Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'll be home for christmas

today I get on a plane and fly to ohio. back to my family and childhood friends. back to familiar and cozy, comfortable and warm. I love these people so much - they love unconditionally and make me feel known, which might be one of the greatest parts of relationship ever.

sometimes, though, I get that little ache in my heart when I see all those I love that have become a "we" rather than a "me". this tends to hit at christmas, even when I am content and happy with where I am. even when I am learning and growing and trying to live the best adventure I can.

then I read this article last night and it was exactly what I needed to hear before heading home. I highly recommend it, no matter what your stage of life.

I am reminded of all that I do have, rather than what I do not. I am reminded of fabulous family to go home to, friends that make me laugh til I cry, and the best gift of all, the unearned love and sacrifice of my Savior.

and I am SO looking forward to christmas eve.

eating a delicious, momma-prepared meal...

watching this movie...

going to candlelight christmas eve service at my little home church...

and coming home and eating a buckeye and milk with my wonderful fam before bed.

so blessed.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

measuring UP

in college, one of my best friends would write lists during boring classes. she would later read them to us and soon we began to enjoy the art of list-making as well. I don't know why I thought of this today, but it popped into my head and I got the urge to make a list.

ours back in the day consisted of things such as..."things that make me smile" or "reasons I love spring" or "must-haves in our future hubbys" etc. etc.

so to preface the list below, I recently stumbled across a site all about problems tall girls have. I "mmm-hmmm-ed" and "amen-ed" every single problem listed and thought to myself "ahh people who understand me!"

and then I got to thinking and realized short people probably have a site like that, too. heck, even average-heighted people might. I'm pretty sure that no one is happy with their height. unless they are making millions of dollars by dunking basketballs because they are 7 feet tall. we'll call that the exception.

so in the spirit of christmas and being thankful and positive, here is a list of why being tall is capable of not-sucking. so without further ado...

10 reasons to love being tall: (in no particular order)

1. you can help people without having a special talent. yes, I can reach behind your desk and plug in that electronic device, not because I am talented, but because I have extremely long appendages I didn't have to work at obtaining.

2. other people can hide behind you when needed. this comes in handy more than you'd think.

3. you get told you could be a model by complete strangers. nevermind they say this to every female who crosses the 5'10 threshold, whether they look like kim kardashian or resemble a sheep dog. it's a confidence booster, nonetheless.

4. intimidation factor. normally I would argue against this, because I don't want to be intimidating. however, I DO want to be intimidating to creepers. I dare you, oh creepy mccreeperson, to nab me from a dark alley or parking lot. I weigh more than the average bear, so dragging me to your car might be more of an undertaking than you originally thought. plus, I'm fiesty. I think this comes with all tall people, right?

5. let's go with the obvious one right now: sports. while the usefulness of this pro faded after high school, it can still be fun in pick-up games of volleyball (note: I did not say basketball - apparently you need coordination for that sport). if I had a nickel for everytime someone asked me if I played basketball, I wouldn't have to be in the WNBA to be rich.

6. you have a distinguishing characteristic. in college I'm pretty sure everyone's parents knew me as "your tall friend, ashley".  thus, you are remembered without even opening your mouth.

7. need to change a light bulb? no ladder necessary, simply tip toes.

8. you hear some of the most interesting/entertaining pick-up lines ever. blue because no one at that gathering/get-together/party is taller than you? maybe you will get cheered by a ridiculous line that throws you into a giggle fit for weeks to come. here are two of my most favorite:
dude: "do you want to retire at 40?"
me: "um...why?"
dude: "if we had kids, they'd be in the NFL"  (I have no idea why my children looked like they would be football players. looking back, it actually sounds rather offensive now)

dude (height - 5'1): "wanna dance? you would ensure our children would be at least 5'8"   (I'm sorry...our children?)

9. heels are uncomfortable. reasons not to wear them: excessively long legs.

10. you can hide things from your short friends. especially helpful during the christmas season, clearly.

nutrition tip today comes from an email entitled "holiday eating tips":

If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge.  Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention.  They're like a beautiful pair of shoes.  If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.


Monday, December 19, 2011

you know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? all of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your stuff, that idea of home is gone. 

you'll see one day when you move out. it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. you feel like you can never get it back. it's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. you won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don' tknow, but I miss the idea of it, you know. maybe that's all a family really is. a group of people that miss the same imaginary place.

-garden state


my dad sent us this picture of our tree after he put up our lovely pioneer train. and while I longed to be there - snuggled up on the couch, or giggling with my mom and sister while andy and dad watch sports, mash, or sleep in the living room - I couldn't shake the strange feeling of not calling it "home".



my hometown? yes. place I grew up? yes. near and dear to my heart? you bet. but the place I belong? nope. I don't think so.

that's hard to say, since I have always loved good old b-town. I have a gazillion amazing memories there. I loved my childhood, loved growing up there, loved high school (noticed I skipped middle school? yuck). but as much as I loved it, and even still do, I don't fit there anymore. there's not much for me there. I don't belong.

and so that quote from garden state popped into my head. I remember my sister saying this a few years ago and I remember that making me so very sad. how could b-town not feel like home? how could the house she grew up in, spent a majority of her life in so far - our house - not feel like home?

and now I sort of understand. and this makes me feel more like an adult in a strange, sad way.

on a less sentimental note, I'm taking recommendations for books and movies for my break from school. so far I have started reading searching for God knows what by donald miller and I want to read heaven is for real upon hearing really interesting/good reviews for it. I also really want to read this book, recommended by this excellent site.

I also really really really want to watch the documentary forks over knives.

does anyone else have any good recommendations of documentaries, movies or books? while I love non-fiction, I also love getting whisked away in a good story. I was remember that last christmas I found myself wrapped up in the hunger games. I'm kind of in the mood to carried away again but am unsure about what story/series.

health tip: I might have to stop these during the holiday season. this morning I brought an apple, carrots, and sugar snap peas to work. and while I ate them, I also devoured four snowballs (aka - oreo balls. however, I am convinced that the sweet lady who makes them at work puts crack in them. they are not your average oreo ball. they contain some sort of addictive substance).

I guess...during the holidays try to practice moderation. don't deprive yourself of all the goodies you don't eat very often, just try not to eat the entire tin. give yourself a little grace. and go for a walk. bonus points if you walk while you eat. as my friend would say, this negates all the calories.

oh my. christmas is in 6 days. craaaazy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1 year ago...

1 year ago today...


hankins got married and the five of us were reunited. note: taco bell does not deliver, and never ask your friends if they want to talk about the liver. they do not.


health tip: laugh a lot. it is by far the best way to burn calories. to help, get some friends like the above, they can aid in this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

blessings, lessons and metabolism

I've been reading a lot of other people's thoughts on the year almost behind them. what was accomplished, what stood out, what they learned. this made me look back on my year and I realized...

sometimes looking back can be hard.

one specific conversation with a friend came to mind. we were discussing how God just seemed to be moving among us. we could feel God's presence and it felt like we were growing a mile a minute. blessings for us and everyone we knew seemed to be pouring down like manna from heaven. why thank you, God, we'll take it. we'll praise you for it. we'll shout with joy for all you are doing and have done.

our hearts overflowed with joy and hope about the first six months of 2011.

and then the latter six months hit. hope seemed to diminish as expectations were unmet. my own mistakes and weaknesses became evident. the brokenness and pain of those around me became evident. situation after situation came up, revealing sin's destructiveness and our humanity.

there were lots of tears, which almost goes without said being female myself. there were lots of tearful conversations on friends' couches. lots of friends crying on my couch. with gut-wrenching stories and pain. and I lot of me wondering how situations that seemed to be so wonderful, full of such promise, such blessings, could turn so ugly.

BUT... it was and is a time of learning. a time of refining. a time of lessons learned the hard way and lessons yet to be learned.

so here are a few things I've learned this year...and am still in the process of learning.

*when I feel gloom and glum, serving others is the place to be.

*another person's happiness does not and should not detract from my own.

*sometimes when a friend is suffering and I'm a loss for what to do or say, I just need to get on the ground and cry along with them.

*it can be infinitely easier to forgive someone who has wronged you than it is to forgive someone who has wronged someone close to you.

*school is important. studying is important. but quality of life, relationships, and sleep are important, too. find a balance.

*time really does heal. when I feel like the wind is knocked out of me, I need to remember that in a month or two, it's going to hurt less.

