Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Marathon.

'Hey barefoot guy, need some shoes?'

If you ever want a pick me up, some motivation...or to just completely restore your faith in humanity, go to a marathon, a triathlon, an ultra. You meet the most incredible people.

Sunday, May 5th meant it was time for the Pittsburgh marathon. This meant getting up at 4am so we could get downtown before the sun made an appearance, and me taking a nap in a parking garage for two hours because Ashley doesn't particularly care to be awake at that time of day.

Last year my Darling ran the race in about three and a half hours. That was when he was hoping to run it in four hours and he took a break half way through to drink a beer. This year he decided he'd run it hard and PR (personal record). He hoped for 3:20, maybe even 3:18 if he got lucky. Now as incredible and impressive as all of that is, it's not the point I'm trying to make with this post. When I was still waiting at the finish line and 3:30 went by, then 4:00 and he still wasn't there, I was wondering what the heck happened.

His friends and I tried tracking him, but all we found was that his timing dropped off halfway through the race. Then my phone rang from a number I didn't recognize. I answered to find my Darling on the other end, saying he had some problems but only had five miles left. About thirty minutes later (and five hours into the race), we see him practically sprint across the finish line, looking completely unscathed, in a brand new pair of running shoes.

For some reason, that neither myself or his cross country friends can comprehend, my Darling decided running the marathon in his cross country shoes would be a good idea, and maybe it was...until mile thirteen. By then his feet were so messed up he had blisters on his toes. He realized he couldn't finish in those shoes, took them off and trekked on for another two miles. That's when another guy running the marathon said, 'Hey barefoot guy, need some shoes?' The kid lived close by, pulled out his cell phone and made a call. Moments later his mom met my Darling on the street with three brand new pairs of running shoes, asked "What's your size?" and handed him a pair so my Darling could finish the marathon.

These days all you have to do is turn on the news and it's pretty easy to become bitter or always expect the worst. My grandmother doesn't turn it on anymore except to watch the weather, and I don't blame her. Don't get me wrong it's good to know what's going on in the world. We shouldn't bury our heads in the sand, but it sure would be nice if there was more promotion of positivity.

What happened with the kid, the mom and the shoes? We have no idea of their phone number or where they actually live. We have no clue how to give them their shoes back. So if you know a kid named Sam who lives around mile 15 of the Pittsburgh marathon route, we owe him a pair of running shoes...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

And Then There Were Two.

The Insurance World. Holy cow, the insurance world. Six of us got hired in January to go up to Erie, PA for training. Now for a multitude of reasons there are only two of us left. Granted it is a time consuming, at times exhausting, "complex and confusing" company. Can you "appreciate that"? Oh phone scripts...

But in all seriousness it is pretty cool to help people plan their retirement giving them a road-map to follow. I've even gotten several perks and bonuses along the way including a shiny little trophy to sit on my desk for most applications written by a new agent, a couple of gas cards, two happy hours for writing annuities, and I'm not done yet folks!

In other news I actually received a tax refund this year that was more than $30. It only took until I was 27 for that to happen. I think I spent it responsibly:
  • savings
  • debt
  • bills
  • treating my Darling to sushi
  • donating to a worthy cause
  • a much needed hair cut (I'm ashamed I hadn't gotten one since November!!)
  • a pair of high heels (because I am a 27 year old girl and one can only be responsible for so long!)
Alright, I think I'm done tooting my own horn.
It's been a crazy week. What positivity has been in your life lately?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Welcome to Adulthood.

I'm reminded of a Grey's Anatomy episode in which Meredith says, "We're adults. When did that happen...and how do we make it stop?" She talks about the hardships of responsibility and growing up, but she also talks about all the great things we get to do. (I'm pretty sure I remember getting to eat as much candy as you want, tequilla, shoes and sex being under the list of things that make becoming older worth it!)

