Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Personal Philosophy

** Another blog post suggestion - this time - my personal philosophy

When I asked for suggestions, who knew you guys were going to test me! NOW I have been asked to contribute my personal philosophy. I guess I would probably say, start reading my blog posts (beginning from August of 09.)

But since that is not necessarily what you want - let's see if I can give you the abbreviated version.

Before I begin, I want to thank Robby Watson, Dawn Ray and Nicole Smith for giving me so many amazing topics!

Here is the final one - my Personal Philosophy.

Since I am a product of my environment, I thought I would share with you where I get my inspiration and words "I wish I wrote."

For one - Let's read the best quotes in the world for the most awesome writers!

I adore Lao Tzu:
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”

Confucious:
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. "


"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."



"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. " ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman


"Given enough coffee, I could rule the world." ~Author Unknown

"Don't be afraid of death, Winnie. Be afraid of the unlived life." - Angus Tuck from "Tuck Everlasting."

Now.. what about some lyrical inspiration? Of course I picked 15 videos.. I am sure I could think of dozens more.. however, I don't want to completely bore you.

I like the basic underlying message in these songs:































Needs Versus Wants

I often confuse my needs for my wants. Typically do not make the right decision. Instant gratification reigns supreme in my world.

If I take a moment to make a list of needs, they are simple and to the point:

1. Sleep
2. Food
3. Shelter
4. Access to affordable health care
5. A little love to keep my spirit alive

But when I make my list of "needs" (you know the list - how your grocery store list turns into a list for those new pair of shoes.. and say.. that Kindle I have been eyeballing.)

It turns into a lot of little things. Things that will not last forever, nor will help me sleep better, eat well, stay safe from the storms, keep me healthy and love me..

How do we retrain our brains to be satisfied with our basic needs versus our "wants?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Music really is the spice of life!

I am sure my dear friend Nicole probably thinks I have forgotten about her post suggestion - but I have not!
Here idea was to describe each decade of my life with a song. Since some of our decades are extreme - and I think I change so much every 5 years or so - I am going to take it there - A song to describe every FIVE years. LOL

I have to admit - this is one of the HARDEST suggestions, but a fun one! I dare you to try the same.
Here is what I am going to do - I will state the age range - listen/watch the video - then hear why I thought that made the most sense. Clearly if I had more time, I would come up with a better idea - but for now.. let's go with it!

Up to 5 -



So I picked - Wonderful World - because I remember how much I LOVED life and felt safe, and loved and everything was good in my little world! My memories include bright colors, happy days and good times!

5 - 10 -



So sure.. I think this is fairly self explanatory. Trust me  - when it came to grades, they had to be As. When it came to Ballet - I had to be the best... when it came to ... oh... you get it. ;-)

10 - 15 -



Who didn't go through that awkward age - that Puberty - not so pretty stage? This would be mine. I think I put too much pressure on myself, and from trying to be "perfect."

15 - 20


Somehow.. someway - I found my niche - with friends, with boys, in ballet, in theater.. with my plans to work in tv.. at college.. oh yeah. My "glory" days! ;-)


20 - 25



Went through that typical "chill phase" of the college years. Sort of figuring yourself out.


25 - 30



Finally embracing my imperfections and kicking butt at what I choose to do well in.

30- 35



Transitions.... perfectly explained.

35 - Now



Heck - once you get past the weirdness of the video - it actually makes a lot of sense. Just classic embracing the good and bad... accepting.. moving forward... having hope.. etc.

Who knows what the future holds!

Of course I think the perfect song to wrap it all up with is the following... words I wish I wrote!

Well.. Hey there!

I had to get up really early this morning. When I say early, I mean 5amish. For me, that is early. I know I have not really spoken about it, but I am having some shoulder/shoulder blade issues. Lots of burning, tingling, numbness.. shooting pains, etc. Last week I finally broke down and called my Internal Medicine doc.

I went to her and she said her best guess was something with the muscles. (Uh.. really?) But to be sure, I should see an Orthopedic Specialist. Okay... consider it done. She prescribed some muscle relaxers (which to me were about as helpful as Tylenol PM) and referred me to UAB Highlands.

I got a call to go to see a Dr. Crowther at 7am. Xray and appointment. So - after my super awkward positioned Xray, I was sent to sit in the little room in one of those hospital gowns. Always awkward with your back showing.. but really no big deal, since I got to keep my pants on.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door and enters.. Marshall. Seriously. Wait.. you don't know who Marshall is. Marshall is one of the youth leaders at my church. I thought to myself, "Duh.. Nicole - Dr. CROWTHER."

Of course he was confused. He looked at my chart and saw my first name (which btw is NOT Nicole) and said, "Wait a minute..."

I said hi and explained I go by my middle name. We laughed and thankfully he helped me. Was awkward to be discussing my ailments with a guy friend.. and even more awkward for him to have my weight written right in front of him. hahahaha..

But at the end of the day - I have tendonitis. Inflamed muscles.. you know.. good old fashioned getting older and falling apart. I get the joy of going to Physical Therapy for 4 weeks.

Now on to bigger more important things - are you watching Dancing with the Stars? Okay, is it just me or are the judges going a little harsh on the dancers this year. Very suspect.

