Tuesday Thanksgiving

Because there are documented benefits to a regular practice of gratitude and thanksgiving, I pause on Tuesdays and give thanks for all of the wonderful things in my life. There are really too many to list, but I try to make Tuesdays my highlight reel.

This week, the following things are making the list:

  • Sweet Husband. He is so patient and so kind. The weekend wasn’t great for a lot of reasons, but as he always does, he stepped up to the plate. He shows me again and again what love is and how it behaves. I’m so very lucky to be married to him.
  • The job. I have a job. One that pays me well. It’s not the job that I want, but it is a job that provides for us. It gives us the life we want to have, and I’m accepting the gift that is this job. I’m not excited to get up and drive 2 hours to a PD tomorrow, but that’s OK. I need to get back in practice.
  • Connection. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I want to go, and I’m finding lots of like-minded people out there in the world. I would have never thought.
  • Support. As I’m working on getting to where I want to be, there are several people who are offering their support and expertise. For free. I’m working on asking for and accepting help when I need it rather than trying to soldier on cluelessly in the meantime. I’m grateful.
  • Cooler temperatures. It’s July, which is when we’re supposed to have the terrible temperatures, and while it can be sweltering, it’s also a pretty pleasant atmosphere out there right now. We were in New Orleans last Thursday and Friday, which I usually won’t do because it just so nasty there in the summer time. I love this respite, and I’m trying to remind myself that August is coming.
  • Serendipity. I’ve been searching for something for almost a year, and I finally found it. That means that my front porch will shortly be almost finished, and I cannot wait. It’s one of my very places to be, and it will soon be even better.

For what are you thankful this week? What blessings are you counting? Let me know in the comments!

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Mindful Monday – Bite Size Memoir – Reading

Since last Tuesday night, our internet has been down. Apparently when the City was clearing out the brush and debris in the alley where our DSL line starts, they cut our line twice. Which is odd because the internets were working fine until after we had a massive rainstorm come through. Our first call to AT&T led to a new DSL modem being sent to us…which didn’t solve the problem. And then we decided to upgrade to Uverse from AT&T because we didn’t have pay for the modem or installation and promotional prices for the next year mean that our bill is lower than it would have been with the DSL modem.

Finally this afternoon we got back online, although this is the first time I’m actually online.

A week’s worth of time essentially away from the internets means that I didn’t do any posting here. Or emailing. or much of anything really. Which is perfectly OK because I got other things done (more of that later in the week) and we had a bit of a holiday with Sweet Husband’s mother. I hadn’t planned to take a break from blogging because I have the WordPress app on my phone, but when it came right down to it, I really didn’t want to waste my time on my phone when there were things like New Orleans waiting for me. So, if you follow me on Instagram, you saw some of the fun because while I wasn’t really anywhere else online, I was there.

Once again this week I am participating in Lisa Reiter’s Bite-Size Memoir Challenge. This week, the prompt is as follows:

Holiday Reads

Do you read on holiday? If you do, what do you choose? Do you have a genre you prefer for those long, relaxed poolside word-marathons you don’t get chance for at home? Do you read about the places you visit? Perhaps you take a large and tricky tome, knowing it’s the best chance you’ll get this year to finish it! And do you remember the books you have read on holiday? Is there something your holiday reads say about you?

I don’t read as much as I used to, but I do love to read. Particularly in the summer on the beach. There’s just something about it. Give me a few hours on a beach with my Nook, and I can just about guarantee that I’m going to finish a book…if I’m left alone to do so ;) For some reason people like to talk when you’re chillin’ on the beach. Sweet Husband recognizes what a joy reading is and most often leaves me alone.


 

I specifically asked Sweet Husband for the most basic of e-readers – black and white and no ability to get online to “play” – just to download books. He came through for me, and when we head to the beach on either a random Saturday or a weekend vacation, the Nook goes with me. Last Thursday when sitting on the beach at Perdido Key, I continued to make headway with The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. I randomly picked the book because it was the start of baseball season, and I love baseball.

