Cheers to the Past & Future

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days. ~Doug Larson

Despite the fact I slept until 2:00pm today and am still wearing the pajamas I woke up in, I’ve been very productive. I figure I’d end the day being a little more productive by watching the WVU vs Oklahoma game and blogging. (And yes, I plan to take a shower and put on clean PJs. Smile) I spent most of the day cleaning, doing laundry and putting away summer clothes. Never in my life did I think I would say this, but I have a ridiculous amount of clothes and shoes. I did fill a big bag to donate today though!

Last night we went to watch my cousin’s high school soccer team play in the MD state championships. It was a great game! It went into double overtime and finally ended in a shootout and my cousin’s team won! It was freezing, but in a way I loved it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a high school sporting event and I have to admit it made me miss high school for about 5 minutes. Being outside in the cold at a football stadium surrounded by groups of kids and people cheering really made me miss high school and my cheerleading days. It was funny though b/c the kids, even the seniors, looked like they were 12! I don’t feel like I looked that young when I was that age but maybe I did. I dug up this old pic from high school when I was cheerleading captain my junior year.


I actually think I look pretty much the same just with a few gray hairs. I guess I have good genes to thank for that. Smile I’m definitely a lot smarter now in a lot of ways and it’s funny to look back on those days and how I thought I knew everything and the most superficial things were important. And back then, I cared way too much about what people thought and now I’m thankful I’m older and wiser and focus more on what I think about myself. I am still really good friends with a lot of people I went to high school with and it’s been fun “growing up” together even though we’re not in the same town anymore. But overall, while high school wasn’t bad, you couldn’t pay me to go back. College, on the other hand, is another story. LOVED college and grad school!

We’ve finally started telling people I’m pregnant. I announced it earlier this week on Facebook with this pic of us and our dog Riley and it’s really sweet how excited people are for us.


We’ve gotten tons of emails, calls, and texts from people and have already started to get little gifts in the mail! Crazy b/c I’m not even 19 weeks yet. It still doesn’t quite feel real. I’ve been pretty lucky b/c I haven’t had much morning sickness at all, actually, more this trimester than the first, but it’s more just nausea and I’m mostly just feeling tired. So far I’m up 3.9lbs and my pants are just starting to get tight, so hopefully I won’t get huge and look like a manatee. I’ve been eating well and exercising a lot still. I’ve given up one of by beloved Zumba classes and have started doing water aerobics and swimming twice a week and prenatal yoga once a week. Plus I walk every day with Riley so between all that and my 2 other Zumba classes I’m staying active and feeling pretty good. Chris has even started coming to one of the water aerobics classes with me and it’s hilarious b/c we’re by far the youngest people there and the old women are so excited to have “a young man” in the class and they get all giddy. You’d think Brad Pitt was with me by how giddy they get and how much they laugh at his jokes.

We have the anatomy scan next week and are still deciding if we want to find out the sex or not. In some ways I think it would be fun to be surprised, but in other ways I’m a control freak so I think it would help me mentally prepare more to know. We might have them write it down and put it in an envelope and open it when we’re together with all the family at Thanksgiving. I can’t wait til Turkey Day…one of my favorite holidays!! Food. Family. Friends. Football. Fun!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (b/c I’m sure I won’t write before then!). Don’t forget to count your blessings EVERY day! Gobble gobble! Smile

Mung Beans and Mile High Memories

Little things

Three months later is better than never again, right? I figured since I had an extra hour to use today I’d spend it doing something I’ve been neglecting: blogging. Same old excuses. Life’s been busy and I don’t spend much time on my computer after work so that leaves little time and motivation for blogging. But maybe with the winter months soon approaching it’ll be a little easier since I won’t be spending as much time outside. I hate being cold! But for now, I’ve  been enjoying the sunshine, the crisp fall weather and the leaves crunching beneath my feet.

