Friday, November 28, 2014

So Grateful for a Long Thanksgiving Weekend

Warmed German mull wine, Christmas tunes on Pandora, and all three of my furry critters curled up around me on the bed....can life get much better in this moment?

On my bedside table is my half-read copy of Love Does by Bob Goff, which is amazing to say the least and an incredibly easy read. Bob does a great job of explaining and showing what the love of God is supposed to be about and he's hilarious as well...

One of the big items I'm working on lately has to do with getting my spiritual house in order a bit more and the local Christian book store hooked me up with five pretty awesome reads for a great deal. I'm also starting to yearn for a group of spiritual women to be connected too, so that actually might become a goal for this next to truly embed myself in a church somewhere where I'm willing to truly invest and be committed.

There are assignments to grade and a homework assignment to complete, but really I've been focusing on just allowing the last two days to flow without stressing about everything else that "needs" to be done. It will all get done in time....and the last two days have just reminded me of how awesome it will be to have Christmas break arrive. I'm down to two more weeks of my teaching term and three more weeks of being a student...woohoo. :) (Somehow I did agree to teach five sections of the same course next term with one of the sections also being a Saturday class....but we'll worry about prepping for those in a few weeks...)

Yesterday was a really wonderful Thanksgiving. This year it was hosted at a different aunt's house and 21 of us were able to be together. We had a great time chit chatting with each other, stuffing ourselves with some incredible eats (my cousin makes the most amazing gluten-free pumpkin bars, the sweet potatoes are so delish, and my brother's pumpkin bread was out of this world too....LOVE left overs!), and just relaxing together in my aunt's newly remodeled kitchen. It was truly a great time together. I had gone for an easy jog with the dogs mid-morning before baking an apple pie using Granny's recipe and fixing a pear, yellow tomato, and feta green salad. After getting home from my aunt's I finally fixed a few things around the house I'd been putting off, took care of all of my laundry, and finally also cleaned out my "work" closet in the hallway. Sometimes it just feels so good to take care of a host of things, purge, and organize. Stuff is back to hanging where it should, life feels less cluttered, the sheets are clean, etc etc. Ironically I ended up suffering a bout of stomach flu about the time I wanted to go to bed, but still, all things considered Thanksgiving was a pretty awesome day.

This morning I let myself sleep in and then I was pleasantly surprised that my skin looked the best it's looked in a week. If it takes stomach flu to make my skin look perky and cleared up, then I'll take it...jk...I won't...really. :) But I was pretty stoked to feel fine this morning! A cup of coffee and after throwing on my favorite go-to outfit of late (long tunic/sweatershirt, long sweater, leggings, tall boots), I headed out to do the dreaded thing I usually swear I'll never do....yep, I (the usual anti-consumer queen) went out to shop on Black Friday. And truthfully it was...well, worth it. The main reason included a drive downtown to the Columbia Sportswear store. I'd researched a couple options for a new winter coat and wanted to try them on. I was pleasantly surprised again when there was no traffic on the highway and the store had more employees than shoppers--it was great! Parking was a breeze, shopping was a breeze, and I walked out with an awesome new 3in1 winter coat AND a good deal on their waterproof pants. (My last three hikes have literally left me without an inch of dry skin on my body due to monumental a new winter outdoor coat was a must as we head into snowshoe and winter hiking season...) The one I got is this one. and it should be good for all conditions. If I don't want to wear the down coat liner, then I can use a black fleece I have instead. From there I stopped by Freddies to pick up a couple Christmas gifts and to hit the sock sale before it ended (four new pairs of wool socks for less than $20...I'll take them!). I ended the 2.5 hour shopping excursion with the true opening of the holiday season: a stop by Burgerville to pick up a peppermint milkshake. Altogether I felt like I'd taken myself on the most amazing date--it was a great morning and early afternoon.

I spent the rest of the day delivering bags of kiwis to the various neighbors--meeting some of them for the first time in the almost four years that I've lived here! It was really nice to finally get to say hello to some of them and they were all so glad to receive the kiwis. :) I talked to my sister, my brother, and my mom on the phone today...even though I just saw all of them yesterday :) I replaced and rigged the outside faucet covers since we're heading toward another cold spell (the chickens apparently think they are the coolest things to peck we needed two new ones and a way to block them so the chickens can't get to them). I chatted with my housemate and her fiance, loved on the dogs, finally caught up on blogs, and really just appreciated the downtime that the holiday has granted.

