The Last Time I Flew...8/15/2013
We've all heard that old saying "life comes full circle." As I traveled back to Omaha to visit friends and family this past week, I truly identified with that saying. I drove in to Omaha with mom and James' Uncle Dave. Mom and I decided that we would celebrate her birthday for an entire week, starting off with her driving down to visit me here in Dallas. I returned to Omaha with her to visit for a few days and then flew back to Dallas. As soon as I saw that familiar green sign that read "Nebraska, The Good Life" I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. Our first stop once we arrived in Nebraska was to Wal Mart. The nostalgia grew when I saw something that I haven't seen in a while: Husker gear. Something about the sight of that Red and White makes me feel at home and at ease. I spent the next few days driving around my old stomping grounds and reminiscing about fun times with friends and loved ones. I enjoyed seeing a few changes that had taken place in Omaha since I'd been gone. I guess you could say that the trip home was a huge stroll down memory lane. However, I found myself most nostalgic when I was flying back to my new home.
My "full circle" moment hit me as I sat on the plane staring out the window (I must have a window seat whenever I fly *cues "Window Seat" by Erykah Badu*) I couldn't help but ask myself "when was the last time I was on a plane?" When I realized that it was two years ago, all I could do was smile. The last time I flew was in May of 2011. At the time my marriage was in shambles and consequentially, so was my heart. I remember crying incessantly as I stared out of the window. Mom and I were on our way to Montreal, Canada to celebrate our church's 25th anniversary. The scenery outside of my window was absolutely breathtaking; but the scenery of my life at that time was a painful disastrous mess that I could not bare to face. I was in more pain than I had ever been before; that pain crept up from my heart and forced its way out of the wells of my eyes. I remember mom grabbing my hand as she watched me cry, tears dropping beneath my big black sunglasses.
Just two short years later, I sit once again staring out of the plane window. This time there are no tears...well maybe a few tears of JOY. There is no more sadness in my heart; only love and happiness. It still blows my mind that God has done such a great work in such a short amount of time. He really has turned my mourning to joy. To anyone who is currently in pain and feeling like they will never be free of that pain, I hope you find encouragement in my story. I hope you realize that God's grace is sufficient for the brokenhearted. I hope you understand that God specializes in turning nothing into SOMETHING. I hope you don't ever give up or let go of that dream that you have. Most of all I hope you never underestimate the power of God because he makes ALL things beautiful in time. Don't ever forget that ... HE makes ALL things beautiful ... in time.
Learning to Swim7/26/2013
For as long as I can remember, drowning has been one of my greatest fears. As a result, I never learned how to swim. For years, I wished I could swim but my fear prevented me from taking the time to learn. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to finally conquer that fear and sign up for adult swim lessons. I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I felt embarrassed that I hadn't learned sooner. I also hoped that I would be able to learn the fundamentals skills of swimming and not allow my fear to get in the way.
On the day of my first lesson, I went to a swim shop and purchased a swim cap and goggles. I had been so preoccupied with being nervous about learning to swim that I had not even stopped to think about another major concern: MY HAIR! How on earth was this going to work?! I knew before signing up for the lessons that I would need to spend a lot of time practicing, which meant that I would be spending a lot more time on my hair as well. I also knew that wearing a swim cap did not completely protect hair from getting wet and most importantly, chlorine could be very damaging to my hair. I did some quick research on natural haircare for frequent swimmers and thankfully I found some helpful tips.
During my first swim lesson, I learned to release air while under water. My swim instructor, David, had me inhale and then exhale while under water which caused bubbles to form all around my face. After I did that a few times, he taught me the flutter kick. Once I had this figured out, David wanted me to combine the two skills that I had learned, releasing air under water and using a shuffle board to practice the flutter kick. As I practiced these skills, I accidentally swallowed a bunch of water. I immediately went into panic mode, gasping frantically for air. David told me to relax and try to regulate my breathing. Eventually, I did relax and was able to return my breathing to a normal rate. Through this experience, I realized that 90% of my fear of drowning was in my head. At the end of my first lesson, I did an experiment with myself. I slowly started placing my head under water. My objective was to try to remain calm while under water. As the water covered my mouth, I noticed that my heart started to beat rapidly. It got even worse as my nose slipped under the water. In conducting this experiment, I realized that my biggest challenge in learning to swim would not be the movement of my arms or legs, it would be learning to control my breathing while under water. Since discovering this, I have been trying to focus on calming myself and reminding myself that I will not drown. I can honestly say that learning about breathing in my yoga classes has helped as well. When I'm practicing swimming, the first thing I have to do is take several deep breaths. My "routine" is usually to place my head under water, slowly practicing blowing out air while under water for a few seconds at a time. After doing this 4 or 5 times, I'm calm and comfortable.