I have still been trying a new recipe each week and recently tried this Thai Steak Salad from Cooking Light b/c I had a ridiculous amount of basil and mint growing and didn’t know what to do with it. Problem solved! The only ingredient I couldn’t find at the regular grocery store was mung bean sprouts, so I headed to H Mart, an Asian Market, and found it right away along with these choco boy candies! This made me really excited b/c when I was a little kid and my uncle was stationed in Japan while he was in the Air Force, he would always bring me back some and I loved them! At 99 cents a box, I bought 3 and went home with a smile and a feeling of nostalgia. What’s funny, is the smile and the nostalgia were the best part. These things had no flavor. It’s basically a cracker with chocolate, but the chocolate isn’t sweet. Very bland. I guess when you’re a little kid you think anything with chocolate s good. So I have 2 boxes sitting in my cabinet with no desire to eat them. I might have to send a box to my uncle just for fun and memories. Smile


The Thai Steak Salad, however, did not disappoint. It was very aromatic and full of flavor. And it was pretty easy to make. Only bad part was that I was left with a still nearly full bag of mung bean sprouts and ended up throwing them away b/c I had nothing else to use them with. But this huge bag was only a dollar so I didn’t feel too bad. I’m sure I could have found something to do with them, pad thai maybe? But I was being lazy. But H Mart is super awesome! Their produce is SO much cheaper than the markets I usually go to. I’m going to have make some extra trips there.



One of the coolest things I’ve done recently was get Chris flying lessons for his birthday. It’s something he’s always wanted to do and it was super awesome that they let me go with him. Though it was a little scary b/c the instructor looked like he was 16 and the plane was a tin can with wings and only sat 4 people. But, it was super fun and such an awesome thing to experience together. The instructor basically just took off and landed the plane, Chris did all the flying and I did all the picture taking since the airport was in Annapolis and we got some great views of the Chesapeake Bay. Here are just a few.

Seriously…that was the instructor standing by the plane with Chris. He looks 16, right? If you look at the pic the top of the pic to the right, you can see the Washington Monument and the rest of downtown DC. Pretty awesome considering how far away we were!

Pics below are of the Naval Academy and the Bay Bridge. We go boating here all the time and I thought the view from the water was great! Air was even cooler!

I called Chris “Maverick” for the rest of the day. Smile

So yes, we’ve been keeping busy, enjoying the adventures in life and soon we’ll be starting a new adventure—Parenthood! SmileSmileSmileSmileSmile with tongue out


Not Quite Summer Lovin’

Summer is kind of like the ultimate one-night stand: hot as hell, totally thrilling, and gone before you know it.

I humbly bestow upon myself the award for World’s Worst Blogger. I’d like to say I have this really great excuse for not having blogged for the past 2+ months like I was too busy traveling the world or something fun like that. But really, I haven’t traveled anywhere outside of Pennsylvania and my summer has been consumed by work. I’ve never been so busy before in my life. I’ve been putting in a lot of 14 hr. days and I’m exhausted. It’s really sad that it’s already August and I’ve only put on a bathing suit once (not that I particularly love wearing a bathing suit), but I love summer. I love to swim. I love to hike. I love to play outside. I love to travel. But my days have repetitiously been full of staring at my computer, going to meetings, going to the gym, walking the dog, making dinner, then working until 2:00am every night. Sounds fun, I know. Things will calm down for me around mid-September and believe me I am counting down the days. Both hubby and I need a vacation badly and we’re trying to think where we want to go in October for our 5 year anniversary. We’re really tempted to go back to Hawaii. Though we’re also thinking Italy or maybe a cruise somewhere. I probably should get on with planning something, but I’m in the midst of planning a big 40th birthday party weekend for Chris. I’m so excited b/c his family is coming from the Carolinas and Pittsburgh and mine are coming from Bethlehem. It’ll be the first time the family will all be together since our wedding. This makes me really happy! I’m also really excited to give Chris his birthday gifts, which I’ll have to write about after I give to him. Don’t want to ruin the surprise. Smile

I did recently take a couple days off to go spend time with friends and family in Bethlehem. It was a fun few days, but there’s never enough time to see everyone. I did get to spend time with my oldest friend and college roommate, Bridget. That was such a great surprise b/c we rarely get to see each other since she lives in L.A. Our moms have been best friends for more than 33 years and it was so great that we all got to spend the day together.


