Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Goals Achieved

Wow, I can't believe it's here!

As of this blog post, I have officially published 30 blog posts... in 30 days. One for each day of November. The BlogHer NaBloPoMo challenge is complete.

To be honest, I'm sad. I really enjoyed this challenge. I savored the fact that I made a commitment to my blog- one I had to keep every day- and I made it a priority.

That's the best part about setting a goal; maybe you aren't competing with anyone but yourself, but it's a challenge nonetheless. You've committed to something, and you're going to see it through.

I find that I thrive on goals. Whether it's in the fitness department (a sprint triathlon in January? Let's add a potential half marathon in February to the mix!) in the spiritual department (a daily devotional keeps me on track) or in my professional work life (checklists are my life)- I love to set goals.

I'm finding every day it's OK to be flexible with those goals; in fact, I think that's an essential ingredient to healthy goal-making. You must acknowledge that you aren't perfect, and if you can't run 13 miles (some days even 1 mile is a killer!) or finish that Bible study or check off everything on "the list" in a day- it's OK. We're only human.

But when you've crossed something off the list, or run that 3 mile stretch that seems so impossible when you start out, the sense of accomplishment, the sense of a goal achieved, gives you the biggest rush and thrill.

This NaBloPoMo challenge was my half marathon, my daily devotional, my checklist and so many other things all rolled into one. It was a goal; a commitment; a priority; and now, a success.

Thanks for reading! Thanks for being a part of my journey.

Throughout the course of this challenge, I kept a running list of "lessons learned" by blogging every day. Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts!

In the meantime, set a goal for yourself for tomorrow. Even if it's to take 5 minutes of time for yourself; goals come in all shapes and sizes and are equally important.

There aren't always medals at the end- but completing a goal, no matter how big or small- is such a sweet victory.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Crayon Box

Today, I officially added a new color to my box of crayons.

The name?

"Social Media Savvy."

OK, a bit over the top. But let me explain.

I currently manage Facebook and Twitter for my company and our parent company. I also manage YouTube accounts for both. On the side, I manage FB & TW (Twitter, duh) for my freelance project.

And sometimes, when there's time, I like to Facebook and Tweet on my personal accounts, too.

WHEW! That's a lot of coloring.

Today, I merged all of those onto one fabulous platform, Hootsuite, for better management and efficiency.

And with that "stroke" of genius (go with the coloring theme) my life became ten times easier. I became not just good at social media, but social media savvy.

And it's a glorious color, let me tell you.

 I love social media; it's my one-stop-shop for news, interesting articles to read, Bible versus to reflect on, a chance to see what my friends are up to and an opportunity to network with my peers.

Don't worry; I think one-on-one communication is always the way to go. It's like the red crayon- always necessary in a box.

 But move over green, yellow and blue- social media savvy is the new primary color.

Not just according to me- but to Craig Leavitt, CEO of Kate Spade, as well.

Talk about color!

Kate Spade has always been a bright place- and their Facebook campaign is no different. They get it.

I found a few quotes from Mr. Leavitt especially insightful:

"In terms of investment, it’s in human resources. We have young people who live and breathe social media and are immersed in it every minute of every day. We allow them to lead and trust them in this space."

"The Kate Spade girl aspires to lead an interesting life — to engage in the arts and literature and travel and adventure. We talk about those things on social media because that’s who she is, and she wants to hear about what her peers are doing."

 
"I also think that [social media] is a unique space, and you have got to make sure the people who are most connected, the ones who access it every day, are empowered to be leaders in this environment. Often they are the youngest members of a team."

Isn't that great?! First of all, I love the "Kate Spade Girl"- who loves art and literature and travel and adventure. That's a great way to tackle social media; determining the "voice" behind the post/tweet.

I also love his thoughts on your social media savvy being the young members of a team- invested in all things web- but vitally important. It gives me confidence in what I'm doing on the social media sphere.

Being a producer once meant- very simply- putting together a show. You had an editor, a director, an audio director, a graphics department, talent, and a "web person" to help you out. That's what made your team, your box of crayons, so to speak.
 
Today, a producer needs to be able to do it all. I can't do all of it well; ask my colleagues about the videos I've "edited" I make them sit through.
 
I don't always stay in the lines; that's never been my style.
 
And I certainly know my strengths and weaknesses.
 
But I can edit. I can write. I can manage audio and help design graphics. I can switch a show. And now, I can add social media savvy to my box of crayons.
 
... Just don't ask me to host anything. Every box has its limits.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Momentum

Do you ever feel like if you sit down... you just won't get back up? At least for several hours, if not an entire day?

I had one of those days today. Not because it was a bad day; it was actually a surprisingly nice post-Thanksgiving back-to-work day.

But I arrived at work at 6:15am... and never stopped. Until about an hour and a half ago, when I crashed on my couch.

In all honesty- it was really a struggle to get up and locate my laptop in the kitchen to write this post.

Here's the rundown:

*Early work (in the studio by 6:15am)
*Produce all morning
*Doctor's appointment
*7-mile bike ride
*Grocery store
*Turkey Tacos for dinner (because defrosting turkey later in the week is too much effort; fresh from the store is better.)

It makes me think a bit about momentum. How we can be rolling along through a day- or even a season- of life, going going going, without taking a breather. And then you sit down... and the air whooshes out of you like a balloon and you're down for the count.

Lately, I've been reminding myself to appreciate each day for what it is. For who I am, today. For the friendships I have at this moment. For the job I have, for health, for safety. There have been times I get so caught up in the future that I forget to just enjoy the now.

