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Still Speaking Soundly

"A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy state; he that has these two, has little more to wish for." John Locke

Updated: 2016-09-07T23:25:48.277-05:00




Quick Blog Post. 

Since my last blog, I've noticed that things have been "silent." I haven't had any huge epiphanies. I haven't written in my book. I haven't had any miracle moments. 

I've struggled with my marathon training. I've struggled with being inspired.

But, suddenly, in that silence I found what I was looking for today. I also found tears and a complete chapter in my book. 

All I want you to know is this: 

God is working in the silence

If you don't believe me, read the book of Job. Note Chapter 1-37 and then Chapter 38. 

He is there. He is working in your life. He is giving you answers. Are you listening in the midst of that silence? 

I Love You, Lord


Many years ago, at a very young age, when life was dark, sad, empty and confusing I would sit and listen to music over and over. One of those songs was called "I Love You, Lord" with very simple, yet powerful lyrics: I love you, Lord And I lift my voice To worship You Oh, my soul rejoice! Take joy my King In what You hear Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your earI would literally cry out these words while listening and hoped that someday my words, my actions, and my thoughts would be a "sweet sound" to Him. ---------------Fast forward to Sunday. Jason was on-call, so while he was out doing rounds, I was home watching and listening to Elevate Life Church knowing that ,as always, it would speak to me. What I didn't expect was for the melody of "I Love You, Lord" to begin playing before the actual sermon. All I could do was sit there, listen, sing and pray. A few hours later I was at the track running my long run. If you haven't read about my marathon training(click here), you should catch up (start around Dec 4th). It's not about losing weight. It's about discipline of self and spirit. See, I know/knew that I could never get to a place mentally or spiritually to finish my book unless I started giving up some things. The book. You know, the one that has been in progress for years? So, I knew immediately when my friend, Becca, texted me and asked me to do the marathon that I had to say yes. I knew it was a door of opportunity to get me from point A to point B. (or C, or D) :) I knew that her text was really sent by God. My story, HIS story needs to be told. What I didn't know was how powerful that discipline and time with God would be already. On that long Sunday run, God and I had a long discussion. I admitted to him a lot. I cannot do life without him. I cannot do this book without HIS words. I cannot and have not done anything in life without him - ever. I prayed the same prayer I've prayed for years: Speak through me. Love through me. Give through me. Teach through me. Be in my thoughts, words, and actions. Use me in whatever way YOU need. I surrender. Something different happened that day, though. I can't say what exactly. -------------------MondayNot once, not twice, but THREE times I had THREE different people stop in my office. All THREE conversations had a theme, the same theme - "Do not worry. He is in EVERYTHING. He cares."What's great about all three of those conversations isn't the coincidence of the number 3 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), but more so the theme of each conversation and what I got out of each one.  My book is about my brother's death, my family's struggle through that, my lesson that gratitude through anything can take you higher. I thought all of those were my themes. However, I'm pretty sure that another big theme is this: "God was there the moment I saw my brother for the last time. God was there the moment I knew I needed to grab him back inside. God was there when he fell. God was there when we cried. God was there. God was there. God was there." ---------------TuesdayWe woke up later than ever. It was a typical morning, though. Breakfast, hair, clothes, more hair, and then out the door. I had a busy day at work. There wasn't much time to think or reflect. I had one great conversation that stood out. It was rainy and cold. I had a run planned. I left at 5:45. My foot was slightly injured, but I went anyway. Press on! I told myself30 minutes later I knew I needed to stop and rest my foot or I wouldn't be able to walk. As I walked myself off the track, I cried and cried. My run tonight was frustrating. I felt defeated. I had dinner, I showered, and was in bed by 8:30. --------------TEXT MESSAGE-----------Me: Sorry I missed your call. Went running. Now in bed. Shelsea: Ur birthday present place (click here for that blog post) called me today. I guess I was the only one that put a phone #[...]

A Father's Love


No. It's not Father's Day. Not even close, actually. However, this topic came up over the past week in my life. Without going into much detail in order to protect those involved, I will only say that dad's seem to have a very important role in our lives whether we were adopted, taken care of my a grandparent, have two dads, none, or had someone step up to the role when no one else would. I've often said in this blog - "God will put in your life the things you need at the exact right time." I absolutely without a doubt believe that includes people. More often than not, I can look back on my own life and see where God planted people in my life to give me what I was not getting from those who were directly responsible. I think this is a fascinating thought. God will give us what we need, when we need, and who we need.Now, I know there are people out who would beg to differ or debate with me and that's ok, too. Always drawing from my own experience, I have seen this thought in action. Being adopted, God immediately stepped in and gave me what I needed - who I needed. And then there was a time in my life as I grew older that I would need someone to mentor me, someone to teach me normal behaviors, real unconditional, non-judgemental love. Here are some more examples of ways that God worked in the lives of some of my close friends: "From the time i was born until i was 17 my grandpa was my dad. I have never known what it's like to have an actual dad so i've never been sad or mad about it, it's just the way my life has always been. But my Grandpa was the most incredible man I have ever known. It didn't matter how bad I screwed up he was always on my side. I could talk to him about anything and he would give the best advice he could. He taught me about sports, made sure I had a basketball, football, soccer ball, etc." ~Tami"My step-dad is the best man in the world. I never refer to him as that (step-dad), but I don't call him dad in conversation, either. I call him by his name, David. I have a wonderful father that I call "dad," but that doesn't mean that I don't absolutely adore David. He has loved and supported me over 20 years and I'm by far the luckiest girl in the world to have him in my life." ~Melissa"My dad showed me that a true father always puts his child first no matter how old they get. He showed me that there is no other love like the love of a father. The bond between a daddy and his little girl is the strongest bond ever! A bond that no one or nothing can break or come between. He was and always will be my hero!" ~Stormy"I had a step dad who I loved dearly and thought of him as my dad. But he and my mom were only married a month to the day when he died in a car accident. It has forever affected me, in the short time I knew him, he just meant the world to me and I was devasted when he died. I was just 8 years old. Even though my dad was in my life and saw him several times a year, there's lots of issues with him. I can't change it, he's still my dad and I still talk to him and love him. But my stepdad was much more of an actual father than my real dad was, even though it was just a short time." ~AshliI love the different perspectives from the stories above because it reflects all the different ways a "dad" can affect our lives. Some dad's are also grandpas, some are step-dads, and often times some are just a close family friend. They don't have to be our real dad to make a difference. We can call them whatever we we feel, but the truth is their role in our lives will set the tone for us for the rest of our lives. [...]

