Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's About To Get Crazy.



You may be surprised (or not) to find out that fall is my favorite time of year. So as the fall clothes have hit the stores I've started to get giddy with excitement. I love fall clothes, fall food, holidays with my family and most of all....FOOTBALL! With the end of the lockout behind me I can finally get excited for some football (insert Faith Hill singing I've been waiting on day for Monday Night).

With the return of fall and football also comes the return of my intense fall schedule. I'm mentally (and physically) prepping for an intense and FULL fall. In fact, I've booked almost every weekend through the end of 2011. Where in the world as this year gone?! The good news is I'm looking forward to all of the trips - including my first to Minnesota in September.


This fall will see my first niece be born in November (eee!). It will take me to Indy, Baltimore, Minnesota, North Carolina, Jacksonville, and beyond. It will bring several of my best friends down this way for visits (I love playing hostess). It will bring my Dad down for his first game in Tampa since I moved back (3 years ago). And I'd be willing to bet this fall will bring with is a few surprises as well. : ]


I will be turning the big 2-6 this fall, which will thankfully put me back on an even number, I hate odds. But I have to say 25 has been good to me, I'll be sad to see it go. I can only hope 26 will be as full of adventures, successes, friendships, and maybe even loooove.


Fall is going to be crazy for me but I have to say, I've never been more excited about my life than I am right now. Thanks for being part of it! And stay tuned - the best is yet to come. Now, who else is ready for some football?


Go Colts!

B





Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer in the South.



I'm linking up with Heather at blondeundercoverblonde for this weeks Book Club Friday. I skipped last week because I'd gotten a little too busy to keep up my usual pace of both reading and blogging but I'm back to post again this week about Summer in the South.


I picked Summer in the South literally based on the title and the front cover while quickly browsing the 'new release' section at my local library. I didn't read in the inside cover or the back of the book I just took it home and determined I was going to read it. I may have been a better way to pick a book than my usual tactics (online research and reserving of books to pick up).


I felt drawn to the story about a girl determined to be a writer, of novels. She gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the south, in Tennessee. This opportunity comes at the hands of a boy who's in love with her but whom she only seems as a friend. A boy she has always only seen as a friend.


Ava falls in love with the sleepy town of Woodburn and with the Woodburn family of whom she becomes a part. Much like myself she writes what she knows but she weaves her own version of the truth into it. Delving into a past that all of Woodburn would rather forget to find her story amongst those she's grown to love.


There were a few unexpected twists in her story as well as in the one she's so desperately trying to figure out. It wasn't a book I couldn't put down but I found as I finished it that I really did love it. A worthwhile beach read for this summer if you're looking for one to add to your list.


Love,


B

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daring Adventures.


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable - Helen Keller



One of my biggest regrets about waiting til my mid (ugh) twenties to get in shape and lose weight is all of the adventures I was too intimidated to try. Many of you wouldn't expect that from me, since I'm a go-getter but even I felt weird about certain things. I do NOT like to be in last place at anything. I remember complaining to my Mom in college about my hatred for math and following it up with 'I'm just not good at being the stupid kid in class - I work too hard for that'.




Before losing almost 70 pounds, I felt most intimidated by being the least 'in shape' of a group. I didn't like situations where I felt like I would be holding a group back in any way. So as I've worked hard to not just get the weight off but to actually get in shape through cardio, weight training, classes, videos, etc - and by getting over my 'iusetobefat' mentality I've really stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things.


A few things I wouldn't have tried a year ago that I've faced head on in 2011:

Dance lessons. I'm a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE dancer but while I was dating Thomas we bought a groupon and gave them a shot. I have to say, I'm still not sure I'll ever steal the spotlight on a dance floor BUT I vastly improved, I gave it a good shot, and I may just use some of those skills on future dance floors of weddings I will be attending soon.


Crossfit. I shared recently that my roommate, Bekah, and I have started Crossfit. For those of you who are unfamiliar it's INTENSE group fitness that feels a lot like I imagine boot camp would feel. That's right - I'm participating in hardcore group fitness, another thing I would have been intimidated by before. And honestly, I'm not the most athletic, the skinniest, or in the best shape in the class. But I'm also not the butt. I've stayed pretty middle of the pack the whole time, and that's a big step. I've also finished every single workout.


5K. I completed my first 5k. I wasn't first, I wasn't last, and I was most definitely not fast - but I finished. One of the things I've had to realize is it's ok to do things that I'm not great at. I will more than likely never be a runner - partly because I'm built short n sturdy and lacking anything that would qualify me as having a 'runner's physique' and I also have a bad knee from an injury in college which keeps me from pounding too much pavement. But before I lost weight I couldn't run without pain and now I can, and do. Slow and steady but I do it, and that feels like a victory in itself.

TV. I went on TV to talk about my weight loss and have a makeover. I never in a million years would have expected that I would have willingly signed up to be on camera talking about how I use to be fat. But it's amazing how good I feel about my progress and how encouraged I feel to get to my ultimate end goal.


The last one I'll mention today really inspired this entry. Tuesday night for the first time ever I tried a Zumba class - a combo of two things that use to terrify me: dancing in public AND group fitness in which I had no idea what's going on. But I went, alone, and did my best and even though I was pretty terrible, I felt good about it afterwards. I think I'll even go back.


This entry was mostly just to encourage you all that life is what you make it and if you've been letting your fears keep you from experiencing things that could prove to be a lot of fun, stop. Don't take yourself too seriously to do a few things your terrible at. Don't be afraid of failure, we've all experienced and we've all survived.


Love,


B

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ruth.