Conquering my fear of drowning is one of the most rewarding feelings I've had. I have also learned to try incorporate the things I have learned through this experience into other aspects of my life. If we can learn to gain control over our fears, we can accomplish great things. Sometimes, its simply the fear of the unknown that can cause us great anguish. However, if we can find ways to overcome the things that make us afraid or the things that stand in our way-we can live a beautiful life. I challenge you to conquer one fear in the next few months. You will feel empowered and courageous in doing so and I guarantee that your new found courage will spill into other facets of your life.
1 CommentA Letter to My Readers7/12/2013
Dear Readers/Supporters of this blog,
First things first, I want to thank you for reading! Starting a blog can be quite scary. In order to have a blog worth reading, you have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, you have to be willing to be open and honest with your readers. You also have to write about things that are RELEVANT. There are probably a billion bloggers these days so if your writing is not interesting--NO ONE WILL READ YOUR BLOG. This being said, I am constantly thinking and in search of new ways to make this blog interesting and RELEVANT to YOU! I try to share past experiences and new adventures. When I write, it is my hope that you will be able to relate to my experiences...past and present. I also want you to know that when there are gaps between my blog posts...I'm working on content. I know that one of the rules of thumb when it comes to blogging is to write often. I believe this is an important rule but what is equally important is to write about things that will attract and interest readers. The truth is I DON'T ALWAYS HAVE INTERESTING THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT! I would rather skip a blog for a week or two than to write about something that is 'blah' solely for the sake of posting something.
As my readers, you should know that nothing makes me happier than inspiring people with my blog. I know that I cannot inspire by posting filler. Another important aspect of blogging is interacting. This is something that I would like to see improve; I need YOUR help! I can see that there is a good amount of traffic on my blog (and of course this makes me happy) but I would love nothing more than to see more of you commenting! I want to know what you all think about my posts! I want to know if you can relate OR if you cannot relate! I want to know if you have been through a similar situation OR if you handled something differently than I did. I want to INTERACT with you! So please comment. State your opinions and ask questions! I am very passionate about the things I choose to write about so naturally I want to talk about them with you. If you have an idea for a blog post--TELL ME! If you have a question or topic that you'd like me to address in a post--TELL ME! I write for YOU...my readers! I thank God everyday for blessing me with the gift of communication via writing. You've most likely read my post titled "The Sweet Spot." My Sweet Spot is writing; God has blessed me with this ability to write and I want to use it to bless others in any way that I can. I am not an expert on anything...other than myself (and even that is sketchy at times!) I am simply a woman who is on this journey called life, just like YOU! We're on this journey together, so why not connect and interact!?
Again I am forever grateful to you for taking the time to read my blog. May God bless you and yours!
3 CommentsMy First Yoga Class7/10/2013
I have been wanting to try yoga for quite some time now. My lack of flexibility has prevented me from trying before now. Today, I put my fears aside and ventured into the wonderful world of yoga. Some of you may know that I work part time at the LifeSpa in Plano which is located in LifeTime Fitness. Perhaps the best perk of being a LifeTime employee is the free membership. As I walked in to the Yoga studio, the first thing that caught my attention was the fact that the area was completely secluded for the rest of the gym. As I walked down the narrow corridor which branched into a lounge like room, I saw that there were wood cubbies against the back wall. There were a few pairs of shoes in these cubbies which signaled to me that I should take my shoes off. I was liking this yoga stuff already. I walked toward the cubbies and slipped off my shoes. I noticed pale green leather seating benches to my right. "How cool is this?" I thought to myself. There were also coral cube seats on the floor near the benches. I especially liked the tall plants that were against the wall between the cubbies. Hints of sandalwood perfumed the area.
