I’ve Got Magic Beans

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(Image Courtesy of IMDB.com)

Is anyone else out there a Friends fan? *raises both hands*  It’s one of the only shows that my husband and I can always agree to watch, and believe me, we have watched it over and over again – a ton of times, over the years.  The other day, I was trying to figure out something to watch that I could fold laundry to (and yes, the laundry is still in a large heap on my couch), when I decided to start with Season 1 of Friends.  

Do you remember the episode (like the third or fourth of the first season’s discs), when Rachel is being asked by her credit card company’s if she is okay because she hasn’t been spending money like she used to?  Her response, after some initial freaking out because of a disastrous reunion with some old friends, is that she’s okay because she has magic beans….like (as Phoebe says) Jack from Jack and the Bean Stalk.

Now, I bring this up, not just because the show is awesome (it is SO awesome), but also because the epiphany came at a crucial moment in my life.  Lately, I have been giving some serious consideration to where I am in my life and whether or not I should be proud of what I have accomplished thus far, or rather be angry that I haven’t done everything that I thought I would have by now.

Do you remember those kids in high school that knew from infancy that they wanted to grow up to be a foot doctor or rainbow maker?  Well, I was not one of those kids.  (I had an inkling that I would love to be a writer, but that dream didn’t solidify until recently.)  I was the kid that even after a few semesters of college, enlisted in the Air Force, because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

After doing that for a few years (about five), I separated from the Air Force, and moved to be with my husband in Italy. (I know, it was really tough.)  It took some time, but I finally was able to get a job in the Civil Service and have been doing that ever since.

Now, in this time we’ve also had the most gorgeous and smart little girl.  She’s amazing and I can’t figure my life at all without her.  (She keeps me on my toes and makes sure I earn my “mom-badge” daily.)

So, as I’m sitting there, not folding laundry, I’m thinking about my life and where I thought I would be when I reached the age I am, and I couldn’t help but feel a little…unsure.  I know of friends that I have (those dreaded perfectionists from high school) that knew their dreams and are now like famous in their chosen careers (probably have butlers to clean the rainbows they make in their spare time from solving world hunger), and it was hard not to think that maybe I could have tried harder.  Maybe things would be different today.

Well, then my daughter runs into the living room.  She crawls into my lap and gives me a big hug and tells me, “I love you, mommy.  You are so beautiful.”  (She must have heard me say this to her a million times, but I’ll take it.)  

I couldn’t help but smile into her big brown eyes and think, like Rachel, I’ve got some awesome magic beans!

I may not be the astronaut I thought I might be (I’m not really great at math), or the big-time lawyer I briefly imagined (seriously, they have to go to school for a LONG time!), but I have so much more than I thought I would.  I have a wonderful husband and daughter, a great job, and family and friends.  It doesn’t get much better. *smiles*

What about you?  Are you fulfilling all those dreams you had as a child?  Do you have some great magic beans?

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Look, I’m an Artist

Last night I went to an art class with my friend, Sandra, and we attempted to paint on canvas a painting entitled, “Winter Solstice.”  Here is what I came up with.  (Note:  I’m not showing you what the example looked like because I want you to be impressed. Haha!)

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Just before going to this class, my husband teased me about going to a finger-painting class, but you should have seen his face when I got home with this.  He thought that I had bought this painting and when he realized that I actually painted it myself, well…he was blown away.  I thought this was interesting, not just because it was flattering, but when I look at it, I can see every little thing that I did wrong.

You know, it’s a little funny that my life right now is all about art.  When I was in school, art was amongst my worst subjects because for one reason or another just annoyed me to no end. (I had a teacher once tell me that my drawing was horrible and that I should give up…so I kind of did.)

But that didn’t change my appreciation for art.  Growing up in Europe, I would be surprised if you didn’t have some enjoyment of art.  I’m not just talking about the wonderful art museums like the Louvre, but I’m talking about beautiful castles (like Burg Eltz, Neuschwanstein, or even Edinburgh Castle), wonderful food and wine (and yes, I think wine is an art), and amazing books. (I once got to visit the house of Sir Walter Scott – awesome!)

