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Beaches

9 Feb

**** Before I share my Florida trip, I have a shameless plug for Becky’s fabulous husband, Ben! He has entered a contest that could really help his career and get his artwork in front of the right people. In Ben’s words: “The winner gets flown out to pretty much the biggest comic book convention and introduced to all the bigwigs in the comic book, video game, and toy/statue industry which will jump start my career in comics and everything else!  I am so freakin’ excited about this it’s not even funny!  The voting ends on the 14th so it’s a very limited time in which to decide the winner so everything has to be a concentrated effort.  Thank you so much for the support.” So how can you help? Go to this link. Click on “Support Ben,” via the Facebook button. The website will email you when to vote; both views and votes count! *****

So, Florida.

Apart from the chaos that ensued before we actually got there (in a nutshell: Knight’s flight getting canceled, him having to juggle to get on my flights out of StL, dealing with a flat tire in the ghetto of STL, arriving at 1am) and the fact that we got no sleep the night before (hooray for 24 hour amazing breakfast places to kick off the trip), our first vacation was totally ah-mazing.

There was nothing but hugs, love, laughs, holding babies (hers, not mine… duh!), drinking, eating our way through North Florida, laughing some more, watching ridiculous reality TV (hello, Jersey Shore. Nice to meet you, finally. And I may be hooked.)

There was not lovely weather by any means but it was still warmer then this stupid midwest. Like by a lot. And it rained, warm rain. The good kind of rain, you know?

I wore flip-flops and short sleeved shirts. I slept in. I cuddled with Knight and my niece. I sat with my childhood BFF (she needs a nickname, seriously) and laughed, smiled and cried over the pictures and memories of us from the last five years. We hung with my niece and had good life chats. We sat in silence at times and it was more than ok.

I put my toes in the sand despite the insane fog that was covering the Jacksonville beaches. I had to talk to a cop in order to get into the bar since I was a dunce and left my license at home (it worked). I took shots to celebrate my childhood BFF’s birthday, the attainment of my Masters, and friendship and love in general.

Future trips were planned. Tears were shed when it was time to leave. Bonds were strengthened. Knight and I spent five days and six nights together; the most in a row since we’ve met one another and were left hungry for more.

My soul is rejuvenated (again). My heart is soaring (still). There is a smile plastered to my face (like usual). I’m in love with Florida all over again. I fell more in love with myself, with Knight, with life.

When was the last time you fell in love with yourself, your life, your loved ones all over again?

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Lessons Learned: Soulful Weekend

1 Feb

Bright and early on Saturday morning I picked up Lisa at a very packed airport (I think everyone was trying to flee this ridiculous weather are getting), greeted her with a classic Midwest Bear Hug, and we were off! This trip has been planned for only a month but it seemed like a long time coming; I think this past weekend was something we both needed: lots and lots of girl time.

Here are some of the things that I learned this past weekend:

* Apparently Mother Nature is nice and graces us with her lovely presence (as in 45 degrees and sunny) for special out-of-town guests. This will lead you to shedding your coat in favor of feeling a bit springlike. Don’t be too fooled, though. The weather will change after the sun goes down.

* Getting to the zoo within 30 minutes of them opening? Best idea ever. No lines to see the penguins!

* You know a lot more about the history and culture of your city than you think, but you always forget the Arch is 630 feet tall.

* Sitting on your bed, magazines askew, Generation X music on in the background? Reminds you both of high school, the days you couldn’t drive, and it is SO much fun. Nothing like just relaxing and being girls for a bit, no worries about driving, bills, plans, boys, nothing beats it!

* Celebrity gossip and looking at fashion is fun at any age. You’re also reminded of why you and Lisa are such good friends: your thoughts and tastes are incredibly similar.

* You might get totally giggly and say something like “smokes like a fish,” when you really meant “smokes like a chimney.” This will become a running joke for the rest of the weekend.

* Introducing your boyfriend to one of your best friends is really fun, especially when they like each other and get along really well.

* Mexican and margaritas is more fun when you’re celebrating a friend’s early birthday (and when the margaritas go down very easy).

* There are some bars in St. Louis that would be ideal for numerous episodes of “What Not to Wear.” We found one of those bars. We also think we should have a stack of Vogues to hand out to people who need some fashion advice.

* Chatting over a delicious breakfast with no agenda on a Sunday? Divine.

* Colin Firth is amazing and dashing, even when he’s playing a King with a speech impediment. (In other words, go see “The King’s Speech.”)

* Sex and the City is a lot funnier than you remember it being; so fun to watch it with a true fan!

* Spinach & feta stuffed chicken breasts are really good; maybe it’s the company (your parents + Lisa), the wine, and the fact that you were totally relaxed, but the recipe is definitely a keeper.

* When going to THE custard place of St. Louis, it’s probably a wise idea to call before you go, just in case they are closed for the season. (Lesson learned the hard way.)

* Sometimes the best weekends are the ones where you put down the camera and only have a few photos to share!