Expect Great Things, Attempt Great Things


Has someone ever told you that you couldn't? Have you ever told yourself "I can't?" Have you ever done something you never thought you could? I can give you one example for every year of my life of something that either someone told me I couldn't do or something I told myself I couldn't do. For several years, I've set goals in front of me that I've never done before. For the most part, I've met them all. Some are still in progress, but I'm ok with that. Aren't we all still in progress? This past holiday break, I began listening to Candace Cameron Bure's Reshaping It All. Yes, you read that right - Candance Cameron aka DJ Tanner. Like many influential verses, books, and movies, her book continued to pop up around me (twitter, internet, mom's boards, magazines). I take these "pop ups" to mean more than coincidence. (check out SQuire Rushnell's Godwinks series). So, with a giftcard from a special friend, I downloaded the audio version of Reshaping It All. On Friday, December 16th, I began listening to what would start changing my thinking and start reshaping my spirit all over again. Lord knows, I needed it after the prior 6 weeks. As I began listening, I began working out while listening. Her voice is just as motivating as her words. Everything she was saying was making sense. From chapter 1-19 something incredible happened to me. I began to look back over my life and see the exact points where I was spiritually sound and balanced and where I wasn't. When I wasn't, I seemed to always be in a struggle with my weight. She gave childhood scenarios and they seemed to almost mimic my own. As a I did jumping jacks, push ups, and ran, several "truths" began to unfold before me. 1. If someone wasn't putting me down on a daily basis, I'd do that myself. 2. Food was always used as a comfort when I didn't know what to do with emotions. 3. Excuses for bad eating were ok because that is what I was taught. 4. Saying no to desserts or food was "rude." 5. Working out after a baby had no point. Nothing was happening anyway. I began to look at these "truths" in a new light. I listened earnestly to what Candace was saying and really began to see what I'd been doing to myself. So, I began training. I worked out at least once a day. I kept track of my food, snacks, and activity with a simple phone app. If you know me, you know I'm conscious in being in the moment & in being grateful, but I realized that I was not being conscious of what I was eating, how I was caring for my body or how my spirit was creating a plateau I'd never break. So for 2 weeks I trained, ate clean, became conscious of how to be disciplined in my spirit, mind, and body. I knew that in order to live out goals I've had for years, I would have to train all 3 parts of my being or I could never see those goals to the finish line. I had no idea what I was training for specifically, but I continued. I felt better already. Then, after 2 weeks, I got a text from a friend. "Hey, there's a marathon in Dallas in March. We should do it!" Uh. No. YOU should do it. I'll cheer. Something led me to this website and I began to read. Well, it looks fun. But there's no way. 1/2? 13 miles? I couldn't run 13 miles even at my peak fitness. I can't. As I continued to ponder on the thought above, I realized that I was telling myself "You can't." WHAT?!?!I'm the person that will not let anyone - ANYONE- tell me I can't. My life story has a theme and this was it - I CAN. So, I texted her back. "YES! I will!" OMG. What did you just do? You will?! How?! What are you thinking? You can't even run 5 miles w/out stopping. Well, you can't back out now. You spoke it and so it will be. *knock*knock* You ARE crazy, huh? I immediately downloaded an app to help me and came up with a plan for training, eating and support. This isn't about losing weight or[...]

Rise in 2012


As you move into 2012 and set your sights on new goals and dreams, remember the following: 

Anything is possible with enough enthusiasm and positivity. ~The Single Woman

1. The greatest people in history failed time and again, but their determination is what pushed them to success. 

2. Believe in yourself, commit to working hard, don't allow for any excuses or blame. 

3. Decide to turn all negatives into positives. ALL negatives -->POSITIVES. 

4. Only you can save your own life. Don't take your eyes off of your goal. 

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In the past month, I've been reminded of lessons that I've learned in the past. Mostly from people from my past. A few of those encounters did a number on my mind and emotion. So much so that I have not been myself. I've felt much like I was on a balance beam swaying back and forth and grasping at the air around me to find some sort of balance. That's not who I am. I am strong. I'm so strong that people typically don't have that power over me. However, the recent turn of events were more extreme than I'd expected. I hadn't prepared for it. There was a time in my life when I had to pull out every ounce of strength to get through to the other side. I had focus, I had strength, I had discipline, and I had the motivation. Looking back, I realize I was way stronger than I ever saw myself. The past month was difficult because I was allowing myself to be in that place of unbalance. I knew what it was and I knew what caused it. I also knew perfectly well that in order to get past it, I would have to sit with it for a time. Slowly, I've brought myself back. Though, I'm still not satisfied that I've disciplined myself enough to forget the hurt I felt.Another quick encounter where I caught another glimpse of the way I used to be treated has reminded me that I need to get past that hurt. Getting past it allows me to move forward. Getting past it allows me to pursue dreams. Getting past it allows me to be a better wife/mom. Getting past it allows me to be STRONGER than ever. But...but...BUT .........I cannot forget what it taught me for those lessons are worth more money than I could ever make. Forgetting that is not something I can do, because forgetting those lessons will make me also forget.....I am stronger  than your words. I am stronger  than the power trip you're on. I  am stronger  than the small person you'd like me to feel I am. I am stronger and I am able to move past what you give me. I am stronger than I even know. We can all be strong enough when we have to be. "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." [...]