About 10 years ago, I made the switch to reading predominately non-fiction. There’s just something about finding out the real story – whether it is good or bad. I enjoy a good novel, but non-fiction is really my bag. The Last Boy is filled with excellent story-telling, as compelling as any fiction…and it’s true.


 

If we make it to the beach this weekend or if we’re lounging poolside at SH’s parents’, I should finish The Last Boy. There are a ton of other books already loaded on to the Nook. But there is a novel that I’ve been waiting to read. I think I might need to either set up to check out e-books from the library or just bite the bullet and buy the book I want to read.

What about you? What do you like to read when you’re big chillin’ on vacation? (I have no idea why I’ve slipped into high school slang. I’m tired. Or something like that)

Tuesday Thanksgiving

Because there are documented benefits to a regular practice of gratitude and thanksgiving, I pause on Tuesdays and give thanks for all of the wonderful things in my life. There are really too many to list, but I try to make Tuesdays my highlight reel.

This week, the following things are making the list:

  • Sweet Husband. He’s my biggest supporter and cheerleader. I don’t know what I would do without him because it doesn’t matter what I do or how awful I am, he still loves me and supports me. I know where I need to be better, and I’m working on it. But when I falter, he still loves me.
  • 20140715-215519-78919733.jpg

  • Time. I love this summer and all the time it has afforded me. I don’t know that I have put it to the best use, but I’ve really enjoyed having the benefit of an open day and deciding what to do with it.
  • Adventure. Tomorrow I head out with my fabulous mother-in-law for a few days of fun with her childhood best friend…with SH’s blessing.
  • Cooler temperatures. It’s been hot. I’ve been out painting furniture in the front yard & within minutes I’m dripping sweat. But today the rain came in & cooled things off so even though it interrupted my plans for finishing the end tables, I’m grateful for the respite.
  • A few more days. My PD on the 21st & 22nd has been cancelled so I’m fine with staying home & enjoying summer for another week.
  • People who believe in me. I’ve been beating myself up about where I find myself and what my options are but there are a whole lot of people out there who support me & believe in me. Having conversations with them reminds me of the foundations I have laid.
  • Opportunity. There are options available. I’m working in finding the on that is perfect for me.
  • Plenty. The bills are paid & we have everything we want plus more. I cannot complain about the place where my life rests.

For what are you thankful this week? What blessings are you counting? Let me know in the comments!

Mindful Monday – Bite-Size Memoir Challenge – The Karaoke Bar

I’m participating again this week in Lisa Reiter’s Bite-Size Memoir Challenge. As just a reminder – the rules are 150 words or 10 “I remember” statements.

This week, Lisa gives us the following:

10 out of 10 is our theme but I’ll leave it to you to pick anything you excel at, be it a hobby, academia or even a certain strand of trivia. We’ll be glad to hear of the ordinary as much as the extraordinary or if you want to take a funny look at an obsessive part of your life or character, choose a trait you ‘excel’ at. 

It took me a little bit this morning to figure out exactly I wanted to write about. I don’t know if it’s this in-born Mid-Western humility, but when I was thinking about it, I really couldn’t come up with anything that I was a 10 out of 10 at doing or being. There are a ton of things that I’m good at. There are a few things that I’m really good at. But when it comes down to it, there’s not much that I can think of that I’m excellent at. I think I’m an excellent listener (although I could use some practice) but how do you distill that particular skill into small piece of memoir? I’m also really good at remaining calm and collected under pressure. Good at being a student (just OK at being a teacher). I’m a pretty good gardener. I’m a good dog mommy. But again – how do you boil that down into something that makes a good memoir?

…and then I had a vague recollection of an evening out with friends that wound up in an unfamiliar dive bar with a karaoke contest. That was certainly a time that I was a 10 out of 10!


