Friday, July 30, 2010

Small Minds

This is going to be a short blog. A small blog.

Today I was thinking about how I dislike small minds, but I think there are two kinds of small minds out there. There are the ones that are small because they aren't open to new ideas, and then there are also small minds that choose to be that way for necessity. Which of the two are you?

Small minds that are not open to new ideas and think they have it all figured out. Sorry, but life throws curve balls. You and I don't have all the solutions to life's problems. No one knows it all. Not you. Or me...

Some small minds choose to cut certain items from memory. These small minds omit things like worry, hatred, or regrets; they know there is no room for that. Some small minds know what's best for them... and they adjust accordingly.

Then there the really big minds that accept and take it all in. They take all of the good (not the bad) and cram it into their mind space, and they expand at each chance given to them. Big minds that get bigger with every opportunity amaze me.

Big minds are a completely different story.... gotta love those big minds.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comfort Food

Comfort Food: food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal

Here are some definitions for the word "comfort" that I found on Merriam-Webster's website:

1 : strengthening aid:  a : assistance, support   b : consolation in time of trouble or worry : solace 
2 a : a feeling of relief or encouragement  b : contented well-being 
3 : a satisfying or enjoyable experience

While Nate and I were in Michigan, we ate at Vivio's in Indian River. Their pizza is always great, so of course we ate some when we dined there. During dinner, both my aunt and my dad exclaimed how the pizza is still exactly the way they always remembered it when they were younger. I don't have as many years to base my judgement, but I don't think it has ever changed since I've been consuming it either.

Vivio's pizza is a great comfort food, because not only is it satisfying but it has a sentimental appeal too. Knowing that some things never change can be incredibly comforting in an ever changing world. Even when the only thing that's constant is change... there are some things that never do change in life! Thank goodness for comfort foods that offer a feeling of comfort and safety when we need it most. Funny how the word comfort can be defined as "consolation in time of trouble or worry". Maybe that's why chocolate (or insert favorite comfort food here) is so great in times of need; it offers just what we need when we're troubled or worried.

The more you worry, the more comfort foods you need, then you gain weight... then more worrying and stressing over the weight, then more eating of comfort foods... it's a vicious cycle! So try not to live a stress filled life, and you'll need less comforting via food. But who can resist a great comfort food every once in a while?! Not me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aspire to Inspire

I love this inspiring story about the writers of my favorite blog, The Lettered Cottage.
After reading the above story about how a random act of kindness changed their lives, I thought about one of my favorite quotes because they are the epitome of this:  
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." -Mark Twain
Kevin and Layla, from The Lettered Cottage, are definitely the great people who inspire others to be great as well.

Giving is one of the most important things that "successful" people can do. Remember to give without expectations though. You get what you give, and I firmly believe in that. Some of the most amazing employers treat their employees like gold, and the employees work as if they are loved and valued!

I would love to give something to people every day of my life. You may give hope, a smile, knowledge, or anything really. It's sometimes easier said than done, but even the smallest things can have the biggest impact. A couple of weeks ago, I was moved to tears when a homeless man standing on the side of the street gave me one of the kindest things anyone can give. He gave me one of the most genuine smiles I've seen in a long time. Even though he may not have had material things to give, he gave what he could as he was standing on the street trying to get others to give him even just a little pocket change. Not only did he give me hope that strangers do care, but he also helped me put some things into perspective. Never forget to be thankful each and every day for the things that you do have in life. Some days it may not seem like you have a lot, but you often have more than many people will ever have in their lifetime.

Inspiration and hope are gifts that you can give to anyone, and the even better thing is they don't cost a thing. 

"The best things in life are free!"

Some day I hope to have a fulfilling job, and that has nothing to do with how much I make. I'm much more impressed by what people give up to do things they love, rather than how much money people make doing things they do not believe in or value at all. It's not success if you can't share it.

Now if only I can practice what I preach....

Short Trip to Michigan

Since we were married in Denver, we decided that we would have parties in both of our hometowns in order to celebrate with people we would have liked to have at our wedding. We married months ago, but I wanted our party in Michigan to be outside so waiting until summer was the plan. The weather started out a little overcast with some rain showers, but overall we had pretty great weather. I could not have imagined things any better than they turned out!