*apparently I'm picking up a strange southern accent (ok maybe this is more of an observation I've heard from others rather than a "lesson" per se).

and the biggest lesson learned?

hope placed in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is misplaced.

sometimes it takes a bit longer for my heart to catch on to what my brain is saying, and such is the case with this lesson. but here's hoping it sticks.


and finally, another nutrition lesson for 2011 -

(I stumbled across this last night whilst studying for a final and it surprised me a tad.)

when individuals restrict their caloric intake, their RMR (resting metabolic rate) can decrease as much as 15% in two weeks

well if that isn't an excuse to keep eating hearty, I don't know what is.


let the learning continue.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

speaking of...

speaking of the company I keep...



went to see the nutcracker ballet on saturday with these lovely ladies (aren't my friends purrrty?). and in case you were wondering, as a friend and I were, male "ballerinas" wear something called a "dance belt". curious? look it up. wikipedia has a lovely photo to accompany the description. (read: if you have a strong gag reflex, it might be a better idea to stay away)

anddd a health factoid: caffeine can boost endurance. not strength or timing, but endurance. interesting, eh? I thought so.

my calendar says there's only 12 days til christmas. can this be true??

Monday, December 12, 2011

the company you keep

do you ever realize you're not a child any more? you have a moment where you know you have crossed the threshold into adulthood? that your problems no longer revolve around who will ask you to homecoming or if you'll get an A on your calculus test, but have become real, adult problems. that you have real, adult responsibilities, and people treat you like a real, live adult.

I've been learning a lot about what it looks like to be a friend - what it looks like to try to be love in living form to people who are suffering. it's a hard lesson. a lesson that I'm not sure I'm getting, that I know I definitely don't have down, and one that I think I will learn throughout my entire lifetime. how do you help carry another's burdens? how do you help them with their real, adult problems? problems your naive little self didn't realize really existed outside of movies and story plots.

I don't have any concrete answer. I don't know much at all, actually. but I do know that last night as prayed about all the hurt and brokenness that I've seen and heard about, I felt a strange, strange peace. I saw an image of a person carrying a yoke. a heavy yoke that was so burdensome the person was about to collapse. and then I saw others get under that yoke, too. I could see the strain lifted from the original bearer as the team pressed on, bearing that yoke together. the image brought me to tears. I feel so incredibly and overwhelmingly grateful to have such great people in my life that help me carry my burdens and the burdens of others. after feeling bogged down, a conversation with a friend so very dear to my heart uplifted me. I could feel her slip under the yoke and nudge it up. thank you, dear Lord, for Godly friends - compassionate friends. and I pray that you would help me to be one of those friends to those who so dearly need it.

and I am reminded of the ultimate-burden-carrier.

"come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - matthew 11:25-30

Thursday, December 8, 2011

yes, I'm five

there are a plethora of topics that could fall under this title. I'm five because...after a long hard day sometimes all I want to do is call my mom. because I still love disney channel original movies, hsm, and hannah montana. because a few minutes ago I was singing this song in my head - I've got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart. where? down in my heart. where? down in my heart!

and the list could go on...

but what I meant was...I have a confession.

I love children's books.

no, but really. I really really love them. I have kind of a small obsession. a special place in my heart.

when I was younger, my momma would always read to us. arthur, little critters, berenstein bears, amelia bedelia, is your momma a llama (don't recognize this one? that's unfortunate) and the list goes on and on and on.

I've also been known to visit the children's section of barne's and noble on my lunch break.

my favorite stories? yep, you guessed it - tales of the christmas variety.

I blame this on my mother as well. every night during the christmas season she would let me choose a book out of our large christmas collection, sit on my bed, and soothe me to sleepyville by reading a story. I may or may not have chosen the polar express at least 50% of the time, but I'm also a fan of little critter's christmas, merry christmas strega nona, the year of the perfect christmas tree...etc. etc.

oh, another reason I'm five? I may or may not cuddle up on my parent's bed and beg my mom to read me a christmas story even now. still touches a place in my heart and warms me from the inside out.




cookie-making two years ago at the wolf  household. cookies and children's books = christmas bliss.

fun health fact: cranberry juice can help with a urinary tract infection (in women)

getting closer to christmas and spending time with fam jam!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I like to move it...usually

I have always been one who likes to move. I enjoy physical activity - it clears my head, makes me feel better about life and gives me a sense of accomplishment. and those endorphins don't hurt either.

I've also been lucky enough to typically have a good friend who enjoys moving as well, and that makes even more enjoyable. (note: I do not talk when I run. excuse me while I try to breathe. I enjoy the company while trying to catch my breath post-cardio.)

in addition to all the great mental benefits, physical activity is also mega good for you physically. here are some health benefits of moving:

-prevents or slows atherosclerosis (aka - the buildup of plaque in your arteries. aka - cause of heart attacks, etc.)
-increases your HDL (which is your good cholesterol. and goes hand in hand with the above point)
-helps you maintain a healthy weight (durrr)
-lowers blood pressure (always good!)

I won't even go into why maintaining a healthy weight is good for you on soo many levels.

yes. hi, my name is ashley, and I like to exercise.

except for lately. lately I have wanted to do the opposite. lately I have wanted to:
-ignore my alarm when it goes off at 4:50 a.m.
-sleep until noon (hello, college self...nice to have you back. except not really.)
-wear bundly, warm, cuddly clothes at all times of the day/night. bonus points if the pants have an elastic waist.
-stay inside. preferably on the couch. preferably by my christmas tree, in the above outfit, under a heavy blanket.
-eat christmas goodies, like peppermint bark and christmas cake, while wearing the above outfit, in the above scenario.

ok you get the picture. it has been chilly (yes, I realize this is a relative term since I live in the south now), rainy and glum, and I have no motivation. zero. going on a run when it's 75 degrees and sunny outside is much more pleasant than bundling all up to travel to the YMCA to run a treadmill. fact. and, to top it off, my amazing accountability partner is out of town. yes, my physical health is at risk.

but then I remember how good it felt on monday morning to be drenched it sweat after spin class, and I want to go back.

motivation, I am summoning you. come. now. please. my waistline and overall health beckon you.

does anyone else have trouble with working out motivation in the winter? I want to hibernate. ok, I'm done now.

and to finish -

christmas photo of the day:



some things make me want to punch crazy christians in the face. this is one. more of these things are found here:

http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/

my paper chain says that there are 18 days until christmas. woohoo!

Monday, December 5, 2011

when bad things happen...

here's another contemplative thought that has been considered by pretty much every person who has ever walked the earth. yep. pretty sure.

why do bad things happen? and whats more, why do bad things happen to wonderful people?

'cause we live in a broken world, there's sin, blah blah. I've heard and said such things many times in the past few months while wondering about these questions.

because it seems just downright awful that the most generous, giving, selfless people get the most rotten luck. why does one of the nicest men I know become horribly injured in an accident? why are the lives of young people taken unexpectedly? why do super amazing people become the victims of abuse and poor treatment?

do you ever think that someone else's pain somehow helps you? I know that sounds quite horrible-hear me out. here are three ways (of many, I think) that pain/suffering/strife can have even small positive effect:

1) calling out the lie that one specific thing means life is perfect from here on out. whether it's weight loss, marriage, a dream-job or whatever - none of these things equates to a perfect life. as I recently read in a nutrition article, "there are many happy size-zeros. there are also many unhappy size-zeros." the point? whether it is being a size-zero, finding the person of your dreams, or becoming an olympic athlete, none of these will fulfill us and actually make our lives super wonderful 24/7. thus, seeing someone deal with a tough situation when they have what we want can make us re-evaluate that lie that our life will somehow be perfect once we attain said goal.

2) seeing that it is possible to get through a difficult situation. it is very encouraging for me to think of friends/family that have been through difficulties similar to those I am experiencing at a particular time and then see how happy they are now. obviously, this is not always the case, but a recent situation and how God redeemed it for a friend of mine has really shown me that we really can't see everything He has planned for us.

3) how people handle painful situations can be the most powerful testimony of all. there is a louie giglio video that talks about this exactly. he makes a brilliant illustration. when you are given a really difficult situation, you are being handed a megaphone. all eyes turn to you to see how you will handle the horrible hand you've been dealt (whether a loved one just died, you received a bad health diagnosis, you lost your job, etc. etc.). you have the opportunity to scream your testimony into that megaphone for all those eyes (or ears rather). so true. I think of all the times my mega-phone message is less than positive and a horrible testimony that I hope nobody was listening to. but true nonetheless - awful situations breed wonderful opportunities to broadcast a message, loud and clear.

obviously I think there are so many unnoticed/unseen pros that can come from pain and difficulty that we may never be aware of. and when I'm in a great deal of pain, the last thing I want is a peppy little talk on how to use my pain for positivity. but stepping back and re-evaluating the way I've learned from those who handled suffering in a Godly manner has really made me think about the bigger picture and the ways God uses the horrible, ugly things of this world for his glory, too.