ALERT! You ARE special, but not THAT special.


This week's lessons were full and never-ending. :) Someone sent this to me via email and I loved it so much I thought it needed to have it's own blog post. The people who NEED to read this and soak it in are often the ones who genuinely think it doesn't apply to them. I caught a few seconds of entertainment news this week and heard the reporter telling about Alec Baldwin being thrown off a plane because he wouldn't turn off his iPad when the stewardess asked him to. Do you have anyone in your life (home, work or otherwise) that should be wearing this t-shirt? How do you handle your encounters with them? I have a few people I see often that are wearing this shirt in my mind. :) Some days I can take it all with a grain of salt, other days I have to call someone to come with a cape and talk me off the ledge. Seriously.The truth? They won't even start to change if you say nothing. You'll have to find the right words and rehearse them before you say them. I often think of a phrase before I even get to work and repeat it to myself all morning so that I will have the words when the moment comes. I promise this works! You just have to be disciplined enough to do it. This week I actually told someone in front of an audience, "Why didn't you plan ahead and ask me during one of the 8 hrs I was in my office working to help you set up?" Oops! I don't usually call people out like that but it seems to be an ongoing occurrence with certain people. I think we all  have a little "the world revolves around me" in us, don't you agree? It takes conscious thought and reminding every day to remember that you ARE special, but that you not special enough to not have to follow certain rules and procedures. Keep yourself humble this week. xoxo[...]

Please Don't Say "Happy Birthday!"


Last year for my birthday I decided to do several blog giveaways! It was the best thing I've done in a long time.  I had so much fun giving! This year I'm asking YOU to give something instead. (keep reading)Adoption is near and dear to my heart. On December 5, I was adopted at 3 days old and I reflect on the fact that even if I was unplanned in the eyes of my birth parents, I was not unplanned in the eyes of God. He had a purpose for my life before I even drew my first breath of life. I LOVE adoption stories and despite what others assume, I'm very open about talking about my feelings about my own situation. I also love to hear others' stories when I get the chance. As a teacher, I've taught many, many students over the course of the 11 years I've been in education. One student stands out, though. She was a sophomore in my computer class. The next year I didn't even realize she was gone. The year after, her senior year, she returned. I was chosen to be a sponsor for the senior trip to Six Flags. As I sat on a bench beside the Texas Giant, I noticed she sat beside me. All of a sudden she struck up a conversation. -You were adopted right?Yes-I remember when you were my teacher. The first week of school we had to do the About Me project. You told us about being adopted and about your brother dying and how life is never how you expect it to turn out.Yes-Well, I was curious. Do you ever feel anger toward your birth mother? (Without hesitation) No. I think she gave me one of the greatest gifts a person can give. In my eyes she's a hero. -Really? Yes. -Do you remember I was gone last year? Yes-I went away to have a baby. I gave that baby up for adoption. I struggle daily with wondering if she'll grow up to hate me or be angry at me. In that moment, I realized that everything we go through in life, isn't just for us. It's for us to share with others and tell what we've learned. It's for us to mentor with and guide others who might go through that same situation playing a different role. It's for us to comfort and console. And that's exactly what I did. In a way I could say to her the exact things I'd say to my own birth mother if I had the chance and she could express her love and worry to me when she couldn't say those things yet to her baby girl. November is National Adoption Awareness Month (bet you didn't know that!) and after several coincidental (you know I don't believe in this) conversations about adoption with a new friend this year, I realized there weren't many charities centering around adoption. So, I know it's now December and you'll probably take time to actually go to my FB wall or twitter feed to say "Happy Birthday."  But this year I'm asking you not to. I'm asking you to choose one of the following charities and take that time to donate at least $1 in my name for my 35th birthday. 1. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption2. Gladney Center for Adoption3. Hope CottageBig love and gratitude to each of you for making my life so abundant! [...]

35 Favorite Things


Since I'll be 35 in a few days, I thought I'd make a list of all of my favorite things and share them with you. Some are silly some are not. 1. Sugar Cookie Tea (Celestial Seasonings)- a little cookie in every cup. (add some brown sugar)2. Aquaphor - dry skin, chapped lips, on the eyes, cuts - buy the big tub. Worth every $. 3. Rescue Remedy - Every mom should have a bottle in her purse. For days when you wish it was another type of bottle. 4. Pinterest - If I want to pretend I'm creative and a good cook. 5. Mary Kay anti-aging moisturizer- moisturizer is key, everyday. Seriously. 6. Essie - any color. :) Love them all. Currently wearing Mint Candy Apple on the toes. 7. Piloxing - like 90's Tae Bo except combined with pilates and empowering. 8. Starbucks - I had a McDonald's coffee the other day. They say it's the same. They lie. 9. M.A.C. nude lipstick. Let's face it - M.A.C. anything. 10. Otterbox for iPhone. I drop my phone a lot. My iphone still looks new. :) 11. Squeezable Applesauce (GoGo Squeez) - best invention for kids. Especially ones who only eat applesauce not at the table. 12. Beco Butterfly 2 - best. baby. item. ever. Gift it to someone! You can carry your kid until they are 70 lbs! ;) 13. Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark. I've tried to recreate it. It worked, but still not as good.14. Netflix - on the wii, tv, ipad, iphone, ipod15. Holiday movies - Christmas Vacation is my FAV!  Halloween is never too early! 16. Hobby Lobby - always a sale, love their decor, I can always find something I love17. Turkey bacon - healthier, less greasy, leaves you feeling better than the real stuff. 18. Lemon oil or any oil by Aura Cacia - I love LEMONS! Burn it, put it in the bath, rub some on your wrist, add it to your homemade scrub19. Keyring App - never carry those grocery store reward cards again! :) 20. Saturday Night Live - Laughing reduces stress. Stress is the silent killer. Watch SNL. 21. My crock pot - check out Stephanie O'Dea's "Year of Slow Cooking"22. Black forest cherry caramel apples - trust me. you want one. (no pic. pretty sure I'll have to recreate this myself)23. Victoria Secret - No secret here. Wear what makes you feel beautiful and girly! Splurge the extra $$ on it - you're worth it! 24. AdvoCare Spark - wanna buy some? I sell it. :) One in the AM, one in the PM - this is how I survive work, kids, etc. 25. Blankets - Since I was little I always loved them. My favorite was given to me by a student in 2007. The tag has worn down so no idea where it came from. It soft and warm on one side and slick and cool on the other. *snuggle*26. TOMS - Yes, the shoes you buy and someone else gets a pair. It's true. And they are SO comfy. I want to wear them everyday! 27. Pomegranates - red, juicy, sweet, messy. What's not to love?!28. Sally's Beauty Supply Bobby Pins - THEY REALLY HOLD! :) 29. Chocolate Covered Cherries from Sprouts - always a weekly treat to myself30. Criminal Minds - CBS, Wed - I know it's not light hearted but I love mysteries and the characters! 31. Cranberry Orange Scones - a weekly treat over donuts in our house! Kids LOVE 'em! (adults do too!) Easy "fake out" for people who think you slaved in the kitchen. ;) 32. Elf on the Shelf - by far my favorite family holiday tradition. Elf mischief is FUN! :) If you have kids, you NEED ONE! 33. Elderberry Spray - I start it in September! The spray is much more acceptable by the kids, too!  34.  FRXtion Sugar Exfoliator and Lip Balm - not all balms are created equal. I've very picky about mine. This is a sugar scrub and lip balm in one! The case has a tiny mirror, too! Always almost sold out when I go in for it. 35. This quote: "We can never judge the lives of others, because e[...]