So even though there are days we need momentum to keep us going (seriously, I took a brief nap in the shower earlier) I always want to remember to stop and appreciate the day. Big and small moments. Good and bad things. Momentum can only carry us so far before we become immune to life's best and worst moments. They all need to be absorbed. Days, moments, seconds always need to be reflected on.

If that time of reflection happens over a mid-morning cup of coffee... or a bike ride... or in the shower... or during an hour or two curled up on the couch, momentum at a complete standstill... all the better.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Parking Lot Lesson

Ah, home!

It's so nice to be back in Tulsa. I love being in Plano with my family- but as I mentioned yesterday, I love being in my house, too. There's always a nice sigh of relief when you pull up and the house is still intact. No earthquakes, tornados or gusty winds tore it away!

Because, we all know that's completely possible in Oklahoma.

When I got home, I ran up to Petsmart. I was at a standstill in the parking lot (it's right next door to Best Buy, which is packed from here until Christmas) and there were a lot of cars, people, etc. milling about; I was at a standstill until I could pull into a parking space.

An older gentleman was offended that I was "paused" on the crosswalk- and decided to make his point by ramming his shopping cart into my car.

We had an unpleasant exhange of words in the parking lot- to which I told him he was the "rudest person I'd ever met."

A real zinger, huh?

I drove away seething mad, with a million coulda-woulda-shoulda's. Should have screamed "Happy Holidays" accompanied by a rude gesture. Should have taken a picture of his license plate. Should have cursed him out. Should have continued yelling in the parking lot like the lunatic I'm sure I appeared to be.

Obviously, this would all have ended with zero satisfaction. It was a blessing in disguise that he drove away when he did, leaving me red-faced and furious- because I could have said some hateful things I would have later regretted.

It made me think how the holidays really do bring out the best and worst in people. Some people find joy in every Christmas song on the radio, every line at the mall, every candy-cane mouthed child they come across.

Others become scrooges, shaking their fists at the lines, turning off the radio, scowling at small children.

And ramming shopping carts into cars.

I felt myself become a scrooge of sorts myself after the shopping cart incident. I was completely impatient the rest of my drive home, whizzing around slow drivers at lightning speed. Christmas music took a sour edge. I decided today was not the day for the tree to take it's place in my house. And I thought to myself, we have a month of this left to go!

'Tis the season. It's important to remember, as we kick off December this week, what "the holidays" are all about.

Some of us will remember while listening to carols on the radio; others of us will be reminded by the echoing sound of shopping cart slamming into beautiful, silver (and freshly washed, I might add) Volvo.

But the lessons are all around us. Some are rejoicing this time of year, others are hurting. I'll say a special prayer for those hurting tonight, who find so little joy this time of year.

It's easy to become indignant and righteous and feel like we need to make a point when things don't go our way. But at the end of the day, it does no good. Being kind and being forgiving- that's what it's all about.

A bit of chipped paint on the car is well worth the lesson that came with it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Home Times Two

It's my last night in Plano.

It's always hard when my time in Plano wraps up- especially when it includes time with my favorite people, delicious food, great cocktails- and many blessings. I'm sitting here on my parents' couch, watching SNL with my dad (asleep in his chair) and just soaking in my last night. No matter how old I get, it's so hard to leave home.

But I have to say- I'm excited to head to my home tomorrow. It's sad to say goodbye, but it's also nice to have that feeling of missing home. I can't wait to see my little house, decorate for Christmas, let Maizy run around her own house, rediscover her favorite spots.

And even though the past few days have been non-stop crazy busy, I feel rested and renewed. It's so wonderful to spend a few days out of your routine.

And, that's saying a lot, for someone who needs a routine.

I ran different routes than usual. Drank mom & dad's coffee. Ate giant meals, surrounded by family, not worrying about how many calories I was consuming. Checked Twitter/Facebook/Blogs just once (or a couple- but no more!) times a day. Saw Breaking Dawn. Went to dinner with a friend. Ran the Turkey Trot. Played Mario Party with my siblings. Took a nap on my parents' couch.

So as I sit here on that very couch, it's nice to know that in just a few short weeks, I'll be back for Christmas- for more favorite people, delicious food, great cocktails- and more blessings. And another nap or two on this very couch.

But in the meantime, I'm looking forward to running on my trail; brewing a cup of my coffee; sleeping in my bed; and appreciating that I have two very special places to call home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Maizy's Thanksgiving

I have so much to blog about!

Like, how much food I've eaten over the past 3 days.

Or how I'm dreading a bridesmaid dress fitting tomorrow after 3 said days of eating.

But you know who's having the best time of all?



This girl.

Maizy's Thanksgiving holiday includes:

*terrorizing my sister & I (sharing a room) every night
*her favorite- breakfast
*running up the stairs and downstairs
*her second favorite- dinner
*sleeping on my sister's head
*lots of visitors (all for her, of course)
*taking daily naps with my sister (do you see a theme here?)
*looking out the window




We're having a great getaway.

Maizy has never been more spoiled and loved on than she has the past three days. And we still have another day and night to go!

She is going to have serious withdrawls when we get back to Tulsa.

So am I; after eating five meals a day, my pre-Christmas "diet" is going to be a rude awakening.

Oh well. We still have one more day and night- and we're going to enjoy it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Progression of Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are enjoying a day with friends, family- and a lot of food.

Or just a wonderful day of solitude, reflecting on your blessings.

Here in Plano... we're having pie!


You start with a delicious filling of apples, cinnamon, lemon and lime juices, sugar and flour.  You roll out two perfect discs of dough... one for the bottom, one for the top.


You lay your second disc of dough on top of your filling... and cut out festive fall leaf shapes.


