Monday, December 28, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Update Your Reader!

Then Heather Said has moved - please update your readers and come visit me at http://thenheathersaid.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holidays on Ice

Merry Christmas Eve, my friends.

Just wanted to stop in quickly to say hello, and tell you that all those posts I promised are well on there way.


A quick synopsis of my lovely day:

I went on a good 35 minute interval workout in the parents (and kels') neighborhood today (only got slightly lost) - followed by an hour of balance work, gift wrapping, and a delicious sushi lunch with the siblings. (well, sister and I had sushi- my brother voted for a pepperoni pizza lunchable.) Followed up by a little rock band and now watching "Holidays on Ice" on the Hallmark channel- hosted by REO Speedwagon. Doesn't get much better than that. With a glass of wine and a fire in the fireplace, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Especially if you factor in that we are getting A LOT of snow at the moment. Apparently I brought it with me from New York. (and to think I was hoping for 75 degrees and sunny all weekend!)

We are just about to sit down to a very yummy turkey dinner with all the fixings (and my 2nd glass of red, of course!) and although my "christmas eve to do list" is getting fuller by the minute- you can rest assured that spending time updating THS is high on the priority list :)

So, in order to not be a complete tease-blogger, I will give you a little "something" to hold you over- a sneak peek of a little bit of what is to come:








I know you are just sitting on the edge of your seat, right? Don't fret my friends- as the Govenator would say, "I'll be back!" ;)
(perhaps wine has already started the tipsy blogging? Drogging to come? aren't you lucky!!)
What are you up to this wonderful Christmas eve??

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

4:23 AM

Dear Albany International Airport Starbucks,

Please tell me that you open at 4:30 AM. I need a container of 'perfect oatmeal' and an awake tea latte. Stat. And if you do open at 5 AM, please excuse my haziness while I approach.

xoxo-
Faithful Patron


Dear Blackberry,

Thank you for getting your act together this morning on our drive to the airport. I was REALLY starting to freak out about your lack of internet connection last night and this morning. I can't imagine a day of 8 hours of travel without twitter. I'm guessing you just needed a nap or something. I hope you are well rested, because I have a feeling you may be composing some blogs throughout the day- isn't that exciting?

xoxo - H


Dear Division Manager at my office,

Thanks for teaching me about the park and fly hidden past Airport Rd. I am looking forward to my car being snow-free and heated for me when I arrive at Midnight-Thirty Monday morning. Best. Idea. Ever.

Best,
Your favorite office cookie all star


Dear alleged sleep "issue"-

I'm getting really sick of all the waking up in the middle of (and beginning of and end of) the night.
Contrary to your supposed belief, when I went to bed at 7:00 last night, I was hoping to sleep until 2:40 AM. Was waking up at 7:30, 7:47, 8:19, 10:47, 12:03, and finally, 1:12 really necessary? You may have thought you won as I did get out of bed at 1:17 to start my day over an hour earlier than the already ridiculously early scheduled time- but don't get too excited. I will conquer you and all the falseness that you think you are soon.

Be afraid. Be v. afraid,
Heather


Dear man that just asked the barista when they open,

Thank you. I now have 17 minutes until heaven.

And you look nice in a sweater.

I'm just saying,
Girl smiling at you in corner


Dear ubertwitter,

Thank you for the function "everyone near you.". My goal is now find someone else in airport tweeting before 5:00 AM.

Forever fan,
@thenheathersaid


Dear family -
I get to see you super soon! HOORAY!!!
xoxoxoxoxox- heath



Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Even better- my celebrity woman crush, Mary Louise Parker on Chelsea Lately. Hip Hip Hooray!!!
Admission: waking up before 2AM is made a lot better when Keeping Up with the Kardashians is on. (Guilty as charged)
Without bb internet you can look forward to a billion posts by text today. Aren't you lucky. (I miss twitter)
My blackberry internet has been down since 5:30 PM tuesday. This should make for a v. interesting day of travel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday: What's Next

This is a short post.
Today I was writing a long post.
It just kept getting longer and longer.
It continued on for many paragraphs and pages.
I just could not tie it all together and finish the post.
So I decided I would finish it tomorrow, from Denton, Texas.
Saved it as a draft, took a step back, and remembered that it’s Tuesday.


Top Ten Tuesday

Tomorrow morning I will wake up at 3:30 AM and prepare myself for a trip to Albany International Airport, followed by a flight to O’Hare, a two hour layover filled with an Operation Beautiful spree, and a flight to Dallas. I will be reunited with my family- Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, and an added bonus- Grandma and Grandpa! And I will be reunited with the use of a personal computer.

Now-a-days, I do most of my blogging either by blackberry or during my break at work, and I am really looking forward to spending some not rushed time in front of a home computer sharing opinions, recaps, and adventures with you all. [and photos – I have a lot of fun photos to share with you all!]

So, because it is Tuesday, I would like to share-

Top Ten Previews:
A list of upcoming posts on Then Heather Said

1. Race to Relationship – a metaphorical look at the next step for the recently un-engaged girl who may or may not have a new crush.
2. Race Recaps from Boston and Vermont – My two November race recaps complete with photos and results.
3. Bloggie Secret Santa Exchange Experience – The joys of giving and receiving, along with the experience of co-hosting along with the fabulous Danielle.
4. Operation Healthy Living Blog Definition – What classifies as “healthy living” and where do I see THS fitting in?
5. Sparktastic – details on my own experience with sparkpeople and a review and giveaway of The Spark book being released December 29th
6. Belief: Part 3 – Especially for all of you that keep emailing me about Parts 1 & 2 :)
7. Extreme Cookie Challenge – A few of my favorite recipes from the 25 days of Cookie Baking.
8. Snap 2009 – The rollercoaster of a year in a photo review.
9. The Declaration of Independence – What I’m declaring for myself for my 2010 resolutions.
10. What’s New in 2010 – The vision I have for THS and the excited changes coming in January.





I want to know: What's on your top ten list today? Share your top ten favorite songs of the moment, oatmeal toppings, movies of all times, blogs to read, characteristics about yourself (YOU ARE AWESOME, afterall), ways to spread holiday cheer, etc.
Can't think of ten- give me a list of 3! Go ahead- share your list ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Belief: Part 2

There was a time in my life, after I started a relationship with Christ, that I didn’t want to be called a Christian. Because the connotation is so often misguided. And as a matter of fact, the term “relationship with Christ” kind of makes me cringle a little bit. I believe in Jesus. And I do believe that I have a “relationship” with Jesus in the fact that I do spend time seeking His ways, His words, and His truth. But I didn’t want to be called Christian because what I thought it meant. To others, and possibly even to myself.

I think sometimes people use Christian as an adjective that is synonymous with ignorant.
And floozy.
And the kind of person that believes in make believe.
And judgmental.
And hypocritical.
And sitting on a high horse thinking they are better than everyone else.

But it’s so far from the truth.
I try to “follow” Christ’s example. Not in a WWJD kind of way, over popularized and taken for granted in- but in a “Jesus loves the people” kind of way. Less like the movie Saved, and more like the musical Godspell.

Jesus hung out with what the Bible refers to as, “The Least of These”. Meaning the people everyone else in society looks down upon. The people that are judged. The people that no one else would treat as though they have any value. He found value in them, because the truth is, EVERYONE has something valuable to offer.