* Burt Lake in the summertime *

Michigan, more specifically Burt Lake, in the summer is my favorite place. The natural beauty of the lakes, trees, rivers, and everything else cannot be beat. There's something about small town America that makes me want to do cartwheels while singing a patriotic song. I just love it! My feeling of nostalgia might also have to do with sitting on a lake shore with the wind blowing in my face. I love that too. Summer in northern Michigan is incredible. If you like ice cream, fudge, candy, golfing, boating, swimming, tubing, sunsets, or anything else related to summer in northern Michigan, then I think you will enjoy your time there. Not to mention, the stars at night are amazing... and if you're lucky, you might even catch the northern lights. For anyone who hasn't experienced it, I hope you get the chance! We enjoyed our visit to Michigan in the summer, and Burt Lake will always be home to me.


For anyone who's interested in learning a little more about northern Michigan, here are a few informational links to take a look for yourself:

Pure Michigan   (the rest of Michigan is cool too... I'm just partial to the northern part... and Ann Arbor too)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everything at Once

I sit here with a cup of tea, writing a blog, with a half read entry from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (another great book) open to July 19th next to me, and my recipe binder next to that displaying a meal that I haven't made in a while; on top of that, Traditional Home magazine lies on the kitchen island open to a spread featuring a home in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Whew! I never used to start so many things without finishing them. Don't worry though; I'll probably put everything away before we go to sleep. Nothing like finishing everything you started right before you get some rest.

** Does your dining room table look like this too? **

What ever happened to the girl who wouldn't leave her lego city for dinner until every last lego in possession was utilized? I also used to start books and read them all day until I finished them that day. I've somehow become proficient at tackling too many things at once or not finishing what I started. Although, I do still finish what I start... it just takes me a little longer when I've got 5 things to finish and I get sidetracked along the way. Sometimes life gets overwhelming when you have so many things going on that you don't know where to start. Usually a good place to start is step 1, and for some reason it feels like that's easy to forget at times. Start with step one... you can't do everything all at once.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Get Cooking to Start Saving

I recently read a really great blog about how to save money each month by "shrinking your bills and growing your pantry". If you're interested in learning more about this, then check out the Grocery Shrink. If you sign up for her online newsletter, you'll learn more about her strategies and get recipes to make your own cleaning supplies. Those stinking things cost so much money, and I'd rather spend money on food we need than cleaning supplies any day! Here's the catch to Grocery Shrink's money saving tricks, she only spends $50/person for a month on groceries. Wowzers! So if you have a family of 4, you would spend $200 a month on groceries for your whole family.

I don't know how she does it, but if any one's up for a challenge... it's me! She does say that stocking your pantry is extremely important, because then that leaves you to purchase meats and fresh foods each week. If you stock your pantry with goods you can find on sale, then you save money and have a ton of food on hand to create meals. I know that we spend way more than $100/month on groceries for just the two of us, and I would love to figure out how to stick to this $50 per person budget. It's going to be tough, but we might as well try.

We enjoyed some steaks from Mike's Meat Market in Sterling, CO.... we received a gift certificate for the meat market from Mike's mom! We've got more in the freezer where this came from :)

Cooking never used to be so enjoyable for me. It used to be more like a chore, but I now find it fulfilling because I can use my creativity and artistic skills to create meals that nourish others. There's also something sort of relaxing about cooking.... standing over a hot stove watching things change from raw and rough into something delicious and edible. It's almost like paint by numbers.... you fill in all these spaces each number at a time, and in the end you have a completed work of art to enjoy. Oh the joys of cooking!

I hope that cooking more often will help us reduce how much money we spend on food each month. By eating out less and cooking in more, I really hope to shrink our grocery bills! I'd much rather use the money we save on groceries to pay off debt so that some day we can have a house, because then we can have a garden with our own fresh food. I need to keep that image of our future garden as a mental note to motivate us to save, save, save.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Are You Ready?

It's almost time... are you ready...

... for some football!? Nate and I are extra excited for this fall, because we're Broncos season ticket holders this year. Heck yeah! Nate has been on the list for at least 7 years, and this year was his year. I don't get quite the same excitement about watching any other professional sport. There's just something great about watching dudes 3 times my size get on a field, face to face, and work together to win for their team. Aaaahhh, I can just hear the sound of pads and helmets crashing together now. Anyway.... sorry...