I also had lunch with one of my best friends from high school. He and I were incredibly close and hung out or talked every day. But after I left for college he wouldn’t talk anymore and I really never understood why. We literally hadn’t talked in 15 yrs. but thanks to good ol’ Facebook we got back in touch and ended up meeting up and talking for over 4.5 hours. It was really weird b/c it wasn’t weird. I mean it was in the beginning, he even told me he was shaking he was so nervous to see me. But after those first awkward 5 minutes it was like we were back in high school laughing and talking about everything under the sun again. I can’t really say I got an exact answer as to why he stopped talking to me, it was all kinda complicated, but it’s nice to be friends again.

Anyway, although I haven’t quite been spending the summer doing all the things I love, I have still been cooking things I love to eat. Since avocados are in season, I  tried this Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing from Whole Foods. It was really good, but the only annoying part was that I couldn’t find toasted pumpkin seeds so I had to buy trail mix that had them in it and had to pick them out. After that annoying part, we grilled some steaks and threw them on the salad and it was a perfect summer meal.




I’ll try to be better about blogging, but no promises until fall comes. I also want to apologize to all you bloggies whose posts I usually read. I’m sorry I’ve been MIA from your blogs, too, but I’m trying to catch up!

Have you done anything really fun this summer?

Do you have any recommendations for good summer salads?

For the Best


Two of my cousins were in town last weekend. We had a great time—went out for dinner and drinks, went shoe shopping, watched movies, ate cake, drank wine, and stayed up late talking about life, family, old relationships and current loves. It was a quintessential girls weekend and much needed for all of us.

One of them has been seeing a guy for a few months and they’re at a rocky point b/c he “needs time to figure some things out”. She’s feeling heartbroken and insecure. It’s a bit of a complicated situation and I feel bad b/c she’s hurting, but at the same time I respect the guy for being honest with her and telling her upfront that he has some things he’s working through. All too often people hide what it is they’re really feeling b/c they’re selfish, or scared of hurting the other person, but I think more damage is done when people aren’t honest with each other or themselves and when they don’t communicate from the very beginning. I know she thinks he could be the one for her, but I also think that when we want something so bad we fail to see areas where we might not be compatible with someone b/c we’re too busy concentrating on the elements we are so so attracted to.

It’s especially hard early on in relationships b/c you don’t know a person well and usually hormones cloud our head and heart. I remember once my mom compared relationships to dancing. In the beginning, we’re all dressed up, full of energy, wearing our heels and showing off our best moves. But eventually you start to run low on energy, your feet hurt like hell and you get tired of trying to be perfect. Eventually you have to kick off those heels and just be comfortable, just be you. It’s the person you are without the heels and perfect moves, the person who dances just b/c you love the music and not because someone is watching and you want to show off, that shows who you really are. If you can still love someone for their good moves and bad, their heels or bare feet, their benefits and their faults, then you can really appreciate a person and love them for who they really are.

It’s hard when we think we’re in love to really listen to and appreciate advice that people give us. Maybe it’s b/c we only let ourselves hear what we want to hear, see what we want to see, or feel what we want to feel b/c that “in love” feeling is intoxicating and admitting the truth would just bring down our high. It’s also funny how much easer it is to give advice than take it, especially our own. I can’t tell you how easy it was to empathize with her and understand what she’s going through and to really feel like I had good, solid advice to give her. But I had to laugh about how when I said things out loud—things I’ve said to myself over and over again when I was in a similar situation—that it finally sunk in and made more sense and was more meaningful to me than when people were telling me the same things. I guess once you’ve had time to step out of a relationship or situation for awhile and process it without intense emotions clouding your judgment, you begin to see things more clearly. It doesn’t necessarily mean it hurts any less, but you are more able to learn from it and try to understand it.

I do feel bad for my cousin b/c I know she just wants to fall in love and start a life with someone. Right now her heart is breaking and she feels vulnerable and sad. The relationship hasn’t ended. She needs to be patient and as difficult as it is, give him the time he’s asking for. But as girls, we analyze. We obsess. We replay situations and conversations over and over and over and over again. We think about what we could do or have said differently. I tried to tell her that no matter what happens, things will work out for the best. They always do, even though the journey is sometimes painful and sometimes our ultimate destination isn’t the one we think we’re traveling toward. I always say things happen for a reason and things work out for the best and that we have to try to relax and give time, time.