As Aaron Rose once said, “in the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” And I think this especially goes for people. All people- rich man, poor man, blogger friend you never agree with, CEO, stripper, barista who never gets your order right, Arabian, middle school student, Amish mother of seventeen, grocery clerk, elderly woman going 25 mph in a 55, homeless man with a card-board sign, strict Jewish grandfather, police man, Queen of England, card carrying member of the NRA, pop star with 5 singles on the top 100, environmental activist, former political figures caught in scandals, bully, new neighbors who play weird music late at night, your favorite teacher of all times, man, woman, child; all people. People who are role models and people who we criticize every day. Jesus cared for all people. But especially the people no one else cared for; and I think this is what makes the gospels so relatable- haven’t we all felt, at one point or another, that no one cares for us? Even though we know our families, friends, significant others love us very much- aren’t there times when you feel completely alone and misunderstood and a bit like an outcast?


Jesus fed the hungry. No questions asked. He didn’t inquire about what they were doing to get food on their tables. He didn’t make them fill out a form to prove they were actively searching for employment. He didn’t care if he was being taken advantage of, or he was being “used” for food. He fed the hungry. He didn’t allot them a certain amount of vouchers in exchange for a certain amount of food- he fed until they were satisfied. He didn’t complain about people’s laziness, or not trying hard enough to get a job, or say it was pathetic to beg, or ask for help. If they were hungry, He fed them. He brought satisfaction.

(and He turned water into wine- which is my kind of man. I’m just saying.)

Jesus was also very smart. He wasn’t a floozy. He knew Jewish law just as well as anyone in the church. He understood things that we often don’t understand in today’s society. I once heard a lecture on the sarcasm of Christ. Apparently, a lot of what Jesus says in the Gospels, is actually a way of Jesus making fun of Caesar and religion and people who go around acting like they know it all- we just don’t see it because we aren’t educated on the time; the culture and society of the Biblical days.

I didn’t want to be called a Christian because I didn’t want people to think I was things OTHER than what Christ was. Because I think Christ was pretty awesome. And as cliché as it is, I want to be like Jesus.

I didn’t want to be called a Christian because some people take being called a Christian today as being closed-minded, ultra-conservative, pro-life, homophobic, and think you deserve the world to be handed to you and that everyone else is wrong.

But, the truth is, I am a Christian. And I hope and pray that I am none of the above mentioned traits. But I don’t think that I am more “right” or “better” for being a pro-equal rights activist, liberal woman who would stand up for anyone who was treated unfairly. I don’t think I’m better, or even right, for being pro-choice. I don’t think I’m a better person for, if having the opportunity, voting no on prop 8. And I don’t think I’m better for knowing Christ, following Christ, or LOVING Christ. I don’t think I’m better for any of it.

This is not meant to be preachy. This is not meant to say, “Believe in Jesus!” This is not meant to criticize any political stances or beliefs of anyone else. This is not meant to tell you that you are wrong and I am right- because I honestly don’t believe that. The reasons I believe in Christ have nothing to do with my own righteousness. I don’t want to be a Christian to be “right” all the time. And I don’t want to be a Christian to obey the rules. I want to be a Christian to help people, to fed people, to encourage and support people the way Christ did, and the way He still does- through His recorded words in the Bible, and the community of believers spreading his love each and every day.

I don’t like to be called religious. Because of the connotations. And, truthfully, I am more “religious” about Wisconsin Football than about anything having to do with a church.

I have faith in a lot of things. I have faith in positive thinking, and the building of community. I have faith in people in helping people and the power of prayer. I have faith in going after dreams and following your heart, and even though I don’t always want to believe it, I have faith in true love. I think it must all stem from being an optimist. But all the things I have faith in, are founded in my understanding Christ, and spending time trying to know and be more like Christ over the past six years.

I know how to have faith in myself, because of Jesus.
I know how to have faith in others, because of Jesus.
I know how to have faith in change, and time, and love, and words, and truth, and community, and love- all because of Jesus.

Through my own experiences with Christ in my life; the seeing him in other’s lives and finding it attracting, and the seeking for truth in His words and image and understanding, and the pleading that God is real, that His love is Real, and that Christ’s sacrifice is real- I was seeking Faith. Overtime, I learned how to rely on faith. There came a time when instead of saying “I don’t know if God is real- we will never know.” I began to say, “I don’t know if God is real- but I CHOOSE to believe he is.”

In the beginning, during the searching and seeking and wondering, it was almost as if I had to be secure enough in my self to not care if I was wrong about God, and Christ, and the whole belief thing. I had to trust that my love for Jesus was strong enough that I didn’t care what anyone else said about me for loving Him. And I finally feel I am resting in this truth. I don’t care what unbelievers say about my beliefs, my thoughts, my understanding of Christ. And I (perhaps, finally) don’t care what believers say about my beliefs, my thoughts, and my understanding of Christ. For so long I struggled with trying to understand my place in Jesus, instead of relying on Jesus’s place in me. I finally feel like I can grasp who I am, and where I am on the “path that God has for me” because I know that it’s not something that can be answered in a three paragraph essay. It’s ever-changing, and ever evolving.

The most important thing for me in faith, is to continue to question.
QUESTIONING IS SO IMPORTANT IN FAITH.

I question God daily- and not just, “oh, God! Why did this happen!?” but more like, “when will I understand, You?” and “If you are a Merciful, Loving God, then why do bad things happen to innocent children?” and “Who is right? And who is wrong?” and “how can I do more for those who have less?” and “what’s next?”

I question myself, daily. Am I strong enough to keep going? To keep living here, in a town where I don’t really know anyone but whom I work with. To keep moving forward and not sit in the sadness or depression that so often seems so determined to creep into my life. Can I continue to run, or will I give up? Why am I running? Is for the wrong reasons? Does it even matter? What’s the difference between right and wrong- isn’t it all perspective? Isn’t it all subjective?

I question love, daily. Is it real? Is it something we’ve fabricated over time? Is it something we’ve diluted, and left watered down throughout our societies rein on the word or inflated so much that it’s completely different then what it should be? Will I feel romantic love again? Was I feeling romantic love before? Can love be wrong? Am I deserving of love, and if so, why? Are we all deserving of love? Should love be questioned? Can love be naive? And Should love be naïve?

But the FAITH is the choice I have. To know that no matter what the answers are, there is existence. And power. And substance. And that eventhough I may NEVER understand, the fact that I keep asking, and yet still believe- that’s the core of my Faith, the strengthening of it. Stronger faith in God, stronger faith in goodness, stronger faith in others, and stronger faith in myself. It is worth it to choose faith, even when I would rather be cynical and angry and dark and twisty. It is worth it make the choice, every day, or hour, or minute if I have to- because faith leads to hope; and hope is what powers, what changes, the world.



[to be continued…..]



Do you believe that Faith is a choice or something you either have or don’t have? Do you agree that questioning strengthens faith? What do you choose to believe in?

Friday, December 18, 2009

fireworks and fanfare.