I've been so diligently working on this new life plan of mine that I'm actually having dreams about fulfilling my dreams. Ack. I may be over thinking a few things currently. Anywho - life continues to consist mostly of work, working out, friends, reading, and writing for me.


I'm currently studying the book of Ruth with the small group I facilitate. The book we're using for the study is by Kelly Minter, a Christian music artist out of Nashville, TN (a city I've grown to love in recent years). The title is so appropriate - Ruth's story is very much about love, loss, and a legacy.


I have a sweet spot for Ruth since my baby sister is named after her and as I've continued to really dive into the book of Ruth I see why my parents picked it. What a delightful woman to be named after. The bible clearly highlights that Ruth was a woman of both character and good work ethic, two desireable traits.


I've been challenged as I continue to study Ruth about what the love in my life looks like, what kind of legacy I'm building and will someday leave behind me, and how I handle loss. Loss is a bit of an odd topic for me because in many cases (and in Ruth's) that loss is directly related to death. I haven't lost many people I've been close too, with the expection of a close childhood friend to suicide, which I've shared about previously on the blog.


But loss can be much more than through death. So how I handle those situations and where I find my comfort, my answers, joy, and my strength in those times is very much related to my character, is it not?


I'm challanged daily by our study of Ruth and wanted to encourage you all to take a look at it as well.


Love,

B

Monday, July 25, 2011

Evolving - Part One.

Image.


If I had to describe myself over the last couple weeks, months, years I would say I've been evolving. And so my friends I think it's about time the blog did the same, evolved. I'm no longer scared of getting older although I'd still like to think I'm doing a pretty fabulous job of being young but it just might be time for a revamp. A few of my favorite bloggers have let go of their old looks/names in favor of moving forward to bigger and better things and I may just have to jump on board.

This site is officially in the construction zone. Beware.

But I wanted to share along the what the changes are and why. Starting with the name change. When this blog started 'So Scared of Getting Older, I'm Only Good at Being Young' was the perfect fit. I was 22, fresh out of college, moving 17 hours away to start a new life all by myself. I felt overwelmed by the idea and process of growing up and I was afraid I didn't have what it took.

It seems time now, to let go of that name as I have let go of that fear. I have chosen for the time being the name 'Oh The Places You'll Go', the title of the following poem:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And
you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go.

You’ll get mixed up,
of course, as you
already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds
as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great
tact and remember that...
...Life’s A Great
Balancing Act.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent
guaranteed.)

Kid, you'll move mountains.

- Dr. Suess


I think for those of you who have kept up with me, this will make perfect sense to you.

Love,
B

Monday Monday.

Here's to hoping this WON'T be a manic Monday. I am doing a 12 week weight loss competition with 2 friends and this week was our first official weigh in for a loss and I'm down 3.8 pounds! Woot. I will give most of this great start credit to Crossfit and joining Shapes (I did 2 classes and a cardio workout there this week) but of course I'm back to counting calories and that doesn't hurt either.

I had a scare Saturday morning after my weight lifting class @ the gym. I decided I had enough time to grab a little outdoor cardio on Bayshore (for you non-Tampa-peeps this is a long stretch of sidewalk along the water where people walk, jog, bike, etc). So I set out a couple miler feeling pretty good considering I'd just had my glutes kicked in 'Just Pump'.

No joke, the guy in front of my literally passed out cold in front of me. It was a scary reminder of just how hot it gets here in Florida and how careful those of us who dare to workout outdoors in the heat of the day should be. I helped him as best I could (but over a mile from my car, water, or anything super useful there was only so much I could do). I have to say for someone who usually subscribes to the 'walk it off' form of sympathy it really gave me a scare.

I had a productive weekend that involved cleaning my entire house (yes that included dusting my fan and some of my baseboards even), babysitting a few of my favorite kiddos, tackling a couple hundred pages of reading, making process in 3 areas of my new 'life plan' (I wish I could share more about that with you all but I just can't yet). Got to catch up over lunch with my friends Chris and Michelle and spend some of Sunday laying by the pool talking about absolutely everything with my friend Jessica (we met on a plane, no lie).

I finally feel rested after a couple crazy weekends in a row and I'm actually pretty pumped about this week. I love starting off a week skinnier and with a clean house. Got my gym clothes packed for Crossfit after work today and lunches for the week prepped. This is going to be a good one, loves.

B

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Blog Will Make You Laugh.

Yesterday was my 700th post, how exciting is that? And I'm almost to 40,000 reads. This blog started as a place to document my life once I moved to Florida away from all my friends and family but it has grown to be so much more than that.

I wanted to talk a little today about accountability. I touched on it earlier this week in 'Everyone Needs a Tribe?' which happened to be a really well received post that many of you got in touch with me about after.

I had mentioned here on the blog that after New York, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis I'd worked on my 'life plan' each time I went away and came back with renewed energy to tackle my ultimate to do list, and new ideas for just how to make it ALL work. Most of the areas on that list fall under: spiritual, financial, relational, or physical goals.

Now Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a successful life for most of us. Each of those areas takes time, discipline, and commitment. I'm working on those aspects as I go. But I have to say the results I've been getting have really helped me stick to the plan. I'm a results motivated person. If I'm reaching goals and seeing changes, I can work hard forever. That's a blessing and a curse in one, because when I don't see the results and changes I want, I get discouraged quick.

This is where the accountability comes in. If you can find that one special someone to share your successes, failures, and changes with, then you've struck gold my loves. I'm a little bit of an overachiever in this area because I basically have one for each category but that's because not all of my friends are really making strides in each of those 4 ways, so that way I have someone who has similar goals in an area to report back too.

