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twenty-eight years

Last weekend I celebrated 28 years of life.

The husband worked so hard all week to put together the best birthday party ever.  It was themed. And there were drinks.  And an incredible spread of food.

And of course….the best cupcakes in town.

There was homemade lemonade and non-alcoholic sangria.

And best of all?  All the people I love most in the world.


And when everyone was full of tacos and salsa, we played games.

Of course there were gifts (which were perfect), despite the “don’t bring gifts, just a good time” printed at the bottom of the invitation.

One of my favorite students, Blue, and favorite co-workers, Shelly, stopped by to visit.

Earlier in the day, Blue cooked an amazing spread of Arabic food for my family to enjoy.  He made everything from some potato pastries (that’s what I call them anyway:) to kabobs, to fruit salad, pudding and cake.  It really was incredible.  International students are awesome.

Falling three days after my actual birthday, it was such a perfect way to celebrate a whole new year of life.

Last year at this time, I made a list of 27 things that I wanted to accomplish in my 27th year.  Some of them I did succeed at, and some of them I didn’t.  This year of life showed me that sometimes our best thought out plans are not quite as great as we imagine them to be.

So, it turns out that I didn’t quite get 20 books read, didn’t get our car paid off, have yet to open up a CSM t-shirt shop and definitely wrote a lot less.

But, here are the unexpected things I did do: started trying to have a baby and instead began my battle with infertility, had surgery for said infertility, became a certified yoga instructor, tutored the sweetest students in the world, said goodbye to our sweet little house and our college town, lived with my mom and step-dad for four months, moved to Oklahoma City, supported the husband in accepting a new job, built a house, started a new job, became an aunt for the first time, quit the new job and then started another new job (more on this to come!).

Needless to say, aside from our year spent living in Thailand, this has definitely been our craziest year yet.  And even though we’ve faced some of the most trying challenges of our lives, we have grown so much.  Number one on my list was “fall more in love with my Savior.”  I have to be honest and say that for while the opposite was happening.  At times my anger and confusion over infertility gave way to questioning and stepping away from God like a small, defiant child.

And while I still have many questions, and I still don’t understand everything I want to understand about God, I’ve come to one conclusion.  And that is despite whatever happens in life – whether good or bad – He is there.

For the entire first 26 years of my life, I took what I’d been told about God and I counted it as absolute truth.  I never questioned it.  I never really thought much about it on my own.  And for the first time this year, I’ve questioned God.  I’ve doubted Him.  And while I wish I could say that my faith has been perfect, I have deepened my relationship with Him far beyond what I imagined before.  I’ve come to the realization that I would much rather question Him, than never be challenged enough or think deeply about Him at all.

I can not even begin to imagine what this next year will hold for me.  My prayer is that our family of two will become a family of three.  We will be able to continue pursuing our dream of launching our own business. I’ll be able to love my job.  And we’ll continue building and deepening relationships.  But I’m holding onto those things very loosely, with an open fist, keeping in mind that He is in control.  And remembering to not count too much on the plans that I lay out for myself.

Here’s to another year.

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some fun news

So it has been pretty interesting living with my mom and step-dad so far.  Two sets of adults sharing a house who are used to having all their own space is expected to be quite interesting I suppose.  Truly, though it has been fine, at least on our end…Clark?

Thankfully, they worked really hard before we got here to set up the house to where we’d have as much of our own space as possible.  We have the whole back bedroom to ourselves (thankfully we aren’t sharing that, ha:), a bathroom, and the front bedroom has been turned into our very own office.   Really the only thing we have to share is the kitchen…which is funny because it’s not only the place where I make the most messes, but also the place where my mom is most particular (it’s true mom – you know it).  And btw, there’s nothing wrong with being particular.  Better that than not caring, eh?

Anyway.  So I’ve tried to be really careful, cleaning up after myself and the husband and trying to make sure I do my part.  This afternoon, I went in there to make some lunch, finally deciding on some Amy’s black bean soup and an apple.

