in administration/events that has built me into the organizational maniac I have become.

Well the rubber meets the road this week, kids, because I'm entering into a new volunteer role at least for the next 3 months (at which point I will reanalyze). I'm going to assist with the church softball league in helping them with schedules, rosters, data entry, photography (another gifting of mine), and in general just getting them organized and put together with the man in charge of the league.

Random, I know, for a girl who doesn't know much about any sport other than football - but time to branch out.

If you haven't thought about what you're great at lately and put it to good use, there's no time like the present. Get in there and use your gifts. If you need help thinking of creative ways to do that, well I might just be able to help. Shoot me an e-mail @ thequeenbc@gmail.com and I'll make some suggestions and talk it through with you.

Love,
B

Thursday, January 27, 2011

5 Days Out.

In the days leading up to the beginning of my February goal – the fast, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit nervous. I think once I get started I’ll be fine, I just worry that I won’t have any energy, going caffeine free will give me migraines, or that the fast itself may send my stomach for another loop. I think it’s the normal, major life change jitters. I’m venturing pretty far out of my comfort zone by giving up meat, dairy, sweets ,and caffeine all at once! I’m glad I have two of my closest friends to do it with me, I think I’m going to need people to vent too and to hold me accountable.

On a positive note, I’m hoping a bonus to this spiritual fasting journey will be that my weight loss gets a kick in the pants. Everyone I know who’s done this fast in the past (and several of them recently) has lost a pretty substantial amount of weight. Even my friends who didn’t need to lose any lost 5 or so over the course of the 21 days. So I’m hoping since I still have a little ways to go to my goal this will get me 10-15 pounds closer. : ] Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

I’m feeling encouraged that Aubs was able to keep working out during her Daniel fast which ended yesterday. In addition to dropping pounds I’ve really been trying to focus on toning through weight training and certain types of cardio. I want to try’n keep up with my workouts while I’m on the fast though I think I may have to reduce my usual 2 hours a day working a smidge since I’ll be on a low protein, low complex carb fast. I don’t want to get injured by wearing out under-nourished muscles.

I’m working now on weaning myself off the caffeine and enjoying a bit of a yogurt bender in prep for going without it for 21 days. Maybe by the end of this fast I won’t crave chocolate every day around 3:00 AND I may just kick this caffeine addiction for good and be able to have it only as a treat after the fast. My skin would really thank me, huh?

Well pray me up my little prayer warriors because the countdown til fast time is only 5 days. Ack.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do it.

Ok I have to share this shoulder workout I'm currently obsessed with. I ripped it out of Glamour magazine about a month ago and I've been thrilled with the results I've seen since I started this a few days a week. If you're diligent in doing just what it says with 5 or 8 pound dumbells you'll really reap the benefits. And so, I introduce to you...

The Sexy Shoulder Workout.

Thank me later with giftcards and compliments.

Love,
B

The Good Kind of Pushy.

In pondering good friendships I was thinking about pushy friends but when I say pushy that sounds negative. I mean pushy in a good way. Good friendships inspire you and good friends push you towards the right things. Kind of like positive peer pressure (another ecky term like pushy) only better.

Last year as you all know, I read 50 books. This year I pushed a few of my friends to make similar goals and expanding their literary horizons. Having fabulous, motivated friends like I do, they jumped at the challenge and I'm not enjoying countless texts, e-mails, facebooks, etc from them as they get excited about their reading successes. I'm happy to see them diving into great books and even reading some of the books I've recommended, giving us new material for our conversations.

I like numbers. I like the safety in never having to be the only one doing something. If I have friends to do it with, it lightens the load. So I asked a few of my friends to join me on my Daniel Fast next month (February 1st) and they somewhat pleasantly jumped on that train with me as well. Were all a little terrified of the idea of having no caffeine for 21 days and what they might do to our friendships! ; ] It's nice though to have friends who let me push them into a few things from time to time.

Thanks to a great group of readers, I'm taking their pushes and prompts seriously and meeting goals every month this year (or trying). I've found some true friends through my blogging relationships. People who have invested in me and have let me invest my time and energy into them as well. It's really been a huge blessing for all of us, I hope.

I've been thinking about ways to push my small group girls as I lead them through another study. I'm excited that my push to get more involved and give of their time and talents has really been well received. A few of us are headed to volunteer night at church tonight to continue to catch the vision of our church and to continue to use our gifts to really help grow the church. It takes a village, right?

It's been neat how using this blog to talk about my reading, my health journey, and some of the other challenges I've given myself over the last 13 months has inspired people to push themselves, without my getting involved! I'm always encouraged when I receive a message from a reader saying 'I'm taking you reading challenge' or 'I love your latest post and I've been to the gym the last 5 days'. Several of my readers have start their own weight loss journey and we're able to give each other tips and tricks along the way. Truth is, there's no real trick - it's just about hard work and dedication day in and day out.

One other challenge I've given myself this year is to be even more diligent in my letter writing. I find that I'm ecstatic when I receive snail mail from a friend with encouraging words and an update on their life, even if I talk to them regularly via the phone. So last year I sent 50ish cards. This year, I plan to double that. I want to be committed and faithful this year. I've sent 7 cards in the last 2 weeks and I'm plugging away on who will be next.

It's been encouraging to get responses from the people that I write. I got several sweet texts over the last week about my card making a friends day. Also, a few of my friends are catching the snail mail fever now and returning the favor. I'm loving seeing them embrace writing hand written cards as well.

My challenge this week is think about how you can help, guide, or yes, even push the people you care about to make better, wiser, and more growth-inspiring life choices. Examine your current friendships and really ask yourself the tough questions, are you spending your time with the right people? Do your friends really bring out the best in you or is it time to look at surround yourself with a new crowd? Friendships are tough. They're hard work and they can build you up or tear you down in an instant. Choose the people you invest in wisely and don't shy away from reevaluating where you're at in your relationships from time to time.

Love,
B

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

East-West Shrine Game 2011.

Saturday I drove up to Orlando bright an early with a quick stop at Orlando's coolest McDonald's for a diet coke...

I texted that picture to Ellen and Candy Saturday morning to let them know Orlando McD's are nothing like Scott County - although I have to say the Scott County McD is hoppin on Saturday mornings and this one was falling behind despite it's size.

I headed to the home of the Citrus Bowl to work a pregame tailgate at the East-West Shrine game. For all my non-football fans this is bascially the college version of the Pro Bowl. The best college players from all the various teams come together and combine on two teams (the east and west) and play each other.

Shriners Hospitals for Children are teamed up with All Pro Dad and so my coworkers Jim & Brenda as well as myself went to work an All Pro Dad table at the tailgate. It was a smidge chilly (50 degrees) and we were bundled up in our multi-layers and winter coats but a good time was had by all.

The highlight of the day though, has to be Gus the camel, who belongs to the Orlando Shrine...

The Shriners who were present with Gus made sure I got plenty of Gus kisses throughout the day and they took enough pictures of me to fill an album. Let's hope I don't end up on the Shrine website kissing the camel. : ] But really, Gus was a sweetie and I learned quite a lot about camels in my time there.