She kept checking her phone, wanting to text him or to chat, thinking about him constantly. We’ve all been there and it sucks. But we tried to keep her as busy as possible to help keep her mind off it. I have to admit that it made me so glad that I don’t have to worry about dating anymore. Marriage isn’t always easy, but I’m sure when Pat Benatar sang “love is a battlefield” she was talking about dating.

Even though I’m a big believer in communication and letting others know how we feel, I do have to wonder why some of us continuously wear our hearts on our sleeves? They don’t always make the best accessories. Especially the broken ones.

Catching Up

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes

There’s nothing better than using a rainy day to catch up on things (like blogging for one). This has been the first weekend in awhile that I haven’t been running on fast forward and could actually slow down enough to enjoy listening to the rain tap on my windows and catch up on the long list of mundane things that have been piling themselves on my “to do” list. What I really wanted to use this rainy day for was to lounge around in my PJs reading, but I was productive. I woke up early intending to start my day at the gym, but I just couldn’t get myself to go outside. I didn’t feel guilty about it though b/c Friday I walked 3 miles with Riley and yesterday I did 2 hours straight of Zumba (burned 1183 calories!) for a breast cancer fundraiser, then came home and did some gardening. I think I did my fair share of exercise for 48 hours (but yes, I know I need to do more weights). I spent my morning with a good cup of coffee, made a mental “to do” list and cuddled with my Rileypoo.

First thing I did was get out the crockpot and made big batch of soup. Seemed like the perfect day for it! I decided to go with my own version of Fiesta Soup.


It’s so easy! And I won’t really have to cook all week. So what’s in my Fiesta soup? All this goodness:

  • 4 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 yellow squash diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper chopped
  • 1 14.5oz can Mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 2 4oz. cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 14.5 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 1 14.5oz can low sodium all natural chicken broth
  • 3/4 TB hot Mexican chili powder
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 1/2 TB salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • corn tortillas cut into strips (add last 5 min. of cooking)

Mix everything together and cook on low for 8 hours and Ole! I always top it with a little cheese and avocado for a little bit of extra flavor.


Since I had all the ingredients in the house for Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies I figured what the heck, I’ll bake today, too. I rarely ever bake, mostly b/c I don’t enjoy it as much as cooking (baking is too much like chemistry since you have to be so exact).  But I love anything chocolate and coconut and I had the time. I did use 60% cacao and coconut is technically a fruit, so maybe these weren’t too bad :).


So besides being Betty Crocker all day, I caught up on a bunch of other stuff: laundry, dusting, went through all of my drawers and got rid of some clothes, paid bills, went through old files, organized our storage room, caught up on my DVR’d America’s Next Top Model (yes, I do actually watch that crappy show…it’s addicting), talked to two friends I haven’t talked to in awhile (SO happy about the news you shared with me, ND!!) and Chris and I finally watched the last Harry Potter movie (one year later is better than never!). Sounds kind of like a boring day, yes. But I needed a day like this! It’s after 10pm and I’m still in the PJs I woke up in (I did at least wash my face and brush my teeth this morning so I’m not feeling like too much of a dirtball) and I can honestly say I feel relaxed, which is a rarity for me these days. Now if I can get organized and catch up on work this week I’ll be all set!

What do you like to spend rainy days doing?

Bunnies and Barack

Be with those who help your being.~Rumi

It’s kind of been a weeklong celebration of all that is Easter…which I guess is okay since some of family are Orthodox and they actually celebrate Easter today. In my last post I said that even though Lent was over that I was going to continue not to eat sweets, and I have stuck to that with one exception…baklava! And not just any baklava, but my grammy’s homemade baklava which she brought down with her for Easter last weekend. There was no resisting. I might have had 2 (okay 3) pieces throughout the day, but I haven’t had any sweets since.