I guess my biggest caution in choosing this person is it can't be someone you're competitive with, otherwise you won't be honest when you totally screw it up (and you will, at some point). It has to be someone you can call and say 'I just spend my groceries budget on a Coach wallet and now I'm going to have to eat ramen for 3 weeks which is totally going to wreck my weight loss'. Also key is that the person you chose will A. not judge you but B. tell you what you need to hear. In this case I would expect my friend to respond 'And now you'll march your stilettos right back into that store and return said wallet and go to Publix'.

You're totally wondering right now if these things actually happen to me. The answer is yes. I'm totally quirky with my failures. Last week I ate a giant chocolate cupcake my roommate brought me after lunch because I was having a really rough day. I ate ALL of said cupcake at 3pm and then went to Crossfit at 5:30...um, yeah about that. I actually wished I'd throw up, that's how ecky it made me feel.

I HAVE spent my food budget on clothes before, several times (and that ramen part - that was pretty true also although you can also insert spaghetti there as well). I once even said, out loud, 'well, if I have to eat less because I have no food then the jeans will fit that much better, right?'. This is a bad idea friends. Make your budget and stick to your guns. Clothing and food aren't interchangeable.

So here's a few tidbits of wise advice from someone whos made a great number of mistakes at life:

- Pack your lunches. It will save you time, money, and calories.
- Do NOT eat anything highly chocolate before you're abused, outside, in the summer, in Florida @ Crossfit. Ever.
- Texting is not a replacement for calling. This is a toughie for me. I'm busy AND I hate the phone but guess what people, it's essential to long distance friendships. Pick it up, dial, and talk - your friends are worth it.
- Make life plans, yes. Modify them - often. Don't try to be your parents, at 25.
- Expect the unexpected. This is for things like oil changes, you know it's coming every 3 months but you push it out of your mind til your 2,000 miles over and broke. Oh yeah, and for the record Christmas is the same time every year - expect that it will happen in Decemeber and you'll have to buy gifts.
- If you're having a really stinkin hard time sticking with your diet, write yourself a post it that reads 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'. Or post a picture of someone with a bangin body in a bikini - that might depress you into sticking with it. ; ]

Ah, wisdom to start your workday.

Love,
B

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Little of This and That.

Ok were just going to tackle a few random items this morning...

1. I started my 5th weight loss competition Monday so while I refuse to post how much I weight or like a picture of myself in a bikini every week - I think for accountability I'm going to post how I did each week since we're monitoring the leader of the competition with percentage of total weight lost.

2. I worked on my budget over our Rams event last weekend and I've tightened it up. So far it's been less painful that expected but I think that's because my time has been taken up with free things (like working out). It will probably hit me sometime soon, don't worry.

3. I've recently become pen pals with a few of my favorite blog friends and I'm loving the influx of mail from sweet friends.

4. I'm working on even MORE travel plans for 6 upcoming trips. Life is going to be crazy but exciting these next few months.

5. I've taken a new found interest in exercise classes (instead of just working myself out). I'm headed to one again today after work. Crossfit again tomorrow. Whew.

Hope all is well with you all.

Love,
B

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Everyone Needs a Tribe?





I shared previously that I had read a book by Kelly Cutrone, one of New York's best fashion publicists. She's hardcore, let me tell you - but I respect her 'never say die' attitude and ability to get what she wants out of life. She's in a cutthroat industry and she's kickin' butt.

One takeaway from her book I thought worth discussing with you all here on the blog is the need for a 'tribe'. Cutrone credits much of her success to what she calls her 'tribe' - the people she gets her advice, instruction, wisdom, etc from. Her 'go to' people for everything from how to raise her child as a single, working mother to how to build a successful business and stay on top of a growing industry. She advises that you can't be afraid to ask someone you've never met but admire from afar to be part of said tribe and guide you in future endeavours. She goes so far as to say she's been more than willing to be this person for a great number of fashion industry driven youngsters.

In the weeks since I finished this book I've really been muscling through this. Who's in my tribe? Who should be? Who would consider me amongst their tribe members and am I really going out of my way to help those a few steps behind me get as far as I am?

I'll share a few quick stories to this effect....

I haven't done exceptionally well at many things, so I'm not really sure I'd consider myself expert enough to counsil people on many fronts. But I was excited when a friend, Nicole, contacted me recently to ask me about buying a home. One thing I have already done, prior to being 25, is buy a home. So I was able to offer her some insight into what to look for, what small stuff to sweat, just how expensive 'start up' in a new place can be, unforseen expenses, and offer her encouragement that it may just be the best decision she's made!

Buying my 'batch pad' as I affectionately call it has been one of my brightest ideas yet. Not only do I LOVE paying towards something that belongs to me, instead of paying someone else's mortgage and bills, but it's taken the feeling of 'home' to a new level. It's been a smart decision financially, which later went to a new level of smart when I added a roommate to the mix. It's given me something to treasure as my own and grow into. And most of all, I just love it. Every second of being a homeowner has been worth it for me, even when I have to kill a bug or call a repair man. It's mine and there's something about that, that warms my heart. I've built so many great memories in the last year and a half of having a place of my own to welcome and entertain others.

Nicole isn't my first friend to ask homeownership advice from me since my proud purchase in December of 2009. I've served on a few young homeowner's pr home-seeker's tribal council's since then. But hers was most recent so I thought I'd share that.

A few of my faithful readers have added me to their counsil for blogging purposes. I've been writing this blog for over 2 years now and have managed to keep enough interest to have almost 40,000 reads! Amazing, right? As my friends have explored the blogging world I've been able to offer some advice as to things I've done well and things that I wouldn't do again.

