Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lenten Reflections | Week 4

It's week four of lent and there is one more week of lent before holy week after this. It feels like Jesus knows that too with the readings of this past week.  He is getting more bold in his miracles.  He is breaking more rules, and heaven forbid, healing people on the Sabbath day which is like a huge no, no.

In case you are curious what I am talking about when I say readings: I follow the Catholic church calendar of the liturgical readings.  There is an old testament passage, a psalm, and a gospel [Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John] passage every single day - then on Sundays there is another reading added in to that mix, which is typically a new testament letter - just depends.  As Catholics there is a calendar put out by the church that says which readings will be used for every single day.  We read through the whole bible in a 3 year cycle.  You can check out and follow along with the readings from the Word and the devotional I follow here.

Anyway, back to Jesus healing people but causing major issues with the temple.  You would think people would be like wow this guy is so great.  That blind man can see, that crippled guy is no longer ill, that woman's sins have been forgiven and she feels loved. But No.  Their lenses are so foggy and focused on the fact that he did some stuff on Sabbath or some other things he just plain did but wasn''t supposed to do at all [like talk to a woman].

In grad school, my professors would preach self care to us, often.  One metaphor they used to describe why it was necessary was cleaning the lenses of our glasses.  If you are going about your life so focused on your own crap that is blocking your vision, then how will you be able to sit fully present with someone who has something go on? You simply can't.  You will judge them based on your own bias.  You will say something harsh because you are triggered.  You won't be able to really see the situation for what it is.  You won't be the kind of person who has unconditional positive regard for others.  If you don't take care of yourself you are walking around the world with dirty glasses because self care is how we clear all that gunk away.

The pharisees didn't take time to clear their lenses. They were so focused on the fact that Jesus broke a few rules to clearly see that he was healing people and performing miracles.  They were so down in their crap that they judged harshly.  They said some nasty stuff.  They wanted him killed.  Killed for being the kindest most loving person ever.  Ugh.

This week.  Let's focus on taking care of ourselves and being kind to ourselves.  Clear the lenses so that we can see the world and all the wonderful things that are happening around us.

Monday, March 27, 2017


We make choices every single day that can completely change the trajectory of how our day will go. Choices that not only will affect that moment we are in where the decision is made but every possible choice afterward. The choices that we make can have positive or negative effects on ourselves and the people that we encounter.

Now, we all can pinpoint the days and the times that we had to make big choices.  Those are thoughtful and calculated.  Typically choices that could affect things like where we live, our career changes,  or to be in a relationship with a person or not are those that we think about for days before finally coming to the moment where we make that big choice.

But what about the little choices? How much thought to we put into choices that we make throughout going about our daily routine.  Things like, how did you choose what to eat for lunch or dinner today? Did you really really think about your whole entire budget and financial life plan before making your mid morning latte run or throwing those few extra things in your cart at target?

The little choices in our life are typically made by our feelings or even our routine is so mundane that those choices aren't even considered a choice -it just happened.  But what if it didn't just happen?  I have been reflecting on how the little choices that we make can have the biggest impact on our lives.  Maybe not right away but eventually.

For example, if you are trying to make healthier lifestyle changes but you decide to veer off your meal / workout plan based on your feelings or cravings - what does that choice say?  Does that choice stay one choice or does it continue to be a choice that can sabotage your health?

We typically know the right choices to make for ourselves but dismiss them because of their seeming small insignificance on the big life picture.  What if you paused?  What if you made that choice for yourself after some thought that thinks about not only this moment but future moments too?  I am not saying over analyze every single moment and throw yourself into a fit of indecisiveness because now everything is such a big deal but just pause maybe a second longer. What choice would you make if you took impulsivity out of the equation?

My goal is to make positive choices every day toward my wellness.  No matter how little the choice at the time might be - it can change everything!