Before I moved to Colorado and met Nate, I didn't really watch much NFL football. Attending college at the University of Michigan, obviously I was a huge Michigan football fan, and college football was my thing. I do still cheer for my maize & blue! (Although it's been a tough few past years) I do still watch quite a lot of college football. However, since moving to Colorado and meeting Nate, I've become quite the NFL, and more specifically... Broncos fan. Never did I predict my future would consist of watching all rounds of the NFL draft, looking forward to attending pre-season training camp, sitting in the winter snow cheering for the Broncos, or actually being a season ticket holder for anything other than Michigan football. Wow! Maybe some day we'll also hold season tickets for Michigan football too. For now though, we are Broncos season ticket holders and will enjoy as many games as possible cheering for the Denver Broncos!

(Just pretend that cry baby #6 was never in this picture)

Hopefully I'm not jumping the gun by posting this so soon, but football season really isn't that far away... right? Anyway, training camp starts at Dove Valley in only about two weeks, so I don't really think I'm too early with the excitement. I was really excited after watching the draft... so at least we're a little closer to regular season now. Go Broncos and Go Blue! (not Big Red) hehehe... Honey, don't read that part.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old Lessons Still Apply

From about 5th grade until today, I've had a few very favorite teachers, coaches, and employers. These people have taught me so many valuable lessons to carry throughout all of my life, and I appreciate and thank them for that! But just a few minutes ago, one of those teachers came to mind, and I always have fond memories of her. Mrs. Fuller was my art teacher all throughout high school. I make it sound like she was mine alone, but she taught many. One of her favorite sayings came to mind while I was thinking about my current situation today.

Mrs. Fuller often had a reputation of being strict and eccentric, two things that I loved dearly about her. You were often disciplined if you did not respect her and her assignments, and mostly she just wanted everyone to respect and love art. She has been known to stand atop her desk and belt out some opera-sounding (and extremely high pitched) notes to quiet an unruly classroom. I can still hear her calling out the name of one of my fellow classmates... "Richy!" (As far as I know, no one else called him that). I envied the fact that she owned more pairs of glasses than anyone, and she always matched them to her outfit that day. One thing Mrs. Fuller always repeated as her mantra was "quality over quantity". Oh how I love that saying.

Many teachers were happy if you completed their homework of copying paragraphs or definitions from a text book. Some teachers loved when you could spout off an entire history timeline from memory (that wasn't me). But Mrs. Fuller always said that she wanted "quality over quantity"! If you turned in one really great piece of work that you clearly put effort into... she was happier than if you handed her ten pieces of work into which you probably put little to no thought. She could always tell who was genuinely trying and who just took art to pass time. You didn't need the skills of Picasso or Dali to please her, but if you put effort into your work she was ecstatic. Some people really know how to see passion that's often invisible to others. I appreciated my art teacher, Mrs. Fuller, for her ability to see passion in her students.

Some of my past jobs have been great... and some... not so great. I definitely want a career working for someone who appreciates employees who want to learn and who ask a lot of questions. Some employers discourage too many questions, because they think you're not producing work quickly enough; I'd rather learn how to do something right the first time, instead of producing sloppy work quickly. (Not to mention, I probably still won't know how to do what you want me to do if I never learn it) If there's one thing I really dislike, it's not being proud of the work that I've done. Employers, please give your employees an opportunity to learn and grow and be proud of what they do. Wouldn't it be great if employers stressed the idea of "quality over quantity"? If I needed brain surgery, I would want a surgeon who operates carefully and precisely, not one who works the quickest and costs the least. Yikes!

It seems that bottom line often trumps the possibility of creating people who produce quality work they are proud of. I don't know many people who like to be treated as a factory. Many (not all) people start slowly at first, but given the chance to succeed they will. I have always learned the most from people in my life who demand quality over quantity! Put in your biggest and best effort, and out come great results.

Inspiring: I hand painted many parts of this custom built house on Burt Lake.

Uninspiring: not so attractive... plus they all look the same

Mmmmm... I really, really enjoy quality.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From the Heart

At the time of our wedding, purchasing an album of our wedding photos was pretty much out of the question. Unfortunately it's still out of the question, so for now I put together a little something in place of a professional album. There's nothing like a little homemade wedding memento.