Given all of this grief that I got from attempting my own art, I think it’s amazing that I grew up into the person that I am; someone who is an artist.  Isn’t that funny?  Now, I hear the word, “artist” and immediately I think of someone who paints or draws…something like that.  But when I looked up the word on online etymology dictionary, it came up with, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts.” (Or master of the liberal arts.)  Isn’t that funny?  (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before but my degree is in Liberal Arts.)  As a child, I did everything I could to avoid learning art, but as an adult it is apparently what I readily embrace.

How about you?  Are you an artist?  What kind of art do you practice? 

I Know It’s Not Monday

ImageTGIF!!!  I don’t know about you, but this entire week has been off for me.  On Tuesday it felt like Monday.  On Thursday I thought it was already Friday….but Friday is finally here.  Whoot! 

It’s been a really good week in my family.  We’ve had some great news, little things, all week.  Not the norm at all, but I’m telling you I’m grateful, really.  Lasty year was not super great, so I’m excited about all the little things this year.

I don’t know about you, but Monday morning’s are really tough for me.  Having the alarm go off, you roll over and look and see that it’s already the next work week.  Getting motivated to get out of your nice, warm, bed can be difficult.  Enter the movie, “High Fidelity.”  Have you all seen this movie?  The part that I’m talking about (although the whole movie is really awesome) is when Jack Black comes into the record store with his “Monday morning tape.”  (Yes, cassette tape.)  Do remember the first song that he played?

 

Watching this moive a few weeks ago sparked a debate between my husband and myself about what the ultimate Monday-morning-movitating song would be?  I mean, let’s give this some serious thought. (Meanwhile, someone is either smirking at me at this point or banging their head on their desk.)

So, there we are, sitting on our couch, debating music and what would be the best song to get you going on a Monday.  My husband’s input was, “Holding Out For A Hero,” by Bonnie Tyler.  I have to admit, that’s a pretty good song.  I defy anyone to listen to this song and at least not have a small smile on your face.

I couldn’t think of anything to beat this at first.  I mean, I have a lot of favorite songs, but nothing that would be the ultimate in this category, I think.  Until this morning!

I was getting ready for my Friday, listening to the radio, when my vote for the Monday-morning song came on…..”Eye of the Tiger.”  Yeah!  I mean, who doesn’t get pumped listening to this song?

So now I ask, what do you think?  Do you have a song that helps you get going in the morning?  I would LOVE to hear from you!

Are you living your dream?

ImageI was reading a blog post from Kristen Lamb about moving from being an “aspiring writer” to a “professional pre-published writer,” and it got me thinking.  How many of us out there are actually living our dreams?

This is something that I think about a lot because now that I’m a mother, I want to tell my daughter to reach for her dreams – dream big and work hard for what she wants in life. I confess, though, that I’m hesitant to believe this too much because how many people out there are actually living their dreams?

As a child, I think our dreams a really different.  You want different things and you base your hopes off of a place that is more or less not in tune with expectations in the “real world.” (Does that sound cynical – I don’t mean to be.)  I guess what I’m saying is as I got older, I know that my dreams changed.  Not just because of life experiences, but also because the things that were most important to me changed as well.

What is it about working towards your dreams that frightens us so much?  I wonder if other people struggle with that like I do and if so, I would love to hear your story.  From my experience, I can tell you that I always kind of figured that writing was something that would never be a real job – one that paid the bills and all that.  But now, after spending some time in that “real” world, I can tell you writing is all I think about.

I wake up, go to work, come home; and in all that time, I’m thinking about writing.  Now, after some serious thought, I had decided that this year, 2014, would be the year that I put more action to my thoughts.  ACTION is the word this year.  I’m going to keep trying and see what happens – because if I don’t I’ll never know, right?

How about you?  Are you living your dream?  Maybe your dream isn’t a job, maybe it’s something else?  I would LOVE to hear from you!  Please share your story with me.

First Review

So, with action still being the name of the game, comes the first of the book reviews that is part of my “challenge” this year.  I’m participating (I can’t remember if I mentioned this before) in a reading challenge from a fellow author named, Roni Loren (www.roniloren.com), where she suggested that you challenge yourself by pushing your reading boundaries.

First of all, I started reading many moons ago, when my father would take my sister and I to the bookstore once a week to get a book.  We could get any book that we wanted, but for that first time, I believe I chose a version of Betty and Veronica.  I never realized that I was delving into the realm of graphic comics or what it would do for me and my life, but I can say that it changed everything.  