Organization may be both my biggest strength and weakness in recent years. It's become a bit of an obsession. But for a few of my friends seeking to get a few more things in order - you know live on a budget, keep up with a house, and excel at their jobs - I've been able to offer some friendly 'I've been there' council.

Lastly, as I thought about tribes I've been asked to be a part of, weight loss came to mind. Not that I'm in perfect shape and I am by no means an expert in nutrition, fitness, or even weight loss. But as someone who lost 70 pounds without meds, a gym membership, or really even a 'diet' per se - I have been asked for a lot of advice in recent months. This is another one I get excited to be a part of. I think when you've let yourself get pretty severely overweight, as I had, it's overwhelming to think of even beginning your journey so it's been fun to be able to encourage other motivated individuals as they begin a journey I still consider myself to be on.

On the flip side I'll share with you some of the people I have in my 'tribe' and the areas of expertise they bring to the 'table', so to speak.

My older sister, Rachel, is a wealth of wisdom. When I was first starting off my weight loss journey she let me ask a million questions. As one of the fittest people I know I definitely consider her an expert - but in case that wasn't enough she's also a personal trainer and a Dr. of physical therapy (which came in handy as I battled through weight loss with an injured knee and later a shoulder injury).

Rach also has a marriage I'd bet many people admire and as I've dated, been in relationships, and continued to grow in those areas she's been my inspiration as well as my sounding board for a great number of things. She is my biggest supporter but she's also unafraid to be honest with me. What more could you want from someone in your tribe than that?

Rach isn't the only family member in my tribe - my Dad has been my go to person for buying a house, making a budget, determining a career path, and a whole slue of other items involved in getting from college to true adulthood. My Mom is the tribe member I go to for cooking, cleaning, mechanical, and even plumbing issues. That woman can do ANYTHING - from rewiring the lighting in my bathroom to ripping up carpet to painting like a pro my Mom is truly amazing and thankfully more than willing to share her wisdom with me.

Family aside I've gained a whole wealth of knowledge from family friends. Most of my parents friends have been married over 30 years - and I cherish the times I get to ask them how they've made it this far. My Dad's friends have let me pick their brain on the NFL industry and where my career within the football world is currently and may someday be headed. What an advantage that has already given me with my work at APD.

I've purposed in recent years to really surround myself with friends whose lives are going somewhere. Each of my friends contributes something in the wisdom department but lately I've really enjoyed some lengthy, weighty conversations with Auburn, Candy, Jon, Amy (my coworker), Craig, Sarah, and Jess. Also, my small group as I've shared before has been incredible in my spiritual growth and I'm thankful for their positions in my tribe as well.

I guess my takeaway from this is that I have a pretty great tribe going, but as Kelly said, I can't be afraid to get out there and ask someone who doesn't even know me to walk me through phases of life I want to be successful at in the way they already have been. I've been working on a 'hit list' of who these people might be and now I'm working up my nerve to approach some of them.

Who's in your tribe?

Love,
B

Monday, July 18, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louie.

I made my second trip to St. Louis, MO this past weekend for our Rams Father & Kids Experience. It was a quick, action packed trip but as always we managed to sneak in a little fun including:

My first trip to the arch.

A trip to Crown Candy for lunch.


Which included homemade ice cream, of course.


Loved the flags with the bridge in the background.




Enjoyed meeting their head coach, Coach Spanuolo, who knows my sweet Dad. And the event was a great success. It's good to be home and recovering from a crazy 36 hours away. But I have to say St. Louis as a city and the Rams as a team are really leaving me with a great second impression.


Love,

B










Saturday, July 16, 2011

Crossfit.


My roommate (Bekah) and I bought a groupon for 20 sessions of Crossfit. We were a little scared to start this week, feeling like we probably should have been prepping for months in advance. However, we've both successfully completed 2 sessions in week one and even though our bodies haven't been this sore in years - it feels good to be able to get through it.


I'm excited to takemy fitness to the next level and really strengthen my core and build muscle, not just lose weight. It's more motivating being told what to do instead of just making my own workout.


I love the unconventional side of Crossfit. We workout in a parking lot. And let me tell you it's a better workout than any gym workout I've had. I feel excited for the next 18 sessions - let's do this.


Love,

B

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Club Friday - Tick Tock.

It's the time again and this week I finished:







The last of the Michael Bennett series by James Patterson (a four book series) Tick Tock kept me reading late into the night and while drying my hair in the morning (and not JUST because it had to be returned to the library 3 days after I started it). I love James Patterson's style of writing and ability to keep me intrigued no matter what story he's weaving.


I loved this series so much I've decided to read the 10 books in his Women's Murder Club series next. I'm kind of obsessed with Patterson. Although I will say his newest commercial where he promotes both his newest murder mystery AND his new childrens book kind of weirds me out.


Anyway, if you're a Patterson fan and you haven't read this one yet, do it. If you're not a Patterson reader and you want a place to start this series is light on the gore but high on the politically charged crime. The books will go quick, so have the next one on hold at your local library when you start one.


Happy reading loves.


B

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When I'm Stressed I...



...get really productive. Ok fine, I'm kind of weirdly productive anyway. But when my stress levels go up it gets so much worse! Instead of a daily one page list of 'to do's they get 2 pages long. I wake up hours early and stay up later and I crank out every possible chore you can think of. Last year mid-event-season I was dusting the trim in my house at 3am on a regular basis. I mean, it's better than taking up drinking, right? ;]

So last night after work, errands, fro yo with a friend, and catching up on the phone with one of my close friends from Indy - I reorganized my whole bathroom. Yeah, because who doesn't need to totally revamp their bathroom once a month, in the middle of the night, when they have to get up at 5:30 the following morning? Anywho, I bought some new storage containers and went to town in my medicine cabinet, the built in cabinet above my toilette, and the cabinets underneath my sink. My drawers are already pretty organized although I try'n go through and toss a few old tubes of mascara from time to time.