 

Y’all remember that time when we went to the dive karaoke bar? No, the other time. Nope, that other time. No, no, no…the time that I won the contest and collected a $50 bar tab that they wouldn’t let us use that night and then we never went back there to use it because the place was just that…skeevy? Yeah, that time. I can’t remember what song I sang to get me to the finals, but I sure do remember the one I sang to win. It was calculated and by design – with the Pussy Cat Song (warning – NSFW, although it’s innuendo), there was no way that any one in that crusty little dive bar was going to beat me.

I’ve scored excellent at choir competitions, sung “God Bless America” in front of 500 people two days after 9-11, rocked my wedding reception. But winning that karaoke contest was definitely the time when I was a 10 out of 10.


 

What about y’all? What are you a 10 out of 10 at doing or being? Let me know in the comments or join us at Lisa’s site.

Weekend Unwind

I won’t lie – I love the weekends. Even when they are difficult, they are wonderful. And this weekend was one of the wonderful ones. I am dreading the return to school because if I am back in the ‘burg, that means that weekends will be spent catching up on the things that I didn’t get to do during the week. My weekends will be much different than they are, and I’m not ready for that.

I realized just the other morning that there will not be many more weekends before work intrudes again. In fact, next weekend, I’ll be prepping for two days in Meridian at training. I’ll have the weekend after that free, and then the following weekend I’ll be making ready to go back to school.

In the meantime, I’m planning on enjoying weekends like this past one. It started poorly – we had some icky weather move through Wednesday into Friday, and I really do not do well with the change in weather, particularly when it’s an issue of swings in barometric pressure. I started feeling pretty terrible Thursday night as we were leaving the restaurant, and instead of getting my mother-in-law’s new laptop set up, I came home and essentially went straight to bed. I woke up Friday morning, set the computer up, and went back to bed as soon my mother-in-law left to go home.I did not get out of bed until after 2:00. I’m not sure that I could have gotten up and moved if the world was coming to end – that’s how terrible I felt.

Once out of bed, Sweet Husband and I ran some errands and spent a quiet night at home. I still wasn’t 100%, and SH was happy to be home with the puppies.

Saturday, though, Saturday was one of those days. We made our way from one end of the Coast to the other and had a blast. We found a great bargain at thrift store on a cushion for the front porch and had some lunch before heading off to the Bay for Second Saturday. I think one of my very favorite things here on the Coast is Second Saturday. Although we made a purchase (my pink flamingo! Finally!), buying things aren’t the biggest part of Second Saturday for us. We enjoy wandering around the shops, having drinks with friends, and just taking it all in. It was hot (good grief was it hot), but the wine was free and flowing, and we loved every second of it.

If you’re going to come visit us, come visit on the 2nd Saturday of the month. We’ll take you to Bay St. Louis and you’ll fall in love too.

After we shopped til we almost dropped, SH took me for crab legs. He knows the way to my heart for sure: a little bit of thrift store shopping, a little socializing, a little drinking, and some crab legs. How does life get any better than this?

(and as an aside, if you follow me on Instagram, you saw pictures of our weekend. Hit me up!)

Today I’ve been working. The laundry is almost done. Tomorrow I’ve got to do the linens, but everything else is taken care of. The end tables have finally been painted, although I need to do a little sanding on one of them, hit it with some more yellow paint, and then it’s on to the poly. I can’t wait to move those things into the bedroom. The next steps to finish the room will be to find some charcoal gray thermal drapes (for a decent price) and some frames for the massive prints that I ordered (2, 16 x 20 and 2, 11 x 14 beach prints) as well as some shutters for a headboard. Now, of course, some knick-knacks and some throw pillows would not go amiss, but the biggest pieces to finish the room and pull it together will be done with the end tables, drapes, and prints. The headboard would be great, but it’s not something we have to have right this minute. I have some hammered bronze paint – I can paint what we have used as a headboard for the last 2 years and wait.

