i carry your heart

We were excited to be leaving for vacation Friday morning; four days in Vegas with good friends and an additional four days in Disney Land just the three of us.  Our first family vacation to Disney: my husband, myself and our growing baby bump.  We were thrilled to be traveling with our friends to a place my husband and I had never been, such an exciting place to visit!  Shows were picked, dinner reservations were made, massages booked; we were anticipating a trip to remember.

We also had big plans for our trip to Disney and incorporating it with how we would be telling our families.  We had already shared the exciting news with our parents and siblings on Christmas, so much love and joy was shared on that wonderful day.  Our second trimester would begin on February 1st and we were planning on a Valentine’s Day themed announcement.  You know the type, a picture of hubby and I with a cute (and incredibly sappy) line or two about our little bundle of joy arriving August 3rd.  We only had one small thing to check off our list of things to do before we got to join our friends at the airport, a routine prenatal appointment.

~

Thursday morning I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of dread, something simply didn’t feel right but I could not put my finger on it.  Maybe it was pre-travel jitters, maybe it was morning sickness hitting again, or maybe it was something more.  I nervously rode to the appointment with my husband trying to reassure me that things were ok.  We had two early ultra sounds and got to see our little one at 6.5 weeks and again at 7.5 weeks.  The baby was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and seeing the tiny heart beating so quickly was such an amazing experience to share with my husband.  With each heart flutter our love for our baby grew.  There was no doubting it – in that instant our lives were no longer our own.  We had changed, we had grown in that instant, we had become parents.

~

Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes to count.  A couple names picked out.  Two fat little cheeks to kiss.  Two different opinions on finding out the gender.  One already convinced that it was a little girl.   Six more months until we get to met our little one.  One nursery to decorate.  Countless visions of our future.  Endless hopes and dreams for our baby.
One doctor appointment.   No heartbeat.  Two lives forever changed.

There is no preparing yourself for that moment.  The quietness as our ultrasound tech whispered “I’m sorry”.  Other words may have been spoken, but none that I heard.  With those two little words a part of me went missing.  My baby was gone and there was nothing I could do to change the reality of the situation.

The following morning I checked into the hospital and waited for my doctor to come and lead me into the procedure which would forever separate me from my baby.  I tried to be strong, I tried not to let the emotions of what was happening get to me.  I tried, but I failed.  Countless tears fell that day, and many days since.

My baby never knew sadness, never knew pain or hunger, she never knew how cruel the world can be.  She also will never know the feeling of an ocean breeze, the excitement of realizing her dreams, the embrace of those who love her, or the crisp smell of autumn.  She will never know what it is like to make friends, to travel, to stumble but get back up again.  There are so many things I wish I had the opportunity to introduce her to, so many things I wish I could have shard with her.  Instead, I am left with questions and a memory.   I will forever carry her in my heart, living my life in an effort to a person she would have been proud to call Mom.

