Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ironic, Pathetic, and a little bit Funny

There's a funny little glitch on the right now. It has my LDS Church articles coming up under the category of Sex/Relationships- Abstinence. Gotta love the irony in that. (For the record, I've only asked them about 20 times to please move me back over to Religion-Western Religions- Christianity where I belong!)
As a result the following is currently the head photo bar under Roanoke Sex and Relationships-

I couldn't be more proud!
(I'd link it so you could see it yourself, but I'm hoping that before most of you get there, they will have fixed it! Also, it comes up with your local community, not mine. So it would be a worthless link! Also, I do NOT need that getting any SEO help!)
Beyond Perfection

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fresh, new writing up on the Examiner

I've done a lot of writing lately! Will you click the little linkies so I can get paid for all my work??

Mormon General Conference (the where and how)
Mormons- they're just like you and me!

How to use social media for job hunting
Foursquare for businesses (and fun) 
Blogging for money


Buca di Beppo on CityDeals!

Buca di Beppo (ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE RESTAURANTS EVER) has A KILLER DEAL on CityDeals. For a limited time when you buy one $20 Buca di Beppo Gift Card you get (2) FREE movie tickets to the theater of your choice. This offer is 1 per household, so choose an option below (sorry, you can only buy a package for 1 movie theater).
Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theaters
AMC Theaters
Cinemark and Century Theaters
This deal is 57% off face value of the gift card and movie tickets. Prices on movie tickets vary from one market to the next, but regardless, dinner and a movie for $20 just doesn't happen anymore! The gift card is a plastic Buca di Beppo gift card just like is sold at their restaurants, so it can be used with coupons (sign up for their email blast on the Buca di Beppo website to receive coupons by email and save even more on this deal!).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

31 Days of Service and Kindness

Just 3 more days till 31 Days of Service and Kindness begin. I am really looking forward to this challenge! I've been looking for different ways and places to help. Part of me is sad just how much there is to do out there. Part of me can't wait to see what it feels like to spend a month helping others.
Some of the things I have planned-
volunteer at homeless shelter
volunteer at animal rescue shelter
logistics work for a charity
promote a charity
make presents for some cute, unsuspecting kids
clean an unsuspecting person's house
make meals for someone
do my weekly church service

As you can see, I'm not going crazy here. I'm sure there will be more than a few days where I will do a random act of kindness instead of a scheduled act of service. And there is nothing wrong with that!

And now, before I kick off my 31 Days, I'm wondering if any of my friends know how to make a logo for me? I'd love a custom header or badge or logo for the 31 days. I know how to do the HTML, if someone knows how to make the picture!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Near death experiences and other tales from my weekend