I have all the rest of my Christmas gifts mapped out in my mind so I only need to pick up a couple of more items...everything pretty simple and low key for my various family members. I'm thinking this year I'm going to get a small tree and keep decorations around the house to a minimum, especially since I'm thinking I'll be spending most of Christmas week down at my parents. Other plans for the break include hopefully getting down to Ashland to visit a buddy of mine who will be home for the holidays and then relaxing, snowshoeing, and hiking as my heart generally pleases...and helping my parents finish their interior home changes too.

Tomorrow holds lunch at my cousin's to get to see her apartment and then a 10-12 miler with my gal for our pre-half training. On Sunday three acquaintances and I are running in the Ugly Sweater Run in downtown and I just picked up the sweaters today from my aunt. I'm pretty excited and hope it will be an enjoyable event! Sunday afternoon I'm meeting up with another one of my favorite gals for lunch or coffee. So altogether it will have been a great weekend....and a nice respite as we head into the final haul of the last bit of dual term. Three more weeks and dual term will be no more! ;)

Hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving! I love this holiday and I hope you had a great one too :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is it December break yet?

So incredibly ready for the holidays! Always grateful for the awesomeness of Thanksgiving but definitely ready for a few weeks of "down" time around Christmas.

Highlights of late and of the upcoming weeks?!

1) As of the week before Christmas, I'll be officially done with massage school....and I plan on taking a few weeks off to enjoy having all my siblings together for the first time in I don't know how long. My brother and his family are driving out from Denver and it's been FIVE years since I've seen his kids and wife!

2) My parents are moving within an hour's drive from Portland. My local siblings and I have been helping them to rip out carpets, paint (SO much painting), and laying new floors. Dad wants to build an additional room. They need to fence the backyard and do so much yard work...along with several other home projects. But honestly, my parents seem more alive and excited than I've seen them in years. The projects will keep Dad busy as he transitions into second retirement and being closer to extended and our immediate family will be good for both of them too. It took me a bit to get on board with them moving, but I'm looking forward to lots of day time moments with them and to also seeing more of my siblings.

3) Did I mention that I'm almost done with massage school?! :) Pretty darn glad to almost be completed as I've been pretty wiped out the last couple months for various reasons. My goal is to take my exams in January and hopefully be licensed and part-time employed in February.

4) I'm heading in a direction to finally follow my dreams...which means potential big plans for summer 2015. So many pieces must fall into place, but I've been amazed at the connections that have arrived so far and the support from many individuals in my life. My parents will (hopefully) dog-sit, I plan to sublet the house (prayers please!), and my boss is willing to work with my scheduling needs for the summer. So here's hoping it will all fall into place...and that doors will begin to open to head more toward the field of international health in terms of a career path also.

5) The dogs and I are laying in bed, munching on crackers together. We sat in front of the fire earlier this evening and just let thoughts roll and ponder, and  I talked to THREE of my favorite ladies on the phone this afternoon and evening. This morning I spent listening to the sermon from a visiting pastor that answered a revolving question in my brain regarding stagnancy, and then I met an attractive for a most amazingly delicious cup of coffee. (That I ended up not really wanting a second date with him is mainly beyond the point... :)) But really...the more I think about life as of late... what could be more awesome than all of this in these moments?! :)

6) I legally changed my name back to my maiden name. The reasons behind this are endless but I'm hopeful the transition back to my name & roots will head life back in a direction of opportunity, open doors, reclaiming my old identity, and blending it with a passion for the future. Still in process of changing so.many.various.accounts.... but it was awesome to celebrate the name change with a gathering of various friends over wine & desserts at the house last weekend. Ironically it was the same court house that made me a wife and gave me a divorce that I wasn't sure I wanted...and that now also gave me back the most amazing sense of freedom by returning me to my original legal name.

7) I now have two laying hens...and so far the birds are surviving the crazy winter we've been having even though we're technically in autumn!