The Monday after Easter, I went with my aunt, uncle and 2 little cousins to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. My aunt knows people and was able to get us tickets (just like she’s gotten me into the White House for Christmas the past 2 years). It was a beautiful day and we had such a great time. I was bummed Chris had to work b/c he would have loved it, too. And I was even more bummed that we missed the President by an hour. He was out playing basketball, reading in the story area and hanging out. I would have loved to seen him! Though there were lots of events to participate in and we had a great time. Whole Foods was there giving out fruit and gardeners from the University of Maryland were there promoting gardening and giving out seeds, too. I was very excited about that since I love to garden. I got carrot seeds, freckled lettuce and an organic gourmet lettuce mix. I’m definitely ready to get planting! Now if only my garden could be as nice as Michelle Obama’s Smile.  After spending 3 hours at the White House we walked over to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I haven’t had a chance to see it since it opened and it’s not directly on the Mall so a little bit of a walk to get to. But it was very nice. Overall, it was a wonderful day!






Later in the week we found that the Easter bunny left some baby bunnies in our yard. Riley was barking his head off and when we went to see what was going on, we found a little nest of baby bunnies. We were surprised Riley didn’t eat one, but I think he wanted to. Chris picked up each one and took them to the front yard so Riley wouldn’t bother them. The mother rabbit actually followed Chris to the front yard. I hope they are all okay. They were really cute!




And Chris…yes, he’s a dork….lol. Poor little bunny wabbit!! I guess maybe I should have got Chris a chocolate bunny for Easter. Winking smile

Essential Relationships


Last weekend my baby brother was in town for a volleyball tournament and my mom came with him. It was great b/c I hadn’t seen either of them since Thanksgiving. My brother was doing the v-ball thing most of the weekend so I got to spend some much needed mommy-daughter time. I was actually attending a conference here in DC and had two presentations to give. I was able to get an extra badge for my mom and she got to see me present and attend sessions with me. I was more nervous presenting in front of her than I had been in the past with members of Congress in the room! I just wanted to make her proud and I know I did b/c she got all sappy and of course had to say how she still remembers taking me to my first day of kindergarten and how now I’m all professional and grown up. Smile I just thought it was really cool for her to be able to see the type of work I do. The conference was focused on aging issues and we went to some really great sessions together on topics like how to deal with end of life issues (depressing, I know), marketing products and information to different segments of the older adult population, and the best one we went to together—How to Have Healing Conversations. This was such an amazing experience to share with my mom. The workshop presenter had everyone pair up and we had to talk about people with whom we have or had both good and bad “essential relationships with” and what we’ve learned from those relationships and how they’ve impacted who we are. My mom shared a lot with me about my grandfather—things I never knew and things I don’t think I would have ever asked her. I knew he was a gambling addict and his addiction led to my grandparents getting divorced when I was very young and him being absent most of my life. I know when he was on his deathbed and when he wanted to see my mom, aunts and uncles, that it was very hard on them and they struggled with whether or not to go see him. What I never really talked to my mom about before this workshop was her feelings about him and her remembering him when he was a loving, caring dad and how those conflicted with the anger and sadness she felt towards the man he turned into. She told me how she struggled to forgive him and let go of all the painful feelings she had when she said goodbye to him b/c as he lay there at the end of his life, she saw the sadness and regret in his eyes and the glimmer of the dad he used to be, the one she had once loved so much, in them. It really was an incredible conversation that I don’t think we would have ever had otherwise so I am thankful we had that experience together.

It was really an interesting workshop not only b/c of what I learned about my my mom, but also b/c of what I learned about myself. Thinking about “essential relationships” I have/had was really an eye opener and something I’ve been thinking about a lot since then. “Essential” is a strong word. Many people come in and out of our lives for different reasons, but good or bad, not everyone deserves such a label.

