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20 Simple Pleasures

I ran across a fun blog post about simple pleasures and thought it would be an Sun and rainenjoyable and therapeutic exercise to think about some of the simple things that I appreciate the most. So, here they are, in no particular order:

  1. When it’s raining, yet the sun is shining.
  2. Orgasm and sexual pleasure
  3. The silence that happens at night-time when the kids are sleeping.
  4. Deep emotional and physical intimacy with your life partner.
  5. The exhilarating feeling after you run a race or exert yourself.
  6. After a post workout stretch, when your body feels invigorated and relaxed.massage
  7. Getting a massage.
  8. The smell of lavender, patchouli, and other essential oils.
  9. Anything vanilla or artificial cherry flavor.
  10. When you can’t put down a good book.
  11. When your kid says the sweetest thing to you and doesn’t even realize how much it meant.
  12. When your body fits perfectly next to your honey’s while cuddling.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  13. When someone washes your hair.
  14. Sleeping in a king sized bed with silky smooth sheets and a down comforter.
  15. When you give or receive an unexpected meaningful compliment.
  16. When your food is flavored just right.
  17. When the kids stay overnight somewhere and the extra silence and lack of responsibility is bliss.
  18. Wearing comfy clothes at night… or anytime.
  19. Catching rich and beautiful glimpses of your kid becoming a wonderful person.DSCN0361
  20. The perfect ice cold drink on a hot day or the perfect hot drink on a cold day.

What are some of your favorite simple pleasures?

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Clutter Free Zone?

We live in a small house. Lately I have been trying to find ways to get a bit more organized at home. Here are a couple things that have helped me become a bit more clutter-free.

Artwork Clothesline

Artwork Clothesline (I plan to hang several around the house)

Found a Scarf Solution on Pinterest.

Found a Scarf Solution on Pinterest.

Please feel free to share ideas for de-cluttering small spaces!

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Ring of Fire

About twelve years ago, right after high school, was one of the hardest times in my life. Before this, I used to write poetry often as a way to express myself and process. Well, today, I wrote my first poem in over 12 years, wahoo!

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Ring of fire
Pit of despair
Perpetual darkness
Life unfair

abstract ring of fireAs of late
I’m not “me”
Destructive acts
Not living free

Desperation
Wounds and pain
Feeling helpless
Is it all in vain?

Strength and courage
I search and pray
Grant me the will
Or die, I may
Rescue Squad SignGod is it you?
Did you hear me shout
Do you care enough
To pull me out?

Suddenly climbing
I can see the light
My body emerges
By my own mightPit of DespairFree and empowered
No matter the cause
I’m certainly grateful
Can I get some applause?Applause

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I was prompted to write on this topic because I just joined Women Who Write Rock, a writing retreat spearheaded by Helene Rose. Find out more about this amazing woman and the services she offers at her website Be Brilliant Network.

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Weekend Roundup

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Riding the wave of happiness, motivation, and self-discovery

Well, it’s true, I’m the happiest I have been in a very long time. I am motivated and meeting my fitness and nutrition goals. I’m gaining more tools to be a better parent. And I am thoroughly enjoying upgrading my blog (Want an upgrade too? Check out the Zero to Hero blog challenge). I am attempting to ride this wave of happiness, motivation, and self-discovery, and in turn better my life in sustainable, life-long ways.

Part of my self-edification process has been gaining inspiration and insights from the many blogs I have discovered recently. So today, I am thrilled to give you my weekend roundup, linking to some of my favorite blog posts from this past week. This is just a taste of what I read and loved this week. Thanks to these posts (and many others), I am excited, inspired, motivated, and happy!

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I was encouraged by the post, I was brave and learned I don’t want to settle. In my own life, I know the Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape (1)importance of pursuing my dreams and not settling for mediocrity. My favorite excerpt from the post:

“What I want is to be living at 100%, giving my all to everything that I dive into and loving every single second of it. What I want is to tell my children to follow their dreams and not settle for anything less. What I want is to inspire my family, and others, by walking away from my rut and creating my own future, where I don’t just survive, I thrive… And that is exactly what I did”

Caitlin Edmon, Aprons, Trainers, and Bibs

While we all have off days, I do think aspiring for greatness in your life is totally doable. So Caitlin, I’m happy to join you in being brave and not settling.

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Earlier this week, in response to a daily prompt, I wrote Why haven’t I pursued my dream job? Check out another bloggers take in My Dream Job. I can really identify with her dreams because they relate to fitness. She talks about pursuing dreams and the importance of perseverance:

Message Stones“Just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.  Sometimes, you have to go the long way around to get to your goal.  The important thing is that you never give up!”