~

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

– E. E. Cummings

101 in 1001 Progress update

101 in 1001 challenge progress
UPDATED ON: 2/22/2015
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
Completed on:
2.  Host a family dinner party.
Completed on:
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
Completed on:
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
Completed on:
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
Completed on:
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Completed on:
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
Completed on:
I’ve been really good about doing various acts of kindness, but I am awful at remembering to jot them down!  I have no idea if I have hit 25 in one month.  This needs to be changed to “Keep track of 25 random acts…”  🙂
8.  Order our wedding album.
We finally started working on the draft!  Hope we have it ordered by our 2nd anniversary.
Completed on:
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (1/10)
Completed on:
I know I have tried several new places since July, sadly I have not kept very good track,
1. 7/27/14
2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
10.  Try 10 new foods. (2/10)
Completed on:
1. February 3, 2015: Conch
2.February 20, 2015: Bison
3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
Completed on: December 2014
12.  Go to the optometrist.
Completed on: December, 214
I was happy to discover that after almost 5 years my vision had not changed very much!
I cannot wait to pick out new frames and order my contacts.
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
Completed on:
14. Have a picnic.
Completed on:
15.  Start a new tradition.
Completed on: December 2014
Tagging and cutting down our own Christmas tree.
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
Completed on:
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
Completed on:
 The plan is Summer 2015!
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
Completed on: August, 2014
I received my first hot stone massage while away on vacation with some girlfriends.
While I really enjoyed the massage, I do not think I would get one again.
I missed my knots being worked out!
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
Completed on:
20.  Attend my graduation.
Completed on: N/A
Unable to complete, while I finished my school program I ended up not attending graduation.
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis. (1/3)
Completed on:
 1.   7/27/14       2._____      3. _____
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
Completed on:
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
Completed on: October, 2014
 I am so happy i made the switch!  Not only do I feel like I am doing a small part to help the environment, but not I am able to utilize the scanner system and ring my items up as I am shopping.  It is so wonderful to walk up the the registers and already have everything scanned and bagged.  I almost enjoy grocery shopping now.
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
Completed on:
25.  Find out my blood type and donate. (1/2 completed)
Completed on:
Thanks to my mom, I have discovered I am A positive.  Now I need to find strength (I’m not a fan of needles) and a blood drive!
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
Completed on:
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
Completed on:
1. January 2015: Disney Land, CA  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
Completed on:
Still on the hunt!
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
Completed on:
I had tickets to visit the set of Rachel Ray, but a bad snow storm kept my friend and I from traveling to NYC.
Hopefully another opportunity will come soon.
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
Completed on:
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
Completed on:
 In progress: I have updated all my mailing addresses, but I still need to fill out the important dates.
32.  Create a fairy garden.
Completed on:
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.
Completed on:
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
Completed on: November, 2014
 A huge thank you to my wonderful mother-in-law who came over and painted this for us!
35.  Organize the coat closet.
Completed on: December, 2014
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
Completed on:
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
Completed on:
38.  See a drive-in movie.
Completed on:
39.  Attend a cooking class.
Completed on:
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
Completed on:
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
Completed on:
 Sadly, I am now another year behind.
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
Completed on:
This has proven to be a lot more difficult that originally expected!  It amazes me how I know what is good for me and how I deserve to be treated, but lack the confidence to stand up for myself.  Clearly, I still have some areas I can grow in.
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
Completed on:
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
45.  Make 5 new friends. (2/5)
Completed on:
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
Completed on:
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
Completed on: January 2015, hello Invisalign!
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
Completed on:
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
I will eventually post a link and review on each of these meals.
Completed on:
1. August 2014: Kung Po Chicken
2. September 2014: Sesame Chicken
3. October 2014: Artichoke & Spinach Chicken
4. November 2014: Chicken Parmesan Soup
5.December 2014: Cheesy Tortellini Crockpot Soup
6. February 2015: Chicken & Broccoli with Noodles
6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
Two months, what was I thinking?!  I’m having a hard time planning 2 weeks.
Luckily I still have plenty of time to work this one out.
Completed on:
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
Completed on: August 2014
I have really enjoyed completing this challenge.
I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel on days I reach my water goal compared to days I do not.
For starters, I get headaches a lot less that I use to!
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
Completed on: January 2015
It felt really good to go through my clothes and donate several large bags of things.
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
I have created a plan, now I just need to stick to it!
Update: I have SO much trouble sticking to a plan!  I may need to revisit my schedule and figure out a better system.
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
Completed on:
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
Completed on:
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
I have started training, that is a great first step.
Completed on:
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
Completed on:
60.  Do 25 sit-ups every day for a month.
Completed on:
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
Completed on:
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com
Completed on:
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
Completed on:
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (3/5)
Completed on:

1. 7/17/14 while I was walking Madigan

2. 7/19/14 Introduced ourselves to the couple that recently moved into neighborhood

3. 7/20/14 – while doing yard work I introduced myself to a neighbor who was walking her dog

4._____ 5._____

66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
Completed on:

67.  Be part of a flash mob.

I’ve been having a hard time finding something local and honestly I do not have much interest in this anymore.  I may try to come up with an alternative for this one.