Outside of meeting, awkward meetings, and muscle relaxers - what's new in your world?

Have you ever had the awkward "Hello" moment?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gloomy Sunday

Typically, a gloomy Sunday is just what the doctor ordered. A reason to stay in my pajamas, to sip coffee, and to lazily doze off from time to time. But instead of feeling super relaxed, I have a desire to get up and get going.

In yesterday's post - I mentioned I did not feel like going to Zumba. But I did - and sooo glad I did.  It did make a huge difference in how I felt the rest of the day. I also chose to hold myself accountable to the changes I have slowly been making in my life. Some of you may have read the post about my new journey - Path to Wellness. I am so serious about making some serious changes both mentally, physically and spiritually. This whole path I have been on, trying this - testing that, dropping that, adding this - is just not enough.

What started this? The freaking pain in my shoulders. I noticed, during an argument the other day, the shooting pain got worse, and I could hardly lift my arm. I think the stress is getting pretty chronic, and that is something I will not stand for.

So I went to the doctor, and explained my symptoms. I told her it could be stress, but I was not sure. She has referred me to an Orthopedic Doc for xrays on Tuesday morning, and she gave me muscle relaxers. Here's the thing - the muscle relaxers only knock me out. The tension is still there. Plus - I have NO desire to be one of THOSE people who depend on drugs for pain relief.

That's why I pushed through Zumba, and decided to be very careful of my food intake. I see food as medicine/fuel, and I want to eat things that may have anti-inflammatory properties. I just made that official committment, and put it all out there.

The other day, one of my coworkers expressed how it was so important for my spirit to have goals to accomplish. I could not agree more. I need to set some goals for my mind, body and spirit. For my mind - I have found something to study and I am SUPER excited about it. Yes, it is a little "school" time, if you will. I will reveal all in good time. I want to make sure this is what I would like to try out on the side.

As for the body - I need to up my game. I was playing around in my old Weight Watchers books the other day, and I read that my Zumba class (for example) will add 11 points to my day. WOW. That's quite a work out. I need to see how I can do that more often, through out the week. So there in lies a little goal for me - up the amount of aerobic activity throughout the week. As for my spirit - that's the hardest and easiest one all rolled into one. I will tackle that another day.

Goals are super important. What goals have you set for yourself recently?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I guess I am a joiner

Soooooooooooo....

I decided to finally hold myself accountable publicly when it comes to my health and wellness.
You guys know I have been trying so many different things over the past year and a half. I have uncovered so many great tips/tricks and FINALLY have a plan.

I have put off many, MANY things - but I finally got a grip - and I have to admit, felt inspired by a few of my blogmates. Yes, I have hopped on the band wagon and I have started a second "Wellness Blog." I would love for those who want to go on this journey with me to follow. If not, no worries.

Destination: Unknown is the mother ship, and THIS is where the deep thoughts go. But I wanted to have a place to share the information I have gained over the year or so.

If you would like to check it out - head over to - http://lotuspathtowellness.blogspot.com/.

So.. yes, I am a follower. EEk.

PS - Super thanks and inspiration to Miss Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness and to Ashley at Flashes of Brilliance for taking that lifestyle change step! :-)

Freaky Friday

Remember the movie Freaky Friday? It was always one of my favorites. I have seen the super old one, and the more current one with Lindsey Lohan.

One of the other suggested blog posts came from Dawn (thanks!) and she posed a good question - If you were to wake up tomorrow as someone else, who would you be?

Great question, and THAT is what made me think of the movie Freaky Friday. The premise of this movie is the daughter and mother go to sleep, and wake up in each other's body. They have to make it through one crazy day living the other's life.

Who would I end up becoming? Then I just thought.. maybe I am myself - but living the other life. You know the one, the one where you made a totally different set of choices and your life looks completely different.

Let's pretend - I have children, and a husband that is a blue collar worker... and we live in a motor home.

How DIFFERENT would my life be then?

Or.. I wake up and I am royalty...

Or I am famous - and the paparazzi are everywhere.

Clearly this task was almost too daunting.. and my creative juices just aren't cooking like I had hoped they would.

But we all get the picture. Anything and everything is possible. One decision could take you down a completely different path.

For one - I was a "good girl" in high school. You know what that means. I never, ever indulged in any "activities - sexual or drug related" that would tarnish my future. But what if I did? I had plenty of opportunities to do both - but chose (and to sound completely cliche) chose to just Say No. Let's say I picked up a cigarette. More than likely I would have been hooked. Or decided to sleep with my "bad boy" boyfriend in the 10th grade. Would I have a kid? What if I decided to not go away to college? Would I have followed suit of most of my friends (that chose the non-college route) and began working at GEICO? (Macon is one of the cities for it.)

What if I had stayed working TV - I bet I would live somewhere in the Northeast, producing some newscast. Who knows - maybe I would be working for the Network by now. Each of my old tv friends (that chose to stay in) are in super big markets and doing really, REALLY well.

The What ifs will kill you. Waking up as a different person.. I just can't imagine it.

What about you? Who would you be if you woke up as a different person?

