Challenge Accepted

Coming back from Christmas, I knew that I really wanted to get back into feeling better about myself, get a hold of the unconscious eating and start moving my body more. I spent the fall really focusing on eating when I was hungry and making better choices. I wasn’t perfect by any means but changes here and there helped out a great deal. Then the holidays hit…it’s always a rough time for me no matter how much I try to prepare or make a mental game plan.

A challenge was coming up for Tone It Up, a fitness community and program that I follow and I thought, “ok, girl. It’s time to get serious!” When I actually follow their program, I’m solid and I’ve seen real results. What I’ve come to realize is that when I focus and work hard I have great results. Duh. Like that’s big news. But when I start to see those awesome results, I usually backslide. I start to think, “oh it’s okay to have a little more of this, I’ve done so well!” or “I can skip that workout today because I did a really hard one yesterday and look how good things are going!”

Those little indulgences, if you will, add up when you do it over and over again and before you know all those good habits you’ve started to introduce just go away. In case you didn’t know, no matter how much you plan or daydream or think and wish about taking care of your body, it doesn’t do a dang thing unless you put those thoughts into action.

That’s been a big problem for me over the years; a little results, backsliding and then nothing but thinking for a long time until I’m ready to get started again. I’m really burned out on that cycle. I want to make actual changes that are sustainable.

The #loveyourbody challenge is here and I’m doing it but a little bit differently so I actually see the 8 weeks through. I have to have a realistic plan going in because if I did all the things at once I would just be setting myself up for failure.

I started with simple goals and decided to add a new element each week. One thing at a time so that I get a week to practice and get better at it. The week before the challenge, it was all about just getting up and working out, trying to find the time that works best for me. Also, just trying to change the mindset of being too tired or simply put-it-off-til-tomorrow mindset needs some serious focus and I need to actively practice that.

This last week was all about eating better and making smarter choices. Swapping out items, adding more greens, listening to when I’m hungry and when I’m not, downing the water, and trying for a few less sweets. All these things I know and I try to practice but it needs a refresh and I need to be consistent.

This week will be all about sleep. I need it and I can tell that going to be at 11:00 is not allowing me to be successful at getting up at 6. Yup, I’m an 8 hours a night gal and that last hour really does make a huge difference for me. Next week? Probably adding in the daily moves three times a week. After that, who knows, but I’m adding each one as I get better with the previous.

The point is to add in something each week, building better habits rather than trying to change things all at once. I think that was always my downfall; I’d start strong with good intentions and drop it after a couple weeks because I didn’t build in the practice so the work and habits weren’t sustainable.

If you’ve found yourself in the midst of a challenge or looking to do one, get back on track and all, maybe figure out where you can actually push yourself to better and then make that happen in a realistic way. Going all in can work for some, but not all. One step at a time still gets me there, maybe at a slower pace, but hey. It’s my pace!

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She Wore Blue Velvet

I think velvet is divine and this last fall I found a dress on Pinterest, a velvet dress mind you, and I had to have it. Of course I couldn’t find it but I did call my dear sweet mother and asked her pretty please could she help me out and y’all, she did a bang up job on this dress!

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I really wanted a blue velvet dress to wear for our Christmas show performances and I felt so classy and elegant in this pattern my mother made. Yes, my mother is a whiz at sewing. Have I told you she made my wedding dress? From three different patterns? I feel terrible sad for my future children who will not know the fantastic Halloween costumes I had growing up. It’s a skill I work on intermittently and needs attention desperately.

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I digress. So my mother made me this gorgeous dress (yes, I know it’s truly velour fabric) and I’ve been dying to find the right time to wear it again when I saw my favorite childhood musical is coming to town, Phantom of the Opera. Years ago my mother ordered a top hits of Andrew Lloyd Webber album back when CD’s were brand spanking new. I fell in love with every song from Phantom and oh, how I wanted to be Christine Daae! She was beautiful, she could sing like a bird, and everyone (who really mattered in the story) loved her. Sort of sounds like Snow White but a little more dark and haunting. Oh, and no poisonous apples or dreamless sleep.

