The semester starts today and I can’t even believe it’s really time. Summer was too short, it went to quickly, I’m not fully ready, but it is what it is, the time is here and I’m as ready as I’ll be for the week.
Summer’s not over yet and there’s still plenty of time to pack in those reads! Today I’m sharing what I’ve read so far and what’s on my next list of good reads!
The Alice Network - A story that flashes between two different times, two women who are relatively different and yet the same. A story with suspense, drama, heart warming moments and history all mixed. The plot is based on real life spy network during WWI which makes it all the more interesting to me.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Oh my word. I had this book on hold and waited 6 weeks for my turn…only to realize I had 2 days left to read it. My time ran out just a mere 75 pages shy of completing the book so I did what any normal person would do, bought a second hand copy at Half Price and promptly finished it an hour later. I was shocked to learn this was based on a real love story, real people and their incredibly real story. Must read, must read, must read!
What Is Left the Daughter - Not a favorite. Another WWII novel but it takes place in Canada and has a unique perspective of a father writing to his daughter, explaining his history and life to her though they haven’t seen each other in literally years. Heartbreaking but an intriguing story.
Bonfire - Krysten Ritter’s first novel and truly, it was a fun quick mystery read. Some loose ends here and there, a few questionable plot points and maybe a tad bit predictable but I still enjoyed it as a fun light summer read.
Next on my list, I’m aiming for more mystery and some lightheartedness.
I tend to use my library app pretty regularly so we’ll see what actually comes available and what other reads I might find!
Got a favorite book or read something really great? Drop your suggestion in the comments!
My six week stint of summer classes is officially complete! Taught my last class on Wednesday and now it’s time to rest this ol’ body! It felt so good to be active and moving so much but about two weeks ago I think my body started to reject all the intensity. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!
Friday Five: All the Restorative Things
Foam rollers for life! My IT Bands have been super tight lately and with a little roll out at night, they start to ease up a bit.
Gel ice pack for the win! My mother ordered me this gel pack and I honestly can’t imagine anything better. I use it on my back after standing all day and on my hips when they start to ache from tightness. It’s so soft and stays cold for a long, long time. Can’t beat it!
Epsom salts because aches and pains happen. Dr. Teal’s is easy to grab at any store and man, it really does a body good! Plus, I feel so relaxed, it’s easy to just pass out after a long soak.
Good tennis shoes can make a world of difference. I invested in two new pairs this summer and they have done a world of good for my body going to and from class! This is my every day pair and this is my walking pair. Expensive? 100%, but that’s why I say investment because it’s an investment in my body’s health and wellness.
Magnolia Chocolate Chip Cookies. Okay, these don’t sound like they fit the rest of the list, but a good chocolate chip cookie can do wonders for the soul! And these, y’all. They are divine! I don’t say that lightly because my mother is a cookie queen and I love her’s so much, but dang. These are so freaking good!
Happy Friday, y’all!
Now go bake some cookies for yourself!
Recently I heard a Rise podcast episode with Reshema Sujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code and author of Brave, Not Perfect.
Listening to the interview, I got curious about her book. In a lot of ways, there are many times in the last decade that I haven’t felt very brave. If anything, I’ve thought I’ve made very careful steps, opting for safety rather than taking risks whether that was in my career or personal life. It ranges from small things to big decisions. I think we all have moments we weigh out the consequences to see if the choice is right for us and sometimes safe is best and sometimes, we should just go for it.
I checked out the audio book and listened to it every chance I got hoping I would hear the right things to maybe help me work through moments of self-doubt. While I immediately resonated with the things she said in the opening, I realized that perhaps my bravery has been there all along, just clouded with adult responsibility. For example, I loved dancing as a kid. I mean loved it. Growing up my mother helped with costumes at the local theater productions in the summer and I would go up there with her. I’d study the shows, learn the dances, talk to all the performers, put on shows for my family. To me, it was a whole exciting world I wanted to be a part of any chance I got. When it came my time to try my hand at theater, I wasn’t afraid to go to auditions as a kid. Nervous, sure, but my parents were so encouraging to go and have fun, I didn’t get panicked. I won scholarships at dance conventions for just being that happy kid, full out, no holds barred. There’s a story about leading the waitresses through the Macarena at Babes Chicken House when I was 10 because they didn’t know it and I had that dance down pat. Why wouldn’t I teach these ladies how it’s done?