First, I tried to clean some items in the sink, only to find that the sink was not draining.  What the heck?  Seeing as how the other day the bathtub stopped draining, I’m thinking the husband and I must have put some kind of curse on the drains in this house.  It is almost brand new after all.

Anyway, so I finally gave up and decided to heat up my soup – I put it in the microwave, covered it with a paper towel, pressed start and stepped out into the garage for a second.  When I came back I realized my paper towel had fallen off and soup had exploded all over the microwave.  Crap.  So, I start cleaning it all up and just when I almost had ever last spot off, I realized that I had laid the dish towel down right in the middle of my soup.

I’m a walking disaster.  Fortunately I did get everything cleaned up eventually, and I got kind of tickled about it because I had made such a big mess…and it just kept getting worse.

Moving on.

I have a little secret to reveal that I’m pretty excited about.

Well, a secret and a confession really.

My confession is that I’ve been keeping a secret, and my secret is that I’m training for another half marathon!

Relax people.  Stay in your seats.

I’ve actually only run one half marathon ever, which was in Phuket, Thailand in 2008.

The following year we ran the full marathon in Oklahoma City!

While I’m so excited about the race, I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid. Some of you may remember last fall when I announced that the husband and I would be running a full marathon.  Then a couple weeks later I announced that we were dropping to the half.  Then a couple weeks after that I admitted total defeat when I declared that we would not be running any part of the race afterall.

I just didn’t want the same thing to happen this time, and I wanted to get through the move/change in routine before I made it public.  But now I’m ready. I’ve decided I’m not going to let anything stop me from running this race – I’ve been enjoying my runs so much!  I’m currently on week 5 of my 12 week plan, and this past weekend was the five mile long run.

My current schedule for this week is:

Monday: yoga/PiYo – I went with PiYo this morning and it kicked my butt
Tuesday: 3.5 mile run
Wednesday: 2 mile run or cross train – TBD
Thursday: 3.5 mile run
Friday: rest
Saturday: cross train – TBD
Sunday: 5 miles again

There is truly few things that feel as good as the accomplishment of training for and running a race.  In my experience the training is as much or more challenging and rewarding than the race itself.  But crossing that finish line feels pretty good too.

What goal (s) are you excited about accomplishing in the coming months?

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goals for twenty eleven

So, I’m finally ready to talk goals, friends.

I realize that I’m coming in a little late on the 2011 goals discussion.  But I like to think of it as fashionably late.

It’s no fluke that I’ve waited until a week into the first month of the year for this.  The end of December is just so busy that I didn’t even start contemplating goals until the 1st.  And then I needed some time to really think about what kind of goals I want to make this year.

You see there are many strategies out there when it comes to goal setting.  Some people take the route of picking the same number of goals as the current year.  For instance, this year they would choose 11 goals to focus on throughout 2011.  Other people decided on a magic number, say…..3 for instance.  Lucky number 3.  And then I’ve heard of others who decided to fore-go goals altogether and choose a single word to represent their ambitions for the new year.

My goals sort of encompass multiple strategies.

I’m a simple girl, but when it comes to goals I get a little crazy.

For those of you who have been reading CSM for awhile, you may remember last August when I decided on 27 things that I wanted to accomplish in my 27th year of life.  Some of these things I’ve already accomplished – get certified to teach yoga, learn how to make great tofu, drink more fresh juice – and some of them I’m still working on – run another marathon, open up a CSM t-shirt shop.  Considering I am still working on at least half of this list, I decided that I probably have enough definitive goals in the works right now.  Oh sure, along the way I’m certain to set new goals, but as far as a specific goal list, I don’t think I can handle many more!

Even though I’m sticking to my existing list of goals for the most part, I really love the idea of choosing a word for the year.  It’s a great idea because this word can encompass every goal I have as well as every goal I might make as the year goes on.  It’s sort of like a mantra…an idea I can come back to day after day that will inspire and encourage me to grow in an area of character.  And isn’t that where it all starts?

