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Be All There

When it comes to being in the moment, I’m the worst. I find myself zoning out, not listening to what those around me are saying, completely out of the conversation. I blame a lot of this on my tendency to worry, giving into the voice that tells me everything is crashing down.

Now, the Bible is EXTREMELY clear that we are not to worry, that our needs will be taken care of. Read that carefully, our NEEDS. Not our wants. Not our wishes. Our needs.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13

I tend to zone out, not because I find what people are saying boring, but because something has triggered anxiety. I zone out because my mind is racing, searching for solutions to problems that most likely don’t exist, or aren’t worth worrying about even if they do.

People like me, we always think of tomorrow, next week, next year, when we’re 74. As a twenty-something with my first adult job and a room upstairs at my parents’ house, I am oftentimes consumed with the thoughts of a future house, family, mortgages, insurance, and all of the things that my parents make look so easy. I can barely afford to feed myself right now. But, that’s okay. I’m new, young, and have little experience other than what I am gaining now. I am not supposed to have my entire life figured out. However, in my ever-freaked out mind, I want to know. I want to know how it is all going to work out, how I will pay for everything, that everything is going to be okay and I can give my future family the life I was given so generously by my parents.

Sure, planning is good. Knowing about mortgages and 401K plans is good. But not when it keeps you from living today. I don’t know what is going to happen next week. I don’t know where I will be next year. But those things will come to pass when it is time, when God sees fit. For now, I will set myself up in the best possible situation and be ready. I will enjoy today, because today only happens once. It’s cliché to say “tomorrow never comes,” but the harsh reality is that it’s true. I can spend all day worrying about next week, and next week, I will find new things to worry about. The cycle never ends, and before you know it, it pulls you down to a place where today doesn’t exist and all you have is the worry of tomorrow.

Be present. Be here. Have your mind on today. Do what you can do to better yourself today.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” – Hebrews 13:1

Again, not our wants. Not our wishes. Those things aren’t worth the worry. But our needs, our most basic needs of survival, our eternity, our life after this, those are all taken care of.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:25-26

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5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

To be short and sweet: I hate winter. I mean HATE. Abhor. Despise. It’s cold, dark, and gloomy. Not to mention in Memphis, it almost never snows. Where’s the fun in that?!

If you’re like me, you work the average 9-5 and never see the sun during the winter months. This can cause some major mood swings and laziness. After 24 years of being a winter-hater, I’ve compiled a short list of things I do to beat the seasonal blues.

  1. Books, books, books. During a season where you can’t exactly go outside for a bike ride after work, I stockpile some good books and snuggle up with hot chocolate or head to a local coffee shop to read. What better way to escape the cold than to let your mind drift into another world?
  2. Get some exercise in. No excuses. Even though it’s dark when I get off work, I keep a packed gym bag in my car that is ready to go for Pure Barre or ATC. If I have it with me, I’m less likely to make an excuse not to go. There’s no sense in loafing around the house 24/7, so why not use 30 minutes or an hour of your down time to better yourself? Your summer body will thank you.
  3. Leggings. Now this one is a no brainer, but one of my LEAST favorite things about winter are the clothes you have to wear to stay comfortable. During the spring and summer, I wear a lot of dresses to work. Not because they are cute, but because I really don’t like wearing pants. Luckily, leggings have come a LONG way over the years, and Macy’s Style & Co brand has leggings for work and play. I wear them almost every single day because they are so warm and comfy.
  4. Plan your summer vacation. I dream of beaches and palm trees all year long. Having something warm and tropical to look forward to (even if it’s just a “maybe” trip), helps me relax during the winter… and keep my mind somewhere warmer.
  5. Get outside. Wear a parka, wear a ski mask, do what you have to do but just get outside. It may be cold, but isn’t there something slightly refreshing about the crisp air? Okay, no not really, but we can pretend… But either way, get some fresh air. Get some sunshine. And spend just a few minutes outside, even if you’re miserable while out there, I promise you will feel better later.

In reality, I don’t know if there is a fix for the winter blues or seasonal depression (and it certainly doesn’t help when you’re one of us anxiety-riddend humans on a normal day). But, what I do know, is that giving in to it isn’t an option. Be active, eat well, find things you love to do and do them. Make conscious choices every day that help better your mood. Before you know it, our beloved summer will be back!

 

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3 Books You HAVE to Read this Fall

I have been in such a reading mood lately, I swear I’m going through at least a book a week and I’ve practically lived inside of Barnes and Noble (surviving solely on artichoke chicken flatbreads from the Starbuck Café inside). Through my adventures, I have found some GREAT books and some complete time wasters. Here, my friends, are three that you just have to read.