It wasn’t too long after that when I picked up my first novel, Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey, that I discovered my love for romance.  (I would like to add at this point that many of the books that I was reading for school at the time like, Anne of Green Gables, grew on my as I got older.)  But, I picked up this first novel on at a bookstore at the airport and thought it would keep me occupied for the long flight overseas and thus began my love of books.

I was a pretty stick romance fan for a few years and slowly but surly have begun to push my boundaries. *smirk*  I read all of the Harry Potter books when they came out and at the encouragement of friends, tried The Hunger Games and loved it.  I took the Percy Jackson series on a whim and have realized that maybe there’s more out there than I originally thought.  

So, when Roni Loren suggested this 2014 Reading Challenge, I eagerly, (if digitally) raised my hand and the rest is history.  (or so I’ve heard)

I put together a list of genres that are in my wheel house, pushing my boundaries, and just flat outside my comfort zone; and will slowly be working my way through this list as the year progresses.  Eventually, I’m going to have to work my way to Stephen King and I’m really not looking forward to that.  (NOT because he’s not an amazing writer – because he is, but because I’m the worst wimp when it comes to horror.  Just wanted to clarify.)

Okay….so the first book that I chose was YA and that is defiantly in my wheel house, but I always get a little nervous reading YA because I’m never exactly sure what to expect.  

 

The first book I chose the book, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and I am so happy to say that it was amazing.  It’s funny, because my husband and I saw the trailer for this movie due to come out this year, and we decided that we wanted to read the books first before it came out but I wasn’t sure what to expect from it.  

So, we downloaded the book to my husband’s iPhone and listened to it as we drove for almost twelve hours to visit my family over Christmas.  The book is great.  I was curious to see how it would be because I was expecting some similarities to The Hunger Games, but it was very different and written very well.  My husband and I, who have never downloaded an audio book before, hung on every word that the narrator was saying and that was the shortest twelve hour trip that I’ve ever taken.  If you haven’t had the chance to read this book yet, please do, because it is just awesome.  I’m never quite sure how to explain because I don’t want to give it away (for those that haven’t read it yet), but I will say that the story hooked me from the start and I really cared about the characters and what was happening to them.  We immediately downloaded Allegiant, and since we are home now, are slowly working our way through that.

So, I started in my wheel house.  The next book is going to be a little bit more outside my comfort zone. *smiles*

How about you?  What are you reading right now?  What genres are your favorite and which are ones you would never read?

 

Sick Days

This was my first day back to work in over two weeks.  It was great to get away from work for a little while and spend some time with the family for the holidays.  I also got to spend my birthday with my parents and sister, which hasn’t happened in over maybe twelve years?  My husband and I have spent a lot of time living overseas with the Air Force, so when we got the opportunity to be able to spend Christmas and New Year’s with my folks and sister, I jumped at it!

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Photo courtesy of Pencildancer on WANA Commons on Flickr

So we packed up the family and headed to the “Gateway to the West” for a little over two weeks.  It was great.  I was hoping, since we are from northern Texas, that we would have a snowy Christmas, but alas, the snow held out for New Year’s.  And as a matter of fact, we just missed “snowmeggedon” that hit the night after we left and I’ve heard that they had over a foot of snow there – crazy.

Monday after we get home dawns horribly early (at 5 a.m. actually) since right after my alarm went off, I thought someone broke into our house and tried to steal our dog from our room. (Our German Shepherd Dog, Leah, sleeps in our room at night and at 5 a.m., someone opened the door to our room and let her out.)  So I’m shaking the husband awake and yelling at him that someone broke in and he’s jumping out of the bed and running into the hall only to discover that it was our daughter, who had snuck out of bed.

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Image courtesy of Lynn Kelley Author from WANA Commons on Flickr

Now, logic dictates that this of course couldn’t be a burglar for two very good reasons; one, we have an alarm system, and two, our dog would have likely at least barked if someone tried to get in, but none of this enters your head when someone sneakily opens your door at this hour of the morning. (Yes, I’m laughing now, wasn’t at the time though.)

After the premature heart attack and rushing to get ready, I get all the way to the daycare to drop off my daughter and realize that I forgot her blanky.  What kind of mother does this???  *ugh*  The kind of mother who is having the day like I was having this morning.  I drop my daughter off, promising that I will figure out how to get home and back again with her blanky before nap time.  (Luckily my husband had to run home this morning, so it worked out.)