I stumbled across this in ecclesiastes a few weeks ago and I thought these words are so wise (obvi since they're divinely-inspired I suppose)...

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other." - ecclesiastes 7:14

just my musings for tonight. happy only 20 days til we celebrate baby Jesus's birthday!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

a little perspective

going to school for dietetics lends itself to many, many lectures and discussions on the obesity epidemic. how we live in a "toxic environment' and the wide variety of factors led to this epidemic. but then we have weeks like the past few where one of my classes has discussed food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. statistics on those who don't know where their next meal is coming from and an excerpt from one who tried to ration a collection of seven peas for two meals is incredibly eye-opening and gut-wrenching. how is it that I always seem to have TOO much food, whether or not I am trying to "budget" and save money for tuition? seven peas. that's all I can say.

so after being tested on all this information this week, I went to the salvation army canteen last night. I was humbled by those who were so grateful for a hat, scarf, or gloves. at one of the stops I started talking with a woman I've seen there numerous times before. she began telling me about all the books she's read and I became mesmerized. this woman knew so much. she could tell me the life story of several presidents, whose biographies she'd recently read. she could tell me the true story about a shipwreck that occurred due to a 10 degree directional mishap and how that shipwreck changed laws and standards about such things. she told me about inspirational stories she's read on those making differences in countries around the world and how these touch her heart. bring her to tears. about social injustice and conditions that upset her. and I just stood there listening, flabbergasted. this woman had just told me how she didn't like to check books out of the library for fear she'd ruin them if it rained, as she was homeless. and her heart could break for the less fortunate?

a dose of perspective.

I went on to a friend's house after that and enjoyed wonderful conversation, delicious food and warm place to do so....

in one of my very favorite book series' ever, one of the character states, after a near-disaster: "we could've been killed! or worse...expelled!"  the next scene flashes to another character whispering under his breath, "she seriously needs to sort out her priorities."

I'm not sure if I really have a point, but I don't want to have a skewed perspective. I don't want to focus on what I don't have rather than what I do have. I don't want to forget those less fortunate. because it seems a huge injustice to have so many with too much to eat and huge houses with too much space while others walk down the streets in the winter with their five bags filled with all the possessions they own, in search of a safe place to sleep. I don't want to forget that. I don't want to become comfortable when so many are not.

on that note, I am thankful for this wonderful family (picture: christmas 2009).



nutrition tip comes from this audrey hepburn quote that is mega-convicting to me...

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

decisiveness.

yeah. I put a period at the end of that because that seemed more final. that is what I'm titling this post. decisiveness. ha! I made a DECISION. gasp. crazy, I know.

does anyone else struggle with decisiveness? I do. really horribly. the more I get to know myself, I think this is partly due to insecurity and caring too much about what other people think. what will people think of my decisions? ...why in the world did she choose that??... think about it. whether choosing a restaurant, what to wear or where you live, all of these decisions could induce such responses.

lately a decision I've made has been really put in the spotlight. second guessed. critiqued even. by others and by myself.

people are asking me to rethink my decision. not asking, even, but telling, rather. and with good reason - they are not doing so without good reason. they are not doing so without an alternative plan. and the alternative plan is looking good. more obstacles are being presented down one path, while it seems more and more doors are opening down another.

not to be all dramatic, but this a decision that really does affect the course of my life. one road is filled with hopes and dreams I think I have, but am unsure about. it is also filled with many obstacles to overcome and uncertainty. I don't know how things will work out down that road. that I won't hate my choice. that I won't become broke and have to move back in with my parents for at least a year. this scares the bajeebies out of me.

the other road is more certain, more stable. the other road has opportunities that I can fathom and even some excitement and travel. the other promises financial stability and working for a company I have utmost respect for. a generous company with wonderful people.

...but would I always be asking myself "what if..." if I don't take path number one? path two may offer something concrete, and good somethings, but would those somethings be my passion? would those somethings help me fill the desires I have in life? would I get fat and lazy (figuratively...but also possibly literally in this scenario too)? am I being naive by thinking path number one is what I was created for? am I being dumb to pass up wonderful opportunities others would give their left arm for?

I know this for certain: indecisiveness is not for those in their 20s.

advice from anyone who knows without a doubt what they want to do in life and/or have made tough decisions about such things? puhlease?

anddd you thought I forgot. mom, sis and I on christmas circa 2006.



love momma's christmas sweater in this pic and that I still have a bow on my shirt from opening gifts. lovely.

nutrition tip: all I feel like I've been learning lately is how stellar omega-3 fatty acids are. eat some. per the last tip. and while you're at it, supplement with vitamin e.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

20-something days of christmas

I'm taking a break from studying for my tests tomorrow by thinking of christmas traditions and memories. I wonder if I can find a fun christmas photo every day from now until december 25...dare me to try? well here is one...



or maybe two...



everyone needs some christmas mice, right??

the first photo is emily (my seester) and I my freshman year/her senior year of college. I'm not sure how long the christmas mice tradition has been occuring, but you know you want to implement it. it's not really hard, and if you have an assembly line, it goes quite fast! to make the above adorable critters you simply:

make a batch of peanut butter cookie dough. shape into oval-like head shapes (yes, this is a technical term).

add two mini chocolate chips for the eyes, two peanut halves for the ears, a miniature green or red m&m for the nose, a small piece of edible holly (probably in your local grocer's sprinkle section) and place in the oven for instructed amount of time for said peanut butter cookies.

while mice are baking, cut and separate some twizzler pull-n-peel pieces into 1.5 inch (ish) pieces, and be ready to insert them into the mice as soon as they are removed from the oven. (em so creatively calls this part "inserting the 'anal probe'"). do this, and voila! you have christmas mice.

be warned, though - I didn't eat any the first two years we made them. it just seems wrong. you may feel the same way. or maybe not.

making various christmas treats is a bonding experience at the wolf household that always involves sneaking the dough and lots of giggles. are there special treats you make that a tradition in your family?

Monday, November 28, 2011

it's starting

it's christmastime y'all. officially. because it becomes official when the courthouse square in my little hometown in ohio looks like this:



james taylor christmas is playing on my itunes on repeat, I'm sipping peppermint coffee (aka christmas in a cup) and to top it off, the forecast is calling for snow. in ALABAMA.

sigh. this gives me the warm and fuzzies.

makes me want to curl up in a ball under a blanket with nothing but my christmas tree lit, a hot drink in my hand and a good book.

what are your favorite things about the christmas season?

ps - best surprise ever: coming home to find my wonderful roomie has put up our christmas tree. what is it about a christmas tree that can fill my heart with peace and joy all at once?

 I.love.christmastime.

oh pps - I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving! I surely did. thank you, delicious food, family, friends, laughing until my face hurts, harry potter marathons and black friday shopping sprees with momma for making my time in ohio fan-freaking-tastic.

ppps - nutrition tidbit for today (in the spirit of the presentation on coronary heart disease I'm making today) - omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart. they are commonly found in fish - so go eat some christmas salmon or trout.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thankful.

here's a real "little something" from yesterday, actually, that made my mouth drop open at my computer. sometimes profound wisdom smacks me like a mack truck - particularly when I need to hear it.

This world will offer you something good in order to rob you of something great.

whoa. that's all I got.

nutrition tidbit for the day: eat your carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other orange-y veggies this thanksgiving - they contain vitamin A, which helps with your eye health and sight. (insert not as much guilt over eating pumpkin pie here?)

in the spirit of thanksgiving...I am thankful for people I often take for granted in my life: my parents. a man I work with came over to my desk yesterday to tell me he had spoken with my papa a few times this week (over business matters), and in their last conversation my daddy said "I get to see my daughter this week!!" dear father, you know how to make your daughter feel loved. my momma also e-mailed me this morning to tell me she was preparing for arrival by donning my bed with an electric blanket for my "thin southern blood". dear mother, thank you for showing your love in actions. this gives me warm and fuzzies that can't come from blankets and bedding.

happy thanksgiving!!!

note: I'm playing around with layout. don't mind me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

fasting and education

so...I'm fasting. kind of. not from food, as those of you who know me well know that this might be detrimental to any of my relationships (not been fed recently? insert grumptasticness here.). 

no, I'm fasting from something very different. something that is definitely not inherently bad, but it can be when not used in moderation (similar to food). and maybe it's not even overuse, but the fact that it has the ability to negatively impact my mood and create inner turmoil even when it does not directly affect my life. any guesses yet?

