love

Finding Joy (Anniversary Edition)

I recently found a website/blog that is helpful and spiritual and inspiring. And I want to be a part of it. Luckily, Blessed is She has a weekly link-up:

As a child of divorced parents I have seen the risk that comes with marriage. A lot of people who come from a divorced home are skittish when it comes to life-long commitment. My mom even worried if I was afraid to get married  because of divorce.

However, tomorrow marks two years of being married to the man who makes me smile every day, who hugs me just right, whose laughter is infectious, and whose faith has grown immensely. His generosity and caring spirit inspire me to be a better person.

I feel like in today’s culture marriage is taking a beating. But inside my home, between the laughter and the random slow-dancing and the burning cookies in the oven and the “home-cooked” meals from Trader Joe’s and the creamer with coffee we sip together each morning I find joy.

It’s in the small things. And the small things make up life, afterall. PhotoLove_KD087

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everyday life

7 Quick Takes

Since I haven’t been keeping up with the blog like I should, here are 7 quick takes to fuel the bloggin’ fire:

1. We moved back to our hometown about a month ago and we haven’t looked back yet. There is just something about your hometown that’s cozy. And then when you move back after 10 months away there’s a small sense of newness–new restaurants, new streets (we’re from a town of about 80,000), new concert venues (!). We’re loving it so far!

2. I’ve been unemployed for a month now, since moving and unpacking. The boxes are all unpacked and put away so I thought it was time for a new hobby. Ancestry.com was calling my name so I signed up for a 2 week trial and it has been simply amazing. So neat to trace back my ancestors to Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and Scotland. I’ve found draft papers for several of the men in my family who fought in the Revolutionary War and World War I. The actual documents are, in some cases, scanned in so I’ve even seen some of their signatures.

3. I went on a small shopping spree Friday and got two candles for the apartment. Bath and Body Works was having 50% off selected candles so I got a pink lemonade candle and some kind of verbena-lemon scented candle. Candles are just so much more aesthetically pleasing than plug-ins. The risk of leaving the candle burning is worth the romantic reward.

4. I tried a new beer last weekend that’s super delish. It’s called Stiegl Grapefruit and it’s summer in a bottle. Super fruity and lighter than most beers. Hence, the only reasons I like it.

5. On that note, you should know that I don’t like to drink beer, generally speaking. I like more fruity rum drinks and mimosas. And the beach. And sunsets. And if we’re going down this path, sunscreen.

6. My grandma gave me an ice cream/sorbet maker that I’ll probably never use. But it’s nice to get new stuff for free and think “what if I want to make my own ice cream for $15 worth of ingredients versus $3 from the store?” Now I can waste time AND money making ice cream at home. Bet you couldn’t have thought of that.

7. I’m currently binge-watching The Mindy Project on Hulu Plus. It’s hilar. I usually don’t laugh out loud when something’s funny but I totally have a few times already with TMP.

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT

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love

Lean In

Exuberant. That was the word they used to describe him.

As I sat among hundreds of other people remembering the life of this man, it made me stop and think about how I’m living my life.

He was a professor in the School of Social Work. One word that described him at times was “absent-minded.” He was absent minded in the best of ways. He taught a course on social work groups. In class it was rare if we spent a lot of time reviewing the assigned text. The majority of class was spent in discussion or listening to stories from our professor. The course had a textbook, but all of us students knew that he, our professor, was the true textbook. He had worked in the profession so many years and his clinical wisdom was boundless. He taught us to “lean in” when clients got mad or upset or things got tough. “Lean in” I would hear him say. Of course it wasn’t until I left graduate school and actually began clinical work that I understood what he mean when he said “Lean in.”

When I took his class, he wore a long braided pony tail. Right off the bat, I could tell that there was something different about this guy. This professor told us about Native American culture, he brought his flute in to play for us. Yes, readings from the text were assigned, but they weren’t the focus of the class. His class focused on life. Teaching and preparing social work students to have compassion for the people they would serve one day, going out of ourselves to advocate on behalf of those who aren’t able to advocate for themselves.