Today after a short and not so great night of sleeping, there was grocery shopping, laundry sorting, smoothie making and kitchen clean-up, all before 10 am on a Sunday. Pretty impressive as far as my Sunday's go. Taxes were later involved, yippee for 1099's and all of their fun. Not to mention the lovely local tax in PA I'm still trying to figure out.... Then there's been the paying of the bills and balancing of the checkbook, cleaning house, folding and putting away laundry... Why did I want to grow up again?

But yesterday was Saturday. My Darling and I grabbed a case of Rolling Rock, piled some snow around it inside a cooler, loaded up my boss's Avalanche with homemade cookies and some rather frightening pickled sausages and headed out to our co-worker's farm in Washington to fire shotguns. The boys took out a bunch of clays while I decided to try my hand at stationary targets. I did pretty awesome if I do say so myself. I even shot a can that someone threw in the air on the first try! The boys set out some special targets to hit with the new rifle, which was pretty impressive.

Afterwards it was time to head back to town for some good food, games, loud music and dancing. Ok, I was probably the only one dancing. (Those boys need some lessons!) However, I'm pretty sure Meredith would be proud because the only thing missing was tequilla...

Talk about a way to wind down after a very long 55+ hour for all of us! Maybe adulthood isn't so bad.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Working for the Weekend?

We're brought up to believe that if we go to school, get a degree, we'll get a career, make money, be happy. But what happens when that doesn't work? It's definitely a new era where what once worked may not anymore.

I just finished watching The Company Men and it definitely got me thinking. My Darling thought it was depressing, but in actuality it's very real. Although, I guess reality can be depressing.

Maybe if some of those CEO's took a pay cut, there would be more jobs. Maybe the rich should pay more taxes. Maybe the poor should try a little harder so the state's aren't paying so much to take care of them. It's so easy to blame others for our problems. It's the economy. It's the President. It's my jerk of a boss. It's because that teacher gave me a bad grade. My parent's didn't raise me right...etc. (Don't worry Mom I'm NOT talking about you!)

I often find myself getting very bitter if I think about these things too hard. I did everything right! I did my homework, took my tests, didn't get grounded, made the grades, went to college, had a decent GPA, graduated from a great university, got a job, went back to school, started a new career...or so I thought....five years and several jobs later I'm still wondering what the heck I'm doing!

At the end of the day who's fault is it? Of course those outside influences might be factors but are we really doing all that we can to live full, happy, ethical lives? Are we living within our means? Are we appreciative of the sacrifices that others make for us? Are we working our tails off and giving 110 percent?  Are we making time for the people who support us? Are we doing the things we enjoy? Do we need to adjust our definition of success?

Here's the thing: money is important. It is completely necessary to have a job that pays your bills and gives you a little extra, but it is just as crucial to have time for the people that love you. At the end of the day money makes life easy, but people make it all worth doing.

 It's all about balance. Do something you enjoy, but you have to find something that also pays the bills. It's OK to not know what you want to do. We are surrounded by people who are unsure everyday. People who didn't pick a good fit for them the first, second or even third time. If you don't try you'll never know, and I'm definitely talking about more than just a job when I say that.

I by no means regret my degree. If I had to do it over again, I most definitely would and I'd definitely still go to OU! ;) I know that even when I'm not doing what I went to school for the fact that I earned one in the first place helps get a foot in the door. We all have to believe that hard work pays off, but in those moments that it doesn't, if you're surrounded by friends and family, the journey is ALWAYS worth it no matter how dark and twisty it is. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Lately I've been getting a lot of spam in my blog comments. At the advice of a close friend, I don't use a Captcha. The things can be dreadfully annoying. However, I do moderate my comments, which is how I've kept the spam from reaching the public eye. Does anyone else have this problem? I've also noticed quite a bit on one of my Facebook pages. Although, on that particular page I can easily mark the comment and ban the user. I was surprised to be getting that sort of thing on a blog though.

