Wedding overview – WE SURVIVED

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything. I have been wrapped up in wedding prep and planning… So sorry about that, but hey, what’s a girl to do?

Three days post wedding, and I am sitting at my computer with my feet propped up. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for requesting a few extra days off from work to recoup. This is when I truly come to realize that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I am SO exhausted! My actual job is a very physical one… lots of heavy lifting, customer service, and thinking mix ratios, timelines, etc. That is a cake walk compared to this whirlwind of a week. I’m pretty sure that every muscle in my body aches. My feet are destroyed. My brain hurts. I am, surprisingly, ready to go back to work for some normalcy!

Here’s a rundown of my last week. I’ll have to sort some things through to make sure all my facts are in order. Bear with me here.

Last Tuesday, the 21st, was a normal workday. Mostly. My brother, John, along with his wife and thirteen year old son, started their journey from Idaho by car. He texted me throughout the day to give me updates on their travels. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. They arrived at my work around three in the afternoon. I was overjoyed to see them. I cried a little. My only sibling, and I haven’t seen him in nearly two years. I miss him! They spent the last two hours at my work visiting. I’m sure my coworkers were a bit annoyed with that, but, honestly, I didn’t care. It was so nice to see them. We all went home after that and unloaded their car. I gave them a tour of the house, and showed them all the changes since they had visited last. They got to meet my two new doggies, Joshua and Maya. My nephew bonded with Maya almost instantly. It was adorable. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting about anything and everything. It was so nice.

Wednesday morning, the 22nd, I made a call to the contact person for the wedding venue to try and set up a meeting for Thursday afternoon. I had three phone numbers. The first number was disconnected… Uh oh! I left voice messages on the other two. I was a bit nervous about that, but I tried to push that to the back of my mind. I DID NOT say anything to my daughter. That was the last thing she needed to hear. She was starting to stress a bit. That’s what brides-to-be do, right? After that, John and I went through all the electrical components I had collected over the last few months to figure out what we still needed to make all the audio work for the wedding. (I have been collecting items for my music group here and there for future performances.) We had just about everything except for an amplifier/receiver and a few connectors and cables. We ran into town and found everything at one store. Hallelujah! My hubby had a receiver, RCA cables, and speaker wire, so all in all, I only spent about $30. YES!  That afternoon, I took the family, and met my music girls in Corvallis to do a music video of our first song, “Incontinence”. (Yes, you read that right!)  Corvallis has this wonderful event called “Play Piano Play” every summer. They place pianos all over town out in parks and on street corners for people to play. All free… just so people can enjoy music and talent. It is the neatest thing! We made a spur of the moment decision to go and perform. Why not? John recorded the song for us, and the wedding photographer came and took some photos. It was so much fun! 

  After that, we drove around Corvallis for a bit, and then took a little tour of the historic homes in downtown Albany. There are so many beautiful homes. After we got home, I made the family Instant Pot ribs for dinner. I have been raving about my Instant Pot to my brother for a few months. I figured I’d show him what he had been missing! They were perfect, fall off the bone, delicious… IN AN HOUR. He was impressed. We had another evening of chatting, drinking some adult beverages, and laughing. My daughter and her fiance came by to say hi for a few minutes. Another great day. 

Thursday, the 23rd, I left another message about the venue. I still hadn’t heard anything back, and I was starting to freak out a little bit. John mentioned that he would like to take his family to The Enchanted Forest.

Located on I-5 in Turner, OR. A charming little amusement park, established in 1971.

It is a quaint little amusement park about thirty minutes away. It has been there since 1971. The story behind the park itself is wonderful. It was a nice distraction from the worries going on in my head. We arrived at about eleven o’clock. The parking lot was full. It wasn’t too hot. Perfect.

Just have to take selfies with the family!

My nephew and I had a great time going through all the little rabbit holes, slides, and kiddie attractions. We were about to enter the haunted house, when I finally got a call back about the venue. The meeting and handing off of the key would happen at four that afternoon. WHAT A RELIEF! The rest of the afternoon was carefree. We rode the log ride and got soaked. We rode on the roller coaster. (Thank you, John, for not throwing up in the hood of my sweatshirt!)

Checking out all the cute little shops at The Enchanted Forest

The beginning of the roller coaster ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch, did a little souvenir shopping, and made it back down for the venue meeting in plenty of time. We did a walk through of the place, exchanged monies and keys, and then things started to “get real”. My daughter was getting married… in a day and a half! I had my hubby make dinner that evening, since I was gone most of the day. He made a delicious manicotti.