I was about ten minutes early and another class was in session so I decided to sit on the benches until class started. A few minutes later, an older gentlemen walked back into the lounge area. He slipped off his shoes and placed some small items into one of the cubby holes. "Hello," I said politely greeting him. "Is this your first yoga class?" I asked as he sat down on the bench. "No I'm here all the time," he replied. I realized that I was a bit nervous about being a yoga novice and I was hoping that I wouldn't be the only newbie in the class. As I sat making small talk with the older gentlemen, people started coming out of the room where the class was to be held. As people from the previous class began to file out, I walked into the room. I noticed a few people lying in the back of the room on mats. They were laying on their backs with their palms flat on the floor. A couple of them had towels over their eyes. Were they sleep? I wondered to myself. I decided that I would follow suit so I grabbed a mat; again I was nervous about being a newbie so I wanted to do my best to fit in with the rest of the people in the class. As I lay on the mat with my eyes closed, I tried to take several deep breaths and clear my mind. I remembered hearing that a major part of yoga is breathing. More people started to file in to the room. I tried to ignore the noise of bags hitting the floor and quiet whispers of friends who were taking the class together. I wanted to completely focus on mentally preparing for the class which would start any minute.
Finally, the instructor walked in. "Hello all and welcome to Slow Burn," she said. "Do we have any new people to the class?" She asked. Great, this was exactly what I wanted to avoid. Of course I was the only person who raised my hand. I hoped that no one would pay too much attention to the new girl. As the instructor began the class, she told us that she liked to begin in a position called "Child Pose." In this kneeling pose, both legs are folded under the body while the arms are either stretched out in front of the body or alongside the body. Next, the instructor provided somewhat of a focus. "Some of you came to class with specific intention today. At this time I want you to focus on that intention. If you did not come with an intention today, here is a suggested one: gratitude. Take this time to be grateful for all of the blessings in your life. Don't worry about anything that happened this morning or anything that may be coming up this afternoon. Be present in the now, in this moment. In this moment, lets be grateful for all that we have." After hearing this, I knew that I wanted to come back for another class. I loved the infusion of the spiritual/emotional with the physical. As I mentioned earlier, I am not very flexible. As I focused on getting into the next pose that she announced, I tried to concentrate more on the things that I was grateful for than the fact that I just could not get my left leg to do what the instructor was demonstrating at the front of the room. "We generally keep it at about 85 degrees in the room. Remember to be aware of your breath at all times," she reminded us. As I struggled to mold my body into the next pose, I thought to myself "this really is a slow burn."
By the end of the class, I was dripping with sweat and I was exhausted. I learned a few things: firstly that I want to attend this class again. Although I found it quite challenging, I enjoyed the focus on controlled breathing and awareness. I felt that these are things that we can utilize in every day life. It's amazing what a few simple deep breaths can do for your mind AND your mood. It's also amazing how we can go through an entire day lacking awareness of ourselves and others. It is so important to be present in each moment of our lives. Secondly, practice makes perfect. I had a difficult time getting into many of the poses because of my lack of flexibility as well as my lack of core strength. All this means is that I need to KEEP going to the classes. I also want to practice some of the more challenging poses at home. I know that in time, I will increase my strength and flexibility. Another thing I learned was that I enjoy new adventures. I found the yoga class to be a challenging yet rewarding experience and I was proud of myself for venturing into the unknown. I can tell that I am going to thoroughly enjoy yoga. If you have never tried yoga, I encourage you to. Maybe it's not yoga that you want to try, maybe its mountain climbing, martial arts, or a marathon. Don't be like me and wait several years to try something that you are curious about. Do it this week OR today if you can. Whatever sport/activity you find yourself curious about, you're interested in it for a reason so give it a try. You may enjoy it or you may hate it. You'll never know if you don't try!
My Life's Loves
This blog post is dedicated to several things that I love! Listed in no specific order, check out the pictures and descriptions below to learn about some things that I couldn't live without!
Cupcakes and Cashmere started as a blog and later blossomed into a book. Creator/Author of Cupcakes and Cashmere, Emily Schuman, has been my FAVORITE blogger for about five years. Over the past few years, her blog has captured her engagement, her journey as an author and her enchanted wedding. What's even cooler is that her husband is also her photographer and is responsible for all of the amazing pictures on her blog! I can relate to her affinity for all things fashion, food & fun. In her blog, Emily provides everything from fashion forward style and beauty tips to delightful recipes, as well great ideas for home decor and party planning/entertaining. She also gives great advice for fellow bloggers; her words of wisdom have definitely come in handy since I've started my blog! After you read this post, go view cupcakesandcashmere.com and I'm sure it will become one of your favorite things, too! Thanks for the inspiration Emily!