I proudly sported my 'I've been kissed by Gus' sticker for the rest of the day.

What a way to spend a Saturday - kissin camels.

Love,
B

Monday, January 24, 2011

Steal.

So I just had to share that I got an amazing dress I love on clearance at Nordstrom Rack (they just put one in, in South Tampa recently) marked down to $27 dollars (from over 200).


I'm a firm believer than when you find a great dress, you buy it. I figure that way you're never scrambling for something to wear at the last minute when you get invited somewhere fabulous. If it doesn't fit just right don't be afraid to have it altered, if you got a great deal and you can get it fitting perfectly, it's worth it. Lucky for me, my Mom does all my alterations for free.



Other great dressed I got for under 50 bucks...

This Jessica Simpson dress I found at Marshall's in September and ended up wearing for New Years Eve - $39.

$20 at American Eagle - it's Navy (bad pic - sorry). Haven't worn it out yet.


Also American Eagle - 20 dollars over Christmas. Wore it to see Wicked.

One of my blog friends is always posting awesome outfits and she inspired me to share with you all some of my great recent finds.

Love,

B

Lessons Learned the Hard Way.

If I haven't shared this already, I received a speeding ticket back in early December. I was driving 38 in what I thought was a 35, returning from my lunch break on a non-residential, non-school zone road only to be pulled over. I was so baffled I thought that he was just trying to get around me so I pulled to the side of the road - to which he honked and pointed to a parking lot. Still a little disoriented I pulled into the back of a Publix (grocery store) and rolled down my window.

Turns out that 35 mph road is actually a 25 mph road though I can't imagine why. In my mind the cop could have extended a little grace for a honest mistake but instead he wrote me a $191 ticket. Ouch. On top of that my insurance had just finally hit affordable when I turned 25 this year so I determined it would be worth traffic school to keep the points off my license and my insurance in the double instead of triple digits (oh Florida, you're so expensive).

After running a 5k on the 15th, I sat down with my laptop, paid my 15 bucks and started into the longest 4 hours of my life: online traffic school. The worst part was for the amount of material I had to cover I could have done it in about an hour but sadly, no, there are time constraints on how fast you can move so I spend probably 3 hours waiting on timers to tick down so I could move forward.

It got me thinking about how we have to learn hard lessons. We've all been told a few times about the unfairness of life but knowing life isn't fair doesn't take the sting away when the unfairness of life smacks us square across the face. I haven't ever shared this story before but now seems like a fitting time...

Sometimes in the course of doing the right thing, we are punished. Somewhere in the back of my mind I probably knew this growing up but it never hit me quite so hard as my senior year at Purdue. I could give you the whole long story but I'll spare you and make it reader's digest style. I had a teacher who had some pretty poor classroom ethics. He talked down to his students regularly, called them out in front of the class, even used words like 'stupid'. People like this, in my mind, shouldn't be teachers.

One day he was on a particularly harsh rant at a poor girl who was caught off guard by one of his question attacks. Her answer didn't meet his standards and he was really letting her have it in front of the class. Never one to sit back and witness an injustice, I of course, stood up to him. I will let people say a million mean things to my face but I can never resist defending someone who doesn't have the confidence to defend themselves.

I tried to remain as respectful as possible while still putting a quick halt on his verbal lashing before the poor girl cried in class...

Most of you are probably on my side here. You're probably thinking I did the nobel thing, right?Well, said nobel thing cost me my grade in that class and I spent the summer after what should have been my graduation, taking an online class to replace my poor grade. Cost me over 800 dollars to make up that class not to mention my first summer in the working world also involved an online class.

I was reliving that with my family over Christmas this year and I really combed through my mind and asked myself, if I knew it'd turn out this way, would I still do it? I essentially paid a high price for someone else's 'problem'. I've got to be honest with you, I'm really not that nice of a person. I'd describe myself as honest over nice any day. But I believe with all my heart that everyone should be encouraged within their learning environment and that teachers should desire to see their students succeed. I know that even if I'd seen clearly the outcome of that decision, I'd still have done what I did.

Unfortunately, nothing was ever done to right the wrongs. I was met with little surprise over my issue with that particular professor but I was still brushed off. I moved on with my life here in Florida and I righted my wrong grade with my own hard work. I think about that incident from time-to-time though and remind myself that sometimes doing the right thing will cost you dearly, but at the end of the day those defining moments make you who you are and I continue to strive to be the kind of person I can be proud of. Perhaps grace really is courage under pressure.

Love,
B

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Home.

'The world tried to break me, I found a road to take me, home. Ain't nothing but a blue sky now'. - Home, Gwyneth Paltrow

I wrote a lot in 2010 about tough times, trials, and the seasons of life we think will never end. For last year, they were mostly on my mind because of people in my life that I care deeply about who were struggling. 2010, aside from my stomach issues, was a great year for me. It had a few ups and downs but mostly it was a year I wouldn't mind doing again and again.

When I think about the two and a half years I've been back in Tampa its with thanksgiving. These have certainly been the best years of my life. For this time in life I can't imagine anywhere I'd rather be or any place I could be happier. When I was away, in Indiana, I longed to be back here in the sunshine and with the people and the church that feel the most like home.

When I watch as people's faces light up when they talk about college I get a pang of regret. For many of friends college was an incredible time in their lives they look back on with fond memories and big grins. They love their schools and they take pride in being an alumni. There's a part of me that wishes I felt that way too. During these types of conversations I always feel a bit like and outsider, looking in.

For me, college was a means to an end. If I became rich and famous, I wouldn't give any back to Purdue. The way I see it, I gave them plenty of money and 4 years of my life I can't have back, that's payment enough. My 4 years there were my least favorite years of my life and if I could have graduated the day I got there, I would have done it. I hated college. My only motivation to stay and finish school was so that I could get a job and get out of the midwest forever. That's the honest truth.

I know that sounds completely out of character for me. It is, really. I'm usually someone who can have a good time anywhere. I love life and I'm passionate about every day of it. But when I was there, that love for life I have now was sucked out of me. I didn't feel like myself and excitement was far from how I felt about my life. I think that's why I shutter a bit when I look back, I never remember another time in my life where I felt that hopeless.

Now, years later, I'm grateful that my time there enabled me to do just what I wanted. I graduated college with a job offer and I moved to Tampa less than 24 hours later. I left behind the hardest season in my life to date and by far the most depressing and when I say left it behind I really mean it. I left and I never gave it so much as a backwards glance. I've never returned to the Purdue campus since.

If your thinking to yourself how sad that is, don't worry - it gets better. As with a great many things, when you look back on them later you see the good that came of them. I'm thankful for friendships I made in college that I still have today, and even the ones that didn't last but taught me something along the way. I'm thankful that my education has carried me to where I want to be, career wise, and given me a leg up in life. I'm thankful for the hard, dark, depressing times I had there because they make this season in life seem that much brighter. I'm thankful that my lack of love for college motivated me to get what I needed out of the experience.

So you probably won't catch me at the homecoming game, sporting my alumni gear and cheering on the boilermakers. But that doesn't mean that I don't look back on that season in life and see that it was one more time that brought me to where I am today and more importantly, to who I am today. For everything there is a season.