Completed on:

68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.

Completed on:

69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.

Completed on:

70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.

Completed on:

71.  Complete the couch25K program.

I began using this training app on January 26, 2015.

Completed on:

72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.

Completed on:

73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.

Completed on:

74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.

Completed on:

75.  Start a family.

On November 24, 2014 we found out we were expecting.  Sadly, our precious little one has since returned to the hands of God.  While we do not have a baby to hold, I cannot ignore the fact that we had in fact started our family.

Completed on: November 2014

76.  See a dermatologist.

Completed on: December 2014
I got a lot done in December before out insurance deductible restarted on 1/1/15.

77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.

Completed on:

78.  Print & frame travel photos.

Completed on:

79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.

Completed on:

80.  Visit a country I have never been to.

Completed on:
Do the Bahamas count?

81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.

Completed on:

82.  Go ice skating in NYC.

Completed on:

83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.

Completed on:

84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.

Completed on:

86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.

Completed on:
87.  Write a yelp review the next 10 times* I use the app to help me decide where to go. (3/10)
(* I realized I did not have a qualifying “goal” attached to this, so I have edited it to doing this 10 times)
Completed on:

88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.

Completed on:

89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.

Completed on:

90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep people happy.

Completed on:

91.  Take a cake decorating class.

Completed on:

92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.

Completed on:

93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____

94.  Go to a professional football game.

Completed on:

95.  Try Reiki.

Completed on: 2014 (I can’t seem to find the exact date)
I attended a Reiki Open House with a friend and have had several sessions with another Reiki practitioner since.
I truly find it relaxing and look forward to exploring this more in the future.

96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.

Completed on: December 2014
This has officially become a new tradition, and I already cannot wait to search for a get our next tree for 2015.

97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.

Completed on:

98.  Finish the afghan.

Completed on: October 2014
It only took several years, but I finally dug the afghan out of storage an finished it.
After this extra cold winter I am extremely thankful I did!

99.  Go kayaking.

Completed on:

100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.

Completed on:
 In progress, I have less than 15 rides to go!

101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!

Completed on:
*Bonus*
102. Go skydiving with my Mother-in-law!
Completed on: unable to complete.
I had to back out of our skydiving trip due to a medial reason.

Made to thrive

In the last year, I have spent a great deal of time getting to know myself.  I mean really know myself.  I have come to see my strengths and my faults; I have learned what it means to have a solid support system around you; I have learned what it means to let go and have faith; I have learned what it feels like to be in a room full of people and feel loved instead of alone.  I am no where near finished with my journey, but I have certainly come a long way.  I have found my own voice in difficult situations.  I have been open and honest about my feelings and concerns.  I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and afraid, and I have allowed myself to ask for help.

While I stumble along my journey of self-discovery, I have realized I spend far too much time and energy worrying about things that do not really matter, and not enough time and energy on the people and things in life that do.  I am embarrassed to admit, I have let other voices sway my opinions and alter my actions.  I have not stayed true to my own thoughts and feelings, and as such – I have not stayed true to myself.  It is time I forgive myself and move forward.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I have come to realize that we all have that friend who is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.  With a sorrow in our voice, we tell ourselves it is time to move on.  It is time to let go of the false prophet and the illusion which has been created.  It is time to take the energy once spent on this wolf and spread it amongst your fellow sheep.  It is time for a new beginning.

As I look around I see so many people who I am thankful to have as part of my life.  I do not remember the last time I felt so blessed to have such a great network of family and friends surround me.  A year ago I dreaded turning 30, although as I now approach my 31st birthday I realize that I am exactly where I always wanted be in life.  I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and a new sense of faith that allows me to love myself, faults and all.