* You are incredibly thankful for the blog world and the best friends it has brought you and you will always wish they lived much, much closer to you.

* It is way more fun to drop a friend off at the airport when you know you’ll see them again soon!

* Fact: You need much, much more girl time in your life than you’re currently getting.

Notes to Self

28 Jan

Hi Self,

Just a few friendly reminders…

Don’t get too caught up in the everyday. Silly things like long commutes to work, ice on the windshield, forgetting to put earrings in? Small potatoes compared to the bigger picture.

Continue to embrace those people and things that you love; remember how delighted and engaged you feel during your creative writing class, connecting with other like-minded individuals, sharing books to read, writing prompts, feeling like you belong to a group? Do more of that. Remember how you feel when Knight wraps his arms around you after being apart for a few weeks. Remember how great it is to live with your parents, two people who would do anything for you since it’s all going to change soon; they are amazing forces in your life.

Really push yourself at the gym. It’s totally worth it and you know it. Enjoy the running high, the sweat dripping down your face, pounding it out on the dreadmill, rocking out to really hardcore rap. Sign up for a few races soon, use that Groupon for the Yoga classes and treat yourself right. You deserve it.

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep… you’ve treated yourself to some much needed quiet time this week (read: Saying NO to social engagements) and it’s done a world of good for you. Do it more often. Your friends who are your true friends will understand and still be there for you.

Be present. I know things are topsy-turvy for you right now to a degree, but you can only do so much planning for the future. You know what John Lennon said (“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,”) and you know he’s right. Your life is NOW. Enjoy it, you only get one shot at it.

It’s ok to ignore the pile of laundry growing in your closet, the unmade bed, and bathroom that needs to be cleaned every once in awhile. Chances are it means you’re doing something more meaningful and that’s a good thing.

Love hard. I know you’re good at it but just don’t forget to keep doing it. Love your family, your friends, Knight. They are all deserving. Let those walls come tumbling down and just fully embrace love. You know you want to do it. You know you can do it. And you know what will happen when you do.

And above all? This:

 You’ve really been yourself lately (well, ok, for many, many months now) and it shows. Just don’t forget to always be true to you.

What would your notes to self say today?

The 2010 Wrap-Up

5 Jan

I hadn’t planned on doing the 2010 Wrap-up partially because a good portion of the year was spent recovering, healing, with my nose in books finsihing up my masters. And partially because you were all here for the good, the bad, the ugly (and I thank you for it!).

But it doesn’t seem right to start a new year without looking back, at least a little bit.

So, 2010, in a paragraph…..

Blogger meet-ups that were good for the heart and soul. Fried food on a stick. Bar Crawls that left me with mean hangovers. Training for a 10-mile race, getting injured, but forging on and running a 10k anyway. Adjusting to living with the parents. Countless books read, movies watched, journal pages scribbled in. Learning how to get over heart-wrenching pain. Embracing the people in my life who make me feel good. Eating a whole lot of Mexican food. Letting go of toxicity in my life, whether it be plans, people, or dreams. Cuddles with Jack. Laughing so hard it made my stomach hurt and tears roll down my face. Reasserting my hopes and dreams, ones that are attainable. Finishing my masters and being so thrilled that I actually did it. Squeeing with joy when my diploma came just before Christmas. Getting back to my roots, back to who I really am. Being surprised by love. Being surprised by what I would do for love. Growing stronger every day. Being choosy. Road trips, lots of road trips. Allowing myself to be a hopeless romantic again, and not apologizing for it. Refusing to settle. Learning to say no. At the same time, learning to say yes. Becoming obsessed with all things Ann Taylor Loft, Nintendo, and baking (again). Deciding that I won’t dye my hair any color other than it’s natural color, even if the grays show through. Making amazing new friends that I would be 100% lost without. Hugging my parents more. Falling in love with not only a great man, but also myself.

I’m not making resolutions this year (I’m really bad at them). Instead I’m just facing 2011 head-on with all the changes that I know are ahead of me, some which will change the rest of my life I suspect, and am prepared to tackle all the changes and challenges that I can’t yet see. I’m going into 2011 with hope, joy and smiles and I know that it will be a good year.

What are you going into 2011 with?

What Christmas Means to Me…

15 Dec

This song by Stevie Wonder is one of my all-time favorites. And yes, you can find me singing it (loudly and likely off key) in a regular basis during the holiday season:

It also puts me in the best mood ever and reminds me of why I love the holidays so darn much.