Lately, I've been REALLY WORDY.
I know this shocks you if you've been reading for a while.
But seriously, my past few weeks of posts have spotlighted some long, drawn out opinions, stories, emotions, and details that go on and on and on.
Today at lunch, I logged into google analytics, as I usually do on my break, and noticed a large spike in new visitors. (HELLO there, new visitors!) Interesting....
Of course I went on the search to find where they were all coming from and thanks to the "traffic sources report" on Google analytics, I learned that all these first time visiting friends were being sent my way via Kath, who shared the package I recently sent her. [Thanks Kath ;) ]
The same thing happened when Caitlin mentioned my writing on twitter.
Long, wordy posts for the new visitors.
While I love writing (obviously) and I love sharing stories and parts of my life (obviously) I can't help but wish that there was something EXTRA SPECIAL AND SPECTACULAR for those visitors sent by the all-star bloggers (and maybe something sparkly).
It's not that I don't want to share into the depths with the new visitors- I do. But it's kind of like a dinner party;
If i were to send an invitation to a friend, asking them to bring a guest to my house for dinner, I would want to do everything in my power to make the guest feel welcome, comfortable and truly enjoy their experience. And I may use nice dishes and spend extra time whipping cream myself rather than using the spray can- because everyone deserves to feel extra special- both my friend and the guest. Extra touches, and sometimes sparkle, make the little things, the big things.

So- dear readers; old and new alike- Thank you for visiting.

And that I want to treat you that way, every day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Belief: Part 1

Recently I received an email filled with interview-type-questions about something very exciting happening in 2010. A woman I respect on so many levels invited me to be a part of something and needed some back story on me, my beliefs, and my life thus far. So we discussed a few things, and a few weeks ago I spent an entire day writing pages of pages of stories, secrets, and understanding to help her get a better perspective of where I was coming from in lieu of this project.

I wrote way more than she ever could have wanted, I am sure. [we are talking many, many pages of text. It felt kind of like a sophomore year term paper] And although the purpose of all those pages was to help her gain perspective, what it really did was help me gain some perspective. Perspective on why I should never be ashamed of who I am, or what has happened to me. Perspective on why there is no reason to be sad about a broken engagement or a lonely holiday season. Perspective on why I believe what I believe and on a rekindling of my heart and spirit.


My parents raised me to be a gentle, kind, and honest person. When I was younger, I went to church every week- but for me it had very little to do with God, all those years. My mom was always very active in the church as I was growing up, especially when I was a teenager, which lead me to be a volunteer Sunday school teacher when I was in high school- but I don't remember us ever talking about God outside of church much. It wasn't like we had nightly Bible readings or prayed together or discussed the gospel at home. Although, I'm not sure it didn't happen and I just wasn't aware of it. My sister always seemed to have a "close relationship" with Jesus from a young age. She participated in summer ministries and really seemed to identify with the word "Christian"- and for a long time I had never understood that.

At the time, if you asked me, I probably would have said I was a Christian, because that's all I knew, but in hindsight, I have NO IDEA what I actually BELIEVED back then. I was ignorant to it. Growing up I was a "good girl" (for the most part). I did what I was asked, I was active in about 283284 things in high school, and I genuinely just loved people- all people. Though I’m not sure it was always for the right reasons - I was insecure and wanted to be liked by everyone, known by everyone, appreciated by everyone – and so I made it my personal mission to be friends with just about everyone I could. I would like to say it was because I had a heart of gold, but I am quite certain, at least in the high school days, it was a tad bit more about my wanting an image of gold.

When I graduated, I went to college in Madison, WI. (about 30 minutes away from where I went to high school) Edgewood College is "a Catholic college in the Dominican tradition" but back then- the only way you would know it was if you really paid attention; very close attention. Sure, there was a chapel on campus (attached to my dorm, actually.) and some of our teachers were "Sister" or "Father"- but campus ministry was as prevalent on Edgewood's campus as it would be at any state school I would have visited. It was available, but not forced, and rarely even heard about. Basically, the way I saw it, Edgewood was given money by the Catholic church and that is why it was called a Catholic school.

For awhile, I remember actually being curious about faith in college, and having discussions with some close friends and hall mates. I found myself admitting I did not believe. That the Bible was a work of literature and that Jesus must have been a good man, but I just don't know about God. I’m not sure if this is what I really believed, or this is what I wanted to believe. I’m not sure if I was saying what I thought would make me appear smart, or relatable, or sure of myself. I really don’t remember much about how I felt back then, but I do remember a few of the things I said during these conversations- and a lot of my discussion had to do with logic, and reason, and science.

Nearing the end of my sophomore year, my dad got a new job in Texas. My parents asked me if I wanted to move or stay in Wisconsin. It was a HARD decision. A few of my very best friends from high school attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison- and they were literally a few blocks away from me at Edgewood- and some might say I had an unhealthy dependency on a few of these friends. I had a hard time thinking about going on with my day-to-day life without them and trying to imagine my life in different state, so far away, was hard. Until I had a revelation that one day, they would go on and find husbands/wives and get married and start families. And I realized that I could not live in the basement of their houses. And I needed to go and stand on my own and take a little journey of self discovery. A journey to see who I was on my own, with out the comfort of everyone I knew for so long just a few blocks away. I needed to see who I was when they weren’t in earshot. What I would say if I wasn’t influenced by their opinions every five minutes, how I would choose to spend my time if I so got to do so, and if I could survive.

So I decided to leave Madison and head south. Apparently this came as a shock to many people- even to this day I hear from friends and classmates who swear they never thought I would leave – and I understand that. I LOVE the city of Madison. It will probably remain my favorite city in America for a long time- when I go home to visit, I always make sure to spend one day alone- walking down my favorite streets, reading in my favorite parks, just drinking in the warmth as my heart fills with pure contentment. I love Madison still, and I loved Madison then- but I knew I had to move on. It was time.

I started looking at schools with in four hours of my parents- I figured I needed a little cushion since I would be moving somewhere in which I didn’t know a soul. One of my favorite things about Edgewood was the school size. When I was there, it was just a couple thousand students- so classes were nice and small. We were offered so much individual attention from our professors and I am so thankful that I was able to learn in that environment. When I started looking for schools, I looked for a small school within four hours of my parents.

And I found LC; Louisiana College. [And I had no idea what I was in for.]

Louisiana College is a Baptist University. Having been at Edgewood and forming the above mentioned opinion, I assumed this meant that the Baptist Church gave the school money and perhaps a chapel building would be somewhere on campus. I thought I would go about my day to day life at LC, much like I did at Edgewood. I thought it would be another college, in another town- filled with stories of drunken debauchery, rallies and protests, tailgating and parties at the off-campus houses.

And then I moved to the Bible belt.

I quickly learned upon arriving, that just about everyone at LC chose LC because they wanted to further their "relationship with Christ" while attending college. Not at all what I was expecting. NOT AT ALL. And NOTHING like my time at Edgewood; No drinking, no boys in the girls dorm or girls in the boys dorm, no smoking, no parties, attend chapel service every week, many bible studies going on around campus, and an optional, yet majorly attended Monday Night Worship hosted by the Baptist College Ministry, which was all over campus.

I spent the first few weeks arguing with the freshmen girls that lived in my section of the dorm. (since I was a transfer student, I was living on the floor with all the freshmen.) The arguments would all end like this:

Roommate/Suitemate/Hallmate: But the Bible Says....
Me: But if I don't take the Bible literally... If I think its a work of literature.…
Roommate/Suitemate/Hallmate: But the Bible Says....