My love for mani/pedis is something that I find hard to express in words; which is rare being that I'm a writer. From the moment my feet hit the warm bubbly water in the pedicure chair, I am in heaven. My body is completely relaxed and I can feel a little smile start to spread across my face as the water splashes in between my toes. Simple joys, such as having someone massage your hands and feet are a great example of why I am so in love with the beauty industry. Perhaps the most exciting part of my mani/pedis are choosing my polish colors. For years, I played by the rules and insisted on wearing the same color on my fingers and toes. Recently, I have opened up to the idea of a non matching mani/pedi. I usually opt for a neutral of some sort on my fingernails and go for a bright pop of color on my toes. No matter what may be going on in my life, it is always a good time for some pampering!
*I'm wearing Driftwood by Spa Ritual in this photo. For the BEST mani/pedi in the Plano area, stop by the Plano LifeSpa located inside of the LifeTime Fitness on Preston/Legacy. Your hands & feet will thank you!
I love food and everything about it. I'm always watching The Food Network, specifically Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), Giada De Laurentiis (At Home with Giada), Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) & my favorite Paula Deen (Paula's Best Dishes). HOWEVER, there is one food in particular that supersedes the others. It is my greatest weakness. It is the arch nemesis of my diet. IT is SUGAR. Specifically the 'happy ending' to a meal that we call dessert. Over the years I have heard people talk about their sweet tooth. Well ladies & gentlemen, Alexandria Lynn Barlowe has an entire mouthful of sweet teeth! If you cannot or do not remember ANYTHING else about me, please remember this one thing. I could literally eat desserts all day and think nothing of it (relax, I've never actually done it although, the thought has crossed my mind PLENTY of times). A few of my favorite desserts are cupcakes, ice cream or frozen yogurt & any dessert with lemon involved. I've tried time and time again to abstain from desserts but I just won't do it. I won't say that I can'tdo it because I know that I could--I just don't want to! I have come to terms with my pesky relationship with sweets but I have found low calorie/low fat alternatives to satisfy my sweet desire. I've also learned to implement a serious workout routine to keep myself in shape. This way, I don't feel so guilty about my many indulgences!
This is my guiltiest pleasure: "reality" television. You'll notice that I put reality in quotation marks and that is because I believe there is some loose scripting to all of these shows. I know that these shows are chucked full of inappropriate language and behavior; but I find them to be extremely entertaining. James thinks that I enjoy them because I don't have any drama in my personal life so I like watching the drama that transpires in the personal lives of the people on these shows. I think he is absolutely right. We've all heard the age old cliche "opposites attract." Perhaps I find myself drawn to these shows because my life is in stark contrast to the characters on the shows. Whether I'm watching the wild and weird antics of the Kardashians or gasping at the non-stop cat fights between the Basketball "Wives," I just can't get enough! You'll notice again, quotation marks around the word wives--why is it that majority of the women on these "wives" shows aren't even married?! Anywho, maybe one day I will grow out of my love for the ridiculousness that ensues on t.v. these days. Until then...I won't be missing an episode!
I'm not sure when my obsession with scented candles/Scentsy warmers began, but I am pretty sure that it is here to stay. I have a Scentsy and/or scented candle burning in each room of our apartment. I love to change the scents in my home based on the season. I also burn a different scent in each room; I am careful to choose scents that compliment each other. Trust me, I wouldn't bombard our noses with conflicting scents leaving us with throbbing headaches. During the fall and winter, I choose warm comforting scents such as Warm Vanilla Spice and Maple Cinnamon Butterscotch. With summer just a few days away, I've changed the scents to Lemon Chiffon and Sugared Melon Kiwi. I generally keep a neutral, vanilla based scent in our bathroom; currently that scent is Vanilla Cream Cupcake. I think the names of the scents can be just as fun to pick as the actual scents! I love stepping into our front door and immediately being greeted with a sweet fragrance. I feel this makes for a warm and inviting environment for guests as well!