There's at least a part of me that believes I'll be called somewhere other than Tampa again someday, for a season or forever I'm not sure. When I think about that I don't feel fear the way I use too. For years I thought Tampa was the only place I could ever be happy. Now I realize that happiness is more of a lifestyle choice than a location. I admit that I hope my path never takes me back to the midwest for more than a week or two, but I believe with all my heart that I have changed enough that I could handle it better this time around.

What I am more certain than ever is that Tampa will always be the place I call home. It will always be the place I come back too. It will always be on some level, where I belong. After 25 years of being an itinerant, it feels good to finally have a place to call home.

I leave you with the imortal words of Puff Daddy....

'I'm back where I belong, I've never felt so strong' - P. Diddy

Love,
B

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rejoicing in January.

I hope you all feel as good about the start of 2011 as I do. I don't usually catch 'new years fever' but I find myself more motivated than usual lately. Motivation is a tricky little number because you need it to accomplish goals, but accomplishing goals gives you motivation, you know? It's a rather vicious cycle.

Making monthly goals was a great way to start this year off on the right foot. Choosing a race 2 weeks after the holidays was an even better way to make myself workout over my 12 day vacation in Indiana. I worked out every day except the 2 I was down south with Candy. So if you're already thinking about goals for next year, stick a fitness related one in January and it'll help you fight off the festive fifteen pounds people like to gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now that I succeeded in a jogging my first 5k (ordered two action photos Thursday morning), I'm focused on my next goal. February's goal is to complete a 21 day Daniel fast. Some of you may be familiar with the Daniel fast - which basically eliminated meat, dairy, and sweets from your diet...oh and no caffeine. Ack! What you may be less familiar with is the point of fasting. There's research and biblical backing up for several reasons but in my mind, you fast to make a sacrifice physically and in your time to draw near to the Lord and pursue his strength and guildance.

I wish I could share the main things I will be pursuing direction on throughout my upcoming fast but unfortunately, it's not appropriate to talk about them just yet. However, I'll take all the prayers I can get that I don't keel over from lack of protein and that I really discern the Lord's voice in all that I will be processing through.

I've only ever fasted once before. It was when my family had first found out they would be moving to Indianapolis and I felt all the emotions I'm sure you can imagine come with moving smack in the middle of high school. Everythings emotional and overwelming when you're 16, right? I knew the Lord was moving us, that was evident in everything that surrounded our move, but I needed to seek the Lord's strength as I worked through my own attitude about it.

That fast was a 3 day, liquid only fast. It was BRUTAL. Before I lost all the weight last year, I had low blood sugar issues that gave me migraines so bad I'd lose my vision and occasionally throw up. Not fun. But the Lord brought me through that fast with a renewed spirit and I'm confident this fast will also have great spiritual benefit.

I look forward to having both Bekah and Jess going through this with me. There's always safety and security in numbers, right?

I feel excited that February's goal will lead well into March's goal to be Gluten-free for one month. Hopefully you've read my research and thoughts about that already and I won't repeat that to you now. But since the Daniel fast will keep me almost gluten-free for 21 days, the transition should go easier.

I'll be closing out my 4th weight loss competition in February and so far, it's looking like my team will be bringing home the gold. I've previously competed in and won 3 competitions. I'm grateful for the motivation which is fed by my competitive nature but I also look forward to being done with weight loss competitions after this. For everything there is a season, and it's time to finish this one strong.

I've been diligent with my workouts so far this year spending 1 hour a day dedicated to cardio and 30-50 minutes per day on strength training. I've enjoyed watching my body toughen up and I'm excited with the results adding weight training has helped me see. I got tons of great new workout videos and clothes for Christmas and they've kept it fresh for me in 2011.

I hope this year is off to a great start for each of you. Keep me posted on how you're doing with your goals, for those of you who have already shared them with me and of course for those who havent' yet.

Love,
B

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wicked.


While I was home for the holidays my friend Jon invited me to see Wicked on broadway at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis. My family was not overly enthusiastic about the arts growing up but in recent years I've found I really enjoy broadway. Two years ago we saw 'The Lion King' over Christmas and loved it. Wicked may have been the best show I've seen yet (though admittedly, I've only seen 5).

If you ever get the chance to see this show - GO! I told my Dad he better immediately buy himself and my Mom a pair of tix. It was that worthwhile.

The singing was amazing. Knowing nothing about the show prior to going, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the storyline. Incredible well put together and cast. I gave it 5 stars.


Love,

B

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Couldn't Live Without My...

Style Watch Magazine has this great section called 'I'm really love my...' and it shows celebs who wear and rewear the same article of clothing (rare). We've all got a few of those right? The key pieces we just couldn't live without. Ok so we could live without em, we just wouldn't want too. Here's a few of mine:


Joes Jeans. I shared in a recent blog post that I bought my first pair of Joes after hearing friends rant and rave about them for years. They are the best fitting jeans I've ever owned and I could sleep in them they're so comfy. While in Indianapolis, Candy notice them and said she might be the next person to buy into the trend. They fit that good.


Photo cred.






Nude patent leather heels. I have a great pair I bought at DSW a few years back before nude was really popular, after reading an article in a fashion magazine that said they were a great closet staple because they go with outfits no other shoe could. If I knew who wrote that article I'd go back and send them flowers and candy, I'm that pleased with mine. Great with LBDs or skinny jeans and a floral top. You can do so much with nude heels.





Photo cred: ebay.






My favorite Abro handbag. I LOVE this bag.









Under Armour sports bras. These will change your workout life - FYI.





Coach overnight bag. A purchase from my days working seasonally as a sale associate there. Couldn't live without it, I carry it on every flight (and I fly A LOT). I've had it...5 years? now and it's still going strong.









While we're on the great things that came out of my Coach days (other than my very best friend)...I couldn't live without my Coach planner. My parents both use Franklin Covey and they're obsessed but for me, Coach keeps it classic, simple, and organized. I love it. I'm hoping to get a new one this year (after 5 years mines starting to look a smidge worn). Pricey up front but the inserts are usually $20 a year.


Ugg boots. I know this sounds silly coming from a Florida give but I LIVE in my Uggs when I'm up north for business or pleasure. I get so cold in Indiana over the holidays I actually sleep in them on occasion (feet in the bed, gross, I know).




I'm sure there's a few more that belong on this list but this is all I could think of at the moment. : ] Or at least, the main ones. I hope to do a I couldn't live without list for beauty products someday too.

Love,

B

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Fairwell to a Great Football Season.


As you may have noticed from yesterday's post, I'm finally getting around to catching up on some big life happenings from over the crazy holidays. Life's been moving fast for me since November and it's been a bit of a challenge to keep it all documented at the rate it happens, so bare with me as I return to some 'old news' and fill you in on the craziness of the last three months here and there.

My younger sister and I were able to stay to through the New Year and catch the last regular season Colt's game. I was pleased to finish out the season having been able to see a handful of the games, despite being 17 hours away in sunshiney Florida.