Good challenge, Dawn. WOW.

Dog Days Are Over

One of my absolute favorite songs of all time..
It is just the type of day that I needed to play it..



Lyrics:

"Dog Days Are Over"




Happiness hit her like a train on a track

Coming towards her stuck still no turning back

She hid around corners and she hid under beds

She killed it with kisses and from it she fled

With every bubble she sank with her drink

And washed it away down the kitchen sink



The dog days are over

The dog days are done

The horses are coming

So you better run



Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father

Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers

Leave all your love and your longing behind

You can't carry it with you if you want to survive



The dog days are over

The dog days are done

Can you hear the horses?

'Cause here they come



And I never wanted anything from you

Except everything you had and what was left after that too, oh

Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back

Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that



The dog days are over

The dog days are done

Can you hear the horses?

'Cause here they come



Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father

Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers

Leave all your love and your longing behind

You can't carry it with you if you want to survive



The dog days are over

The dog days are done

Can you hear the horses?

'Cause here they come



The dog days are over

The dog days are done

The horses are coming

So you better run


















































































Saturday Morning Perspective

No doubt it has been a long week.

Between some of the dynamics at work, and the dynamics at home - it was just too much. My shoulders are completely clinched and causing back spasms. I went to the doctor and have spent the past few nights with a nice little muscle relaxer.

Heading to bed at 8:30 - 9pm and sleeping soundly until dawn. It's amazing how exhausted I am.

I am in desperate need of a real vacation - to just sleep late, lay around and read and eat really good food. Without checking email, without answering questions, without all of the fires I have to put out at work.

The post I wrote yesterday came after a little argument. It was basically the straw that broke the camel's back. Following the post - I made some coconut shrimp, took a muscle relaxer and crashed.  I woke up and I felt a lot better. A little groggy - but good.

Today is Zumba day, and though I think it will make me feel 500 times better, I just want to lay low. It is supposed to storm - and I could not be happier. Let's wash the yuck of the week away.

Right now, I am sitting with a heating pad on my back, trying to stop these odd muscle spasms (which I will see an orthopedic specialist next week.) I bought myself a chic-fil-a chicken biscuit and diet coke, and I am watching the Parent Trap (the newest one with Lindsey Lohan.) I figure ABC Family is about as complicated as I need to make things today.

I am fine. I will be fine. I just hit an emotional breaking point yesterday. Needed to purge and I did.

Coming soon - a post suggestion about waking up as someone else! Dawn gave me a hard assignment, and I need to think on this one for a while!! I love a good challenge.

So the question I pose to you - how do you decompress and destress after a hard week?

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Prayer

Dear God,

I am having a really hard week. Hard month. Hard year.. heck - a hard 10 years.

I get up every morning, and I really, really try to be the best me I can be. I try to be authentic, which unfortunately may not be what another person wants.

Over a decade ago, you tested me with the cancerous cells. I hung in there and I did everything I thought was right.. and had to go it alone. I was married to an absentee husband and ended up tackling some of the biggest decisions of my life without so much as a real support system.

I took away my right to ever have children, in order to save my own life. I have since seen several family members die - by not catching that disease early enough. All from the same source.

I then hung on to a marriage that was far from perfect. I thought it was the right thing to do. I tried my best to make a happy life for myself. I surrounded myself with beautiful things, adorable animals, and interesting exchange students.

I moved to Alabama - just to save a marriage, that eventually fell apart.

I met a man that I thought would answer my prayers for kindness and love. Just something to call my own.

I found a job that I thought would be everything I was looking for - fighting for a cause I believed in, and doing what I do best.

But God - I feel like I am failing.. again. I get so tired of trying to be strong. I don't have that something or someone I can depend on and trust 24/7. All I have is you - what feels like a quiet observer.

I know you will not let me fail, and I know that everything happens according to plan...

But I need a break.

I just think I have been through enough for a while.

I just want to experience a bit of joy.

I have to admit - it's all gone. Any joy I find is by way of a few fun conversations with a few friends that go off to their happy lives and safe havens.

I sit here - alone. Alone in ways I cannot describe.

I just need a break. A way to recover my spirit and find some sort of joy in the 2nd quarter of life.

Please bless my family and friends... continue to protect them and guide them according to your will.

Help me find my purpose, and help me find a safe place to rest my heart.

~ N

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rockin' the Psyche

One of the latest "post" requests comes from my friend Dawn. She asked me to write about films that have left an incredible mark on my life.

Wow. That's tough.

But then again, is it?

I began to think of all of my "favorite" films over the years, and I realized - if I marked them a "favorite" - there has to be a reason why. So.. without further rambling.. here are the films that have made a lasting impression on me:

1. Cinderella. For years and years I would say that Cinderalla was my favorite movie. Maybe it was her blond hair (that as a kid I wish I had) or maybe it was the ballgown or the crystal slipper... in the end, it was all about getting the guy and over coming the odds. I got that theme.. even at a young age. Cinderella made me think anything was possible if you were a good girl.


2. In the 5th grade I saw the movie Staying Alive with John Travolta, and it quickly became a favorite for me. My mom and I saw it several times at the movie theater. At the time, my dream was to be a dancer, and oh lord - did I believe it was possible after watching this movie.