I love when creativity drives me, and the passion I have for creating is evident when I can't pull myself away from whatever it is I'm working on at the time. Not to mention, working on something that cost nothing to make is incredibly fulfilling. (It actually cost something at one point, but I put together the entire framed collage from things I had around the apartment) Nate called me a few times from work to ask what I was doing, and to his surprise I answered the same way each time... "I'm still working on that one thing". I'm sure he thought I was a little crazy working past midnight on something I had started so long ago. When the perfectionist in me comes out, each piece must go exactly where I think it should. Hand cutting everything takes time, but the result is priceless.

Thank you again, Alison, for our beautiful wedding photographs!
Maybe one day I'll get carried away and produce an entire album.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Improv Dinner

I've never been very good at making meals from memory, or better yet, just throwing some things together. Usually following recipes and staying within my comfort zone is the norm, but last night was a big step for this young chef. I was inspired after reading a blog about making healthy and affordable meals. The woman spoke a lot about using what's in your pantry or fridge to make meals that end up costing less than if you had to buy everything from the store.

I spent a couple of minutes warming up the inside of our refrigerator while looking for somewhere to start. Finally I decided to find a use for the jar of kalamata olives in the door. They were the ingredient we had at home, and I was afraid they might go bad before we ate them all. I also wanted to make a fairly healthy dinner, so I bought some tasty fresh vegetables,whole wheat pasta, and a few other things with a Greek theme in mind. On top of that, I purchased some cheap chicken cutlets, and some of them ended up in the freezer for another possible impromptu dinner. (Yay for saving money!) I also cooked enough chicken to use some in stir fry later this week. Double whammy. Now all I hoped was that dinner would turn out edible and filling. Sometimes I forget that Nate is twice my size and always eats more food than I plan. I was pretty sure this mix of vegetables and chicken served over pasta with a side of bread would do.

** I just love the color! **

After frying some chicken, throwing some things (I love how informal that sounds) in a saute pan, boiling some whole wheat pasta, and mixing it all up and topping with feta cheese... we had a pretty delicious meal! Cooking seems more fun when you're not following a recipe step by step. I think I may have channeled a little Julia Child minus the French food.

** sorry this is partially eaten... we dove in, and then I remembered to take a photo **

With that said, I'm glad that experimenting with food ended in an edible and enjoyable meal. We probably would have force fed ourselves anyways. Thank goodness we ended up with a healthy meal and a new favorite!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recent Reads

Last night I finished Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Let me tell you, this is a book I will read probably at least once a year. Following her theme of change and adapting to change, it would make sense to read the book often because life is ever changing. The book is 50 years old, but it's still relevant and helpful when thinking about issues we face today.

Yesterday I wrote down, in my handy dandy notebook, a couple of things that Lindbergh wrote in Gift from the Sea. Some of her observations of the world are things I often wonder about today. 
Lindbergh wrote:
"The present is passed over in the race for the future; the here is neglected in favor of the there; and the individual is dwarfed by the enormity of the masses."
"America, which has the most glorious present still existing in the world today, hardly stops to enjoy it, in her insatiable appetite for the future."
I could not believe I had found the perfect explanation for some of the things that have been bothering me. The housing collapse, the "unstable" economy, the Gulf oil spill, and countless other issues seem to be telling us "Hey! What's the rush for?" These are things that happen when you skip today for the future! If you are worried about what your child will choose as a profession when they are 2 years old, then you're likely to miss them growing up along the way. Really, what is the rush? If we don't nurture and enjoy what we have now, then who's to say it will be around years down the road to enjoy later? That goes for family, friends, children, the earth, your favorite beach... you get the idea.

Life seems so busy these days. You have Twitter, Facebook, email, iPhones, satellite television, Internet, and countless other means of "keeping in touch". To me these are often devices that keep people from enjoying the here and now and most importantly from enjoying each other. Your children glue themselves to the television; husbands take work calls while at home with their families; people answer emails while driving their cars. When you watch television, people constantly speculate about the future. Stock owners follow their portfolios like it's their job. Why worry about what could happen? Anything could happen, but you might miss that anything if you're too busy wondering what might be. It's a shame that people put so much time into "keeping in touch" via technology; when each second you spend on your phone, or in front of the television, could be spent with a loved one "in the moment" instead! Instead of moving further apart, why don't people try moving closer to each other?

Sometimes it seems so difficult to enjoy the present, when we're constantly bombarded with people telling us it's so important to plan for the future. There are so many things you can't ever plan for, so why stress out over what you think your life should be? Each and every one of us are exactly where we're supposed to be at each moment. Love yourself each day, and love your loved ones each day.