For the first time since we came to be Colts I was on the sidelines for pregame which was a fun new experience. I've seen my fair share of warm ups but being down at field level had a whole new level of excitement. I loved it.

Ruth & I decked out in our blue and cheered hard as we beat the Tennessee Titans to clinch our division and the AFC South title.

Looks like Dad's still got it...


Met up with one of my Indy bff's - Adam while we were both at the game. We use to hangout more but he's too busy for me now. ; ]


Mom & I outside the stadium before the game - freezing.


All three of the Christensen (now Christensen-Breslin) girls were able to return the following week to see our Colts take on the Jet's in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately we did not come out victorious that time around. We lost and the playoffs are now over for us. But the 2010-11 season was a great one for our team, our family, and our fellow fans. Looking forward to another great season in 2011-12 - and I'm already working on which away games I plan to be at.

For the record, I'm now throwing all my support behind the Chicago Bears to win it all. Team Lovie. : ]

Love,

B

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She's Gone Country...

One of the things my best friend, Candy, does exceptionally well is be part of my life. That sounds weird, since you imagine that best friends would naturally do that. If you consider what you know about my life though, you can probably see how this would be harder if your best friend was, well...me.

Candy and I live 17 hours away. Which means we, sadly, don't get to be there for some of the small but significant day-to-day happenings of each others lives. I say sadly because honestly, those small moments are wicked important in the grand scheme of life and I'd love nothing more to be a part of every last one of them. That being said, let's get back on track...

Candy is an exceptionally good best friend and she does a great job of knowing every detail of what's happening in my life, which you all KNOW is a lot! She also makes sacrifices to BE there. She comes to Florida to see me, meets my friends, stays at my place, falls in love with my beaches, etc. She drives the distance from Scottsburg to Indy every single time I'm home. Last year she volunteered at 2 of my Indy events AND my Cincinnati Bengals event. She's taken the time to get to know my family members and spend time with them. She is so thoughtful I continue to be blown away by it.

On the flip side of that, I'm a pretty crappy best friend when it comes to this area. I'm a bit of a steamroller and I'm always on the go. It's not like I forget birthdays or don't return phone calls or anything really pathetic like that, but in the past I haven't always been as loyal to just be a part of her life as she has mine. As I examined myself over this past year I realized this really bothered me. When I notice that someone is doing something better than I am, I want to learn from them. I've learned a great many things from Candy but how to be a best friend tops the list by a landslide. I'm not JUST saying this because she's mine, she really is a first-class best friend.

I've always been someone who knows a lot of people but doesn't allow them to get close to her. It wasn't really until I graduated college that I realized the value of investing most of your relationship effort in a few close friends instead of a little bit of effort on tons and tons of shallow relationships. This sounds like it should be obvious, right? But you know me, honing in on things isn't always my strong suit.

Not one to get too caught up in thinking to take action, I decided there was no time like the present to change my less-than-stellar-friend-performance and get on my a-game. With my then upcoming Indiana trip I proposed a change in our normal routine of Candy (and Josh) coming to Indy to see me and I decided it was time to go see them. After all, they live in the town where they both grew up and there's tons of Candy's history in that town which makes me automatically love it because it gave me the best friend I've ever had. On top of that (and a huge bonus, mind you) their whole families live there and they both have great ones.

Since there were about a million of us staying in my house and only 2 cars, I did have to enlist help getting down there and Josh graciously chauffeured be back and forth. I want to pause to note here that if your best friend gets married - I hope for each of your sakes that you love the person they marry. This is a huge blessing that I think Josh is terrific and we get along famously. Lord knows, there are few people I'd trust my bff too.








This trip to Scottsburg, Indiana meant the world to me. I imagine that the recounting of this trip I will do here will come no where close to scratching the surface of just how grateful I am for every minute of it. I'm sorry that my utter lack of skill and ability to paint pictures with words will mean that this blog can't tell you all that I want to say...

First off, you can take the girl out of the city and she may just realize, she likes the country! We packed as much of the Scottsburg experience into those 2 days as we could and I loved every stinkin second. And by stinkin I mean, I went to a cow pasture (in my dress clothes) and it really did stink.









Every day is an adventure as far as I'm concerned and I love a new experience more than the next person. Scottsburg is nothing like Tampa but it has this amazing, small town charm that draws me in. Nowhere in Tampa can you get a fountain diet cherry coke from a real soda fountain in a drug store. Seriously, life-changing.






We took a great tour of Scott County and I loved it...












On the way back I half-jokingly said, 'before I leave tomorrow I want to ride a horse, then this trip will be complete'. Well we didn't have time to ride a horse but thanks to Tyler, I did get to ride a four-wheeler, in the dark. I try not to be a total weeney about things but I have to say I was just a tad bit scared - but thankfully I trusted Tyler not to get me killed. When I showed my Dad the video of me riding he said 'why were you driving so slow'? Apparently I drive a four-wheeler like a little old lady. Awesome.



The country looks good on me, don't ya think?



I have to say, I didn't know people rode four-wheelers on roads. But apparently in Scottsburg, Indiana - you can (or at least, we did). So we rode around and even popped by the junkyard poker game to say hi to Chad. Next time, I'm playing and I will take their money.

We also went down to the courthouse to see Josh's cousin be robed as the new judge! I apparently now travel to Scottsburg for big events of Candy and Josh's families. Weddings and robings that is. It was neat to see Marsha's robing though and it's amazing how big their family really is. Their family dwarfs mine!

I got to see where Candy went to high school. Drink dollar diet cokes from their McDonalds (in a Styrofoam cup - you don't even have to ask for it) - when oh when will Tampa adopt those? Candy cooked me dinner in her adorable kitchen which is decked out in red Kitchen Aid like mine - felt like home. I'm even learning to bond with Ace, her cat (I'm not much of a cat woman myself).

I decided last minute I hadn't had enough Scottsburg and I stayed an extra night so that we could do Christmas with the Owens. Thanks to a quick bond during the wedding weekend, I'm lucky enough to have Ellen as a friend now too. She's such an encouragement to me and I love our text chats throughout the weeks and the sweet pictures of her boys. Cason did most of the unwrapping of the presents for all three boys. Thanks to Santa Candy it was basically like Christmas all over again - paper flying everywhere.






I know I'm becoming infamous for not being much of a kid person but Cason, Jaxon, and Griffin are an exception. : ] I adore them. It was a treat getting to tour their house and play with the boys. Thanks to El, I can now alternate between drinking out of a mug with Candy's face on it and drinking a HUGE amount of coffee out of the sweet red and green polka mug she bought me for Christmas. I'm so spoiled.

It's hard to say what it is I love most about going to Scottsburg but if I had to pin it down, I guess it's that having only been their twice - it feels like home. I love the people. And the square. And laying in Josh's recliner hanging out. Four wheeling. Family events that are bigger than most people's reunions! Candy and Josh have always felt like family but when I go back to their hometown I feel like everyones family. Like I fit right in without ever missing a beat. I love that feeling.






I hope that my Scottsburg trip was a Christmas tradition in the making. I hope though that it will be sooner than next Christmas that I can get back there. In the meantime, I'm already getting excited for Candy's next trip to Tampa in February. I like us to always have a visit on the books so that it never seems too far away.