So, I’ve been thinking through this for the past week, and honestly I’ve been pretty stumped. I’ve come up with several words that would be okay, but none that just seemed to fit.  Until yesterday.

I was standing in the bathroom blow drying my hair.  And as usual when I’m blow drying my hair I was thinking through a lot of things going on right now.  Things that Satan is trying to use to drag me down and cause me anxiety.  Things I’ve been dealing with for weeks/months now.  Things that make it hard to stay positive each day.  You get the idea.

And suddenly it all just seemed like too much.  I couldn’t keep it in for another moment.  I clicked off the dryer, placing it on the bathroom counter.  And I headed for the spot I always head to when I’m feeling like the world has just become too tough.  Laying down on our bed, I pulled Olive’s furry little body up next to me, and I began to pray. And with the first words that came out of my mouth I instantly knew what my word would be:

“Father, I’m really struggling with all of these issues going on right now…please just give me peace in my heart and let it spread throughout my whole body, from my fingertips all the way to my toes.  The peace that only comes from You.”


No matter who we are, where we live, how much money we have, whether we’re married or single, have children or don’t have children…there will be trials in our life.  It’s a non-negotiable.  So the questions is not  “will I  I face challenges, sadness or conflict this year?”  The question is “how will I react when I face these things?”  Will I shut off?  Will I yell and scream and place blame on myself or others?

Or will I turn to the Lord, who is the only one who can and will provide peace in my life?  Will I remain calm in my heart and continue to press on in my daily life?

I want to grow to become a woman who finds peace in all situations, be it the last 2 excruciating miles of a marathon, fear of life circumstances beyond my control or frustration over falling to the mat after just 1/2 of a tricep push-up.

So these are my goals for 2011.  I believe my life will be just as or more full than it was during 2010.  And my biggest hope and prayer is that I become a better person.  A better wife, friend, daughter, sister, granddaughter and child of God. And that I learn to be more thankful for the life that He has given me as I accomplish each and every goal.

Also, as a way to help enforce my word of the year, I’ll be posting a quote of some sort or scripture each day for the next month (today through February 6th) that relates to peace.  My goal is to memorize as many of them as I can (hopefully every one) so when I need a little inspiration or reminder I’ll have something to focus on.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

- John 14:27

On a lighter note – one other goal I’ve decided on recently (possibly during that same hair drying escapade:) is that I think I’m going to grow out my hair!  What do you guys think?  You probably don’t know that I cut my hair to this length only a year and a half ago.  Before then I was always changing it – the color, the cut, the style – I was a hair chameleon.  But when you really take the plunge and go this short, there really isn’t anything else you can do until you take on the challenge of growing it out.  I still like my short hair, but I’m just ready for a change.

Here are some past pictures to give you a frame of reference – they’re kind of random.

I also wear it pulled back like this a lot when it’s long

and some short pics


So I need your opinions – stay short or grow it out? You won’t hurt my feelings either way…promise.

I’d also love to hear one goal that you have for the new year.  I know you may be sick of talking about goals by now, but I’m just getting started…so humor me:)

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keepin’ it real-what does “healthy” mean?

So there has been something on my heart lately that I have been wanting to share with you all, and I think today is the day!

I get a lot of questions about my lifestyle, and the most common are usually something along the lines of “how do you eat so healthy,” “isn’t it hard to be vegetarian,” or the statement “I could never be vegetarian/as healthy as you are, I just can’t give up X.”

Let me begin by saying that I started this blog for a number of reasons.

1.   I love to write
2.  I love food and healthy living
3.  I love to write about food and healthy living:)
4.  I dream of helping people to realize their potential for health and happiness

Now, the trick is to define what “health and happiness” means.

Guess what?  It’s different for every single person!

I think the key to finding what health and happiness means to you is finding a balance.

For me, being vegetarianism is my way of making a difference for myself, animals and the environment.