There are many times I’ve embraced bravery without thinking about it: taking myself to my senior homecoming sans a date, asking that cute guy out for coffee only to be shot down, emailing a stranger for job opportunities that actually pan out, and traveling for auditions and navigating new cities all by myself. I’m not a total and complete scaredy-cat but I realized in listening to Reshema’s book, I’m actually plenty brave enough. The problem is when I let self-doubt and fear of disappointment rule out.
Now, neither of those two things are new to me—I’m well aware of these traits and have been trying to work on those for the last couple years. Heck, we all have self-doubt now and again!
“Should I go for this job” or
“Is this outfit too bold?” or
“What happens if I follow this dream?”
Questions like that are usually followed by answer such as:
“You’re not fully qualified for the gig,” or
“That’s not your style so it’s totally out of character” or
“You could fail, lose everything and people will judge you for it.”
What really makes people brave, I think, is when we work through the answers. Saying, “stuff it all! I’m doing it anyway,” doesn’t always jive for the careful thinker, especially if they have that giant pull to please others, not disappoint or care about another’s opinion. Yeah, try as you might, Fearless Ones, there are folks (like me!) who just can’t tear that part of themselves away. Instead we work have to work through it constantly.
Playing the “What If” game, working through each scenario, understanding why you feel the way you do and rationally working through each step can help ease that anxious feeling that a decision could prove to be wrong. And if it is, at the end of the day, you know you’ll be okay because nine times out of ten, that’s usually what happens when you work through it all. You end up realizing you’ll be okay, that you can pivot after trying, and that other options will present themselves when you relax and open your mind.
So, what exactly did I get from Brave, Not Perfect? Well, a lot actually! These key points were my favorites and I think good reminders for anyone to hang on to:
You can’t be brave if you’re tired. Take care of yourself, eat well, move your body, and get good sleep! Make your health a priority or else you won’t have the strength and stamina to get through the unknown challenges and sometimes scary opportunities.
Ask if it’s your drama talking or wisdom? Are you letting fear and dramatics lead you to an answer or are you rationally working through the problem, really seeing all possibilities? Is the experience of failure leading the conversation or actual know-how?
*I love this one! No drama-llama, please!
Hone the power of “yet”! I’m not _____ yet. I haven’t reached this goal yet. It turns everything from “not possible” to “possible” with time and effort.
What advice would you give someone else if faced with a hard choice? I can pump up anyone, my husband, students, friends, family—I believe in them so, so much! Myself? I can have one or two reasons and give up, but if I were talking to someone else, no way would I let them thrown in the towel. So why would not give myself the same sage advice to keep trying or go
“Change what we think and believe by changing what we do.” (Dr. Meredith Grossman)
Turning the script around is hard, but following up the change with action helps make us believe in the change more. So simple and so effective but we have to make a conscious decision each time we adjust.
Ask yourself what matters more to you in life. Decide what your priorities are and make your decisions based on what brings you closer to those things.
Just ask and then stop talking. This is a good reminder to put the question out there to someone and wait for their response. Don’t fill with fall back (“If you can’t meet,” “if you need more time, “I might not be fully qualified”). Just ask and wait.
Speak up when you know you should. If that voice tells you to, but the fear gets in the way, just speak up. Do it for the things you believe in, what you think needs to be addressed, the introduction that you know might make a difference. Just say something. And by the way, you can be confident and firm without being rude. There actually is a difference.
“I’d rather be caught trying than not at all.” (Hillary Clinton)
No matter where you stand on the person quoted, the sentiment is what I think is most important. No one will fault someone who tried because, hey! At least they tried! They gave an effort! What did you do? Even if it doesn’t pan out, you tried and at the end of the day, or at your 80th birthday, wouldn’t you have liked to say that you tried, made an effort, lived fully without ever wishing to have missed an opportunity to try.
Maybe you’re not a perfectionist either, maybe you’re not in need of upping your bravery game, but if you’re just needing to work through moments of self-doubt, hopefully these points help you out. Of course, the book Brave, Not Perfect is always there to elaborate even more on the topic!
Late last Sunday night I got a text from my mom telling me our sweet Aunt Ronda had peacefully passed after 10 months of fighting through her battle with pancreatic cancer.
When I was growing up, my extended family lived spread between Lubbock and the north Texas area. Once in a while we’d find each other all in the same place for quick family get-togethers and big celebrations. It was always wonderful seeing everyone, playing with the cousins and hanging out with the fun aunts and uncles.
Every time I saw Aunt Ronda—and I mean every time—she always had the biggest smile and the most positive attitude. She was the kind of person who saw the glass as half full and believed fully that there was always a silver lining. Her faith was rock solid and true, something that sustained her through so much. Aunt Ronda loved her family with all she had, and she was so proud of everyone in all they did: her husband, her kids, and all those she held dear. Her kind nature and sweet spirit is a bright light we will all miss.