It felt good to make a big first step towards doing a better job of fitting into Candy's life instead of her always having to fit into mine. I hope sooner or later we live close enough to each other that it's one in the same. Until then, I think we're doing a pretty great job.

Love,
B

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Goal - Complete.


Well blog friends, I am happy to report I have completed my January goal. Saturday morning I completed my first 5K (3.1 miles) in St. Pete Beach, Florida. My friend Jen and I registered about 2 months back and committed to jog the entire way together. Trust me, this was a big undertaking for me - I don't consider myself a runner, at all.

We were slow but steady but we did manage to jog the entire way. I paced Jen out of the gate when she was feeling really good, and she paced me later in the race when I really started to hit my stride. We sprinted it in to a loud chorus of cheers at the finish line and were glowing with pride at having met our goal.

Jen plans to go on to many more runs. Me, well, the jury is out. But I feel good about having completed my first month long goal for the year and my first race. Here's to starting 2011 off with a bang and to meeting many more goals before the year's out.

Love,
B

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Half Broke Horses.


I fell in love with Jeannette Walls ability to tell a story in her fascinating first novel, 'The Glass Castle' which I read and reviewed in 2010. Finding her latest book at Sam's Club over my Christmas vacation I quickly devoured the true-life novel of Walls grandmother, Lily, told from Lily's perspective and based on stories Walls heard from her grandmother and mother about Lily's childhood.

Full of spunk and ambition, Lily's life is never dull. From her small minded, snooty mother to her disabled father who relies heavily on her from the time she's 10 years old. Lily's childhood shows her incredible strength and courage. As the grows older she makes every opportunity count no matter how small. Her hardwork and determination carry her through trial after trial. She's fearless and there's nothing she won't do to get by.

I fell in love with her no-nonsense personality and willingness to get her hands dirty to get the job done. In a time when women had few rights and were held back from being independent or even hardworking, Lily blazed her own trail with gusto. She had the fire in her we all admire and she wouldn't have made it any other way.

From teaching school in close-minded mormon communities to selling illegal alcohold from under her daughter's crib to pay the mortage, Lily handles everything like she's breaking a horse. Life knocks her down more than a few times as she's fired from every job for her forward ideas and desire for the world to advance. A modern girl before her time, you'll love her ambitious ways.

A must-read for the 2011 book list for each of you. I predict many more great novels to come from Walls in the future. Her talent as a story teller will carry her far. Her interesting family (written about in both books) has given her plenty of writing material and I'm sure, stories to tell over dinner.

Love,
B

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Success in 2011.

Over the past few weeks you've probably put some time into making plans for 2011. What you want to accomplish this year, who you want to be, goals, travel plans, etc. If, like me, you don't buy into new years resolutions that people never seem to keep, that's ok but a new year is a great time to analyse what you want to do better in the coming months. I don't make resolutions, per se but I do sit down every few months and think about what's next for me.

Once you've gotten that far it's time to start putting your goals into action. How are you going to get from point a to point b in 2011. My advice? Start with taking responsibility. There is nothing more frustrating to me (and I'd venture to guess for you) than people who play the victim. Guess what? Life is hard for all of us. We all have the same amount of hours in a day and for most of us it never feels like enough. We do what's important to us. Our time and our progress in life is a reflection of our priorities.

So it's time to let go of all the excuses you made in 2010 that kept you from getting done last year what you now hope to accomplish this year. I am no exception. 2010 was a big year for me and as I shared before I really honed in on building a more disciplined lifestyle. I knew that my eating, my sleeping, my time management, my household (cleaning), etc were out of control and I knew I didn't want to live another year that way! I may have absolutely dominated 2010, which let's be honest, I did...but there's much left to be done.

I remember before I started losing the weight (in April) sitting down and trying to be honest with myself. Why had I let myself get overweight to begin with? Why had I never really tried to get it off before? Don't get me wrong, I tried every fad diet and quick weight loss plan in the book but I never really put in the work. Losing weight isn't easy. It's not drinking slim fast out of a can or skipping meals or even just working out a little more. And honestly, I had to quit feeling sorry for myself for being the one who 'got the bad genes' and realize that the only person limiting my success, was me! You have to change your habits to have long-term success. And again, you have to stop making excuses. I finally took ownership for being the one who got myself into that mess and I got myself back out!

You have time to exercise. You have 24 hours in every day. Set aside 1 of those 24 hours and stick with it. With my crazy lifestyle that sometimes means 5am and sometimes means 10pm. But you know what? I make it a date and I show up.

I read 50 books last year. Between 2 workouts a day, leading bible study, book club, daily devotionals, keeping up a house, traveling 16 times, being a good friend, etc - I still read 50 books. People are always saying to me 'I wish I had more time to read like you'. Time? You want to talk about time? My Dad is probably the only person I know who was busier than me this time last year.

It's not that I have all this extra time laying around to read - it's that I value reading as a way to keep my mind sharp. So what did I do? I cut the crap. I cut out the TV time that most of my friends relish. While they were sitting in front of the 'boob tube' 2 hours a night, I was reading a book, on the bike, at the gym. I read books while I dried my hair. I packed lunch and read on my lunch breaks instead of going out. I made time where it didn't exist.

So here's my challenge...what's one thing you're always saying you want to do, but you never get the job done? Is it losing weight? Is it working out? Is it spending time with the Lord? Is it being a better friend? Is it journaling? Is it reading more books? We all have something. Now, tell me what it is and how you're going to make it happen this year. You know what you want, what sacrifices are you going to make to get there?

Don't worry, I'm not letting myself off the hook after calling you guys to stop making excuses and 'do work'. : ] Continuing in the theme of discipline I've added 2 new challenges for myself in 2011...

Morning devotions. Giving the Lord the FIRST part of my day, not the leftovers. I do not judge anyone who doesn't do theirs in the morning. As long as you're spending time with Him daily, I think you're doing a great job! But for me, it was time to take this too the next level and I feel like the Lord wants me to get up and get with Him in the am.

Morning workouts. I know, I know, I'm officially crazy. Not only have I been working out 1.5 hours a day but I've now added morning workouts to the routine. At 6am! Ouch. And they haven't replaces my nighttime workouts. Even more brutal. But I'm committed to reaching my ideal weight this year and I'm willing to put in the work to do it. Jillian Michael's is always saying in my videos, ' results don't come for free' well I'm paying for mine with my sweat morning and night now.

You may have noticed the 'morning' theme here. I hate mornings. I want to sleep til the last minute, then be timely and oragnized when I enter the office. But guess what? I also want to eat 5000 calories a day and watch reality TV at night. Doing that just isn't going to get me where I really want to be. So I'm dragging my butt up in the mornings and getting to work. I'll say here that I'll take all the prayers I can get about this one...hopefully I'll get use to it soon. 6am sure has been feeling early lately.

Love,
B

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quotes of the Week.

For all my new years resolutioners who are losing weight...

