Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We hope everyone has a fun and safe night and that next year brings happiness and success!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of Intentions

You know that old saying "practice makes perfect"? Well, it seriously does. For the most part. I mean there are probably some things I'll never perfect... like ballet, flying an airplane (I'll leave that to my husband), or speaking Mandarin, but I think that if I really wanted to do those things I would perfect them to the best of my abilities. That's where I think setting intentions for yourself really comes into play. When you do that, there's not a whole lot that will stop you from achieving your goals. Set goals and go for them.

I honestly find myself getting into trouble when I don't really know what I want to do... like now, for instance. My unemployment has given me a lot of time to think and reflect and figure out what it is that I really want to do for a living... although I don't think I'm quite there yet. I'm getting closer, and when I get there and decide what it is I'm going to set my mind to... I won't be stopped. That's just the way I am. When I know what I want, I go for it. Make the decision to do something, and then do it. Sometimes it seems like the hardest part is deciding what to do for a living. I know very few people who knew exactly what they wanted to do at a young age, and I know even fewer who love what they do. I think part of my problem with graduating from college with a degree in architecture is that I never really wanted to do it... I didn't enjoy it... and I could never really picture myself in that role. I think it's so important to set goals for yourself, reach for your dreams, and to not listen to what others tell you to do, because quite honestly your gut instincts usually know what's right for you. So make some decisions (that seems to be one of the hardest parts), set goals, and go for them.

Sometimes I think if I just followed my own advice I'd be in much better shape, but there's no time like now to start following it. I typically have the best of intentions, and I would like to have some great ones for myself. My goal for the future is to do less thinking and analyzing and more action! Now I just need to follow through with that. Instead of worrying about what might happen if I do things, I should worry more about what would happen if I didn't do them. I hope to become better at failing, because, to be honest, the more I fail the more I'll learn... about myself and my capabilities. I know I'm not a failure, but sometimes it sure feels like it. My strengths sometimes fade to the background when I get down on myself, and I hope to remember everything that I am good at... instead of focusing on what I'm no so good at doing.

The worst thing that could happen is never trying something that I could be great at, and I would never know how good I could be at it. So I hope to keep that in mind and try every and anything that sparks my interest. Why not, right? I'll end with some lyrics of a song from Rent.

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Lyrics from
"No Day But Today"

The heart may freeze or it can burn
The pain will ease if I can learn

There is no future
There is no past
Thank God this moment's not the last

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret-- or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There's only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what is alright
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can't control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

Graduating... not a failure.

Studying abroad for 6 weeks... not a failure.

Happiness in love... definitely not a failure!

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I just might take a look at things that I have accomplished and remind myself that they are not failures. I've learned so much, and I don't ever want to stop learning. I want to keep growing. Here's to a new way of looking at failures and success! :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time Flies

Here's to some obligatory end of year reflecting!

Yes, it's already that time of year again, and I just went through some of my old facebook posts... about three years worth actually. How quickly I was able to read through those posts blew my mind, because it was three years worth of words from friends and family. It seems like such a long time ago already! Looking through all of the old posts made me realize there are a lot of people that I've lost touch with, and that always makes me a little sad... to think about so many people who have been a part of my life but maybe aren't any more. There are also people who have remained my friends, and I'm thankful for them... because good friends are rare! Seriously. I've always been the person who would rather have one great friend instead of one hundred acquaintances. That is just who I am. I can be downright anti-social when I feel like it. It's those really great friends who bring me back to earth and remind me that they're still there for me, and thank God for them. Friends and family and love really do make the world go 'round.

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Nate and I early in our relationship

Us on our wedding day

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It's amazing how much, and how quickly, life changes. We meet new people and make new friends, we lose loved ones, and new lives come into the world. It seems like just yesterday that I met Nate, and we've been together for almost four years now! It's almost hard to believe. Last February we were married, and I absolutely cannot grasp that our one year anniversary is right around the corner. Time flies when you're having fun. I love every moment we spend together, good and bad. Everything shapes the person you are today. You never know what will happen tomorrow, so live for today.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Simple is not Easy

Life is not easy. I hate to say that, but it is true. There are struggles, pain, hurt... etc. Life also holds love, joy, excitement, and fun. Up and downs are part of life, and that's the way it is. It's amazing how simple it seems to accept that fact, but it's not always easy to do so.

I don't think of myself as a downer for saying that life is not easy. I actually am learning again to be quite the opposite. My attempts at finding and looking for good typically do end in finding what I thought was there all along... some searches for good might be tougher than some... but it's pretty much always there. Making the choice to look for good is typically all that it takes to find some. It may seem like such a simple choice, but it's not always easy to do. So many times people feel knocked down in life, and you begin a dangerous cycle of seeing bad and finding bad in life. I strongly believe that there is good in everyone... some just might be harder to find than others, and sometimes it may seem near impossible to find it. Just remember that it's there. I have recently experienced a few let downs from friends and people that I care about, but I cannot let those mishaps make me forget that life is good! Simple... but not easy.