I wish there were more time. I wish there had been more visits. I think we’re all comforted by the fact that she is no longer in pain and that she had loved ones waiting for her when she passed, like her daddy and her mother-in-law, my sweet grandmother. Today we celebrate Aunt Ronda’s life but we carry her wonderful spirit with us. I know the church will be filled with many hearts who cared for her and her family. I pray my Uncle Gordy and my cousins feel the love and support around them today and know just how much she meant to so many people. For me, I’ll miss her kind nature and sweet smile.
Hey y’all! It’s Friday! Even though it’s summer, Friday’s still have that feeling of freedom to it, don’t they? We’re headed into the weekend with some down time on the horizon and I can’t wait! It’s been a busy three weeks and I’m ready to relax a bit. These have been my saving graces for the last couple of week!
Watermelon Flavored Sparkling Water - It’s fresh and tastes like summer to me!
Krysten Ritter’s Bonfire - It just happened to be listed on Book Bub as a deal a couple of Sunday’s ago and lucky me, I was able to get it on the library. Little mystery quick read, perfect for nighttime story before bed.
LOFT swing dresses - These dresses are my favorite in this hot weather! Easy to throw up, dress up or down and lightweight for these sweltering days. I own this cute pink V neck one and this blue one with the pretty back. I’m seriously thinking about picking up another just because they’ll go for those hot fall days and spring season.
Kelly LeVeque’s Fab Four Green Smoothie - I love a good green drink, but I started changing what I put in my smoothie according to Be Well by Kelly and it has done a wonder to my busy mornings. I can teach for three hours straight and still feel full and satisfied. I’m not even close to starving and that feels like a huge win!
Ingrid Michaelson’s “Young and In Love” - It’s on in the car nearly every day and I’m still not tired of it!
Alright, that’s it for this week! Hope y’all have a fabulous start to your weekend!
Summertime feels endless at the very start and right about 4th of July I start realizing it’s slipping away. My schedule starts filling up, the work emails start coming in with dates for August and the impending start to the new years starts looming. New starts, new beginning, they can be fun for sure, it’s just the saying goodbye to the downtime I’ve grown accustomed to that’s hard.
The last couple of weeks have been packed with summer classes and it’s been so much fun, tiring, but fun! Switching to more lecture based courses has pulled me off moving more and at the first that seemed to give my body a good rest it needed. After a while I noticed I wasn’t moving much at all, personally or at work. This last year I had to change it up because my hip flexors were seriously suffering. At one point I couldn’t even butterfly and if you’re a dancer, you know that’s bad. Things aren’t 100% back to normal yet but they’re getting there. I’m trying to re-up my PT exercises and teaching the last couple weeks has given me a good opportunity to just move.
My brain tends to focus on the big project coming next and I often forget to enjoy the moments that I have left. The to-do’s start infiltrating the brain and before long I’m more consumed with an urgent feeling of “it has to be done now!” Ever get that feeling? It’s a lot of pent up anxiety waiting to just explode and I really don’t want to end a lovely summer that. Nope, no one does. Little by little I’m working through the list and I’ve given myself the next two weeks to really focus on work so that I can be fully present and enjoy my upcoming trip to NYC (Insert squealing here)!
So, ladies and gents, time to buckle down and get some schtuff done and get to enjoying this summer before it all slips away!
Happy Tuesday, y’all!
Happy 4th of July, y’all!
I’m proud to be an American and celebrate this country I live in! There are many, many things that we’re still working through in this country and will continue to work through for some time. However, I feel very lucky to live in a place where I am free and when I think of all those freedoms, gifts that were given to me by men and women who sacrificed so much, I feel all the the more thankful. That’s what today means to me; Celebrating what freedoms we have, remembering those who fought to bring those to us, the future generations, and the thinking of those who will come after us and inherit this land.
As you cruise around the lake, grill up the burgers and watch the fireworks bursting in air, remember that these freedoms were not free and raise a toast of thanks for all we have! We have work to do but today we celebrate!
“We’re blessed with the opportunity to stand for something - for liberty and freedom and fairness. And these are things worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to."
”I believe in America because we have great dreams, and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.”
Weather in Oklahoma these days is no joke. We’ve had over a week’s worth of warnings, terrible storms, tornadoes, the works. In short, it’s been the pits and I’m hoping Mother Nature decides to take a break here real soon.