When you think about 45 pounds, that's like carrying around a preschooler . Trust me, it wears out your knees'. - Marie Osmond on her weight loss

'I just got tired of being overweight and unfit' - Peter Jackson (director of Lord of the Rings)

Book Review: Firefly Lane.


Firefly Lane came available at my library just in time for my trip to Indiana for 10 days I hoped to spend a good bit of reading. It was the December book club choice which I keep track of even on months when I can't make it to the meetings. I clicked through the reviews and thought, this sounds worthwhile. I popped by the library the day before I left town and had this in tow for a week in midwest winter.

It goes without saying that friendship plays a huge role in all of our lives. Whether in times where we feel friendship is lacking or times when our friends are our families. I spent years having many, shallow relationships only to find that the most rewarding friendships are when you cut out some of the fringe and dig in deep with the friends you can really 'do life' with. In the past few years I've really come to realize the value of a 'best friend'.

Hannah's story follows two friends from middle school through adulthood and beyond in her recent novel, Firefly Lane. A prototypical 'easy read', it was a great vacation book. Simple writing, simple story line, rather predictable but entertaining. You follow TullyandKate through the tumultuous teen years, through college scandals, first jobs, growing up and at times - growing apart.

You see the danger of sharing it all from family to first loves. Lines are crossed. Boundaries broken. You question whether love can prevail and at what point you have to leave someone behind to truly find yourself.

For me perhaps the most though provoking theme that came from the book was that people who go after their dream careers lose out at love. That you can't replace having a family with having a successful career. Is this true? Do you have to lose at one to win at the other? Wherein lies the balance? At what cost does fame and fortune come?

I'd give Hannah's Firefly lane a 6.5. If any of you decides to read it, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, the book club response was really split.

Love,
B

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Great Divide.

I've come to think of your 20s as the great divide. The age bracket in which you separate the children from the adults. This is a truly frustrating time in life. Thanks to the 20-somethings who have determined that early adulthood can be just like college, the rest of us have to fight even harder to be taken seriously. Our youth should be an asset but sometimes it can be a hindrance.

Success in your 20s is in my mind about your perspective. To me the 20s are a time to put in the work. Work hard, save hard, put yourself out there, dream, be, and overdo it (in all the right ways). We're making the name for ourselves we'll later need and laying the foundation for our entire futures - this is big. What you do in your 20s will determine whether you spend your 30s trying to piece your life together or enjoy the fruits of your labors. Why do more people my age not see this?

I know it's against my blogging rules to discuss boys here but I'm going to break my own rules, again. Dating in your 20s has the exact same problem. I occasionally go on a first date (I say first because that's all there ever is with these guys) with a guy I meet this, that, or the other place and I've found more often than not that guys my age are still stuck in their frat boy days. Oh, you sleep on a futon at your friends house? Oh wait, you haven't decide what you want to be when you grow up? Hmm, what exactly have you been doing since college? Oh that's right, hanging with your boys. Fabulous.

Now before I get a bunch of angry comments, hear me out. Your 20s should be fun. The people I know who peaked in college are miserable now. The last 2 years have been a whirlwind of fun adventures for me but the trick is that you balance fun with taking care of business. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who has as much fun as I do but I've also worked towards the career I want, bought a condo, paid off my car, learned how to budget and invest, and begun writing a book. It is possible to balance work and your personal life in a way that allows you to be a success at both. So why do few people find that balance?

I have a theory. You are who you hangout with. The people you surround yourself with will ultimately make you who you will become - at least to a certain extent. Your life will grow like the people that invest your time in. Choose these people wisely.

I'll give you an example of my close circle of girlfriends. These are the girls that I invest in and who invest in me. I learn and grow from each of them and I admire their lives so if mine turns out to be a little more like theirs this time next year, that would be great.

Candy - my best friend is in her first year of marriage. This has been so much fun to be a part of. I hope when I'm a bride I'm exactly like her! She was a fun, laid back bride not the crazy ranting bridezilla of Bravo tv. She has an incredible work ethic that drew me to her when we met working for Coach in college and I'm confident that as she makes a career change this year, she'll be an asset to her workplace. She's also an incredibly inspiring friend, I strive to be the kind of friend she is. She has taught me so much with her thoughtful ways, her encouraging words, and her loyalty.

Aubs - Auburn is probably the person I feel most like I 'do life' with. Of my Tampa friends, I'm closest to her. She's the person I talk to about budget items, boy decisions, my spiritual life, and work 'stuff'. We both work in the football world, though on different levels and in different industries. We share a love for the NFL and being able to work with them, as well as a flare for fashion and finding a good deal. She's incredibly talented and I admire how hard she works. I'm always learning from Auburn - she's one of few people I know who finds time to be a gourmet chef/ organized homemaker AND dominate in the work place. I'm all for being a little more like her, any day. She's the person I took budget classes with, we do bible study together, we go to church every Sunday, and in general take on life as a two-some.


Bekah - B-squared as I now affectionately refer to 'the other Bekah' is a childhood friend that's made a strong comeback into my life in the last year. The timing or her re-arrival couldn't have been more perfectly coordinated. She works in the non-profit world and as an assistant to a director, like I. Her family is a huge priority to her, like myself. She challenges me in my walk with the Lord, tough loves me when she thinks I'm being too easy on myself, and as a former UNC volleyball player - makes a great person to run my workouts by. She's confident, courageous, and self-motivated. I admire her, I look up to her, and I have stinkin hilarious dialog with her every day. Oh and maybe best of all? She's a freakish list maker like me.

Jess - First off, Jess is 90% of the reason I made it to back to Tampa. I owe her a huge debt for helping me get to where I am today. She not only helped me look for jobs, she gave me a place to live! She's shared her family with me over the years so that I've come to love them all as my own. She's someone I can really let my guard down with and dish my dirt. She's always supportive and amazingly, she always seems to know exactly what I mean. We both became first time homeowners in 2010 so we've battled through figuring out how to keep up households together. She's a girl who knows what she wants and I'm confident she'll do whatever she sets her mind too.

There are a lot of other great girls in my life who have shaped me over the past few years but I won't tell you about all of them today. I also have an fabulous set of guy friends who encourage and challenge me regularly. They treat me like a sister and I'm so grateful for their support. I am truly, truly blessed.

I have the kind of friends who will change the world one day (some of them already are). They are behind many of my successes of late, I owe them much. It goes a long way in life to surround yourself with people you can learn with and from. Find people who are doing it better than you are, and learn from them. Or as they say in Mean Girls - soak up their awesomeness!


Love,

B

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The G-Free Diet.



If you're a faithful blog reader you already know I'm in the process of going g-free. I bought Hasselbeck's book with a giftcard I'd received for my birthday back in September and committed to read it over the holidays in prep for a gluten-free experiment phase in 2011. I hope to begin this journey soon but I feel I still need a little more time to research and prepare my kitchen, it's a pretty huge undertaking.

That being said, Hasselbeck's book allowed me to get my feet wet with the concept. She shared her story to discovering that her stomach trauma was a result of Celiac disease. This part of the book wasn't particularly relavent to me, so Celiac is not my issue. But having a good friend, Melina, who does battle Celiac disease and just being an insanely curious person by nature, I was rather fascinated with all the info about Celiac disease.