3. By the time I got to middle school, another movie came out - and this one I saw several times at the theater. It was Lost Boys. My love of vampires and boys with big hair came to fruition. I think the danger, the "bad a$$" attitudes, and the idea that vampires could really exist sort of fascinated me. I envied Jamie Gertz's role in the movie.



4. In high school, I watch the Breakfast Club over and over and over. I probably know every single line. I loved how it tackled the whole high school clique thing.. b/c yes, it was real.



5. By my freshman year in college, I was a HUGE Anne Rice fan - and the Interview with a Vampire came out. Clearly, my literary hero was brought to life on the big screen ... and that was exciting.


6. When I graduated from college and started working in TV, another movie came out that I thought was hilarious and I watched probably half a dozen times - it was called Eurotrip.



7. Another great movie came out (mid 90s) during a time I just wanted to run away to another country, it was called French Kiss and made me want to leave America even more!



8. Later, I saw a movie that sealed the deal with my belief in soul mates - it is called - Only You.


9. Right before I got divorced, I saw this movie. I have to admit - it sort of inspired me to move forward in my life.



10. Finally - while flying to Egypt, I read "Eat Pray Love" - and totally connected with the main character. What she was going through sort of mimiced what I was dealing with at the time..

So now.. Eat, Pray Love.


Those are my top 10. What about you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The friend who got away...

A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out. ~Grace Pulpit


Sometimes I miss my best friend. You remember the one, right? Your first little best friend? The one who you told all of your childhood secrets to, and played barbies with.

My best friend has long since left my life. A long, long time ago.

My first little best friend was named Dedra. Dedra and I attended Union Elementary School in Macon, Georgia.  We actually met at Brownie's, not in school. She and I were in different homeroom classes, and back then - your teacher was your one teacher. Kids did not start changing classrooms until the 4th grade.

Dedra, "Dee" for short, had blond hair and big green eyes. She was skinny as a rail and had a really big overbite. Throughout the years we were always neighbors. Our families lived in Riverbend Apartments, then both families ended up moving to a neighborhood called Crystal Lake.

She and I were inseparable from 1st - 6th grade. A true little best friend. We played Barbie's together, rode bikes, played the game of "Life," and dreamed about what Middle School was like and wondered who our first boyfriend's would be. Typically if one of us had a crush, the other was sure to have the same crush. Because that was what best friend's did.

We would borrow each other's clothes, and it always seemed Dee had better clothes than me. She even had the better Barbie - Jordash Barbie. But while she sported the best clothes, best barbies, and even the Barbie Dream House - I always had the best records, the best books, and honestly - the best experiences.

See, Dee was the daughter of a single mom (most of the time.) Her mom remarried several times through out of childhood. Her older sister basically raised her and her little brother. Her mom worked all the time. My mom was a stay at home mom, and my parents made sure I had plenty of afterschool activities. I took ballet, and theater classes, and writing workshops and had my Girl Scout Meetings and theater camps and recitals. Dee had Girl Scouts... and me.

I would run off to Ballet class and come back and try to teach her all of my dances. She was actually pretty good at tap. After a few summers of tennis lessons at camp, I came back and taught Dee how to play front and backhand. She would often run lines with me - as I was trying to memorize my latest part in community theater.

She loved Huey Lewis and the News, and I was a BIG Duran Duran fan. We would listen to our records all the time and sing until our throats were scratchy. Dee got really lucky in the 6th grade and her parents got her a boom box.You remember the kind? The big silver ones, with a handle and big speakers. We would take a walk around Crystal Lake at night and blare Debarge's "Rhythm of the Night" really loud. We were in our own little protective bubbles and life was grand.

That last summer before the 7th grade we made a promise to always be best friends. We had come this far - and could not imagine life without the other. She and I both started middle school, and due to testing scores -we were placed in different clusters. With different clusters came the realization we would have to make new friends. Ironically enough, I met a red haired girl named Wendy, a brown haired girl named Jill and a blond named Tara. We ended up calling ourselves the fabulous four. Dee, on the other hand, met Wendy's best friend from childhood - Jennifer - and they became good friends. It was almost as if we switched best friends.

Still, after school, Dee and I would hang out and share stories about our new circles. We were able to keep it together in the 7th grade.

By 8th grade - my friendship circle expanded even more. I became really close to a girl named Bridgett and another named Kandis. Dee stuck to what she knew best, some of the girls from our neighborhood. I began to gravitate toward the more extroverted girls, while Dee stayed with the shy crowd. I got really caught up in theater and dance, and suddenly I did not have as much time for my dear little friend.

High school brought us closer together again. However, she was not a big fan of some of my friends. My friend Bridgett and I became very close. To know Bridgett was to know a modern day drama queen. Very beautiful girl, and yes - the boys flocked to her like a moth to the flame. I suddenly was gravitating to a more "social" group of friends, and dear little Dee, kept true to her identity and remained the same.

As the years went on - the separation became more and more clearer. We still called each other best friends, and we still hung out "after" school, but less and less. My friends were one thing and her friends were another.

