Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Getting a Dog Changes Your Life: For the Better

As you can see I take entirely too many photos of my dog.  There are about 2000 more where these came from.  I was just scrolling through memory lane and pictures the other day and figured it was about time Finn gets featured on the blog.

He will be 4 years old in April and has been with me since he was 8 weeks old. The moment I saw him on the humane society's website I fell in love and knew I had to have him.  Finn is a mutt, I have heard many many breed names to describe him.  Really I just describe him as a crazy, fun, loving, cuddle bug.

Finn changed my life.  He came to me at a time in my life where my job wasn't the one I wanted, a relationship was ending, and I really just needed something else. Taking care of my dog was the best thing that could have happened. Dogs really just make everything better. Here is why.

1. They are instant best friends. I have someone to greet me at the door every time I walk through it - doesn't matter if I have been out five minutes or all day long at work - he wags his tail with love.

2. Your feet will never be cold again.  Finn sleeps in the bed with me and has since I couldn't deal with the night-time whining any longer but that means no cold feet and always someone to cuddle with.

3. You never have leftovers if you don't want them.  There is always a pup nose on the kitchen table waiting for scraps using those melt your heart sad eyes.

4. Fresh air and exercise.  Since Finn has been toted around with me on my many many moves in the past 3 1/2 years mostly apartments it gives me the best excuse to get outside and play at the dog park or go for a really long walk. Now it's part of my daily self care routine right after work, we walk.

5. They are just such cute photo models.  I mean - see above.

Needless to say Finn is my furry bff. I mean I hardly run errands without him tagging along and sticking his head out the car window enjoying the ride now. I never grew up with dogs so he is actually my first pup. I am amazed how just having a pup around has made my world wonderful.

Do you have dogs? What is your favorite thing about them being in your life?

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Healthy Thanksgiving

Every year for Thanksgiving I run the Turkey Trot 8k that takes place right in my area of Charlotte.  I created this tradition for myself about 3 years ago.  This is one race I look forward to doing all year long.  Running is one of my favorite things to keep me healthy, especially since when I go for a long run it completely clears my head from all that I have going on in the world.  Combining racing and my favorite holiday is a given. 

Mom also made Thanksgiving "healthy" this year. I have been a member of Tone It Up for a while now and this year they released a lot of guides and recipes to make the holidays healthy.  We tried some of the recipes and they were fantastic.  Some of the swaps we made this year included having pumpkin spice protein donut holes for breakfast, lots of yummy green side dishes instead of the typical carbs and empty calories, but we couldn't swap out the turkey! 

What are some of the traditions you have that make your holidays healthier? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A few summers ago, I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann VosKamp and it completely rocked my world.  From then on, I started incorporating gratitude into my daily life.  I even attempted to keep a gratitude notebook like she did in the book [I still add to it from time to time].  But my favorite way to practice gratitude is to just take a deep breath and list in my head the things I am thankful for in that particular moment.  This practice has helped me clear my head, especially those moments, when my anxiety is particularly out of control.

Even though, I try to practice gratitude year round, this time of year always brings my focus back to what is truly important in life and what I am thankful for.  So without further ado, here is my gratitude list for the day:

1. My community.  The people in my life, namely my family and friends, who support me and all of my dreams constantly, who do life with me, who will have long heart to hearts with me over a bottle of wine, and who simply loves me for who I am. You are all my people.

2. The finnster.  My sweet pup who always greets me with a wagging tail and sloppy kisses, who I get to drag on long walks with daily, and who simply puts a smile on my face by being present. Stay weird dog, stay weird.

3. School family.  The wonderfully resilient students that I get to go to work to every single day.  You matter. My wonderful coworkers who put forth countless hours of work to love and teach these babies.  I see you and your work is so valued and important.

4. Health.  Having a pretty big surgery changes you.  I am so grateful for my body.  Fueling my body with healthy foods and pushing it to be strong and fit is just one of the ways I say thank you to myself.

5. Creative mind.  To be able to pursue my love of writing and photography.  For engaging in creative projects that keep me energized ranging from painting to home decor and pretty much everything in between.  You keep my spirit lively.

6. Jesus. Really He is number one. I'm grateful for the ultimate sacrifice. For the cross that redeems me each and every day.  For the Word that pushes me, wrecks me, speaks to me, and encourages me daily.

There are so many more things to be grateful for this season.  My hope is to honor each of those things I listed and make sure that the people in my life truly know I appreciate them.

What is on your gratitude list today?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Falling for Fall

It's that time of year where I just feel inspired.  There is just something about taking long walks in the crisp afternoon with my pup.  The sun hits the trees, vibrant with color, and makes them look like they are glowing.  Stunning. 

Even though this season, technically, is an ending, where the leaves fall and prepare for a long rest to get ready for spring and then their fresh start. To me, fall feels like starting over.  It feels like there is opportunity everywhere to pick up the pieces and create a life truly worth living. 

Life follows along with seasons.  There are changes within me much more frequently than 4 times a year.  Seasons come and go with the changes of the wind. Change, is good.  It's good to hit the reset button, to create new goals, new habits, and to just let go.  When the leaves fall off the trees full of color it's beautiful.  In our souls, sometimes we have to just release what we are holding onto, the relief and the beauty in letting go. 

I love fall for all the obvious reasons too. The fashion: big sweaters, cute boots, and cozy scarfs.  The drinks: hot coffee especially of the pumpkin spice variety.  The holidays: Thanksgiving, decorating and festivities with loved ones. Yet, my favorite reason, is so that I can enjoy some fresh air, take deep breathes, watch the leaves fall, and once again I feel like myself. 

Let's all take a long, slow, mindful walk through the colors and reinvent ourselves this season. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016


I am so glad you are here.  

My vision for this blog is to get back to the core of who I am.  I want it to be simple, clean, and beautiful.  A space to share and to connect.  A place to just cherish the memories of each and every day that I get to have.  

This is not my first blogging adventure.  I hosted another blog for many years, with my life getting so busy during graduate school it kind of fell apart.  Another reason for me fading away from the blog scene was a feeling of inadequacy.  I started that comparison game, that never lets you win, which lead to my inspiration and excitement for blogging completely stop. I spent so many hours pouring my heart and soul into something only to feel like I wasn't good enough after reading through so many other beautiful blogs.  That, my friends, is not okay. I am here for a reason.  My life is worth sharing.  I am good enough.  

So I am starting over. Starting fresh. Remembering why I loved blogging in the first place and letting that carry me through. I love photography and writing.  I love living an adventurous life and documenting it through the eyes of a lens. As humans we forget to be vulnerable, to live in the present moment, to cherish the little things. We can always set the reset button and start again. That's what I am doing here. 

Welcome to Sweet Surrender.  A blog about me living my life, being brave for Jesus, and my lessons that I learn along the way. 

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