Obligatory Thankful Post No. 007

You guys, you know how every year in November I get all crazy about the too-early Christmas music? Well, I’m not sure if it’s the fact that Colorado weather just now turned cold or what, but this year the timing seemed juuuust right. (Do you see how I’m channeling Goldilocks right now?) And it sure didn’t hurt that Pentatonix came out with a new Christmas album to bring the holidays in with brilliant aca-music. #justsaying

I am constantly thankful for the blessings that occur in my every day life…a God that isn’t finished with me yet; my family for whom I have a depth of love that transcends words; friends of all types, far and near that I have the privilege of knowing; a job that I love; a roof over my head (that I now own! #adultinghardcore); a car that is steady and gets me through Colorado winters; not to mention all the luxuries I take for granted far too often.

However, this year I thought I’d use this time to call out some more…shall we say…trivial things that I’m thankful for. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. halotopI’m thankful for snacks that keep me sane. As I mentioned in my last post, I started a healthy eating journey this year. In my head I wondered if at the end of it all I would be that girl that would order a kale salad for lunch BY CHOICE and ACTUALLY ENJOY IT. Turns out, that didn’t happen. But what I learned in sticking with the program is that the success for me was dependent on two things (1) making a meal on the weekend that I could eat for dinners during the week and (2) finding snacks that didn’t taste like sawdust. If you’re looking for a list then, well, you know me well. Here are a few of my favorite finds:
    • Strawberry Kashi Breakfast Bars. Low sugar, high in fiber, and they tastes DELICIOUS. Plus, I really needed something that I could stick in my purse to have on-hand when everyone is eating cake in the break room.
    • Ritz Toasted Chips + Special K Cracker Chips. For when you need a salty snack, but don’t want to eat a meal’s worth of calories. The hardest thing here is to stop eating them at the serving size. Trust me on this.
    • Halo Top Ice Cream. Lord bless the genius that came up with this stuff. I’m serious. It’s like a modern day manna from heaven. So far, my favorite flavors are Birthday Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Vanilla, and Mocha Chip.
    • Corn GoodThins. Actually, all the GoodThins are pretty great. But the corn ones taste like Fritos and come in handy when you need a tortilla chip substitute.
  2. cupcake-scoopsI’m thankful for kitchen tools that make me happy to be alive. Baking is the best. And this year, I discovered a handy little object that makes baking muffins and cupcakes a breeze. The Tovolo Cupcake Scoop came into my life as a $8.89 impulse purchase, but it’s more than earned its spot in my very crammed cooking tool drawer. How do I love it? Let me count the ways. First, it’s under $10. Second, it makes uniform cupcakes and muffins. Third, it renders my former nickname “Batter Hands” obsolete. Need I say more?
  3. wwwI’m thankful for podcasts. PODCASTS ARE EVERYTHING! PODCASTS FOR PRESIDENT! PODCASTS FOREVER! So, I discovered podcasts this year mostly because I learned that two guys were starting up a podcast called “The West Wing Weekly”. If there’s anything I love more than (or maybe just as much as) Gilmore Girls, it’s The West Wing. While I have to roll my eyes at the liberal hosts’ opinions on some things, it’s basically one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me. I catch myself full-on grinning while I listen and then I have to rub out my cheek muscles so they don’t cramp (#firstworldproblems). I also love the “What Should I Read Next” podcast where host has guests on that are looking for their next read and asks them to tell her (1) three books they loved (2) one book they hated (3) what they’re reading now and (4) what they want to be different in their reading life. Recently, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I started listening to the “Pass the Mic” podcast which is giving me a new perspective on racial injustice in our culture…and in our churches. I like that podcasts can be a way to get more information, entertainment, or broaden the scope of my understanding with just a push of a button!
  4. I’m thankful for Voxer. What is Voxer, you ask? I often describe it like this: if text message and voicemail had a baby, it would be Voxer. Basically, it’s like a long distance phone conversation with a friend that you don’t have to schedule. You send a recording of you talking about whatever to your friend and they can respond when they have the time. It’s been such a great way to keep in touch with some of my friends that don’t live near me…and when I was going through some serious processing earlier this year, these conversations really helped me think things through.
  5. I’m thankful Lip Sync Battles. You guys, have you even SEEN the Melissa McCarthy/Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle? It’s absolutely in my top 5. The others, in case you’re wondering, would be #1: Anna Kendrick/John Krasinski; #2: Joseph Gordon Levitt/Stephen Merchant/Jimmy Fallon; #3: Emma Stone/Jimmy Fallon; and #4: Ellen DeGeneres/Jimmy Fallon.*
  6. I’m thankful for hand lotion that keeps my hands from cracking right off the face of the planet. Living in Colorado is basically like living on the face of the sun. If you aren’t careful, your skin will be as rough as sandpaper in a handyman’s garage. I think everyone kind of has their go-to lotion to battle the dryness-to-end-all-dryness here, especially during the winter. Mine is L’Occitane 20% Shea Butter Hand Cream. Now, I’m not going to sugar coat this – the lotion is expensive. But I find that if I apply it to my hands every night before I go to bed, it keeps the little dryness gremlins at bay. And I really only have to purchase it once a year. In my mind? Quality over quantity, baby. (And yes, I just called you baby. Deal with it.)