I'm fasting from facebook. kind of.

having moved away from family and friends I've known all my life, I've used facebook a lot. I check up on friends, look at their pictures, see what's going on, and use it as a means to keep in touch.

but sometimes I think this gives me a false sense of connected-ness. or a shallow connected-ness.

have you talked to so-and-so about her new relationship? no...but I saw his post on her wall. he seems funny.

have you heard about so-and-so's trip to insert-cool-location-here? no...but I saw their pics on facebook. looked incredible.

now, I will be the first to defend facebook. it DOES help people stay in touch. and no, we cannot always skype or talk on the phone or meet up for coffee.

but facebook does not a relationship make.

and with that, and a collection of many other reasons, I am fasting. I do think I will allow myself one day a week to check messages, etc. so as to not appear rude, but my goal is to live a more full life in the now rather than online. it has also given me more time to read, journal, pray and think before bed.

I'm hoping this is a learning experience. I think it will be, since anytime we change the way we spend our time, things happen. don't you think? I hope so. I'll let you know how it goes.

and now...for a new segment in an attempt to retain some of the information I'm learning and spread healthful news...

Interesting nutrition/health tidbit for the day:

Four common factors for weight loss maintenance were reported by the National Weight Control Registry.

These include:
eating a relatively low fat diet (24% of energy)
eating breakfast daily
weighing themselves regularly (from once a day to once a week)
high levels of physical activity (60-90 minutes/day)

interesting, huh? you're welcome.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

weakness and infomercials

on wednesday morning I felt an overwhelming sense of weakness. I felt tired and drained as if all the strength I had - physical & mental & emotional the like - had been sucked out of me. I literally trudged into my 5:30 a.m. body pump class and groaned to my dear friend who cheerily greeted me. seriously - who is cheery at 5:30 a.m.? morning people. sheesh.

ironic that I was at a class that is all about using your strength when I felt so weak? yeah, I thought so too.

the whole time I was trying to lift the heavy burden of my bar and weight, I just kept thinking, "I have no strength. I am so weak. I just can't do this right now."

as the day progressed post-YMCA, however, the word strong kept recurring. I can't recall all the times it was used, but I do know that it was used by others around me frequently, because each time I heard it I almost flinched. strong? as if it was being hammered into me. you see, all these times, it was being used to define me.

hailski wrote an e-mail that helped me remember who I am, and in her loving and kind words of encouragement, the first word in the list of adjectives was strong.

later in the evening when speaking with marci, she rallied my spirit and also started a slew of adjectives about our general awesomeness with strong.

maybe these words that were highlighted in my mind don't mean anything, but I don't really believe in coincidences. I think God is calling me to "woman-up".  you are my child. you may be weak, but my strength is made perfect in weakness. I make you strong. be the strong woman I know you are. the strong woman you are through Me.

some more poignant words were written by hailski that resounded with me a lot as I mulled them over again today...

...but tomorrow, pick yourself up and start fresh. Do not let this situation poison your spirit.

I can't even say anything to that except...bam. she's right.


in other random news...this morning at the Y I saw an infomercial that made me laugh out loud whilst on the elliptical. certainly my fellow exercisers thought I was a crazy person. but really...I want one of these...



you know you want one. a forever lazy. yep. that's what they're called, in case you haven't heard of them, which I'm sure you have, since "they're the latest trend at tailgating this season". if someone sees one of these being worn in public, please let me know. PUHLEASE. that needs to be documented. because if they're all the rage, I'm all for wearing a suit of fleece. sign.me.up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

sermon notes and tissues

when we suffer, we are most like Christ.

these words were delivered sunday morning. I didn't realize then that I would be repeating them in my head later that night over a tear-stained pillow. crazy how He knows just what we need when we need it. almost like He is preparing us for difficulties. for heartache. for nights of tear-stained pillows and cuddling tissue boxes.

I hope this is true and that situations as of late really do help mold me and shape me. maybe if you pray to become more like Him, He gives you situations to do just that. maybe I should stop that...juuuust kidding.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

laughing at life

sometimes it is just impossible not to laugh at yourself and life. you want examples, you say?

*you awaken to find your cat has positioned herself so that her bum is directly in your face. not a sitting down bum, but a standing bum. like bam! here's my bum-hole. thanks soph. love you too.

*you mislabel the penis on your reproductive system lab test. so sue me if I thought she was looking for something more specific. laugh it up, prof. heard, laugh it up.

*you knock your sheet of bobby pins into the toilet. seriously...what can you do when this happens but stare for a few seconds (did I really just do that? are my bobby pins really floating in my toilet?), muster up the strength to fish 'em out, throw 'em way, wash your hands, and then have a good giggle.

*you ask for someone's address (who you do not know well at all) so you can send them a thank you. a thank you for carrying all your crap from your old place to your new place. and when they ask you why you need this vital piece of info (I guess it's a legit question...I GUESS), your response is....drumroll please...it's a good one....

clearly so I can stalk you better.

dear sarcasm and gut reactions, tone it down a bit please. k thanks. my goodness. I can't take myself anywhere.

off to etiquette school. catch ya later.

have y'all done anything embarrassing lately? funny? silly? clumsy?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

zombieland and direction

I was just telling a friend tonight that I have felt like a zombie. I realized this last week when I went to panera to bum their free internet and indulge in a delicious carb fest. on my 97th refill of diet coke I zoned out a bit and foam overflowed onto the counter. rather than becoming red, embarrassed, and quickly cleaning it up, I stared blankly at the mess and slowly reached for some napkins. documentaries on amazon animals - namely the sloth - play in my mind as I rewind this scenario. the same happened tonight during my sunday-evening grocery shop at target. I sauntered through the aisles and everything but me and the special k with strawberries seemed to be a bit hazy.

a lot of things have been crazy the past month of life and I might be a bit in shock. a bit in "put one foot in front of the other" mode. I have lots on my "to-do" list. it doesn't go away when you're taking classes and working, but it will all get done eventually. I must keep chugging along. I just hope that soon I start enjoying my chugging a bit more. being a zombie is kind of unlike me and it feels strange. I want my emotions back, even if they're painful or sad or angry.

and I don't want to complain, because when crappy things happen in your life, you realize you have really great people in your life, too. you have people who will give up their friday evening to help you move heavy boxes to your new place. people who will move your ridiculously heavy furniture into your new apt. and even set it up/put it together for you. people who will let you use their lap tops when they realize you don't have a way of getting your schoolwork done. people who will send you cards and flowers and texts of encouragement when a family member dies. people who call and check on you because they realize your life might be a bit shambly...that you might be a zombie. I love these people, and I am so thankful for them.

on another, more positive note...

this weekend I went on a silent retreat. most people upon hearing this look at me like I'm some kind of mental person. or a nun-in-training. I get the "ahh so that's why you're single...you do things like go on 'silent retreats'" look. yep. I'll take that. I spent the weekend chatting with Jesus, so humph. I may not be going on lots of dates, but Jesus and I have some good talks. harumph. I win.

and while I could probably fill up 10 pages of lessons and experiences from this one day of silence (and trust me, I did fill up a good portion of my journal), I will just write one for now...

we retreated to a center in tennessee, and let me tell you, it was a beautiful fall day in tennessee. now, I have a love-hate relationship with nature. I love its beauty. I love beautiful days and being outside and feeling the sun on my face. I love changing tree colors and I love seeing cute furry animals scurry and scatter. however, I also have a large fear of snakes (this has only been magnified upon moving south, where snakes seem to abound much more than my old ohio climate). I don't like spiders too much either. and, while this doesn't have too much to do with nature, I have the worst sense of direction ever. seriously - I once tried to trick-or-treat at the same house twice because of this trait. so going on a hike in the woods by myself was kind of out of my comfort zone. but I was going with God, so I figured I was ok. and I was.  at first I was cautious and kept looking for trees with blue dots (the telltale sign you were still on the right track), but as I continued along I got caught up in prayer and God's breathtaking creation. and when I looked up after finishing a prayer about a particular situation, I realized I didn't see any blue dots. nor did I see a defined trail. ummm what? am I...in the middle of the woods...on a silent retreat...with no cell phone...and no one to hear me screaming for help? gut reaction: PANIC. SCREAM. RUN. ARE THERE SNAKES IN THIS WOODS???! WHYYYY DID I GO ON A WALK ALONE??! DUMB.ASHLEY. and then I remembered...I hadn't gone alone. I had been talking the whole time. to my companion. why would I stop now?

and so I prayed. I prayed He'd lead me. show me the way. calm my spirit. get me back so I could eat some lunch (I was hungry!). I prayed out loud, using my voice for the first time that day. and then I heard something. rustling in the leaves. lots of rustling. was that...a twig breaking? God? um...I didn't say "please send a bear to put me out of my misery"...I don't think .oh dear...has being silent made me crazy? should I even look? I turned. and I saw...a girl. on a path. a path quite a ways from me, but on a path that appeared to be leading her...out of the woods.

and so I followed her lead. I found that path and it did, indeed, lead me out of the woods. my directional abilities: 0. directional abilities of the 15-year old on our retreat: 10.

here's the thing...I knew God was with me all the while on my walk. I chatted up a storm. but troubles came and I panicked. I had to figure this out. how had I gotten myself into this mess? why had I entered into a danger zone alone? (ok that's a little melodramatic, but you get the picture) oh me of little faith - why do I always rely on myself to solve things? why place the whole burden on my shoulders? why do I always think I'm in it alone? I'm not. and when I realize this and rely on Him, He is faithful. He is faithful to guide me. to show me the way.

when I rely on Him, He never lets me down.