Dad took me to see the tour when it came through Dallas when I was about twelve and I was just captivated. I’m pretty sure I wore that souvenir sweatshirt until it had holes. When the movie came out, I had the biggest crush on Patrick Wilson. I practically swooned when I met him at a music theater intensive that same summer.

To see a favorite production in a stunning blue dress, what more could gal possibly want? In short, I’m really looking forward to a night at the theater!

You can find a version similar by Calvin Klein at Macy’s or this plunging neckline wrap dress at Lulu’s. Another wrap dress at Dillards is beautiful as is this thin strapped number at Nordstrom!

Do you have a favorite show you enjoy seeing live? Straight play or musical? Opera? Ballet? Spill!

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Winter Whites Over Winter Blues

Now we’re really into the winter weather, folks. It’s cold. We’ve already had some wintery mix watches in OKC and I’ve officially broken out the giant jacket for the chilling winds. Yup, winter is here.

I’m happy to say that with the blustery winter weather means more time to enjoy those cozy sweaters I love so much! This one has been a favorite for sure.

Click  here  for this Lou & Gray Sweater

Click here for this Lou & Gray Sweater

It’s giant, it’s comfy and I can dress it up or down. Black or navy leggings, jeans or joggers, it doesn’t matter because it’s all good! Boots, booties, tennis shoes or just plain ol’ socks, you can’t go wrong.

You’ve got to find the things that are going to take you out of all the winter blues that happen this month and for me, sometimes that’s putting on a deliciously cozy sweater and tackling the day.

January is one of those months that’s easy to fall into a blue mood like it’s blue weather. The skies don’t seem to shine as bright, it’s cold which makes all warm blooded creatures want to retreat to the comfort of cozy covers. Nothing gets me more fired up than the promise of spring, but we’re a ways from getting there.

Rather than succumbing to the gloom of the month, I’m all for finding ways to lift my spirits. I think getting dressed up always helps! You’ve got to put on that outfit, pull up your hair and get started. Sometimes you’ve just got to make your own sunshine, you know? For me, well, I guess it’s an oversized snow white sweater that’ll do the trick!

Some winter white options for you: this white wrap sweater from LOFT or this awesome V-neck and this fuzzy sweater from Anthropologie! For a less pricey option, this one from Target is darling as is this one!

What pulls you out of the winter blues?

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Happy Spring Semester!

Happy back to school for all those starting back today! This marks my seventh year working with this university which seems like both an enormous amount of time and yet the shortest amount of time. Isn’t that funny how time works?

I’m ready for the semester as best as I can be and looking to another full and busy spring time. Knowing it’s going to be a full semester (I counted, there’s only 4 fully work free weekends this year—eep!) I’m going to try and beat the burnout phase as best I can by being as prepared as can. Maybe you’re about to enter a busy season, too, and if that’s the case, here are a few things that might help you out as well:

Tips for Busy Times

  1. Meal Plan - Yes, this really does help and I really do this faithfully every week! I plan meals to be leftovers for both Janson and I, meals that are easy to fix when I’m dead tired and also based on what’s in season and on sale.

  2. Meal Prep - If I have lunches already in my fridge at work, that’s one less thing to worry about the night before or the morning off. A little time on Sunday basically saves me a lot of time during the week.

  3. One Stop Shop - I’m not a person that goes to the store eight times in one week. That does not work me. I enjoy my shopping time but I plan to pick up everything and not return until the next week’s list is ready. I’m thinking this year I might investigate online grocery delivery or rapid pick-up just say me a couple hours.

  4. Chore Chart - So I don’t have a specific chart up anywhere, but I do have designated days when I get household things done. Friday’s are meal planning and grocery shopping. Saturdays are my days to spend with Janson or with friends. Sunday’s are always my get-it-together day to do meal prepping, laundry and any picking up around the house. I’m going to try to designate one night to vacuuming and one to wiping down the bathroom just to sneak those in without being an all day affair. Just make it a habit each week and you’ll find your house is less of a disaster than you thought.