I don't like using a busy week (like working 20 hours of overtime, traveling for work all weekend, and starting new classes at the gym) as an excuse to let other important things fall by the wayside. So, I'm pleased to report that I'm staying caught up with my bible study homework, finished book #24 just in time to return it the library, have a clean room and bathroom, and have managed to do 4 loads of laundry (though I do confess they're not yet put away).


I was struck while stuffing my face with yogurtology by something my friend, Daniel said. He said that while his job keeps him more than busy he realizes he's a relational person and he can't neglect time with friends. He is wise in so many ways and this really hit home with me. As I've purposed this year to be a more thoughtful friend I've really realized just how important it is to invest in my relationships. I may not have a ton of free time but I work in face time with friends, phone calls to my back-home-bffs, and I send about a card a day. I refuse to let the chaos that is my work, home, and sometimes even spiritual life keep me from being a great friend.


No excuses here. I may write half my greeting cards before 6am and I may read books at stoplights to work it all in - but it gets done. I never want to look back and see a list of accomplishments and no solid friendships. This time in my life and those relationships are important. And I may or may not have some of those phone conversations while scrubbing bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, but hey, don't judge. : ]


Love,

B

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Matters Under Heaven.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Many of you know that I've been leading a small group in my home for about 2 years now (wow, has it really been that long?). I have a great group of girls and as they've come and gone the Lord has used each of them to touch my life in a unique way. I'm so grateful that they're willing to meet with me week after week and I can only hope I contribute something back, because I sure do receive so much from being with them.

We've embarq'd on a new study, the study of Ruth - as mapped out for us by Kelly Minter. I always have a tough time choosing studies, with so many options out there and wanting to choose studies that will grow each girl in the group as well as myself. I have to say after only one week, I think this study chose us! We're off to an incredible start.

One day of last weeks 'homework' asked this question: are you in a season of trial or a season of blessing. I stopped to ponder that for a moment. I am not in the easiest season of my life by any means - between a breakup, a busy time at work, starting a new tough workout program (crossfit), and being apart from my family as my little niece is growing by the day. But I have to tell you I know with clarity that this is a season of blessing for me. It isn't totally without trials which I chalk up to my growing faith and the devil being increasinly uncomfortable with my growing desire to serve the Lord. But the God's honest truth is that this is clearly a season of blessing.

Let me give you a few reasons why:

- I have asked and the Lord has answered. I've spend more time in prayer these last few months then I had in a long time and I have seen the Lord answer over and over. Not always with the answer I want or the answer I thought he would but with answers nonetheless. He is speaking to me.

- I have had the peace only the Lord can give even as I've faced some tough things. I keep waiting to freak out but honestly, the Lord keeps providing the peace I need to face each obsticle.

- I have a beautiful (I can already tell) niece on the way and I’m overwelmed by how much I already love her. My older sister is my closest friend and I know she's going to be the most amazing mom. I can't wait to be an aunt.

- I have experienced the Lord's provision in a just as I need it kind of way. Not just with peace or finances but in every possible way.

- I have been surrounded and I do mean SURROUNDED with amazing, loving friends. Calls, letters, texts, visits, meals... seriously, there's just been a 'random' outpouring of love in my life lately that I know I couldn't possibly deserve but I'm soakin it up.

- A wonderful small group as I already shared who is actively seeking the Lord and spurring me on as well.

- A growing relationship with each of my family members who are each amazing.

This my friends is a period of blessing at it's finest and I am thankful for it.

Love,
B

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Tension Between Who You are and Who You Could Be.

Cred.
I use to have a small obsession with Switchfoot pre- A Walk to Remember. But this line of their song 'Dare You to Move' has always haunted me for lack of a better term. The last 3 years of my life, since graduating college, moving 17 hours south to Florida, buying a home, starting a career, etc have really kept me in this exact tension - between who I am now and who I could be. I always feel the burden of potential, that no matter how far I come I have farther left to go.

That sounds like I'm dogging myself, and I'm not really. For being 25 I've accomplished a great deal and by most people's standards I'm really ahead of my time. I'm young, hard working, and extremely self-motivated. But that doesn't mean I don't feel the weight of my potential to do more, be more, grow more. If you've watched me push those around me what you may not have seen is how much harder I push myself.

My Dad has always been the good kind of hard on me. He's always challenging me and spurring me onwards. But in one of my recent freak outs about how far I have to go in my learning he even said to me, 'Bekes, you're 25. You can't expect yourself to be where I am, 30 years later, right now. You're doing good and it's good to push yourself but growing up doesn't happen overnight'. I mulled that over in the days that followed and laughed a few times to myself about how right he is. I keep trying to jump 30 years to being as wise as my parents, without realizing it took them 50+ years to get there.

It's a delicate balance. As a social worker I find myself frustrated again and again by people who don't push themselves hard enough. They're always playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game or the 'I wish' game, when I frequently bite my tongue not to say 'You could, you know'. But the truth is my extreme isn't necessarily any better or healthier.

I've been faced with some new challenges lately in multiple aspects of life and as I've tried to rise to them I've found myself in a weird funk. I was muscling through this with my Mom the other day and it occured to me - I'm back to where I was a few months ago on the phone with my Dad, in a process. One that can't be rushed through in one conversation, one day, or even perhaps one year. We'll call these 'growing pains'. As I stretch to meet new expectations, new life changes, and new opportunities I'm experiencing a new kind of growing pain, the pain of growing up.

