Monday, November 12, 2012

Aunt Annie

No, this post is not about  me. It's about my great-aunt Annie. Her name is actually Sylvia, but everyone calls her Annie.

She lives next door to my grandparents. My dad grew up living at her house. She has a beautiful garden, she is an amazing cook, and she has been a nurse for most of her life. She started out in the Army, and then worked in family practice til she retired.

She doesn't have her own biological kids, but has been integral in the raising of every kid on my dad's side of the family.

3 of her brothers and sisters still eat lunch at her house every day. I'm 95% sure she's kept most of them alive through health care and feeding throughout the years. :)

She's gentle and wise and caring. When I was so sick in the hospital in OKC a few years ago, she and my other aunt Myra came to stay with me a week so my parents could go back to Texas for a while. While they were there, my doctor pulled me off all my pain medications and I went through horrible withdrawals for 48 hours. The only thing that made me feel better is when Annie rubbed my back. She said, "when I was a nurse in the army, this was our main treatment for soldiers when we didn't have medicine available." Such a blessing.

The older I get, the more I see myself in her. And that's a great thing.

With her brothers and sisters- Annie is third from the left

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Avian bone syndrome

Let's start with gratuitous shots of my nephew. 

The kid has started smiling. My heart has melted.

Anyhoo, time has flown since I moved to Norman. Next week will be 6 months at my new job! Whaaaa?!

Lady Bird and I have gone many miles. Approximately 175 that I've tracked. That's just how many I've gone; I imagine LB goes about 50% more than me. We've had a lot of fun. She's gotten very dirty. You might know that we've had some setbacks. I broke my ankle in June- stress fracture. For those counting at home, this is my second stress fracture and third non-traumatic bone break.

Lady did not approve of my immobility. I did not remind her that this was indirectly her fault.

In my old age, I am a terrible patient. I hated being in that stupid cast and hated crutches more. But I tried to comply with "inactivity" and "rest" for about a month. It was lame. But now I have another bone to keep my eye on. 

A few weeks ago I had a coughing fit and think I cracked a rib. I am a delicate flower. 

Lady had a set back as well. I think (because I did not witness it, but based on evidence) that she got into a fight with a raccoon last week. She is fine, just some scratches and has had the vet's OK. Like I said, I didn't see it, but I imagine it went like this.

Another event in my life has been fostering two dogs this summer. 

Leo the miniature dachshund came from Second Chance Animal Sanctuary and was only with us a week until he was adopted. Such a sweet boy.

Dobie the lab/doberman mix was from the Oklahoma Humane Society. He was with us two weeks. It took Lady a while to warm up to him, but he was a big ol' sweetheart who loved everyone.

If you like animals, consider fostering. It's a nice short term way to help out, by both giving the shelter more space and helping socialize and train the animals.

*Note- I do not have Avian Bone Syndrome. That is not real. It is from an episode of 30 Rock. I don't have osteoporosis or any medical indication as to why my bones are weak. They just are.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My perfect nephew

Well, this is the most delinquent I've ever been blogging. I would apologize, but I doubt many people have been waiting with bated breath for my next update.


This is my perfect nephew, Wesley.

This kid has auntie wrapped around his finger.

Seriously, he's the coolest.

Friday, July 13, 2012

St. Francis was on to something

St. Francis* is my homeboy
I said something on twitter the other day that got some attention, and I wanted to expand a bit on it. I am officially past the honeymoon of moving. :) I do like Norman, but it is certainly an adjustment.

One of the hardest parts-ok, THE hardest part- is being so far away from friends and things familiar. And I have not been bashful about talking about how much I hate visiting churches.

The other day on twitter, I noted that I can go to any dog park and I'm greeted and welcomed, but I can go to church and no one speaks to me. Some good conversation sparked from that, some wondering why and what we can do to address it in churches. I honestly don't know why this is. Maybe having a dog is such a common denominator that people feel more free to open a conversation with it.

But surely at church, where the common point is loving God and each other, we can find SOMETHING to talk to visitors about.

I will admit that I'm not the most approachable person. I'm a loner at times. I've had enough negative experiences visiting churches that I really don't radiate sunshine when I go. But generally what happens is I go in, no one speaks to me, unless there is that forced, awkward "greet visitors" time, when the people behind me will find out my name, and then I sit through the service and leave.