The grange. The venue for my daughter’s wedding

I met my daughter down at the venue at six to practice. She asked me to rearrange a Metallica song for piano. For their first dance, she wanted to sing part of “Nothing Else Matters” to him as a surprise before they started dancing. The practice went really well. The room where the dancing would happen had amazing acoustics… just the right amount of echo bouncing around. I teared up as she was singing. It was absolutely beautiful. As soon as we finished up our rehearsal, we headed back to my house for dinner. My music girls were already there. We had another great laughter filled evening, visiting with my family.

Friday, the 24th… the day before the wedding. John and I woke up roughly around the same time. We decided to load up all the sound gear and haul it down to the grange to set it up and do an audio check. Everything worked great. He ran back to the house to wake up his wife, so I started working on the basement decorations. I put silver glittery ribbon around all the columns. It was simple, but very nice. Ron, the photographer, showed up to start setting up his equipment and taking photos of all the progress, and the bridesmaids arrived a little while later to help with the decorations. It was tough. We didn’t have as much stuff as we thought we did. Some ribbon, string lights, and other things that I had no idea what to do with. I had one set of people downstairs putting up lights, so I went upstairs to see what I could do for the stage and seating for the reception… I hung up all my mason jar lights in the windows, and the bridesmaids attempted to make some bows for the front of the stage. I didn’t like it. Not at all. I’ve never decorated for a wedding. Yet once again, I was in a panic. The groom, and several of his entourage showed up and helped in the basement with the lights. I guess the plan for the string lights was different than what I thought. I’m so glad they knew what was going on. They did a great job hanging them up. Carmen came and set up the tables in the basement with tablecloths, car centerpieces, and little canning jars with nuts, bolts, and battery powered tea lights in them. Then, my dear friend, Kate, (one of my music girls, and the officiant for the wedding) showed up and had brilliant ideas. We wandered around the venue and she assessed everything. She said she would come back the next day with a variety of things and help decorate. Seriously love this lady! We had the rehearsal at 6:30. We ran through the ceremony a few times to get things hammered out. It was good. Most of the wedding party left after that. I got a phone call from my florist friend, Rosa, that she was in my driveway with Carmen’s last minute bouquet, so I quickly drove back to my house to get it.

Modern Florist Oregon did a fantastic job with the bouquet! Beautiful!

IT WAS GORGEOUS! I gave her a huge tip for her effort, quickness, and delivery. I wrote the best recommendation I could on her business page. Modern Florist Oregon did a spectacular job! I am not even ashamed to give her business a boost here. The bouquet STILL looks perfect 5 days later! After I ran back down and showed off the bouquet, Kate and I did some more planning, and then my other dear friend, Janet, drove up. She had surprises for us! She made the most beautiful hats for us! Big, decorated hats to wear at the wedding! It’s amazing what tool and flowers can do!

These girls are seriously the best! These hats are FABULOUS!

It was decided that once the ceremony was over, we would wear them. How fun! By the time I got home that evening, John and his wife had gone over to a friends’ house for the evening, so I sat down at my computer and started getting Carmen’s playlist for the reception together. She had run out of time and couldn’t get it done. She sent me two pages of songs she wanted to have played. I was up until almost 2 am getting all the music together on my iPod. I had my feet on ice bags. They were so sore! My hubby finally came in and made me go to bed. I went to bed hoping to be able to sleep. I slept decent enough.

Saturday, the 25… THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING. I was up early yet once again. I drank some coffee, and my brother and I went into town to rent a couple of plug in lamp posts for near the stage. I had been looking online the night before for something to add that “extra touch” and decided on those. We get there, and… they don’t have them in their store. They had another store in Salem that showed they had a set. We went back to my car and called up there. Yes, they had them. I reserved them, and then called another dear friend… Super Bob. He said he was willing to drive the distance and pick them up for me. He also said he had a few tables that he could bring. What a life saver! After that, we headed down to the grange again. I was discouraged. Nearly half of the decorations we had put up the day before had fallen down. Panic… again. I went through and reattached everything with pushpins instead of tape. Kate arrived with fabric, hair ties, a big step ladder, and a variety of other useful things. She had incredible, doable ideas! We put up a beautiful purple swag above the stage, using hair ties to attach to the hooks above. The hair ties also were used for making poufs. BRILLIANT! (I seriously have THE BEST group of friends!) She commissioned the bridesmaids to do various tasks, and they did great! They decorated the photo booth area. We put some neat fabric on the backs of chairs in front of the keyboard and audio equipment to hide the eyesores. The groomsmen, all VERY tall I might add, attached a silver ribboned wall behind the keyboard as well. It looked awesome. Bob arrived with the lamp posts, after some major delays in weekend traffic on the freeway. The lights looked great, however, one bulb was burned out, and one post had bright white bulbs, and the other had soft white… Two completely different color bulbs. Yellow-ish vs white. Bob volunteered to get some more white ones, and left to get those and to get ready for the actual event.  Carmen and the bridesmaids left around two to start getting ready. My husband showed up with the backdrop for the ceremony… Natural lattice with braces attached to each side and the middle. John, Kate, and I grabbed Carmen’s lovely purple fabric and screwed it to the backside. Kate and John then took the long black tool Carmen had purchased and wove it from the back to make lovely little poufs on the top and sides. It looked gorgeous. Kate left, John left, and I finished checking things over before leaving at nearly four. I was hot and sweaty, and didn’t even have enough time to take a shower. I went and changed all my clothes, did my hair and makeup, and then waited for Carmen to show up so I could help her put her dress on and the final prep.