Ebone Nut, One Crazy Mom

Yes Ebone! Lets persevere and chase those dreams.

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Rather Than Curse the Darkness, Light a Tiki Torch was a great reminder that a wide circle of loved ones is valuable. This blog post also made me want to ask more questions and be a good listener in the company of friends… there is so much to know about each special life you encounter. My new favorite quote is:file0001027084534

“What I love best about a circle is that there is always room for one more.”

Naomi, Writing Between The Lines

Naomi, you have taught me so much in a short time and I’m glad to be a part of your blogging circle!

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file1711246044891In Moving Into the Light, Karen paints a picture of hope for challenging situations. Sometimes life just plain sucks and sometimes life can be good even when we are amidst struggles… but either way, thankfully we CAN get through the storm. I appreciate your story Karen and am looking forward to reading more!

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And lastly, this week I discovered the blog Running On Healthy. Two particular posts, IMG_0542Learning The Art of Negative Splits and Run For Those Hills, inspired a higher quantity and better quality of running for me this week. I love their blog tagline “Living Life Healthy, Fit, and Happy”. I plan to aim for a healthy, fit, and happy life for as long as possible.

 

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Thanks again to all who contributed to my better quality of life this week. You seriously rock!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

I’m not a photographer but I wanted to take it upon myself to try out this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge (for the first time and at the final hour).

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Sadie, our very noble and elegant dog, finds the coolest place in the yard, amidst a bunch of kids toys

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An interesting night time view from the driver’s seat

Learn more about the Weekly Photo Challenge

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I’ve never dieted in my life…til now

Throughout my life I have spent a lot of time running, working out at the gym, playing a lot of sports, and in general getting a lot of exercise. While I have generally tried to eat healthfully, the thing I haven’t done is restricted my calories or went on a specific diet for any reason (even as an athlete). I guess I always saw dieting in a negative light and thought that if I went on a diet it meant I cared too much about my looks.

Even though my weight is pretty similar to what it was when I went to college, at age 30 I have decided to go on a diet. Why now, you may ask? Well, after having two children and experiencing a great many changes in the distribution of my skin and body fat (to unwelcome places) I think that scalenow is the time to get toned and lose weight in order to pave the way through my 30’s and into my 40’s and beyond.

After taking a look at various diets, specifically the Paleo Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, I have decided that I don’t want to eliminate particular food groups without having an evidence-based reason. Essentially, I’m not yet convinced that a particular diet that eliminates particular food groups is a good idea for me.

So, if not a particular diet, what will guide me? Well, I started by getting an app on my android called My Diet Diary that helps me track my daily caloric intake and output. Initially, I input my weight and my weight loss goals. Then the app displayed how many calories per day I should consume. The amount of calories adjusts when I input exercise or my weight changes.

I am not only trying to restrict my calories, I am also following some of my own established guidelines. The guidelines are as follows:

  • friuts and vegetableEat as many whole foods as possible (fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, etc.)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Drink a lot of water
  • When I have a craving in between meals I chew gum or drink herbal tea
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Don’t eat anything after 8 pm
  • Every day or two enjoy a dessert OR a special drink (usually a latte or gingerale)
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week
  • Adopt these changes in my life and maintain on a long-term basis

So, these guidelines are purely my preference and may not work for others. Ultimately, I chose these health goals because I think they will be effective and attainable for me.

When I started this diet last week my goal was to lose 13 pounds. Here I am a week in and I have already lost 8 pounds, hooray! I realize weight fluctuates for various reasons but at the moment I am rejoicing at this success with the hope that I can continue tracking my diet diligently through the diet app for at least 40 days.

Now, as I launch into week two, I will be inspired by entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn:

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Your Turn

How has dieting worked out for you? What obstacles should I keep my eyes open for?

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That’s a selfie, son

My 4-year-old uses my tablet from time to time to play games or watch Netflix. He also likes to high-jack my camera and take many pictures of anything and everything. Here he is, sitting on the bottom bunk, discovering the “selfie“. I love that no-one taught him anything about taking a picture of himself, yet he poses like a selfie-taking professional. Whether or not this will transfer into his social networking life in the future is yet to be seen. Check out a few of the selfies he captured below.

The Kissy Face Selfie

The Kissy Face Selfie

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The Scared/Surprised Selfie

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The Debonair Selfie

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite selfie to share?

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Back to Blogging?