  1. Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris. This was a psychological thriller so intense that I had to put it down and step away from it a few times. It’s about a married couple, Jack and Grace, that seems to have the perfect life, but the husband is actually a psychopath. The plot skips back and forth between the past and the present, making it easy to be manipulated, much like Grace, into having kind feelings towards Jack when he seems to be normal, but then quickly bringing you back to reality when he shows his true self again. Paris so expertly drew me into this story, I couldn’t put it down.
  2. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. Another thriller (can you see what genre I gravitate towards?), this book takes you on board the Aurora Borealis alongside travel writer, Lo Blacklock. She sees a mysterious woman, then when she hears someone being thrown overboard, no one seems to believe her. Everything goes downhill from there (and really, from the very first chapter when Lo’s flat is broken into) and I really can’t tell you any more without spilling too much. Just know I was literally yelling at certain characters at one point because I shared in Lo’s frustration. A must-read.
  3. The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. It was on sale at Barnes and Noble for like, seven bucks, so how could I not? It ended up being surprisingly awesome. This one is more of a monsters and creatures thriller, and much less psychological. It follows a cursed family who runs the Tower Motel located in London, Vermont, and two sisters as they search for the answers to strange things that have happened. It has some major Alfred Hitchcock Psycho The plot jumps back and forth between two generations and three different points in time, and is just incredibly captivating. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a HUGE fan of the ending, but that wouldn’t stop me from reading it again!

If you read one of these and love it, let me know! And, feel free to drop any other suggestions in the comments, I’d love to read some new stuff.

Until next time!

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Pure Barre: a Former Dancer’s Dream

Hey y’all! It’s been a while, but I wanted to hop in real quick and share something I’ve been doing lately.

I’ve been taking barre at Pure Barre, and you guys, I’m obsessed. I danced for 18 years, and LOVED ballet class and all of the strength that came from it. Pure Barre is like ballet with a twist. They play upbeat music, use small low-impact movements, and add weights and bits of cardio. 

As an exdancer, I have all of the aches and pains that come with it. That’s part of the reason why I LOVE going. Also, recent research showing that static stretching before a workout can be dangerous has had me second guessing everything I learned. PB seems to be pretty up to date on this, and saves the static for the cool-down at the end, and instead starts you off with dynamic movements. 
I’ll update ya later about my progress and any changes I see! Stay tuned. 

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5 Amazon Buys to DEFINITELY Get Before a Cruise

… Or any other vacation, really. These are a few of the things I got before we went on our cruise in September, and they were lifesavers! These items are affiliate linked, but only because I loved using them that much!

  1. A fanny pack like this one  – SoJourner Bags Fanny Pack – Tribal Boho Hippy Woven Eco Style (Blue & Red)! I have no idea why these ever went out of style, but whether we were exploring Mayan ruins or exploring the Carnival Dream, this little thing came in handy. Not having to worry about carrying a purse or backpack made the trip much more stress-free.

2. A waterproof phone pouch like this one! It helps keep your phone safe from splashes, drink spills, and is a great place to keep your room key/ID/Carnival Sail and Sign card! Not to mention, it’s only $5.99 for a 4 pack!

3. These cute wedge sandals! Okay, so this really isn’t a cruise or vacation necessity, BUT when you have to dress fancy for dinner and also want to look cute in the nightclub, these are your go-to shoes. They are just the right height and so unbelievably comfortable. Now, I wear them to work at least 3 days a week. I have a tan pair, and their only $19!

4. These lenses for your phone camera. These are an awesome quality and come with a clip to hook onto the fanny pack I showed you earlier! They make a world of a difference when taking pictures of nature, selfies, and really anything else. I do recommend using these on a bare phone or a thin case, they don’t do well if you have a thick case. But some of my pictures look like professionals, and these little bad boys did all of the work. You can get them for $23!

5. And finally, Sea-Bands. Y’all, I get carsick after 15 minutes of riding, so you could imagine what I would be like on a cruise ship. I didn’t want to spend the whole trip knocked out from taking dramamine, and I didn’t want to trust a patch to stick to my head in the 90 degree heat. These things look like thick hair ties (or small sweatbands, but not that bad) and use pressure points on each wrist to relieve motion sickness (and morning sickness, and many other types of nausea). THEY WORK HOLY CRAP. The only time I felt sick was when I took them off to shower. I am so impressed. I will keep these in my purse for the rest of my life. Get them on Amazon for about $13!

 

And there you have it! 5 Amazon steals that saved my booty while on the high seas. Get it booty? Like pirates? No? Okay fine, see ya next time!

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5 Little Things that I’m Thankful For

There’s a lot to be thankful for in this life. Some big, some small, and some overlooked. Today, I’m thankful for these few little things that make the days better. 

1. Mac & cheese from Cafe Eclectic. Y’all, seriously, it’s so good. My day was pretty drab but I just had some for lunch so I had to put this in here.