How do you grade students in the class of life?

As I sat there in that auditorium during his memorial service I couldn’t help but think of my own life. You see, every picture displayed around the auditorium of this man was unique. Unique in that in every single picture this man exuded the essence of life. I don’t know how else to put it. He was a man who had wrung every last drop out of life. And he was only in his 50s. All the stories told about him had a similar theme–this man loved abundantly. That’s a simple way to say it and maybe and understatement. He loved everyone and spoke directly to each person without distraction.

Maybe he wasn’t focused on the details. His wife said that he often called people by the wrong name. However, he was focused on what truly mattered–making each person he interacted with feel loved and accepted.

Reflecting on my own life, I began to think, “What will people say about me at my memorial service?” Will they say that I loved abundantly? Will they say that I left a mark on them, that I inspired them to do something greater? To be something greater? How do I exude joy and love to others? Like, how is that possible?

Leaving his memorial service, I was inspired. I want to love more deeply, more richly. I want to speak to others with love and acceptance. I want to be true to myself, like my professor was, not afraid to show the quirky side of my self. After all, to accept and love others as they are, we have to first love ourselves as we are.

Lean in. When the fire gets hot, lean in. He taught us that “leaning in” to situations with our clients makes them feel more safe and comforted. Notice how when someone starts to raise their tone or the situation gets heated, you naturally incline your body away from that person.

Lean in to life. Lean in to friends. Lean in to those in need. Lean in and give of yourself. Lean in and love without measure.

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culture, love

Teenage love in the time of tennis practice

It all began one summer day during my senior year of high school. He asked me for a ride to the tennis courts because his mom wouldn’t let him drive to school–he had to ride the bus. Since we were both on the tennis team, I didn’t mind giving him a ride to practice as the courts were off campus. I wasn’t sure of this boy who somehow got my number over the summer and called me all the time. He’d ask if I wanted to play tennis and my answer was always the same, “Sorry, but I’m babysitting my cousin out of town.” Which was completely true..but I see how it sounds now. However, I really, truly was out of town babysitting my cousin for the summer.

Fast forward to me giving him rides to tennis practice. i had to stop by my house first and change before practice, but I didn’t really know this boy that well so I showed him to the office and computer while I went to my room, locked the door, and hastily changed for practice. I didn’t know him well enough to guess that he was more interested in watching music videos and funny cat videos than bothering me.

He started noticing that I would leave tennis practice early on Wednesdays and asked me where I went. I told him I went to church and youth group. I don’t ever remember asking him if he wanted to come. I’m pretty sure he asked me if he could come. I was an altar server so he would sit by himself at mass. Looking back that was probably rude of me not to sit with him, but now we’re married so he apparently didn’t think much of it.

One weekend our youth group was having a movie night. I invited this boy and about five minutes into the movie he “stretched” his arm which ended up around my shoulder. I was mildly shocked, especially since we were at a church event so I decided to get us some snacks at that very moment. Awkward teenage love for the win. 



 We kept riding together to tennis practice, getting to know each other as just friends until one day this boy asked, “What would your parents think if you dated someone of another race?” I know that racism doesn’t exist anymore and everything is right in the world..This was a turning point in our relationship because, you see, this boy was Asian–a first generation Laotian American, and I was (and still am) definitely not a first generation American who has red hair and freckles. We live in the South which tends to be slow to accept diversity so his question was a valid one. My answer: my parents would be okay with whoever I date so long as they treat me well and have ambition.

And right there the door of possibility swung wide open.

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everyday life

See, Go, Do, Be, and Live

As of late I have been feeling the wanderlust bug and it’s biting..hard. I know everyone on earth wishes they could just quit their job and travel, right? But seriously, if YOLO is true, and I’m under the impression that it is, then I don’t wanna spend 40 hours a week behind a desk.

