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Friday, November 21, 2014

So Thankful - Part 3

61. My extended family as a whole - I have so much family all over the place and I wouldn't trade a single one of them for the world.  I so wish we could spend more time together but I cherish the time we do get to spend together.  Love you all!
62. Charter buses - What a great way to travel or go on a field trip!
63. Warm showers
64. Skittles
65. Peanut Butter
66. Pictures like this that show anything is possible if you just believe in yourself
 67. Being able to see different college campuses so I can help my students make even more informed decisions.
68. My love of walking - It's so relaxing and is also a great form of exercise
69. Antibiotics - If you know how often I get sick you know why I am thankful for these wonderful things.
70. My Kindle - I can play games, read books and do so much more with this fabulous device
71. Quotes - Because they inspire me, motivate me and just push to always find the positive things in life.

72. Nyquil - When I am sick, it is the greatest invention ever.
73. Dark chocolate - satisfies my sweet tooth
74. Sore muscles - tells me I'm doing something right when I work out
75. The freezer - I'd waste a lot of food if it weren't for the ability to freeze leftovers.  And it makes packing lunch much easier.
76. My co-workers - I could not ask for a better group of people to work with every day.  Here's a few of them from an in-service day earlier this year : )

77. Lazy Friday nights - no better way to end the week in my opinion.
78. Yearly vacations with my family.  We get to make awesome memories in some wonderful places.  And seeing the joy on the kids faces is the best thing in the world!
79.  Silly face selfies with my favorite girls :)
80.  Playing like a kid again and loving every second.
81.  Seeing all I am capable of and, at times, making decisions that, 2 years ago, would have devastated me.  Today, those types of decisions only make me feel stronger on the inside.

82.  Caffeine - I don't drink it often but when I need it, it becomes my best friend for the day.
83.  PB&J - I swear nothing tastes better when I am sick.
84.  My treadmill - it isn't the best machine in the world but it is a great resource to have in a pinch.  Or when it's freezing outside!
85. Christmas decorations - They make me happy :)
86. Dogs - Although I don't have one, I always had one growing up and I love them.  One day, I hope to have one of my own but, for now, I will settle for visiting with my friends' dogs :)
87. Blender - So I can make smoothies
88. Boot camp classes - It's so nice to not have to come up with my own workouts a couple of days a week.  And I know I challenge myself more in a group of people than when I am by myself.
89. Popsicles.  Because, sometimes, you just want one.
90.  People who take the time to help, guide and just be there when you feel like the whole world is against you.  I believe people like that are angels sent to help you because someone knows you just need another person to show you all that you have to offer the world.  Renee' did that for me.  And she's never asked for or expected anything in return.  I don't want to think about where I would be if I hadn't been fortunate enough to meet her, learn so much about so many things I can't even list them all and most importantly, find a great friend in the process.  Every day is a learning experience and an adventure for me and I credit her for helping me see that living life this way is fun and the only way to go :)

Thanks for indulging me and reading about the multitude of things and reasons I am thankful.  I can't begin to describe how blessed I am in so many ways.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

So Thankful - Part 2

I really do have so much to be thankful for.  So, here goes my attempt at the next 30 things I am thankful for.

31. My cousin Meredith - She made the list last year and I can't imagine a time when she wouldn't make the list.  Although we didn't grow up together, we made an effort to become friends through letters (showing our age) and, finally, a visit when I was 17 and she was 16.  At that point I think it had been over 10 years since we'd seen each other.  It was like we'd been best friends forever.  And, since then, I've always known she is someone I can turn to when I need to cry, need to vent, need a friend, need to celebrate or just want to chat and catch up on life.  I so wish we could see each other more often but, when we do, it's like no time has passed at all.  Mere - we need a new picture!!  Hopefully that will happen this year :)

32. The beach - it truly is my happy place and I feel at home whenever I feel the sand between my toes and the sun shining on me :) 
33.  My condo - It really is my home.  I remember moving out on my own a little over 8 years ago and how scared I was.  Now, I love it.  It's my little sanctuary.
34. Books - they make me think, imagine things and occupy my mind in a healthy way.
35. Writing - It really is the greatest way I have to express myself, my thoughts and my feelings.
36.  My sister-in-law, Kristin - It's weird to even think of her as an in-law anymore.  She is my sister.  And one of my best friends.  She and Andy have given me two of the most precious people in my life and she is always there for me whenever I need her.  Our family is so lucky to have her as a lifelong member :) 