As the weekend gives it’s last gasp, it is time for me to create my intentions for the coming week. As SH and I just had a conversation about our finances, a few of the priorities have changed since I wrote out my list this morning during my morning pages meanderings, and that’s OK. That frees me up to focus on other things. Like the following:

  • Jobs on the Coast (please, Universe. I’ve been asking for months and I’m running out of time. I’m beyond ready to be home on a full-time basis)
  • Photography. I have a shot goal this week, and I want to do some work on my editing flow.
  • Writing. There are a few ideas floating around in my head about some more long-range writing.
  • Connections. I need to work on responding to folks and making those connections to other writers and photographers.
  • Wellness. Eating at home, walking – all those things. We need to continue.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I know that by the time I add in everything that else that will consume my time during this week, those five things will be more than enough.

How was your weekend? What were you up to? And what are your intentions for the coming week? Let me know in the comments!

Full Buck Moon – Our Most Powerful Dreams

When I first discovered Jamie Ridler last year, it was through Wishcasting and creating Full Moon Dream Boards. It was through Jamie that I became familiar with the idea of creating a vision board and using collage to manifest our hopes and dreams. I’m not really all that comfortable – still – with collage, even though I have a ton of magazines that are just gathering dust here in the house. I keep meaning to go through them and tear out pictures and words – putting them into files so that when I am ready to do collage or create a vision board, they are all there for me – but I haven’t gotten around to doing that.

In the meantime, particularly for the creation of my Full Moon dream boards, I’ve found that I really enjoy using Pinterest to create my board. With Pinterest, I can meditate on the question that the Full Moon asks. Once I feel like I’ve got an answer to the Full Moon’s question, then I can begin to winnow it down to the essential pieces of it. I find that it’s kind of like my dissertation research, in which I collected a bunch of information, and then began winnowing it down until I had just a few key elements. Once I have those essential pieces or those keywords, then I can begin searching for pins that help me clarify my dreams.

While there are several interpretations for the Full Buck Moon, along with their differing ideas of the questions that the Full Moon is asking us, I went with the Jamie’s question, although I also like the explanation here and here. Once I knew what question I was answering or what to think about with regard to the full moon, I began pinning images and came up with the following:
Follow Pierced Wonderings Jen Allen’s board Full Buck Moon Dream Board on Pinterest.

 

I chose images that relate to the dreams that I want most – to be a writer, to take great pictures (maybe make a tiny bit of money at both of them), emotional security and stability, family. They are the things that come to me again and again and again. They are the things that keep creeping up in the back of my skull, inching up my spine and coming to rest in that little notch where the two meet. It’s what I hear again and again when I am quiet enough to listen. They are the things that Sweet Husband is saying to me again and again, “If that’s what you want, I’m OK with it. Do it, but give it 100%. Find some little shit job that gives us enough to pay the bills and put all the rest of your energy into that thing that you want. Be a writer if you want to be a writer. I’m good with that.”

As the Super Moon has risen, and now it is just left to let the Universe work her magic.

Weekly Retreats – Links from Around the Web

Each week, I try to collect the best of the links from around the web to articles and blog posts that I read and share them with you. There are generally a ton of great ones out there, and I’m always looking for new material to read. I hope you enjoy them!

  • We – Rachel W. Cole. This one has been shared by a lot of women that I admire, and when it came through my Bloglovin’ feed, I bookmarked it. The truth is that it’s a powerful piece. It has a lot to say to us all about not being alone in our struggles. We somehow think that we are unique and special in our suffering or our tribulations and trials, but when we strip it all down, we’re all walking through this world together, carrying our burdens that seem so incredibly isolating and peculiar to us but are really remarkably similar to everything everyone else is facing as they are on this path.

There is no human experience that we have alone. It’s up to each of us to tear town the chambers of isolation that comparison and fear build.

It’s just you and me, them and us—all together.

So here’s a new goal: a circle. A foundation at the base of the mountain, the very bottom. Strong and steady, rooted in the ground. A group of women, passing our perspectives and experiences like a warm loaf of bread around the soul’s dinner table. A few moments of listening – of truly listening – without minced words or snap judgments. A few moments of rest over climbing. Of conversation over construction.