It's not without great support, however, that I face these new additions. I feel very blessed by the wonderful people I'm surrounded with daily. You would be hard pressed to find anyone with as many cheerleaders as I have. From blog readers, to twitter followers, to best friends, family, and guy friends who treat me like a queen - I've got a corner full of encouragers. I am eternally grateful for good people and a gracious God.

Love,
B

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Loves.

1. Reading poolside. I had an hour of freetime Saturday after going into the office all morning to prep for our Rams event this coming weekend. I grabbed my James Patterson novel (one of my planned summer reads) and sat on the stairs of the pool and soaked up a few rays while I took out another 100 pages of my novel.




2. Adele's 21 CD. A special someone introduced me to this fabulous CD and I haven't stopped listening to it since I purchased it last week. My favorite songs so far are 1, 3, and 5. Obsessed. Expect some lyric posting at some point from this one, I'd be willing to bet they'll make it on the blog eventually.


3. Catching up with Old Friends. This weekend I got the chance to see a great childhood friend, Peyton, who's been in China the last couple of years. Thankfully since I basically share his family as my own while I'm here in Tampa, I get to see him every time he's in town. But this weekend was an especially fun blast from my past when I got to hangout with Bekah (my roommate who I've known since age 5), Peyton (we've been friends since... 5th grade maybe?) and we even went to visit my friend Sean at work whom I've known since 6th grade. I love old friends.

4. Writing letters. If nothing else I'm consistent in my writing of letters. Lately I've been a bit more keen on it than my usual handful a week. In an exciting turn of events I've also been receiving quite a few letters as of late. I love snail mail, it never gets old for me.


5. My best friend. I just found out I will get to see her AGAIN this coming weekend and I couldn't be happier.



6. Baking Bread. So even though I'm not much of a bread eater myself I LOVE to bake it. I tried a new recipe this weekend that was way better than the last one I tried. The roomie and I had a night in Friday night and watched a movie and ate soup and homemade bread.




I am loving summer a little more everyday.


Love,


B

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Retail Therapy of the Fabulous Variety.

I was having a bit of a downer day on Wednesday, coming off a great vacation and back to the real world I was feeling a bit blue. I decided that since I did such a good job of not spending money while I was away (other than the obvious eating out, etc) I could have a little lunch time shopping spree.

I headed over to Marshall's to for some retail therapy, Becca Christensen style. This of course included 4 new packs of stationary (they have the best stationary and for really reasonable there) and 3 new candles. I love when my room/house smell lovely in the evenings and I consider burning fabulous smelling candles to be a treat - so after using up the last of my stash recently (while giving myself a pedi) I decided I could indulge in a few new scents.

After work Wednesday night I curled up in front of the TV to clean off my Tivo with new stationary and burning a new candle to unwind. Since buying the condo, being at home has taken on a new feel for me. I love nights when I can sit alone in my living room. Ok ok, OR bake in my kitchen. But seriously, the batch pad has made me quite the 'homebody'.

Other than the obvious (clothes) what do you all buy when you need a little retail therapy? Another of my favorites is a few new songs on itunes. That always perks up my workout playlist or gives me some sad new love song to sing while I drive across the water (a favorite mind-clearing-pass-time of mine).

Love,
B

Book Club Friday - Hunger Games.



I'm loving book club Friday lately, especially since finally I'm reading enough to write about a new book every week. I started this year off a bit slow but I'm really getting in the groove. Which brings me to my current reading:



The Hunger Games came highly recommended from Lindsay and Kristen two fabulous young ladies in my small group (both with equally fabulous blogs as well). Lindsay devoured the whole trilogy while on a trip to Prague and Kristen and her roommate, Meagan, couldn't put them down either. So, they talked me into finally removing the first of the series off my bookshelf and giving it a go.


I have to say that my reaction to this book is similar to my reaction to the Twilight series. After all the hype, I wanted to know what the fuss was about and started reading for myself. I would describe it as 'entertaining', though I admit it doesn't have that can't-put-this-book-down-even-to-eat feel for me that it seems to for others. I will likely read the other 2 books eventually but plan to take a break to finish the Michael Bennett series first (I finally got the fourth one from the library).

Worth reading for summer entertainment but not necessarily on my 'everyone should read this' list.


Anyone else read this and have similar or totally opposite feelings about it?


Love,


B







Thursday, July 7, 2011

Small Town Charm.

I love it here. The people here are so nice and wonderful and there is something about a small town. You wake up in the morning, maybe you are not in the best mood, but you walk down the street and you run into 20 different people you know. And by the time you get where you are going, you're going to feel good. It is that small town charm, I guess. - Joni Pugh

Fourth of July festivities had to move to the carport - that storm came up like we were in Florida all the sudden.



I'm somewhat obsessed with this gas pump. Seriously. I've been promised I can someday inherit it from Arbuckle Electric.



Sonic happy hour - oh how I love you, whether in Tampa or Scottsburg, Indiana.



Festive flipflops.


I love libraries.






And rocking with my best friend out back.


Lastly (for this entry) I love towns with town squares.


Love,
B

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Away.

What is it about 'getting away'? Having a trip to look forward to warms my heart and being able to get out of town and clear my head does immeasurable good. I truly treasure the time I have here in Tampa but there's something about getting out of town that appeals to me no matter how good life is going.