I will start by saying the good news is that this story has a happy ending. Assuming you think me living through it is a happy ending that is.
For the past month I've been very excited to take off a few days and drive up to DC. I just needed a break from Roanoke, and wanted to see "my" town, be around other fun single adults, and just feel fun again. In Roanoke I feel like a daughter, granddaughter, sister, and cousin. I very rarely feel like a fun single woman.
So off I went yesterday, excited to go to dinner with friends, and looking forward to going to Adams Morgan- one of my favorite ethnic neighborhoods in DC. I was wearing a favorite pair of shoes I have worn a million times. But every once in a while my feet rebel and in spite of there being no good reason for it, my feet suddenly and very rapidly get covered in painful blisters. So there I am in a walking area, and my feet are starting to bleed (this is after just a few blocks of walking! nothing major!). I toughed it out and did my best, and thankfully my friends were sympathetic about it.
One of my awesome girlfriends let me sleep in her guest bedroom. And naturally we stayed up way too late enjoying some girl talk. And I have to say, it was good for my soul to talk to a like-minded, single woman, who has shared many of the same challenges in life, and just compare notes. I feel like my life isn't quite so singularly sucky anymore.
I've had a bad head cold for a few days now, but forgot to bring my cold meds with me. Overnight I developed a bad cough. In the morning I got up to go to the Washington, DC Temple. I stopped at CVS and picked up massive huge bandaids for my blisters (I could barely walk my feet are so cut up) and some Sudafed. First aid applied, and I was off to the Temple.
I have almost NO memory of being in the Temple, other than that I was sleepy. It was impossible to keep my eyes open! I even fell asleep standing at one point and nearly fell over! (I have mastered the art of falling asleep standing. True story- I once fell asleep standing up at a They Might Be Giants concert at the 9:30 Club.) I know I did a session at the Temple, but honestly couldn't tell you a thing about it. I found a comfy chair in the Temple and slept like a rock for over an hour. I went out to my car and fell asleep again in the parking lot.
When I finally woke up enough to be logical I checked the Sudafed box. As you may have guessed, I hadn't taken the non-drowsy formula. I must have accidentally picked up the wrong box. This wasn't just a "may cause drowsiness" version either. The warnings said "may cause marked drowsiness." I"m here to tell you, it does!
Once I was coherent enough to think straight and drive, I drove down to Tysons Corner Center. It's my happy place. I love that mall! I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Coastal Flats, and ordered the special- grilled mahi and cauliflower mash. It was DELICIOUS! I was in love! The cauliflower mash was so good I couldn't stop eating it. And I inhaled the mahi mahi. But the mash was so good, and there was this little popping taste every few bites. I had never tasted anything like it! I loved it! So I stopped playing with my cell phone long enough to actually inspect what I was eating.
Oh no!
For those who don't know, I have a life threatening allergy to corn. NOT GOOD!
Turns out I was eating polenta, and not cauliflower mash. I had read the menu wrong! I quickly warned the waitress that I was about to go into a horrible allergic reaction. I remembered I had a Benadryl in my purse (specifically for emergencies like this. ironically, i hadn't taken it earlier in the day because i didn't want it to make me drowsy at the temple) and took it. (Oh and if you don't know that polenta is made from ground up corn, now you do!)
My throat starting getting tight and hurting. I ordered the waitress to start bringing out Dr P's as fast as she could. There's something about feeling like your throat is constricting that helps if you can be swallowing or sipping something. Knowing you can still swallow can help a lot. Also, focusing on drinking like that can keep you from hyperventilating. Also, I wanted the caffeine to quickly counteract the drowsy effect I was bound to get.
I was terrified. I couldn't drive myself to the hospital in that condition. I had no one I could call to come rescue me fast enough. All I could do was sit there and wait for it to get bad enough to call an ambulance. Or hope and pray someone in the restaurant would have an epi pen on them. My poor waitress appeared to be equally terrified and was never more than a few feet away. I have never felt to completely helpless or trapped. This was honestly my worst fear come true- a life threatening allergy, and no one around who knows how to help me! What would happen if I suddenly stopped breathing in the mall and collapsed? Corn is such a bizarre allergy, no one would think that was the problem!
My imagination ran wild with scenarios as I sat there for another hour, just waiting for the worst to happen. But it never came! It was the craziest thing! In spite of the fact that I ate enough polenta to kill me and then some, I never got much of a reaction besides a tight throat.
Finally I left a very generous tip (a waitress who makes sure you don't die deserves a nearly 50% tip, right?) and went shopping. I paid my respects to H&M and went back to my friend's house. By the time I got there I was tired again, and lied down on the bed, still holding my keys, and wearing my shoes, and woke up an hour later.
I checked the Sudafed again. It had antihistamines in it. Exactly what I would need if I had an allergic reaction. My stupid little mistake this morning saved my life this afternoon! I already had the counteragents in my body and didn't even know it! That combined with the Benadryl is all I would really need to avoid a bad reaction.
Sadly, I also made an interesting discovery. Corn is delicious! I haven't had real corn since I was about 8 years old! I had no idea what it tasted like. Turns out corn is good! Too bad I will never risk my life to try it again. I wish I didn't know now what I've been missing all these years.
I'm back in Roanoke now, in my own bed, and I've just taken another dose of the Sudafed. I'm looking forward to sleeping tonight like I haven't slept in years! Goodnight!