While I'm mentioning online issues, has been a little glitchy least on my end. We don't currently have a tv, so I watch my addictive shows online with our rather large computer screen that's set up in the living room. I haven't had problems with streaming shows since it was first created, so it surprises me that I've been unable to watch episodes when technology is always greatly improving. Thoughts?

P.S. Any comments left anonymously will be considered spam.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sickly Reading.

So it is most unfortunate and completely aggravating,  but once again I am sick. Sore throat, upset stomach, hard to breath or eat or do much more than sleep. I have therefore decided to take advantage of the fact that feeling like death makes me want to do nothing but be surrounded by blankets either on the bed or the couch with a good book...or two...or three...

What's more, thanks to the lovely Nook that I received as a Christmas present, I have an entire bookstore at my fingertips! I had previously be reading "The Physick Book of Deiverance Dane" by Katherine Howe. It's light fantasy, mixed with loose historical facts in a modern day setting, witches being the topic, although it does take a while to get to that point. Personally, I thought it was rather entertaining. The main character, being a post-grad at Harvard, stumbles upon a trail to what could be the only real book of spells in history, all while cleaning out her crazy old grandma's house.There's even a teensy bit of romance, but thankfully it's not too overdone.

Once that was finished (and several naps later), I decided I ought to finish "The Retirement Miracle" by Patrick Kelly. I was actually asked to read this one for work. It's an easy read, short and to the point. Not something I would normally pick out for myself, but I'm glad I took the time to read it. Of course being for work, this was a non-fiction piece, and completely pertaining to my job. I actually already knew some of the information in the book, but it was nice to have things confirmed. (Meaning these can be very good options for people and it's not just management saying, this is our product, sell it!) There is a suggestion for people who are saving for retirement and another for those who have already done the saving. but still have concerns. The latter is one that I believe in whole-heartedly, but at only 112 pages, I'll let you discover what that is for yourself.

Then I couldn't help myself. I pulled up the "shop" tab on the Nook, shifted through their suggestions, and there it was, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. I suppose I'd never picked it up for fear it was overly religious, but there I go again judging a book by its cover. I read the description, and decided I must have it; plus $6 seemed completely doable. I have since finished it before it was even lunch time this morning. What a lovely little book. Although it's completely fiction, it'd be very nice if that's how things work out in the end. I think I need to add "Tuesday's with Morrie" by the same author to my reading list as well, although I'm not sure what I'll pick up next.

What's been on your reading list lately?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pittsburgh Nights.

You know those moments where you hear a song for the first time and you'd swear the person who wrote it is stalking you because they just described you to a tee? Every time I hear this song on the radio, I smile a little and belt out the words I know. While things have gotten quite a bit better since I moved across the country, the song still tugs on my little heart strings, so I decided it was time to look up the rest of them...

Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw
Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights I don't know anymore...
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh

This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for?
Why don't we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype
Save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked,
But here they come again to jack my style

That's alright;
I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? Mmm... Mmm...

Well, some nights I wish that this all would end
'Cause I could use some friends for a change.
And some nights I'm scared you'll forget me again
Some nights I always win, I always win...

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights I don't know... (oh, come on)

So this is it. I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?

(Come on)

No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that's all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on.
Oh, come on. Oh, come on. Oh, come on!

Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home;
Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call "love"
When I look into my nephew's eyes...
Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...
Some terrible nights... ah...

Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh

The other night you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up but we'd both agree

It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... Oh...
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... Oh... 

Some Nights - FUN

Monday, February 4, 2013

Socially Un-Challenged.

I've spent the last few weeks trying to get different social media sites updated. Don't miss out on everything that's going on! Add me at the following links:

If you love decorating your home: Wax and Wicks!
If you're a fan of my modeling: FanPage!
If you're a photographer, model, stylist or make-up artist: Join the Mayhem!
If you like what I have to say: Tweet Tweet !
If you are a fan of adorable handmade items: Homemade Crochet!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reflection and Reason.