Saturday, the 25th… THE WEDDING. The photographers showed up for the final photos of the prep with Carmen. She showed up a few minutes later. We went upstairs, stressed and feeling the time crunch. Carmen’s official ride down to the wedding showed up. Thank you to Fred, for volunteering at the last minute to drive his beautiful black Chrysler 300, so she could arrive “in style”. We got her dress and shoes on with no issues. She had a few photos taken, and then I left her with Fred and her daddy. I rushed down to the grange to get situated with the rest of the wedding party. I pulled up, hot and heavy, and I see a nice turnout of people. Good! I had gotten a few last minute cancellations, so I was hoping there would be a nice turnout. There was. Janet came over and helped me carry all my stuff, and then it all happened. Carmen arrived in the beautiful black car. The music had been playing Diana Krall love songs while the guests arrived and sat down outside in the sunshine… a pleasant 80°F. Kate was already at the front when Jacob, the groom, walked up the aisle. His groomsmen followed behind, the first one carrying my tablet with a picture of the best man on it. He couldn’t attend. He is in the military, stationed out of the country. They built a scarecrow type man to hold the tablet as his face. It was perfectly humorous.

Handsome groom!

What a beautiful bride

Carmen and her daddy.

The best man was there in spirit

Myself, my son, and a groomsman

I followed the last groomsmen, holding a photo head of my son as a bouquet… Carmen’s brother. He couldn’t attend either. He is also in the military… stationed out of the country. The bridesmaids followed behind. Then, Carmen stepped out of the car, and walked down the aisle on my husband’s arm. My heart melted, seeing my hubby’s smiling face as he walked with my beautiful daughter, in her beautiful dress, up to us. He handed her to Jacob, and the ceremony began. Kate did a wonderful job officiating her first wedding. There was humor, seriousness, and it was heartfelt. I was impressed. They said “I do”, and the kiss was so very sweet. We walked back down the aisle, and that part was over! We did photos with the photographer while everyone went down to the basement to eat pizza and salad. We went down, ate, took some more photos, and then, after a bit, came the first dance. I got my microphone, and announced the first dance. I sat down at my keyboard, and started to play. It sounded really good. Carmen started to sing, and it sounded beautiful… and then the soundboard overheated and the keyboard cut out, in the middle of the first verse. She nervously turned her head towards me, and I loudly whisper, “Just keep going!”… And she sang it acapella until I got the electronics up and going again. She did a beautiful job! She stepped up to him at the end of the first verse, and I then serenaded them through the rest of the song after a few finger flubs of frustration.  At the end of the song, Jacob wiped a tear from his face. My heart was full. Everyone loved it, even with the glitch. How could they not? Metallica gone classical… enough said! Carmen had a daddy/daughter dance with my husband… “Wanna Be a Baller”, and then a dance with her biological dad… “Mental Health”. Odd? Not if you knew my daughter. They were the perfect choices. After that, the dancing was on, and my soundboard repeatedly shut off throughout the rest of the evening. SO FAR FROM PERFECT. I was stressed and irritated by it, but no one in my circle of friends thought it was a big deal, so I calmed down. “It is what it is”.