Friday, September 24, 2010

the trouble with a blog is

The trouble with a blog is that sometimes when you are frustrated, annoyed, sad, overwhelmed, or even exuberantly happy, that you want to share the details as to why. The problem being that sometimes you just can't for fear of hurting the wrong person, sending the wrong signal, or not being at liberty to be completely open about someone else's situation.
And so tonight I sit here under a self-imposed gag order trying so hard not to say what it is I want to say. So forgive me for not sharing any details, and only sharing my feelings.

If you hurt a child, you deserve to die. The end.
If I had treated someone as rudely as I have been treated recently, I would be surprised if I had any friends at all. And I sure as hell wouldn't expect politeness in return.
Sometimes you have to wonder how much heart break one heart can bear.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Open mouth, insert words

Under most circumstances I would have to say that I am far better at writing than I have ever been at speaking. I tend to prefer to write what I need from others, rather than have to actually say it to them. I like being able to think it through slowly, edit myself, and make sure I say it just right.
That was until this week. More than a few times in the past week I have managed to cause serious confusion when the other party didn't understand what I was talking about. To make matters worse, they were all instances where I put a great deal of effort into wording things just right so as to ensure no mistakes.
On top of everything else I've come to realize just how much I hate and avoid confrontation. Oh and saying no. I really and truly suck at saying no.
Recently I've had to take some measures to eliminate a certain person from having too much access to me. This person's total lack of communication and writing skills has resulted in more than a few hurt feelings. But more than that, she is now avoided and ostracized by an otherwise open and loving group of friends.
So as I sit here wishing I was better at being more direct, I am doing my best to avoid speaking to the most direct person I know.
Go figure!
That all being said, it is time for a little self-promotion of my other writing gigs! (Where hopefully I expressed myself correctly!)
Meridian Magazine- Divorces, what to ask and when to divulge
Examiner- How to use social media in job hunting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a Little update

I can't tell you how much I miss this kid! For those of you new to the blog, the kiddo in these pictures is known to the blogosphere as "Little." Back so long ago in Utah (can you believe it has been 6 months since I left?) I volunteered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah program. She was my Little Sister. Here on the blog we just like to call her 'Little.'
Little and I still keep in touch, but not nearly as much as I wish we could. She's a big fancy 8th grader now, with social commitments, a bass trombone, and a life. Just as soon as I have a paycheck, I'm buying her a cell phone just so we can talk more often! We do keep in touch via Skype, phone calls, and the occasional email.
A few months ago I got a gem of an email from her. I've been meaning to share it for a while. It basically went like this-
"have you seen those i heart boobies bracelets? i have one because they support breast cancer and my best friends mom died from breast cancer but now they don't support it anymore which i think is pretty stupid. now her dad has wienie cancer, so they don't care about breast cancer anymore. but I don't want to wear a bracelet that says, "I heart wienies." 
I love that kid. And I have this overwhelming urge to make silicon bracelets in a lovely baby blue that say, "i heart wienies" on them. And if I make a million bucks off doing it, I will spend it on sending Little to college. And I'll give some to the wienie cancer people. And the boobie cancer people too. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not such a teenage wasteland

Me, circa 1988, age 13, 7th grade class picture. Also the answer to "are you a natural blond?"