 

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Casting Crowns – “Thrive”

 

 

Church Search Pt.1

This past Sunday I spent an hour of the morning alongside a friend in a pew.  We had finally made it to a local church that was on the list of ones to check out.  I felt like a fish out of water.  Growing up Catholic, I know what to except when going to mass.  I know when to stand, when to sit and especially when to kneel.  I know the prayers, the order of mass and I especially know not to laugh or giggle during a hymn.  Today, none of that mattered.

congregational church

Photo source: unknown

 

This morning, my friend at Crazy Beautiful Chronicles joined me as I went to a Congregational church for the first time, and it was quite a different experience.  She blogged about the morning, which you can find here.  Some differences were fairly obvious (a woman was running the show and we did not receive communion) and some were far less obvious (we didn’t kneel).  Upon entering, I noticed a few things right away:

1. The image of Jesus was not represented anywhere.
2. We were the youngest by several years
(this did change when a family with teenagers came in at the last moment)
3. That I had no clue where to sit.
4. The room was very simple, yet had a sense of beauty about it that I just can not seem to describe.

The minister began speaking and right away I knew I was about to experience something completely different from any of the masses I attended in a Catholic Church.  For starters, her (HER!) mic was not on, and with a quick laugh to the crowd she ducked behind the pulpit.  When she returned, she began again, not missing a step in her opening.  Not only do I not remember something like this ever happening at my former Catholic Church, I cannot imagine the mic recovery going so smoothly.  This one simply blip in the morning made me feel like the minister was one of us, not above us like a priest in a Catholic church.

The one major thing that has impressed me is the fact that here I sit, two days later, and I could still give a fairly descriptive summary of that morning’s service.  Not only did the minister hold my attention for the full hour, but more importantly I was left truly thinking about what she had said.  The sermon this past Sunday was about the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.  For those who are like me, and really do not ever remember discussing this in CCD, here is my extremely simple version.  This is the story of how Jesus fed 5,000 people who had come to see him, while only having five loaves of bread and two fish.    He took the little food he had and offered it to the people.  Once everyone had finished eating, twelve baskets were returned to him still carrying food leftover from the original loaves and fish yet everyone there had eaten.

 

Source: unknown

Photo source: unknown

During Sunday’s sermon, the minister explained why this was one of her favorites.  She told us her interpretation of the miracle and spoke to us about sharing with our neighbor.   She spoke not only with confidence, but in a way that it felt like I was speaking to a friend.  She laughed at herself as she shared a childhood memory and she teased the congregation at the end of a hymn which everyone seemed to laugh and struggle through (the fact that it was in a different language may have had something to do with that).  She spoke in a serious tone without sounding like she was lecturing.  All-in-all, my friend and I were impressed.

After church was over, we both wanted to see what the rest of the rather large building had to offer, so we headed towards the social area.  On the way, we noticed several large event boards covered with things for the members to take a part in.  Everything from hikes to dances to volunteer events to non-church related events.  It was really refreshing to see that there was such an active presence in the community.  This is definitely something I would want in a church.

While we were looking at the last of the event boards, a very kind woman introduced herself to us and chatted for a little while about her role in the church and was curious about our own stories.  While talking, two other members joined to say hello.  It was very surprising how welcoming everyone was.  When people  realized we were new, they made it a point to help us feel welcomed.  In any of the catholic churches I have visited, no one has every said hello.  I’m not even sure how many people stick around after communion is received.

When our conversation had hit a quiet point, my friend and I politely excused ourselves and headed for the car.  I was honestly hoping no one else would stop us.  It was at that moment we realized the minister was following us, and I am sure you can imagine the looks we gave each other (keep in mind we were laughing about how young she looked and had a moment of fear that maybe she heard us).  As it turns out, she had a family event to attend, was also leaving, did not seem to hear us laughing that she looked so young and also happened to be parked next to us.   She introduced herself to us by her first name and the three of us chatted for a few moments.  She seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say, and then invited us to reach out to her if ever needed.  We had explained that we were visiting and she ended the conversation simply stating “If I do not see you again, I hope you enjoy your journey.”  There was no pressure to join the church and we were not asked by anyone if we would be back the following week.  I found this to be a very quiet, but powerful statement.  I did not feel pressure to commit to attending again and I did not feel guilt about possibly not seeing them again.  It left me feeling like they were truly happy we had decided to visit that morning and that was enough.  The ladies did not have a hidden agenda when they came to say hello, they simply wanted we say hi.  It was so refreshing.