It was a never-ending cycle. And I was frustrated.

After a few days of classes, however, I started to meet more people my age, and realized that not everyone at LC believed in Christ because they had "always believed" and that some of them had opinions of their own. I must say to their credit- not many more days after, the girls who argued with me as above, started to understand this a bit too- and soon a soul search of their own was born; "why do i believe this", “is there more than just because I’ve always known this”, “how do I share my faith more clearly” etc. – these are some of the most exceptionally smart and genuine girls I know, and I am so grateful for the learning experience we had together, especially those first few weeks.

I was invited to church by several people. [Clearly they were doing their part at "finding lost souls" ;)] I'm pretty sure during the first month of school, I visited four churches. One church really stuck out for me; a place called Donahue Family Church. The people there were kind and REAL- there wasn't a fake hug to be had- all of the hugs were REAL. When people asked how school was going, they REALLY wanted to know. And the worship leader/assistant Pastor, smiled when he talked about God. He smiled when he sang on stage. He smiled when he was praying and giving thanks. And all the time, all the smiles, they were REAL.

Donahue had a decently popular college ministry, and not too long after my first visit, I became a regular attendee of both the church and the college group, Fusion. Even when I didn't know what I believed, they accepted me. Even when I argued with every word they said, they took time to listen to my concerns, my objects, and my distrust. They still invited me to go out for ice cream, and play volleyball, and watch movies. Sometimes we discussed Christ, but not always. It seemed like every week I had more questions.

These people I met were SMART. We could hold intelligent conversations about any number of things, and yet they still had FAITH, such strong faith. A lot of my preconceived ideas about believing in God had to do with God vs.. Science- and I guess at some point in the previous two years at Edgewood, I had started to believe that Faith in God means you are shallow minded. (yes - I am ashamed to admit that. I am ashamed that I thought that. I wish I had been open minded and understanding when I thought I was.) But these people were definitely not shallow minded. They were brilliant. And they believed and believed with every part of their being, even the parts that doubted. Their doubts made their faith stronger- I am still trying to find the correct words to accurately describe that, but it remains indescribable.

So i continued to go to church with them. Twice a week. And i continued to go to small group with them, and let them pray for me, and ask them questions, and I bought a Bible- because I wanted to see what all this was about. Not because of everyone was doing it, as much as because everyone seemed to have something I was lacking- something deep down to the core of their being, yet I couldn’t explain what it was. It was appealing. It was attractive. And it deserved respect. I wanted to know more.

Yet I continued to fight it, for what seemed like a long time. I was prideful and stubborn to say "ok, yes, I guess I do believe" in the beginning. I was so scared. To be wrong? To believe? To submit? I don't know. But I was terrified. And I don't actually remember the moment I decided. I didn't pray "a sinner's prayer" or "ask Jesus into my heart" or anything like that. I never had a moment where BOOM! suddenly I believed. I have no idea when it happened, or where it was, but I can say that my life has been better because of Christ. It happened much more slowly than a bolt of lightening. It was gradual, and a bit like a conquest, and I have no idea WHAT caused me to go from unbeliever to believer; but I do know some things that happened that aided me in the decision, that perhaps when they were all added up together, there was no other choice for me but to believe;

-watching other people truly worship. hands raised, hearts open. when i first started attending church, i didn't sing along. I more or less watched the congregation. And i was often moved to tears. I didn't know why, but just watching these people whom I had come to love being so connected to something they couldn't SEE but just believed, it stirred me. They didn’t know, but they still knew. They didn’t know because they saw Jesus face to face- they knew because they saw Jesus in the faces of others. They didn’t know because they heard God on a mountain top- they knew because they heard a mountains worth of personal experiences.

- I became really close with a clever girl with a beautiful soul, Mary. We would study outside on the lawn when it was sunny out. and we would end up having extremely long conversations about the questions I had. And every night, I would go to her room, and we would sit in her bed and pray. I would pray that if God was real, and he was tangible, that He would open my heart so that I could understand and accept Him and not be closed off to Him. Soon- my prayers became less about "help me believe" and more "thank you for belief"

-another very good friend, Andrew, poured a lot of time into me. He would make time to explain things, and listen, and make sure I wasn't homesick. He was one of the leaders of Fusion, and he would spend time explaining every tiny little question I had. but he did so in a way that was so honest. And he used resources other than just his own base of knowledge. And it was good. One day, Mary and I went joined Andrew and his roommates to watch a DVD from Passion One Day. (Passion is a college movement started my Louie Giglio. It's pretty popular among Christians all over the country/world) One of the segments was of a pastor from Minnesota, John Piper, speaking on "Boasting Only in the Cross". It moved me. He was standing on a stage, outdoors, on a very windy day, talking to THOUSANDS of college-aged students, and to hear his words, and his plea to them, and even more so to see their reaction what he was sharing- these moments left impressions on my heart. (it remains on of my favorite communications to this day.)

-there are a countless number of individuals from my time at LC who spoke to my heart, to the core of my very being. they helped me to grow and to open my mind to things other than myself. they taught me about true, honest love, and how to help people win. and how to be genuine every day.

-i just felt different. that sounds silly. but i can't explain it. it is an experience. nothing spooky or overly charismatic or anything, but just different. like I honestly started to "feel God" in my life. it sounds kooky, but its not. And its another thing that can not be explained. I didn’t physically touch, see, hear, smell or taste God; but I did feel him with other senses.

And so somewhere along the way, I just believed. No smoke or mirrors, no final number, no crying at the alter, no end all be all; I just believed.

And so i studied. and i read my Bible. and i attended Bible Studies and Small Groups. And I felt like I should be doing ministry. Because Jesus died for me. But more importantly, because there were people out there who didn't know they were loved; loved enough that they were died for. Because there were people out there who didn't have someone in their life, cheering for them. Because there were sad, lonely people out there that needed love, and compassion. It was never about religion. It was never about what you "shouldn't do". It was never about rules and laws and strictness. Not for Jesus, and not for me. It was about love. And it still is. For Jesus, and for me.

and i left school.
i left school to go to work.
i don't regret it.
but i think about it often.

i say i want to go back to school about once a day, and i have been saying that since 2004 when i left school.

but i don't regret it.

because what came next was learning experiences from inside the ministry that i could have never learned by getting any kind of degree... [to be continued- edit: part 2]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday: Witty & Brillant

Top Ten Snippets From Emails I’ve Received This Year
Because my friends are witty and brilliant and I think you may enjoy them
(also because I am feeling like crud and it’s much easier to copy and paste than to write anything witty or brilliant myself. All credit due to my friends, who are witty and brilliant.)

10. from a MOH who had yet to order her dress:
I promise i will not be wearing sweatpants at your wedding.

9. Would make me want to “hit them, baby, one more time”:
There is dance team practice outside my room right now. It is making me laugh. A lot. Britney has been on repeat for 45 minutes now.