Here’s what Christmas means to me this year:

Getting super excited about exchanging presents with the boyfriend (who needs a nickname, I realize this); we’ve both kept the hints and clues to a minimum and so basically I have no idea what I’ll be getting from him. ♥ Enjoying evenings by the fire combating the bitter winter cold (at least bitter winter cold to the STL, I know it’s worse elsewhere!)♥  Borrowing cheesy holiday books from the library and loving them so much I cry at the end. ♥ Making my list and checking it twice to make sure I have really completed my Christmas shopping (turns out I haven’t). ♥ Sneaking in extra time to sleep in the mornings. ♥  Continuing to decorate the house with Darling even though Christmas is 10 days away. ♥  Christmas Cards! This year I’m a bit behind but I’m 50% of the way done with them. ♥  Listening to holiday music all the time. I can’t get enough. ♥  Remembering the reason for the season and enlisting the help of my coworkers to raise money for some very worthy local charities. ♥  Lots of laughter, lots of great food, lots of time spent with family. ♥  Reunions and catching up with friends who are home for the holidays. ♥  Being thankful for all that is good in my life. ♥  Embracing the various assortment of tights I own as they really extend one’s wardrobe. Skirts + tights + boots in the winter? Don’t mind if I do. ♥  Remembering my grandfather; my heart aches for him at this time each year. ♥  Baking up a storm. December 23rd will be Nora in the Kitchen Day and I can’t wait. ♥ Romantic evenings out with the boyfriend, getting all dressed up, enjoying wine and then totally forgetting to take pictures because we are “in the moment.” ♥  Watching the excitement on the little kids faces as they run to see Santa at the mall. Too adorable. ♥  Christmas Puzzles! We do one each year and although we are missing pieces (on a new puzzle!?) we are forging ahead anyway. ♥  Dreaming of a White Christmas even though it surely won’t happen. ♥  Bubbling over with happiness, excitement, hope and general joy for all things going on in my life right now. ♥ 

 

What do the holidays mean to you this year?

Monday, Monday

27 Sep

It’s Monday.

Which means that my brain is still on weekend time, struggling to keep up with the corporate world, perhaps even wishing it were still in bed under warm blankets (fall has arrived here in STL). Something that looks a lot like this:

 {via}

This also means that this morning you get some Nora Randomness.

* I had to pay a late fine of $3.15 at the library about a week ago. Three books were only five days overdue. I understand that they were late and it was my fault, but $3.15? It seemed a little steep for an overdue charge.

* No one at my office noticed my new glasses. This seems odd to me as I wear my glasses all the time at the office since they are readers/computer glasses. I guess everyone is really wrapped up in what they are doing on a daily basis which is fine, but I guess I thought they were a huge departure from my old ones.

* Every time I go to visit my brother, I inevitably have a great time. I also inevitably realize that I’m not 21 years old anymore and do not have a problem going to bed before midnight. I learned a lot this weekend too; suffice to say college and the college culture has changed drastically.

* I have one of the best brothers and family anyone could ask for. Hands down.

* I am really proud of my Tigers so far; a huge win yesterday ought to give them the confidence to get through our conference games later in the season.

* Getting one’s nose pierced doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you’d think. It’s also relatively easy to get used to. Here’s a picture for those who are curious:

* The closer I am to being done with school the more excited I get for all my free time. I literally am counting down the days. 14 days.

* Shopping at boutique stores can lead to finding some amazing presents for friends. Bonus for supporting local economies and entreprenuers.

* Free (early) birthday peppermint chip ice cream is the best. Also, I have mixed feelings about my birthday being in two days.

* My 10k is only three Sundays away and I’m getting a little nervous about my ability to run 6.2 miles all at once; I’ve been doing pretty well in my training runs but I’m nervous anyway!

* I purged my book collection yesterday; I decided to part with about 10 books that I know I won’t read again and/or recommend to friends, so why bother keeping them on my shelf? My shelves are exploding with books as it is, so freeing up some space was a great feeling.

Any Monday randomness that you’d like to share?

Grace in Small Things: Week Two

24 Sep

1. Taking a long lunch with my dad on Monday. It’s rare that we both have free lunch hours so we took about 90 minutes to chat work, to discuss my after grad school plans, and my upcoming birthday.

2. An amazing run on Tuesday night in between Glee and Parenthood. No idea if it was because I didn’t want to miss a moment of Parenthood or what, but I had the best time. Running under the glow of a nearly full moon is also quite calming; I felt like the road was all mine.

3. Staring a “Creative Journaling,” class at my library. We only meet once a month but the teacher is incredibly enthusiastic: she brought treats, “bling” to decorate our journals with, and has guest speakers lined up. The class consists of a few people my gram’s age, a young kid who is maybe 12, and a few mother/daughter combos like Darling and me. I also found out this lady runs a knitting group that I might try as well; they teach people who don’t know how to knit too!

4. I’m going to visit my brother this weekend. He can’t make it home for my birthday so he invited me to my college town for a weekend of movies, fun, tailgating, and whatever other trouble we get into.

5. Having a good sales week at work; I’m not 100% in the sales department but I dabble and I did pretty well this week. It’s kind of fun/exciting.

6. Only 3 weeks of school left, and of those three, I’ll only be busy with school work for two of them.

7. Figuring out/firming up my New Year’s Eve plans… in California!

What small things made you happy this week? Anything in particular you are looking forward to this weekend?