Thank you Anne Morrow Lindbergh for shedding light on some timeless issues! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beer/Fun Lovers Paradise

Both Nate and I are fans of beer... and I'm not talking about wanting to sit around and drink a case of Coors Light, although there's nothing wrong with that. When I say we love beer, I mean we really like drinking/trying just about any beer that's out there. One place, in particular though, is pretty near and dear to our beer drinker hearts.

New Belgium Brewery!
* located in Ft. Collins, CO * 

If you live in Colorado, chances are that you have at least heard of New Belgium Brewing (NBB). There's also a chance that if you live in the US of A you've heard of them too. Fat Tire is the beer that put NBB on the map. They continue today brewing beer that pushes the envelope and tastes delicious.

Not only do they brew great beer, but the brewery is a dream place of employment (at least for me it would be) and environmentally conscious too! I've been on tours of the brewery I think 3 different times now, and on each tour I learn something new. I also fainted during one tour... definitely not recommended, because it makes finishing the tour difficult. I blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alt-i-tude. (beware when arriving at DIA from sea level and immediately traveling to the brewery for a tour) On our last brewery tour, my uncle, father, Nate, and I all went down the twisty slide. Any employer that is on board with having a slide at work is OK with me! Slide on!!

Yeee-ha! "Happy fun place" aka New Belgium Brewery

If there are any environment, beer, or fun lovers out there, you will definitely want to make a trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado! You'll learn not only about beer and brewing, but what it means to love the life you live. The owners, Jeff and Kim, surely knew what they were doing when they started the company.

(click on the picture for more info about how New Belgium started)

Also, Nate and I would like to take this chance to thank New Belgium for putting some of their beers in cans now. We can take them anywhere, well... almost anywhere. (please drink responsibly) The cans of beer are great for taking to the pool (because glass is prohibited there), and cans are great for the golf course too!

* Thank you New Belgium! *

** Maybe... just maybe one day they'll distribute their beer in Michigan (then Nate and I will have to move), and if they do I hope I can be one of their few women "beer rangers", because let's be honest... I look pretty darn good in the uniform!

Beer Ranger Ashley
aka The Future Michigan Ranger
Current Favorite New Belgium Beer:  Belgo

Nate and I were just in the Liquid Center a couple of days ago, and we were very happy with our tasters of their new beer: Belgo! Yum yum!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sunny Day

Yesterday was quite a stormy 4th of July in the Denver metro area. We didn't even bother driving anywhere to watch fireworks, because our weather consisted of: clouds, wind, pouring rain, lightning, and hail. Yes... I said hail. Never in my life have I seen so much hail and crazy weather since moving to Colorado four years ago! I spotted my first "twister" in Colorado, and I have a feeling it's only the beginning. Every time there are dark clouds near, I assume there must be a tornado forming. (It's silly, I know!) Nate thinks it's entertaining how worried I get when stormy clouds loom in the distance. But seriously... I never experienced so much "odd" weather growing up in Michigan!

(Those are hail stones... some of them were up to about 0.5" diameter)

Today, however, is lovely outside! So Nate and I just might take advantage of it with a little golfing. I am not sure you can call what I do golfing though. Golf is not a good sport for anyone who is extremely tough on themselves. Nate typically brushes things off much easier than I do, so it doesn't bother him much (as bad as it bothers me) when he shanks a shot or puts a giant divot into the tee box area! (Not that he does that very often... it's usually me doing the above mentioned things) My first time "golfing", with my own clubs and everything, was last summer, so I shouldn't be too hard on myself.... but that's what I do. My main focus today should probably be keeping my cool, instead of driving a 200 yard shot. For the "love of golf!", I really hope that at the end of the day my disposition is as sunny as the weather outside.

** Doesn't this picture sort of make you want to love golfing? **

If anyone has tips on how to be a better golfer, then feel free to share them! :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I always feel extra thankful on this day each year. Yeah, it's fun to spend time with friends and family while enjoying a day outside next to the grill. Not to mention eating food hot off the grill along with some crunchy vegetables.....

... enjoy great weather and a beautiful sunset...

... but never forget those who have fought or still fight for this great country!

Thank you all! Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010

More like "Coastal Loving"

I was thrilled to find a "surprise" in the mail today! (I really love surprises in the mail) It really wasn't a surprise though, because I was expecting it. I subscribed for Coastal Living magazine recently and received my first issue (July/Aug) today!