The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be. – Horace BushnellTo each person that I, personally, know is hurting at this very moment - you are an inspiration to me. At some point in the past few weeks, you've made me smile a genuine smile and I've been consciously grateful for you and the moments we shared. Your strength is evident. The struggle you are lying down in today is the strength that will get you through to tomorrow. Love each of you more than you know, T[...]

An Open Letter To YOU


I never really thought about blogging an "open letter" but after reading my friend, T's blog for several years I decided I really liked the concept. She's written several "open letters" here.Her advice before I started was simple - "Be honest. Take responsibility to what you're contributing to the "relationship" and just write because it, simply, cures all."So, before I begin I want to say that there is nothing that I've written here that has not been said in person at least once before to this particular person. Dear You (you know who you are), I've struggled for a very long time with our relationship. There seems to be a misrepresentation between your words and your actions and I've been aware of that for much longer than you know. When I think of you the following words come to mind: angry, bitter, hurting, judgmental, cold, controlling and facade. Those are definitely not the words I'd like to come to mind, though. They are quite the opposite. I wish a different group of words would flow, but they don't. Long ago I accepted this fact.  I gave up the grandiose idea and expectation of what I thought we were or should be. I began to realize that I was just an easy target. Could it possibly be because I was one of the few to stand up to you? Was it because I wasn't one that could be controlled and manipulated with the passive-agressive behavior? Could it have been that you knew I could see right through you to the true form and not continue to believe the facade you "put on" for everyone else? For so long you actually had me believing that it was me who wasn't thinking or acting rational. I would wrestle with believing that I  had the problem, as you so often told me and that I was really instigating all of the conflict. And more often than not, I actually believed your apology just thinking that you weren't aware of your actions. You seem to have such a different perception of my reality. My reality of our time together is dark, ugly, and sad. To deny that would be to deny me. My process is not your process. So how have I contributed to this relationship? Well, after many years of reflection, soul searching, and accepting the past I acknowledge that for a certain time I, too, was angry, bitter, hurting, judgmental and cold. For two people to possess those qualities at the same time was a  pool of disaster on a daily basis. Night after night for so long, I would lie in bed and cry out and wonder what I could do to change it all. I searched and prayed for the answers. I looked to you for answers only to be thrown blame in my face. I looked to you  for some sort of guidance or map so I could navigate to a better part of our relationship but only ran into judgement and disapproval. Time and time again, I only came up empty. As the distance between us grew, I began to see that I could be a completely different person when you weren't around. I could be happy, grateful, hopeful, loving, and unselfish. I learned something that many already knew - "You become what you are surrounded by." I realized that many of my best relationships of the past were ruined by MY SELFISHNESS, MY ANGER, and MY HURT. Everyday I live with remorse and regret to certain people from my past and hope they know that today, I'm a better version of myself. I saw myself learn, grow, accept, mature, love, and see outside of myself for the very first time in my life. It was the most exhilarating experience. I couldn't get enough and slowly the tiny dreamer from long ago became the big dreamer of today. I learned one of the keys to happiness - things are not all about you. I've replayed moments spent together over and over in my mind and wondered how I could win your true, lovi[...]