He is faithful. and maybe I'm already starting to become less of a zombie. here's hoping.

Friday, October 28, 2011

remembering ruby

there are about a million things I should be doing right now...but all I want to do right now is remember. remember ruby pauline wolf. remember my grandmother.

I can still smell and feel their house like it was yesterday. the heater always going. always cozy. creaky wooden floors, old books with hardback covers lining the shelves and model airplanes or other things that clutter when you have four boys. I loved that house. it felt like a place of love and fun and get togethers. it also felt like the place where my dad grew up, and I would often look up at the senior photos of him and my three uncle on the wall above the staircase and imagine what that place must have been like back then.

I remember the lake trailer and all the memories made there. we always joked about it being a dumpy lake - one where kids scraped their knees and dripped melting flintstone push-up on their shirt - not the ones our friends went to that were characterized by speed boats and water skiing. no, we mostly swam, went fishing, made up synchronized swimming routines, and played cards into what felt like late at night (although I'm sure it was more like 10 p.m.).

I could probably write forever on the memories made in their old house, or of countless trips to the lake and excursions there...and I feel like I could write forever on memories of my grandmother.

I'm not sure if she loved games or if she just humored me and my love of games, but she would always play with me. when I was being a pestering younger sister and no one else would want to entertain me, grandma would always pull out some cards and we'd play rummy. and we played. we played hard. no letting ashley win, and no feeling bad when you out-scored your grandmother. we were out for blood. we'd sit and laugh, she'd sip on diet-coke and eat her sugar-free cookies and I'd eat anything and everything I could find. and she'd let me.

she and grandpa would come watch us when our parents went on trips in the summer. they'd roll into our small town in their giant blue cadillac and set up camp. they'd take us to softball games and haul us to the pool when our friends begged us to go. grandma would take out her giant pill container show me the "horse" pills she had to take that day. I stared in awe. she was so brave and swallowed 'em like a champ. she was always laughing at us. laughing with us. making fun of herself while pouring her love on us.

she always took her blood sugar and I remember thinking it looked fascinating. like it graded your blood. I wanted my blood graded. I sat on her knee as she helped me take my blood sugar. my number returned and she explained that meant I had good blood. she knew I'd have good blood, she said.

sometimes grandma would join us for vacations. of course this meant more evenings of eating around the kitchen table while playing a brutal game of rummy or hearts. one particular ornery night I had the urge to do grandma's short, curly white hair. what a sport she was. giggled while I strategically placed barrettes that made her look like bozo the clown. oooh I love it, she'd say as we posed for pictures.

sometimes as we age and the people we love age, we start to forget the good memories. those are replaced with fears about their health and their growing frailty. concerns over how much weight grandma had lost as I hugged her too-thin body good-bye the past few christmases linger as my most recent memories. but then I remember our fun together. the way she was always getting me to smile. the way she loved unconditionally. the way she made fun of herself while praising her grandchildren. the way she comforted me when I was down or out. watching soap operas on the couch while eating watermelon. playing wheel of fortune on her computer. being toted around town in the summer with her as my chauffeur. I will remember this woman. the one full of vitality and life and love. the real ruby pauline wolf. the real "my grandma. "

Monday, October 24, 2011

(in)security and forgiveness

our apartment was broken into last week. I wish I could adequately describe the surreal feeling of realizing your stuff has been taken from your apartment. that where there was something, there is empty space. that someone, a complete stranger, and let's be honest, a complete creepy stranger, was in your space. where you live. where you call home. the place where you go and let out a sigh after a long day. your safe haven. that no longer feels safe. 

my emotions have ranged from disbelief and shock (first reaction? maybe michelle needed our TV for work today...), to fear, to extreme anger. the latter two now intermingle and just don't make for a very positive attitude on my part. working on that. 

I've been struggling with the Godly response to this. ya know, the old "what would Jesus do?"...would Jesus go knock on the door of the culprit and say, "hey...I think you forgot to take my DVD player? here you go!" a part of me thinks this - the whole turn the other cheek concept. but God also stands for truth and can't tolerate sin. so maybe He wouldn't do that...maybe he would stand up for justice. whatever He would do, I know this: He would forgive. 

as I got angrier and angrier on wednesday night after all the drama had ceased, I was humbled thinking about a friend's family who was just brutally murdered. murdered. someone took the lives of two members of her extended family. that is irreplaceable. no insurance can repay that. no amount of time spent can recover the lives of those precious people. how do people forgive that?? all that got taken from me were material possessions and homework. let's be real - in a month, this probably won't matter. but these people will experience Christmases and birthdays without their loved ones for years to come. whew. talk about perspective. 

sometimes I feel like Satan is winning. like there is just an overwhelming cascade of awful that keeps happening. people hurting other people. shootings. break-ins. murders. abuse. then I have to remember the rest of the story - the ending. Satan loses. and God redeems. 

thursday morning on the way to work, beautiful things by gungor came on my mixed cd. 

all around
hope is springing up from this old ground
out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

somehow, He can make beautiful things out of us - out of seemingly nowhere - out of seemingly nothing beautiful. 

thus concludes my ramblings for tonight. 

oh - ps. my thought tonight: "I wonder if they ever found that man that broke into antoine dodson's apartment? I wonder if he moved to my apartment complex..."  yep. makes ya wonder, huh? 



Monday, October 17, 2011

excellent find

http://www.allyspotts.com/open-letter-to-men

I really appreciate this guest post by Darrell Vesterfelt on a blog that I might be a little in love with. maybe.
thank you Mr. Vesterfelt for this letter.

now I must get back to studying my endocrine system. well, not mine in particular, but THE endocrine system.

grateful for:
-antidiuretic hormone that allows my body to retain water when I am dehydrated
-oxytocin that will one day initiate labor if I ever am pregnant
-normal amounts of GH - as to prevent gigantism (I know, some people think this happened to me anyway), acromegaly, and pituitary dwarfism
-that my thyroid does not have any issues causing myxedema or Grave's disease
-the normal development of my immune system (thanks, thymosins!)

(yes, I am a nerd, and yes, I'm counting this as "studying" time for my test tomorrow)

Monday, October 10, 2011

weddings and 27 dresses

this weekend I traveled to south alabama to see two of my dear friends be forever joined in holy matrimony. it was beautiful. everything about the simple, lovely outdoor wedding in the park was just...perfect. while all the planning clearly paid off and the weather was gorgeous, the true beauty was gleaned from the sheer joy of the bride and groom. the two interacted at times as if they were in their own world, so caught up in their love for one another that nothing else mattered - no wedding jitters or last-minute-detail stress here. just the giddiest grin I've ever seen on the bride's face and tears of joy and absolute adoration from the groom. the bride even skipped down the aisle with her loving hubby after they were pronounced man and wife.

their story isn't one typical of most fairytales - they had some truly bitter moments along the way. they fought some ugly battles together and separately, and thought they were better off apart for a long, long time. this only makes the celebration all the more wonderful. oh the situations that can be redeemed and the bridges that love can build when we think they've been forever burnt. what joy this brings my heart!

a few of my coworkers have told me that I "remind them of the girl from that movie.....27 dresses".  at first this statement stung a bit - what are they trying to say??? but I am no longer offended. if I have 27 good friends that get married and live out a beautiful love story - how lucky am I to be surrounded by great examples of loving relationships? how lucky am I to get to be a part of their days? God has joined together people dear to my heart in wonderful relationships that glorify Him, and it's soo beautiful to see. I'm excited to see what He has in store for me.

anddddd the grateful list (that I've been majorly slacking on):
*the health of my grandma and others I love that I typically take for granted
*safe travels to and from south alabama
*the giant chocolate cake that resided in our break room at work on friday
*beautiful fall weather
*two words: pumpkin.loaf.