The last real division for us happened our 12th grade year. We had homeroom together, and for that I was thrilled. We made a point to sit near one another and we would basically catch up in those 30 minutes - then disappear from each other's lives until the next morning.

As the year was drawing to a close.. I remember us talking about our futures. I had applied to some universities and had recently picked the one I was planning to go to. Dee, on the other hand, met a boy and saw her ticket out of her parent's home. She was going to get married.

Needless to say, I was shocked. I could not imagine this. After all of the years of dreams of big careers and amazing futures - she was taking a different path. I think the nail that drove that coffin shut was about two weeks before graduation I asked Dee if we could spend some time together before graduation and her wedding. I told her I was afraid I would never see her again. She was completely offended. She did not know why I said such a thing.

Two weeks after graduation, I attended her wedding. She was 18 years old. That summer, I have no idea where she ended up going. True to form - I worked that summer, did some community theater and ran off to college.  The year was 1991.

I did not hear from Dee until 2001. I had gotten her number from her mother. I ran into her one trip home at an Olive Garden. I rang her - and she insisted I come and visit.

At this point, I had graduated from college and was working in television. I drove the almost 4 hours to her home in south Georgia. She and her husband had 2 children and had recently purchased a manufactured home. She was very proud of her home and kids. She was a stay at home mom, her husband worked construction.

We sat up for hours talking and laughing. I brought all of my old photo albums with me and we went through every picture. She caught me up on her life also.

I left that Sunday - and have not spoken to her since. We did reconnect on FB and only chatted for about 5 minutes.

Times have changed. She has changed.. or maybe, she did not. Maybe it was me that changed.. and she will always remain.. my oldest best friend. Though we have nothing in common anymore - and the silence is almost deafening... it is a reminder of the risk of relationships. Either you evolve together, or your season has passed.

There is a Nigerian proverb that says, "Hold a true friend with both hands."

I am afraid I let go - searching for greener pastures.

One Million Dollars

**This is another post suggestion from a follower

The question I was asked was- What would you do with One Million Dollars?

Clearly, the answer is - Spend it. ;-)

But on what?

In this day and age, one million dollars is not a whole lot of money. Maybe you think so - but when I began to think of the things I would buy, it seemed to be like pocket change. For one - let's just take Birmingham for example, the average home (decent.. and I am NOT talking mansion) runs over $500k. Heck the teeny, tiny "garden homes" can run over 200K while a "condo" can go as high as the sky.

So for me.. the money would go FAST.

To truly break down to where I am in my life, here is what I would do:

1. Pay off all of my debt. (which honestly is not so much.) -
2. Buy a new car. I would really like a convertible jag.
3. Sell a lot of my furniture and buy some new items.
4. New clothes.
5. I would invest a little.
6. I would travel for at least a year or so.
7. Give to my favorite charities.
8. Give a little to my family.
9. Finally - I would open my own business.. something small. I have no idea in what!

Perhaps there would be a little left over for a new home.. though, technically - it would take over half.

There you have it - what I would do with One Million dollars.

**Many thanks to Robby Watson, Dawn Ray, and Nicole Smith for suggesting these fabulous post topics. I have a few more to tackle! If you have a suggestion - just leave it in the comment section - or go to the Destination Unknown FB fan page and leave a comment on the wall.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Strong Women

"Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece." ~Author Unknown


While recently visiting my family in Georgia, I was watching my niece very closely. It blows my mind that someone that came by way of my sister has so many attributes that I carry. I look into her eyes and see my eyes. Her mannerisms.. everything.. are so similar to mine. She is head-strong, brave, outspoken.. and she is only 4.

My mom reminds me often that I was the same exact way. An endless fount of energy. I see a strong girl... a future strong woman.

Most of my closest friends are super strong women. Sure - we are flawed. Sure, we feel pain and show our emotions from time to time. To me - that is strength.
When I watch a movie, or listen to a song, or read a book - I gravitate to the strong characters. I want to be like them.

Hence the whole - Wonder Woman obsession. If you remember - I had my 38th Birthday Party as a Wonder Woman theme.

Wonder Woman is an Amazon (based on the Amazons of Greek mythology) and was created by Marston, an American, as a "distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men." Her powers include superhuman strength, flight, super-speed, super-stamina, and super-agility. She is highly proficient in hand-to-hand combat and in the art of tactical warfare. She also possesses an animal-like cunning and a natural rapport with animals, which has in the past been presented as an actual ability to communicate with the animal kingdom. She uses her Lasso of Truth, which forces those bound by it to tell the truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, a tiara which serves as a projectile, and an invisible airplane.






Created during World War II, the character was initially depicted fighting the Axis military forces, as well as an assortment of supervillains. In later decades, some writers maintained the World War II setting, with many of its themes and story arcs, while others updated the series to reflect the present day. Wonder Woman has also regularly appeared in comic books featuring the superhero teams Justice Society (from 1941) and Justice League (from 1960). Arguably the most popular and iconic female superhero in comics, Wonder Woman is also considered a feminist icon, and she is regarded as extremely physically attractive even by the standards of the superheroine. She was named the twentieth greatest comic book character by Empire magazine.