A Journey of Thanks


For the past several years, many know I've started one of the #40daysofthankfulness movements on Facebook. There are many people who take part in something similar. It so refreshing to go on and see twitter or Facebook feeds show such positive words as opposed to the typical and sometimes constant complaining, especially during a time when we all should be thankful. My #40Days was born during a low point in my life. I was basically feeling like this: "If you spend less time bitching about your life, you'd possibly enjoy it more." I was in the middle of a divorce, trying to pull myself up emotionally and going on Facebook hoping to connect with family and friends became a pile of negativity I could not deal with anymore. So, rather than deleting anyone and everyone, I decided to throw out A LOT of GRATITUDE. This year the Facebook event I created (40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge) now has over 2,000 people joining in and throwing out gratitude into the world. If you're reading, not part of this movement and would like to join, go here. We typically start the first week of October and end right before Thanksgiving, but there are no rules (except to be thankful and not negate your thanks in the same sentence).  You can start whenever.Last year, a friend challenged me to an entire year of gratitude. At first I thought there was no way I could pull a daily "thanks" out every single day. But then I realized - I could do it. Then I was determined I would do it.Today I'm on Gratitude Day 373. :) I made the 365 days, let it collide with my 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge and am going on to 1,000 gratitudes. Something I've found on my journey of thanks is that many people misinterpret my attitude of gratitude into many different things: Her life is perfect.She never has a bad day.How can she always be so cheery? She thinks she better than all of us who are struggling. Um. No. Maybe you don't know my story. If not, wait for the book. I can promise you my life has never been perfect - ever. I do have bad days. There are emotions I'm still dealing with 24 years after the devastation of losing a brother. How can I be cheery? Because I know the other side of the coin - death, divorce, addiction, bitterness.  Better than you?  No. Never. I acknowledge that we ALL struggle, all have a story, all are dealing with pain, and are all trying to find that place of peace daily. This wonderful status from my friend and "gratitude ambassador," T, pretty much sums up my feeling about those misinterpretations: Many people assume a positive attitude means lack of struggle or hardship, when in fact, a positive attitude is what pulls us through the difficult times. That person smiling at you has just as much of a battle as you do, they just choose to look at it differently.Will you choose gratitude when things are not going your way and you seem to be at the bottom of that valley? Will you acknowledge all that you have instead of all that you don't? Will you choose to look at it all differently, no matter what is going on in your life? I hope so. [...]

Imprinted Words


As I ran my morning run, on the eve of the 1st day of school, I also ran through all of the things I want my girls to know as they begin a new endeavor with new teachers, new lessons, and new life challenges. When they started preschool, I reminded them to share and eat their lunch. When they started kindergarten, I encouraged them to make new friends, listen to their teacher, and encouraged them to take pride in their art work and school work. Now, I have a 5th grader and a 1st grader. As the 5th grader begins encountering all of the new realizations about others' actions, words, home life, and the differences to her own life compared to theirs, I find it harder and harder to find the right words to send her off. I think it's extremely important for us to leave kids with something empowering and positive. Here are some of the things I tell my girls as they leave me for the day: " Make someone's day. Make people feel awesome instead of awful." "Remember, you are a victor, not a victim!" "Attitude of Gratitude! Be ready to tell me your gratitude after school!"Here are some things that some of my friends say and do before dropping kids off: "Who's better than you?" "NOBODY!'Prayers with kids before leaving for school. "Make good choices!" "Get your mind off of yourself and bless others!" "Do everything without complaining or arguing." What do you want those last words to your children be each day? [...]



Often you will find that I'm the optimist. I always try to see the glass as "half full," I will look for the gratitude until I see it clearly, I will look for the good in people no matter where they come from, what they do, or how they look. I have 3 dream boards that I've consciously made since 2001 entailing my dreams, goals, hopes for the future. That being said, I use to wonder where that attitude came from. After all, life wasn't always easy, pleasant, or "full." (another reminder to work on my book starting June 28th) A few weeks ago, I had to be home unexpectedly, so I decided to clean out the boxes in the garage. Most of it was college and teacher stuff with a few childhood items and photos thrown in there with a suprise dream collage I'd made while in college. I was impressed with myself. Already self teaching way back then.... ha. Then I saw it. Pink with a rusted lock on it. It read simply "Diary." As I looked closer I realized there were ballerina bunnies on it. Hmph!  I didn't take the "young girl version of me" to have something pink, much less with BUNNIES! As I slightly opened the cover, I realized the glue of the spine was loose and I could gently pull the entire 200 pages out. I immediately smirked and began reading. Every boy crush I had from 1987 - 1991. Reading through those pre-teen and teen emotions brought immediate flashbacks of that time period. This little gem is PRICELESS: "When I have kids I'll definitely know what they're going through." This one was a memory I'd often shared, but the amount of details I provided about the whole experience really floored me: "Hey! You will never in a million years guess who I met yesterday night. Give up? I met the group Bad English." Honestly, this one impressed the hubby because little did "younger me" know but I not only met John Waite, but also former Journey band members, Jonathan Cain & Neal Schon. ?!@?!@# Duh. Amazing. I remember taking a picture with them where they held me in their arms, but my reading reminded me that we also got to tour their bus and meet their bus driver. Though, the film never processed right so I only have my memory of the moment to go on.(Yet another awesome moment to add on my "dream board.")The interesting thing about this is that I never really hoped or dreamed of meeting them. But I can recall sitting at home day after hot summer day listening to my pink (ugh. Yep, pink) radio cassette player and holding down the pause button until "When I See You Smile" began playing. I only had 10 versions of that song on one side of a cassette tape. (If you don't know about cassette tape recorders, you should close this blog now. You are not worthy! :) I kid...) So......that brings me to the next few photos I took of that little pink book. Circa 1989-1990My first official NKOTB entry was January 3, 1990. Is it ironic that is my husband's birthdate? I think not. He's not only amazing because he's my soulmate, but also because he's put up with my NKOTB love for a while. :) (4 concerts later)Then I read on: "I asked mom and dad about going to a NKOTB concert and they said "...maybe next time they were close they would take me. I cannot wait until 'next time.' " I go on for a good year about my #NKOTB #LOVE and see that "next time" never happened. However, this last photograph sort of took me back and humbled me. In 10 days my belief will be a reality. ^^That girl up there - she didn't anticipate that NKOTB would go away. Nor did she anticipate that NKOTB would ever return years later to bigger and better audiences, bigger and better venues. And she sure as heck didn't anticipate that she'd have a chance [...]

The 5 Things I've Learned:Thank you, Oprah!