(yes, I realize things I'm grateful for often involve food...pretty.typical.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

butterfly circus

a few nights ago, I watched a short film - the butterfly circus

now, I am not a huge fan of the circus. while I think some acts can be impressive, I can also tend to get bored. I like plays, musicals, etc. - shows that have a plot. plus, I think clowns are terrifying. so when a dear friend suggested this 20-minute movie, I was a little less than enthused. upon hearing her description of the plot, however, I warmed up to the idea...
a limbless man who is put on display at a circus as a freak - a story of redemption - a story of transformation, and the lies we believe about ourselves.

this story touched my heart and brought me to tears. how often do we hear lies from the world and believe them? how often does past experience tell us that we're not good enough - trash, even. these lies become ingrained in us so that when we hear something different - the truth - we scoff.  how preposterous. how could I be fearfully and wonderfully made? have you met me?

there are so many profound and beautiful spiritual parallels in this film. how we can use our personal struggles to help others overcome theirs. how God can take the ugly of this world and make it absolutely beautiful. absolutely wonderful. absolutely redeemed. and plus, there are no clowns. or if there are, they are used minimally and I barely remember them. promise.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

rest

sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed. lately, it's been more of a common occurrence.

how will I ever get xyz done?
I need to do this more.
I need to call so and so.
I need to clean. organize. straighten.
when is that due? (insert hyperventilation here)
how will I ever afford that?

a few nights ago these thoughts bombarded me. overtook me. left me almost breathless.

then, while half-heartedly reading in psalms, it jumped out at me. almost as if it was bolded and italicized on the page (it wasn't, in case you were wondering): "be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him"

be still.

but...but...but...how will everything get done???!

be still.

but...but...did you see my to-do list?

be still. 

but...but...

when was the last time I gave you more than you could handle? be still.

ook. fine. God always has a trump card.

oh, and p.s. -

I am grateful for:
*beautiful fall weather and breathtaking sunsets
*laughing really hard with good friends I haven't seen in awhile
*frozen.yogurt. (this might be a recurring theme)
*my roommate being born (today was her birthday - and she left me note saying I could eat some of her cake - most.awesome.roommate.ever.)
*free museum day. seriously - coolest thing. today was marked by trips to the space and rocket center and sci-quest. loved.it. yes, yes I'm a nerd, but how often do you get to walk through a mobile quarantine facility, create your own river and pretend you're a weather lady? pretty.stellar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

before-40 list

I want to make a list of things I really want to do. as part of a good story. as part of a full life. as part of me embracing who I am, what I love, and making the most of my time here. sooo here are some things I want to do before I'm "tied down". and if I never become "tied down", I guess I'll just keep adding :)

*become an R.D.
*climb a mountain (a real mountain...like a big one, not just "hiking" in the "mountains")
*run a half marathon
*make better use of my passport (particularly to travel to Switzerland, Greece, South Africa...)
*go to a drive-in movie
*go a missions trip - preferably extended, preferably where I'd be able to help nutritionally
*find a mentor
*be a mentor
*read through the entire Bible
*maybe MAYBE get a tat (a small one...that could be hidden if need be)
*visit all friends who live in/move to various states
*learn more about, and put into practice at some point for a purpose, the art of fasting
*pull a real all-nighter that ends with breakfast at IHOP or Waffle House
*take a cooking class

....to be continued. for sure. don't think it ends here.

grateful list for today:

I am grateful for....
*the complexities of my heart (about which I am learning) and that all these complexities are working
*the kind man who returned my wallet
*my social security card (see above)
*sweatpants and sitting on my couch after a long day
*dove chocolate

it's almost friday...hallelujah.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

grateful

in 8th grade home-ec we had these lovely things called "grateful books". our teacher would hand them out at the beginning of class, and we had to write five things for which we were grateful on that particular day. I don't remember what all I put in there, but I remember really racking my brain to come up with my quota on some days.

there are many reasons I think home-ec should be offered in college rather than 8th grade. if I remember correctly, I could make a mean omelet at age 12, but that skill has since faded with a negative correlation to its usefulness. did I need to make an omelet for myself in 8th grade? no. college? well, it couldn't have hurt.

along with cooking and the ability to sew a stuffed squirrel (yes, I chose to make a squirrel and moose as my stuffed animal creations in 8th grade...rocky and bullwinkle, anyone? no wonder I wasn't ever cool in jr. high), the ability to be grateful seems to have slipped through the cracks of my memory, too. what if I took the time to look for the things I take for granted every day? what if I thanked God for getting me to work every morning instead of grumbling over long traffic lights? what if I was looking for little, joyous moments instead of skimming over them because I'm so focused on the negative? I'm going to try this. maybe it could radically change my attitude, alter my state of mind. even if it doesn't, though, I'm going to be grateful.

here are some thank you notes for the last day or so...

1 - dear lab partners, thank you for being brave, awesome morticians who are not afraid to handle a cow heart. and thank you for not getting grumpy with me when I wasn't as enthusiastic. and thank you for not getting cow blood on me.

2 - dear police officer, thank you for not pulling me over when I whizzed by you going...well...over the speed limit. speeding always seems like a good idea until I see a cop and am reminded that a ticket will not only cause a delay, but deplete my bank account as well. so once again, thank YOU.

3 - dear evening runs, thank you for being therapeutic. thank you for allowing me to clear my head and find joy in the little things, like saying hi to little old ladies having conversations in the middle of the sidewalk or watching a family play softball in their yard.

3.5 - dear beautiful weather, thank you just for being and for making number 3 possible.

4 - dear community nutrition professor, thank you for making class fun and reminding me of why I want to be a dietitian. thank you for letting us pretend counsel you and for not being an easy client. I like a challenge. and I also secretly like it when you tell us you don't want to make any lifestyle changes, that you're just "big boned-ed" and that your "baby daddy"  is lucky cause he isn't. one day I hope I can counsel a real patient like this and talk her into drinking only one "big gulp" a day.

5 - dear mom, thank you for letting me talk your ear off about everything I've done the past two weeks. sometimes a girl just needs to chat with her momma. thanks for telling me about yourself at my age, too. I love hearing your insights and remembering that you were once in your 20s, going to school, stressed out, and trying to get by  - just like me. also, thank you for answering the phone at 10 pm your time when I forget about the time change.

6 - dear co-worker, thank you for seeing potential in me. thank you for encouraging me to do more with my life than I sometimes think I can, and thank you for challenging me to not just stay content with where I am. thank you for letting me know that you think I can do more.

well, ok, so that was kind of seven, but who's to say there needs to be a limit on what you're grateful for? I'm grateful that I have so much to be grateful for. cheesey? maybe. true? you bet your bottom dollar.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

north and south

I'm starting my third (THIRD?!) year here in what one of my friends calls "the dirty south". it also was recently my half birthday, so in honor of these momentous occassions (har har), here is a list of 24.5 new, southern-specific experiences/lessons learned since moving below the mason-dixon line...

I have...