I could barely sleep the night before I was so excited about my trip to Scottsburg. As my roommate drove me across the bridge early Thursday morning I could barely contain myself. I boarded my flight like a child awaiting Christmas morning and desperately tried to concentrate on my book.





I practically leapt from my second row seat as they turned off the fasten seat belt sign and allowed us to deplane in Lexington, Kentucky. After 5 months of waiting (since booking this flight) I was finally here - 6 days with my best friend in what has come to be one of my favorite towns - Scottsburg, IN.



The small town charm of the town sucked me right back in and I snuck away early the next morning for a jog around town. Unlike Tampa, which is overrun with fitness loving freaks, I didn't have to share the sidewalks with any other joggers and I felt comfortable enough to take a few snapshots during my walking intervals.










It was the perfect change of pace for a busy city girl like myself. I came back from that walk/jog and announced with complete honesty that for the first time in months I actually felt relaxed. A strange thing to say, especially coming from a girl who finds a few hours of pool time practically every week - but I went to Scottsburg without my 'to do' lists and emptied my mind of work and life plans and goals and just allowed myself to be. I honestly didn't even use my planner - this is BIG!

I have to say I think I could get use to a slower pace of life. It would take a little while for me to undo the freakishly obsessive habits I've made but once I get relaxed I really do love it.

Love,
B

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back.

Well friends and loved ones, I'm back from the 'burg. My return has been somewhat bittersweet. I love Tampa, it has always had the biggest piece of my heart but to quote Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama 'but then I come down here, and this fits too'. Being in Scottsburg for 6 days really did feel like home. As I said a tearful goodbye this morning I couldn't help wishing I could skip my flight and cling to a perfect vacation just a bit longer.

Coming home always has it's perks. I look forward to a night in my own bed, getting back into some sense of routine, and laying out by my pool this weekend. But reality comes quick, don't ya think? I hopped off the plane and immediately headed back to work. I was grateful for the distraction so as not to further pout about the fact that I'm no longer with my best friend but with less than 20 minutes between grabbing my bag and returning to my cubicle, it felt like vacation came to a screeching halt.

I finished another book on my trip - and even though her language leaves a few things to be desired I have to say there's somthing I find quite likeable about Kelly Cutrone. I'm now on to Hunger Games and though I don't find it nearly as exciting as all those who recommended it seemed too, I'm enjoying it so far. Hope to be done with it in a few days so I can move on to finish the Michael Bennett series.

I didn't write a single blog while I was away and I learned that you take a chance when you schedule them in advance... oh living and learning, right?

My heart felt a bit heavy and my head a little too full as I touched down in Tampa but most of all I'm overwelmed with gratitude for the wonderful friends the Lord has given me. I tell ya what, I must have THE most amazing set of guy friends any girl could ask for and in general just the best group of people in my corner. I feel so incredibly blessed this week - so thank you, especially to the ones I called up this weekend from afar.

I continue to grow excited about the next few chapters of my life as they unfold in unexpected ways. The roommate and I will be starting up Crossfit this week (or next) - an intense boot camp style workout class 2 days a week for the next few months. I'm anxious but nervous all at once. We may just die - but I think it will be a good way to go out (doing push ups on the concrete and all).

10 days til I'm back on the road headed to St. Louis and selfishly hoping I will be able to see Josh, Candy, and Chad again that weekend. If I can't convince them all to move to Florida maybe I can at least convince them to travel to all my work locations with me?

Expect some posts about my trip over the next couple days but I wanted to let you know I'm back and thank those of you who were in touch while I was away.

Love,
B

Monday, July 4, 2011

Over a Cup 'o Joe.

Welcome loves. Today on the blog were going to chat like were sipping coffee out of my place (so out of black and white mugs with b's on them - in assortment) and talk about life. The good, the bad, the hilarious, and the ugly of what's going on. I think from time to time it's good to just chat about life. So here's what's been up friends...

I've been on again off again with my blog challenges for this year. Confession: I'm not currently reading through the bible in 90 days. Starting in May, June, and July I was supposed to be reading through the bible in 90 days but to be honest when May rolled around I knew it just wasn't going to happen. I'm currently leading a bible study for young, single women from my church on Tuesday nights and in addition to my own quiet time, preparing for that is getting my priority.

I did download the 90 day version on my kindle and I hope to someday still complete that challenge, but today is not that day. I hope to pick back up my challenges with my volunteering challenge for the month of August (which amazingly is getting quite close, isn't it?).

My family is together (without me) this weekend at the beach. I miss them but I'm amongst family myself, here in Scottsburg. A family of a different sort (meaning I chose them, instead of them choosing me?). But my sweet family is doing wonderfully and we look forward to welcoming my niece or nephew in November of this year. I can't wait to be an Aunt...I plan to be the very best kind (you know, the kind that lets them eat raw cookie dough and drive my car before their 16...sh).

Work is busy busy with event season in the works. I'm headed to St. Louis next for our Rams event on July 16th, so if you're in 'the L' let me know before then. I will be in charge of being the mini van driver for the first time on this trip - so that should present new excitement for all involved individuals.

I intended to write a book this year but amongst other things that seems to have been pushed to the 'back burner'. I hope to return to that dream eventually but again, the timing is just not right. I have other callings and priorities at the moment so this blog continues to be where my writing is happening and staying for the time being.

Hm, what else? I'm still working out and trying to drop some more weight. It's been a bit up and down lately but I feel like I'm hitting my stride again. The roommate and I start Crossfit Boot Camp when I return from this vacation (I may choose to hide out forever in Sburg instead of face this) - so I'm sure that will kick my hiney into gear.