Carmen and Jacob’s first dance as husband and wife

There was much conversation, laughter, dancing, consuming of adult beverages, and overall enjoyment. The grange was just about empty by nine o’clock and we started winding down. Jacob sat in the basement with his friends from out of town for awhile. My family went back to my house. Carmen followed me there to get a few things before heading home… and it was over. We conversed for awhile about the wedding, and got ready for bed. It was then that I realized that my underwear had been on inside out the entire evening. I had been in such a hurry, I didn’t even realize it. Now that’s funny! I sent a text to Carmen informing her of this, (she gets a good laugh from this type of information.) and went to bed.

“Wanna Be a Baller”

Sunday, the 26th… the day after. I got up at 6:30 to see my brother and his family off. They didn’t end up leaving until almost 8:00, but that’s okay. I cried, of course, as they drove down the street and out of sight. I had fully planned on going back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep… Too much crying. So, I left a note for my hubby, and headed down to the grange to get going on the cleanup. I had all the ribbon down and rolled up, trash off the tables, and all the jars gathered together by the time Carmen and Jacob showed up. We got all the tablecloths off of the tables, all the jars boxed up, and everything completely out by three in the afternoon. (And yes, she laughed hysterically at my informative text from the night before.) We left the grange with nothing left to do but vacuum the stairs and mop the kitchen area. I went home and took a break for a few hours, and spent another hour vacuuming and mopping. I did another walk around check and left. I collapsed on the couch and did nothing for the rest of the evening.

Monday, the 27th… two days after. I got up at a decent time, after feeling ill in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I felt better when I got up. Mind you, I was even more sore than the day before. Today was my day of running around. I had to have the rented lamp posts back in Salem by noon. I also needed to run by the courthouse to drop off the completed wedding paperwork. It took me longer than I expected with all the traffic, to return the posts, but I made the deadline and headed back. It was noon when I got back, so I couldn’t go to the courthouse until after lunch, so I made a few stops, put gas in my car, and went to my daughter’s house for a bit. We talked about all the unique problems that happened at the wedding. She wasn’t upset at all. She laughed about it and said, “Well, that’s kind of how things go with us, isn’t it?”. LOVE this girl. She’s already ready to tell the story of her perfectly imperfect wedding.

You may kiss the bride

I have learned a few things from this whole wedding experience.

#1- It’s okay to fire your friend from being your free wedding coordinator when she doesn’t actually do anything. (Taking over a week or two before the wedding is not for the weak!)  Actually hiring a coordinator may cost money, but there won’t be nearly the amount of stress when your big day arrives. OR, be sure your person is going to be able to handle the responsibility. You HAVE to know stuff is going to get done!

#2- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! “We’ll do that later. We’ve got time”, DOES NOT WORK! Even when we all have jobs, and lives, things have got to get done. Every time you say that, that’s one more thing added to your last minute list… that you don’t have time for.

#3- Having reliable friends and family is so, so important! There is NO WAY I could have gotten this all done without my husband, Kate, Janet, Super Bob, John, Rosa, Fred, Ron, and so many other people!

#4- It is okay to let people help you! Don’t let your pride get in the way. If people volunteer to help, LET THEM HELP! I have been humbled by this experience. Even though I feel that I need to do everything myself, other people can do things too! Ask. Delegate. Trust. Accept. Just let it happen!

#5- Don’t expect perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect. Of course you want it to be. I did. This is my baby girl. Of course I wanted it to be the perfect day for her. I told her, very frankly, to not expect perfection. Whatever is going to happen, will. Whatever isn’t, will just be one of those great stories you laugh at when you tell your friends about your wedding. She has a lot of things to laugh about for sure!

I present the bride and groom

 

So, now, my lovely daughter is a married woman… married to a wonderful man. I have another son. (I honestly don’t care about the “in-law” part.)  She is happy. They are happy. I am happy. And that, my friends, is all I could ever hope for…  And no one got arrested.

Why music is my passion

Everyone has their “thing”. You know, that something that has always been there… The thing that puts you at ease, that calms you down, relaxes you like nothing else can. For me, that thing is music. I don’t mean just listening to it. I mean creating it. Sure, I have other things that I truly enjoy doing… Writing and photography… but music is my first love.

Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mom used to say that I would sing harmony when I was a toddler. I don’t even remember when I started playing the piano… It was that long ago. I have always had a song in my heart… A tune running through my head. It is a bit distracting sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes I feel it’s easier for me to let people hear how I feel, rather than just use my words. I am fortunate enough to be able to put those feelings on paper.  I was so fortunate to have parents and music teachers who pushed me to follow through with my music education when I wanted to quit. I’m grateful now that they saw my potential. I feel so blessed.