1. discovered what a Zaxby's is...(and no, it is NOT a fancy sit-down restaurant, which can be confusing...)
2. eaten at, and fallen in love with, Zaxby's, their seasoned fries, and their delicious Zax sauce
3. pushed a "buggy" around the grocery store
4. learned about Milo's sweet tea and its deliciousness
5. learned that drinking your calories might not be the best idea in the land of everything fried, so swore off Milo's sweet tea (along with McAllister's sweet tea...I'd rather eat my calories in the form of their gigantic spuds)
6. been called a "yankee" on more than one occasion
7. been laughed at for calling beverages of the caffeinated genre "pop", and have since slipped up and said "coke"
8. learned that "boil" and "bowl" can sound an awful lot alike
9. tried, and was not impressed with, fried green tomatoes
10. have successfully avoided grits
11. added to my dress collection, as southern women wear dresses EVERYWHERE. up north, I wore dresses to weddings and on an occasional sunday if I had the ambition to shave. here, dresses are worn february - november for (but not limited to) the following occasions: church, work, trips to the grocery store, baseball games, football games, dinner (whether it's one's own kitchen, mcdonalds or connor's steakhouse), camping, going to the movies, and any other event that causes a lady to leave her house during these summer months (dresses can be worn december & january, but typically are accompanied by leggings).  there is no such thing as being overdressed.
12. said "y'all" and made it a staple of my vocabulary
13. learned how to spell "y'all" (not to be confused with "yawl" or "ya'll")
14. learned how to correctly use the phrase "bless his/her heart"
15. seen schools close at the prediction of "up to an inch" of snow
16. seen groceries stores completely sell out of bread and milk due to "impending snow storms"
17. been let off work early due to tornado warnings and snow predictions
18. learned the tornado sirens go off at least three times a week in April
19. killed bugs the size of my face
20. had a black widow hang out in my apt. (it has since been killed, or I would not be hanging out in my apt.)
21. witnessed a large snake crossing my hiking path (and heard the expletives of a young man who did NOT see the large snake crossing his hiking path)
22. made poppyseed chicken a staple of my diet
23. tried banana pudding and wished it was a staple of my diet
24. worn a tank top and shorts outside in October
24.5  introduced my hair to humidity and gotten used to it

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

disappointment

I've been thinking a lot about disappointment. I'm disappointed - hurt, confused, frustrated and...well...disappointed! but this isn't the first time. and it won't be the last.

as humans, without even meaning to, we place expectations on things - situations, experiences, jobs, relationships. I play out the way I want things to go ahead of time, so why am I so surprised when I'm disappointed? this is life, after all, and Lord knows that the way I plan things out in life have never gone according to plan a. or plan b, c, or k.

and we are people. people who have human flaws and are not perfect. I mess up on a daily basis and often, even without knowing it, disappoint people, too.

we live in a broken world. a world where Satan is prince. how can there not be heartbreak, disappointment and pain?

if you are in any relationship that you have invested time, energy and your heart in, you will be disappointed at some point. nothing in this life is guaranteed. but that doesn't mean that we stop loving or investing ourselves in others. it just means that this isn't our real home.

the Son of God was disappointed by others. I'm sure when one of his followers turned Him in to be tortured and killed, it hurt. I'm sure that when He was crying out to His father in the garden of gethsemane and His closest friends kept falling asleep when they were supposed to be keeping watch, He was disappointed. disappointment doesn't discriminate. not in this world.

this isn't me having a debbie downer moment, this is simply a truth. the good news is that while there is pain, there is compassion. while there is hate, there is love. while we make mistakes, there is grace and forgiveness. and the best news is that it doesn't end here.

the lyrics of Laura Story's song, Blessings, say it beautifully:

"What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?"

So I'm disappointed, but that disappointment won't last through eternity. thank God.

Friday, August 26, 2011

words of wisdom

"people are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all...has happened."

10 points if you can name that movie.

I don't really necessarily believe this quote (per post a few days back about change being necessary), but I was thinking about all the things we say to people to comfort them when they're going through a rough time. you know those times where you get news that is less than wonderful and suddenly, everything gets a little blurry? your heart is racing or has stopped, you're not sure which, and you feel like you're falling. you're falling and you can't feel your legs and for a moment, nothing else matters. it's just you and that news. at which point, if I am comforting someone else, I don't what to say. this is typically when I just hug. just hug and hand tissues. because really, if it's me, nothing sounds good in this moment.

I know that there is a reason for everything we go through. I really do believe that God has a big plan and if I didn't get what I wanted, it was for the best. I believe that, but it still stings. it still hurts to know what you thought was best, was not best. especially when you can't see the "best" that is coming. and sometimes, I don't want to hear all that "there's a silver lining to this" crud. sure, there is a time to speak truth, but there is also a time where I would just like someone to say "wow...that really sucks right now. I believe it will get better, and that God has better plans, but there's no denying that you're going to have some pain to deal with. I'm sorry...I know that it just...sucks..." and then an offering to get ice cream or go on a walk or see a funny movie would suffice. or a giant hug (I like hugs) and allowing me to cry all over you would also be grand.

I'm going to try to remember this for other people....maybe they want the wise words, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I just want a friend who will hug me. and tell me it's ok that I'm snotting everywhere.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

englaaash

even though I sometimes wish I was at my apt. relaxing, I really do love doing things and being around people that are not in my normal routine. more will probably come on that later, as I've thought a lot about that this week (first week of new classes for fall semester-woohoo!). however, I just felt the need to document this short blurp in my day.

while standing in line to buy A&P II notebook:

kid in front of me: "I'm taking math this semester. Ain't gone be hard, though. Math ain't done never been hard for me."

my horrible, judgmental mind (silently, of course): "english...however..."

but before I could fully form this thought -

kid in front of me: "english is rough, though. I'm no good at that."


there we have it. it was all I could do not to giggle out loud in the bookstore. I hope this does not make me a horrible person. in fact, this gentleman and I shared a common thought at the same moment! and I give him kudos for knowing his strong points and weak areas. seriously. that is a real man.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

irony?

a few thoughts on one incident from this evening...

earlier today at work, my super-safety-conscience company thought it would be a good idea for me to wear gloves while using a paper-cutter. it was a little counter-productive when it came to straightening the paper, etc., but I found it rather humorous. wouldn't want the safety police to be caught in a "safety flash" (all lingo from our very-safe company).

flash forward a few hours to me going on a lovely run outside in the beautiful weather. little did I know those gloves would've come in mega-handy for this excursion. that's right, this girl somehow managed to trip, fly through the air, somersault on the sidewalk, and land on her bum hugging her knees (mind you, I started out diving at the pavement). a scraped knee, shoulder (SHOULDER??! really? how did I manage that??), two bloody palms and three bloody knuckles later a car that saw this display of grace stopped to see if I was OK. all I could do was nod my head in shame and walk away. the rest of the way home, though, I couldn't stop laughing at myself. oh how I wish I could've seen me.

on this walk home, though, I was thinking about how quickly my train of thought changed in that situation. I was in a peaceful state, pondering life and my friend's upcoming wedding, and then the next thing I know I'm thinking "please don't break anything..." and "ouch". I was trying to remember exactly what I was thinking when I tripped, and then it came to me. I was making a list in my head (I do this often...think in lists) and this particular list was "I believe...." insert item/idea here. I will probably document this at a later date (i.e. I believe Jason's Deli's cookies have crack in them, etc.), but the thought I had just been thinking was "I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and died for my sins" ...although I don't think that entire thought got completed, as somewhere around "son" I was flying through the air.

as christians, we say things a lot like "this is a stumbling block for me..." or "that sin is a stumbling block in my faith" yada yada. I couldn't help but think of the irony in that maybe this time, an actual stumbling block was a stumbling block to my having some good spiritual thoughts.

a little ironic, no?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

change

the more I grow up, the more I learn about myself. this probably seems like a very obvious statement, but it delights me. I like realizing things about me...it makes me more comfortable in my own skin.

I used to think I hated change. just talk of graduations, moving, last days at work, etc. could bring me to tears. I even get a little emotional when semesters change, a friend's pet dies or I have to change apartments in the same town. I mean, I've been known to cry when saying goodbye to old cars. but really...I think change and I have a love-hate relationship. change is hard. I mean the big kind this time - not the "getting a new car" kind. it can be gut-wrenching and painful and can tear us out of our comfort zones. it can be terrifying. it might mean we no longer have someone (or many someones) we love in our lives on a daily basis - whether they have passed away or are many miles away. but change can also mean growth. it can mean new relationships and experiences. it can mean the start of a new adventure. when I think of changes that were really hard to adjust to, I look at my life prior to that change and wonder what life would be like if I were still in that place. change is necessary - can the transition to college life be difficult? yes, but we can't stay in high school forever. was moving states away from home scary and lonely? yes, but I can see the figurative, not just literal, miles that were traveled from that change and I wouldn't choose to go back. indeed, change causes growth.

change may make me shake in my boots, cry every day for months, induce a miniature panic-attack or all of the above. however, the alternative is NOT changing. remaining stagnant. and while change is scary, not changing and not growing is even scarier.

hmm...who knew? maybe change and I can get along.

this doesn't mean we're BFFs, though. don't go getting all drastic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

boy bands

what can make a group of six 24-year-old girls hold hands and squeal in anticipation? yeah, that's right, NKOTBSB. let's be honest, while people laugh when I tell them what I did this weekend, that laughter is masking one thing: jealousy. who doesn't want to hear the greatest hits that formed their younger years? (or see Donnie Wahlberg rip off his shirt?) I'm not afraid to say it: most.fun.concert.ever. or at least that I've been to.