I still cannot put my finger on why, but this past Sunday morning has really stuck with me.   I have found myself thinking about the Minister’s message in her sermon, about the community activities, and about the parting words we were left with “I hope you enjoy your journey.”  I do suppose making us reflect on our lives is the point.

Finally, a huge thank you to my pew partner for the morning!  Not only did we have an enjoyable time visiting a new church, we had a wonderful time catching up over brunch afterwards.  Please take a moment to visit my friend at Crazy Beautiful Chronicles.  I really think you will enjoy her insights on the world around her.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy your journey.

101 in 1001 Challenge: Progress

101 in 1001 challenge progress
UPDATED ON: 7/27/14
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
Completed on:
2.  Host a family dinner party.
Completed on:
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
Completed on:
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
Completed on:
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
Completed on:
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Completed on:
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
Completed on:
8.  Order our wedding album.
Completed on:
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (1/10)
Completed on:
1. 7/27/14  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
10.  Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
Completed on:
12.  Go to the optometrist.
Completed on:
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
Completed on:
14. Have a picnic.
Completed on:
15.  Start a new tradition.
Completed on:
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
Completed on:
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
Completed on:
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
Completed on:
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
Completed on:
20.  Attend my graduation.
Completed on:
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis. (1/3)
Completed on:
 1.   7/27/14       2._____      3. _____
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
Completed on:
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
Completed on:
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
Completed on:
25.  Find out my blood type and donate. (1/2 completed)
Completed on:
Thanks to my mom, I have discovered I am A positive.  Now I need to find strength (I’m not a fan of needles) and a blood drive!
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
Completed on:
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
Completed on:
 So far I have tried a mixture of MAC NC20 and NW20.
Seeing as I have to mix it myself, this combo is not exactly what I am looking for.
The hunt continues!
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
Completed on:
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
Completed on:
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
Completed on:
32.  Create a fairy garden.
Completed on:
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.  (in progress)
Completed on:
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
Completed on:
35.  Organize the coat closet.
Completed on:
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
Completed on:
Any ideas on one for me to do?  There are so many I’m having a tough time deciding.
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
Completed on:
38.  See a drive-in movie.
Completed on:
39.  Attend a cooking class.
Completed on:
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
Completed on:
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
Completed on:
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
Completed on:
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
Completed on:
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
45.  Make 5 new friends. (0/5)
Completed on:
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
Completed on:
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
Completed on:
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
Completed on:
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
Completed on:
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
Completed on:
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
Completed on:
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
I have created a plan, now I just need to stick to it!
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
Completed on:
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
Completed on:
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
Completed on:
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
Completed on:
60.  Do 25 sit-ups every day for a month.
Completed on:
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
Completed on:
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com (please click here for progress!)
Completed on:
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
Completed on:
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (3/5)
Completed on:

1. 7/17 while I was walking Madigan    2. 7/19 Introduced ourselves to the couple that recently moved into neighborhood

3. 7/20 – while doing yard work I introduced myself to a neighbor who was walking her dog

4._____ 5._____

66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
Completed on:

67.  Be part of a flash mob.

Completed on:

68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.

Completed on:

69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.

Completed on:

70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.

Completed on:

71.  Complete the couch25K program.

Completed on:

72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.

Completed on:

73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.

Completed on:

74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.

Completed on:

75.  Start a family.

Completed on:

76.  See a dermatologist.

Completed on:

77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.

Completed on:

78.  Print & frame travel photos.

Completed on:

79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.

Completed on:

80.  Visit a country I have never been to.

Completed on:

81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.

Completed on:

82.  Go ice skating in NYC.

Completed on:

83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.