And you bake it to perfection... ready for guests to enjoy. With a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Our guests will soon arrive... and we will feast on turkey, broccoli cheese casserole, mashed potatoes (sweet and regular), green bean casserole and fruit ambrosia.

But most of all, we will laugh and enjoy each other's company, recounting all of our blessings of 2011!

Over a big slice of homemade apple pie, of course.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Intentional Living

Tonight, the whole family loaded up into the car and headed to church for a special Thanksgiving Eve service.

My dad plays guitar in the church band- so we went to hear the music, listen to a sermon, see old friends, and of course- give thanks.

We also spend a good amount of time with a severe case of the giggles, due in part to our constant need to harmonize every song and hymn we sing. That's a story for another post.

The sermon wasn't standard; you would think the focus would be on giving thanks- and in a roundabout way, it was.

But instead, Father David talked about the gift we all have of knowing we have a Father who is orchestrating the events in our lives. It's not coincidence. The things we experience- both good and bad- are all bringing us into closer fellowship with God.

That's a huge thing to be thankful for- that we have a God who is constantly seeking a relationship with us.

Messages like that always hit home for me- especially sitting in a pew with my entire family.

The blessings we are surrounded with are no accident; it's not coincidence.

Tomorrow, I will give thanks for a lot of things. But most of all, the fact that God has a very intentional plan for my life- and I have so much hope for how that plan will unfold, what my role will be... and how it will all continue to play out for many Thanksgivings to come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Festivities Begin

We packed up the car and hit the road for the holiday.

You know... THE holiday.

Thanksgiving!

And this is how we celebrated upon arrival:


Well, just me that is. Maizy's too young for martinis.

Here's to a great week with family, food... and a martini or two!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rescue

We all go through seasons in life where we sink or swim.

As I get older, I'm seeing we all have times where we're swimming into the waves, strong and steady, no fear of sinking. And then there are the days we need a life raft just to stay afloat in calm waters.

I've been so blessed the past year to find my "life raft" in a number of ways- family, friends, faith, exercise, creativity, a new kitten, a new house. These things all came floating into my life just when I needed a bit of rescuing.

Yesterday, I started swimming again as I train for a sprint triathlon in January. I love swimming. I love drowning out all outside noise, sinking myself into the water and stroking my way across the pool. I feel so powerful when I'm swimming; it's kind of an out-of-body thing. I don't really see myself from a birds eye view when I'm running or biking- but when I'm swimming, I do.

In a triathlon, the swim portion always comes first. Maybe that's because they don't want you to exhaust yourself biking and running before jumping in a pool. They don't want you to sink.

I'm a strong swimmer- and I'm currently swimming into the current, unfazed. I'm tackling new challenges, pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I'm happy and content. I'm jumping into the deep end, and I'm not sinking.

It's so hard watching someone who is sinking, struggling to keep their head above water; in fact, it feels like you're on a life raft watching the Titanic go down.

It's in these moments you realize you have to be a life raft to someone else.

I have let certain friendships drift away, because that person is incapable of getting out of the life boat. They don't reach out a hand, or come to the rescue.

I have been rescued before. And today I'm jumping into the deep end.  

Because I can, because I'm strong enough to. And because I'm ready to do some rescuing back.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple Thanks

The week of Thanksgiving is finally here! Just two quick days of work, then Maizy and I will pack up the car and head to Plano, Texas to eat turkey with the family.

We have big plans this year. Church on Wednesday night for a special service (my dad will be playing guitar); Turkey Trot bright and early Thursday morning; of course, a delicious day of feasting and thankfulness; shopping and Breaking Dawn Friday.

If I have any say about it, there will also be about 15 games of Scrabble squeezed in there.

My mom has gotten really into "beading" this year- and she makes some pretty cute jewelry, I might add. A few months ago, she pulled out some of my nanny's (mom's mom) pearls- and this week, all of the girls in the family- my mom, sister, aunt & cousins- are going to make some new jewelry out of her pearls. Great idea, huh?

I can't wait to be surrounded by family, food and fun.

So much to be thankful for.

In the meantime, I enjoyed a low-key weekend. Lots of sleeping for this girl- early bed time both nights, napped yesterday afternoon, slept in this morning. I guess my body needs it after those early days last week.

Today, I cleaned my house top to bottom; there's nothing better than coming home, after spending a few days away, to a clean house. Plus, it will be ready for Christmas decorations next Sunday!

I also went for a swim (600m) in a pool as warm as bathwater. The Indoor Whole Person Sprint Triathlon is just two months away; training officially kicks into high gear!

I'm wrapping up this cold, lazy afternoon by tackling some scripts for a series of commercials for my client (wow, client- what a word!) with a chai tea latte in hand.

This post has no deep thoughts behind it today, no underlying message. No articles to reference, no pictures to discuss. Just a recap of my day, my weekend, and my thoughts on the week to come.

It's nice to put it all on paper, to look at all of the little and big things we do in a day.

So much to be thankful for- simple thanks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flexibility

When I was in high school, I was on the dance team- the Plano West Senior High School "Royales"!

Every Friday night at the football game, we did a halftime performance. These routines ranged from poms to streamers to props (ladders, fences, etc.) to hoop-la's.

If you've never seen a Texas drill team performance at half-time, you probably have no idea what a "hoop-la" routine is! (Picture giant round circles adorned with shiny strips of ribbon, flying in the air during a dance routine.)

We had a certain number of dances we would rotate through week by week- one being the kick routine. The kick routine was always pretty intense. It required a lot of stretching (we had to kick our sequined hats) and usually included a jump split or a split contagion of some kind.

I was never good at the splits. I was terrible, actually. It took extreme amounts of stretching on my end to make it happen. I even have a hamstring muscle that acts up every now and then- I'm convinced the result of a jump split gone wrong.