8. Advice on how to handle the labor day weekend:
As for your “non-wedding Sunday” I vote you watch a HIMYM marathon. Or you can send me texts all day. Or you can make a voodoo doll of one of your favorite recent fiancés. Personally I vote you just eat some jello flavored with vodka constantly all day, even when at church :)


7. Ha:
There is ONE club in Mankato and EVERYONE makes fun of it-it's called the Haze. I went for the first time on Friday. . . . and met a guy. .. who is older... and very attractive…and enjoyable to talk to.

And I was thinking, "What are you doing here?!?!? This is NOT the place I am supposed to meet a guy." Obviously, he's an axe murderer (I mean, besides being a construction worker) Or maybe he believes that Napoleon Dynamite is the best movie ever made (I put both of those on equal levels of horribleness)

Anyway, we've been texting, and we may meet tomorrow. I expect to tell you all about this afterwards. I can't really tell anyone here, because they would say “do not go meet him. You met him at the Haze.” But then I'm like, well, I was at the haze. . . . I went to watch my Bosnian friend dance! (her name is Goga). So, maybe he was accidently there too?


6. Take a minute to picture yourself dressed all “western”:
remember how great homecoming week and all the spirit days were as a student? not so much as a teacher...


5. I just need a big hat and long fur coat:
I have a (somewhat) dorky favor to ask you- I am getting an online dating profile (yes, I know)...and I need your help with my "About Me" section. I draw blanks!! go ahead, pimp me out.

4. In response to my story about needing to have my gallbladder removed:
You really know how to not throw the twist ending everyone knows is coming into the story. I mean seriously, I was super excited to hear you say at the end, "and they were all wrong. I actually felt like crap because I have swine flu". And obviously it would be awesome 1) because you were clearly ok - you decided to write me an 8 page email and 2) I know someone who has swine flu. But alas, my hopes and dreams are ruined.

3. The cookie challenge has extra challenge:
While procrastinating yesterday, i came across an article about finding your happy weight. I went to self magazine's happy weight calculator to find mine. Let me tell you it was not a happy weight for me. It was unrealistically low for me for several reasons. One, it was less than i weighed for sophomore year, so as an adult, not likely to happen. Two, i really like cookies. Three, it is less than i weighed at my wedding (by almost 10 pounds) and i have set my wedding weight as a pretty good goal weight that does not involve me starving myself of working out three hours a day (as much fun as that would be). Four, i really, really like cookies.

2. Adventures will be had:
I was trying to find things to put in your package and I heard "I want to go see heather"
I looked around my empty room. It was coming from the area of scarves.

"I want to go see heather" The voice is muffled. I dig a little. A beautiful tanish, peachish, ummm, I don't know what color it is. it is a color that does not look that good on me, but would look really good on you.
"I want to go see heather"
well, yeah. don't we all?
I pull out the scarf. It is from England. It is used, but beautiful.
"Can I go? I'd really like to go be worn by heather!"
"Are you sure you want to leave all your friends?"
"I'm bored here! And you never wear me. I'd like to go to New York and keep heathers Neck warm during winter. I'm sure I would match her outfits. You never wear me. Besides, I'm ready for an adventure."

And off the little scarf went, jumping into the box. From my scarf collection to yours.


1. From the best email I received about the whole broken engagement thing:
That being said, I fully believe that you will (and already are) coming back stronger than ever. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and hoping for the best (and knowing it'll come). You've put too much love into the universe for it to not reward you back. He is your Aidan, I guess. Cute and nice and seemed like just right, but there's a Big of your own out there, just waiting. (Besides, your last name is just too cool to give up just yet.)




About that last one:

Sometimes I’ve been super silly and questioned if I will “be alone forever”. Sometimes the drama just takes over and I can’t help but feel like a character in some terribly sad melodrama destined to be single forever. Sometimes I feel that any time I meet a nice boy, he will find out that I had been engaged before and run away because I am “damaged”.

Now, before you all go telling me what a catch I am and that I would make “any guy really happy” let me just say this- I am aware that one day I will be in a relationship again. I am aware that the right guy will not only not run away when he hears that I was engaged, but stand right by me, helping me to get through the hard parts of healing and trusting and going forward in the beginning of a new relationship. And I am aware that “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince” and I know that “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to….my future husband” and I know that one day I will walk down the aisle, and say I do, and share the first dance as husband and wife. But sometimes, I forget for a minute- and I feel sad, and sorry for myself, and angry, and heartbroken, and not enough.

Those times, I remember this email. Sometimes I reread it. Sometimes I just ponder on it. Sometimes I giggle at how much Shugarman trumps my almost-last name (it really is fabulous). Sometimes I watch episodes of SATC season four and realize that Aidan was great, but he wasn’t the one- and my former fiancé was great, but he wasn’t the one. And I am thankful. Because sometimes friends just KNOW what to say- the words “there’s a Big of your own out there, just waiting” mean so much more to me than any cliché about my worth and my future happily ever after ever will. And the words “your last name is just too cool to give up just yet” remind me to celebrate my singleness, my individual uniqueness, and this blessed time I have to continue to be the best me I can be.

And I am so grateful for people in my life who care enough, who understand me enough to not just spit out what they are suppose to say, but instead share what I need to hear- and what I need to rest in, even for months after it’s said. That goes beyond the author of that email, or any of the emails I shared pieces of today. That goes beyond people I grew up with, or have known for years. And that goes beyond people I have met in person. Sometimes the people that show the most care are people who leave comments on blog posts, and take part in twitter conversations, and support you even when they've never seen your face, or heard your voice, or hugged your neck. Sometimes the people that know and understand you the most are people that haven't spent anytime in a room with you. And for that, I am thankful, too. Thank you, friends. [i cherish you all; new and old]

Monday, December 14, 2009

For the Reader

I have a thing for bookstores. And not just because You've Got Mail has been on my "top five favorite movies" list since 1999. (although I'm sure that helps)

I've spent my fair share of time in bookstores, too.

Monday night "Bible Study" with a group of four high school girls I mentored. (We had every intention of deep discussion of the Bible, but without doubt each week turned into deep discussion and encouragement of the trials each girl was facing. It was the best support group I've ever belonged too- Me and four high school juniors.)

Meeting with friends who barely knew each other to question Jesus and belief and undertanding and the Bible. To drink coffee and share cookies and disect the word promise. To debate and agree and feel like we were getting somewhere and to disagree. To open our eyes to each others' up bringings, to each others' stories, to each others' beliefs.

Double-Date nights to the childrens section to play "I Spy" and "Where's Waldo" and pick out books for future children. To share our favorite childhood stories, and find solace in Todd Parr's The Peace Book.

Quality roommate time with stacks of magazines we were much too poor to purchase, and much to interested to ignore. Chosing our dream living rooms in Elle Decor, pouring over Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living recipes and tips, and, of course, being fully invested in the pages of People.

Many lonely evenings when I didn't know a soul in town, and instead of trying to seek friendship in community, would hide out in the stacks, reading entire books in an evening- complete series' in a months-time. Leaving work each night to go search the shelves for my next choice, and staying until close.

Preparing for a week full of postings at a table facing a window- indulging in a piece of carrot cake and a warm, soul healing tea as I tried desperately to forget that I was once again in a town where I knew no one, and once again feeling so alone.