In honor of Oprah's last week of shows, I decided to compile a list the 5 things that I learned from Oprah. I admit that in the last few years, I've not been the avid viewer that I once was while a young mother and teacher. Though, I can remember seeing her on TV as far back as third grade. I never really took the time to sit and listen to her show until I was an eighteen year old college student sitting in my dorm alone while reflecting back on my childhood and dreaming of my future. I listened intently when she had Dr. Phil on discussing relationships and saying "What are YOU getting out of that behavior? If you weren't getting something out of it, you wouldn't keep doing it." (you know, in that Texas-dr-phil voice every comedian loves to hate on)I read the books of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. I had never felt more empowered, more knowledgeable and more sad while reading the words of each of these wonderful authors. Maya Angelou taught me to hold my head up high no matter what my past said, Toni Morrison taught me how to light up when I see my children, and Jacquelyn Mitchard took me back to a dark place of loss that I had been pushing aside for a long time. I listened to the real heart-breaking and inspiring  stories of Mattie and Jeni Stepanek (who I know follow on twitter) & Joanne Compton. I identified with so many of the stories told by real people and began a transformation of my own as I watched, listened and made time everyday at 4 pm to watch Oprah. (This was before Tivo, mind you.) Oprah was there when I got married, had two babies, got divorced, remarried, and had another baby. Though it all looks so simple in writing, it was not and I remembered much of what I'd learned from the people on her show to get me through. She was there to remind me to take time for me, to face those things about myself that needed changing, to show me how to celebrate life and how to come out on the other side of the pain. She was there as I learned what a "dream board" was and how powerful it can be: I really did meet Harry Connick, Jr, became the subject of a book, was honored by an extraordinary "Freedom Writer,"  and began intently working on finishing my book. (all of which I posted on my board BEFORE it happened.)And though, I never made it to her show, I  still became the best version of me that I'd ever been despite any of those obstacles or mistakes. The 5 things I've learned: Thank you, Oprah! 1. All pain is the same. Sometimes our ego gets in the way and makes us believe that our pain is worse than the person next to us. It's not. Pain is pain no matter how it comes about. 2. When you know better, you do better. If we do not know any different, then we continually do the same thing over and over. Knowing is half the battle. 3. No matter what you've endured in the past, you have the ability to change your future. We all can point to a time of tragedy or misfortune, but it's our choice to sit in it forever or get up, acknowledge it and move on. 4. You teach people who you are and how to treat you. You do whether you are conscious of it or not. If you allow them to walk over you, if you avoid setting up boundaries b/c of being afraid to "hurt feelings," or if you continue living like you do not deserve the best, the cycles will continue. Best to be conscious  and avoid a world of heartache down the road. 5. Gratitude in the moment of despair will change your life forever.  If you didn't already know about my 40 days of Thankfulness  or my 365 days of Gratitude challenge, please visit the links and think about [...]

Did Teachers Impact You?


I've covered this topic before but in a much lighter tone. I'm sure you've all had a teacher impact your life in some positive way. 

Unless you've been living under a rock in a deep, dark hole, you know that there is a education crisis in our nation. 

Budgets are getting cut, teachers are being laid off, and some schools are closing. Is this not at the great expense of our students? Our own children? These acts, I'm confident, will cause more issues for our future besides finances. 

I know that had I not had some teachers and school employees in my own life, I would've taken a much darker path than I have. Thanks going out to Mrs. Elam, Mrs. Turner, Mr. Cates, Ms. Terrie Hawkins, Mr. Hindman, and Mrs. Wrenn. 

Had they not influenced me, I would not had the opportunity to influence my own group of students later in life. 

As I stay connected with fellow teachers and technology education guru's, I see the same thing happening over and over. Some of my closest friends are being affected by this decision from legislators. 

I would like to share with you just one friend's account of her experience. 

Please click over to her blog and read Andrea's experience with recent teacher cuts. 

She writes very candidly and her suggestion of writing an email right now to a teacher you know encouraging them in their journey to educate our kids despite all of the turmoil will be HUGE. 

Are you wiling to take a few minutes out of your day and choose a teacher to encourage with a few words of thanks and appreciation? 



Why, yes, it's been over 2 months since I've blogged. A lot has been going on since then, including a dream. I've been working at the High School working to implement more technology, teach my teachers new and exciting ways to engage students in their class, and learning more myself about technology, students, teachers, and the direction for students in a typical classroom. Some days I don't stop. No lunch, no bathroom breaks, not a lot of anything except technology. I have to say it is heaven despite the stress. Not to mention the fact that I get great opportunities to learn new things from new people. The stress and pure exhaustion is the reason my fingers have not found the keyboard and my blog site. (Plus being mommy to 3 and wife)I've decided to write about it instead of avoiding discussing it! :) If you get bored, that's fine - just be sure to scroll to the bottom before closing this window! So, the first month was hectic. This is the first school to have a full time "me." (instructional technologist) So, on top of making sure my teachers know basic technology knowledge, I also meet with the technology team about upcoming changes or obstacles. I order new devices and make sure that we have trainers available. I work to schedule professional development and recruit speakers to come talk "technology." I've also had the opportunity to go to TCEA (Computer Education Conference) in Austin and hang with some pretty smart, cool people. It was at this conference that I began my new twitter account @txtechchick and found a whole new world. It's like being at a professional development conference every minute of every day. It can consume a person, no doubt. Please feel free to follow me for some great educational apps, Apple news, Web 2.0 tools, and much more!  I attended an Apple Learning seminar where Apple associates model how to use their devices, computers, and applications in a real world classroom setting. I went to a HS in Decatur to see how they have been implementing and rolling out a 1:1 (1 laptop to 1 student). We have most everything in place now to be able to do this if we so chose. It was one of my favorite learning opportunities! I loved seeing the students engaged and the teacher not being afraid to try something new! I've also sat in on a textbook adoption meeting. Interestingly enough, many textbook companies realize that our students are digital natives and are making their books, writing, and grammar materials accessible online. Imagine having your textbooks on your computer or iPad! As I've weeded through thousands of sites, ideas, thoughts, I've definitely become inspired. I watch my own children grow and learn and watch their ease and ability to use a cell phone, a laptop, and iPad, an iPod or any other electronic device that connects them to the world. They definitely learn differently than we did. Their expectations are much different than ours. I've had the chance to interact with kids from preK-12 since 2008 and the more I talk with them the more I hear of how they want/need to learn. I made this video for my teachers based on a survey taken of a HS class and their answers to the question "How do you learn best?"  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="390" src="" title="YouTube video player" width="640">Another student said it best: 'The minute we walk into school they expect us to come in and turn off our lives. And the first thing we do the minute school is out? Turn them back on. We are digital and live digital lives. We have to go back in time to go to school."&[...]