What about real Super Women? What songs/books/movies inspire you? I have a few - and I would like to share them with you.

When these various songs came out - I was hooked. I still love them.. and I even have a "Wonder Woman" playlist that I listen to in my car in the mornings. Here are a few songs to inspire the "Wonder Women" out there! Just remember to actually listen to the lyrics. Don't get caught up in the visual!































Hope you found some inspiration! These songs capture how I might view life!

Passions

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. "

One of my blog followers suggested I write about what I am most passionate about.

Ha! One of my FAVORITE subjects.

Several years ago, let's say 2002, I was browsing the shelves of a metaphysical shop in Macon, Georgia called Harmonious Balance.

My Italian exchange student, Chiara, was with me. She was preparing to go home soon, and this was our last little day out together. I came across a little basket of stones. Each tiny stone (about the size of your fingertip) had a word on it. The first one I pulled out read, "Passion." I grabbed it and immediately purchased it.

As we were walking out the door, I pulled Chiara aside and said, "I have something for you. It is so important. I want you to take this stone and keep it with you always. It says Passion - and at the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters."

It's true.

I think if the passion is gone - what is the point?

Maybe I think this way because I am a creative/tortured soul type. Maybe because most writers are a bit on the "emotional" side. Or maybe, I get it. Passion to me = Life well lived.

But that is not the point of my follower wanted me to write about. She wanted me to discuss WHAT am I passionate about.

Well..  let's see if I can take a crack at it:

1. God. Of yes - don't be fooled. Underneath the snide remarks and the profanity from time to time - I am a spiritual person. I get most of my INSPIRATION from reading about God and his love for the world. So - my spirituality makes me passionate.

2. Original thought. I am completely inspired when I surround myself with people who have the ability to think deeply. I even view reading books from "way back when" is an excellent way to get into the mind of the most brilliant people who have ever walked the earth.

3. Culture. I think being exposed to other nationalities, personalities, art form, language, foods, music, etc. is one of the single most important things a person can do in their life. You learn so much about your perception of reality.

4. Issues I am passionate about: Human Trafficking, Human rights, Animal Rights, Arts education.

5. Finally - when it comes to love - Passion must rule.

What about you? What gets your heart pumping and your soul filled?

Celebrity Crushes

One of my favorite bloggers, Cassandra at Cassagram, has a weekly post that feature her "Boyfriend of the Week." She'll give you background on the star and posts some excellent pics.

In the spirit of celebrity crushes... I thought I would update my current celebrity crushes. I guess from a visual aspect, you can sort of see my "type." It's fun - why not?


This is Adam Levine. My super huge crush came from the video - Makes Me Wonder. I always loved Maroon 5 - but this video made me have a little crush on Adam. Luckily he is not so young - he is in his 30s - born in the 78 and is from Los Angeles (literally.)  Turns out 1/2 of his family is Jewish and the other half is Protestant. Another factoid - he is a really good basket ball player! Here is a sneak peak into the moment of crush for me -



This is Colin Firth. I have always appreciated Colin's acting ability. But I have to admit - it was not until Love Actually did I have a crush on him. Sure, he was adorable in Bridgett Jone's Diary - but it was Love Actually that took my heart. He is amazingly talented and there is something very "smart" and "adorable" about his persona. He is a little bit older - born in 1960. Yep.. he is heading over that hill.. but looks beautiful doing it. Apparently, his parents were scholars in theology and history and he grew up in Hampshire, England. Here is a sneak peak at what made me love Colin:


Enrique Iglesias

Ooh la la.. Now we are entering my super faves.
Wait.. I am distracted.. let's put him in some clothes.
Okay.. that's better. What is there NOT to like about this beautiful man? He is actually just 2 years younger than me (born in 75) and is from Madrid Spain. His daddy is the famous Julio Iglesias.. Sooo.. just how hot is Enrique..

Let me share:



But honestly.. he is cute and playful too.. check it out:



Eric Bana - remember him? I think the moment I fell in love with this guy was when he played Hector in Troy. He is just a few years older than me - he was born in 68 and is from Australia. He is a really great actor.. and beautiful to watch!



Adorable Jake Gyllanhaal. At first (in his eary days) - I did not get it.. then.. he got a little older and I was hooked. Probably the movie Jarhead did it for me. Jake is one year older than my husband (born in 80) and is the brother of Maggie Gyllanhaal. He was born in Los Angeles and is Jewish. Here is a peak at the role that made me adore him. (PS - He is a GREAT actor.. and adorable.)


Jared Leto...

Ahhh.. be still my beating heart. A tortured soul.. piercing blue eyes... amazing singing voice.. incredible acting ability. Personally... I think I will make him my celebrity soul mate. lol


Jared was born in Louisiana and is two years older than I. Two pieces of work I will share - my favorite video of his band and the movie that just shook me to the core starring him!