I found Hasselbeck's suggestions for eating out, how to be g-free without killing your social life, and the recipe section most helpful for what my version of going g-free. Not having Celiac, her excessive discussion of cross contamination got a big tiresome for me. I was ready for her to move on to the more relavent about 3 chapters before she did.

As far as a survival guide, I think she was a little generous with that title. Reading that book wouldn't give you everything you need to know to live G-free. Not even close. I put down the book after finishing it and thought - I've only scratched the surface of what I really need to know. It was also short on testimonies, real-life experiences from other people who have gone g-free. For me, that would have been hugely encouraging. There were a few tidbits but could have been more if she hadn't over-done-it in other areas.

If I were rating the book on a 1-10 scale I'd probably give it a 4. It was interesting. Somewhat insightful. Somewhat informative. But sorely lacking in a few key areas. It was a surface scratch - not a survival guide as far as I'm concerned.

Love,
B

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Because Sometimes You Just Need to Blabber.

This entry doesn't have a topic or theme or anything exciting like that. I just thought it'd been too long since I just wrote a little update with no real point except to say a few things that don't fit in any other blog entry I've written recently.

6am workouts are brutal. Seriously, brutal. Then you take 6am which is what I like to call an ungodly hour and add Jillian Michaels to it and it's hellacious at times. The good news, however, is that I'm seeing more and more how interval training and weight lifting can get you the results you want - tone. I decided a while ago I didn't want to be 'skinny' I wanted to be fit. No, these are not even remotely close to the same things. A few of my 'skinny friends' are my least healthy. I have zero desire to be a marathon runner or a triathlete but I want to treat my body well, work it hard, and feed it right. I'll go ahead and confess here that these 2-a-day workouts are giving me SO much energy, I'm not sleeping enough. So I have to work on that after this whirlwind weekend.


I promised myself that after I lost weight, I'd buy myself a really nice pair of designer jeans. Ok fine, I already have like 10 pairs of Seven for All Mankinds and a couple pairs of Michael Kors - but I mean the cream of the crop of jeans designers. So while I was home over Christmas I bought my first pair of Joe's Jeans. Joe apparently knows his denim because these jeans fit like a dream! I share my newfound love for Joe's with a few people you may recognize...



Since my Mom asked and some of you may be wondering what the difference between 20 dollar jeans and designer jeans is... it's all in the rump. Ok, not all. It's also in the way they hold their shape. The way they wash. And the way the fit juuuust right. But mostly it's just about the butt.
I actually used my new knife set last night. Let's talk about that. I learned to eat fish over Christmas vacation, which I gave up oh, 10ish years ago when I got food poisoning at Red Lobster (eck). Over vacay my sister and bro-in-law made almond crusted baked tilapia and I decided to give it a try, knowing that eating fish is extremely good for you and guess what, I liked it! So last night I had my friends Dena and Tina (I just realized how funny those sound when you say them together) over for tilapia, this amazing salad I also just learned to make, and veggies.

I may cook for you all someday if you want to come to my house but you'll have to be willing to eat healthy. I've finally quit feeling bad about trying to eat low calorie and just started inflicting my health habits on people who come to my house. Sorry, I won't be making you fatty foods to eat in front of me. Maybe someday your waistline will thank me.

When you buy a home you have to decide what kind of homeowner you're going to be. When I thought about this I decided I want to take after Nance, who you all may recall is both my Tampa Mom, my friend, my realtor, and one of the coolest people I know. When I was in middle school and high school and was friends with her boys there were always people are her house. She's the best hostess. I remember always feeling welcomed there, even if we hadn't planned it in advance and there was always fun happening there.

When I bought the condo and I wanted it to be a place my friends felt like they could invite themselves too. And thankfully, they do. I love that my friends just show up, call to borrow my pool key, decide to spend the night, etc. That's the kind of house I always want to have. There may not be food and I may have laundry that needs to be folded piled on the couch but I always want people to feel welcomed.

I've had my nose in my latest book this week and I expect I'll finish it en route to Indy this weekend... Oh yeah, let's talk about THAT.

I brag about having the best, best friend in the world with regularity so it won't shock you to know, it's true. My precious best friend, Candy, shared a Southwest voucher she had with me so I can go to Indy this weekend to see my Dad's playoff game! She's so precious - she said she wanted me to be able to be with my family because she knew how big of a deal this weekend is for us. I can't tell you enough how often I thank the Lord for a best friend like her. She's truly incredible.

So I'm headed out Friday night back to Indiana to be with my family and cheer our Colts on to victory against the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. I'm humbled by the Lord's working in our family and our team this year and I'm thankful for a great season. I hope that the post season lasts til Dallas but either way, the Lord has been so good to us.

Life is good friends. 2011 is off to a great start and I'm feeling excited about where my life is headed. I hope you're feeling some of those vibes as well.

Love ya,
B








Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Acheive.

Acheive could be called the theme of my 2010. I really went after it hard last year and I acheived some huge goals. I shared those victories via facebook last week and was met with much encouragement from those who have really supported me through an exciting year. I value the importance of celebrating along your journeys. Even small victories deserve their due attention. Don't be afraid to celebrate your accomplishments - it inspires you to keep going.

So when I think about acheiving in 2011 - I guess I feel like I already answered this a few days ago with my goals for 2011. But those aren't the only things I want to acheive this year so here's a few more thoughts...

Prayer. I want to submit everything to God through prayer. My Mom presented a great idea of what this could look like for all the Christensen women this yaer and I'm taking the challenge. What I've also decided is that from time to time, I'm going to post a written prayer here, on the blog. Gasp, I know. Sharing my prayer life PUBLICALLY. But I find there's much value in writing out your prayers - and I hope that it will reveal to you all what the Lord has laid on my heart. So expect that some of that will be present in 2011.

Investing in key relationships. This is big. I'm a firm believer that the people you surround yourself with have a profound impact on who you become. Surrounding yourself with and putting effort into relationships with people who push you towards the things that you value is crutial to your success in life. This year I was to focus in on the people I really see being those key people in my life.

Volunteering. I really want to spend more time this year volunteering. I signed up to work a great event with the Shriners Hospitals for Children in February so I'll look forward to sharing about that in the future.

Quiet time - I want to spend more time alone with the Lord this year.

I'll be adding things along the way I'm sure but those are some key focuses as I think about acheiving in 2011.

Love,
B

Note: For me, this is ending my reverbs for the 2010. I hope you've enjoyed them. I've certainly appreciated the prompts to get me writing and sharing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ordinary Moments.

I know it's January and for the past few days I took a breif break from my reverb prompts but there's a few left I really wanted to write about...

One special but could be called ordinary moment from 2010 that stands out above the rest for me is a lunch I had with my Dad. He'd invited me out on a father/daughter date which had sadly been overdue for a while. We went out to lunch and just talked about everything - my goals, dreams, fears, disappointments, struggles, battles, loves, victories...the whole 9 yards.

He really helped me hone in on what I need to keep me focus on this year (2011) and how to set some small goals to help me reach my bigger goals.