One person- hello @billyadams- has invited me to visit the church he goes to here in Norman, so I can't pass up the only offer I've got. :) 

All in all, maybe churches who are so focused on being the slickest marketers and using the latest jargon should take a visit to the dog park to figure out how to make people feel welcome. Just a thought.

*Patron saint of animals

Monday, July 02, 2012

Well some things have happened.

A lot has happened since I last posted. After accepting the job with OU, I found out a couple of days later that I was being kicked out of the house I'd been renting for 5 years. I was heartbroken to leave Heritage Hills. It was a wonderful place to live for 5 years, but the timing was perhaps perfect, as I was about to start commuting to Norman.

Bye house

Bye Heritage Hills
Leaving OC was sad, but felt right. I left feeling good about the place and my time there, and I will always love my coworkers.

For a month I stayed with friends in OKC and commuted to Norman. Two words- never. again. I was not made to commute. But I'm so grateful I had that cushion of time to decide where to live once I moved. At first I was tempted to just do everything like I'd done before- same style house, same style lifestyle. I just wanted to replicate everything. Then I realized I could do things differently now, if I wanted to.

One of the biggest manifestations of that was deciding to move into a place that'd let me get a dog. I've wanted a dog for a long time. I did a lot of research into every facet, and ended up with a sweet black lab mix I named Lady Bird. :)

Meet Lady Bird!

I got her the day I moved into my new place. Part of me thinks it was crazy, but when I look at the big picture, I think it was a good move. Everything in my life has been upended, and she has given me some stability and something tangible with which to move forward. She is a sweetheart of a dog. I am glad to have found her, and give a big shout out to the Pets and People animal shelter in Yukon, OK. I had a great experience with them, and they took care of her for almost all of her life.

What else? Oh yes, I started a new job. No pictures to go with that, really. I like it a lot and think it was a positive step in my career. I love the challenge and change of working with adult education in higher ed.

Enough eventfulness for you? Well let's not forget my baby sister got married!  It was a good weekend and celebration with family. She is also going to have my nephew in September! I can't wait!!!

My brother in law and sister

Now... I'm trying to find my new normals. My life involves a lot of walking the dog. We went 70 miles in the first month. Trying to make friends in Norman. Trying to adjust to life in a college town. I know I'll like it, but I grew accustomed to the crack heads and vagrants and gentry of Midtown after 5 years. :)

Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of blogging. That's it for the whirlwind update!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The actual next chapter

After four and a half good years at Oklahoma Christian University, I was offered a job at the University of Oklahoma and I accepted it. 

This is bittersweet in the way these things are. I never could have imagined what my co-workers at OC would come to mean to me; they have been my family in Oklahoma City. I was given the chance to grow a successful career in social media and web communication, with freedom and encouragement I wouldn't have received many places.

I'm so excited! This is a change I need both in my personal and professional life. If you are associated with OC, I want to reassure you that I have never been more hopeful about the future of OC. The timing is unfortunate that I will leave right when John deSteiguer starts his presidency. I admire him as a leader and friend, and assure you that I truly believe- even without my PR hat on- that the best days of OC are ahead.

Thank you for all the support you've been to me over the years. I am more hopeful about my future than I've been in a long time. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Next chapter

The sun setting on my 20's
When I lived in Japan, one of my friends at church turned 30 and was not at all pleased by it. I remember thinking then (at a wise 23) how silly that was. Well my my my, how quickly the turn tables.

Those who've been around me the past couple of months have seen that I have been very down about my impending birthday. It's one of those maddening things where I know how silly it is, but I just can't help it. I know birthdays in and of themselves don't mean anything. Nothing changes from one day to the next. But they're good times to be reflective and benchmark your life. 

Gosh, 30. My 20's were many things. For a while I felt resentment that I lost such a chunk of my life with illness in my early 20's. But on the same hand, I am so forever, deeply grateful that I had brilliant experiences that I had all over the world, with many precious people.