Completed on:

84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.

Completed on:

86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.

Completed on:
87.  Write a yelp review the next 10 times* I use the app to help me decide where to go. (3/10)
(* I realized I did not have a qualifying “goal” attached to this, so I have edited it to doing this 10 times)
Completed on:

88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.

Completed on:

89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.

Completed on:

90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep people happy.

Completed on:

91.  Take a cake decorating class.

Completed on:

92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.

Completed on:

93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____

94.  Go to a professional football game.

Completed on:

95.  Try Reiki.

Completed on:

96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.

Completed on:

97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.

Completed on:

98.  Finish the afghan.

Completed on:

99.  Go kayaking.

Completed on:

100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.

Completed on:

101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!

Completed on:
*Bonus*
102. Go skydiving with my Mother-in-law!
Completed on:

Operation Post-It Notes

Number 62 on my 101 in 1001 Challenge reads:

Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com

On this page, I will be documenting my 100 post-its for operationbeautiful.com with a picture of the note and a quick description of when and where I left it.

I can not wait to start!


Why operationbeautiful.com?

Looking through our photos from our Bahamian anniversary trip, I had a hard time looking past my body shape.  Being our anniversary trip, I wore a bikini for my husband (something I NEVER do).  Throughout the trip, I can remember asking him if I looked ok, if my stomach looked bad (whatever that meant) and so on.  Every time I asked, his response was always the same “You look beautiful.”  For some reason I could not believe him.  I would convince myself he was just being nice.  Why was is so difficult to accept that even with my extra 15-ish pounds, he sees me as being beautiful?

While browsing through the photos, I realized I was flipping from photo to photo looking at my body, and the bikini I was wearing, more than I was looking at the main focus of the photo.  I sat in front of my computer and felt embarrassment for how I looked among the group of people (none of which I will ever see again).  It took a lot of strength to stop criticizing myself.  Once I looked up from my stomach and thighs, I saw unfiltered joy in my face.  I was excited, I was having an amazing time, I was so happy, and in that moment the picture was taken it did not matter what flaws I thought I had.  Other pictures caught me in moments of self-consciousness and it was obvious.  The look on my face was drastically different, the way I was standing changed, I did not look like someone who was having fun.  I can not believe I let the image I have of myself steal away so many happy moments throughout our trip.  This was truly a wake-up call.

How many of us look in the mirror and only see our flaws?  How many of us think “I wish I had _____ like her” or “I wish I could change _______ about myself”.  I can’t even count the number of times I have changed outfits because I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (these are the same outfits that a week prior I thought I looked good in).  When I look in the mirror I notice the small lines beginning to form around my mouth and eyes, I notice the fullness of my face, I notice that my hair is not perfectly in place,  I notice the blemishes that seem to never go away, I never notice anything positive.  I never notice the beautiful color of my hair; I never notice the smile that over years has contributed to those small lines; I never notice that a few blemishes can be hidden.  I simply never notice the things my husband sees.  I know I am not alone in this.  Woman everywhere have been programmed to nit-pick themselves, and for what?  Why have we become our own worst critics?  Why do we have such negative conversations with ourselves about our bodies?  If we can not see the beauty in ourselves, then who will?

Now let me introduce Operation Beautiful to you.  Operation Beautiful was originally launched in 2009 on the blog Healthy Tipping Point written by Caitlin.  In a nutshell, Caitlin’s inspiring mission is to end negative self-talk one post-it note at a time.  As I read through the official Operation Beautiful blog, I knew this was a project I wanted to be part of.  Keep checking back to this post as I update my progress.  I can not wait to start!