Next, I come out to my car to discover that someone had hit my car.  Well, not like a hit-and-run kind of hit, but the kind that dents your door frame really good and makes you want to scream.

ImageIt doesn’t look like much here, but flip that picture around and that is my car door frame.  I know the person who did it, but since I didn’t “witness” the bump, I can’t really demand that they pay for it.  I can’t even think about this without getting spun up.

During all of this I’m battling what I suspect might be a really nasty sinus infection/head cold (yes, I need a tissue 🙂 ) and even a minor migraine.

Okay, here’s where the story gets good – after getting done with the police report for the accident, I get to work and everyone there sings “Happy Birthday” to me and I get a piece of cake. *smiles*  It was really great cake.  Also, it was nice to get to see everyone again, even if work was crazy busy.

So…how was your Monday?  Did you get a chance to be with family this holiday season?

 

Year in Review

Having a birthday on New Year’s can certainly put your life in perspective, especially when you miscalculate how old you are going to be and discover you are going to be older than you thought. (yes, that did happen this year)

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Image Curtesy of http://starwars.com.

 

Not mentioning any numbers, but what I found really stressful is that I thought that I had at least one more year to enact my “plan.”  You know, when you think that you are going to have A, B, and C done by the time that you turn….*fill in the blank.*  Well, now that I am at least a year behind in that schedule, I gave myself a stern lecture about time management and have made some new promises for myself with the dawn of 2014.

It got me thinking, where in the world did time go this year???  Why does it go quicker as you get older?  Mystical questions seem to be in high demand when you are pondering your life’s direction. *smiles*  I can say that last year was a little rough at the beginning and our family definitely had some challenges, but in the end we had quite a handful of great things going on as well.  We got to go on a few trips and spend some great time with family.  My husband got promoted *woot-woot* and I won some awards at work. 

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Also….I finished my FIRST book. (I put “first” in caps because there will be more! <insert evil laugh>)  So…before the craziness of 2014 fully commences, (with the upcoming force shaping in the Air Force, things might get more….stressful), I just wanted to take a quiet moment and be thankful for all that had going on.

…..Quiet moment……thoughts…..hmmm, I’m hungry……snack…….coffee…..Uh oh, baby girl is awake….<End Quiet moment>

 

So, everyone talks about resolutions now.  I was watching Good Morning America yesterday (abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books) and I swear I’ve searched high and low for the who the author was on that show but couldn’t find his name (I’m sorry I forgot), but he was talking about his new book and basically he was saying how everyone always has these impressive resolutions and instead of having a long, wordy resolution, to choose one word to live by for the rest of the year.  Examples that were given were “Faith” and “Patience,” and he had a three step process to finding that word (and I swear I’m going to try to keep looking for this because I thought it was really good advice).  After a few moments of thinking I decided that my word for this year is going to be….ACTION.  Yes, action, because if you know me at all, you know that I am very good at making plans, but as far as resolutions am horrible about keeping them.  So, my thought for the year is to ensure that I DO something about my resolutions and not just talking about them. 

With that thought in mind, I wanted to share that I will be involved in a writing and reading challenge this year.  I’m going to “Push my Boundaries” (roniloren.com) by reading outside my comfort zone this year, so will be deferring to my knowledgeable friends about different books to try later.  (I’ll post the spreadsheet tomorrow.)  

I refuse to have a resolution about fitness because I never stick to it *must eat chocolate,* but I’m going to try to adopt a slightly healthier lifestyle.

*WHEW*

Sorry, this was so long! 🙂  But it was a lot to cover for the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.  What about you?  What are your resolutions this year?  Did you have a good 2013?

Twinkly Lights in the Twilight Zone

 

Take a quick walk with me on the wild side here.  It’s fun…trust me.  Just close your eyes and join me on the path of awesome and crazy. I think everyone has a little bit of that interesting something that makes them different from everyone else.  It was at dinner tonight with some friends that I realized that there is a bit more to me than maybe normal. *smile*

I’ll just admit it here – I like cards that have music.  You know which ones I’m talking about?  You go down the card isle in Hallmark or somewhere like that and I head directly for the cards that play ‘Bad to the Bone’ or the theme song from Star Wars.  I think that they are one of the best inventions in recent history.  I can spend quite a few minutes hanging out here, opening each of the cards and seeing what they sing or do.  