Yesterday, like most Saturdays, I found myself at my uncle's house. I was downstairs in the party room with 20 men watching the BYU football game. Upstairs my aunt was hosting a large baby shower. When reality sunk in and there was no denying BYU was in a hole they couldn't dig out of, I went upstairs to visit the womenfolk. And there I saw this beautiful woman. She looked so familiar to me! I could not place her at all. Much to my surprise she immediately said that I looked familiar to her as well. My aunt introduced us and immediately we knew each other. I love moments like that!
We both grew up in the same church area. I was from Centreville, she was from Warrenton. She is about 2 years older than me. She was tall, thin, beautiful, with blond hair I envied, and a year round perfect tan. (Traits I see she has now passed on to her cute kids.) She was one of the older girls that I looked up to and adored as a teenage girl. I wondered if I would ever possibly outgrow my awkwardness to be as polished, stylish, and grown up as she was. I remember her perfectly. I saw her many times over the years at girls camp, youth conference, and the many dances we all frequented as teens.
I couldn't imagine how she would remember me though. We grew up in a small group (as far as our church is concerned). It was easy to notice her- she was the cool, older girl! And there were very few other girls her age. But there were plenty of girls my age, and I certainly never stood out in the crowd. But much to my surprise, she knew exactly who I was. She remembered my name and who my friends were. And then she said the thing that blew me away. She remembered that I was apart of a close knit little group of girls (Cindy, Laurie, Karen- she's talking about us!). And she said she was always jealous of us because we had this great little group of friends, and she didn't. She remembers us as always having fun together, and how she loved it when her congregation got combined with ours so that she could be around us. (And there we were always intimidated by her!)
We swapped memories about specific names and faces. We got a good laugh over who we had crushes on then, who we couldn't stand, who our friends are now, and who we are Facebook friends with! I am thrilled that she is friends with many of my family members. And she only lives a few minutes away. It will be great to run into her regularly!
Sometimes all you can ask for in life is to find out you weren't so awkward and stupid in high school that people are actually willing to be associated with you now, in spite of who you were back then! And I hope now that I work with the young women in our congregation that I can help the girls really learn to love and appreciate each other. I hope the big, sophisticated 16 year old girls will always be kind to the 12 year olds. Because those little 12 year olds will always remember those big girls and worship the ground they walk on!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This week I resolve to-

1. Not whine or complain, not even to sympathetic ears. (Or ears I think are sympathetic!)
2. Recycle, reduce, reuse, and begin composting for the first time.
3. Do something substantive about my back pain (and not just whine about it or drug myself up).
4. Seriously consider legally registering my car.
5. Not allow myself to get hurt by other's choices.
6. Keep my mind on what matters and what my goals really are.
7. Do at least one thing each day that makes me happy.
8. Not eat as much fast food.
9. Work 11 hours each day, so that I don't have to work much on Friday.
10. Enjoy the big things and the little things!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Blogging Away!

I'm the guest blogger over at "We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ" today. This is the blog of Jocelyn (Hatch) Christensen, an old friend of mine from "Langley days." (Which means I knew her back in DC when we were both in the same singles' congregation.) She is doing 30 days of guest bloggers on the subject of the Family: Proclamation to the World. What on earth can a single woman have to say about a document about families? Well, go read it and find out what I said!
Oh and she's giving away cool stuff too!

Happy Birthday Natalie!

Happy Birthday to my favorite little sister and mother of my nephews. You are my favorite person to talk to and my closest friend. I don't know what I would ever do without you. I'm so proud of you for how hard you are working in school right now. I know it isn't easy or fun for you. Good work on the cute kids. Now, come visit me. I miss you.

If you know and love my sister, leave her a little love note in the comments below!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's Talk TV!

Another new TV season is upon us! I do love the first few weeks of a new TV season. This year will be very interesting and different though- I don't have a TV. But that won't stop me from catching only what I want to see on Hulu and iTunes. One of the more unusual parts of not having a TV means I don't see the commercials for the new upcoming shows. So I need your recommendations! Tell me what has looked interesting to you!