But as I've started to run more frequently and for longer distances, I've noticed my flexibility has improved greatly. I stretch every day- whether I'm going for a walk or a bike ride or a run. I've noticed I can touch my toes easier than ever. I've noticed my palms touch the ground when I bend over. I've seen positive results from stretching- from working out kinks in my muscles to overcoming lingering aches and pains.

Stretching- and flexibility- has become as important to my fitness routine as running.

Ironically, I'm not a particularly flexible person- not just physically, but characteristically.

Some may call it bossy, others call it stubborn. I just think I have a passionate personality.

Case in point: my business? Broadcasting auctions on the Internet so people can bid on properties across the country.

Before a big auction, I produce a 20 minute "pre-show" to educate viewers on the properties up for bid, how the bidding process works, etc.

Think of it like Sports Center; the pre-show before the big game.

I put days worth of work into this pre-show. I carefully write a script. I select videos to air during this time- many of which I have helped produce. I have a vision in my head of how I want this educational, entertaining show to go before the auction begins.

And if anything happens to mess that up- an auction begins early or late is the usual culprit in my business- it really sends me into a tizzy.

I say, I refuse to cut out of this video early because it will mess up my show.

They say, auction is our business. Deal.

I never handle these moments with grace. I fight tooth and nail until I realize the big picture is to broadcast the auction. The pre-show is extremely important; but the auction is the star.  So I begrudgingly cut my pre-show short.

And then the inevitable post-show recap: you need to be more flexible.

It's a definite weakness of mine. I'm stubborn. I'm passionate. I'm determined- and I'm not always right.

Flexibility doesn't happen because someone tells you it needs to be so. I can't suddenly become more flexible anymore than I can pop into a jump split at a moments notice.

But with practice- stretching my muscles, taking deep breaths, looking at the big picture and the end result- I know it's possible.

I know I can step back and look at what's best for the show as a whole; a growing moment as a producer.

Flexibility takes time and work, but it's always worth it. 

But no matter how flexible I become... I make no promises on the jump split.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eluding the Pre-Dawn Funk

Have I mentioned once or twice this week that my alarm went off at 4:45am EVERY MORNING the past five days?

No? Well, it did.

There's something about being at work when it's still dark outside that can unmotivate the most motivated of people. I consider myself fairly motivated; but when the coffee is gone by 7am, you know it's going to be a long day.

I came across this article by Michael Hyatt on "getting out of your funk" around mid-week this week; perfect timing, as I was starting to feel the early mornings and long hours.

It was time for a seventh inning stretch.

He wrote about a particular time he was in a major funk- and how he got out of it. He started his post by quoting Tony Robbins who said, "Emotion is created by motion."

Michael went on to say that changing our emotional state- being in "funk" so to speak- can begin by changing our physiology. He suggests putting on some upbeat music, taking deep breaths, positive thinking, and my personal weapon of choice- going for a run.

We all get into those funks that just seem to drag on and on. And I certainly have my fair share of those when I'm working before the sun comes up. It's hard to feel inspired & productive when you're tired and feeling sorry for yourself. Or bitter that your co-workers are just arriving when you've been at it for 5 hours already.

Enjoy your 9am cup of coffee! I'm ready for lunch.

But it really confirms my belief that starting the day on the "right" foot (for me, quiet time & exercise) is key; and that we all have the power to change a bad day- it's never too late. Even if that work-out and quiet time (or deep breathing or rap music or whatever your weapon of choice may be) happens right before you go to bed.

Next time I'm in a pre-dawn funk, I'll try to remember this blog post.

Or I'll just pour another cup of coffee and drown my sorrows. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Accidental Athlete

When I was little, I had a phase where I wanted to be sporty.

I wanted to be on the volleyball team, or the soccer team. And finally, in 5th grade, I "made" a softball team with my life friend Hilary (who's wedding I'm in this coming June!)

All I know about my time in softball:
*I hated getting dirty; there was NEVER any sliding
*I never actually made contact with the ball when I was at bat
*I peed my pants in the middle of a park with Hilary while practicing one day

Actually, Hilary is my only friend who has made me pee my pants- and not just once, but twice. Once as an adult.

But I digress.

The point is, I was never athletic. I danced. Oh, and I learned to water ski in middle school when my family bought a lake house.

That's it! Not sports for this girl.

I started working out my senior year of high school- and that continued into college. Elliptical was my thing; maybe the treadmill for short periods of time.

I spent my first post-college year in a sleep-deprived haze that consisted of 0% exercise. I was working the night shift at KTUL and I could barely manage to stay awake in my free time, much less exercise.

But eventually I took on my first Couch to 5K training program, ran the Tulsa Run and wa-la, a runner was born.

Up until the past few months, despite improving my running, picking up- and having a love/hate relationship- with biking and (gulp) even swimming, I still haven't considered myself sporty. Much less, an athlete.

But a few weeks ago, when I was negotiating for the new-to-me bike, the woman who was selling it started a sentence by saying "Athletes like you and I..."

I don't even remember how that sentence ended, because I was so fixated on those words. Athletes like you and I.

Is the red-headed girl who hates dirt and germs and getting hurt an athlete?! After all of these years?

I now find myself having conversations with people about the next race I want to try, the best trails to practice biking uphill in the wind. I am stepping out of my comfort zone to find new running trails because I've run "my" trail enough times to know it by heart.

I find myself looking at cars with bike racks and thinking, I need one of those.

I'd rather spend $200 on a Garmin Forerunner than a new outfit.

Well, most days, anyway. Let's not get too carried away.