I wanna travel, see, do, go, be, and live.

I want to be inspired and inspire others. I want to do good and inspire positive change. For me, that doesn’t seem possibly from behind a computer. When it comes down to it, though, travel is pretty darn expensive. At least as far as airfare is concerned. Plus I’m too spoiled to enjoy backpacking or staying in hostels so hotels would get expensive fast.

Also, I want to ask those crazy awesome travel bloggers who gave you the kahunas to quit your job and travel? And where can I buy some? Or maybe borrow some seeing as how I’m trying to save money to travel…

You know that book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go?” Well, I feel like kids shouldn’t read that until they’ve read “Oh, the Long Hours at Work” and “Oh, the Bills You’ll Pay.” Only after they have a grip on reality can they dream.

But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the grip on reality is just the most common reality, but not everyone’s reality. I bet some people are content to work 40+ hours a week and have a nice house and a bunch of bills, but have stability. Stability is nice, I won’t challenge that.

But is stability everything? Is it worth more than adventure and travel and exploring the world? Everything comes at a cost. Figuratively and literally.

It’s easy to tell other people, “Follow your dreams! Go and do what makes you happy even if you have to quit your job to find it.” It’s easy because there’s no risk involved for us. We’re just inspiring others. But when the risk is mine–that’s when reality sinks in.

So if anyone has any ideas on how to travel and be financially sustainable, enlighten me in the comments section below! I’ve thought of teaching English abroad, but I want to travel…not have a job where I’m tied down to one spot.

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culture

The Lazy Traveler’s Guide to Jamaica

Back in June, D and I celebrated our first anniversary and took our honeymoon in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. We love to travel and this was our first time in Jamaica. Upon landing we noticed the dense greenery and beautiful mountains surrounding the airport. We had no idea what to expect other than maybe some reggae music, dreads, fruity rum drinks, and those lovely Jamaican accents. Seriously, those accents alone are worth the trip. Sometimes I wish I was back just so I could be surrounded by the Jamaican accent..

Before we left, I had googled some of the top attractions in our region of Jamaica, and the whole of Jamaica as it’s not terribly big. If you’re going for a four-night stay, let me recommend some of the things we did.

Day 1: We didn’t have much planned for this day, but to get to know the resort and see the ocean. It was a good thing, too, because the bus ride to our resort took for. ev. er. The bus driver made it into a little tour of the sights we were passing, but we were still exhausted by the time we made it to our hotel. We stayed at the Jewel Dunn’s River and I would recommend it to my brother, my neighbor, and the president. It was a great resort. Lots to do, free tennis courts with a pro on staff who basically gives free tennis lessons. Tons of drinks on the menu so that you can try until you find something you love. Several pools, hot tubs, eateries, and the beach was incredible. Beautiful private beach. Not incredibly big, but it was never jam-packed. Once we arrived to our resort, we were greeted with some rum cider concoction which was so delicious that we requested a second. Our bags got lost when another couple mistakenly claimed them and took them off the bus. That may or may not have contributed to the second round of rum drinks. But the concierge got us our bags back within 2 hours of being at the hotel.

Day 2: We relaxed. Ate our buffet breakfast which was delicious and had many options ranging from traditional American breakfast foods to Jamaican foods to make your own omelet stations. We lounged by the beach most of the day. The beach was beautiful, clean, and child-free which at this point in our lives is relaxing. No kids screaming, crying, We like kids. But sometimes it’s nice to have a quieter experience.

Day 3: We went on a tour of Kingston. This was not worth the money. Plain and simple. The tour guides don’t really let you out of the tour bus except maybe three times. Once to see some monument and changing of the guards. Which was dumb. Once to see the tour of Bob Marley’s house which was cool and I would recommend if you’re a Bob Marley fan. It was definitely crowded, but worth it. Interesting info about the King of Reggae. Another highlight of the trip was eating ice cream from Devon House in Kingston. That place is delicious. I got the rum raisin ice cream and it tasted so fresh and rumtastic. So I guess the tour had some highlights but wasn’t worth the price we paid for it.