The other day, James and I were cleaning our bedroom. When I started to clean off the vanity I said, "I need to stop buying jewelry." James immediately started laughing....hard. When I realized how amused he was at the thought of me not buying anymore jewelry, I started laughing too. When I was a little girl, I remember playing in my grandmother's jewelry collection. I would place each ring that she owned on my little fingers, drape myself in as many necklaces as possible and play around in her vanity mirror. In playing with her jewelry, I associated womanhood with being adorn with beautiful jewels. Now I have my own jewelry collection and my niece always finds her way to it when she comes to visit. I imagine my future daughter and granddaughters will do the same. No outfit is complete without the perfect jewelry and accessories to complement it. By constantly buying jewelry, I am simply ensuring that I always have the right accent to any outfit that I may choose to wear (or at least that's what I tell myself). What's just as important as jewelry is the way that you choose to display it. My grandmother had a classic cherry oak jewelry box complete with mini chest drawers with plenty of nooks for all of her little sparkly things. My jewelry display is still under construction but I do love my vintage necklace/earring holder and my ceramic hand (both purchased from Urban Outfitters). All this being said, I will NOT stop buying jewelry. In fact, I bought two new rings yesterday! I will stop buying jewelry when I stop being a woman.
Battling Baby Fever6/12/2013
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted a family more than anything else. I was the girl who doodled the names of her four children in her notebook during Biology class. I remember putting a question mark after the first names that I had chosen as I had no idea who my husband would be. Now that I am happily married, my desire to start a family is stronger than ever. It is so strong that I often feel unfulfilled because I am not a mother yet. Every time I see a pregnant woman or someone holding a baby, I have to look away or I will start welling up with tears; seriously--its that bad! Perhaps my baby fever is at its highest when James and I are snuggled up on the couch. In these tender moments, I can't help but think how perfect it would be to have a little infant lying in between us as we cuddle. I've even put a pillow in my shirt and stood in the bathroom mirror to get a glimpse of what I will look like with a baby bump! Ok, so you must be thinking "why don't you just have a baby then?!" Read on, my friend.
My overwhelming desire to have a baby is completely emotional. When I am fighting back tears at the sight of a pregnant woman, I am not considering all that comes along with raising a child. I am not taking into account the fact that having a baby changes EVERYTHING and I'm honestly not ready for everything to change...again; I just relocated last year so everything did recently change for me. I'm only trying to deal with one major life change at a time if at all possible! I'm also not thinking about the fact that James and I are still newlyweds and we should soak up and enjoy each and every moment during this phase of our marriage. Most importantly, I'm not thinking about the fact that I don't feel quite ready to completely care for a little human being! I often tell myself to stop just looking at the "cute" stuff about motherhood because from what I hear and see, motherhood is definitely not always cute. I want to be the best mother I can possibly be and I don't feel I can do that if I don't even feel ready to have a child yet. I completely understand that many women get pregnant unexpectedly. Obviously James and I are open to that should it happen, but we are not planning for a baby at this time.
So for now, I am doing my best to tuck away those warm tingly feelings I get when I play with our niece or when I see James playing with our niece. Or when I pass by the kids' clothing section at Macy's (this may be the main cause of my baby fever). I am going to remind myself that we don't need to be in a rush to make such a final decision. I am also going to do something that I have NEVER been good at: LIVING IN THE MOMENT. I've always spent a lot of time thinking about my past and wondering what will happen in my future. For the first time in a long time, I really love the things that are happening in my PRESENT and I want to relish in those things. I NEED to relish in those things. Instead of thinking of how perfect it would be to have a baby snuggled in between James and I as we lay on the couch, I need to snuggle up even closer to him, be thankful for the time that we share together and tell myself "all in due time Alex." One thing is for sure, when the time IS right and we are both ready have a baby--I will be the happiest woman on the planet! In the meantime...BEAT IT, BABY FEVER!
Sometimes I Have It & Sometimes I Don't...6/9/2013
As I pursue my writing career, I am learning more and more about my writing process. One thing in particular that I have learned is that my inspiration seems to be a bit inconsistent. There are times when I have fleeting bursts of inspiration. During these times, I can sit at my computer and write for hours until my fingers cramp. Sometimes I even have trouble getting all of my thoughts out quick enough! When I’m inspired…I mean REALLY inspired, I’m in my ZONE! My headphones are on, my favorite Pandora station is cranked up and I’m just flowing. I could be on the couch at home with my feet propped up on the ottoman, or I could be sitting in the Panera down the street (like I am right now). When this happens, I feel like everything in the universe is perfectly aligned and I’m free to write from my soul. I feel like an artist painting a picture with the words that I write; its euphoric.