I longingly look at Turkey Mountain and anticipate the day I'll be able to rock those hilly trails- by bike or foot.

I enjoy the outdoors more than ever; I even want to camp!

(But I still jump a mile when I see spiders on the trail; case in point, this afternoon.)

All this to say, maybe this ultimate girly-girl is a bit of an athlete after all.

I'm competitive.

I'm determined.

And even though at the moment I may have more work-out clothes than actual work clothes...

Don't even think I'm giving up my high heels.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goodbye Fall, Hello Bailey's

Halfway through the week- and halfway through my blog-for-a-month challenge!  Feeling good and strong as I head into the final 15 days (ha)- and throughout this entire process, I've kept a list of things I'm learning by blogging every day.

So, tune in for my thoughts December 1st. :)

How's that for a tease! Such a TV girl; "tune in" is a phrase I write or hear about 18 million times a day!


Fall is coming to a close. Yes, it's sad and true. I wanted to grab a picture of my house before the cold snap(s) begin- and I just love this shot. My big tree out front is the sunniest yellow- and the smaller tree in my planter stays this vibrant red for just a short week- the week before the weather turns seriously cold.

Isn't nature amazing like that?!

Of course I'm sad to see fall go, but I'm thrilled about winter, too. Yes, I said it. I'm ready for cold nights, hot chocolate, a (small) round of snow, lots of couch-cuddle time, and Bailey's.

The Oklahoma Housewife (aka my best friend Heather) made me a fan of Bailey's some years ago, and I've been a believer ever since. In fact during last year's snow storm, I partook in a daily round of Bailey's-n'-coffee... and I made this delicious Bailey's ice cream.

So when I stumbled across this adorable table setting from The Sweetest Occasion featuring a DIY table runner, votive holders and vases, covered books, and- you guessed it- Bailey's, I was sold.

With holiday happy hours right around the corner, I think I will recreate this very setting in my kitchen this weekend- to prep for the parties, of course. Bailey's included.

The Sweetest Occasion for Baileys Friendsgiving - DIY Centerpiece from Cyd Converse on Vimeo.

Temperatures are dropping to the low 20s here tonight; here's to something warm to drink!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Optimism

CNN wrote an article on a study last week that came to this conclusion:

"... attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life."

Ya think?!

But in all honesty, I find this whole study very interesting- because it proves what I know to be true. I don't necessarily attend church every week- and that's mainly because I've had a bit of trouble landing on a "church home."

However I do incorporate daily devotionals and quiet time into my routine. I have blogged before how much of a difference that makes in my life. It's not perfect; we all have days where there just aren't enough hours in the day. But I try my hardest to make it a priority.

The past few days, my devotionals have focused on prayer- how we don't have to be perfect or be in a perfect moment in order to spend time with our Maker.

Totally true for me this week, in fact. My official "quiet times"will happen on a bright orange couch at 6:30am outside of my studio at work as I wait for my broadcast to begin. Odd? Yes. Imperfect? Yes. Works for me? Absolutely.

As I found myself having quiet time in that rather odd place at a particularly early hour this morning, my first thought was this: Lord, thank you for coffee.

HA. But my second thought was this: when did quiet time & prayer become a necessity, not just a nice way to start my day?

Because it is a necessity; it shapes my entire day.

And, according to CNN, The National Heart, Blood & Lung Institute, National Institutes of Health and (whew) US Department of Health and Human Services- it shapes my outlook on life, too.

I thought this statement was interesting:

"Optimism is about 'percieved control... positive expectations... empowerment... a fighting spirit, lack of helplessness- those are general definitions."

While I wouldn't necessarily say all of those points are true (my co-workers might argue the "perceived control" bit on my end)- I do love a few of the key phrases: a fighting spirit. Lack of helplessness.

Because we gain those from a relationship with the Lord. We are optimistic because we know where our eternity lies. We have a fighting spirit because we have so many blessings to fight for. We aren't helpless, because we have a savior.

I'm optimistic tomorrow will be a good day; and it's not because I'll produce an amazing broadcast or I'll go to a fun lunch meeting or have dinner with a dear friend. All of these things make me joyful to the core;

I'll be optimistic because I'll start the day with a cup of coffee on a bright orange couch, studio lights blazing behind me, and a few quiet moments in prayer- however unconventional it may be. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Emo-Running

Today, I came up with a new term I will use from now on:

"Emo-running."

Let me preface this by saying... today I started my week-long shift as morning producer for "Live from the Lawn", the broadcast my company airs online two weeks out of every month. For the last... 2 years?... I did the night shift, working until 10 or 11 every night.  And just a few months ago, I switched over to the morning shift, where I arrive at work at 6am every day.

Which means my alarm goes off at 4:45am every day.

No complaints, mind you. I am forever thankful to do a job I actually like, with people I really love.

But.... there's just no amount of coffee to make 4:45am bearable.

SO- onto the emo-running:

I woke up at 4:45, aka 5:30... quick shower, Keurig-coffee-to-go, hit the road.

Produced all morning... then spent the afternoon slightly bleary-eyed and numb; the first 6am work day is always brutal.

What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, emo-running....

...but first- you know when you have a really long day, and you're tired, and people tell you all day long how you look?  You get the "you look tired" or "you look worried" or "you look so serious when you sing" (true comment from the day; and yes, I'm known for singing in the studio).

When people tell you how you look all day, and they aren't necessarily saying "you look beautiful"... you just kind of feel... low.

Then, Facebook decides to throw a wrench in the engine by suggesting you friend your boyfriend's new girlfriend... for like the seventh day in a row.

Because you have mutual friends.

Really, Facebook?!