It’s been 3 months since I’ve spoken with someone I certainly would bestow the title “essential” to. Twelve years ago I met GK and for good or bad there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of him since just b/c of how much he impacted the way I look at love, forgiveness, relationships, trust, the dynamic of male-female friendships, and even at myself. We have literally spent thousands of hours talking over the years through email, phone, instant messenger, and web chat having our own versions of healing conversations…building our own unique friendship and talking through things we didn’t always realize or talk about when we were face-to-face. It’s amazing how you can grow apart from someone but simultaneously grow b/c of them. There’s no easy way to describe the friendship we had b/c it was complicated. But I know it was “essential” b/c without it, our experiences and our conversations, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It’s been really hard and painful accepting the friendship is over especially after working so long and so hard to build it up, but both of us have other essential relationships we need to focus  on. Having to act like the other doesn’t exist anymore has been extremely difficult. I miss him and our talks. We challenged each other and healed each other. And now I feel like I’m mourning the loss of a friend. Maybe one day it will get easier. I know that even when you’re forced to say goodbye—in life and in death—those “essential” to you becoming who you are are always with you regardless of the situation.

In less than 24 hours I get to spend the day with someone who is absolutely one of the most essential people in my life, who fills my heart with such happiness and love—my grammy! One of my favorite things to do with her is talk about Arabic food and learn from her how to make things. She is seriously the best cook and can make a full meal out of like 4 ingredients. I don’t know how she does it. Even when I follow what she tells me to do, Chris still doesn’t think my versions taste as good as hers. But she’ll be so proud to hear about all the things we’ve made recently (stay tuned, I’ll post about our adventures in Arabic cooking soon. I was going try the whole Julie & Julia thing with a Lebanese cookbook, but yah, no. I’m never going to want to even attempt to cook or eat anything with brains, tripe, rabbit, goat or tongue. Chris is up for it, but not me.) I’m excited to see her!! And to tell her about this chocolate mint I found at a Farmer’s Market stand at work. She cooks with mint all the time, but I am sure she’s never heard of this!


The marker says “Flavor and fragrance reminiscent of an Andes after-dinner mint” and it definitely smells like it. I can’t wait to plant it and use it. Lent is over. Giving up the 4 Cs (Cookies, Candy, Cakes and ice Creams) was not hard at all. There were a couple of times I craved something sweet, so I had a glass of milk with some honey and that did the trick. Even though I did my 40 days I think I’m just going to stick with not eating the 4Cs unless I’m really craving it (every once in a while a girl has to have a chocolate chip cookie :)). But if my body isn’t craving it, why put it in my mouth? One of the things I learned is how I sometimes practiced mindless eating. I’d walk by a pack of cookies and grab one just b/c it was in front of me, not b/c I really wanted it. But since I was being conscious of what I was not eating, it was much easier to look at it and just keep on walking (which I have literally also been doing a lot of in addition to my workouts….down 7lbs!)

Have you ever heard of chocolate mint? What do you do with it??

Did you give up anything for Lent? How’d you do with it?

Have you ever thought about who the “essential” relationships in your life are or have been?

I Get So Emotional Baby

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ~Marianne Williamson

I just finished a couple days of training for the leadership program I’m doing at work. It focused on Emotional Intelligence—our ability to identify, perceive and control our emotions and understand how they affect our professional and personal lives. It was really interesting and I learned a lot about myself.

Prior to the training we had to complete an assessment of our EI and got our results back during the class. I was actually a little surprised by some of the scores. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t as high in some areas I thought they’d be. What was my lowest score in? Reality. My highest? Optimism. I found that amusing b/c my husband always jokes that I’m too much of an optimist and that I live my life according to the rules in some imaginary book called “The Way Life is Supposed To Be” rather than in reality. But he’s a cynical realist, so what does he know? Smile  My “Reality” score wasn’t that low (just lower than all the other items) so I know I’m not delusional and living in some Lisa Frank dream world full of rainbows, unicorns and smiles.


(These make me miss my trapper keeper from elementary school.)