I love a big bookstore, even if it makes me a Fox. (F-O-X) I love the big cozy arm chairs where I can sit cross legged and flip through art books gathering ideas and suggestions for what I'll make next. I love the journals section with a giant selection of words yet to be written - the promise of new creation, new stories, new documentation. I love being able to inspect the bargin area for the next addition to my neverending collection of books I will read someday, which seems to be taking over a few shelves in my kitchen.

I love small independant book stores. They all have fabulous names you could have never thought of yourself. With lots of detailed staff recommendations. And toys and gifts to go along with it all. You can only take your time in a store as such. The doors, the walls, the shelves are captivating- inviting you in and never allowing you to want to leave. I want to stay forever, reading the back cover of every single book displayed- because you know they were handpicked. Someone in this store asked specificly for 3 copies of this book, and not because it was on the best sellers list, or it is by a famous author, but because it means something. Like Nancy Drew, I am determined to seek until I find what exactly it means, to him, to her, and on most days as I make my way to the register, to me.

I love the smell of old, used bookstores. Paul's on State Street in Madison was always a favorite while I was in town. Running my hands through the stacks, over each cover until I found something that peaked my interest. Judging books by their covers- but not by their photo or title, but by how much love the old canvas covers had enjoyed by their previous owners. Allowing myself to drift off and imagine - how many times did a mother read a Mother Goose's fairytale to her child from this pale blue, ratty covered collection of fables. How much laughter was shared as each page was turned. How many gasps of surprise. How many lessons learned.

I love a bookstore this time of year. With twinkly lights and garland lining the register, carols playing throughout, and a simple "happy holidays" from the clerk as you make your purchase. Peppermint Brownies and Eggnog Latte's at the cafe, as neighbors share stories of what Santa will bring this year. The Polar Express and Holidays on Ice on display, near a display of "Christmas Toys for every girl and boy".

I do a lot of my Christmas shopping at book stores. I'm sure my family is not surprised by this, as their gift requirements in my eyes are "not bulky and fabulous". Year after year they've received DVDs and CDs and Books- all which can easily fit in my carryon suitcase. All of which I can purchase at one bookstore or another. And as I am preparing to finish my Christmas shopping this week, I thought I would give some insight for a few of you who may not have spent as much time in bookstores as I have. A few of my all time favorite books that would make some FABULOUS holiday gifts- for anyone you cherish (including yourself!)
Jen Lancaster's latest release, Pretty in Plaid DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. So much so, that I'm reading it for the 2nd time. I am all about giving gifts that compliment each other and I can't stop thinking about how wonderfully this book would looked wrapped up in a plaid bag with some nice argyle socks to match the cover. If you haven't read Jen Lancaster's other books (here, here, and here) you should definetely get on it. She is hilarious, and I am super excited to see what she comes up with next.

No books have every made me question my thinking the way Shane Claiborne and Robb Bell have with their books Irresistable Revolution and Velvet Elvis. These are two books I should reread every single year to make sure I am living life the way I should - pouring love out of me onto those who deserve it (EVERYONE (even and especially the people I foolishly wish didn't deserve it)) and living with purpose. I can't recommend them enough.

My friend Marcus recommended this book months ago, and I listened to it on CD over the summer- it was FABULOUS. Neal Gabler's biography of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination is a fabulous recollection of the man and the wonderful world of Disney we all know now. I absolutely LOVED learning about "all things Mr. Disney" and I plan on rereading/listening to it before my next trip to Walt Disney World (an idea I grabbed from my wonderful friend, Marcus.) If one of your loved ones are planning a trip or are as obsessed with Disney as can be (cough, mother, cough) this would be a perfect gift for them!


This is another book I listened to on CD over the summer- and it had my heart MELTING. No matter your political stances, I Love You, Ronnie Nancy Reagan's sharing of the love letters between her and President Reagan will make you believe in true love all over again. If there is one book I could suggest purchasing the audio book for- it would be this one. Hearing the letters read in a male and female voice, as written, take you deep into the complexity and intensity of their relationship. This book would be perfect given to your special someone, or to a couple celebrating their first Christmas together. Pure Bliss to my heart!


If you have a high school senior on your "to shop for" list, buy them Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you've read it, you know why. (it's a must read). If you haven't, then you should - even if you are far out of high school. Chbosky also wrote the screen play for the movie version of the musical Rent - another of my favorites. I would love to tie the two together in a bundle- and if I was Oprah, you'd all be getting one for the Holidays. Another great gift to tie to this book would be a DVD copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show- as its mentioned several times in the book. (and now I want to do the Time Warp)


Easily my favorite movie, The Family Stone would make a perfect Holiday gift for ANYONE. (i may or may not have two copies). Make it a bundle gift by adding a couple of other Christmas-Themed fabulous movies- The Holiday & Love Actually, for example - and you've got yourself a winning gift.


I'm usually a non-fiction, memoir kind of girl, but Marisa de los Santos' novel Loved Walked In and the follow up Belong to Me are EASILY my two favorite reads of the last year. She really knocked it out of the park with these. Wonderful character development, terrific story line, and relationships that go WAY BEYOND the often-read-love interest- these two novels should be on everyone's "must read" list. Buy the set for your best girlfriend or as a gift to yourself. Everyone deserves to have Love walk in on them- and reading these books will make you believe it has through the words on each page.
What's the best book you've read this year? Any suggestions for what I should be reading next?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Upcoming Blogger Meet Up, Follow Friday, & Traditions

Then Heather Said, "Let's Meet Up!"

Do any of you lovely friends in this fabulous blogging community live in the North Dallas/Denton area? Or will any of you be visiting for Christmas Vacation?

The fabulous Nicci and Kelsey and I are going to be having a Blogger Meet Up and we would absolutely LOVE if you wanted to come meet with us, too!


We plan on getting together at Sweet Basil Thai Bistro. I personally have yet to visit, but I am STOKED to get the opertunity, because I have been hearing GREAT REVIEWS! And seriously, the above photo I grabbed from the yelp site is already making my tummy rumble ;) We are shooting for getting together on December 26th - and once we get some feedback on other people wanting to come we will narrow down a time that works well for us.

If you are interested in joining us (and we REALLY hope you are), please drop me an email at thenheathersaid@gmail.com!




Then Heather Said, "Happy Hanukkah"

Hanukkah officially begins at sundown today.
A very happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends out there- especially my dear dear friend, Corrine.

Corrine and I were great friends in college and I always loved hearing about her families traditions for Jewish holidays and celebrations. I remember "lighting" her electric menora in the dorm (of course, no open flames were had) and in the spring, when the easter bunny came to visit our friends Bridget and Brenda, the Passover Kitten would drop off a Passover basket at Corrine's Door. I miss weaving our holidays together and celebrating EVERY DAY we could. hugs and kisses to you and your family, Corrine.

If you want to learn more about blending holidays between friends and families of different religions, can I please point you to Sara's blog? Sara is a VERY TALENTED artist/graphic designer/creater/writer/former wedding-bee-blogger.

I've been reading her Stinkerpants Blog for awhile now, and she is a wonderful canidate for FOLLOW FRIDAY. Add her to your reader, people!