Have you ever gotten one of those cards?  So much cooler than the white card with balloons on it when you get a card that rocks out some Hendrix – right?

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Okay, okay…I’ll admit that maybe this isn’t all that unusual.  It’s a fact that I see quite a few people in this section of the store when I’m there.  I’ll give you one more.  

Just recently my dad got my daughter hooked on Cocoa Puffs.  What’s not to like, right?  But honestly, I haven’t had this cereal in years, but now we are always looking for it every Sunday because my daughter can make Mickey Mouse with the chocolate puffs.  So, we finished this box of chocolaty goodness and hubby reaches in for the toy surprise and it’s…..a Boba Fett pen!!!  Oh my….!!!  

I think you can guess what happened next.  That’s right, the two adults in the house are now fighting over the toy surprise in the cereal while my daughter goes off to watch cartoons.  As a matter of fact, after my husband cruelly holds it above my head, he runs off to hide it somewhere in the house and won’t even let me try it out. *sad face*

So you better believe, that when next grocery day comes around, I made sure to buy the Cocoa Puffs cereal box that came with another Star Wars pen in it and hubby ever so graciously reaches in the box and hands me the same pin.  (I need to insert here that we discovered that the pen was actually Jengo Fett – seriously not as cool.)  

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So now everyone’s happy, except for the fact that we have learned that there are six other pens in the whole collection so you can guess which cereal we will be purchasing for the next little while.

*party lights flash*

So now we are back in the land of maturity reality, and….yay. 🙂  Tell me, I can’t be alone in this right?  

Snow Days

Winter in Texas, especially north central Texas, can be a little intimidating.  I thought it was really interesting to see when my family first moved here from Northern Japan, how intense it can be when there is an expectation of snow or sleet.  There is a mad panic here that I hadn’t seen before and honestly never considered when you come from a place where the average snow fall on a given day is around six inches.

So, despite the fact that we weren’t expecting a lot, it can be considered that for this area of the world (and for a town that just recently had temperatures in the 80s), there was obviously some cause for concern.  I don’t know that many even actually have much experience driving in these conditions either.

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So, Thursday I arrived home a little earlier than usual with my daughter because we didn’t want to get caught in the weather and sure enough, the roads froze over like one giant sheet of ice.  I could see the postman outside my house, driving slowly by, and I offered a quick prayer of thanks for people that would brave our weather to deliver our mail.

My family continued to “burrow” (*smiles*) the next day, staying inside and watching movies and relaxing.  It was a first for a new holiday tradition for my family, where we had our daughter leave a shoe outside the night before for St. Nicholas. (to see more about this tradition, check out this site: http://www.stnicksday.com

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So, all in all, we are enjoying the winter weather here, and considering what all we can do to pass the time. 🙂  How about you?  How’s the weather were you are in the world?

The Attack of the Millipede

This morning, as I’m sitting on my bed on my laptop, cautiously holding my head a certain way to avoid having my curlers fall out of my hair, my daughter sitting besides me half in and half out of her clothes for the day (she’s busy watching TV and that can obviously distract her from the urgent matter of her getting dressed and ready for the day), a millipede, a pretty long one from that, decided that it would take that moment to crawl slowly across my bed in front of me.  OH MY….!!!!!

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(Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mjtmail)

At first I’m thinking that this is just great – an awesome sign of things to come for the rest of the day.  (I mean if you call jumping up from the bed, screaming, causing my daughter to scream and freak out, my husband to come running in as I reach my hand up to grab my still very hot curler to keep it from falling out of my hair, then eventually running way behind; a bad start, then yes, I had a bad start.)

It wasn’t until I come home from what was a pretty stressful day that I got a message on Facebook from my cousin, who told me that actually a millipede sighting could be a good thing.

http://buildingthebridge.wordpress.com/…/…

So, now I choose to believe that instead of a bad omen, my now perished millipede might have been trying to give me some good news.  And wouldn’t that be nice?  I think everyone could go for a little bit of good news on a busy and horrid Tuesday afternoon.  Right?

Have you dealt with some curious and friendly insects trying to escape the weather into the safety of your home?