There are so many things in life that are simple but not easy at times: loving unconditionally, caring, thinking for yourself, not judging others, seeing good in people, and the list continues. I would love to get to a point in life where many, or all, of these things come to me easily... sort of like breathing, you don't have to think about it. I definitely know people who struggle with the above mentioned 'easy' tasks in life, and I am definitely one of them. Hey... I'm not perfect, and I have yet to meet a perfect person. We're all experiencing this journey called life, but none of us have perfected it. The best you can do it attempt to perfect it, and the second that you get close... you'll learn something new that will change the way you live. That can be a good thing! Never stop learning and growing, and don't forget... Simple is not easy. If it's easy, you're probably not doing it right. ;)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Not So Traditional Christmas

Our Christmas plans didn't exactly go the way we wanted this year. I should have known better than to try and plan for anything while flying standby. I had planned on being at home in northern Michigan on Christmas day, but that didn't pan out as planned.

The prices for airline tickets were crazy high over the holidays (like they normally are), so I thought I'd chance it and fly as a non-revenue passenger. That was a great, good, and bad idea all at the same time. It's much cheaper to fly that way, but you're also at the mercy of so many unpredictable factors like weather, flight loads, holiday travelers, etc. Unfortunately, I ended up buying a last minute one way ticket back to Denver (which was surprisingly cheap for such a last minute purchase), because the flight was filling up and flying standby wasn't happening. If the flights hadn't looked full for days on end during the holidays, I would have stayed in Michigan. However, I wanted to spend Christmas and New Years with my husband, so back to Colorado we went.

That being said, Nate and I flew back to Denver extremely early on Christmas morning. We woke up at 2am (that was my bedtime in college) in order to return our rental car and make the 4 hour drive to the airport in Detroit. Nate made an earlier flight than me, so I had some hours to kill at 4am in the Detroit airport. What better time than 4am to wander around the airport taking pictures with a borrowed digital camera, right? After killing a few hours taking photos and chatting with the gate agent in Detroit, I boarded my flight (which was crazy full due to lots of passengers re-routing their flights due to cancellations through Atlanta) and headed home to meet Nate in Denver. Thank goodness I bought that last minute ticket back home.

Due to sheer exhaustion, we had a quiet and sleepy Christmas this year. After spending all day traveling, we both napped during the afternoon. Feeling the need to do something Christmas-y on Christmas day, we took a drive to see an amazing display of lights. By chance, Nate had heard on the radio about two houses that went in on a display together. We made the drive on Christmas evening, and enjoyed a light display set to music. Unfortunately our camera's memory card was full, so I only had room for one video of the lights... but, I did get a pretty good video!

After getting our Christmas light fix, we decided to eat dinner out since our refrigerator and pantry were barren after being away from home for so long. I thought for sure that it was going to be easy to find somewhere to eat dinner, but boy was I wrong. We drove around a couple of towns, and Nate was running low on patience and his tummy was rumbling. It took some convincing to try one more area, and low and behold we found ourselves not one but two Asian food restaurants that were open on Christmas evening! A little pad thai and sesame chicken on Christmas never hurt anyone. We both had a good laugh, because the family in the movie A Christmas Story ate at an Asian restaurant on Christmas evening too. They really are the only places open on Christmas. :)

We had ourselves a nice little Christmas, even though it was not the most conventional one ever. It was definitely a fun and interesting Christmas this year.

Do you have any Christmas stories of a not so traditional Christmas?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This holiday season is a little different than most that I've spent with my husband... or maybe I have a bad memory? First off, this is actually our first Christmas together as a married couple. Pretty exciting if you ask me! Also... we're spending way too much time apart from each other. More than I would like any way. Guess that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Frozen lake in northern Michigan

I am pumped to visit family and friends in Michigan, but then worry starts to settle in when I think about my husband. Will Nate be okay while I'm gone? What is he going to eat... will he cook? I sure hope he doesn't just eat Chick-Fil-A every night (even though it is quite tasty), because if he has a fast-food-induced heart attack I'll feel like the worst wife ever. I could cook him a bunch of food that he can warm up, but we're a little short on cash after Christmas gift shopping... and he doesn't get paid until after I leave. Dang. Then I start wishing that he could come with me to Michigan. He'll be there for a few days, but I'm going to my friend's Christmas party without him... and he might have to leave Christmas eve or Christmas day due to really heavy flight loads the day after Christmas. This is when I need to remember to breathe and go with the flow, because everything will be fine. :)

Under dressed for Mich. winter weather
... yeah we were freezing. December 2007

Don't get me wrong, I'll enjoy time spent in Michigan while I'm there! Not to mention, northern Michigan was blanketed by a bunch of beautiful white now... and I cannot wait to play in it. The Denver area doesn't really get much snow, and the brown landscape is starting to make me a little homesick. This will be the first time in a long time that I spend more than a few days in Michigan, so I am looking forward to it. It's sort of bittersweet. My husband will probably survive too... he made it 25 years without me. (Although I have no idea how) kidding!