What makes this moment so special to me is I continue to be touched by what a great Dad I have. Some of my closest friends are less blessed in this area and my heart goes out to them. Even though my Dad has a crazy schedule and his work keeps him busy pretty much year round - I always feel like I'm a priority. He sets aside time to make sure I know that he thinks what I do and what's going on with me is just as important and is higher profile job/life. That friends, is pretty incredible.

I hope for a few more Dad dates in 2011.

Love,
B

Monday, January 3, 2011

Exploring G-free Living Continued.

Here I started talking about my delving into research on the g-free diet in, 'But is G-free for me?'. I've continued my research and taking small steps towards a trial run of g-free living. If you read my New Years post about my goals for 2011 you know that I plan to spend at least one month of 2011 being g-free as an experiment to see if the health benefits out weigh the cost (the time, the effort, and the annoyance).

Let me start off by expressing my worst fear about g-free living - being 'that girl'. You know the one I'm talking about. The girl who comes to your house for dinner but can't eat anything you've prepared. The friend that brings her own lunch because 'they don't serve anything I can eat here'. The girl that orders a salad minus 5 items, with g-free dressing on the side, and then asks if it was cross contaminated in prep. Yeah, that girl.

Lets be brutally honest here, everyone hates that girl. On top of that, it's worse when that girl does it willingly. It's not like I have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. That would be acceptable to be picky about. But really, I'm just looking to give my stomach a fighting chance of surviving 2011 and exploring the health benefits of removing gluten containing products.

As I've been doing my research and you KNOW I'm thorough here's the question I've been asking myself - how feasible is this? I'm a realist through and through. If I say I'm going to do something, I will find a way to do it. But I want to know just how realistic it is for me to actually be g-free. So I've researched how eating out on the g-free diet, recipes, prepackaged foods (let's be honest - I'm young, single, busy, and a traveler - prepackaged is a staple).

From what I can gather, it's actually quite doable. 3 years ago, not so much. But g-free as a lifestyle has become increasingly popular and more and more restaurants are coming on board. Many chains have g-free options now including: Carrabas, Outback, Ruby Tuesdays, Chilis, and BJ's brewhouse. You can even eat fast food when you have to (though I'm not a big advocate of fast food in general) - some options being: Burger King, McD's, Subway, Taco Bell, Chickfila, Chipotle, Subway, and Wendys.

Since I travel for work it's essential that eating out fits into my lifestyle. I often wish that wasn't the case because eating out is murder on my IBS at times but I love what I do and I'm not willing to give up traveling over food issues. My thoughts are that eating gluten free when I travel may be just the ticket to having IBS related trauma free travel experiences.

As the beginning stages of my conversion to g-free I've started eating Gluten free when I eat out. Last week I went to Chili's for lunch with my friend, Chelsea, and I looked up the menu in advance to see what I could have. The most exciting lunch option I saw was the grilled bbq chicken salad - minus the croutons and tortilla strips. They had several GF dressing options and I chose citrus balsamic vinaigrette on the side.

I didn't break the rule - I DID tell them I'm gluten free when I ordered so they'd understand why I needed my salad that way (and not toss the croutons on by accident and just pull them off) and be aware not to contaminate my salad with gluten in any way. I'm gauging the responses of restaurants on having a gluten free guest. As previously mentioned I was impressed with BJ's Brewhouse when they asked me how severe my allergies were so that they could accommodate (clean the kitchen before they prepared my food, etc).

Chili's was equally accommodating. I told my waitress that I'm g-free and told her the items I couldn't have on my salad. She was great about it! My salad came exactly as I'd asked for it and it tasted delish! Props to Chili's for accommodating the g-free life.

I had a less exciting experience when I tried to eat g-free at Bahama Breeze. I had friends in town so I hadn't picked the restaurant (but honestly, I love Bahama Breeze!). They don't have a g-free menu and the naturally g-free things they do have they note the don't guarantee to be uncontaminated. Lucky for me, I don't have a gluten intolerance or I really would have been in a pinch!

I finished the book on my flight from Tampa to Indy for Christmas. I feel inspired. I can do this. I don't know if it will be a permanent lifestyle change for me or just a worthwhile experiment. But I feel ready to take it on when I return home and can buy some g-free groceries.

Love,
B

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Goals by Month.

January - Jog my first 5k. I'm registered to run on January 15th in St. Pete Beach. I really recognize more than ever what a gift it is to have a functioning, healthy body. I'm committed to using it!
- I will also finish Reverb 10 as suggested my one of my friends and readers, Mindy, in the month of January.

February - in February I will take Paige's suggestion and do a fast. I will plan to do a 21 day long Daniel Fast - which means giving up meat, bread, caffeine (sob) and sweets. I believe that fasting should always be with a purpose. Mine will be as a sacrifice and to pray for direction on the next few years of my life. As I've worked towards creating a '5 year plan' I continue to pursue the Lord's will for my life. I hope this fast will open my eyes further to what that will might be.

March - Thank you to Lisa for March's challenge - I will be going Gluten-free for a month! This totally and completely freaks me out by the way. Especially following 3 weeks of fasting. My food life is going to be challenging in the Spring. But I bought the book, I'm going to read up over my break (Christmas) and I'm going to go for it in March.

April - An Anon commenter suggested that I take a picture of myself and post it everyday for a month (actually I think they meant a year but the request was for 1 month challenges, so I'm changing that a little)! This should be interesting. I hope it does as you say, spark creativity! I hope you all don't get sick of looking at me. : ] You asked for it - you're getting my mug (or something) every day for a month in April.

May, June, & July - Read through the bible in 90 Days! This suggestion came from Elisa, thank you. I hope I'm up to the challenge. I found out I can get it on my Kindle (so it can travel with me through the summer), so I plan to read the e-bible in 90 days.

- Note: I'm also hoping to reach my ideal goal weight in June or July of this year. : ] I'll let you know as that gets closer if I think I'm going to make it.

August - In August I'm going to volunteer 4 times (the equivalent of once per week). I think this will give me the chance to get my hands dirty in several activities and will make August a month to focus on giving of myself.

September - my birthday month! In the month of september I'm going to go somewhere I've never been before. But I won't be revealing where at this time. I'm going to decide between now and then. Stay tuned.

October - Thanks to Courtney and Meghan I've decided October's goal will have to do with cooking. In the month of October I will try one new recipe per week and actually cook something - healthy! I've got the Biggest Loser book so perhaps I'll cook from that. I will share with you here my experiences, of course, and the recipes (if I like them).

November - Complete the 'Write Brain' book my sister and bro-in-law gave me to prepare my for writing my first book. There are over 360 activities but I'd like to finish 200 activities by November (I figure I won't actually want to do EVERY activity).

December - Complete my second year-long book list. My goal for this year is 24 books. That's 2 per month. I'm scaling back my reading goal because I hope that 2011 will be more focused on writing than reading.

I hope that 2011 will be full of new adventures and chances to grow as a person. This list is only scratching the service of all the things that I want to accomplish this year - but it's a great start with some bold choices. Thank you to all the ladies who made suggestions - I feel really inspired.

Love,
B