I think about life not being what I thought it'd be. I'm single, childless, far away from family. In those ways sometimes I feel like my life is kind of empty. I realize it's quite self-pitiful to complain when I have a good career, relatively good health, ample time to pursue my interests and hopes... but this is my blog and I get to be honest. :) I think 30 is different for men and women. Women have some kind of primal expiration date, and if I am being truly honest, that's not helping things. My biological clock isn't ticking or whatever, but I am keenly aware that I'm not getting any younger. 

I've thought more about my future. One of the biggest things I hope for in the next decade is that I'll find home, whatever that means for me. I want to feel belonging and peace. That's been missing in my life. I hope to find meaning. It's quite existential, but I have been wrestling with what life means... what point does my life serve... what difference do I make. 

I hope that I value and pursue wisdom over rightness, kindness over piety, and joy over success, grace over superficial beauty.

Tomorrow I'll wake up with the sun streaming in my bedroom. And I'll be grateful. The birthday blues might catch me for a few minutes at some point, but it will be a good day. And that's how the next chapter starts. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good eats

This winter I have really struggled with illness. My sinuses and allergies have been giving me chronic headaches and I've lost my voice for many days. I think this is primarily due to the last of a hard freeze here this winter, but it's prompted me to do a lot of research into homeopathic remedies.

I have a great primary care physician. I appreciate doctors who don't want to just throw antibiotics at everything. I realize they're necessary sometimes, but he has coached me to be faithful to neti-potting and menthol cough drops. They do help.

One of the worst parts of all this was the chronic headaches I mentioned earlier. They've been really miserable. So I started looking into more natural remedies that may help.

I admit that I am a pretty typical American eater. I don't eat fast food daily, but a couple of times a week. I drank soda not daily, but sporadically. I generally have coffee or tea in the mornings. I like chocolate. You know I love to bake, so I eat plenty of refined white flour.

Over Christmas I fell into the trap of SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR. You saw that I baked a ton, I ate super-well, I put yummy creamers in my coffee... it was everywhere. So about a month ago I decided I needed to break my "new normal" level of sugar intake, and get it back down to a place where it was in much greater moderation. I did a 3 day "detox" of no natural or artificial sweeteners. I definitely felt the withdrawals, but I wasn't deprived in any way. I felt better and immediately lost a pound or two of bloat.

Also, I didn't get any headaches....!!!!!!!!

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
So I happened to watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (also on Netflix). The premise is a middle aged man who has a typical body type and suffers from many typical ailments that go along with it decides to do a 60 day fresh juice fast. I highly recommend it. I have no interest in doing a complete juice fast (my sensitive gastrointestinal system can't handle any shocks), but I took away two major points.

1- You are not destined to have bad health. There are some disease that happen by chance, but with our knowledge, you don't have to have type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other problems. Chance is tricky enough, so you should take care of the aspects of health you can control.

2- Your body craves nutrients. Put good food in it. I went and got a juicer because I was convinced that I needed more nutrients, and that would be a good way to do it. I hate eating salad. Drinking it is much better to me. And there is something so refreshing after you drink a glass of fresh juice.

Since I got the juicer, I've had at least one glass of juice a day. In the mornings I typically drink carrot-apple-ginger-orange juice. It is delish. At some point during the day I try to drink a glass of "green" juice, usually kale-cucumber-celery-tomato-carrot. Not as "delicious", but it tastes green and fresh. I can tell my skin is brighter and I feel better. My iron level is great (I am pretty severely anemic), my skin is brighter, and I don't crave sugar the way I used to.

Forks Over Knives
After this, I decided to watch the other nutritional documentary I'd heard good things about, Forks Over Knives. The premise of this documentary is two physicians and researchers who dedicated their lives to research in preventing heart disease and cancer through a vegan diet. Based on world-wide research in where cancer/heart disease is most prevalent, they have seen clinical results in reversing these conditions through nutritional treatment.

I'm a stone cold Texan and not planning to be a bonafide vegan, but it highlights the importance of moderation. One of the focuses of this documentary is the effect that inflammation has on your body. Even if you have a mild irritation to foods (like I do to dairy), it can wear on your health if you are constantly bombarding your body with it.