Stay warm this Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All About the Gifts

Last night I read the daily entry from a book that I read each night, and it caught me a little off guard at first. The reading from last night said that Christmas is all about gifts, and at first I thought "Umm... excuse me what?!". Then I read a little further and understood better why Christmas really is all about gifts.

A small piece of the entry that I read from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach reads as follows:

"Oh, yes. Christmas is all about gifts. Nothing but gifts. But such gifts! Gifts tied with heartstrings. Gifts that surprise and delight. Gifts that transform the mundane into the miraculous. Gifts that nurture the souls of both the giver and the given...
Unconditional Love. Selflessness. Trust. Faith. Forgiveness. Wholeness. Second Chances. Comfort. Joy. Peace. Reassurance. Rejoicing. Generosity. Compassion. Charity. Wonder. Acceptance. Courage."

Quite often the best gifts that you can give to someone are not the material ones. People tend to forget how just a little bit of their time and energy can really turn around the day of a friend in need. We can give so much to people each and every day, but we often forget that we can give gifts like love and our time. Sometimes it is so easy to give, but we forget that it does not take as much energy as we might think. I mean... I still have not shopped on Black Friday... ever. That definitely takes a huge effort on the shopper's part, but so many gifts take little to no effort... don't forget about the free gifts that you can give. Out of all of the gifts I've ever received, I would say that the best ones are usually ones that create memories.

I mean... don't get me wrong, I like getting material gifts as much as the next person, but it's often some one else's time and energy that I appreciate the most. I am going to have to agree that Christmas is all about the gifts! Don't forget to give with your heart... after all that is free.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happiest Place on Earth

You thought I was going to say 'Disney World' didn't you?

Well... I'm. Although I won't argue with the fact that Disney is probably 'the happiest place on earth' when it comes to theme parks for families. However, the happiest place that I'm talking about this time is New Belgium Brewery (NBB) in Ft. Collins, Colorado. It's become a tradition for me to visit there around the holidays... and I have been quite a few times now. Every time I go it's always exciting and new.

How is NBB the happiest place on earth you might ask? I just have to answer that question with an upbeat, "How is it not?" The pictures and descriptions below help answer that question as well.

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The exterior is rather inviting if you ask me...
"The Beer Inside is Delightful"

Inspired Decorations
... made from beer labels and 6 pack boxes.

Fun for all
 ... be careful how many beers you drink

How many work places do you know of...
 ... that have a slide just for fun?!

And of course I can't forget the beer.
 It's the reason for all of this...

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The story of New Belgium is great. Their Fat Tire beer is sort of what started it all. It was the first beer brewed by NBB, and it most definitely put them on the map. Check out the story of NBB here

I challenge you to find a happier place... sort of. No seriously... just go and try it for yourself. Ft. Collins, Colorado! You'll see all of the smiling faces and never want to leave. (At least that's how I felt...) Happy happy joy joy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Favorites: Decorations & Wrapping

I love the holidays. More importantly though, I love holiday decorations! I obviously also love design (seriously my architecture degree isn't just going to waste) and inspired interiors. Combining my love for holiday decorations and making things by hand, this year I decided to DIY some decorations for our dining area. I couldn't really help myself.

So with a few things I bought, a lot of things we already owned, and a whole lot of silver spray paint and rocks from outside, we have ourselves a nice little Winter Wonderland inside our apartment. Our white porcelain snowflake candle holders glow so much brighter with white lights in them instead of candles. I think I love them! Can I get away with keeping it up all year? If not, we'll surely enjoy this until the New Year. :)

Again this might sound weird to some, but I also enjoy wrapping gifts. To me it's another way of expressing my artistic and creative side. I usually never ever use just one color of ribbon on a gift, and choosing which paper to use on a gift is like figuring out which outfit to put on each day. Seriously. During my high school years, I used to lay out my clothes the night before, or else I would have stood in front of my closet for hours trying to figure out what to wear every morning. Gift wrapping takes about that much thought too.

While wrapping gifts, I have to think about who the gift is for, the scale of the pattern versus the size of the gift, I need to choose coordinated colors, and I surely have to top off the gift with a fun name tag. Wrapping is pretty serious business here. Don't laugh. I know that my husband doesn't mind... because quite honestly I think if he never had to wrap another gift he'd be okay with that. It would be all out war in this place if he loved wrapping gifts as much as I do. Thank goodness we don't have to fight over it. That would really put a damper on the holiday spirit.