Books Can Shape Your Life


The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.  ~James BryceI love it when my blog readers actually request that I write about something! It takes the pressure off or coming up with my own topic! :) (Thank you anonymous requester!) I got a surprise email this morning that said this: "I would love to know your top ten list of books that inspired you or somehow made a difference in your life. I'm sure other people would love to know to, hopefully help inspire them."Wow. What a great request. Ironically, right after reading this I was packing up boxes for my new office and ran across a ton of books that I've collected through college and teaching HS. So, in no particular order I will list the books that have impacted me, inspired me, and shaped me to be who I am today. My hope is that I can share all of these books with my children someday and that the stories will tug at their hearts just as they did mine. 1. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.  - Judy BlumeI recall being in 4th or 5th grade when I first read this book. Blume's candidness about pre-teen girls was something that I craved yet didn't know I did. This is where I learned a lot about a life that I didn't know yet. I've already shared this jewel read with my own 10 year old and she loved it just as much! 2. Of Mice and Men - John SteinbeckI knew from a young age that I had a unique love for reading. I knew that I enjoyed literature and if I could've taken English and only concentrated on the literature portion, I would've been in heaven. Sophomore year was in my first honors class and can still to this day envision Mr. Chappell reading to us and with us. His love of literature and this book, make ME love the story of two men down on their luck. Years later, I found myself actually getting to teach this book to my own sophomore class. :) 3. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper LeeFreshman year. I fell in love with the story about a young girl, Scout, and her brother, Jem. I got caught up in their mischief, curiosity and lessons about life. I dove into this story and didn't come out until I was finished. The movie is just as good and is definitely something everyone should see or read in their lifetime. 4. Our Town - Thornton WilderAnother HS favorite. I truly related to Emily and her young perspective on life and not taking anything for granted. After losing my brother at a young age, I'd already learned this lesson, but this story was a reinforcement of that lesson and it hit me hard. A few years after reading it, I was an "extra" for the school production and still have great memories of those rehearsals. 5. Conversations with God - Neale Donald WalschThis is one of my favorite books because it goes against a lot of what I was taught. I like to read - everything. Even if people that were friends or family would have harsh things to say about what this book contained. I read all three volumes in a matter of days and came up grasping for more. It made me think outside of that "this is what's normal to believe" box. 6. The Purpose Driven Life -  Rick WarrenEveryone and everyone should read this 40 days of finding your purpose. I read it alone, with someone, and then volunteered to be the leader of a group study. It touched my heart that much. It helped me think through many of the trials and struggles in my life and make peace with them. 7. Simple Abundance -Sara Ban BreathnachI'm doing a 365 brief study of this book now (find it here). It is my second time to go through the book in the last 10 years. It forces yo[...]



After taking a much needed break from work and the world, I'm back! I don't know about you, but it's always good to get away from the grind and take some time sleeping in, playing video games, going out whenever I want, getting dressed or not. And here's a little secret: I only put makeup on 3 days out of the 2 weeks I was on vacation. :) I took a hiatus from my 365 Days of Gratitude blog as well. It may be ironic, but I think taking breaks from some of our commitments is a huge step in learning to live simply. ___________________________Today as I listened to the church message I thought a lot about the topic: "celebration." Most holidays we are mindful of our blessings and of celebrating and do so in style. But then what? What happens after that post holiday euphoric letdown? This. Find something to celebrate everyday. I gotta feelin' that if you set your mind to celebrate something everyday, you will! ____________________________sleeping inthe smell of coffee in the morningthe sun shining through the windowthe fire crackling in the fireplacewatching my girls play togetherlistening to baby J giggle at something simplefeeling a snuggie while watching a moviereading the words of my girl after churchlooking at my favorite lamp and how it lights the roomworking out with Jasonlaughing at 3 AM loving where I am in this lifethe anxiety of starting something newbeing stillthe feeling and smell of homemade peppermint sugar scrubbeing caught up on laundry, dishes or other choresdiscovering a new workouteating blackeyed, peas, cornbread, salad, and lamp chops for the New Yearlearning that someone else joined 365 Days of Gratitude - to my surpriseWaking up knowing that it's a new day with new possibilities and challenges_______________________________Find ways to celebrate what's happening in your own life. It doesn't have to be a special occasion to make a cake, wear diamond earrings, or use the nice plates. Celebrate your moments! 2011 will be full of them even in times of struggle and despair, just open your eyes! [...]

Stop. Simply. Be.


I do not believe in something without trying it myself. I began 40 Days of Thankfulness, asked people to join and continued doing it with them. 

I started 365 Days of Gratitude and am now on day 35. I did not think I would be able to keep that commitment at all. But now with 200 members in that group, a new blog site dedicated to it, and a new challenge to go along with our gratitudes, the idea is spreading. 

So the idea of Gratitude and Simplicity is in my head every minute of every day. Even in the sad moments, stressful moments, and moments of unexpected change. 

As I spend the day sitting with Jace, holding him, playing with him, feeding him, I'm reminded how fast my time with him is in this moment. This day my oldest turns 10. Just yesterday she was the same age and I was watching her try to crawl. 

So, I try at least once a day to stop and do something silly with my kids. We all need to take a break from being an adult for a few hours. Reading books, watching Justin Bieber videos, playing the Wii to WIN, making cupcakes or cookies, making a snowman or s'mores. . . .

The people you hold dear and near will thank you for it. 

In the chaos and craziness of the season, please, please, please stop. Take a simple moment to do a simple thing. In the simplicity we find authenticity, love and gratitude. 