Then there are other times when I sit down to write and nothing comes out. Good ol’ writer’s block is what they call it. If writer’s block were an actual person, I would strongly dislike that person. Whenever they came around, I would not speak to them. I would shoot them dirty looks. I would push them down a flight of stairs if at all possible. I pray and ask God to inspire me and provide me with insightful and thought provoking topics to write about, but sometimes he doesn’t answer; at least not by Wednesday afternoon—which is when I work on my blog. I even try to find inspiration in my daily routine. “Ok, what’s philosophical about washing the dishes or cooking dinner?” I’ll think to myself. I’ll try to find the smallest glimmer of inspiration as the chicken sizzles in the skillet. “Maybe I can write about how much James loves chicken,” I think to myself laughing because I know that’s a terrible blog topic. I wonder what people would think if they logged on to my blog only to find “My Husband Loves Chicken” as this week’s post title.
Truth is, some days…I just don’t have it! That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s a truth. “You can’t hit a home run every time,” James says when I complain to him that I’m all tapped out of fresh ideas. He is absolutely right. I am learning to examine my thoughts and emotions and find out if there is an underlying issue that is preventing my creative juices from flowing. I am learning to be patient with myself during these uninspired times and most importantly to find ways to unblock the passage way to my zone! I can "unblock" by going for a walk or going to the gym. Sometimes even a quick nap or hot shower does the trick. No matter how inspired or uninspired I am, I must accept my truth which is that sometimes I have it…and sometimes I DON’T!
The Sweet Spot
As I sat in the pews listening to my pastor a few weeks ago, I had one of those proverbial "light bulb" moments.
"You've got to find your Sweet Spot!" He said.
After hearing him explain this concept, I felt an intense sense of relief and joy. I knew that God was providing me with the reassurance and confirmation that I needed.
When I chose to rid myself of Corporate America and pursue my dream of writing, I took a GIANT leap of faith. I often wonder: What will I write about on my blog next week? Are people even reading my blog? Will people enjoy the book? Will my testimony really touch people? Anyone who has decided to take the road less traveled can sympathize with these thoughts. My brother-in-law recently stated that working for yourself is great because you are in complete control of your time. However, you don't always know when you are going to get paid. He was absolutely right and it's the not knowing that can make things quite scary. This is why I was so comforted by the message my pastor taught a few weeks ago; it was exactly what I needed to hear. "The Sweet Spot" is that wonderful place where your gifts, talents and passions directly align with your ministry or what God has called you to do. It is God's will for us to discover our Sweet Spot and fully operate in it! When we discover this spot-there is NO end to the possibilities of what we can accomplish. Furthermore, we invite God to get behind our efforts when we are operating in what he called us to do. When we we are fulfilling God's plan for us, he will provide us with every thing we need...and then some!
I have been trying to constantly remind myself about the concept of The Sweet Spot and it is my hope that YOU will do the same! Don't be afraid to pursue your dreams. Don't be afraid to completely change your career path if you are not happy in your current one! Find your own Sweet Spot by asking yourself what you love to do. What's something that you would do for free? The answer to that question is your Sweet Spot...now go OPERATE IN IT!
For more information about Pastor Joel Scrivner or Covenant Church, please visit covenantmckinney.org
One Heart, Two Homes
There's an old saying that home is where the heart is. Before September 2012 Omaha, NE was my home. I'd often heard fellow Omahans express how much they wanted to move elsewhere because the city was too small, too boring, or because there was too much violence etc. What I find quite ironic is the fact that I was never one of those people. "Don't you want to get out of Omaha?" People would ask me. My answer was always the same: NO. I was quite content in my small "boring" hometown. In fact, I did not find it boring at all. I spent my adult life living in Downtown Omaha and there was always something fun to do. I could sit on my rooftop deck, watch the sunset, and view the beautiful city skyline. I could traipse around the Old Market and have sushi at my favorite restaurant. I could also head just a few blocks over to Midtown Crossing and enjoy dinner and a movie at the CineDine; I could even shop afterwards at the surrounding boutiques. One of the main reasons that I did not have a desire to leave Omaha was because my mother lived there and I couldn't imagine her and I not living in the same city-that is until James came along.
When James and I decided to get married, I had a big decision to make. I chose to follow my heart and leave the only place that I ever called home. I chose to embark on a new adventure in a new city, Plano (a suburb of Dallas). I had been to visit Plano several times before but I never imagined that I would one day call it home. Plano is beautiful and an ideal place to raise a family. There are restaurants, boutiques and spas on virtually every corner and I love the warmer weather. I have always thought that snow was quite beautiful to look at but I do not miss driving in it. I have come to love many things about my new place of residence but being here is still bittersweet. I often miss the familiarity of home and more than anything, I miss mom. It will take time for me to fully adjust to my new surroundings and I have come to accept that. I know that in time I will have memories and sentiments about Plano just as I do about Omaha. Home truly is where the heart is, so I have ONE heart but TWO homes.