So by the time you leave- you drank your coffee-to-go 18 million hours earlier; you're angry at Facebook; and you're contemplating practicing your singing face in the mirror... it's time for emo-running.

What's emo-running, you ask?  Let me tell you!

Emo-running is when you have a fierce and furious need to run.  Preferably to sad or angry music.

Today, Mother Nature really made the emo-run with a downpour mid-pavement-pound.

Thank you, Mother Nature!

So I emo-ran, rain dripping down by face, "Fast Car" blasting in my ears.

Tomorrow, my alarm will go off at 4:45am. I'll get up at 5:30. I'll make coffee-to-go and arrive at work ready to see the smiling faces of my friends.

There won't be a need for emo-running; those only happen once in a while.

But there will be singing- and you better believe there will be a smile on my face.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend (And Fall?) Wrap-Up

The weeks seem to be flying by faster than ever right now... and in the midst of all of the deep thinking and day dreaming I do on my blog, I want to remember some of my favorite "fall moments", too!



I drove to Norman for OU Family Weekend last weekend- such a fun time with (almost) the whole family! We ate lunch on Campus Corner, watched Sooner Scandals... and of course stayed up-to-date on the OU game via iPhone. I love this picture of the three of us; almost complete!



I can feel winter right around the corner... so I've been steadily crossing things off the checklist before the snow arrives. Car wash? Check!


Maizy and I love to spend 7pm-9pm every night curled up on the couch, watching our favorite shows. That's not so much a seasonal thing as a year-round sort of thing.


My first University of Arkansas game! Littlest brother goes to college there- so we spent this past weekend in the Ozarks!


Reunited, and it feels so good! Enjoying a little downtime at littlest brother's fraternity house yesterday before the game.

Can I also just say... the six of us (kids, parents, etc.) all spent the night in one hotel room last night?

I feel like I could dedicate an entire post to what it's like sharing one hotel room between six people. The snoring. The bathroom situation. The sleeping situation. And as my mom tells us, the constant chirps from five iPhones all night long as various family members received text messages, emails, etc.

(She's just bitter, as the lone non-iPhoner of the group.)  (Right, mom?)

So, there you have it- a quick wrap-up as fall wraps up.

I am savoring these moments because this week will be intense! Producing every morning beginning at 6:15am. No complains; just lots of coffee. :)

And then, it's Thanksgiving week!

So savor your Sunday- and here's to Monday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Running in the Fall

There's really nothing like fall in Oklahoma. It helps that fall is my favorite season, after all- but it's truly just gorgeous.

The trees are changing to bright reds and yellows and oranges. There are leaves everywhere. I think that's my favorite- running with piles of soft leaves crunching under my feet.

Soon it will be snow underfoot... and we can just hold off a few more months before that's the case, thankyouverymuch.

Gap Body has a whole line of amazing work-out clothes- this GapFit jacket being one of them. They have a ton of jackets to choose from- really cute fitted ones, pleated ones, warm-up pullovers, etc.- but I decided I love this one the most because it's rain/snow resistant (nylon) and has long sleeves that come out past your hand. I definitely need those, because my hands get so cold while running.

I need to elaborate on this, because this is detrimental to my work-out experience. When my hands are cold, I'm miserable and I cut my run short. But when I wear gloves, my hands get too hot and I am miserable. Really, the quality of my run all comes down to the temperature of my hands.

So, these sleeves are actually a huge part of my love for this jacket. You can extend them out over your hand... or roll them up. Ta-da!

And... a personal moment here... my nose runs a lot while running in cold weather, so I need long sleeves to, you know. Wipe my nose.

Aren't you glad you stopped by to read today!

I also really, really need this. The Garmin Forerunner 210. Track every minute of every mile- yes please, sign me up.

If the temperature could stay at a nice 45-55 degrees in the morning, that would be lovely. If the leaves could stay put and continue to crunch under my feet, that would be wonderful. And if I could figure out how to keep my hands not too hot and not too cold, I'd be the best runner in Tulsa.  (Ha!)

Speaking of leaves, I'm spending the next 24 hours in Arkansas, where I hear the leaves are changing beautifully.

So, until tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

No Today, Yes Tomorrow

A few weeks ago, I said no to something I really wanted to say yes to.

That big something? A beautiful, new-to-me bike.

It was the hardest decision I've had to make in a while (yeah, I know, not much to complain about, huh?) and I was really torn about what to do.

Ultimately? It came down to money.

It was certainly an investment- and one I could afford to make, with the help of a generous payment plan offer.

But after a lot of wavering and praying and thinking and a glorious "test drive"... I had to say no.

And now, a few weeks later, I'm thankful that is the decision I made.

Instead, I've been able to purchase/invest in several smaller scale things that have been piling up on my want/need list- and that makes me feel really good about my decision.

In turn, I feel like another bike opportunity- maybe the same one?- will pop up when it's the right time, and I will feel really good about making that investment.

When I read this BlogHer article by Linda Hunt- part of The Money Conversation- it totally resonated with me.

Making a big commitment- whether it's a purchase or an investment of time- is something worth doing some serious thinking and praying about. Sometimes the answer isn't clear- but I find that if I let something rattle around in my head for a few days, push back against my people-pleasing nature to "make a decision" (and one that makes the other person happy, usually)- I'm able to clearly see if it's right or wrong for me.

I especially like her "Money Muscle Strengthener" Tactics:

1) Find a quiet place, focus on your tailbone & take a few deep breaths
2) Think about what you were asked to do and your answer
3) Identify where you feel that in your body and describe to yourself how it makes you feel
4) That is your answer


The great bike debate is just a small example of this- but it's a bigger picture thing.  I want to always be committed to projects that feel right. I want to make decisions that I can live with, that make me feel good about myself- whether it's matters of finance or matters of principle or matters of the heart.