What are you going to do with the choices you have to make? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lenten Reflections | Week 3

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill."  - Matthew 5:17

This week has been a strange week.  For one it has been a week of deep reflection and refocusing on my part.  But, on the other hand, school has been crazy as ever.  Spring break for my school is 11 school days with kids and 2 work days away [but whose counting].   Let's just say it has been a week full of ups and downs and it's only Wednesday.  

Jesus is really preparing us for why he is here.  He is preaching more than ever and trying to clear up as much confusion as possible with his disciples in his short time left.  The readings this week are all about forgiveness, grace, unrelenting love, sin, following, and breaking the rules.  

My goal for lent was to really break the habit of negative self talk.  One of the readings this past week was the gospel on the prodigal son.  I actually find myself connecting with the older brother in this parable Jesus tells us. Sometimes I feel like I am always doing the right thing.  I try so hard each and every day to follow the rules and be a good person.  Then I see other people who I know have messed up so much get praise, rewards, and really cool stuff and I feel defeated.  Like I did something wrong.  I question why I don't get noticed and recognized just like the older brother in the story.  His questioning his father resonates with me. 

I realized that this spirals my negative self talk for myself.  Seeing what other people receive, or have, or do starts that questioning in my mind of why.  "I do the right things. Why not me?"  

Then the next days readings Jesus talked to the Samaritan women.  Something he was not supposed to do at all in his time.   He broke all the rules out of love.  He got recognized in the most cruel way ever shortly after these conversations took place with the woman at the well.  

Sometimes we don't need to get rewards or freebees or compliments because we have the love of Jesus with us always.  He forgives.  He gives us grace every single day.  He loves because he is love.  Not because I deserve it at all.  

So this week I am delving deeper into why I do what I do in the first place.  I have been truly realizing why it's such a blessing to be conscious of how my mind works.  It has been my grace to be kind to myself to be able to give and receive love. 

What is the Word teaching you this week during lent?

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Bounce Back into a Healthy Routine After Slipping

We all have those days, mine typically fall around my time of the month. The days where we are exhausted and don't feel like cooking or working out.  The days where no matter how great you meal planned whatever that healthy item is just doesn't seem appetizing anymore.  So we cave - we give into our unhealthy cravings and indulge. Or we take a nap instead of that fitness activity that was planned.

Whatever the slip might be.  It's normal.  It's okay to have days that aren't 100% clean eating and attending a crazy bootcamp where you burn 500 calories.

I used to let these slips get to me.  I would really beat myself up about it.  You can read more about what I gave up for lent and why: here and here.  I would turn negative self talk into an internalized terrible idea about myself and my worth.  The vicious cycle of "it's not worth its" "I am a mess up" "I just can't because of x,y,z" would turn one bad meal or skipped workout into a bad few days.  Those bad few days turns into a whole week of unhealthy choices for myself.  Then all of a sudden I find myself in a huge rut, fueled by unhealthy habits that crank up my anxiety and negative self-talk, to the extreme.

Slowly, I have had to evaluate that cycle that seems to happen within me.  It's so not worth it.  I have had to literally change my language.  Being a part of the Tone It Up community has helped me so much with that.  K & K teach that they don't use language like "cheat meals" because then it means you are doing something wrong and should feel guilty [which you 100% should not!] Sometimes your body just needs a break or a huge bowl of mac and cheese - you do you boo. Treats are not something to be guilty about or to kickstart an incredibly unhealthy cycle, they are treats.

After that "treat" you talk to yourself and your dialogue should look more like: okay that happened, it's okay, it was worth it, I am rested, I totally and mindfully enjoyed every bit of that mac and cheese and now what's next.  And here is the trick, you do something about it.  Your next meal is a green juice.  You go for a walk after your nap.  You treat your body with love and respect because you only get one.  You make healthy choices because you love your body and you want it to be able to perform well every day.  You eat healthy because your body deserves good healthy fuel.

You don't let a slip turn into a bad week or month or year because you are so much better than that. Change your mind set.  Change your language.  Take care of yourself first!