My birthday gift to YOU!


Yes, friends. Today I turn 34. It's actually quite difficult to fathom that I've spent 34 years on this earth. Wow. #gratitudeTo those middle school kids last week, I seem old. To those kindergartners, I seem ancient. To those mentors, I seem young. To my parents, I still am a baby. :) Age is all in your perspective. How you see it, is how it will be. If you've followed this blog for any significant amount of time you know things things to be true about your writer: 1. Live simply. 2. Love in all things.3. Gratitude is the key to being able to breathe through your life. Being grateful doesn't mean life is perfect, it just means overlooking the "blech" parts and finding the "ahhhh" parts. 4. Find simple things to pamper yourself and rejuvenate your day. 5. Music speaks to my soul every day. It supports my emotion no matter what it is and gives me hope. It reminds me of love. It encourages me to dance. It bonds me and my children, my and my husband. I love every kind of music you can think of and jazz is one of my favorite things to listen to while sipping on some great wine! I could not live without any of these things. I would be miserable without them. So, for my birthday I'm giving YOU a present. 1. Here is a great holiday tradition to start with your family at any time! You can readjust it to 10 days, 5 days. Remember that kids love simple things just as much as you do! 2. A great friend (JL) has offered to giveaway one of her products! I've chosen to giveaway something to pamper your body!  You'll love it and it will force you to pamper that skin! 3. A great musician agreed to giveaway his CD. Jonny Blu will send an autographed CD to you! So - the rules. Be a follower. Comment one thing you did to enjoy life today! You only have until 12 AM December 7 to post and enter! I'll pick a winner for #2 and #3 and notify you! big love and gratitude. . . [...]

Small is Great


Some of the greatest things in the world, are often the smallest. Newborn babiesA loving glanceA helping handA smileMost of you know that I've began a huge undertaking. I've committed to doing 365 Days of Gratitude. One acknowledgement of gratitude per day, one blog per day, one tweet per day, and usually one journal entry per day.I seem to have found a pretty good rhythm for seeing that all get posted. Though, it's not been easy each day. During every single time I've taken time to consciously give thanks and send it out into the world, I realize that at a certain point - usually about day 20 ish, I find that it's not as easy as I thought it would be. Things happen and don't always go my way or as planned. People disappoint. Circumstances develop. This is exactly why being grateful everyday is necessary. The practice of gratitude teaches us, grooms us for those days or times that may be difficult. The practice helps us to realize that IN ALL THINGS we should be thankful. This past holiday week, I've found that I've been more grateful for the simple, small things. Small tree, simple ornaments, hanging lights, making hot cocoa, playing video games, listening to the girls play for hours on end, watching Jace delight in the newness of the holiday season or squeal in excitement when he sees a sister, being able to relax with my husband, cooking with no pressure, letting the day take us where it may, giving up control. Life is not perfect, but we must be able to see all the perfect moments within it and be thankful. [...]

365 Days of Gratitude & Simplicity Day 14


November 23, 2010*All content has been taken from SImple Abundance. Some content has been shortened for the purpose of 365 Days of Gratitude. The Gratitude JournalGratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  ~Melody BeattieIt's been exactly 14 days since we first started this journey. I asked in the beginning that you go out and purchase a journal. My hope is that if you did you took a special trip to find one and that the journal reminds you, pulls you in each day in order to record your thoughts, questions, and gratitudes. If you haven't found your journal yet, and your are following along in this extensive part of 365 Days, you must get the journal. It is not an option. It doesn't have to be expensive. Here's mine: It cost exactly $2. It's purple and is soft to touch, has a ribbon bookmark and makes me smile because purple is one of my favorite colors.  The point of the journal is to practice being conscious and writing down specific gratitudes. As I've said, I've went on this journey before and the transformation after the first several months is amazing. You will begin to find yourself more content that you ever thought possible. "Gratitude is the heart's memory." Today's challenge: If you haven't already, GO GET YOUR GRATITUDE JOURNAL! :)  Today's exercise: Write down 10 things you are grateful for in this moment. [...]

365 Days of Gratitude & Simplicity Day 13


November 22, 2010*All content has been taken from SImple Abundance. Some content has been shortened for the purpose of 365 Days of Gratitude. Gratitude: Awakening the Heart"The eyes of my eyes are opened. ~e.e. cummingsThe author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, writes " One ordinary morning I realized I was emotionally and physically exhausted from concentrating on things I wanted to buy but couldn't afford. I felt trapped in a vicious circle. The more I focused on lack and on what I didn't have, the more depressed I became. I hungered for an inner peace that the world could not take away. I surrendered my desire for security and instead sought serenity. As I started my life's inventory of assets my list grew and grew." This attitude of gratitude is the road to learning how to live our lives abundantly. When you begin to give thanks for everything - big and small, in all things,  the flow of thankfulness comes so fast and furious that we cannot help but begin to live in a serenity that never was before. Today's challenge: Open your eyes to and give your life another look. Are your basic needs met? Food? Clothes? Is there a regular means of income? Do you have your health? Can you walk, talk, hear? Do you have family and friends?  Today's exercise: Write down 10 things you are grateful for in this moment. [...]

365 Days is Moving. . . .


After a lot of thought, I've decided to move the 365 Days of Gratitude and Simplicity to it's own blog. 

I didn't truly realize how big the concept would be and I want to have others follow along without having to read all my personal epiphany blogs mixed in there. So, I am separating the two. 

I'll still keep reminding you to visit me here as well as 365 Days of Gratitude & SImplicity.  

For the next few days I will post my gratitude blogs  in both spots and then taper off and only post them in the new spot. 

I didn't get A LOT of feedback from my previous posts and inquires, but I'm thinking more people are reading and probably not posting. This is okay and actually great, I think. 

I'm finding that many people are being affected by our gratitudes, especially those that aren't saying anything. :) 

Spread the attitude of gratitude. xoxoxo