In a world where quick decisions are made every day, sometimes it's nice to sit back... reflect, weigh the pros and cons... and make the right decision instead.

That bike money turned into new-pair-of-jeans money and save-for-big-trip money and three-cocktails-at-dinner money... and it turned into peace of mind, too.

Now that I've made some smart decisions, followed my heart and listened to my gut- I'm ready to celebrate with a big-ticket purchase.

A new bike, perhaps?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A-maiz-ing

My little nugget of a honey girl is named Maizy.

I've blogged about Maizy before- but I have to say, lately... she has really stolen my heart.


She is the complete opposite of my Toby who died last year. In fact, after Toby died- I really couldn't stand the thought of getting another cat, of having a pet who could even remotely replace him.

A few days after I got Maizy- nine months after Toby died- I felt like I had made a huge mistake. She was so tiny (four weeks old!), needed so much care- and I honestly felt numb, like I had this huge responsibility on my shoulders, this precious thing to take care of- and I couldn't. I wasn't capable of it. I didn't have enough love left in my heart. Every time I looked at her, the ache of losing Toby came back all over again.

What a transformation seven months makes! And in truth, just weeks after bringing her home I knew it was right.  I think God intended for me to have her, to have a complete opposite experience than I did before. He knew I could never replace Toby; so he just made room in my heart- and my head- for something completely different than Toby.  150% different, in fact.

Toby was soft and quiet and cuddly and furry like a lion. He shed all over the place. He always preferred home over adventure and needed coaxing out from underneath the bed/behind the water heater/on top of the cabinets regularly.  He was the one thing that made my first steps into adulthood bearable, when I lived in a new city and worked a tough night shift and knew very few people.

He was my entire world for four years- the first chapter of my adulthood.

Maizy is loud and in-your-face. She has lots of attitude and prefers adventure over- well, anything. She's a great traveler; she is feisty and rarely cuddly- but when she wants to cuddle, she's all yours. She has never met a stranger and hasn't spent a minute of her life hiding from anything.

She is becoming my entire world- and, I truly believe, a symbol of the next chapter of my adulthood.

There might be some reading this thinking, we're talking about a cat, right?

But for anyone who has ever loved- and lost- a pet, you know the hole that leaves in your heart and how hard that is to fill.

Maizy was born in April of 2011, and came to live with me in May- and I'm pretty sure an angel named Toby had something to do with it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspired & Happy

Ah, Wednesday! We made it to Wednesday. After Tuesday turned out to be such a lovely surprise of a day, I went into Wednesday with equally high expectations.


Kelly over at Fab K Creative (also the designer of my lovely blog design) had this posted on her blog today. How true is that statement?! One of my BIGGEST struggles in life is finding my work/life balance. Some days I can't even imagine adding kids and a husband to the mix! If I'm away from work enjoying myself... I feel like I'm not working hard enough. And if I'm working too hard, I lose all sense of me. 

Can I get an AMEN?

Upon seeing this poster, I found myself thinking of all of the things I do outside of work that inspire my work: blogging, running, quiet prayerful time. Things it's perfectly OK to make time for.

I also thought about the things that rejuvenate me, and therefore inspire my work: time with family, drinks with girlfriends, travel.

And when I stumbled across this article- 12 Things Happy People Do Differently- it all just jelled and jived together into one cohesive thought:

In order to be happy and do my best work, I have to live life to the fullest.

Take that ah-ha moment, Oprah!

A lot of the things in the article, I do regularly- or try to do. Practice spirituality, take care of your body, express gratitude. But a few stood out to me, things I could probably work on to improve my overall "happiness" (of course, I believe true happiness comes from a spiritual foundation- but certainly "committing to our goals" and "savoring life's joys" help!)

One point- cultivate optimism- I would especially like to work on. I tend to let things snowball- a rainy day puts me in traffic, keeps me from Starbucks, makes my hair frizzy, makes me feel uncomfortable in a meeting, makes me feel like I'm not doing a good job, leads to a crying breakdown in the car on the way home from work, leads to a minor life crisis. (Oh, come on. You do it too.) 

There are moments in the day we can stop and turn it all around. Tackle a problem with optimism and see where it takes us. 

Hand in hand with cultivate optimism.... develop strategies for coping.  I've learned this first and foremost- and continue to learn it, honestly- through my job as a producer. I plan a show for days, weeks even- and in 30 seconds, it can all fall apart. A live shot doesn't go as planned; the video won't play when cued; a mic battery dies. Instead of throwing myself onto the ground (I'm not exaggerating here, either)- I have my coping strategies.

Take a deep breath.

The show must go on.

Eat a handful of M&M's.

Often times, I find myself apologizing after a show for snapping at someone trying to be helpful. Not a good coping strategy.  Note to self: keep mouth shut with M&M's.

All this to say, I'm inspired today. I'm inspired to live life outside of work to inspire my work; and I'm motivated to make simple daily improvements to my life to get more "happy" out of it.

What inspires you? What could you work on to add more "happy" to your day?

If your answer is M&M's... you'll find no judgement here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Oomph

Tuesday is typically my hardest day of the week.

I do some extra praying during my morning quiet time; and often times I have to reward myself with something fun after work on Tuesdays to help motivate me throughout the day.

Tuesdays are full of meetings, always. Some of them are standing weekly meetings; others are impromptu. But Tuesday = official meeting-of-every-kind day.  I always need just a little extra oomph to get through Tuesdays.

Monday is a day to see all of your work friends, catch up on email, new shows on TV. I don't hate Monday.