Jude Law.. is definitely a long time celebrity crush. Sure - he is not the typical look I go for (meaning blond) - but he is an incredible actor. I first fell in love with him in the movie - The Talented Mr. Ripley. He is just two months older than I am and is from England. Here is the movie I first fell in love with him in:



Stuart Townsend - *sigh* - adorable. I always admired him - I fell in love with him when he played Lestat in Queen of the Damned. Stuart is Irish, and was also born two months before I. Here is a little piece of what I love most about him:


Oded Fehr. Not familiar? Oooh.. he is a wonderful Israeli (Arab) actor. He is in many movies and tv shows.. but I really remember thinking - WOWZA.. beautiful... in The Mummy. Oded is just 3 years older than me (born in 70).




Finally - my favorite guy - my ultimate crush -



That's right - the egyptian - Born in 81 in Egypt. ;-)

What about you? Do you have a little crush on any of these guys? Will you check out some of their work you may have not been familiar with? Who would you add to the list.

Ps - Go check out Cassandra at Cassagram - she is EXCELLENT.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Treasures

One of my blog followers asked me to write a post about treasures.

I have to admit - I have thought about it through out the day, however, came up with nothing.

Sure, I have stuff. Nothing of any great value. Nothing I have to keep in a secure lock box..

Yes, I have a beautiful engagement ring. Yes, we have a nice tv and a cute little car. Sure, I have more clothing and shoes and bags and scarves than the average woman should be allowed... but if it all went up in flames, I honestly not care.

To me, a treasure is something you cannot replace.

Like memories, those are the most precious to me. A true treasure, if you will. If my mind were to go.. I guess I would not know.. but oh the memories.

Being able to see the sunset.. or to admire different colored fabrics. To gaze at my niece's piercing blue eyes, or watch as my mother paints another masterpiece. My sight would be another treasure of mine.

Listening to the rain lightly tapping my skylight, or to hear the ocean waves come crashing onto the sand.... turning on my stereo and hearing the silky smooth voice of John Legend.. or the infectious giggle of my niece. My hearing is another treasure.

Smelling fresh baked cookies, or testing the perfumes at the fragrance counter... walking into a coffee shop and smelling the aroma of fresh brewed coffee... I would miss not having a sense of smell.

The feeling of cool sheets on my freshly shaven legs... the warmth of a fluffy blanket, the stroke of his fingertips on my arm... my sense of touch is another treasure..

The spicy goodness of chicken wings... the creamy texture of my mom's mashed potatoes.. the sweetness of a milk shake.. My sense of taste is another treasure.

At the end of the day - memories, the ability to see, touch, taste, hear and smell - these are the treasures I would miss the most...

Wait.. there is one more..

A very important one (well.. make that two.)

My imagination and my ability to dance.

Each of these items I view as beautiful gifts I would not have without God's grace.

What about you? What treasures do you hold? Is it something you could buy?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring brings flowers, showers and sunshine

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." ~John Ruskin

**disclaimer - I do not recommend getting a sun tan, that's not "soaking up the sun" type of advice I am giving. I am all for healthy, young skin & 0 cancer!

Welcome home Spring (my second favorite season of the year.) Or maybe it is my favorite. I go back in forth with Autumn and Spring...

Regardless, these beautiful skies we are experiencing is almost too much. How can you NOT smile? Though, I can assure you - when you a have a few Eeyores in your life, those black clouds come swooping back in.

According to my car, it was a beautiful 88 degrees today. Yeah - 88 is Spring for us, and it only lasts for about 1 month, then we dive right into the depth of summer weather. My windshield had a bit of pollen on it, and there are a couple of bumble bees swarming around my window. They were mating, I assume - and pollinating the world.  Earlier today I went into the bathroom, and noticed a small bumble bee was at the window. At first, I panicked. I thought - eek.. I need to kill it. Then I thought, wait a minute - this is a smaller bumble bee, I assume it is young (I really don't know) - so, I just left it, thinking - well, it will probably die.

Then I noticed it was buzzing at the window next to the couch, trying desperately to get out. I saw the other bees buzzing around that very window (from the outside.) I decided to try and save the little fellow. I got a cup and a cd case. I trapped the guy and quickly covered the opening of the cup. I took him outside - and away he flew. I am sitting here now - looking out the window at the two big bees.. and guess who has joined them - the little guy. Who knows? Maybe they were a family - regardless.. I know they have a LOT of work to do.

Those adorable bees made me think of my own life. They are working so hard, and carrying a body that technically their little wing span should not be able to keep afloat. They come out and pollinate our yards - and in turn, the beauty of spring is upon us. They are the messengers of love. They take that pollen and make other flowers grow. It's a beautiful thing. I will I could bottle up their motivation and have a cup of it each morning.

A cup of sunshine is needed, oh so needed, right now. I have decided on this first day of Spring to purge the toxins and dirt from my life. That includes the "sucky" attitudes of those I love and am acquainted with. I think I will create a protective bubble that will keep me safe. I need to try that whole affirmation thing. I need to pray more. I need to create more. I need to soak up more sunshine. (It is supposed to be a natural mood elevator.) As well as - exercise... it will make me feel loads better.

Spring has to be a rebirth for the world, and now it can be rebirth of my mind. This is it folks.. we are on borrowed time. No time to waste. The older I get, the more cynical I get and the less I trust people.  It doesn't matter how it all ends (heck we all end up dead) - I need to pull out that fabulous girl I used to be and just radiate the light that God has given me.