PicMonkey Collage

Day 4: This was probably our most fun day. We went to Dunn’s River Falls and hiked up the waterfall. Yes. We did that. And no I did not know that you actually hike UP the WATERFALL or else I wouldn’t have signed us up. I thought you hike alongside the waterfall which is a completely different thing and actually sounds fun. Nevertheless, we joined hands with our barefoot guide and hike up a waterfall. It was scary, I was nervous the entire time, but we did it and we won’t do it again. So I guess it was fun. Then we went to Mystic Mountain and bobsled-ed (? past tense of to bobsled?) down the mountain. Super fun, but a quick ride. If you’re going there you’ll definitely want to get the package that includes the ziplining tour of the canopy. It includes a monorail ride up the mountain and then ziplining down the mountain. The single most fun thing we did on our Jamaican honeymoon. We would totally zipline again and again. The guides are hilarious and super skilled.

Some things we ate during our trip were beef patties. No, not Krabby patties. Beef patties are like a puffy, flaky pastry with ground beef inside. Except we ate them at a fast food place so they were more like the Taco Bell of beef patties. An experience to say the least. We also ate goat curry and ox tail. Two of D’s favorites. And our overall favorite was the jerk chicken and festival (think cornbread stick) from Scotchy’s across from the resort. So good.

Vacationing in Jamaica was a blast. The laid back atmosphere really promotes a relaxing experience. The staff were very friendly and it was nice to speak the language of the country we were visiting. If you’re looking for a relaxed, but semi-adventurous vacation I would recommend Day 1: Relaxing beachside, cocktail in hand. Day 2: Choose a tour, any tour. You just might learn something. Day 3: Relaxing beachside, two cocktails in hands. Day 4: Mystic Mountain Ziplining.

There you have it, folks. The lazy traveler’s guide to Jamaica. Here are some links below 🙂 Yah, mon.

Jewel Dunn’s River Resort

Mystic Mountain

Dunn’s River Falls

Have you ever visited Jamaica? What was your favorite part of the trip?

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everyday life

An unconventional movie review: Interstellar

   

  

  

  

 About two weeks ago D and I went to the movie theater on a Tuesday to see Interstellar. Our local theater has $5 tickets on Tuesdays and five bucks is just the right price for us cheapies to go to the movie. As we were paying for our tickets, the guy working the counter asked us to choose our seats. Inside I was thinking this must be some new procedure because too many hoodrat kids are sneaking into different movies.

We humored him and chose our seats, not fully intending on sitting there specifically. Once we walked into the theater we totally understood the whole choosing seats thing. They had replaced the old standard stadium seats with leather, automatic recliners! After high-fiving, we decided we had to buy popcorn. I mean, how else can you sit in a leather recliner and watch a movie?

Without giving too much away, Interstellar was one of the best quality movies I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s kind of a sci-fi movie but not as nerdy. With a cast like Matthew McConaghey (spelling? I don’t care..you know who he is), Jessica Chastain, and loads of other famous people this movie could not fail. The plot was great. Normally, I’m the type of annoying wifey at home that’s always guessing out loud what happens next and my patient husband puts up with it.

Now that I think about it this is probably why he takes me to the movie theater..so that I’ll shut up! But Interstellar is the sort of movie that shuts down an annoying plot-guesser like me. I would make my predictions in my head and they were so wrong. Every time. In a good way.

This movie made us think..like philosophical stuff that gave us headaches. It’s the type of movie that rocks your world and you have no choice but to think about things. But usually when I have high expectations things never work out. So, scratch what I said earlier. Just see the movie. It might be good, or it might not. FIfty-fifty odds.

Did you see Interstellar? What did you think? Did it blow your mind like it did mine? Drop me a comment and let’s talk philosophies with no degrees.

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