2. Sunshiny afternoons and rainy mornings. There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday to the sound of rain, or like walking outside on a September afternoon to the warm sunshine on your face. 

3. Sweet tea. Because I’m pretty sure if you took my blood, it would 99% sugary tea and 1% whatever blood is made out of. 

4. Memphis in the fall. There is nothing better. Whether your at Tom Lee or Overton or Shelby Farms, there are zero excuses to not be outside. The humidity disappears and for the first time all year, you’re able to go outside without either freezing or melting (we don’t have a spring). 

5. Jesus. Let’s be honest, I would a hot lost mess without Him. He is a point of certainty in this ever changing life on earth. 

There you have it. My quick little list of things I’m thankful for today. Remember, life isn’t all about the big moments, though they’re important, too. But it’s the tiny day to day realizations and moments that make you take a deep breath and smile that make life magical. 

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Alive. 

There was a point in time when I didn’t feel anything. There wasn’t hurt or anger, no love or happiness. I just existed. I’ve never been the person to think about suicide, but, I was empty. Void of emotions. I didn’t really want to exist, but at the same time, I was afraid of what “not existing” would mean.The only thing that gave me any kind of feeling was dance. In the studio, I was myself and was able to express all of the emotions that I had been shoving into a cold, dark corner of my mind. It was during these long nights that I realized to be alive is to feel.

The hurt meant that I knew what good felt like. It meant that I was here, present, alive, and able to process the world around me. It showed me that I knew there was better, and I longed for it.

To be alive is to feel. I said it before, and I will say it now, because it is so important. Being alive doesn’t mean being happy and everything being unicorns and puppies. It means being afraid, being hurt, and being, at some times, empty. In my opinion, the most painful of the three of those it empty.

But, it also means to be happy, loved, surprised, and content. The bad comes with the good. And trust me, I know, the bad can get ugly. The bad can leave you empty. The bad can make this life seem to not be worth the trouble.

I promise you, however, that it is. The fact that we are able to feel is, honestly, amazing. I would go through all of my lowest points in life again if it meant I got to experience the good times still. I am glad that dance allowed me to feel and brought me out of the void I had gotten so comfortable in. The feeling I felt when I lost my grandmother was crushing, but it was worth it to know her. The brokenness after an abusive relationship years ago is worth the pain then, to know that it sent me on a path to where I am now and the person I am with now. I would experience all of the emptiness I felt to feel full and loved.

I would not be where I am on my Christian walk if it had not been for being completely broken and searching for something to grasp on to. My story lead me to Jesus, and if I can help one person be better, then I have done my job. 

Some people reading this are going to think that there is no good, only bad, only hurt. I promise you, that isn’t true. You may not experience it now, maybe not next week, maybe not even next year. But you will come out of it.

You are able to experience hurt because you know how the good feels. Hold on to that, because sometimes, it will be all you have, but it will be enough. Surround yourself with good people, find a hobby you enjoy, and when there isn’t anything left, hold on as tight as you can to those things.

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But First…. Things I Want to Do Before Kids & Why Our Plans Don’t Always Work Out 

Don’t get me wrong, I adore children. I have always wanted kids. But I don’t want kids right now. 

When I was in my early years of college, I wanted to be married and have my first child by the time I was 25. I’m 24 and my birthday is in January, so I’ll let you do the math there. Story short: that ain’t happenin’. 

So instead, since I’m behind on where 18-year-old me thought I should be by now, I’m going to share all of the goals I have and things I want to do before I’m responsible for keeping a little human alive. 

1. Get married. Okay, so this one was probably obvious. But, I want to enjoy being married and learn how to live with someone else before I bring a child into the equation. I’m an only child brought up in a loving but strange family structure. I have no idea how to share literally everything. I want to take the time to build a strong foundation on which I raise a child to love the Lord. 

2. Go to Disney. I’ve been to Magic Kingdom for one whole day, and only remember bits and pieces of it. I want to go and make sure I can survive it before, again, having to keep a tiny human safe and alive in such a place. Plus, I’m a kid at heart so why not? 

3. Pay off my car and my student loans. I’m blessed with a mom who believed that my college education was her responsibility so that I wouldn’t have to stress over the money, but now I have a job and want to be able to help. Kids are also hella expensive and I want to be as financially stable as possible before that happens. 

4. Sleep. This one should speak for itself. 

5. Go to Europe. Or Australia. Or Mexico. Or anywhere new. I want to see the world and have stories to tell my kids like my daddy had told me. 

6. And finally, I want to work on being the best “me” I can be. I want a strong relationship with God, a strong sense of who I am, and a strong trust in myself to be able to take on that kind of responsibility. 
The whole point of this is that, sometimes, God has different plans than we may. My parents were older when I was born and I’ve always wanted to be a younger mom. But, my plans are not always the right ones. And looking back, I couldn’t imagine being ready now. He has a plan for my life and is allowing me to grow in so many ways I would have never imagined possible.