  5. Planner Time - By taking some time on Sundays to look ahead, I can see what all needs to get done and when, which allows me the opportunity to plan for what’s coming down the pike that week. It doesn’t have to be more than about 15 - 20 minutes and I’ve saved myself some sort of freak out for the week. I call that winning. PS - I wrote about my favorite planners here. Check it out.

  6. Daily Tasks - Each day I take a sticky note and write down 1 to 5 things that have to get done based on what I have written in my planner. You’ve probably heard of this before, but I’m telling you it helps get your long to-do list done so much easier. I can’t save the world in a day, but I can grade some papers, choreography 4 sets of eight, send off that email and prep the next days class efficiently if I make them a priority. Sticky notes. Go buy a ton!

  7. Schedule It All - Friend time to date nights, I have to schedule it in. Fly-by-the-seat-of-pants moments just don’t work when my time is that precious so I have to carve out the time. That allows me to actually make time for fun, relaxation, connection, and oh yeah, living my life outside of work.

  8. Don’t Forget to Breathe - Yeah. Take time for yourself. My time looks different depending on what I need. This year I’m hoping it’s reading for spell, spending time on the blog, taking more baths or going to a do a yoga class. The point is, do something for you even if it’s just sitting for 5 whole minutes without any screens or sounds.

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You know that saying, “You have to spend money to make money.”? Well, I feel that can be true for time. You have to spend time to make time happen. What I mean is set yourself up for success by taking time to plan it out with just a few short minutes. Set a timer if you have to, put your phone away (I leave it charging in another room—that’s a habit I’ve started doing), and write it out, get it done. You’ll be surprised how much extra time you make for yourself and how much faster you get at things when you practice those good habits.


What are the best things you do during busy, busy times of life?

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Morning Do(nut)s

Good mornin' world!! 

It's Saturday and hot damn, it's a three day weekend to boot! To tell you the truth, I don't know if a Saturday could get any better. This first week back with classes in full session has gone off pretty well and I'm so, so very happy to say I'm prepped for the next week. Good grief, that feels good!

I'm ready to embrace the weekend fully! I'm talking late mornings, hot cups of coffee, comfy clothes and lot's of pet snuggling! That sounds like a list of to-do's I am looking forward to doing! 

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Yup, I'm taking on the weekend and I think it'll be pretty sweet. Donut you agree? 

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Let the Shopping Begin!

As a kid I loved shopping for Christmas gifts. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to do the surprising, shopping, and wrapping myself! Because it's Christmas, you've got to make this a whole experience with specials scents, good drinks and snacks and of course, Christmas music. Usually I like to wait until I'm really in the season spirit do all things Christmas, shopping, wrapping, etc. 

Well, that ship has sailed. No more waiting for the mood because let me tell you, the mood comes and goes. This is a crazy busy time of year and it's impossible to put off and wait. Now I'm starting to see the light in shopping early and getting things prepped before Thanksgiving hits the table. 

This year I'm really focused on the kiddos for gifts--with Janson back in school we're being more strategic in our purchases. I'm on the hunt for things I know the nieces and nephews will love but will also bring a little more practicality to their little lives.  

For my sweet little niece, she's takin' a shine to dance (I can't say my little heart doesn't explode just knowing this) so I've picked out a beautiful new leotard, tights, and some beautiful ballet shoes for the spring. I wrapped up the shoes in a sparkly pink stocking with a ballerina doll that I gave to her at Thanksgiving. I wanted her to have new ballet shoes for her first Nutcracker performance! The rest will be waiting for her under the tree. 

Definitely something she'll appreciate and get some use out of this spring! 

For my youngest nephew, well, he's a busy little guy and into a lot already. I spied some cute wooden race cars at Target and I've been thinking it might be wonderful to get him something that moves with him. How about a train set with a track? 