Shows I know I will be watching-
The Good Wife

Modern Family
The Office
30 Rock
Glee (I can't say this in my head without doing it in the silly high pitched shout voice from the show)

Shows I will try out, but may be breaking up with-
Grey's Anatomy (seriously- that season finale was a little too much for me. it is just a little too over the top sometimes.)
Law and Order: SVU (I'll at least be watching the premiere to see crazy Joan Cusack)
The Mentalist

Shows I will try a few more times, but I just don't know about
The Middle
Cougar Town

Shows if I had all the time in the world I'd give a chance to (or will someday watch on DVD or netflix)-
Covert Affairs
White Collar
Burn Notice

What is on your list and why?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Curious and curiouser

I can only imagine what the elderly Indian man in the corner store thought when the adult woman in the bright red Wonder Woman t-shirt showed up 2 seconds before closing at 10 pm, bought only a chocolate milk, and chugged it before leaving the store.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peace Corps

I officially turned in my application to the Peace Corps this week. TADUM!!! I'm rather proud of myself for finally doing this. The decision to leave the world behind for 27 months without pay isn't exactly an easy one. Now, before you get too excited with me, let me point out that it will be MONTHS before I will hear back from them. And that I just barely made the deadline to get in for their July 2011 deployment. So this ain't no fast moving ship. And to answer the inevitable question, no I have no idea where they will send me, if in fact they pick me at all. Did you know the Peace Corps gets 15,000 applicants a year for 4,000 spots? So while I'm announcing I applied, I'm also putting myself out there for a little humiliation because I may not get picked.
In the meantime, while I'm all excited and gung ho on the Peace Corps, I looked up PC blogs. And oh my goodness!! I've found lots! If you look here on my right hand sidebar, towards the bottom, you will see links to some of the PC blogs I have found. And I'm sure I'll be adding more every day. I can't get enough of them. They are so interesting!!
So my question to you, fair readers, is this, if you could go anywhere in the world to do service, where would you want to go? And what kind of service would you want to do?

Monday, September 13, 2010

31 Days of Charity and Service

I am so happy that I've had 4 people pick days to do an act of service and charity in October! I hope there are more people out there that will help out!
As I said before, during the 31 Days of Charity and Service I am asking my friends and readers to sign up for one day during October to do an act of service/charity. For the days that no one signs up, I will do something. I am prepared to do something every day. But I am hoping that you will all rise to the occasion and do a day for me!
Why am I doing this? Well, why not? Why not make a commitment to make good things happy every single day for a month? So many wonderful things have happened to me over the past year thanks to other people's acts of kindness and charity. I want to give back and do my part to help others. And this is the best way I can really think of to "pay it forward" and help others.
When I first had this idea I was going to do it all by myself. And I still am planning on doing something every day. But then I thought, how great would it be to make multiple acts of service to happen? Not just me and my actions?
So I hope you will join me and volunteer to do one act of service or kindness during the month of October. Take a look at the sidebar here and pick day, then leave a comment below with the day that you want to do something. I will remind me when the time comes that it is your special day. And if any of you want to send me pictures of your act of charity, or want to write something for me when you do it, that would be great. But it is certainly not required!  (But do expect that the majority of my posts in October will all be about service!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

the best darn spaghetti sauce you'll ever try

Friends, because I like you, and you like me, I'm going to share with you the best spaghetti sauce recipe you will ever try. I made this yesterday for my sister and me, and seriously, we almost didn't have enough to actually put on the noodles. We kept snitching some while I was making it. It was the best sauce I have ever had in my entire life.

And now I will share with you the secret.

Erin's From Scratch Spaghetti Sauce
1. Heat 2 tb olive oil in pan.
2. Dice up half of a red or vidalia onion. Toss into the oil.
3. Add a bay leaf, basil leaf, and a leaf or two of oregano. And the not all that secret ingredient of 5 big beautiful bulbs of roasted garlic.
4. Before you do all of that peel and cut up 10 roma tomatoes. The darker red the better. Cut them into small pieces, not quite diced.
5. When the frying onions and greenery look good and drowned and dead, add in the tomatoes.
6. Bring to a boil.
7. Then turn it down to simmer, and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours.
8. At about the 1 hour mark, throw in a fourth cup of sugar, and salt it to taste. Stir it in well.
9. Give it at least ten minutes, stirring it up well. Then test it and see if you are missing any particular flavors or you want more of something. (I don't like parsley, cilantro, etc, so I don't add anything else in.)