I was looking through some articles online, and I actually found some advice on how to chase away the dark clouds and bring more sunshine in your life! There are so many tips.. 9 ways to do this.. 7 ways to do that.. I am going to cut and paste the options I think would best fit my life:

Nicole's Way to More Sunshine in Her Life

1. Appreciate as much as you can. This is one of those very simple things you can do to bring more positivity in to your life. I have also found appreciation to be a great way to turn an angry, sad and frustrated mood around to a more positive one.What about you? What do you do to keep more sunshine in your life??


2. Stop comparing yourself to others. If you don´t then you´ll just create a lot of unnecessary pain in your life. If you pass one person then you´ll just find another person more successful than you. And your brief sense of being a winner will transform once again into anxiety, fear, tummy-aches and possibly heart-attacks.

3. Realize that it is possible to choose how you react. You don´t have live your life in reaction. You have a choice. There is always a gap between stimuli and reaction. If you focus on that gap it will widen and although it might seem in the beginning like stimuli and your reaction are tied together that is not the case.

4. Educate yourself. Self-education can be a great help to live a more positive life. Read great books on the areas of your life you want to improve. Maybe it’s it your financial situation. Or your health. Or your relationships. Ask people with more success in that area than you what they did to improve.

5. Act as if. Your emotions work backwards too. So even if you don´t feel positive, confident, calm or decisive you can act like it. And after you have done that for a few minutes, guess what happens? You will actually start to feel positive, confident, calm or decisive.

6. Live in the now. Don´t let your thoughts drift into the past or future more than necessary. It’s often a sure-fire way to start negative loops of thoughts in your mind.

7. Do some mental rehearsal. This is great way to improve your performance and decrease anxiety in any upcoming situation. Maybe you´re heading into a meeting soon. Then visualize now how great the events will unfold – see and hear it – and also how great will you feel at this meeting.

8. Redefine failure. Michael Jordan once said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

9. Focus on what you want, not on what you don´t want. One common problem is to focus your thoughts on what you don´t want rather than what you want. If you do that then it will be hard to get what you want in life. If you want to improve your finances then focus on having a great financial situation rather than your lack of money and your debts.

Kindness of Kinda Hard to Find




**another topic "Kindness" suggested by a follower

Kindness. Hmm.

I think I am kind. Well, I can BE kind when I choose to. It is not something that typically happens naturally.

Let me explain...

I USED to be very kind. We're talking pre-14 years old. I think life and exiting that protective bubble I was telling you about in the previous post  - sort of forced me to toughen up.

I smile. I come off as very friendly. But friendly and true kindness are two totally different things in my book.

How far off am I on the definition? Let's consult the experts:

Kindness - is the act or the state of being kind —ie. marked by goodness and charitable behaviour, mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions .

Friendliness - is a tendency to be pleasant and accommodating in social situations. In contemporary personality psychology, "friendliness" (or "agreeableness)  is one of the five major dimensions of personality structure, reflecting individual differences in concern for cooperation and social harmony.  People who score high on this dimension are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. They also have an optimistic view of human nature. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy.



Hmm
 
I have some friends that I would consider truly kind. My friend from college, Tania, is a perfect example. She was probably one of the nicest people I had ever met. Also - one of the kindess people I have ever met.
 
My friend Crystal exhibits kindness, however - she has revealed that she enjoys doing for others and making them happy, because when she is the one responsible for making a person happy, it makes her feel better about herself. Which at the end of the day, everyone wins.
 
But what about the people who TRULY are kind, just because it is the right thing to do - regardless of whether people acknowledge or appreciate the effort.
 
Those people.. are a little more difficult to identify. I think more like a Saint. Seriously, that's what comes to my mind. Or a Mother Theresa type.
 
In this day and age, that's a little harder to find.
 
What about you? Do you consider yourself kind? Do you truly know kind people?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Muffins & Quesadillas

I almost forgot to post my Saturday Morning Muffin Recipe! Okay folks, get out there and start baking up this delicious treat:

Cherry & Coconut Muffins
Makes 12

Oil or Melted Butter, for greasing (if using)
Heaping 1/2 cup candied cherries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Heaping 1/2 cup superfine sugar
Scant 1/2 cup dry unsweetened coconut
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk
6 tbsp sunflower oil or melted,  butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 whole fresh cherries on their stalks

1. Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with 12 muffin paper liners. Cut the candied cherries into small pieces.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, coconut, and chopped candied cherries.

3. Lightly beat the eggs in a large pitcher or bowl, then beat in the coconut milk, oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. Stir gently until just combined; do not overmix.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Top each muffin with a whole fresh cherry. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.

5. Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

**From 1 Mix, 100 Muffins by Susanna Tee

Now for lunch -

Smoked Turkey, Brie and Dried Cranberry Quesadilla

4 (10inch) flour tortillas
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind cut off
5 ounces smoked turkey breast, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat a quesadilla maker. Place brie, turkey and cranberries on two tortillas. Top with remaining tortillas. Press down to compact and seal. Place on maker and close the lid. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until tortilla is lightly toasted. Remove and cut into wedges.

Enjoy!

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