How do you bounce back after slip ups?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Green River Revival

Happy St. Patricks Day sweet friends.

Today is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  I have some Irish in me so this day is definitely a chance to celebrate my Grammy's heritage.  My Gram and Pop got to go back to Ireland for their 35th wedding anniversary a long time ago.  After having the opportunity to listen to Gram's stories as well as see pictures of her homeland, my dream has been to go visit.  I want to kiss the blarney stone and frolic in the lush green landscape.  And in honor of the holiday: 

An Old Irish Blessing 

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Charlotte actually had a bunch of festivities last weekend for the holiday.  We made our way to the Whitewater Center for their Green River Revival festival.  There was a color me green 5k trail run [which a few of our friends ran] but I opted to go to the yoga class that was offered at the same time.  Long story but a trail run here screwed up my ankle before so I stick to road running and races now!

Yoga outside was amazing.  The location is beautiful.  It's almost like you are in a tree house.  The perfect spot to have a good practice in.  The Whitewater Center will be offering yoga classes every Saturday morning at 9:30 from now on. Then once River Jam starts up in May on Thursdays there will be a yoga class in the evenings for River Jam [stay tuned! I can't wait to go check these events out this summer!]

After our fun fitness events we all met up around the river for some drinks and conversation! The USNWC had bands lined up to play all day.  We stuck around for them to dye the river GREEN! It was so cool to see the water completely change colors, almost like slow motion flowing along with the water because they started the dye at the levy.

The day we went was right before the snow in Charlotte so it was actually freezing out.  There were even a few flurries during my yoga class! The USNWC is definitely a nice weather day activity but there is so much to do there besides white water rafting.  Kudos to those people kayaking and rafting last weekend.

I can't wait to come back here and check out more of the events and outdoor activities this place has to offer. Having this place near Charlotte makes my outdoor mountain loving heart so happy.

US National Whitewater Center Details:
Location: along the catawba river [past the airport]
Budget: depends - they host free events like these festivals and yoga classes but parking is $5.  you can buy a season parking pass for $40 if you plan to come often.  There are free things to do like hiking and enjoying the scenery.  But if you want to rent gear, rock climb, zipline, raft, kayak, buy beer, etc the prices vary.  Along with parking you can get a season pass to have access to everything for $200 dollars. Or just coming for the day and want to do it all? A day pass is $60.  For me the parking pass and taking advantage of the free events / hiking all year long is worth it as well as budget friendly!
Time: all the time you want - there are restaurants here or you can pack a cooler and leave it in your car so you can literally hang out here all day to explore all there is around the complex without ever getting bored.
Recommendations: Yoga, hiking, enjoy a beer on the lawn listen to some tunes and watch the kayakers! These are my favorite things.

What is your favorite way to celebrate St. Patty's Day? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lenten Reflections | Week 2

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. -Matthew 20:28

We are in the midst of week 2 in lent.  The readings this week are all about preparing us for what Jesus' true purpose is on this earth.  He is preparing us for the suffering that we have to endure - that He has to endure in order to truly fulfill what He was sent on this earth to accomplish.  We don't always know His plan for our life but surrendering is so much better than our own plan.  

Surrendering doesn't come without pain though.  Lent is hard.  The reminder of suffering and service is hard.  Giving up things is hard. But we can be comforted by the fact that Jesus truly knows what it means to serve, to give, and to sacrifice.  He has been there too.  He prepared us for this fact. 

I decided to give up a few things for lent which you can read about in this post: here.  I have to say this week has been one of my best weeks yet.  I find myself being more productive because I am not mindlessly using social media.  I also am more mindful of how I speak to myself.  I have to admit I catch myself being negative but then instantly reframe what I am conveying.  It has seriously made all the difference.  The subtle changes within me has lead to better days in general.  

So, all that to say.  Giving up during lent isn't just about breaking a bad habit or not drinking soda [but by all means if those things are toxic to your life; do it!] Lent is about putting us on a walk with Jesus.  The walk of his very last words to us before he was placed on the cross.  He is teaching us something every single day during this 40 day season - we just need to be open to it.  