10. Total let the tomatoes simmer for 2 hours.
11. If you like meat with your spaghetti, take the garlic and the leaves out of the sauce, and add it to the meat as you brown it.
12. Also, you can take the roasted, tomatoey, garlic, and put it with some butter in a dish. Melt the butter with the garlic like that, and then spread it on your Italian or French bread.
Yes, its a lot of garlic, but trust me, its good.
All of that made probably enough for 3-4 people, but Steph and I sneaked so much of it during the process, it only made 2 servings. Two plus hours is a lot of work for 1 meal, but it was totally worth it. As soon as someone feels like sharing a ton of tomatoes from their garden again, I'll be doing it all over again.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Virginia Beach

Last week, in spite of the pending Hurricane Earl, I took off to go visit my dear cousin C who lives in VA Beach. Lucky for me (more for her) she lives about 1 mile from the beach and boardwalk! I spent a great deal of time sitting by the sea, thinking, writing, ogling, and thinking some more.
Here are a few images from my trip!
Virginia Beach pre-Earl
 I had the beach mostly to myself. There were a few other families out there, but it was nice and quiet with lots of space to spread out. Its "moments of clarity" like these that inspire creativity and emotion in me.
Local wildlife!

Obligatory self-portrait- with chocolate. Actually, sugar free, fat free, fudge bar. Not that great.

Red flag warning!
 I found this to be an interesting sight! The sign on the chair explains that red flags mean there are dangerous conditions. Gotta love how the flag is very weather-beaten, and the chair/stand is leaning heavily to one side! This was taken about 6 hours before the supposed hurricane (which was just a tropical storm when it got to us) was due to hit.
King Neptune greets you.

More wildlife

The morning after the storm my cousin C and I took a nice long walk on the beach. It was by far my favorite part of the visit. We had lots of laughs and girl talk as we walked along the churning sea.

 Even all stirred up and wild, I still love the ocean.

 This is what happens when you go walking along the ocean in a crazy tide. You get soaked from head to toe. More than one rogue wave snuck up and attacked my back side. It takes a brave woman with no sense of shame to post a picture of her butt like this.

 Under the boardwalk, down by the sea...

Honestly, I can't get enough of the ocean. The sheer strength of it marvels me. One of my only really big goals in life is to live by the ocean.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I am me.

I have been creating this list of things that I know to be me.

I am happiest by the water.
I feel far more creative by the water or on top of a mountain.
I love spaghetti. Especially when it is made in authentic Italian style.
I can unleash writer's block with a fresh new notebook and a pretty blue ink pen. I write almost everything out by hand before I type it.
I am a vivid dreamer. There are nights I can't wait to fall asleep because I know there are amazing things waiting for me. And there are nights I intentionally take sleeping pills because I'd rather not "give birth to airplanes." (Yes, that was a recurring dream of mine. I'd wake up terrified of how exactly I was supposed to push an airplane out in child birth.)
I really hate sitting in the back seat of most cars. Very rarely do I find a driver that doesn't drive me crazy! (no pun intended)
I prefer high brow or nerdy humor over potty humor every day.
I value my creative and alone time.
I can't help but mentally redecorate a room from the minute I walk in.
I adore small children, but really do prefer the company of teenagers.
I hate people who get all self-righteous on a cause, and think their point of view is superior to others, and therefore right. Nothing will turn me off faster!
I love dimples.
I'd rather live in a second or third world country near the equator, than any civilized place in the US.
I want to join the Peace Corps.
I'm going to write another novel. And then once I sell it, I really am going to join the Peace Corps.
I love going to movies and reading books, just to see how someone else would describe or portray a situation.
I love huge sporting events.
I love live music- even for styles of music that I don't normally listen to.
I have an incredibly active imagination. And I love it.
I prefer sunny locales.
I don't just like camping. I LOVE camping.
I love sunrises, but not enough to try and see them more often!
I can spend hours staring at the stars. I once stayed up all night trying to count the stars.
I don't just like cheese. I LOVE cheese. No matter how tight my funds are I spend a little something on fancy cheese. (This week I'm trying Spanish Drunken Goat. I like it!)
I don't have a very good sense of smell and I'm okay with that.
I really don't care for swimming.
I have been boy crazy since I was 10 years old.
The longest I have gone without a crush on a male since I was 10 years old is about 6 months (and counting).
I really like meeting new people.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The best is yet to come