I planned a trip to Pawhuska to go back to Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile store the day after my birthday. We went through a downpour on the way up but ended up having a gorgeous day after all the rain passed. I made Pyro Man take me last year for the first time ever and I think I’m going to make this a yearly trip. It’s the perfect combination of things for me, things for him and we get to enjoy four hours of just us on a round trip drive together. Not to brag, but we travel pretty well together and I’m super grateful for that.
Food at the Mercantile is still amazing. No photos this time as we were both famished and ready to chow down, but I highly recommend the Chicken Fried Steak and their Ranch Hand Sandwich. I’ve got to try making this one at home, it was delicious! Pyro Man also requested we try PW’s Ranch Dressing at home, that stuff is not your everyday ranch at all! He also kept talking about their $0.25 sweet tea and must have had a gallon while we were there.
Definitely fueled up on caffeine and good food, we (read: I) shopped for some goodies before we headed over to try Charlie’s Sweet Shop. The Maple Pancake ice cream really does taste like pancakes, but I highly recommend the Huckleberry flavor. Superb and perfect for for summer.
We finally got to go on a tour of the Lodge which I have been wanting to do forever and ever amen! It’s not open all the time so I was thrilled we were able to plan a trip on one of those lucky days. The whole place is wide open for all to walk through and see. Open a drawer, any drawer and see all the props, tools, labels and whatnot. The pantry is a dream come true and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I found her back room full of all sorts of gorgeous plates, bowls, dishes and more. In short, I was kid in a candy shop.
So that part of the trip is fun for Pyro Man, but not as fun as the second half of our day, snagging for spoonbill. If you’re not familiar, I definitely wasn’t until a couple years ago, spoonbill or paddlefish are these massive fish, part of the catfish family, with giant bills that can get to be about 100 pounds. They don’t take bait so you have to snag them, there’s a whole technique to getting the hook to snag on. Yes, you can keep them through a tagging process and eat them. No, we haven’t done that, just catch and release for us. Not being much of a fisherwoman myself, Pryo Man filled me in on all the details, the rules, the tagging process as well as the release rules. Let me tell you, there’s so many things to know so if you think you want to just run out there and try this or that your husband might want to, read up on your states website to find out all the regulations first.
We headed out to Kaw Lake, Pyro Man’s preferred spot to snag and changed into some fishing clothes. I forgot my tennis shoes and had to wear his. With my hat, his camo jacket and shoes, I looked like a bad doppleganger of my husband but better that than getting my good outfit all fishy. It turned out to be a perfect day to be on the water. All the rain had made the lake rise and the fish super active. Since then I’m sure the lake is overflowing.
We caught several and yes, I partook for a bit learning how to snag and reel. Pyro Man would help cast and when he got a hold of one he let me reel in to know what it felt like. I got a little 10 pounder and that sucker was pretty hard for me so I can only imagine how much more difficult a larger one would be. The last fish Pyro Man snagged is a crazy story. He got caught on some line and when he tried to reel it in he felt a giant tug and knew there was a fish on there. Get this, he reeled in an 80 pounder by snagging on a line that was still attached to the fish! How crazy is that?!
Had to end on that one because I just don’t think it gets better than that. Another two hours back home, crime podcasts playing and we were home. Days like that are always a joy because we’re both able to partake in things that interest us. I feel really lucky that my adventure loving husband wants to explore things that light me up and that he enjoys teaching me about the things that make him happy. Is there a better win-win out there? I don’t think.
First day of Summer might not actually hit until late June, but for me, it’s totally summertime, baby! I always have a summer list going of things I want to do over the break. Every year it’s a bit different but I always have staples like bake a pie, see a summer box office hit, spend some days reading for fun, watch a fireworks show and don’t forget about a good ol’ ice cream date.
I started making summer bucket lists after a few summers felt lost with work and catch-up to-do’s. Summer has always felt like a season of freedom but this crazy list lady sometimes needs a list to help her embrace that freedom with a few ideas waiting in the wings. Thus the bucket lists were born! I’ve got my personal one written but I played around writing some of my favorites on a simple list for anyone else who wants to join.
The best part of this list and that it’s just a jump off point. Want to road trip but can’t go states away? Just the next town over might have the best donut shop ever! Go see a baseball game if you’re not into coffee shops or heck, a great bar might fit your feel better. Doesn’t matter. The point of a list is to give yourself some ideas of fun things to do that really encapsulates summer time and now’s the time to really think how you want to spend hazy crazy days of summer!
What’s on your summer bucket list?