Wednesday- we're halfway through the week!

And Thursday and Friday- well, you're basically on weekend time.

But Tuesday... Tuesday always requires a little deep breathing.  And a lot of praying. And some definite oomph.

Today, my extra oomph was the promise of a post-work run; a new book I've been waiting for; and a chai tea latte from Barnes & Nobles.

Pretty good oomph, huh?

And in the end, today turned out to be a great Tuesday. Many meetings came and went. I ran a new trail tonight in the cool, rainy air- which I love. And I picked up a new book, a chai tea latte- AND a chocolate chip cookie!

(Which I ended up throwing at a giant bug in my garage when I got home; I have bug issues, OK?!)

Sometimes Tuesday just surprises you and ends up being a great day!

What day of the week do you need a little extra oomph? What do you reward yourself with?

Just curious.

And if your extra oomph is a chocolate chip cookie- please hold onto it. Tightly. I'm really wishing mine wasn't on the garage floor right about now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pacing

Oy. The state of Oklahoma is really putting me through the ringer right now.

We started the year with "Snowmageddon"; record-breaking snowfall.

We had a spring full of nasty tornado scares.

The summer was a scorcher, with record-breaking temperatures well above 110 degrees.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are breaking records with our earthquakes.

We have had three earthquakes of noticeable size... in the past 4 days.

Three earthquakes, you ask? Why yes. Because we just had another 4.7 earthquake a half an hour ago.

Did I mention we're also currently under a tornado watch?

So, oy. That's all I can say.

But to distract myself from the current weather drama- I have an announcement!

I am officially entering week 2 of my 30-days-of-blogging challenge!

I'm finding out a lot about my writing style, my blog, even myself through this entire process.

Today, I read this post by Joy The Baker about doing what you love, including blogging. Write what you love. Don't worry about the followers, the fame. Just do it because you love it. Such wonderful words to live by in every area of life, don't you think? Especially during this blog challenge.

I also read this article on BlogHer comparing our daily blogging to training for a marathon: you don't just wake up one day and decide to run 26.2 miles. You have to train! It takes patience, a break every now and then (hello, picture posts! They're coming!) and the support of other runners- er, bloggers.

These two articles really inspired me today. I think that's my favorite part about this challenge; I feel more observant in the things I experience (hello, earthquakes?!) the articles I read, the pictures I come across- it's all inspiration for my blog posts. In a way, I feel like my writing is more intentional.

So, here we go, week 2! The finish line is still a ways off- so I'm pacing myself. The road is tough; the earth trembles under my feet (ha!). But I'll finish strong!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Art of a Healthy Heart

I would like to point out, for the record, that even though it looks like I did not post Saturday... I did. I really did! Shake, Shake, Shake was written at 11:30pm last night. Which my computer still thought was 12:30am... but, time change!  So, it counts. For those keeping track. :)

Today has been a much-needed, much-deserved day of rest for me. I think for a lot of people, that means doing nothing. For me, a day of rest is catching up on life with no outside stresses. I sleep a bit longer. I have quiet time or go to church. I balance my checkbook. I enjoy a cup of coffee and read my favorite blogs. I write, I run, and sometimes I work. But only if I want to.

I read an article this week my Michael Hyatt about the "four disciplines of the heart." He breaks down what he believes to be four essential practices, for lack of a better word, to keep our hearts in check. To keep us spirited, passionate and engaged in life instead of muddling our way through it.

Below are this thoughts:

How can leaders cultivate a healthy heart? I would suggest four disciplines:

1.The Discipline of Reflection. We live in a busy and noisy world that will suck the life out of us if we let it. This is why it is essential that we intentionally pull away to a quiet place, pause, and reflect. If Jesus did this (see, for example, Mark 1:35), how much more important is it for us?

2.The Discipline of Rest. God has built rest into our very physiology. We are made to shut down for a third of the daily cycle. One of the quickest ways to lose perspective is to cheat ourselves out of this God-given “off switch.”  It requires deliberate choices: deciding to rest one day in seven and choosing to take our allotted vacations.
 
3.The Discipline of Recreation. There is a difference between amusement and recreation. The former leaves us more tired than we started.  Recreation involves any activity that gives us the opportunity to express our creativity. These activities never seem urgent, but they are vitally important.

4.The Discipline of Relationships. Arguably, this is the most important. You and I were made to live in relationship to others.  This means making time—quality time—for our family members and friends. It means taking the initiative to invest in those we love.


Read the full article here- I dissected it a bit according to what really hit home for me!

For the discipline of reflection, I lean on daily quiet times and running. I have made this mandatory in my life.

For the discipline of relationships- I have made this a priority, as well. I've really evaluated what makes a "healthy" relationship this year; I am allowing myself to draw the line if I feel walked on or taken advantage of. (A problem of mine.) On the flip side, I am investing 100% back into the relationships that are fruitful.

But I sometimes feel like disciplines 2 and 3... I skip over. Rest & Recreation?! Who has time for that!

Rest is always the first to go in my busy day- and I feel terrible guilt taking time off of work. But it's necessary to refuel and keep us running properly.  In fact, I'm using up my vacation days right now- because I need that time away.

Recreation is another one I'm working on. I have been in a "season of work" these past few years- but I'm trying to invest more energy and resources into things I love. Travel, for instance; this is a huge priority for me in 2012. But I have been allotting time for other recreational activities, too- running, blogging, writing, freelance projects- and yes, couch time to watch Real Housewives. (Hey, it's recreation!)

All this to say, I appreciate these days of rest- and I think my heart does, too. Life is so easy to enjoy if we take the time to take care of ourselves!
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