Okay, so I’m not a super duper realist. Who wants to be?! Sometimes life can suck. It can be scary, depressing, frustrating, and disappointing. But it can also be beautiful, joyous, amazing and fun. I try to concentrate on those aspects of life, b/c otherwise there are moments in life that can take you to really dark places and if you let them, they’ll keep you there. I prefer the sunshine and rainbows, and I think of that pot of gold at the end as being full of life lessons that ultimately make you a better, more seasoned person. And as they say, you can’t have rainbows without the rain! I’m not going to try to pretend that I’m this happy, cheery person all the time. (I am sure my husband will be glad to confirm this). But, I really do try to accept the adage that “everything happens for a reason” and try to learn from all of the experiences and situations that make up “everything”. Even when really bad things happen to me or people I love, I accept them the best I can. I may not always understand them or necessarily want to deal with them. But, a friend put it to me this way: She said “we’re on this earth for such a short amount of time and even though terrible things happen, we need to experience those things because all of those feelings are part of being alive and it’s how we grow.” I do think that’s very true. I just think the struggle lies in how much you let those emotions and feelings control you. But perhaps that’s just a never-ending  battle between your heart and head.

I know I’m good at controlling my emotions, especially at work. What I’m not always good at is understanding them or expressing them in my personal life. Sometimes it’s easier to just go through the motions of life than to slow down enough to acknowledge what it is I’m actually feeling and try to figure out why I’m feeling that way.  I do this especially when something is bothering me. Sometimes I push my feelings to the side and pretend that choosing to ignore them is my way of acknowledging them. It’s a coping mechanism.

One of the things we learned about at this training was the Awareness Wheel. Basically that in any given instant we process internal and external experiences through several different dimensions: 1) Data/Sense: facts/behaviors/observation (“I know”); 2) Thoughts: assumptions/perceptions/believes/judgments (“I think”); 3) Emotions/Feelings: sad/glad/mad/afraid (“I feel”); 4) Wants/Values: needs/desires (“It’s important to me that…”); and 5) Doing/Forward Action: requests (“I’d like to ask…”).

What I really learned is how important it is to pay close attention to each of these dimensions and try to distinguish them from each other. Doing this will help you acknowledge your emotions and enhance your own sense of clarity, which will ultimately allow you to be a better communicator, build relationships with others and minimize internal and external conflicts. It’s actually quite fascinating (I really should have gone into psychology….I love this stuff). But what’s really so interesting about it all is that if you think not just about yourself, but also about other people you interact with often, you can see how some people are just stuck in one or two of these dimensions. I know people who are constantly in the Data field, just wanting to know the facts and don’t care to acknowledge thoughts/feelings/values. I also know people who are complete opposite who are stuck on assumptions and feelings. I think for me I generally hop around depending on the situation. But, I am really going to try to be more conscious of all of these dimensions and go through things full circle.

It wasn’t covered in this class, but all the talk about emotions really made me think about how much they are attached to memories. If you think about your life and think back to as far back as you can remember, all the things that are the most vivid in your memory are probably moments that intense emotions were attached to them. Your first kiss.  Getting a bad diagnosis. The first time you fell in love. The first time your heart was broken. The times you laughed so hard with friends that you nearly peed your pants. SO many things! Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and live through some of those moments just to FEEL that way again (okay, maybe not the bad things…).  I am amazed at the level of detail to which I remember certain things though. My mind paints pictures quite vividly, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

This article offers some good tips: 3 Steps for Emotional Spring Cleaning

Do you handle your emotions well?

Did you have Lisa Frank stuff when you were a kid?


May you have love that never ends, lots of money, and lots of friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do, and may God send many blessings to you!
~Irish blessing


Happy St. Patrick’s Day bloggie peeps!

I don’t have an ounce of Irish in me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not down with the green. And I’m not talking about beer, I’m talking about kale. I’ve blogged about kale before and how I’ve been trying to eat more of it. I recently read this article, Why Kale is the Koolest Vegetable, and it reminded me how much more I should cook with it. So in honor of this super food and this happy green day, here are some things I tried this week:

Braised Kale

This was an Emeril recipe that I made as a side dish. It was super easy and fast to make. Would I make this again? Yes, but I think it would taste better with a little bit of bacon. Smile But it went great with corn and pork chops.