 

operation beautiful operationbeautiful.com 101 in 1001 challenge

 

Bahamas Sandals Anniversary Trip Pt. 1

For our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent a long weekend in the Bahamas.  We stayed at the Emerald Bay Sandals Resort in Great Exuma, it was wonderful!  Having never been, I was not sure what to expect, … Continue reading

101 in 1001

What feels like a completely different lifetime, I had started the 101 in 1001 Challenge while I was in college.  As time went on, I completed about half of the items on my list, although some unexpected bumps and turns caused me to stray away from the project.  Many years went by and somewhere along the way my journal, which held my only copy of my goals and my progress, had gotten lost.  (One of the downfalls of being so very “old-tech”!)   Over the last several months I have been toying with the idea of starting a new 101 in 1001 challenge.  I am not sure what took me so long to begin, but it finally felt like the right time to sit down and create my list.  Maybe it was an inspiration found in the book I am currently reading, or maybe it was my desire to put a little more focus on the fun and happy side of life.  Maybe it was my continued attempt to not be afraid of failing.  Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to be sharing my personal journey of the next 1001 days with you! For those of you who have not heard of the 101 in 1001 challenge, it is a list of 101 goals you wish to accomplish in 1001 days (which equals about 2.75 years).   Similar to a bucket list, but with an end-point (that doesn’t involve death, as my husband jokingly pointed out).  How many times have we all said: “One day, I’m going to _________”?  Days turn to months, which turn to years, and we never did check that some-day goal off our list.  This challenge helps turn all of those some-day goals into reality.  I had so much fun the first time I did the 101 in 1001 challenge, I can’t wait to see where the next 2.75 years leads me.  Here is an official explanation of the project, copied from Day Zero Project’s website:

The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge

Day Zero started out with the catchy challenge of completing 101 things in 1001 days. This has been enormously popular with tens of thousands of people getting involved and sharing their lists. We now offer many more types of challenges, but here are the original guidelines for the challenge:
 
 
The Challenge:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).
 
Why 1001 Days?Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities. (source: Dayzeroproject.com)
 
So without any further delay, and in completely random order, here is my list!
 
101 in 1001
 
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
2.  Host a family dinner party.
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
8.  Order our wedding album.
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (0/10)
10.  Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
12.  Go to the optometrist.
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
14. Have a picnic.
15.  Start a new tradition.
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
20.  Attend my graduation.
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis.
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
25.  Find out my blood type and donate.
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
32.  Create a fairy garden.
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
35.  Organize the coat closet.
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
38.  See a drive-in movie.
39.  Attend a cooking class.
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
45.  Make 5 new friends. (0/5)
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
60.  Do 25 situps every day for a month.
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com (0/100)
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (0/5)
66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
67.  Be part of a flash mob.
68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.
69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.
70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.
71.  Complete the couch25K program.
72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.
73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.
74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.
75.  Start a family.
76.  See a dermatologist.
77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.
78.  Print & frame travel photos.
79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.
80.  Visit a country I have never been to.
81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.
82.  Go ice skating in NYC.
83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.
84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)
85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.
86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.
87.  Write a yelp review whenever I use the app to help me decide where to go.
88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.
89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.
90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep
       people happy.
91.  Take a cake decorating class.
92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.
93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)
94.  Go to a professional football game.
95.  Try Reiki.
96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.
97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.
98.  Finish the afghan.
99.  Go kayaking.
100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.
101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!
 
I will be updating this list as time ticks along, adding when the goal was accomplished and a link to any related posts.  Have you started and/or completed your own 101 in 1001 challenge?  Post your link in the comments, I would LOVE to see what goals you included and how you kept track of your progress!
 
 
source: pinterest.com

source: pinterest.com

 

Samples, samples, samples!

At the beginning of the year I treated myself to a few monthly subscriptions to Birchbox, Glambag and Glossybox.  For those who do not know what these are, here’s a quick overview.  Every month, I receive a package from each listed company that has been filled with various products.  These products range from makeup samples, hair care, skin serum, body lotion and perfume.  Each item enclosed was selected for me based on my profile, which I created when I joined each of the sites.

I have really enjoyed trying many products that I would not have normally been able to experience.  Some I have loved, some were just ok, and some I have not tried yet (such as the falsies and mascara due to the extensions.)

Here is what I have received in the first few months:

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