Lately my life has been one big struggle with finding happiness in my current state of affairs. As has been mentioned ad nauseum around here, I am not living anything close to the life I would like to be living. I struggle to call my new situation "home." I have little control over being able to get the things that I want. I feel lost and alone, while simultaneously feeling like I live in a fish bowl. It is an interesting contradiction in feelings.
I try to choose to be happy. I choose to serve others. I choose to find one thing in each day, no matter how small or inconsequential, to be happy about. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it just reminds me of how hard it is to find something to be happy about.
So off I went today to see "Eat, Pray, Love." I have not yet read the book. And this is not intended to be a book or movie review. But I did have the sneaky suspicion that I would identify well with the main character, and that I did. Believe me, if I had the money I'd be off finding myself in the far reaches of the world. Or I'd be living in a beach house with just me, a sundress, and a laptop- and my dog! (Can't leave Kaya behind!) But those are just pipe dreams, and instead I am staying in my grandmother's house, often just living from day to day.
But the movie struck a chord with me. Forgive me for most likely quoting it wrong. But as the main character goes to India in search of peace and God, she learns and says, "God is in you, as you." And I couldn't help but think, how that is truly one of the greatest gifts we can accept and believe. It is a key to finding happiness! To understand and accept that you are one of God's greatest tools, and that He is with you, that alone should bring you happiness. More importantly, accepting and believing that that is all you need to know to be happy is an even greater gift and ability.
Which brings me back to me. As I have openly discussed on here, I have struggled for the past several months with "the point" of things. Is there any point to dating? Is there any point in getting married at this age? Do I even want to try anymore? Do I even care?
Again, the movie resonated with me. There she is trying to find herself, trying to be happy alone. And she's succeeding, but everywhere she turns someone is telling her she needs a man to be happy. Trust me, there's few things more frustrating!
But the answer I was looking for did not come from the movie. It came from my little cousin a few hours later.
I am cousin #2, she is cousin #32. We are also conveniently 30 years apart in age. That hasn't stopped us from being great friends. Tonight I had dinner at her house. She pulled me over to the little kids' table and wanted me to sit with her as we ate cookies and ice cream. She reached over and held my hand and said, "Dessert is better when you sit next to me, Erin Ann!" I didn't even mind how hard it was to eat my dessert one handed after that.
A short bit later we were watching a video, and a beautiful image of the Earth being held in the Creator's hands came on the screen. My cousin had snuck through the dark room to come snuggle in my lap. She was all squirmy and trying to be silly until that image showed up. She turned and whispered in my ear, "Heavenly Father made that for us. Isn't it nice?"
She then turned around, put her head on my chest, and fell asleep (for about 2 minutes, but it was cute while it lasted).
And just like that I knew what I wanted. More on that later.

Monday, September 06, 2010

31 Days of Charity and Service

Friends, I'd like to invite you to join me for 31 Days of Charity and Service in October.
During the month of October I will be doing one act of service or charity each day. I've given myself a few rules, such as donating $5 to a homeless person counts, as does feeding my sister's lizard. But I'm hoping to do more than that. I'm hoping to find a different way every day for 31 days to serve other people.
And I'd like to ask you to help me. Will you pick a day and perform an act of charity on my behalf? You won't have to blog about it, unless you want to. (And I'd love it if you did.) Just pick a day in October, and perform an act of charity or service in whatever way you wish. I'll be adding a toolbar along the side of my blog for the next few months so that you can see who is doing what which days.
Please, if you are interested in helping me, let me know!
Wouldn't it be amazing if we could get 31 acts of charity and service??