God’s path is always the right one, whether it be about college, kids, relationships, or your Friday night plans. Just be patient and present and have trust. Be aware and constantly working towards growth. 

Besides, the plans we make rarely ever go as we want, but isn’t the journey beautiful, anyway?

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Mayans and Margaritas in Cozumel 

Our last stop on our adventure was in Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Y’all, I have fallen in love.

This is the day I had been waiting for, we had an excursion planned to go see a small Mayan ruins site (San Gervasio) and a trip to a beach. We hopped off the boat onto a long pier, which was surrounded by gorgeous views, and made our way through the port. I do have to say, the “port” is full of liquor and luxury purses and perfumes. It’s small, cramped, and stressful. But, once out of there, it was a big, open air mall type shopping with bars and booths and lots of plants. The water is still in view the whole time.

Our excursion started at 11 so we walked around for a bit then headed to find our group. We boarded a bus and headed towards the center of the island.

The bus took us through an area they call “Downtown.” It isn’t downtown like we think of it with big buildings, but rather a small little town where people sell woven tapestries out of their homes that look more like a shack than a building. Occasionally, there were big, nice houses. We passed by lots of little shops and restaurants and I so wish I had taken more pictures along the way.


We get to the site, and Ross and I are basically wigging out we are so excited. We had already made friends with our tour guides, Patricio and Luis. There’s a place with little local shops and then past that are the ruins. I’m not going to go into a whole lot about what all of this pictures are of other than a few of them, because honestly there was so much information that I don’t 100% remember what was what. But I WILL give you some fun facts!

1. There were no human sacrifices made at this site. Ever. In fact, that wasn’t something the Mayans did until a group introduced them to it about 1000 years after the Mayans became a thing.

2. San Gervasio was a dude from Spain who bought the land and didn’t tell the government there were ruins on it. He went looking for treasure using dynamite and destroyed quite a bit of it. Some was rebuilt by universities and institutions, and other parts have been left as they were found. Its pre-Gervasio name was Tantun Cuzamil.

3. This was a site built for the goddess Ix Chel. She was the goddess of moon, childbirth, fertility, medicine, and weaving. All Mayan women made a pilgrimage here at least once in their life, before their first cycle or before they had children.

 

Ross asked a billion questions, but we ended up with some really interesting answers. Which sparked a way deep conversation on the way back about how different are we really, as Christians, from these people? Are the people they were worshipping angels and did we actually have the same God? More research on that to come, but, it was an interesting thought.

From the site, we drive to the opposite side of the island from the port. This side has no plumbing, running water, or electricity. The road is lined with beautiful rocky beaches. I have no idea what the name of the beach we were at is, but oh my geez you guys, it was unreal. We were still in the “no running water or power” side of the island, but there was a food truck (that’s apparently a thing there) making tacos, burritos, and the BEST DANG GUAC EVER and a little bar with lots of tequila. The beach had rough sand, but near the water was too rocky to really get in. We climbed up this big arch thing and just admired the view. I have never seen anything so peaceful and untouched before.


We headed back to the port area and enjoyed shopping and margaritas before getting back on the boat.

I have never in my life felt so entranced by a place. But this little island and all of its history, culture, and people, are something I will never forget. I loved it and cannot wait to go back and spend more time there.

10/10 would recommend. If you have a chance to go to Cozumel, do it.

 

Grand Time in the Grand Cayman

Can y’all tell I suck at titles? Because I do.


Want to know what doesn’t suck? The Grand Cayman. We got off the boat and had to hop on a tender (no, not a dating app. There’s no swiping left here) and ride over to the island. The water, even out where the cruise ships had to anchor down, was unbelievably clear and of a color that could only be described as “blue jello.”

 

Again, we had no plans here. When we got to land, we spent some time taking pictures and admiring the fish. We decided to try out Seven Mile Beach (which – fun fact – is only 6.3 miles long).


We found a beach-front restaurant and mom set up shop at a picnic table in the sand while Ross and I hopped in the water. Which, by the way, was still perfectly clear.

We found a lady that was renting snorkel gear (and ended up giving her our Carnival swipe cards as collateral… probably a bad idea) and spent the rest of our time on the beach making friends with the fishies (and one friendly shark).

The beauty of this place was unreal. I’m used to the Gulf of Mexico water, not murky, but certainly not clear.


We hopped on a shuttle back to the port and enjoyed a nice shopping area with local and tourist shops. Much to our excitement, there was no haggling or being pulled into different shops here.

A few shirts and a wooden hummingbird later, and we were back on the Dream and sailing away to Cozumel (my FAVORITE).

Check back for more!