37. My job - I am so blessed to go to a place that I truly enjoy working at every day.  My co-workers are amazing and, although our job can be stressful at times, I love that we are all friends and are able to laugh and have fun on a daily basis.  
38. The students I get to work with every day.  There is definitely a variety!  And I love hearing about their hopes, dreams, goals and so much more.  It's so fun when I hear that they've been accepted to the school they want to go to or that they've earned an award they worked hard for and so much more.  Helping them achieve their goals is why I went into this field to begin with.
39. Water - I'm pretty sure I'd have a decent headache every day without it.  Can't believe it took me 32 years to figure that out!
40. Random facts - they just make me laugh.  
41. My friends (and co-workers) Kira and Kelli.  They listen to me on a daily basis, laugh at me while I laugh at myself about food and cooking, are fun to be around and are willing to keep me company while I try to achieve goals.  Namely, running 4 miles without stopping.  I'm so thankful they were there for me to share my achievement with that day!

42. Running - It's not my favorite thing in the world but I am so thankful that I am able to do it.  It took me a long time to get to where I would call what I do running.  But, all the effort paid off and continues to pay off every day.  I actually miss not being able to get outside now that it is freezing cold and snowy.  Hopefully there will be a few sunny days here and there where I can get outside this winter.  
43.  The Biggest Loser - Despite the controversy that surrounds this show (some of which I agree with), I still love seeing people have the opportunity to gain their lives back.  Being someone who has been in their shoes, I see both the physical and emotional struggles they go through during this process.  And I love seeing the breakthroughs they experience on all levels of the process to change their lives.
44.  Body spray - I love the different scents :) 
45. Tissues with lotion - if you know me, you know I am sick throughout most of the winter.  If the tissues didn't have lotion, my nose would be even redder than it usually is.
46.  My brother in law, Seth.  He is the perfect match for my sister.  I am lucky enough that we get along great and actually work in the same field.  It's so nice to have someone to bounce things off of when I need to or to ask for advice if I need it.  He's an amazing dad to Emma and I can't wait to see what the future holds for him and Ang.

47.  Driveway salt - without it I am fairly certain I would fall on my butt many times throughout the winter.  Well, I still might fall but, then I can just blame my lack of coordination.
48. The ability to see improvement in myself every day.  The first time I ever did 10 push-ups (not on my knees) without stopping I almost cried.  That may sound crazy but, if you have any recollection of where I started almost 2 years ago, you'll understand what a huge accomplishment this was/is for me.  I'm not able to do it every day but I feel stronger each time I do.  One day, maybe I'll actually be able to bend my elbows a little more than I do right now.  Small steps :)
49.  My heated mattress pad - I mean, it's the only way I survive winter.  But, it does make getting out of bed a little more challenging than it already is when it is cold.
50. Words with Friends - even though I'm not very good, it's a fun game to play.
51. My Aunt Mo.  I've used a couple of quotes she's sent me in this blog.  She is truly one of the greatest people in the world.  She often gets me in a way even I don't understand.  She helps me see things from a different perspective and she is absolutely hysterical.  There are some certain songs that instantly bring a smile to my face when I hear them because all I can see is her driving her car in rural "Virginny" singing along to them.  I know I can always count on her to be there.  Anytime she, my cousin Mere and I get together, we are like the 3 musketeers :) 

52. Razors that don't require shave gel.  One less thing to buy at the store.  And much quicker in the morning.
53.  My shower radio.  Keeps me awake while I am in the shower before work.  
54.  Nintendo Wii - When I get really bored - the obstacle course is super fun!  And, it's the only way I am any good at golf.
55. Short hair - I've had many different hairstyles but I love my current cut and how little time it takes me to get ready in the morning.
56. My grandparents.  Sadly, they are no longer on earth with me.  But, I am so lucky that I had so many years with all 4 of them.  Each one taught me many different lessons in life and I wouldn't be the person I am without the wisdom and influence they each brought to my life.  I believe they are all still with me in some way.  There are little things that happen each day that show me they are looking out for me.  And I am so lucky to have 4 amazing angels watching over me each day.

57.  Nail files - then I don't have to cut my nails just because one breaks.
58.  Microwave - If you know me at all, you know I hate cooking.  So, this is the best thing ever!
59.  Soccer - this game has brought so much fun and achievement to my family in many ways.  I can't imagine the fall without a bunch of soccer games to go to.   And the friendships it has created.
60.  Snooze button - feel free to refer to the posts about how much I love to sleep.