  • By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year from the miseries of factory farms
  • Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.
  • The meat industry is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, such as land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution

[source]

Veganism is a way to amplify that by cutting even more animal products out of my diet.  I try to eat vegan about 60-70% of the time.

However, this post is NOT about getting you to become vegan vegetarian.  You DO NOT have to become a vegan or a vegetarian to be healthy.  You also don’t have to eat healthy all the time to be healthy.  Healthy is all about balance.

I eat healthy foods the majority of the time…but I also eat fried mushrooms, pizza and ice cream occasionally.  And I try not to get bent out of shape when I do indulge in these foods.

Think of it like this: every single thing you do, even down to the tiniest choice you make, makes a difference!  Isn’t that exciting?

There is no distinct line distinguishing how much really makes a difference.  We are human and therefore we are not perfect.  We weren’t even created to be perfect.  We each have to find what works for us.  What can you do, personally, to be healthy and happy?

Being vegetarian makes me happy.  But it doesn’t make me healthy.  Eating real food most of the time is what makes me healthy. Keeping chemicals and diet food out of my body most of the time makes me healthy.

It is not a black and white, all or nothing issue.  It is a be proud of every choice you make that contributes to your health and the health of the environment and let the rest go issue.

Food was made to be enjoyed, not to feel guilty or stressed over.  Each of us has our own theory of how we can enjoy food while still being kind to our bodies and our earth.  Remember, it is these differences that make us unique and exciting.

One thing that makes me happy is to eat all different kinds of foods.  I love to try new health foods, such as Amazing Grass, tempeh, chia seeds etc.  But you don’t have to eat those things to be healthy.  I don’t ever want to give off that impression on this blog.  I eat these foods because it’s fun to be to mix it up and try new things.  But, you may find me eating chia seeds one minute and a peanut butter sandwich the next. And someday in the future, I may have a much harder time having the time or money to indulge in these kinds of foods, but I’ll never stop focusing on filling my body with foods that are grown from the earth, such as fresh fruits and veggies!

The overall point is that there is absolutely no way any one of us is going to make the best decision all of the time.  If you do, please tell me your secret!

Let’s just work on making the best decision sometimes, the better decision most of the time, and not stress about the rest!

Are ya with me??

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27 things

And now for a special 27th birthday edition of…

27 Things I want to happen during my 27th year

1.  fall more deeply in love with my Savior
2.  come to know and love my husband on a deeper level
3.  spend more time with my family whether by phone call or visit
4.  become more patient
5.  run another marathon
6.  let go of guilt
7.  get certified as a yoga instructor
8.  write more
9.  read 20 books (the 6 I’ve already started totally count!)
10. learn to be happy without being perfect
11.  travel (don’t care where!)
12. give up diet coke for good (this is a whole ‘nother post in itself)
13. be consistent in taking my vitamins
14.  perfect the tricep push-up
15.  get better at remembering people’s  birthdays
16.  recycle more
17.  perfect my homemade salsa recipe!
18. drink more juice
19. switch to natural/organic personal care products
20. learn how to make good tofu
21.  pay off our car
22. open my own t-shirt shop on csm
23. buy Jon an ipad
24. stress less
25. improve my photog skills
26. clean out and organize our guest room
27. keep bloggin’ my little heart away:)

When Jon asked what I wanted to do tonight, I said I really wanted to just be home and not work.  Those were my two stipulations.  So, we’re planning on staying in and getting some serious cuddle time:)

I’m attempting to store up husband time, so I don’t go into withdrawals while I’m out of town this weekend!  I hate being away from the husband!  I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve spent the night away from each other in our four years of marriage…and that’s the way I like it; however, sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.  I tried to con him into coming along for the HLS ride, but he declined.  Something about $300+ plane flights and a day job.  I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m off to bed.  I’ve got an early coffee date in the city with a good friend of mine, so I gotta get some shut eye.

G’night!

Now tell me one goal that you have for this next year or one goal you’ve accomplished in the past year!

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