I remember reading Sara's blog last holiday season as she admitted she didn't like the holidays but moved past her feelings of hate to make her and her husbands first december together something special with some holiday decorations. The post she shared this past Tuesday, however, is a-whole-nother story of wonderfulness. Please head over and see what I mean. Her post itself is fabulous and I have thought about it many times this past week- but the conversation going on in the comments section is very interesting.




Then Heather Said, "Site your Sources!"

These are a few resources I've used to help make celebrating holidays, special days, and even smelly old Tuesdays memorable. I am all about celebrating the small and the big, showing the people I love how wonderful they are in unique ways, and decorating with sparkles and sprinkles ;)







Every book SARK has ever published; but most famously
Fabulous Friendship Festival


and

What are your favorite ways to make the Holidays memorable with the people you love?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift Guide; BSS & more

I just need to say, quickly, before we get too deep in post: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARRIE :)


I wanted to put together a post of cool gift ideas I've found over the past few weeks for those of you who still haven't gotten your Bloggie Secret Santa a gift. But these gifts are not just for your favorite blogger friend- they would work for a multitude of people in your life (i just KNOW it!)

For my Bloggie Secret Santa gift, I have been trying to keep to a few “gift giving rules” I’ve set.

First off, because I don’t know the person I’m purchasing for very well, I made sure to spend a bit of time on her blog the last few weeks. As I’ve caught myself up on what my Bloggie friend is interested in, I’ve taken a few mental notes. Does your giftee participate in a certain activity or hobby? (reading, crafting, yoga, running, etc?) If your giftee posts photos of herself, does she gravitate towards a certain color palette? Does your giftee eat a certain specific diet? (GF, vegan, vegetarian, etc.)

The second thing I have been trying very hard to remember is that a Secret Santa gift is a great opportunity to give something IMPRACTICAL but still PRETTY DARN COOL. I think that Secret Santa gifting (and Christmas as a whole, really) is an opportunity to give the giftee something spectacular that they wouldn’t ever purchase for themselves. Some of my most favorite gifts I’ve gotten over the years have been things I NEVER would have spent the money on myself but truly cherished receiving. I tend to be a bit thrifty, and a self-proclaimed bargain hunter so it’s not very often I pay full price for something for my own personal use, let alone spend an extra few dollars on something extravagant. For example, it would take a lot for me to ever purchase a “gourmet” hot chocolate mix for over ten dollars for myself. But when I received one as a gift last Christmas, I treasured every sip of the warm, rich, frothy love in a mug. I want to look outside the “practical” and into the “fabulous” when purchasing a gift for my giftee.



The last rule I've set for myself is HAVE FUN! Christmas shopping can sometimes be a bit stressful- especially when you are trying to find the most perfect gift for everyone on your list. Add to it that you've probably never met your Secret Santa and you may very well just want to throw in your elf hat and call it a day! But I'm not letting that happen- I am trying very hard to enjoy every minute of shopping for my Secret Santa giftee.



Here are a few ideas I've come up with a few different people on my list; bloggie friends and others.







You Love Julie & Julia, Baking, and Pretty Things:



This apron classes up any and every kitchen. I can imagine a few people I know wearing this classy little number and holding a tray of cupcakes, offering one to each guest.




Let's face it, Antropologie is THE place to find pretty little things- and this trivet does not disappoint. I keep hearing that orange is the new pink- this darling little piece sure adds to that argument.


This plate is just one of the several design options in the Paint by Number Dessert Plate set. I would LOVE to hand these out to a trio of friends as they approach the dessert bar in my kitchen.


I Can't Stop Reading Your Blog, even when Most of Your Posts are Photos of Food:

Postcard Set by Emcee on Etsy - $12
I am a little bit obsessed with this post card set. You choose five designs from Emcee's postcards for your custom set- I'm loving the above along with one that reads "Reawaken Your Sense of Wonder; Let Curiosity Lead Your Life." 2010 Motto, much?





Photographers Necklace by JustJaynes on Etsy - $21
It seems like a bunch of my favorite bloggers have been getting new cameras to share wonderful photos on their blogs. And I know a few photographer friends who would love to add this to their key ring, charm bracelet, or jar of trinkets, too.


Blogs & Tea print by Jennifer Ramos on Etsy - $9.50
I know that Tina has a print which reads "i love you blogs and coffee" and I have been dreaming of the day I have a computer, desk space, and a designated "blogging scheduled" to order one myself to decorate my tiny office area. Isn't this just DARLING.


Your Personality makes me Smile and It should be Celebrated:




Me 2 a T plate by Em Tanner Designs - $28

Two of my very best friends are pregnant, and I CAN'T HARDLY WAIT to spend some time with their little ones and start to discover their individual and unique personalities - because you bet your bippy they will be getting some cute personalize plates by Em Tanner Designs one day. How cute would a personalize character plate be for your favorite blogger, but instead of adding their name, adding their blog abbreviation. KERF, HTP, CNC, etc?





Personalized Note Cards by Every Day Grace on Etsy - $12
OK- I just need to spend a minute telling you about Andrea from Every Day Grace. SHE IS AMAZING. I have worked with Andrea on several occasions in the past- for gifts for some of the people I love the most in this world- and can I just tell you that her customer service and quality of product are unparalleled to anything else I've experienced in the last several years. This girl is talented and beyond kind. She will go above and beyond to make sure your order is EXACTLY what you want it to be - and she is simply the most darling, sweet southern girl you will ever meet. Her products are all adorable and she never fails to surprise me with what she's working on next. GO CHECK OUT EVERY DAY GRACE.


Who doesn't want something this adorable, really? There are no other words.


You are the Very Definition of Foodie:

Foodie Fight from Spoon Sisters - $18.95
Every time I look at this game on the Spoon Sisters website (and let me tell you, I have looked at it many, many times) I can't seem to wonder if this should have been a Foodbuzz Festival Freebie. I'm just saying.




The Chef Set page Flags from Spoon Sisters - $5.95
These cute little sticky notes are perfect for the person who has a billion different cook books, likes to plan elaborate meals for a large group, or is type A down to the bone desiring beautiful organization. Perfection. Perfection. Perfection. (and inexpensive!)

Tina recently posted a giveaway from Organica Deluxe, and when I was searching through their website this Popcorn caught my eye immediately - salty, sweet and spicy? YES PLEASE!
You're One Part Scientist One Part Kitchen Dweller:



Built Oven Mitt and Pot Holders from Wrapables - $11.95-$14.95
Look Cool when the Oven is Hot. Had to go there.
Cuisipro Ice Cream Scoop & Stack from Wrapables - $14.95
This is probably my favorite gadget I've ever come across while online shopping. The scoop & stack makes little cylinder's of ice cream. Little perfect cylinders. You can build TOWERS of ice cream cylinders. Who doesn't want to do that? (for some cool photos see the Lovely Room's post from July)

Self Leveling Measuring Spoons from Spoon Sisters - $13.75

I'm quite certain that these measuring spoons could quickly become a bakers best friend. I'm determined to find the measuring cup version, as well. I am so sick of dirtying a butter knife every single night as I move forward in the Cookie Challenge.
Now that I've shared some of my favorite gifts for this season- tell me; what's on YOUR wish list?

vibrant snow


I live a mile and a half away from my office.
This means in the summer, I walked to and from work a lot of the days.
This also means that when we get several inches of snow and the road are horrible and traffic on the highways is at a standstill, I am the first, and in today’s case, only person in the office.