I wish I had more time to do what I love. I would love to dedicate all day, every day, to my creative outlet. A few hours a week just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Just when I’m getting into “the zone”, it is time for bed, it seems. At least I get some time. I try to make the most of the time I have. I’m making progress. I am starting to spread my wings.  That’s the important thing.

I have also been blessed with amazingly talented friends. They are my soul sisters. These ladies are so creative and fun. I’m a lucky girl. Together, I think we have the potential to do something wonderful. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. Someday, I hope, with the poetic partnership of my gifted friends, to be able to bring OUR music to life. Our whimsical interpretation of adulthood could bring a new perspective on life. Sure, it might have been done before, but I think we have some unique experiences to bring originality to the table. I have faith that our time will come. (I will let you know when it happens. Trust me on this!)

There’s something about the whole creative process that brings me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I lose myself in the notes, and it transports me to a wonderful paradise. It really is a part of my being, and I am so thankful for it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq6hSvcwoz6LrNZwvuz7Eaw

Enjoy your life. Make the most of the talents you’ve been blessed with. Lose yourself in what you love.

 

 

 

Finding myself

When I was young, I was painfully shy. I would literally hide behind one of my parents when someone talked to me. It was crippling to my social life. I couldn’t even order a burger without the pickles! It was difficult to reach out and make friends, so I honestly didn’t have very many. I was always the weird one… the quiet one… the poor one… the emotional one… I hated all these things about myself. I would try to take on a different persona to try and fit in. All I wanted was to blend in with everyone else. It wasn’t until high school that I found “my tribe” of people that I could really be myself around. These people didn’t care how weird I was. They didn’t care that I would laugh so much that I would get the hiccups. They didn’t care how I dressed. They enjoyed the same music and humor that I did. Most importantly, I could truly be me. They didn’t try to change me, and I didn’t feel that I needed to change myself.

After high school, we went our separate ways, and I started to lose who I was. The big world was full of selfish, cruel people whose sole desire in life was to make me suffer. Then came a bad marriage, a bitter divorce, and split custody of my kids. I became an empty shell… damaged goods with a trunk full of baggage. I lost myself somewhere in there. I hid behind a false smile. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and no one else really did either.

Fast forward 25 years….  20+ years remarried. My kids have grown into amazing adults and are doing great things with their lives. (Proud mama moment here!) There has been a lot of struggles, laughter, and sorrow. It took a long time to crawl out of the hole I was in and start to discover myself again. There was constant soul searching. It was hard, but I did it.

The tribe is back together too. There was a long time period in there when we lost contact. That was before I had a cell phone or email. Everyone was off to various colleges, and doing incredible things. I was a terrible letter writer. (I still am. Go figure!) My people found me on Facebook.  I was elated. 🎶 Reunited, and it feels so good!

Having these beautiful friends return has brightened my life and helped me see the part of me that has been missing for so long. I was most definitely me, but I didn’t realize what part was missing until it was restored.

I am back to being that “me” that I actually love. The more confident me… the adventurous me… the genuine me… the me that accepts ME for who I am. Sure, I  have my moments. We all do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be happy and accepting of ourselves all the time? If you figure it out, please let me know!

What I do know is that doing things that bring me joy helps bring that feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and self back into my life. It helps me find my balance. It helps me relax.

Summer's little guilty pleasures

pink flip flops

Finding out who you really are can be a difficult process. When you find that part of you that makes sense, hold on tight and let the good things take you on an amazing journey. Find those people that accept you for who you are. Being true to yourself and loving who you are is extremely important. We all lose ourselves sometimes. Just be sure to take time for you and find your way back!

FIND YOURSELF. LOVE YOURSELF. BE HAPPY.

Finding balance: How I get more out of my personal time

I’m a busy woman. I have a husband. I work a full time job, and I have a multitude of hobbies and interests. By the time dinner is done, there doesn’t seem to be much time left for ME. How do I find time for myself and all those things that I enjoy so much? I refuse to get up any earlier. I am so very NOT a morning person. Waking up earlier will not do anything for me. I’ve made multiple attempts, and it just doesn’t work for me. I can’t stay up too late either… 5:30 comes too quick as it is. I require a lot of sleep. When am I supposed to have time for my hubby, my job, housework, writing music, doing photo shoots, photo/video editing, blog posts, exercising, taking online classes, doing my craft projects, meeting with my girls…. Oh my gosh, just looking at the list here is stressing me out!

It is so hard for me to find balance!

I’ll admit, there used to be days that I didn’t do much of anything when I got home from work… at least nothing that requires much moving around. We all have those days. I’m just too tired. I’d sit on the couch and watch tv, or play games on my tablet. There I’d sit until bedtime. It still happens on occasion, but not nearly as often as it used to.