  • Big Rocks – Jess Lively. I don’t limit my email or social media checking, but I could do much better at determining what my three big rocks are each day and making sure that I don’t jeopardize those three things by doing things like checking my email or playing on facebook.

These are my “best of” for the previous week. Did you come across anything this week that lit you up? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday – The Fourth of July

For the last week I’ve been meaning to work on editing photos that have been taken over the course of the last two months or so. Things have come up and for one reason or another I didn’t get a chance to actually do that until very late this evening, which means that my Photo Friday post is actually a Photo Saturday post. I suppose it’s better late than never.

I’ve been paying for Photoshop and Lightroom since December, when Adobe last ran their $10/month special. I hadn’t even downloaded anything to play around with before now because I didn’t really have the time to get lost in watching tutorials and manipulating photos. Now that I’ve taken a little bit of time to play, what I really want to do is take a class. I want someone to walk me through the settings and editing a few of my own photos from start to finish. I’m sure that there are some friends out there who are willing to do that for me, but with school fast approaching, I don’t even know that I really have time for all that.

What I do know is that I have a powerful tool at my disposal now. In just the few hours that I’ve spent working in Lightroom, I can see the potential. It’s going to be a slow, steep learning curve for me if I’m just squeezing it in where and when I can.

Which brings me to the other thing that I know: I need to spend more time getting it right in camera. I’m still having some issues with focus, although I could have sworn I was getting better at all that. There are also a ton of things that I need to pay attention to while I’m shooting that I didn’t. I’m generally good at getting my exposure within a stop or two of being spot on. However. I’ve got to do a much better job of metering. I didn’t even think about metering when I was taking all of my Fourth of July photos, and consequently, almost all of the beautiful sky is blown out in my photos. I’m not smart enough (yet) to figure out how to fix that in post-processing. When I was stretched out on the sand trying to get my pictures focused on a squirmy baby’s eyeball, I didn’t even think to meter on the sky (& now I need to go back and look up metering because I can’t keep it all straight in my head). I was just trying to get the exposure right and then get the focus right. The more I get right in-camera, the less I have to screw around with in post-processing.

The biggest problem here is that I don’t shoot enough for all of it to become automatic and second nature. If I were up with the sun or out with the sun in the mornings and evenings, practicing, I’d be much better than I currently am. I think I’ll take my camera with me to Second Saturday tomorrow if it’s not raining.

All of that is neither here nor there for those of you who are waiting for some photos. I still have a ton of pictures of sweet Bain (seriously the most chill and relaxed baby EVER) that need to be edited, so those probably won’t make it up until next week. In the meantime, I’ve got a few of our friends’ baby Bain and Sweet Husband’s god-son Bryson, enjoying their time on the beach on the Fourth of July.

  • Baby Bain on the beach - 4th of July
    Sweet Bain, chillin’ in his sun hat
  • Chillin' on the beach on the 4th of July
    Sweet Bain just taking it all in
  • "Hurry and take my picture please"
    Sweet Bain isn’t quite sure about this
  • Bain holding the American Flag
    Bain and his flag
  • Bain and his flag
    Baby Bain hanging on to the flag
  • Happy Fourth of July
    Bain and the Flag –
  • Someone doesn't want to take a picture
    Bryson & Skyler on the 4th
  • Bryson hanging on to his flag
    Bryson & his flag
  • Bryson not sure what to make of it
    Bryson trying to take it all in
  • Bryson & the flag
    Planting his flag
  • Bryson ready to be done
    Bryson & his Flag
  • Bryson says Happy Fourth!
    Happy 4th of July from Bryson

The Week in Wellness

This morning as I was tackling a project  that required me to work outside, I noticed how incredibly hot it was. I wasn’t particularly doing much that was strenuous. It wasn’t difficult work – not like the planting and weeding I did last night that I thought there for a moment I wasn’t going to survive – but I was drenched with sweat within just a few moments. It is not to be unexpected; I do live in south Mississippi and it is July, after all. I have always said that the worst parts of summer are the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August. Those dates are right around the corner. The sweltering heat in July makes it difficult to want to do much of anything outside – including the walking that Sweet Husband and I have been doing as of late.