(Picture courtesy of

That aside, I was even happier to find a short article titled "why we love the coast" inside the pages. Honestly, part of the reason that I subscribed to Coastal Living in the first place is because I'm missing home, and home for me is a beautiful and mostly peaceful lake in northern Michigan. So... in steps Coastal Living to bring a little slice of the coast to suburban Denver. Unfortunately, reading the list of reasons why Coastal Living loves life by the coast just made me miss it even more! Shoot. So I reminisced and elaborated a little on each reason they listed for loving the coast, so here goes:

1)  Coastal Living said, "At the beach, no one raises an eyebrow when the adults act like kids."

* For some reason, being carefree on the lake always brings out the "kid" in people. I've seen it so many times, and it's fantastic. Somewhere along the way in life, it seems that people are discouraged to stop acting so "childish", and I think that's a real shame. So it's great that children and adults can come together near the coast, wherever that may be, and enjoy it at the same basic level. Who doesn't love to splash around a little when they get in the water? I know I've acted "childish" at the lake plenty of times. :)

2)  Coastal Living said, "Lounging under an umbrella for nine straight hours is considered normal."
Enough said. Doesn't Jimmy Buffet always say, "it's 5 o'clock somewhere"? If you can get away with it being 5pm all day on the coast, then please take advantage of that!

3)  Coastal Living said, "Our best memories are made there - on vacation, on a sunset walk, on a dare on a surfboard..."
I have so many great memories from growing up on the lake and vacationing (even honeymooning) on the coast! Everything from catching fireflies, collecting seashells, and swimming until turning into a prune... to sunset views and boat rides with friends. I've loved every second of my coastal memories... each... and every... second.

4)  Coastal Living said, "At get-togethers, the dress code is always "come as you are"."
* Really! Dress code? What's a dress code? Wear whatever is practical (probably a bathing suit... or maybe not), comfortable, and will keep you warm and mosquito-bite free on chilly evenings fireside. No one's paying attention to your clothes. They're probably contemplating, while gazing at the waves, something much more important than your outfit. Honestly.

(I wasn't joking.... t-shirt, bathing suit, puppy fur... it doesn't matter what you wear)

5)  Coastal Living said, "It's where we seem to get our best night's sleep."
* Not to mention how heavenly waking up to the sound of waves crashing on shore can be... mmmm. Can someone please find me a giant conch shell to place next to my ear?

6)  Coastal Living said, "Food tastes better at the shore. In fact, you're practically required to indulge. Ice cream before noon? But of course!"
* Somehow this really is true. Maybe pairing a meal with a setting sun makes it more enjoyable, or the community meals during a picnic at the lake do? I'm not sure why, but things really do taste better on the shore of your favorite waterside location!

(one of many picnics enjoyed while growing up at the lake)

7)  Coastal Living said, "Sea lions honk. Dolphins smile. Pelicans dive. Crabs crawl sideways -- how great is that?"
* Might I add; ducks swim, crayfish scurry, loons take flight, and eagles soar. There's a multitude of wildlife at your fingertips waiting at the coast. Enjoy it.

8)  Coastal Living said, "When you're on "beach time," everything is go with the flow. No schedules. No rushing. No stress.
* I repeat... no stress. Seriously, therapists should start recommending a day at the shore to reduce stress! I know it would do wonders for me at this moment. Just imagining the sounds of waves crashing even helps a little. :)  (where's that conch shell?)

* take a seat, you know you want to *

9)  Coastal Living said, "Cocktail hour is really a race between you and the melting ice."
* If this is your biggest concern in life, then something is right. Oh how I would love to be battling with a hot sun and melting ice cubes instead of life's other major issues!

10)  Coastal Living said, "Everybody smiles bigger when they have a sun-kissed glow on their cheeks."
* An extra dose of vitamin D once in a while does wonders. Try it sometime. Part of the sun-kissed "look" comes from getting out there and enjoying what nature has to offer! Thank goodness for our lakes, oceans, seas, rivers... and any other favorite coastal locations out there. :)

Since I'm missing my home coast, I'll have to rely on my Coastal Living magazine for a little pick me up now and then. :)

Dream It. Love It. Live It.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Letters to Ashley

So I've seen this on a few other blogs that I read, and the first place where I saw this was Cleared For Takeoff and I thought that I would like to write some letters to myself too. It really is sort of like "free" therapy. :) So here goes...