I found some motivation.

I want more out of life. I’m tired of spinning my wheels and seemingly not moving forward. In order for me to get more, I have to do more. That’s pretty obvious.

I started making to do lists. This worked… kind of. I had an impossibly unrealistic list of all the things I wanted to get done. I would do great at three or four, and then I would get sidetracked. At the end of the day, my list was still incredibly long. I was frustrated. All I could focus on was all the things I didn’t get done instead of the things I DID get done. It was so depressing. I decided to come up with a different angle…

Doing more example #1:

My friends talked me into take some free online classes. (My girls really are the best!) They have the best “sales pitch”! Honestly, I’m really excited about it. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do it before. After all, I love learning. I always have.

Summer is just around the corner. My daughter is getting married in August. I also have a class reunion coming up. I started up my treadmill routine again. I don’t need to lose weight, but I would like to tone up.

My solution to #1:

I can take my online classes while I workout. I use my tablet to take my classes, and I can still do my walking and my free weights all at the same time. I get around 45 minutes of exercise AND get my courses done. Success!

Doing more example #2:

Music is my passion. I love playing music… as in playing the piano, among other instruments. I love writing music. It relaxes me. It excites me. Music speaks to me.

I thoroughly enjoy photography. I love the challenge of that perfect shot. I have recently branched out into the video end of shooting too. I love the art of editing my photos and videos. (I really do enjoy not having to edit them at all though!)

My solution to #2:

I started a YouTube channel (thank you, my friends, for yet another suggestion), and have incorporated my music together with my videos and photos for the world to see. Not only is learning how to edit video interesting and challenging, but it has given me a different, eye opening perspective on my music, and how to meld the two together. It has also helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Brand new territory for me!

When I get home from work, dinner and chores are first priorities. If I do some preplanning, (think menus!), I can have dinner over, chores done, and dogs fed by 7:00. Then I go upstairs with my tablet, and start up the treadmill. I’m done with my online classes and my workout by 8:00. Next I go to my computer room and power up my computer. I get to work on my music and/or photography. By 9:30, I’m trying to button things up and start getting ready for bed. 10:00 is bedtime. (My schedule varies from day to day.)

My weekday schedule looks something like this:

Get organized!

This definitely isn’t an exact science, but the routine works well for me. When I try to stick with my schedule, I seem to get a lot accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. At the end of the day, I am satisfied with what I’ve done. That is honestly what makes this worthwhile to me… being happy with what I’ve done with my day.

 

My weekends vary a bit, but they usually look something like this:

Get more out of your weekend!

You may have noticed that I wake up pretty late on the weekend. Hey, I mentioned before that I’m not a morning person. It takes me a while to wake up and get ready to face the day!

This may all seem like a lot, but as I said before, it works for me. Yes, life happens, and things don’t always work out like I plan them to, but having the routine helps me stay on track. I get so much more done when I have at least an outline to go by. I may not get everything done on my schedule that I have planned, but it helps to keep me focused. Sometimes I set a timer. It is so easy for me to get side tracked. (Squirrel!)  My friends know all too well how distracted I can get. I find it embarrassing, but they find it hilarious.

 

Whichever way you decide to plan your time is fine… as long as it works for you! Make your list of things you want to get done and do it! It’s such a satisfying feeling when you reflect on your days and see all the things that have been accomplished.

 

Make the time you have work for you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish

Plan out your days and get more out of life. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Resisting the impulse buy and emotional shopping

It’s been a rough day. I’m not talking your average crappy day. I’m talking about the: “I have the worst possible migraine but I’m working anyway, every person I come in contact with is being the worst version of themselves, my car decided to have a flat tire, and I ran out of gas”, kind of day. “I’m so depressed. You know, if I bought myself a little something, it would cheer me up” kind of day.

Sound familiar? I don’t have these specific things happen to me often, and certainly not all at once, but circumstances are inevitable and out of our control. Crap is going to happen! How we deal with it is critically important. I can guarantee that if you choose to spend to try and make yourself feel better, you will end up feeling worse when you get home!

There’s also the: “I have cash burning a hole in my pocket and I just feel like buying stuff” scenario.

Enter the guilt phase. It really is a vicious cycle. Feeling down? Buy something to make you happy. Get the bill, and then you’re feeling down again… Better buy something to make you feel better…. I’ve been there! It’s tough to break the cycle and rage against the machine, but you CAN do it!