Things I Would Tell My 18 Year Old Self
1) You are NOT fat. (In fact, when you're 25, you will kill yourself in the gym just to get back to the size you are now!)
2) You WILL get married...twice...before you're 30. (Maybe I'd leave out the fact that I would be married twice-that may scare a teenage me!)
3) Yes, you already know him, both hims (in reference to #2)
4) Your college years will fly by so quickly, it will leave your head spinning--so study!
5) Mom is right. About everything. All the time.
6) Although you feel all 'churched' out sometimes, one day you will appreciate each message you heard.
7) Being grown is not as fun as it seems-don't be in such a hurry to get there.
8) Use lots of sunscreen.
9) Surround yourself with like minded people--remove yourself from toxic people.
10) Everything will be just fine; you will be successful and you will make mom proud. Some things you will experience in the next few years will make you cry ALOT, but you will survive & once you get through it all--you'll be stronger and wiser. Hang in there.
Reflection is an important part of getting older. I love looking through old photos and journals because I enjoy remembering how I thought & viewed things when I was younger. More than anything I enjoy analyzing my growth & development. I love seeing how I've gracefully transitioned into womanhood and how I've handled some very adult things at a young age. Reflection is God's way of allowing us to review ourselves. Do it often. You cannot know where you're headed if you don't know where you've been. What would you tell your 18 year old self?
A Mother's Love
Mother: a female parent; a woman in authority; specifically the superior of a religious community of women, an old or elderly woman; a source or origin; maternal tenderness or affection; something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind i.e., "it was the mother of all construction projects."
Although Mother's Day is this Sunday, I do my best to celebrate my mother every day. We talk each day, usually several times per day and I try to end each conversation with "thanks for everything, I love you." Anyone who knows me well knows the bond that I share with my mother. I have always been very close to her but as I get older, I come to appreciate her more and more. I also find myself understanding various things that she did for me when I was a child. I understand why she would always say, "if you don't want to listen to me, life will teach you." I see now that she was so right, and of course when life did in fact teach me, I wished that I had listened to her. I understand why she would always ask me what I had for lunch at school. I realize now that she was casually starting a dialogue about my day; because she asked me this every day, I eventually became accustomed to telling her about my day before she even asked me about it. I understand why she would make up seemingly silly games to play with me. One game in particular was called "The Communication Game." In this game, she would make up a long sentence full of big words and tell me to repeat after her. These sentences never made sense but the point of the game was to expand my vocabulary. I understand why she forced me to go private school against my will and in spite of the fact that all of my friends were going to public school. Of course this upset me initially, but now, years later...I understand. I understand and I appreciate.
Mom, I know that I tell you all the time--but that's still never enough--I love you. I truly appreciate everything that you have done for me. I admire the strength, courage and determination that you've shown me. I love our bond and how you always know what to say and when I need to hear it. I love the fact that we can have fun and laugh like friends. I thank God for each lesson that you taught me, either by talking or by example. I've said it once and I will say it many times more--I hope and pray that my future children and I have the same unbreakable bond that you and I have. Please believe me when I say that you are ABSOLUTELY the mother of ALL mothers.
Inspiration is defined as the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. There is something to be said about this seemingly magical concept called inspiration. Inspiration can strike at any time or place. It can be triggered by a song, a picture, a sound or even a scent. Sometimes it can come from a certain place. As a writer, when I think of inspiration, one memory in particular comes to mind. Last summer while vacationing in Chicago, I was inspired to write while on the train. Eager to capture the fruits of the inspiration that came from this simple train ride, I quickly opened a new memo in my phone and typed all that I was thinking and feeling:
As a small town girl, I have an amplified appreciation for a diverse and exotic culture such as the one here in Chicago. Perhaps my favorite thing about said culture is the hustle & bustle of the people on the train. Some are on their way to work, or school, some may be on vacation like me. Everyone on this train has a different background, a different set of life experiences, a different destination & thus a different reason for being on the train. All of us were bought together by the common denominator of needing to be somewhere. If you think about it, it's quite symbolic of life. Although we all have different purposes, dreams, goals and backgrounds BUT we are all here occupying space on this Earth. We are here In this very moment, in this place & time. While on this ride called life, we should make the best of it. We should enjoy each moment that we are fortunate enough to have, for we never know when our train ride will come to an end.