If you’re just now coming to because you feel that I’m long-winded and should have gotten to the point sooner, here’s the bottom line: I’m thankful for #allthethings. For realz, people.

XO,

Amy

*I do not condone all the language in the music choices…just for the record. 

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The Journey So Far…

Hi everyone!

So, November happened. And I was so ensconced in October that I totally missed it, marking my first failure to start and maintain my blog-post-a-day schedule in November (NaBloPoMo) since 2010. And a lonely tear drifted down my cheek.

I didn’t mean to flake out on this November journey of ours. In fact, NaBloPoMo really makes “blogger” a term that kinda loosely describes me (I can see all those super-disciplined and big name bloggers rolling their eyes at me and I really can’t defend myself). But this year has been a big one for me, so I hope you can understand why this slipped my mind.

Where to start? ALL THE THINGS.

  1. I started (and have kept) my New Year’s resolution to maintain healthier eating habits. And it’s been eye-opening! Turns out that just because a company puts “healthy” on the label, doesn’t mean it’s ACTUALLY good for you. And – I learned this the hard way – not all yogurt is created equal. I decided to use the Weight Watcher system and you know what? Sticking to the plan hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be! Now, I’m still pretty scared of cooking chicken and killing myself with salmonella. But I’ve made strides in other areas…promise! #halotop
  2. ciI left one job and started a new one. I made the difficult decision to leave my job in publishing, which I never thought I’d do.  I still love and respect people who I worked with at my previous company and miss several aspects of that job itself. However, I realized that particular environment when mixed with my personality (and weaknesses) ended up not being the healthiest place for me. That’s perhaps an overly simplified version of what happened, but that’s it in a nutshell (Help! I’m in a  nutshell!). So, I took a job as a Segment Manager at Compassion International. That’s right, I am now in charge of managing oranges. (Segments…get it??) JUST KIDDING! My new position is technically a marketing position, but mostly in serving the folks at Compassion that interact with donors. To be clear, I’m not the one that makes it rain, but I have finally learned where they keep the paper clips, so that’s progress right? Being on this new path took some getting used to, but I’m really grateful to be where I am. And honestly, I’m super eager to learn what the Lord has for me in this new phase of my life and existence.
  3. I went on a blind date. Some dear friends set me up on a blind date with a friend of theirs. You guys, it was such a good experience for me! I wore eye shadow and everything. After four dates, we realized there wasn’t any future in the relationship and amicably parted ways. I got to know someone who I wouldn’t have normally met and it was really a big boost of confidence to know that my friends thought me worthy of their friend. 🙂 Now, at the same time, I was: considering leaving my job, interviewing at Compassion, and being asked by my landlords to consider moving out of my town home once my lease was up in August. So, I kind of wish all of that wasn’t going down at the same time. Let’s face it, my head was an over-analyzing mess because…well…I’m me. Overall, though, I’m glad to have had the adventure.
  4. I bought a house. My landlords were always really clear that they didn’t want to be landlords forever. So, when a friend of theirs was interested in buying my place it looked like I was going to have to move out. When that situation fell through, I knew it was the right time for me to be a grown-up and finally put down some roots. I had conversations with lots of wise friends, gathered my life as it exists in financial paperwork, did more math than I was comfortable with, and memorized the hold music at the IRS. And here I am! A home-owner. I’ve already been to two HOA meetings and can I just say that I think it’s wise that they make people purchase their home first before interacting with the HOA in any meaningful way. Because…people be crazy. My mantra every time I had to sign a super-intimidating piece of paper? “Amy, remember: You like this place. You want to live there. Remember the cross breeze? The great insulation that keeps you from hearing your neighbors? The location right next to Starbucks and down the street from Target? You can do this.”
  5. I became a book reviewer. When I left publishing, I found that I really missed being a part of the book world. So, I reached out to Book Reporter and they looked at my writing samples and took me on! The site is mainstream, but if you like that kind of reading and want to read any of my reviews, the links are below:

    The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

    The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    Paris for One by JoJo Moyes

  6. I went to hear a 3rd-party presidential candidate speak. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, I’ll say this: on a personal level, I walked out of this election cycle more informed and prepared to vote than I ever have before. I engaged enough to know what I wanted my vote to count for and how I could cast it and sleep at night (a personal decision for every single person in our country with many justifiable outcomes). I educated myself on local ballot measures. I tuned in to the debates. I welcomed the levity that Jimmy Fallon and SNL brought to the proceedings. At the end of the day, there’s something deeply satisfying in knowing that I performed my part in being a citizen of this country. That I thoughtfully took part in this zoo of a process. Without taking a stance for any particular party, I think a few things are pretty clear: (1) the media has been a bit irresponsible with its awesome duty of reporting the news without bias (2) at an individual level it’s our job to denounce hate and choose love, always, no matter who is in power (3) sometimes, stepping away from social media is a good thing.

    As politics so often does, this whole season reminded me of a quote from the incomparable Aaron Sorkin.

    America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”. – The American President

  7. loveI took more steps on this faith journey of mine. This, also, is complicated for me. This year I’ve wrestled a lot through things I used to have a pat answer for. What does Christian community look like when the church “formula” doesn’t quite work out? How can I shed some of my legalistic baggage yet still lean in to faith? How do I inform a lens of discernment that filters out well-meaning but often-wrong Christian rhetoric? What can I do to have a spirit of love and care for believers that would be easier to judge? How can I rip Christianese from my lips and instead be authentic and grounded? How can I have a relationship of love and care with those that disagree with me, have taken a different path from me, or might judge my choices in life? The answers are out there. I believe they are. But as I mull these issues around in my head, desperately cry out to God in prayer, and talk about all of the above with trusted friends – I’ll be honest – it’s kind of scary. In an exciting way, I suppose. It depends on which day you ask me. 🙂
  8. ggNETFLIX ANNOUNCED A GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL! And I immediately had to take a deep breath because, it turns out, I’m friends with FAR too many #TeamJess and #TeamLuke advocates. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED.

    I have cautious optimism after watching the trailer for these new episodes. Sometimes I feel that a story suffers when a show comes back for “the fans” instead of being pursued for the story itself. But I hope I can trust Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing and Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel’s acting chops. If you need me on Black Friday, I’ll be scrolling through Amazon deals and watching my dear friends take the stage again. Realizing, of course, that they are FICTIONAL friends. FICTIONAL. But they’ve gotten me through some rough times, so the love is real. Even if the posters do make me feel awkward. #deadeyes

Other highlights include: discovering Fixer Upper and visiting Magnolia Farms with my Mom, experiencing Newsies on stage with my friend Jessica, and meeting two families new little ones that are brand new to the world. But you’ve stuck with me for 1580-some-odd words. So I should be done now.

More posts coming! Just not one every day.

XO,

Amy