Does anyone else out there like to decorate or wrap as much as I do? Honestly... I don't know if anyone out there loves to wrap like I do... I'm just saying...  ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lost and Found

"Not till we are lost... do we begin to find ourselves and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations."               --Thoreau

This may seem a little strange, or difficult to comprehend if you're someone who has never experienced seasons in this way, but it seems that since I moved to Colorado something (possibly an internal gps of sorts) has been a bit off for me. As much as I don't mind the 'mild' Colorado winters, I'm definitely missing Michigan's easy to distinguish seasons. Mind you I am not always missing the blistering cold of Michigan winters at times, but Colorado lacks seasons that I can discern from one to the next. I feel like Colorado has two seasons... summer and winter. This bothers me because I grew up in a place where each season seemed to serve a very different purpose. The thawing and warming of the spring, the euphoric and careless summer, the crisp and colorful fall, and the silencing and hibernating of winter. I am going a bit crazy without those markers of time, and let me tell you that I for one took the uniqueness of Michigan's seasons for granted while living there. The dark, dreary, and sometimes cruel Michigan winters made spring and summer feel like a reward. One that you did not want to take for granted, because before you knew it fall was knocking on the door. I find it almost difficult to appreciate sunshine every day in Colorado. I'm beginning to believe that I could never ever live in Hawaii or Arizona. Luckily for me, Nate loves seasons too. A lack of change seems so unnatural and not comforting at all. Dare I say that I need the changing seasons to help keep me from getting lost in time. I'm beginning to wonder if Michigan's change in seasons helped keep me from getting too stagnant... I can't help but wonder if there's something almost therapeutic in the seasons changing. I have definitely learned the importance of not taking things for granted.

I know time isn't standing still, but one does begin to wonder when things feel like they never change. These thoughts could help explain why I love a change in scenery every once in a while... a little travel to new places never killed anyone. If anything, travel to somewhere new is always an eye opener for me.

Just like the Thoreau quote suggests... being lost isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just might help you come to realizations and discoveries. However, I'm not saying that if you're lost and you find yourself that you won't get lost again. Getting lost every once in a while is part of life, and I'm beginning to think it's not as bad as people might make it sound. Now... I mean this in the nicest way possible... Get lost!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lessons in Love

One of my new all time favorite movies, even though it's a fairly new movie, is the Blindside. I'll admit that I shed a tear (actually lots of tears) every single time I watch it. The movie portrays an incredibly inspiring story that shows us what a lot of love and determination can do for someone in need.

I recently finished reading In a Heartbeat, which was written by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. They were the family that created the real life inspiration for the Blindside. The book gives you a much deeper look into their lives, their origins, and the whole story that inspired such a wonderful movie. I cannot possibly narrow down the most important messages that I took from reading that book, but they all revolve around love and giving more than you get. Those two issues are things I think you could practice your entire life and still not perfect, but the Tuohy family sure seems to come close.

I want to share a small piece of In a Heartbeat that I loved, because I think it's often too easy to dismiss people in life... this might change the way you look at strangers:

"Love, we've learned, can come into your life in a heartbeat. But the people who are your family aren't always the people who are blood related to you, and loving someone unconditionally is a lot easier than we make it out to be.
Give love and you will always get it back. That's our story, that's our message."

The definition of family for me is a rather loose definition. Like the book quote above says, family is so much more than just relation by blood. Family is about giving love to others, and your family could essentially include anyone who you love... and maybe they'll even love you back. Some families don't even give love to their own blood, and to me that goes to show that not everyone gives love to others. It really is a lot easier than we would like to believe at times.

Unconditional love should not be saved for a select few; it's meant to be shared. No one should ever have to earn love... it's deserved by all. Change a life by giving love. A little bit of love can go a long way, and it sure is great to give!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Growing Pains

I'm not sure that I can put my finger on where a lot of my recent thoughts have been coming from (although I have some ideas). Recently I've been doing a lot of thinking about 'problems' in life and how to look at them differently. Just like any person in life has probably been through some sort of struggle, pain, loss, suffering, etc... I have too. Hey, I am human after all. Life is not always perfect. I think the one thing that makes people grow and mature the most can be pain, and I'm not talking about physical pain. The kind of pain I'm talking about is the kind that makes your heart hurt and your head reel. That's the kind of pain that makes people grow the most. Growing pains are painful for a reason. You grow from dealing with the pain, but you can also move in a backward direction by not dealing with the pain at all. Isn't this what the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is getting at? If it doesn't kill you to deal with the pain, then it will probably make you stronger (not physically stronger, but mentally and emotionally).

Don't be afraid of dealing with pain in life, because avoidance can set you back a few steps. Take the bull by the horns, push through the pain, and come out a stronger person. You'll thank yourself for it later.