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Best Conversation of the Day

While visiting my grandmother at the nursing home...
Me: Well, Grammy, I better get going. I need to go feed [my sister] Stephanie's bearded dragon and go buy some groceries.
Grammy: Ok, thanks for coming.
(I hug her. Then take a minute to straighten up her room and turn to leave.)
Grammy (her voice full of alarm): Wait! What's Stephanie doing with a dragon?!

Friday, September 03, 2010


Mindy Gledhill's new single "Anchor"

Home- the place where you belong. A place that is familiar and comfortable. The place where your shoes have a spot, and you know where your favorite sweatshirt is hiding. A place that you love and you fit in.

It hit me hard this morning as I was packing to leave my cousin's house at the beach that I don't have a "home." I have a place where I am grateful to be staying. But it isn't my home. My belongings are in boxes in storage in another state, some of my belongings are packed in the back of a non-working truck (for safekeeping, believe it or not), some are in the basement of a house, and very little of them are with me. The only things with me are my clothes that are kept in big Tupperware bins. They are not unpacked and hanging in closets. Why? Because it is someone else's home, and my stuff doesn't belong there.
I am grateful for the place where I am staying. It is truly kind and generous of others to allow me to stay there. But it isn't home. I doubt it will be for a very long time.
I miss belonging. I miss knowing where to put my shoes. I miss seeing my books on the shelves and knowing where the dishes go.
So why did I pick the song, "Anchor" today? And not maybe something more painful and obvious like Michael Buble's, "Home?" Because as much as I love my Buble Wuble, and that song, it is sad. Whereas, "Anchor," Mindy Gledhill's awesome new single, is what I want. It is optimistic and describes what I am looking for- I just haven't found it yet (which ironically is another Michael Buble song)!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I Feel Lucky!

Talk about a week full of highs and lows. It started with a lot of high hopes, followed by some huge disappointments, with plenty of frustrations and broken dreams in the middle. An emotional roller coaster to put it mildly. With every high and low, lecture and compliment, comes a large dose of self-doubt and questioning. Am I going the right direction? Will I ever have any control over my future again? How much longer do I have to wait till I have some answers? Have I learned from this trial? And my favorites- why me? And sometimes- why not me?!

Amidst these questions and peaks and valleys I gladly left town to go visit my cousin at the beach this week. If I was going to be forced into a holding pattern, waiting for answers to questions I never wanted to ask, I may as well do it on a beach, and not sitting alone in a big house in Roanoke, right?

Of course, there was also this minor inconvenience called Hurricane Earl heading our way as well. This isn't the first time a hurricane has threatened to interrupt one of my vacations, and I wasn't going to let it stop me. I'm glad I made the trip in spite of the pending storm. I've had a lot of time to sit and think on the beach. I have re-discovered that I need water- preferably large lakes and oceans- to feel creative. There is something about waves and endless expanses of ocean that help relax the mind and allows a new perspective. Which is something I have desperately needed as I endure this season of life. I feel lucky and blessed to be able to realign my perspectives and expectations, to be able to allow myself to achieve happiness.

Tonight I write this as we are getting word that what was once a Cat 4 hurricane, threatening to destroy this town, is now a Cat 2, and will miss us by several hundred miles. In fact, we're hearing now that it may not even rain here! I've enjoyed some beautiful weather and scenery these last 2 days. I even got to rescue a baby stingray that washed ashore! Lesson learned- risk it! Don't be afraid to try and go for more! The threats can be real, but sometimes the storm will pass you right by.

And so I give you one of the first ever country music songs I fell in love with- "I Feel Lucky" by Mary Chapin Carpenter (who happens to also share my hometown!). Its a fun song for a hurricane, and it also describes how I'm feeling about things tonight.

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