It's small so it doesn't take up much space plus it's something his big sister to help him build and play with, too. Best part is, if he loves it we can add on more tracks or trains for his birthday in April! 

I have three more precious kiddos to think about and I know how much their parents want to share more experiences with them than toys. I love that they enjoy getting their kids involved in activities--it makes me think creatively as a gift giver but knowing these kids, they love to go out and do just about anything! They've been gifted with museum school and and zoo school before and loved it! For their spring birthdays, I'm thinking some help with pool passes would be awesome! 

For Christmas though, we're going with Fandango gift cards! Take the kids to a new hot movie that's out and make it a family outing for everyone! Add some treats, popcorn, a soda, and you've got yourself a right nice afternoon.

We're also thinking about some favorite children's books for family read alongs. I found an awesome book, American Tall Tales, filled with great stories for my rough and tumble nephews. I'm sure they'll love learning about Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan!

I'm feeling pretty good about the kids gifts this year! Now it's time to start wrapping and baking up all the goodies that make it feel like the holidays. Cheers, y'all! 

What are some of your Christmas gift ideas this year? 

 

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Christmas Jams

I'm spending a lot of time at work grading, writing letters, reading papers, and jotting down ideas for the spring. All that time in my office, I need something to just keep me feeling light and joyful despite the ever growing list of to-do's. This particular time of year is usually made easier with the help of some good ol' classic Christmas music. 

I whipped a quick playlist of my favorite albums to listen to this time of year. I swear they help me work faster without getting irritated by the same old carols. Let's be honest, this is a season we don't need to feel irritated. I want to by joyous in celebrating this Christmas spirit! And if I have to spend three solids weeks bringing in a show, grading millions of papers, projects and wrapping up a semester, well, by golly, I'm going to do it to some incredibly soothing yet seasonal music! 

I have a few albums from my childhood I love to play in the background, just classical style Christmas tunes that help me focus and feel cheerful. When it comes to reading papers and editing work, I will get way too distracted with too many lyrics--I can't help but break out in song! At the same time you can't have Christmas music without a few sing alongs. Just had to make sure they were ones that didn't (a) pull me off task or (b) grate the nerves! I think these artists will do just fine though! 

Happy listening to all and to all a happy weekend! 

What are some of your favorite holidays albums? 

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Dreaming of a Book Filled Christmas

OK, it may be November still but I'm already dreaming of Christmas break! Only another week and a half of classes and then a week of finals. Sure, there's a ton of things to do between now and then but as soon as the grades are, my office is picked up, and the fall chapter closed, I will be happily in my home embracing all the Christmas wonderfulness this season! 

What, pray tell, does that include? A ton of reading! 

I was getting really great at taking 15-30 minutes a night to read an unwind and when the Thanksgiving break hit, my reading slowed to a halt. Next week is show week so you know there won't be any time for pleasure reading since we'll be up in the theater every night. I figured this would be a good time to start plotting my next reads for the break. 

Poldark

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I've been obsessed with the show ever since Big Sister told me about it. I literally set up a nest on my guest bed, made myself hot tea and embroidered while I traveled back to 1770 something for all of seasons 1, 2, and 3. It was heaven! 

I can't wait until season four to know what's happening so I think it's only reasonable I dive into the series! 

Little Women

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I guess I'm into these older tales, but at least I've jumped to the 1860's! As much as I love the story and the movie, I have never sat down to actually read this book. I don't know why, it just seems like a perfect Christmas time story to read. Perhaps it's the idea of family, sisterhood, and love, all those feel good emotions that pop up around the holidays. 

The Snowman

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I know, a total left turn from the historic line and romantic era, but I've been into suspense novels as of late and this one just looks like a good winter spook. Might have to save it for January but it's definitely one at the top of the list for me. Sounds like a good one story to me! 

 

All I have to do know is make it through all the grading and then, it's all about relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time! 

What kind of books are you looking to sit down with this December? 

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