First and foremost, realizing and understanding the cycle will aid you in making better decisions for yourself. This is another case where self control is key to your success. The simplest and most obvious way to avoid the cycle is to NOT GO TO THE STORE. Several things have happened… you didn’t spend money, you didn’t use any gas, and you didn’t waste your time. There’s still temptation though. Our “everything is at our fingertips” life creates its own set of problems, doesn’t it? You can buy just about anything anywhere, and at any time. Modern technology is fantastic, isn’t it? If you’re fighting that urge, focus on something else. Play some music, work on a project, take your dog for a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, bake some muffins, do some laundry… anything that keeps your mind thinking about something else. The urge WILL pass, and you will have success. Little successes are still successes, and each one makes you stronger.

So what if you’re out with friends? Then what? Are you obligated to buy things because everyone else is? Um, NO! Even if you have to have a rehearsed speech to tell your friends… you CAN resist. Deep breaths. You’ve got this.

One step at a time. One situation at a time. You are strong. Flex your will (or won’t) power. You can do this!  And when you do, find joy in your success.

Be strong

Stay strong and enjoy your little successes.

Goals: Baby steps to achievement

I’m going to be brutally honest. I despise making goals. It stresses me out. It forces me to sit down and think about my life… every aspect of it. It makes me realize how many things I want to do, and how much I should’ve done already. Here’s the thing about me: I have VERY high expectations of myself. I am also very easily distracted. I have too many things I want to do, and delusional ideas about how I think I’m going to succeed. In the end, you guessed it… Nothing, or very close to nothing seems to get done. It can be so discouraging.

I have done years of soul searching on this subject. It is so easy to just NOT do it. I think one of the things that has maybe, quite possibly, changed my perspective on this, is my job. One of the things they ask of me every year is to set some goals. Short term ones that could be completed within 1 year, mid-term ones that could be accomplished in around 3 years, and long term ones… 5 years or longer. I moaned, groaned, and procrastinated. Like I said before, I despise making goals.

Keep looking forward, but don’t forget where you’ve been.

When they ask me to set goals, they’re not just asking for work goals, they’re asking for a combination of work and personal ones. I know, some of you may think it isn’t any of their business, and you’re probably right, HOWEVER, I’m glad that was included. It forced me to become accountable, and motivate me to get to work.

You know what? I accomplished my goals. Not all of them, but more than half. More than I would have if I hadn’t been “forced” to. I am proud to say that I have published my very own children’s book. I wrote the story ages ago. I had been dreaming about it for years, and had done nothing about it. Fear had taken over…  Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of putting myself out there.  I made it one of my goals to get the illustrations figured out and get it up on Kindle. Quite frankly, the illustrations was one of the biggest obstacles. Originally, my grandmother was going to do the artwork. She was a wonderful artist. I procrastinated, my grandma passed away, and that opportunity was gone. How special that would have been to have her handiwork included with mine. So, with my deadline approaching, I made the decision to do several different things to make the artwork a reality. I “cartoonized” a few pictures I had taken, and attempted to draw the rest. Mind you, I DID NOT inherit my grandma’s drawing talent, but I was determined to reach this goal.  AND I DID IT!  It was hard. It was frustrating. But it happened.

Accomplishing your goals feels amazing!

Amazing how making that goal has changed my outlook on so many things! I’m not completely over the fear, but that book changed me. Watching something important come to life is exhilarating. It opens your eyes to all the possibilities that lie before you. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS MAKE IT HAPPEN. Things don’t magically happen on their own. It sure would be nice if they did, wouldn’t it? It takes effort, accountability, and dedication.

Here’s what I want to ask of you. I want you to make some REALISTIC goals for yourselves. Take some time to contemplate things that you really want. Do some research if you need to. Figure out what it will take to make them happen. Short term, mid-term, and long term. 3 in each category. Write them down. Share them with your family and friends. Let them help keep you accountable. Let them cheer you on. Let them help you celebrate when you accomplish them.  Making goals and seeing them on paper makes them real. It makes them important. Reading those goals every day motivates you. Spend a little time every day getting closer to your end game. Baby steps… Five minutes here, ten minutes there… Before you know it, the end is in sight.

You can do this! Get ready to change your life!  LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The importance of friends and a support system

I have spent the last few days in Havre, Montana for work. I was excited to come and see scenery I had never seen before. I brought my camera. I was also extremely anxious because, never having been to Montana before, I didn’t know what to expect. New area, new people… I pulled into my location with my stomach in knots. How was I going to get past my own social awkwardness and do what I came to do?  I took a deep breath, gathered my courage and off I went. I walked in with a smile on my face and introduced myself. Please, oh please, just let me make it through the day without feeling like an idiot.