Stay tuned for Part 3 :) 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

So Thankful

Last year I saw many people doing the 30 days of being thankful on Facebook.  So, I put my own twist on it.  And I came up with something I was thankful for for every pound I had lost up to that point.  It was fun.  I mean, as I started to write it out, I wasn't sure I would be able to come up with over 90 reasons/things to be thankful for, but, much to my surprise, it was easy (feel free to go back and read those entries if you're intrigued).  Just one more shining example of how, when you find happiness in life, it's so easy to see all the blessings that surround you on a daily basis.  I haven't lost any weight this year so that strategy isn't an option.  But, I have maintained a weight loss of at least 90 pounds this year.  And, since I feel that is something to be immensely thankful for (and proud of), I am going to go with that number and strive to come up with that many things that I am thankful for.

So, here goes the first 30 - not sure how long it's going to take me to come up with these.  Some will probably be repetitive from last year but that just means I was right!

1. My parents.  This world would not be complete with these two AMAZING people.  They are seriously the most patient, kind hearted, generous people anyone could ever hope to meet.  They would give the shirts off their backs to help someone in need.  As parent/child relationships go, I've certainly given them a run for their money, so to speak.  I was definitely a challenging child.  But, they've never given up on me.  And I know they never will.  If I am struggling, I know I can call them and they will drop whatever they are doing to help me.  Or just listen to me cry.  Luckily, that doesn't happen as much as it used to.  But, just knowing they are there is the best feeling in the world.  I am so thankful God blessed me with them as my parents.

2. Zero Calorie Sweetener - I mean, how could anyone eat plain greek yogurt without this stuff? 
3. Fleece pjs - As it starts to get colder, I am reminded how much I love to be all bundled up under a blanket in my warm fleece pjs :)
4. Chapstick - Winter would be really difficult without this stuff.
5. Nail polish - It just makes the world a prettier place.  Especially when people wear flip flops.
6.  My brother and sister.  I mean, how on earth did I get so lucky?  Sure, we had our differences growing up (what siblings don't) but they have ALWAYS been my best friends and I know they always will be.  I absolutely treasure how close we are and that we get to spend so much time together.  I love that we workout together and that they push me to do things that I don't think I am capable of doing on my own.  They support me and love me  even at times when I am not all that lovable.  I can't imagine navigating this crazy world without them there to support me.  And I am so thankful I'll never have to find out how difficult that would be.

7.  Google - I would not be eating or have figured what some of the foreign words people use in recipes mean without this wonderful invention.  (How did I get through high school without it?)  
8.  DVR - I'd actually have to know what's on TV and when were it not for this lovely device.
9.  Pictures - as most of you know, I am a picture fanatic.  I feel like they capture precious moments that you might forget otherwise.  They are a beautiful reflection of life.
10. Green Tea - even though it makes me have to pee quite often, it tastes good and gives me something warm to drink in the morning since I'm not a coffee drinker.
11.  Being an aunt. I can't imagine life without these three.  I hardly remember life before they came into the picture.  They fill my heart with their innocence, curiosity, enthusiasm, energy hilariousness and zest for life.  But, most of all, the love I feel for them and the way I feel when they tackle me with the triple hug is, by far, the absolute greatest feeling in the world.  


12. Facebook - I get to stay in touch with so many people from so many different parts of my life.  It's such a blessing.
13. My glasses - Because my eyes get tired after having my contacts in all day.
14. The dishwasher - Because as much as I despise cooking, I equally despise washing dishes.
15. Pillows - I mean, how could you sleep without one?  Or three...
16.  Cooper - This kid is the epitome of the perfect nephew.  He is smart, athletic, inquisitive, funny, warm, caring and so much more.  And he's only 6!  When he came into the world he taught me about a different kind of love.  And he has opened my eyes to the world in a completely different way than I ever thought I would be able to see.

17.  Signs at the grocery store.  Makes it so much easier to navigate that crazy place.
18.  Steamable frozen veggies.  I mean, for someone who hates to cook, this is a miracle of an invention.  
19.  Blankets - Then I don't have to get a pair of socks dirty at night :)
20.  Candy Crush - It's so mindless yet addicting at the same time....
21.  Chloe - My first niece.  I couldn't imagine loving anyone more than I love Cooper.  Well, there was definitely enough room in my heart for her.  From the start she has been the perfect addition to my life.  She makes me laugh, she's so smart, loving, caring, and helps me see that there are so many good things in the world to be enjoyed.  And, she's a girlie girl :)  Who looks adorable in pigtails :) 

22. Old movies - I can probably recite every line in some of them but they still make me laugh.  And Christmas isn't complete without a couple screenings of Home Alone :)
23. Pandora - It keeps going through my work day and has great mixes for me to run to that keep me moving.  
24. Word puzzle books - Keeps me thinking and is a good distraction when I am bored that doesn't involve food.
25.  Candles - They make my whole house smell yummy!  Christmas Cookie is the best!
26.  Emma - Someone broke the mold when they made this girl.  She is hysterical.  Her zest for life, carefree attitude, hilarious one liners and infectious laugh are just a few of the reasons she makes up the 3rd piece of my heart.  I can't imagine life without her.  She makes the world a happier place.