8) My gal friends put me to a challenge of dating earlier in October. I've almost completed the actual challenge although I intend to stick with it through the end of this year. It's been teaching me a lot about myself and I'm having to work on being more comfortable saying "sorry, no, I'm not interested." It's been validating in a lot of ways to discover that regardless of where I am in life right now that the variety of males I've gone out with all seem to be interested, but it can also be challenging to then have to let them know that I'm just not feeling it. I think more dating experience is good for me as I didn't spend much of my 20s really dating, I'm processing a lot of new information about myself and potential partners, and I'm also gaining more exposure to what might really matter in the long run. Ironically I'm in no hurry to settle down again, especially when I'm currently feeling that there are things I need to take care of before that notion really settles into my heart and mind again.

9) I'm recognizing that I'm in a period of renewal, growth, and transition AGAIN....but I'm okay with that. The last few months rocked my core a bit, finalized some things I already knew, and are causing me to re-establish the happiness and joy I already know I can grasp once I process through a few more things. But for the first time in a long time, I feel like in motion again...and in the motion that it was originally supposed to head me on. I'm believing that anything is possible...and that doors will open when and how they shall to lead me on ahead...

10) Making mileage for my year running goal is in sight. In fact, it's so in sight that I slowed off this month to allow myself to focus on helping my parents and trying to keep my immune system going. The dogs and I had some pretty awesome long day hikes/trail runs last month and we just covered our first ten miler road run in months! The reason for that road run is that I also officially registered for my first half marathon race...and I haven't exactly been training for it. One of my high school acquaintances and I are going to run it together....and I also am in the process of roping some friends together for a fun run at the end of this month also. Ironically I think 2015 will have less running, still lots of hiking, and maybe something more gentle for my yoga.

11) I'm already thinking about what to create for next year's goals. Beyond the biggie, there may be one regarding my fear of horses. The usual financial goals will be on the list, as will the occupational changes. I'm also being realistic at what all can be covered next year and am mainly focusing on the big one plus finances and 1 or 2 real minor ones. Constantly evolving life is...

12) There's so much more to say at this point...but I'll just leave it with I'm so grateful. The last few weeks have had many tears of feel life moving, to have certain doors forever closing, to feel renewed and grounded in an older truth, to have the amazing support and celebration of so many loved ones via friends and family and various acquaintances. I've been covered in prayer, I have my cousin as my life coach guiding me on my way, I've felt the outpouring of love from so many family and friends, and I've had encouragement from so many various sources. I recognize that...I truly am so blessed by the life that I already am living....and I'm excited to see how it might continue to evolve as we head into the future. If I had to redo the last 5ish year, I don't think I would choose to do so, but I also recognize how this period of hardness and stagnancy in life has evolved me into a version of a person for the future that I probably desperately needed to become. There are reasons for everything, even if we don't always want to see or experience them...and even if we truly never understand them. But regardless of it all, I'm so incredibly grateful to continue in this process of evolving....

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Over the last week, I've been feeling called to focus on reframing and all the goodness that exists in my life. Sometimes in the midst of chaos, goodness can at times feel fleeting but I also know that I am surrounded by it and in so very many ways.

So here's a list of some of the things I am so incredibly grateful for:
--AMAZINGLY steadfast long term and newer friends
--re-establishing deeper friendships with prior long term friends
--the beauty that is so ever present with this season, ie amazing leaves, spider webs dripping with dew, brilliant greens of growing grass, foggy mornings
--doggie love, being greeted at the door with their happy faces, bringing joy to their days
--INCREDIBLE family near and far
--a great recent visit with one of my aunts
--the skills & resources possessed by my family members
--support and words of encouragement from my lovely cousins
--watching so many of my friends & family moving ahead in so many ways
--exploring new long term options to head in a related career field & follow my long standing dreams
--making mileage in beautiful outdoor settings
--sweating & processing through life's turmoils
--upcoming celebrations with friends for a big life transition
--regular text message exchanges with one of my favorite buddies
--my parents moving out of my hometown to an hour away from all of us in the Portland area
--a great stable & morally sound long-term housemate
--the opportunity to have two shorter term housemates since August that were both enjoyable
--watching the chickens run across the backyard on their free range days
--focusing on my spiritual relationship with the ruler of this life & universe
--food in my fridge, heat, clean water, an amazing rental situation, & a car that runs
--being so close to finishing my education program
--the ability to literally touch the lives of others thru massage & teaching

For these and so many other reasons, I DO realize that I am so very blessed beyond measure....