These people are amazing. They put me at ease. They made me feel at home in minutes. There is a low key, homey feel to the area, and I love that everybody knows everybody. They check up on each other. They help each other out. They bring in doughnuts and pie… just because they feel like it. (Very delicious pie, I might add.)  I can honestly say that I have made friends here. It’s been 2 days, and I have friends in a state that I had never been to before Sunday afternoon. We swapped phone numbers, and I know I will actually call or text them soon. I will check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay. I know they will call me if they need my help. I am their support system. It feels great.

Having friends and a support system is so important. We all need help sometimes. We all need to rely on someone at some point. We need personal cheerleaders standing on the sidelines to boost us up. We need people to look us in the eye and tell us everything is going to be okay, no matter what the situation is.

I have goals… A lot of them. I let people know what my goals are. They need to know. They can’t support me and help me along if they don’t know what’s up.

Last summer I decided that I was going to try to exercise every day, try and eliminate the majority of sugar in my diet, and eat vegetarian for 30 days. This was a big challenge for me. I tend to be lazy when I get home from work. I adore sweets. I also really love bacon and sausage. I told my friends what I was going to do, and they helped me so much. They laughed at me and thought I was insane, (hey, that’s what friends are for!), but they helped me through every single day with my internal struggles. I seriously could not have done it without them. They brought in healthy, meatless snacks… and they encouraged me to get a fitbit. I did, and I love it. I love my friends for helping me reach my goals.

Be that friend who lifts another. Be the friend that can be relied upon. Be the one that says, “I know chocolate comes from the cacao tree, but that doesn’t make it a fruit, no matter how much you think it should”. Be the type of friend that you would want cheering YOU on. 

 

Getting more out of life

I go through life one day at a time, just like you, I’m sure. I wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. Anymore, it seems that’s all I do. There seems to be little or no time for the things I long to do. My days, evenings, and weekends are full of chores and things I HAVE to do. After awhile, I feel like my routine is so…. routine. I realize that I’m taking so many things for granted. I’m taking EVERYTHING for granted. I would lay awake in bed dreading getting up in the morning to go do the same things… again. I needed a change.

Then, something amazing happened last summer. I had dinner with some of my music friends one evening. I’ve known these lovely ladies since high school, and even though we didn’t see each other all that often, it was always like no time had passed at all. We sat for hours talking about getting a music group together. Mind you, we have lightly touched on it in the past, BUT, this time was different. We wanted it… BADLY. We wanted to be a part of something inventive and creative. We wanted to have fun. We wanted to be a part of something special. We sat and wrote down page after page of ideas. We made plans. We made time commitments. That was the spark that changed something in me. 

We all lead busy lives. We all lead stressful lives. We made time in our busy, stressful lives to meet EVERY WEEK for a few hours. (Okay, I think we’ve missed 4 in the last 9 months, but that is nothing to scoff at!)  We work on exciting music. (And someday soon, we’ll figure out how to put it all together!) We talk about anything and everything… and I do mean ANYTHING. We vent. We cry. We laugh hysterically. We have an amazing friendship. We have a support system. These wonderful women challenge me, and hold me accountable for all the things I say I want to do. Together we have a vast amount of knowledge and connections. They make me want to do more with the gifts I’ve been blessed with, and they know how to help make it happen. My life has changed.

When we first started getting together every week, I felt a bit guilty. I left my hubby and my doggies at home, and went to our meeting. I felt bad about getting home a little later than I probably should on a “school night”. I mentioned this to my other half, and I was surprised by his reply. He told me that he had seen a change in me. He said he could see that I seemed to be happier. I’ve been in a better mood.  I’m enjoying being me. He doesn’t mind that I go. In fact, he insists that I go. That is incredible.

I have a lot of hobbies. I love photography. I love music. I love being craftsy. I love writing. I feel like I have accomplished more in the last 9 months, than I have in the last 20 years. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. I truly feel that I am getting more out of life. 

My challenge for you, is simple. Put yourself out there and do all those wonderful things you’ve been meaning to do. Start with one simple thing. Make time for yourself. Learn something new. This is such an amazing time to be alive. Knowledge is at our fingertips. Even the littlest of things can change your attitude. It can change your whole perspective. It will make you feel alive.

Shadow dancer

GO AND GET MORE OUT OF LIFE.