Politics and Religion. I heard someone say once they're things you shouldn't talk about in public because you never know who you're going to offend. Very often I'm actually equally or more offended by people who hold the same opinions as me because of how they present their beliefs. I have a great respect for differing opinions when given a logical, well-thought out reason for them. Quite a few people should go take a refresher English course on argumentation or just remember what your mom taught you about arguing. I'm pretty sure "because" is not a reason and the "she has one" or "he did it first" argument never worked for me. Facebook has just been fueling the fire and I'm about to not even look at my wall because it gets me so frustrated at the lack of logic and reason.

However, I did find something rather wonderful online the other day. I am reposting this from another blog. Please take the time to read it all the way through. I promise you it's worth it.


“Homage for the Child(ren)”
Matthew 2: 1 – 12
January 6, 2013
It has been 23 days since the horror of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut and except for a prayer at the 8:40 service on the Sunday immediately following that was printed in the Norman Christian newsletter, I have said nothing about that terrible day.  In the 24/7 cycle that is the news, 23 days is an eternity; in the lives of those forever changed, it is barely the blink of an eye.  My own silence has been intentional, for both personal and theological reasons.  Personally, I was so unhinged by what is now not even the latest in an all too common occurrence of gun violence in America, that I did not trust my ability to make helpful or even coherent comments.  The grief was too great, the anger too deep, and the one letter I quickly dashed off to a state representative that night was sincere but not helpful.  The other reason for silence until today is theologically rooted.  In the biblical story of Job, you remember he lost everything—children, property, health—he was devastated.  As good friends do, they came to his side and sat with him for 7 days in complete silence.  It was the high point of his friends’ ministry to Job, because come the 8th day and they opened their mouths to talk theology, all manner of unfortunate, unhelpful, and painful comments were offered.
In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook, a number of people made a number of comments.  Without a doubt, when something horrific happens, and especially when children are involved, all of us struggle to make sense out of it.  That is what we do—we are meaning seeking people and that is good.  I do not for a second doubt the broken hearts or the good will of those who made some of the comments in the days following; I merely contend with the wisdom and the theological content of some of what was said.  Not unique to the citizens of Newtown, but said in the wake of that horrific day were comments such as now there are more twinkling stars in the heavens, or God needed another angel, or God saw fit to call them home, or your children are not really yours but only on loan to you, or at least you have other children or are young enough to have more children, or God never gives you more than you can handle*—which is problematic at several levels—not the least of which is that it is not biblical, and it also suggests that whatever happens comes from God and if you can’t handle it then there must be something lacking in your faith.  In one way, I agree with that bromide—God does not give you more than you can handle because this was not from God; this was not God’s will.  Tragedy, suffering, pain, and death perpetrated by people onto people is not the will of God.  I understand why people make comments such as these, for we all try to make sense of it; but sometimes and maybe most of the time, especially at first, the best comment is no comment except to offer our compassionate presence to any and all who suffer.  They do not need our words; they need our ears and our arms.
There comes a time of course, when silence can be interpreted as acquiescence or approval or apathy.  The author of Ecclesiastes wrote in his oft quoted poem “there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”  There were a few voices—some of them public or who have access to public outlets—who less than 24 hours after the horror, began to speak in ways that were not only deeply disturbing but theologically shortsighted.  While perhaps these who so commented were trying to make meaning of it all, it felt as if there were a few who in the guise of theology were actually making political commentary by suggesting the absence of prayer in public school was related to the cause of the massacre.  To be sure, only God can see into the human heart and its intensions, but regardless of the motivation, a few spoke politically at a time when it was best to keep silence, and in so speaking delivered what is not only constitutionally untenable but theologically abhorrent.  As indefensible as this was, speaking politically under the guise of theology is not even what is most troubling.
In a town like Newtown, and now all across America, the variety of religious expression is more diverse than ever.  To legislate and mandate prayer in the public school would require that a decision be made by someone as to the nature of that prayer—a generic Protestant prayer, a Catholic prayer, an Eastern orthodox prayer, a Jewish prayer, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist.  Which prayer, who leads?  Teachers and principals have more than enough to do; are they now to become theologians?  To be sure, so many in the teaching field are nurturing and pastoral, yet not to be pastors.  But to add that onto teachers is not even what is most troubling.
One reaction to horrifying events is to want to return to some era gone by when whatever is happening now was not happening then.  That is understandable.  To those who yearn for that era of prayer in public schools, it is important to remember that was the era of cruel and abiding segregation where the privileged prayed and prospered in well-appointed schools while the poor prayed but suffered in substandard schools.  There is a big difference between piety and justice.  But to yearn for a by-gone era of myopic comfort is not even what is most troubling.