Dear 10 year old Ashley,

You will begin to experience how cruel kids/classmates can be. It will just be the beginning, and some people will grow out of it and others never will. Try not to let it hurt you when boys tell you that "you're a carpenter's dream... flat as a board and never been nailed." You definitely want to stay away from boys that want to get in your pants at a such a young age. Most boys won't show much interest in you until high school any way, so you don't have to worry too much. Just do what your father always said and "be yourself and people will love you." Learn to love yourself, you're great!

Dear 11 year old Ashley,

Your best friend will make friends with girls much "cooler" than you, but don't be too tough on her... she's dealing with insecurities too. Everyone has them, and you're very good at understanding this from a young age. Try very very hard to always remember that. Most people need a little encouragement once in a while. All people need love. Don't be scared to give it. And your best friend.... she'll come around so don't let it bother you so much.

Dear 12 year old Ashley,

Try not to hate middle school so much. Don't be too tough on your parent's for not having the money to clothe you in the clothes that the "popular" kids wear. Not to mention your tiny body doesn't really fit into the clothes that most girls wear at your age anyway. You'll get a butt and boobs later (basically college) and pretty much dislike them. Don't let it bother you that no one thinks it's cool to play the saxophone or wear leggings and not jeans. Later you'll realize later how much sacrificing your parents did for you.... and love them that much more for it!

Dear 13-14 year old Ashley,

You're learning to be yourself and I'm so happy you decided to tryout for volleyball, because it ends up being really great for you and helps you gain confidence in yourself. It's one of your great loves in life, and you'll always look back on it with great fondness. Don't stress out too much about still not having your first boyfriend. You've never been in too much of a hurry to grow up, and try to keep it that way. You'll marry a man who respects and loves everything about you. I will repeat... do not worry!

Dear 14-17 year old Ashley,

You'll be doing very well in classes and well on your way to becoming the valedictorian of your class. Don't ever forget that when you set goals for yourself that you do attain them! You'll have your first boyfriend... and your first heartbreak. Don't let it get you down. Every experience you have in life makes you stronger. Learn something from everyone. All people have something to give.... including you. Never regret decisions in life, and always move forward. Don't dwell in the past.

Dear 18 year old Ashley,

Please don't spend so much time focusing on a boy. Remember to spend time working on friendships with your girls, because they are extremely important in life. Work harder at finding the right college for you... it will sneak up on you faster than you can count to three! Stop thinking that procrastination will always work for you... it won't. Work harder on being independent, then maybe college wouldn't have been such a culture shock. Never forget to thank your parents for everything that they have done for you!

Dear 19-23 year old Ashley,

See! College went faster than you thought it would. You struggled at first, and I'm proud of you for graduating... even if it did take 5 years and you enjoyed your "super senior" year at school. Leaving your friends and your new home will be tougher than you thought.... don't pretend it won't be. Also remember that you're going to marry the greatest man, so don't spend too much time on dead end relationships... but do try and learn something from them. Try not to be too scared of the future. You need to learn you can't control everything. Also... try not to stress out too much about your major, because you can always change what you do with your life. Change begins now.

Dear 24-25 year old Ashley,

You have moved away from Michigan... and all of your friends and most of your family. You drove yourself cross country alone, and I knew you would be fine. You have your first architecture job, and I couldn't be more proud... unless you find a job that you love, then that would be great too! You will meet the guy you'll marry. And you are ready for it! :) He's pretty much the greatest, so always treat him like it. You'll also be laid off from your first architecture job and work very hard to find your next one about 1 week later. Try not to struggle with it so much... you'll be there for 2 years. (that's longer than most people keep their jobs) It may not be the right place for you.

Dear 26-27 year old Ashley,

You will deal with unemployment in an economy that doesn't really support architecture and construction... try not to beat yourself up too badly. Also don't worry about what anyone else thinks about you. How you view yourself is the most important thing. There are many things in life that are outside of your control. All you can do is be yourself and keep working towards your goals. I have faith in you... and I know you will figure out something that will work for you and Nate. Even though you didn't have the wedding you always thought you would have... it was perfect! Never take people for granted, they won't be around forever. You can't always have everything you want, (but you do have everything you need) and don't ever forget that. Be happy with where you're at and never stop trying to be the best person that you can....