The snow will not stop falling. It is determined to give the city a fresh, washed out, completely blank canvas and I really can’t complain. Because sometimes, I want a blank canvas, too.

Sometimes I want to take a big giant pink eraser and scrub away the last few years of my life. Erasing the pain. Erasing the heartache. Erasing the loneliness.
Sometimes I want to throw a bucket of white paint against the wall of my emotions- not taking the time to tape the trim of “good parts”, use a brush or roll over the details- but just cover the whole thing. Sometimes I want to spray it all away, the way the garden hose washes away the chalk markings of a four year old. Sometimes I just want it all to go away.

When I have a bad dream, that doesn’t make much sense to me, causing me to wake at 3:15 AM and not stop thinking about the past. Where I went wrong. How I should have never of said yes. How I could be living a different life, in a different town, with a different agenda. Because the current agenda of “survive. Run faster.” Just isn’t really working with my heart at 3:15 in the morning. I want to sleep. I want to rest. I want to embody peace. But instead my heart hurts, and my eyes cloud, and my brain twirls in circles.

I keep looking out the window to my office and watching more and more snow fall. I swear I cleaned off my car before I drove to the office an hour ago, yet it is completely covered again. This snow is determined.

And so am I.
I am determined not to let the bad dreams win. Or the sad days. Or the heart ache.

I am determined to move forward. A little more each day.
I am determined to enjoy my life, and count the things I am thankful for more than just on Thanksgiving. I am determined not to let a broken engagement, and a lonely few months take over my otherwise fabulous year. I am determined not to sit in the wanting differently, not to long for what I don’t have.

I am determined not to be CONTENT with my life, but to be CELEBRATING it. I don’t need a blank slate because my life is full of color- deep, rich, vibrant color at that. I don’t want to wash away the past, because I know it’s building my character- developing my perseverance. And making me an all around better person. And I know that even though there are bad days, bad nights, and occasionally bad weeks- that I love my life. Even when it’s snowing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lists: Love or Lust?



Is it just me, or do Monday’s always feel like a fresh start of the week?
I know that on the calendar Sunday is the first day of the week, but I can’t help but consider Sunday the last day of the weekend (soaking up every last bit of relaxation, productivity or both!) and Monday the “kick start” kind of day.

I’ve been journaling a lot lately about my need to make goals. I’ve been wondering what the purpose is, to all the lists I make each year. It’s something that lives deep down under my bones- lining my soul, really. I have this addiction to “to-do” type lists; Not just tasks to complete- although those lists definitely exist in many facets of my life- but other to-do lists. Things to avoid for the week, Goals to accomplish for the month, Progress to be made in a plethora of areas. When I become self-aware of an extreme in my life, I either battle or support it with a list.

For example- when I notice I haven’t been doing much cardio lately- I create a list of 10 cardio work outs to complete in the next two weeks. When I realize my last three meals have involved a veggie burger patty- I make a list of other protein-filled meals to eat for lunch and dinner this week. Each morning I make a list at the office of what I hope to accomplish and what REALLY needs to be accomplished. Most Friday evenings I sit cross-legged in front of the TV with my giant whiteboard and make a “Weekend Fun-do” list; things that I should consider doing and things I really should celebrate doing- ranging from “fold the laundry while watching The West Wing” and “Drink wine”. And you’ve seen my become a better runner list, my fitness bucket list, my 101 in 1001 list, and a new list of sorts every Tuesday. And this weekend, when I took notice I’ve been slacking on my running since Thanksgiving and that the times for my first three 5K increased by over a minute each- I wanted to make a list of what I need to do to stop being so silly and get my butt outside to run in the cold.

Clearly, I love lists.

But I wonder about the list making. Is it good for me? I mean, of course, it's healthy and good to line out your goals and determine where progress should be made- but maybe I need to take a step back and remember that everything in moderation is the key to a healthy life.

It sounds a bit silly, doesn't it? Evaluating my list making because it may not be "good for me." But look at it this way- a lot of the time, at least in the last few months, I have made lists for the sake of making lists- I'm not making much progress on the lists I have been writing out.

For example- that Ten Steps to a Becoming a Better Runner list I wrote a month or so ago- I discussed my need to do ten things:

1. take the time to track my nutrition
2. get more sleep
3. cross train
4. evaluate/journal about my workouts
5. add yoga training 3 times a week
6. implement core work
7. run out doors
8. stay hydrated
9. properly warm up & cool down with each run
10. stay motivated to run

If I take the time to review the last month, I realized that I'm only doing a few of these things. I am definitely not tracking my food or spending more time sleeping. And I haven't been doing much working out at all- let alone specific cross training and yoga that I had planned on. I must say, I've done much better putting the core work in- thanks to Ange, staying hydrated, and the few times I have run in the past month I have made sure to warm up and cool down properly and do the running outside- but I haven't been running much at all lately.

This isn't the only list I've made this season that gets overlooked and a majority of items gets ignored. The lack of determination in sticking with a plan, following goals, and completing a to do list seems to have become a bit of a habit lately- and I don't like that. I don't like that I keep making the lists, but not making any progress. I don't like that I'm falling backwards- starting to resemble the girl with the good intentions that never moves forward. It seems that my love for lists, has become more of a lust for lists. I'm interested with the list making, with the beginning- but I haven't cared too much for a long-term relationship with the lists. I just write the lists, turn the page, and carry on with my life, until the idea for another list waltzes into my life and the cycle starts again.

I'm not trying to be hard on myself. I know that I am doing a lot more now that I would have been doing last year at this time- I have definitely made progress and am living a much healthier lifestyle than I was, even six months ago- and that is a wonderful, rewarding thing I should take pride in. But I also know I need to get a grip and realize that I am happiest with myself when I am making the healthiest of choices.

I am happiest with myself when I feel strong after finishing a run in the brisk air, rather than making 27 excuses of why I can't go outside today to get some speed work in . I am happiest with myself when I take the 10 minutes to do core work in the evenings, rather than just sit in my v. comfy recliner. I am happiest with myself when I feel full off of fresh veggies and whole foods, rather than stuffing my face with food that does not sit well in my stomach. Of course, as I continue on a weight loss journey- I am happiest when the numbers on the scale move downward, and not just sit still for three weeks. I am happiest when I can wake up after a full nights of rest and be ready to face my day, rather than hit snooze three times and stop for a sugar free red bull on my way into the office.

It's not that I don't enjoy occasional treats and indulgences, days of rest, and days of curling up under a cozy blanket and drinking wine while NOT DOING A THING. These times of "spoiling of myself" are special times I continue to enjoy- but I want to make them the exception, not the rule.

Of course, being Heather, I want to make a list of how to do these things- a plan of how to accomplish feeling the happiest. But this time, I refuse.

Instead I am going to face each day, one at a time- choice by choice- determined to make the healthy choices, because they truly make me the happiest.


Lots of follow up questions for you to answer today, my friends! I want to hear your experiences and opinions.
What is your relationship with lists? Do you find that they are a motivational tool for you and what you want to accomplish? Have you ever found yourself listing out of habit? How do you suggest I go about making healthy choices? What have you used to help yourself get back into good habits that make you happy?

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