To suggest that God can be legislated into or out of any place is an affront to all who believe that God needs no intermediary nor do we, but that a direct relationship with God is available to any who would seek God.  This can be done anytime, anywhere; and it is human arrogance to think that God is some kind of object who can be captured in stone on the city square or excised out of the conscience of the individual.  But even this is not what is most troubling.
To suggest that God was not somehow present in the Sandy Hook school is to miss the theological truth that God is present wherever there is hurt or suffering; and that in acts of courage and compassion God is deeply present.  That morning, in the face of maniacal carnage, there were teachers who shielded children, protected children, and confronted the 20 year old perpetrator of this horror.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  God was profoundly, courageously, and sacrificially in that school that day in ways that few if any of us can imagine; and I am sick and tired of hearing about the absence of God in public schools.  I don’t know about salaries in the Newtown public schools, but if you teach in Oklahoma, try feeding a family of four on a teacher’s salary while working 12 to 14 hour days.  Our teachers live sacrificially, courageously, compassionately.  If you want to see God in the public schools, then look into the face of teachers.
In an effort to address what is becoming an all too frequent occurrence in our culture, some have suggested and will suggest that armed officers be placed in every school, which is an absurdist move as it is cost prohibitive; and a few have called for arming teachers which would be laughable except that such legislation may be proposed.  It is hard not to recall what William Sloan Coffin once said, that we are more and more resembling the dinosaur—heavily armored and very small brains.  The dinosaur became extinct; they had no choice.  But we do.
When it comes to dealing with the variety of causes for this scourge in our culture, some have asked why God lets this kind of thing happen.  I feel quite certain God will ask of us, “Why do you let this happen?”  If the death of 6 and 7 year old children does not move us to engage in national soul-searching, then what has become of our humanity?  It would be easy to render the 20 year old a monster and in so doing exonerate ourselves from any connection to the larger issues that create this increasingly common phenomenon.  What he did was unspeakable—I don’t even know what words to use; but there are ways to consider and words to say as we think about a culture which can only blindly now refer to these as isolated events.  Ours is a culture of entertainment in which killing has become sport and I can’t help but wonder if the video game industry and movie industry and television industry are somehow desensitizing our sense of humanity so much so that the other is only an object and not a God-created human being.  Ours is a culture of self-absorption where the message is life’s goal is self-satisfaction in which the world exists to gratify me and individual rights have become the golden calf around which we are to dance.  Ours is a culture of vengeance, where from the comic book super hero to the sports icon, from the politician to the media industry, what is glorified is getting even, getting back, annihilating the other.  Ours is a culture of violence, fueled by the myth of redemptive violence, in which the statistics of gun violence in this culture are astounding; where thousands more are killed by guns each year than were killed on 9/11.  In response to 9/11 we have spent trillions of dollars; in response to gun violence in America we have done nothing.  Ours is a culture where it is much easier to get a gun than it is to get a counselor.  Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  In America, we are doing both; we are both living and dying by the sword.
To discuss guns in the American culture is to consider the second amendment; and it is an important consideration.  Often forgotten in the discussion is that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is set in the context of a well-regulated militia.  But even if you fail to see the need of a well-regulated militia as constitutionally established, the justification for assault weapons and rapid-firing clips which make it capable to kill effectively, quickly, and thoroughly is repulsive.  The second amendment is not undermined by the compassionate, courageous, and reasonable limitation of weaponry like this, and the argument that such limitation is a slippery slope jeopardizing all gun ownership is a manipulative ploy meant to silence reasonable discussion;  and our children are dying because reasonable minds have been portrayed as unpatriotic and reasonable voices have been silenced.
You will note that no mention has been made of the magi.  This story from Matthew’s gospel has been, for me, the playful part of the Christmas story, as I have tended to romanticize the journey of the magi even as the story makes a deep theological proclamation that this child born in Bethlehem is not the provincial property of one religious group, but is for the entire world.  In the last 23 days, I’m seeing this story differently—that these wise, intelligent if not perhaps star-struck yet hopeful adults are envisioning a different way of living and being and as an expression of that hope, pay homage not to all those who hold conventional power, but to a little child.  While the status quo of imperial power as embodied by Herod ruthlessly disregards the children, these magi pay homage to the child and then return to their homes by another way.
Does the birth we have just celebrated and to which we pay homage make a difference in our lives and in this world?  Is this one, born a child and yet a king, the prince of peace, one who can shape and reshape another way?  To be sure this is a personal question, but I have seen now as never before what T.S. Eliot meant when he wrote of the magi that after paying homage to the Christ, “we returned to our places, these kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation.”  At the very least, I pray to God we are no longer comfortable in the old dispensation—for the sake of the Christ child, for the sake of all the children, I pray we are no longer comfortable in the old dispensation and that like the magi we will return by another way.
*Several of these comments listed in this paragraph were brought to my attention by Dr. Roger Paynter of the First Baptist Church of  Austin.