This afternoon, though, a monsoon, or what folks around these parts sometimes call a frog-strangler, came through and dropped the temperatures about 15 degrees. It’s supposed to rain some more this evening, which will keep it cooler tonight and into the morning. Usually in the South after it rains, the humidity feels about 10 times worse than it did before the storms. The streets steam, and you feel like you are cooking right along with them. But with the cooler temps and the rain that has thus far held off, SH and I were able to round up the doggies and make our way out for our evening walk.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a little bit of walking in the evenings. We head out for half an hour or so and make a loop through various parts of the neighborhood. There have been some interesting observations, but the important thing is that we’re moving. I’d really like for us to move a little faster and go a little longer, but I’ll take what we have. It all starts somewhere, and a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood is just fine as a starting point for me. We’re already going further and walking for a longer amount of time than we did when we started.

To go along with our walking, we’re also eating at home. I think the last time we ate out was a week ago. We had a ton of left-overs from the 4th, and we are slowly working our way through them. There will be a couple more days of sandwiches as we finish up the pork loin, and there will probably be some grains and salad in there as well. Once we go through that, there will be more eating at home because right before the 4th, we stocked the freezer. We have a ton of options for eating healthfully at home.

It’s a slow, incremental process. SH and I were talking about that – the fact that it’s slow, that it doesn’t happen over-night. That is true, and that’s what we have to remind ourselves of as we continue our journey. It’s time, and together, we can do it.  We’ve sorta attempted it in the past – separately or working in competition. Those attempts, obviously, have not worked for either of us. But together – together I think we can do anything.

There was a lot of stuff that falls into other categories of wellness that happened this week, but I’m still processing most of those, so perhaps next week. In the meantime – what’s the weather like where you are? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. – friend me on MapMyWalk – I’m fuzzis or Jen Alex Allen.

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Tuesday Thanksgiving

Because there are documented benefits to a regular practice of gratitude and thanksgiving, I pause on Tuesdays and give thanks for all of the wonderful things in my life. There are really too many to list, but I try to make Tuesdays my highlight reel.

This week, the following things are making the list:

  • Friends. We hosted the Fourth of July down here at Gumbo Acre South, and by all accounts, despite some tension, everyone had a great time. We can’t wait to do it again. Perhaps a Labor Day bash? Or maybe a birthday party for Sweet Husband? Something because we had a good time.
  • Sweet Husband. While I get a bit aggravated some times, he puts up with me being very aggravating most of the time. You know those Facebooks quizzes? I took the one about bitchiness, and it said that I was only 28% bitchy. He and I both know that’s not true, but he’s a trooper and does the best he can to figure out what’s bothering me when I won’t tell him, and then does his best to fix whatever the problem is.
  • Family. I have a good one, despite the crazy ones among us.
  • Opportunity. I now I’ve been saying this, but there are more applications out and I’m grateful for the chance to make a change.
  • A slight breeze. I was able to get out and get a few plants in the ground this evening and actually do some wedding. I keep saying that we are almost done with that bed, but I have no idea when we are actually going to be done with that bed.
  • A clean house.
  • Enough. It’s time to pay the bills again this month, and there is more than enough to make it happen. I have everything I need and then some. There is nothing to complain about.
  • Connection. I’m making some new friends.
  • Progress. The bedroom is coming along. I have a mirror. I need to paint the frame tomorrow, and I need to start painting the end tables. I got things cleaned up today, but it looked like rain. I didn’t feel too good. (My head works like a barometer most days)

What about you? For what are you thankful this week? In what ways are you counting your blessings? Let me know in the comments!

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