How is your lenten season going so far? What is this journey teaching you? 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Springing Forward into Snow

Sunday morning, just as we set the clocks an hour ahead for "spring forward", Charlotte woke up to a few inches of snow.  I quickly bundled up and took Finn out for a walk in a winter wonderland.  It was still snowing at the time.  This snow was the beautiful fluffy snow that floats out of the sky and just covers the earth in a white blanket. 

This snow came at the perfect time for me to hit the reset button.  I absolutely love walking around in the snow - everything is so fresh and quiet.  It's the perfect time for some reflection.  Also, Finn absolutely loves the snow.  It is such a joy to see him so curious and playful.

I was at the point in life where I just was feeling ready for a change.  Honestly I have been getting spring fever way early, in my defense, my students have too so I just feel it.  Instead God & Mother Nature had a different idea for me.  Instead of spring break and reading books by the pool in my bikini I got a fresh blanket of nice white fresh snow.  I didn't realize it before but snow one more time was just what I needed.

In true Charlotte fashion, by noon, the snow was practically melted and I was able to go about my day; running errands, babysitting for a few hours, and then church.  For those few hours I got with the snow in the morning it gave me something I was needing.  Time to slow down and be still. 

What is your favorite part about snow?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lenten Reflections | Week 1

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 
- Luke 9:23 

Surrendering means letting go of self in favor of something so much better.  Sometimes we get so caught up in control and crossing things off of our to-do lists to find a sense of purpose. Trusting him even in the hard times.  Trusting that God's plan is better than our own.  

Even if we cognitively believe that, maybe even have lived through a couple of wonderful experiences where you just felt and knew God's sovereignty, every day life clouds that and causes us to follow our own wants and wishes instead of His. 

Lent is a time where we take a good hard look at ourselves and whatever that crutch is that we keep holding on to which prevents us from fully surrendering and following Jesus.  It took me a lot of journaling and prayer time to figure out what my thing was.  Typically the tradition is you give up something for lent.  You give up what is holding you back from surrendering.  I wanted to use this season to stray true to my blogs name and live my life in surrender. 

This lent I am giving up negative self talk.  In it's place I am trying to focus on the positive and do something small every day for me. I need to listen to my body and give it what it needs.  Instead of beating myself up for taking time to rest when there is still so much to do- changing my language and telling myself it's okay taking care of myself means resting when I am tired and everything will still get done.

I also want to be more intentional with my time spent on social media.  I have noticed that I use it as a time killer or just a crutch in a situation where I am waiting for someone.  It is so unnecessary and I can't help but wonder what am I missing by doing this.  For example; let's say I am waiting for a yoga class to start - instead of scrolling through instagram - I can put my phone away, strike up a conversation, make a new friend, prepare myself for the class and notice the world around me.

Be Kind.  Be Present.  See what happens. 

What are you doing this lenten season? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Pup in the City

A few weekends ago, it was absolutely gorgeous here in the queen city.  A friend asked me to bring Finn to go walk on the rail trail.  This was the perfect storm.  We have been looking to move to the south end area of charlotte where the rail trail is located.  While I was here I wanted to scope out the area and really make sure Finn would be happy here - since it's more urban than where we live now. Plus its always wonderful to get to catch up with a dear friend.

Finn and I never actually walked on this trail before.  But walking with him is definitely one of my favorite things to do. I fell in love with the area after this walk.  Finn loved walking the trail, his favorite part was watching the train go by.  He is so weird about cars and the light rail going by often made me nervous but seeing how much he loved it definitely has my heart set on living in this area.  I am such a dog mom - making my decisions solely based on how Finn reacts to places.

We have a while until a move will actually happen [summer] but stay tuned to where we end up.  In the mean time I will definitely be frequenting this area to visit friends and spend time walking my new favorite trail in Charlotte with my pup.  I think he will love being a city dog.