I can only hope that this once-in-a-lifetime reunion tour is more than once-in-a-lifetime. cause I'm ready for round two.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

casual

do you ever remember what you think are random things? my guess is, though, that if we remember them, they are not random - they shaped us somehow.

I have this memory of sitting on a hill at church camp in 7th grade. we had just played 'romans and christians' and discussed its implications in our own lives (heavy stuff for 7th graders), and started singing a camp song that I can't seem to get out of my head. I can't remember any of the lyrics except this, the chorus...I don't want to be, I don't want to be a casual Christian. I don't want to live, I don't want to live a lukewarm life. 'Cause I wanna light up the night with an everlasting light...I don't want to live a casual Christian life.

maybe there's a reason I can't get that out of my head. maybe my little 7th grade mind, with all of it's naivete' about the world, still knew that I didn't want to live a casual Christian life. that I wanted to be on fire, not lukewarm. maybe that was the cry of my heart and my prayer to my Lord. and maybe it still is...which is why it keeps playing on repeat in my heart.

Monday, July 18, 2011

we're gonna be 40 someday

my senior year of college was characterized by a lot of crying (I mean...what can you expect? it's hard to accept that you're not going be just a 5-minute walk from your closest friends everyday). it was also marked by a lot of trips to waffle house at midnight, late night walks around campus and other random activities that took the place of should-be-studying time. whenever I would start to waiver on whether I should take part in said random activity (wine and high school musical 3 anyone?), my dearest friend would look at me and say "really? we're gonna be 40 someday!" which automatically trumped any excuse I might have conjured.

so lately I have been partaking in random activities that require me to stay up into all hours of the morning rather than going to bed at 10 p.m., which my inner 85-yr old says is an ideal bedtime. see the last harry potter movie at 12:30 a.m.? sign me up! go see a fan-freaking-tastic band on a sunday night in a city 1.5 hours away? yes please! I may grumble a bit when that alarm goes off, but I'm pretty sure the memories of these evenings will remain while the tired eyes will not. after all...we're gonna be 40 someday.

and on that note, it's bedtime.

Monday, July 11, 2011

miss skeeter

I have started reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I really shouldn't start reading any book, as I should be studying, but I had the urge to get caught up in a story and whisked away. I've also heard many good things about this book. I am only about to start chapter 6 and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. maybe that's because of a character named Miss Skeeter.

as a 6 foot tall female, I absolutely love the internal dialogue of this 5-foot-eleven Southern Belle. growing up, all I'd ever hear from other women was "ohh but you're model height" or "I wish I had your legs" blah blah. now don't get me wrong, I am in no way complaining about my God-given-gams, but I am just glad to read something a little more realistic and truthful about females my height.

"By sixteen I wasn't just not pretty, I was painfully tall. The kind of tall that puts a girl in the back row of class pictures with the boys. The kind of tall where your mother spends her nights taking down hems, yanking at sweater sleeves, flattening your hair for dances you hadn't been asked to, finally pressing the top of your head as if she could shrink you back to the years when she had to remind you to stand up straight.....

Mrs. Charlotte Phelan's Guide to Husband-Hunting, Rule Number One: a pretty, petite girl should accentuate with makeup and good posture. A tall plain one, with a trust fund." (Kathryn Stockett, The Help)

this is going to be a great read, I can tell.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

flying and fatigue

it's almost friday. this makes me happy. I like short weeks. especially when I'm in a funk, which I feel I have been this week.

signs you are looking good:

-multiple co-workers ask you if you are ok
-co-worker states: "you look tired" (my favorite unintentional diss)
-co-worker mentions: "you look frazzled" (I can't tell you the last time I have heard the word "frazzled" before today)
-co-worker comments over the phone: "you sound tired"

you know you're in trouble when you SOUND tired. good grief. TGIF is all I can say.

one more thought before I pass out (because, after all, I look and sound tired, so I must be tired)....

WHO decided it would be a good idea to try to mix liquids on a plane to form some sort of explosive device? really??? way to ruin flying for the rest of us. I'm highly considering just checking a bag just so I don't have to ration out my contact solution, face wash, shampoo, conditioner and all the other girly things I need for a weekend at the lake. grumble grumble.

but then I remember why I'm flying, and I can't be grumpy. I'm lucky to have such amazing people to fly to.

over and out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

nutrition

is it ironic that the classes I take to learn about becoming more healthy make me want to eat less healthy? not because of the actual information (which, by the way, has at one point made me want to eat nothing but organic fruit and veggies for the rest of my life- has anyone watched Food, Inc.???), but because after talking about all the bones and structures in my upper body, I want to drown my sorrows in taco bell. lucky for me, my desire to put on stretchy pants and sit on my couch sooner rather than later won out tonight, so I passed up the opportunity for cheesy fiesta potatoes. however, I maintain that if those potatoes would've magically fallen in my lap on the way home, I would have devoured them faster than you can say superior articular process. truth.

Monday, July 4, 2011

weekend exhaustion

this weekend was lovely. there's something so wonderful about being around people who know your past, where you've been. something that makes you feel like home and as though the years prior to where you are now actually matter. sometimes I forget this, having moved away from all who knew me my first 22 years of life. I love remembering. I love those friends. I love laughing til I cry.

from the weekend I picked up a few tidbits of advice, for future reference, to self:

-driving on the Friday of 4th of July weekend is a poor life choice.
-remember that GPSs are great, but they can't predict a wreck and/or traffic jam.
-never sit on any type of greenery/plant while wearing white shorts.
-your body isn't college-age anymore. don't try to treat it as such.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

nostalgia

this weekend I am traveling a hop, skip and a jump to celebrate my best friend from childhood and her soon-to-be marriage. being the sentimental sap that I am, I have been looking through old notes and pictures and feeling a little ache in my heart. when you've been friends with someone K through life, you have more memories than you can actually remember.

I've been thinking about this a lot. in a month and a half I will be giving a speech at her wedding. you would think that going through life side-by-side with someone for 24 years would make writing a blurb in their honor quite easy. false.

how do you convey the absolutely huge impact someone has had on your life? how do you communicate all the memories? all the times she was there when I was a blubbering mess over some guy or silly situation? how do I translate summer bike rides, movie nights, charades, days at the lake, school projects, school dances, middle school crushes, slumber parties, graduation parties, college adventures, late night walks and talks, and a friendship that has now spanned several states, into something a room full of people can understand?? I wish I could relay the meaning in lying on the floor and giggling until our sides hurt. how we never lived further than a walking distance away from each other until we were 22. how that didn't change anything.

it feels like just yesterday we were rollerblading around our subdivision. just yesterday we were jumping in the leaves and staring up at the clouds. just yesterday we were riding the bus home from school and listening to "daydream believer". just yesterday we were making puffy paint shirts for homecoming week. just yesterday we were walking through the drive-through at taco bell in our little college town at 2 a.m. and just yesterday that I was confessing an embarrassing story to her.

...except that really was just yesterday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

hands and feet

today I was feeling pensive...


random thoughts o the day (some elaborated more than others):


1. no matter how stressed out I may feel on any given day at work, I shall not forget that I work for a wonderful company. a company that employs amazing people, invests in my future and, most importantly, feeds me frequently. example: today there was an apple pie in the break room with a note saying to look in the freezer for ice cream. I like treasure hunts like this. yes, yes I WOULD like to look in the freezer.





2. shopping for a friend's lingerie shower is infinitely less fun without another friend that is invited to said event. it is also infinitely more embarrassing. dear Spencer's Gifts, you may have made this girl feel more uncomfortable today than she has felt in quite awhile. dear Victoria's Secret, thank you for having a much calmer, classier shopping environment. I can't tell you how much my sanity and I appreciate it.





3. some days I can totally see God lift me out of a pit, even against my own will. today He used some of His faithful servants to do so. an unexpected lunch date with a co-worker to help me gain a better perspective? thank you. an encouraging text from a friend when I feel as though gouging my eyes out is a positive alternative to looking at my computer screen anymore? many thanks again, God. an unexpected and awesome conversation with a friend while needing a study break? God, I'd like your address so I can send a thank you card. I am blessed beyond measure to have all these hands and feet of Christ in my life. can I say it again? can I ever say it enough? thank you Lord!





4. lastly, today I bought my first pair of TOMS, and I'm excited. somewhere, someone who didn't have shoes can now have a pair. andddd of course I get to wear a mega-awesome pair of shoes now, too. so, maybe, in a very small way, I was able to act as the hands and feet of my Lord for a short moment. a very short moment. and maybe a selfish moment, too, because those TOMS are cute...