From Acquaintances to Sisters
Attending the same church made us acquaintances. A shared experience made us sisters.
Before the summer of 2011, our interactions were brief and infrequent. During those brief encounters, I had no idea that I would one day come to lean and depend on her. It all started when I learned that she was getting a divorce around the same time that I was. I thought that maybe we could talk after church or something and swap horror stories. At that point in my life, I desperately needed to know that I was not the only person going through what I was going through. God knew that I needed a friend and he provided that in her.
During our first conversation, we learned that by either irony or divine intervention, we had married the same man. I'd be telling her about an argument I had with my soon-to-be ex and she'd say "are you sure these two aren't related? He sounds just like my ex!" We managed to find laughter in the similarities that we shared. We also cried together because sometimes making a joke just could not mask the pain. Whenever I needed to talk, meet up for prayer or just scream--she was there. She became my lifeline. She always had words of encouragement. "One day, we'll look back on all of this and laugh! We'll be happily married to our new husbands and we won't even remember these days," she'd say. I wanted so desperately to believe her but I was so damaged that I just couldn't.
Now, a little more than a year after our traumatic divorces, I am so elated to know that she was RIGHT! She attacked me with a huge bear hug when she learned of my engagement to James back in September. I only wish I could do the same to her last week when she told me of HER engagement! It is no coincidence that we suffered together and it is certainly no coincidence that we are being blessed together! For whatever reason, God chose for us to be forever linked by these shared experiences. I was so thankful for her friendship and sisterhood during my divorce. I am even more thankful for her now because I can rejoice with her--just as I cried with her.
Darnetta I want to thank you for helping me through the darkest time of my life. I appreciate every prayer, every word of encouragement and every hug. I am so happy for you and I wish you nothing but the best--you deserve it!!
Journey to LOVE
I have believed lies. I have ignored red flags. I have dismissed wise counsel. I have loved the wrong man--more than once and I loved him more than I loved ME. I was desperate for something that God had prepared and predestined for me. I often wished that I had not been so naive and accepted false words at face value. After one too many blows to my heart, I thought that love just wasn't in the cards for me. I figured I was destined for a life of loneliness because I just didn't know how to pick 'em. I have found this to be true; whenever I picked a man to fall in love with, it blew up in my face. When I finally allowed God to pick the man for me, he was the PERFECT man for me! When I removed my own feelings and emotions from the driver's seat, God was able to get in and drive me to the place that I had been trying to reach: LOVE. I'm here in love now and thanking God every step of the way. I thank him for giving me grace. I thank him for being patient with me when I was NOT patient with him. I thank him for giving me mercy. Most of all, I thank him for LOVE; it is truly a beautiful place to be.
No More Ms. Corporate Woman
I found myself stuffed into a world in which I knew I did not belong. Three hour meetings, awkward happy hours with people l had nothing in common with, disingenuous smiles, false friendliness, nosiness masked as genuine concern etc. etc. etc. It was easy at first, during the honeymoon stage. The honeymoon stage was great. I was welcomed with warm open arms and constantly reminded of how fortunate I was to have landed a job in the best department of the best company in the world. But when James entered the picture, he made it painfully obvious that I was not happy in this psuedo career that I was building. This became clear to me before the start of a meeting one day. I swear my blazer seemed more uncomfortable than ever that day. I kept fidgeting and tugging at it as if that would solve the problem. Everyone around me was laughing, talking and having a good time while I sat there wanting nothing more than to seep out of that room like water from a tipped jug. At that moment I had an epiphany: I had morphed into this corporate career woman by way of evolution. The divorce left me in a state of shock. In such a state, I chose not to sit around and cry about how badly I wanted a family or how much I hated corporate America. I had bills to pay and that was the bottom line. All other details were simply irrelevant. But on that day in that meeting, that "career woman" shell shattered giving way to the real me. The real me is an artist. A wordsmith. A chef. A loving wife and future mother. Not some woman who worked like a slave for a morally vacant company for meager wages. She was no longer me. I was coaxed out that old shell with the help of James' love. I am now happier than I have ever been and living the life that I know I was meant to live.