Rail Trail Details:
Location: South End, Charlotte
Budget: Free!!
Time: 2+ hours depending on how far you walk
Recommendations: walk with a friend, have a pup by your side, get lost in the city, explore your surroundings, have deep good conversation, get some sun, stop and enjoy the moment - the perfect combination

What is your favorite place to walk? 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Date Night Italian Style

Mike and I love to cook together.  It's actually how we met.  He was a cook in the restaurant I waited tables at through grad school. So naturally our passion for food and cooking has made for some wonderful date nights at home; creating meals together and breaking bread. I also have a slight obsession with Italy.  It's my dream to go visit there and just eat pasta and drink wine every single day.  Kind of like Eat, Pray, Love but only the eat part.

For my birthday, Mike got me, as a present, a cooking class.  I have always wanted to take a cooking class - to learn something new in the kitchen in a place where they actually have space and equipment to try a new technique.

Once he told me this was my present I got to researching which class I wanted to take.  We decided on Sur la Table because they have such a wide variety of classes.  There is another place where cooking classes are offered in Charlotte I am dying to take but Chef Alyssa's Kitchen is sold out months in advance.

On the menu for our cooking class: caesar salad, homemade pasta with meatballs, and vanilla gelato with espresso. During these classes you can bring your own wine to drink so of course we accompanied our meal with a delicious red blend.

We had so much fun learning how to make all of the components to our meal.  The fresh pasta was my absolute favorite. I have never had homemade pasta before, let alone attempted to make it, now I don't think I will ever eat pasta from a box again it was that delicious.

During the class we made various pieces to the menu at various times, it didn't even make sense until the very end when a delicious meal came together.  The kitchen staff had everything portioned out for us before hand.  We worked with another couple as a group.  It was very easy because we barely had to prep or even clean up our mess ourselves.  I definitely could get used to cooking this way. haha.

I had so much fun at this class and would definitely look into doing something like this again.  I don't know if I would go back to Sur la Table because it is pretty pricey and basic.  Like I said before, my next class will be with Chef Alyssa to support a local business!

Sur la Table details: 
Location: for Charlotte; Southpark Mall
Budget: 60$ a person.
Time: 3.5 hours
Recommendations: If you love food, learning new things, meeting new people, and don't mind spending a little bit of money this is for you.  This was a special occasion because it was my birthday gift - we can't afford to have date night like this all the time. Try something new and go for it! Their calendar has so many classes and options for any type of diet.

What is a food you love to eat and would like to learn how to make it homemade? 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Currently | March

Happy March friends.  This month I have a ton of fun things in store for life and this blog.  The weather has been gorgeous recently and I am hoping that it continues through the whole month.  Today I am linking up with Anne and Carrie to share what I am currently up to!

Watching: The Bachelor.  It's my guilty pleasure.  I have been sucked into Bachelor nation for 10+ years now.  Since they keep using people from previous seasons I just have to know what happens next.  Pure entertainment. 

Eating: Since I have started to follow Tone It Up. [you can read all about it here] I have been eating meals off of their nutrition plan but I have one treat that I crave pretty much always because of the salty sweet combo; popcorn and m&m's.  Try it. You will fall in love and constantly make excuses to have movie nights just to eat it! 

Saying: I need some chick therapy.  My school has a science lab.  The students are studying life cycles and all sorts of cool things, so we had an incubator with eggs and the chicks hatched earlier this week! I have had a crazy week otherwise so I will randomly end up in the lab to go play with the adorable chicks.  So cute, so fuzzy, so precious.  5 minutes with chicks is a great therapy session. 

Wearing: These shoes. I have been wanting some cute but comfortable shoes for work. I am on my feet all day long but still need to look professional. I am so hooked on this brand now and they are so worth it! 

Posting: Sticking to my posting schedule and content here on the blog! I am loving my creative outlet in writing frequently, practicing photography, and blogging. 

What are you currently up to?
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