***Rev. David Spain of First Christian Church of Norman gave this sermon on January 6***

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Learned Lessons and the Future.

Things I learned in 2012:
  • When I have children I will teach them certain things regardless of gender. These include habits of common courtesy, how to cook, clean, and do laundry. It will make them grow into thoughtful, well-rounded adults and while it will not guarantee a successful relationship, it'll sure help cruise over some of those speed bumps!
  • Searching for a job is a full time job. I've done it twice during the last year! It requires a lot of time, patience and perseverance.
  • While we are definitely more exposed to sex, violence and profanity in the media than people were even 10 years ago, some things are edited much more creatively. For example Nazareth's song Hair of the Dog is still widely played on the radio with the unedited lyrics, "Now you're messin' with a son of a bitch." While Bruno Mars isn't allowed to say "you're sex takes me to paradise" in his most recent hit "Locked Out of Heaven." I really don't understand this, seeing as how I'd probably have gotten my mouth washed out with soap if I said "son of a bitch" growing up, but the word "sex," not so much a problem....(I could seriously write an entire blog entry on this topic alone.)
  • Oklahoma isn't so bad, not that I ever truly thought it was, and I miss it dearly.
Goals for 2013 or New Year's resolutions:
Last year I wanted to train for a marathon and send out birthday cards on time to my closest friends and family. I was able to get through half my training before injury and I quickly collected birthday dates and became better in my correspondence. This year I'd like to improve on these things further.
  • Hit the gym or do an at-home work out three times a week. Let's face it, someone could train for a race by only working out once a week. They might have a hard time or not have a spectacular finish, but it would be doable.  I want to improve overall physical and emotional health
  • Become more active on social media sites. A lot of my favorite goals and hobbies are either influenced or excel from the information that can be obtained on these sites. I enjoy modeling, journaling, and keeping in touch with friends. Expect to see a weekly blog *either on Sunday or Monday* and a lot more activity on twitter, as well as modeling pages!
  • I'm stealing this from the front of my stationary cards, "Every single day, do something that makes your heart sing." - Marcia Wieder
  • No matter where I am, see more sites, museums, and new restaurants. 
What are some of the lessons you learned in 2012? Do you have resolutions for 2013?