The thing about living in a land of abundance like we have is that we don't have to practice moderation. It must be done through discipline. To me, it seems like the act of simply paying attention to what your body is telling you is so important. For me, that means that I know that sugar gives me headaches. Lactose slugs down my digestive system. Fruit sugars make my stomach hurt if I eat too much. And I'm sure I'll learn more as I pay more attention.

All of this to say that for maybe the first time in my life, I feel like I'm caring about my body not in just an attempt to be the "right size", but to feel good and have a full life. 

I'm kind of a hippie. But if you'd been through the medical experiences I have, you probably would be, too. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The art of being happy

It's big a big few weeks. Or months. Lots of good news. Every time I turn around someone is engaged or getting married or having a baby. But such is this time of my life! I guess better than funerals when I get old.

Some single people hate Valentine's day. And make a public display of that hatred. Maybe at some point I felt like that, but I think that if you can't be happy for other people that are happy, you need to check yo'self (before you wreck yo'self). But in seriousness, I do believe that. I think it's a sign of maturity.

But I will admit something you, my close personal friend base. That's a joke; I don't even know who reads my blog anymore. But here it is- I feel like I'm mastering the art of happiness for other people. I'm ready to be happy for myself. Whenever I run into old friends, I feel like my "catching up" consists of updating what is going on in other peoples' lives and not my own. My life has stayed substantially the same for the past 5 years.

Don't get me wrong; life is good. But it's hard sometimes. And it's very easy to fall into the vortex of self-pity.

But the bigger truth is that I don't have one ounce of resentment for any of my friends and their exciting changes. I have seen that like the Grinch, my heart has grown (at least) three sizes. I mean look at this girl:
Me with Eden Grace Blackwell
This sweetie is the perfect example of how my heart's found new measures of joy. My good friends Blake and Kacee welcomed their daughter into the world, and I have claimed her as my niece. I can't wait to see her grow up and learn and have all kinds of fun and mischief. Get ready to hear lots more about her.

So while it is sometimes easy to feel like the world is passing me by, it is also filling my heart up. So keep the good news coming, friends!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Thoughts from the past 7 days

I am clumsy.

What separates humans from the beasts is thumbs.

Life with 1 thumb is difficult. These things are difficult to do without a thumb:
  • button pants
  • hook bra straps
  • open ziplock bags
  • wash dishes
  • put on makeup
When you do things for people you love, it's not a burden.

Bringing food to grieving families may seem superficial, but it is deeply meaningful when you are blessed by it.

Sometimes in life you will have to demonstrate your priorities by acting on them.

Family always come before work.

I'd rather learn what you believe by watching your life than listening to you tell me what you believe.

Politics is crazy.

Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

OC is a special place.

So is southwestern Arkansas.

Friday, February 03, 2012

On George Clooney and Kindness

St. FrancisThe other night I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio, featuring George Clooney. One thing that came up several times in the two hour interview is the high priority he places on kindness. He said that he'd rather make his income doing coffee commercials overseas and make movies he enjoys with people he enjoys. He chooses movies based on how fun and kind the actors and other set members are because "if you're going to spend 4 months of your life with people, you should enjoy it."

This resonated with me because it's something I've thought about more and more over the past few years. Kindness is a rare virtue. You can find people who are smart, entertaining, funny, talented... but if they aren't kind, those characteristics can wear thin pretty quickly.

I want to be kind. I want to be around people who are kind. I want to work with kind people, date kind guys, marry a kind man, and have kind kids one day.

It's not the most glamorous of virtues, but it's a foundational one.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

My take on 30 for 30

I wrote in September about my impending big 3-0. It's even closer now! Less than 2 months. Mz Beyonce and Mr. Z had their baby this weekend, little Blue Ivy Z. :)

I've started to think about how I want to celebrate. Every year I want to do something for my birthday, then I usually don't. But I've had some inspiration. Lest it begin to become a habit, I again thank Pinterest.

A woman celebrated her 38th birthday by completing 38 acts of random kindness. I thought that seemed like a great idea, so I really should start gathering things I want to do. I can't decide if I want to do them all in one day or maybe for the weekend leading up to my birthday. I also want to involve my friends.

SO if you have any good ideas for acts of kindness or want to participate with me in completing them, let me know! I need your ideas!