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Not only do I crave a writing outlet, I feel as if I will go crazy if I don’t express myself through writing

It has been quite some time since I sat down to blog. The crazy thing is that I started this blog at one of the busiest times in my life. Then, when I quit my job to stay at home with my kids (almost 5 months ago) I did not find myself with a ton of spare time and energy to blog. But lately I find myself craving a writing outlet whether it be in a journal, poem, letter, or blog. For some reason I am drawn more to blogging than the other forms of writing and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it feels more invigorating to know that someone might read my words and actually care or be encouraged by what I have to say.

When the possibility of blogging is right in front of me I struggle with the process of sitting down to communicate what’s going on in my life. In particular, I struggle with:

  • Time – I have two very distracting boys that keep me very busy, should I set aside my spare moments of down time to blog?
  • Competency – I question my writing skills. I find myself wanting to nit-pick every little thing in order to have the perfect blog post. The idea of attaining perfection feels necessary, largely impossible and stressful all at the same time. I would much rather sit down, communicate what I want to communicate, and be done with it. But that requires me letting go of my need for perfection.
  • Content – Oh, the question of what to write about. Do I need to have a blog theme and have all my writing tie into the theme in some way? If I don’t choose a theme, will my blog be too broad and lack a goal to give me direction?
  • Significance –  Why blog? Does anyone even care what I have to say? Even if no one cares what I have to say, should I blog anyway as a sort of therapy for myself?

Despite all the barriers and worries about blogging I feel the need to challenge myself to at least give blogging another try. My goal is to make regular time to blog and not worry so much about themes, perfect writing, or whether anyone cares what I have to say. I care what I have to say as well as the process of communicating my thoughts and that is what is important.

Flying

I plan to spread my wings and see where the wind takes me

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.
― C. JoyBell C.

Your Turn

What struggles do you have when writing a blog? What barriers do you encounter when trying to express yourself through writing?

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My first secular conference

I have attended many a Christian conference… but never had I ever attended an atheist, secular, humanist, or freethinker conference. Well, on Saturday I attended the Colorado Secular Conference. Here are some of my short, sweet, and random thoughts:

  • I enjoyed myself but I was exhausted.
  • Sean Faircloth rode with us to get a beer afterward… wasn’t expecting that to happen.
  • I met Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist, I wish I would have gotten a picture!
  • It seemed like the majority of people were over 55.
  • People were nice… not baby eaters or demon-possessed.
  • It was really nice to feel somewhat normal and be able to relate to people with a similar worldview.
  • I made some friends and now I want to visit some of the nearby groups periodically.
  • Alternatively, this made me want to be a part of starting a Northern Colorado Atheists group.

Lastly,  I overheard two old ladies talking to each other, and just about died laughing about their conversation. At one point one of them leaned in close to the other and said:

I saw this neat bumper sticker in the parking lot that said “Get your rosaries off my ovaries”. That’s a good one!

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Coming Out as an Atheist

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So it’s true, I have come out as an atheist to my close family and friends.

BUT, there are extended family members, co-workers and some friends who do not know about this huge change I have made in my world view. There are people who were in my conservative Christian college group who still send me letters requesting financial support for their ministry (I don’t even take the time to read these letters anymore because they make me angry). There are a whole lot of people I know who think I’m a good Christian girl. They don’t know that I now find myself a more compassionate, moral, mindful, truthful and confident person then I have ever been before in my life. All that, plus I’m an atheist, and I am proud of it!proud atheist photo: Proud Atheist proudatheistfig.gif

A few thoughts:

  • Coming out seems challenging because I used to be a hard core Christian – I thought it was my responsibility to evangelize and bring the inerrant, inspired Word of God to the ends of the earth and many know that about me.
  • Being a conservative believer sold out for Jesus is what people expect me to be and that is part of why I feel the need to proclaim “No, I think that God, Jesus and Christianity are harmful, wrong, immoral and false at best”.
  • I really don’t want people assuming that I agree with their world view when I don’t.
  • I fear the affects this could have on my immediate family, my husband Matt and I’s work environments, my extended family dynamics, etc.
  • With Matt’s family in particular, an emotional chasm has formed between them and us. I fear that coming out as an atheist will only fuel their anger.

    After almost two years, it's time to come out

    After almost two years, it’s time to come out

In the end, I think that being brave and being who I am is the right thing to do. When I’m ready, I plan to take the opportunity to come out as an atheist as needed, every chance I get!

Follow-Up: Check out my follow-up post “Team Jesus Forever, Right” where I share a story about coming out to a colleague.