I continue to get asked questions about the NFL lockout for work and family reasons - but no, I don't have any crazy awesome insider scoop on this. Here's to hoping it all gets worked out so I can hole up in some version of a man cave and watch religiously every Sunday as usual. I love me some football.

The condo is faring well as of late. No big changes or fix it jobs happening there. Just happily enjoying homeownership as usual. Excited to finally show my sister/best friend and bro-in-law my place (after almost 2 years) when they visit in August. Can't wait to have them on my 'turf'.

Life is good friends. With a few unmet goals and messy bedroom days of late - I continue to stay busy but happily content in my current state. I hope this has been a fun update for you all and I look forward to getting some scoop back on what's going on in your lives.

Love,
B

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote of the Week.

'Frankly I'm not even that smart. What I am is fearless and intuitive' -- Kelly Cutrone, taken from 'If You Have to Cry Go Outside and Other Things Your Mother Never Told You'

I love this quote, because that's almost exactly how I feel about myself. I laugh whenever people describe me as smart or a genius. It's not that I'm not smart but genius is more than a stretch. In fact, I'll let you all in on a little secret - I had a tough time with reading for YEARS. I may be a freakishly dedicated reader now but until the 6th grade reading came only of force and hard work for me. Being mildly dyslexic it wasn't easy for me to learn to read and it wasn't enjoyable for years after.

I never thought of myself as particularly smart but I suppose I knew for the most part I also wasn't dumb. I had the unique benefit of being taught at home (yep, I was home schooled) so I had advantages many of my peers did not. I took to certain subjects (eventually) like writing, literature, and sign language. I excelled in those areas even as I continued to be painfully aware of my shortcomings in math (I have a much harder time with numbers than letters) and science.

I've had some great victories since graduating college and I'm grateful for continued opportunities. That being said, I'm with Kelly - my successes have not come from being smart, I don't think myself any smarter than the next girl. They have come from courage and hard work. The courage to try what others don't dare dream of, the resilience to get up after failures (and there have been some), and the work ethic to do what it takes.

I like Kelly. She's an average small town girl who didn't take no for an answer. She fought to get to where she wanted to be and she fights to stay on top of her game now. I respect that.

Love,
B

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Entry about: Assumptions, Honesty, and What Other People Think.

I was pondering yesterday just how much value should be placed on other people's opinions. You hear people say on the regular, 'it's MY life'. Sure, it is. But deep down we all value the opinions of others and secretly want at least some people to think we are awesome, don't we? I want my friends to say good things about me even when I'm not there. I want my parents to brag about me from time to time. I want my sisters to say that I am the best sister and they'd take 10 more just like me, as I'm in the habit of saying of them. So I guess the truth is I do care what people think. Not every person, mind you, but more than a few.

Someone recently told me not to do something I'd planned on because 'people would take it the wrong way'. I considered this for a moment and realizing that even if they did, it wouldn't be so bad, I moved forward with my plan. If people want to assume I'm dating someone I'm not, fine. If they want to make judgements about the movies I see or the books I read (and trust me, they do), let em. If the misinterpret my intentions or my desires, that's on them. People tend to assume what they want anyways, right?

The secret I assume lies in finding the balance in caring enough what people think to be sensitive to the people you care about but not allowing your life to be dominated by the fear of other peoples assumptions. I, for one, like to make my assumptions clear up front. Each time I've started dating someone I've sat them down and said up front, 'Listen, I know that you have friends that are girls and ex girlfriends and girls that work with you, etc. So from now and until you tell me otherwise, I'm going to assume that you're dating me and only me because you want to be. Thus giving me zero reason to be jealous of anyone else you're not dating and if/when that changes, you let me know'.

I've learned that leaving things unsaid is a great set up for misinterpretation. Saying what you mean is far less misconstrued. It's harder than I thought to be truly honest, because deep down I really do want to tell people what they want to hear some of the time. More than that I've learned to lay me expectations out on the table. It's not fair to hold people accountable for expectations they didn't know I had, right? But if I lay them out in an appropriate way if gives the other person the chance to either meet, exceed, or contest them.

I get a fair bit of criticism which some may say I invite by being a social media junkie with a blog. I started this blog to say when I mean and I've done just that - despite the reactions. Honestly, I get more positive feedback then negative which has kept me being open for the last two years of blogging but that doesn't mean there haven't been some tough criticisms as well. I'm 25 and I'm very much still learning. I make mistakes. I have terrible ideas and thoughts at times. I say awful things sometimes. I'm horrible clumsy. I do things others don't always understand or approve of. But I'm unapologetic for my imperfections, because if I had it to do over I'd make many of the same mistakes if that's what it took to get here.

I will end this entry with the immortal words of Dr. Suess: 'Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind'.

Love,
B

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Club Friday - Sacred Marriage.




It's the time again and this week I finished book #18 of the year:





You all KNOW I got through phases with my reading - finance books, crime thrillers, and most recently relationship books. When I mentioned on facebook that I was reading 'Love & Respect' a friend, Lindsay, from high school, suggested that I read Sacred Marriage next. I am so very glad I took her advice because the wisdom offered in this book really challenge my ideas about marriage and what God's purpose in marriage is.



If you're open minded to what the Lord may want to teach you about how to serve, how to set an example, and how love as a Christian spouse is supposed to look - this book is for you. I soaked it up like a sponge and I'm already thinking through ways to use what I've gleaned from Gary's wisdom in my future marriage.



I will caution it was written for married couples, not 'singles' like myself (I always feel weird calling myself single - since I'm not but you know what I mean). However, I like to be ahead of the game in as many ways as I possibly can, so - it was a great book for me.

Love,
B