Bacon and Butternut Pasta

This recipe from Cooking Light was SO good! Next time I make it though I’m going to double the amount of kale in it b/c it really cooks down. I had a lot of kale left over so I just steamed it and added it as an extra side dish. This dish was so good and one of my favorite things I’ve ever tried from Cooking Light. The only thing I have to remember for next time is to get some Gruyere cheese at Trader Joes or Whole Foods b/c all they had at Giant was small Gruyere triangles and shredding them was a pain in the butt. But the taste was worth the work.



On the topic of green, flowers and trees are blooming, the grass is turning bright green, the birds are chirping and the bugs are out (that part I’m not so excited about). I’ve never really had bad allergies before but I can’t stop the sneezing, wheezing, and headaches. If it’s possible to OD on pollen, I think I might die from it. But of course I’m stubborn and don’t take medicine.


Words can’t express how happy I am this week is over. It was an incredibly busy week. I had to give an hour long presentation to a whole lot of doctors, scientists and other health professionals. I do presentations all the time, but I’ve never been the sole speaker for 1 whole hour. But, 57 slides later, I rocked it. I was proud of myself, especially given that I finished my slides 10 minutes before the talk and didn’t practice at all! As a nice surprise, my boss brought me tulips to wish me luck. The only “vase” I could find in the office was the bottom of a cow-patterned cookie jar. But it did the trick and dressed up my office quite nicely. I’m very fortunate b/c I love my job and the people I work with. Smile


I am feeling mentally and physically exhausted and purposefully made no plans this weekend so I can relax, rest and catch up on errands. No St. Patty’s partying for me, which I’m totally fine with. But I will be spending lots of time with something green….all the weeds in my garden which I’m heading out to pull. Don’t be jealous. Smile 

How do you cope with allergies?

What are you doing to celebrate St. Patty’s Day?

What do you make with kale?

Giving It Up

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.~Jim Rohn

Here I am…twice in one week. Just call me butter because I’m on a roll! (Mmmm…I could eat some bread right now, but try not eat carbs in the evening.)  Actually what I really wouldn’t mind having right now is a Coke slurpee….but I’m digressing. I do that very easily when I think about food. I’m deliriously tired and have so much to do and what do I feel like doing? Changing things up on my blog. I decided I didn’t like the other look anymore so opted for something new. I think this one is a little brighter and cleaner looking. What do you think? I don’t love the all caps in the title, but for now it will do.

Something else I did today that was new? I finally signed up for Twitter. Yeah me! I can barely keep up with Facebook and blogging. But if you want to follow me, look for me @Neyal26. Speaking of Twitter…I’m taking this 2-day training on web design and social media and someone in the class today asked the instructor when and why people use hash tags in their tweets. And his reply was “that’s a good question. I’ll have to look that up.” Umm….really? And you’re teaching a social media class????

So here’s a question. As I mentioned in my last post, I gave up 4Cs for Lent (I’m not even Catholic but I do like the concept of Lent): Candy, Cake, Cookies and ice Cream. Basically all sugars. So my question is if I have hot chocolate is that cheating??? What about a slurpee?

On the topic of giving things up, it’s been 2 months to the day that I had to give up a friendship with someone important to me. Giving this person up may have been easier if it was something we did by choice or maybe even if we were angry with each other. But relationships like ours are very complicated and without getting into details, we were forced to give it up. No talking. No communicating. Nada. I understand why. But it sucks. It sucks bad. Especially when something happens and I want to tell him or something reminds me of him or just when I feel like talking something out with him. And though I’m slowly trying to come to terms with it, I think about it every day and I’m sure I’m going to feel unsettled about it forever. And that’s the hardest part.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, too, about old friends. Fortunately I am still friends with nearly everyone I grew up with who was important to me. Some of my best friends to this day are girls I’ve known since forever. All except for my BEST friend in high school. We haven’t talked in about 10 years. She got involved with some really shady guy and our lives went in polar opposite directions and we could not have turned into two more opposite types of people. That was a rare circumstance where the friendship was easy to give up. But I miss her and the memories.  Kind of funny when you think about the people who’ve come in and out of your life and why people stay and they don’t. I know…a reason, a season, a lifetime…blah, blah, blah. :)

Help me out here: is hot chocolate cheating?


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