27.  My ability to volunteer.  Working with Special Olympics gives me perspective, allows me to give back and has taught me so much about myself and how important it is to see the gifts everyone brings to the world.
28. Pinterest - Most of my workouts come from there and I love all the variety I find.  Took me awhile to get into using it but now I'm addicted.
29. Sleep.  Enough said.
30.  My ability to laugh at myself.  Without it, I wouldn't be navigating my way through this crazy life change.  And, it actually makes life that much more fun when you can laugh at yourself.  Well, and, I know I provide hours of entertainment to people with all my fun stories :) 

If you enjoyed this entry, stay tuned for Part 2 :) 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Small Steps ... And A Moment of Clarity

It's strange to me sometimes how I see pieces of myself in so many of the students I work with on a regular basis.  I guess that's a big part of what makes me love my job.  Because, even if it's in a small way, I feel like I am helping kids find their way through this crazy world.  Especially the part that is the craziness known as your high school years.  

As I'm sure many of you remember, I didn't really talk to my counselor in high school.  Heck, I'm not even sure I remember who he/she was.  I think there may have been two of them throughout my four years at NW.  So, I love how the field has grown in importance and relevance since I finished high school and even since I started my career a little over 10 years ago.  Although there are days where I feel like I have more students than I know what to do with, I always enjoy my conversations and getting to know them as a person.  I take it as a piece of pride when a student comes in to talk and I remember their name, something fun about them and, if we've talked about it, maybe what they want to study or a college they are thinking about.  You might be thinking, how hard can it possibly be to remember names?  Well, when you have over 400 students you are responsible for knowing, it might be a little easier to understand.  It takes time. But, it's fun and why I went into this field.  Because I LOVE helping people.  

So, what made me think of all of this today?  A student was struggling with a few things but was having trouble figuring out exactly how to fix it.  I'm not saying I fixed it.  I can't do that for this student.  But, when I left the student at the classroom after talking for a long time with this student, mom and then a teacher, the student was smiling.  Not a lot.  But, enough that I felt good about where we left things.  As I was talking to the student, it finally came to me what I wanted to say.  Something that it has taken me a lifetime to learn.  And something that has really come into focus over the last (almost) 2 years for me.  

Take small steps.  But you have to take steps if you want to solve problems.  Or become more comfortable with a situation.  If you've read any of this blog or kept up with my story even a bit, you know how much I hate change.  And how much I love my comfort zone.  So, as I was talking to this student, I relayed just a little of the perspective that I've found over the last (almost) 2 years - I can't believe it's almost been that long - You don't have to make big changes right away.  But, you do have to be willing to take a step here and there if you ever want to make changes and find a better life for yourself.  We all have things we are afraid of or don't want to do.  Some more than others.  I'm probably one of the people who has struggled the most to be willing to step out of my comfort zone.  It's something I struggle with on a regular basis.  But, I have learned, that, with taking chances comes awesome rewards.  There are so many things that have happened in my life because I finally decided that taking a chance was what I had to / needed to do.  

Taking that step to change my life in January of 2013 was so incredibly scary for me.  I still remember the feeling in my stomach because I had no idea who I was meeting or what to expect.  Imagine my surprise almost two years later and that I've found more positive things than I can possibly list because I took that step.  Don't get me wrong, it took an immense amount of pushing, convincing, support, encouragement, etc from who I came to know as my friend Renee'.  When I finally started to see what was inside of me and the potential I had, I blossomed.  I have hard times but I've slowly developed the skills to not let those hard times knock me to the ground.  

When I am able to help a student like I did today, I realize the choice I made to change my life has impacted so much more than just me.  I can pay forward what was done for me without even realizing it because I have so much more insight and ability to reflect on myself and others.  While maintaining professionalism, I can let the kids I work with know that I get it.  In a way that I probably didn't get it two years ago.  Or, that I wasn't willing to accept 2 years ago.  

See, I am a firm believer that you have to like yourself and be positive to help others see that in themselves.  That is exactly what Renee' has done and continues to do for me simply through our friendship.  Feeding off of her positive energy helped me see what being happy feels like.  And how much of a difference it can make in my own life and those I'm around on a daily basis.  Today I had a moment of clarity when I said to the student exactly what I challenge myself to do every day.  Take small steps.  What's the worst thing that can happen?  You might end up back where you started but you'll never know how great things can be if you never take a step.