Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Beauty Update – May

It’s summer here.  Translation: I’m a walking sweat factory.

Or, as I prefer to think of it, “My thighs are so sexy, they can’t stop touching each other.”

My tendency in summer seems a little counter-intuitive to me.  I feel gross and sweaty and hot (temperature-wise, not rawr-wise) and uncomfortable most of the summer (which in Texas is basically May through September). But summer is when I most want to dress up or engage in traditional beauty regimens. I wear jewelry more often.  I give myself regular pedicures and paint my toenails.  I am more likely to style my hair.  I wear lipstick.

photo (3)I steal hair clips.  Oops.

I also – inexplicably – find myself more likely to exercise.  One might imagine that I would want to sit in front of a fan and do nothing, but no.  I do more Pilates.  I dance around the house more.  I am more likely to go to the gym.

I am also more likely to take on summer projects, like my Getting It Together series.  Apparently, it’s not enough that I discover my own beauty.  I need to surround myself with it.  This will be fun.

One thing that does make sense to me is that I tend to eat better.  I tend to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – particularly if they can be eaten cold – and I eat less heavy food. I often lose weight in summer, not because I’m particularly trying to do so, but because I’m taking in healthier things and drinking more water.

I think the slower work schedule of summer slows me down enough that I remember to take care of myself.  Maybe that’s what all these seasonal habits tend to be.  I’m not running in three or four different directions at once.  I can take a break.

And taking a break is beautiful.

Join us at Amy Young’s Trusting Tuesdays to read how others are doing with their OneWord365 and add a post of your own!

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Summer Begins

My summer began today.

The weather has been telling me it’s summer for about a week now.  But today is move-in day for Summer Housing, so this is the first day my mind can wrap itself around summer.

I am moving to my other building this summer.  This makes me happy for several reasons.

Reason #1:  Every time I walk into Santa Fe, I hear Christian Bale singing in my head:

Reason #2: Summer Housing means I get to continue working with college students instead of working with the often younger patrons of Summer Conferences. I might make a cameo appearance at some of the bigger conferences, but most of my summer will be spent working my regular job. I get to fit this summer instead of feeling like a fish out of water. Happy.

Reason #3: We have a new friend in the Santa Fe lobby.


We haven’t decided on a name yet.  Josephine, maybe.  Or Smokey (because of the fireplace.  Obviously.).

Reason #4: It’s so cool over here, temperature-wise.  It’s pretty cool in my other building, too.  But summer tundra, here I come!

Reason #5: Debbie and I have the summer to spruce up the Santa Fe desk and to see what it needs so that it can be more functional in the fall than it has been.

I don’t say this very often, but YAY FOR SUMMER!!!

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Today is my first day of vacation.  For two weeks, I am free from both jobs.

The downside is that I have lots of time to deal with my apartment.  I’ve always said that the state of my home and the state of my mind seem to parallel one another.  And this is true.  Right now, both of them look a little like this:


That’s what the bench in my office area looks like after grading.  That’s kind of how my mind feels, too.  A chaotic whirlwind of thoughts and ideas and decisions that swirl around and land in one big heap.

All is not lost, though.  The next two weeks, I’m putting home back together, and hopefully, my mind will follow.

Of all the places in the world, I want home to be the place where I find tiny pockets of the kingdom of God.  I want it to be a place of creation.  I want it to be a place where people are welcomed and fed, where the wine (and the coffee) never run out.  I want it to shout good news.

The semester end falls at a good time.  As in Advent we are preparing for Jesus, in this time off from my regular work, I am preparing as well.  Preparing to be well and to spread joy and to welcome in the new year with expectation and hope.

I’m synching up with others on the topic of Coming Home here.  Click to read more!

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Longing for Fall

It’s so hot here.  I know I should be used to it.  I’ve lived in Texas my whole life.  But every year, it’s surprising that it’s so very, very hot and that humans are actually expected to live and work in it.

It’s also the first week of classes.  Living and working just got active.

I see the words “Fall 2013” on my syllabus, and I look outside and think, “LIES!”

I want to do all the Fall things:

I want to see pumpkins at the farmers’ market.  I want to pick some out for carving and soup-making and seed-roasting and pie-baking and puree-canning.

I want apples to be in season here.  I want bushels of them, again, for pie-baking and soup-making, but also for applesauce and having the smell of roasting apples in the house.

I want to go to my one football game of the year and remember halfway through it when the buzz from tailgating wears off that I don’t really like football.

I want to start getting invitations to Halloween parties.  I already have costume ideas.

I want to see the leaves turn on that one tree that doesn’t know that it’s in Texas and that trees don’t really do that here so much, so it goes ahead and turns anyway.

I want Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite.

So I anticipate the changing of the wind, and I long for apple cider and other warm, snuggling drinks to show up on menus at my favorite coffee shop.

See you soon, Fall!



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I love making lists.  I also love goal-setting.  Making New Year’s resolutions is like a drug to me.  I do it every year.

My resolutions this year were designed to give myself a break from the “stress” (if absolute joy is stressful) of having lists and keeping tabs on my progress.  Whatever need I felt at the time to do that…yeah, I’m over it.

So here is my revamp – mid-year – of my resolutions.  Some of you who have been around for a while will notice similarities to my resolutions from a few years ago – the “100 things” year.  I was re-reading those posts and remembering how much fun I had that year.  So I’m going to do it a little differently, but still…list-y.

(I am also going to include some things I’ve already done for these lists, because I don’t have a year at this point, and I am loathe to shoot myself in the foot from the onset)

I picked five things that make me happy/make me feel grounded and centered/make me feel like I’m actually doing something with my life besides waking, working, drinking coffee, and sleeping (not that there’s anything wrong with those things).

1.  Reading – 100 books.  I’ve already started on this goal, and Goodreads informs me that, while I have read 31 books so far, I am 15 books behind schedule.  But I will not be daunted.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to update every book that I read here, or if I will just give you what I love the most (or when I hated it and need to vent about it).  But you can follow me on Goodreads if you wish to get book-by-book updates, because that’s where I really keep up with it.

2.  Cooking – 100 new recipes.  My favorite thing about the “100 things” year was all the new recipes I tried.  Trying new things keeps me out of Food Rut, and this is important, because Food Rut is what puts me in the drive-through of Taco Bell, and nobody wins there (well, maybe the CEO of Taco Bell, but I think he’ll be okay).  I will update these here, because I will be super excited about them.  Fair warning – I am taking a Sacramental Baking Course.  Look for a post on my first sourdough when I get around to writing it.

3.  Writing – 100 hours.  Whether I’m blogging or working on one of the multiple fiction projects I have going on, I have to write to be sane.  I will be starting from scratch here, because I haven’t been logging my writing hours so far, but even starting now, I have twenty-eight weeks left of the year.  And November is National Novel Writing Month.  Even if it wasn’t, that’s only a little over three and a half hours a week.  The writing of this post puts me at 0.4 hours.  99.6 to go!

4.  Thanking – 100 admissions of gratitude.  Gratitude keeps me from being so cynical that I get sleepless and achy.  I may reminisce about a few of these, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had 100 MORE stories this year about how beautiful life can be?  Here are my first two, just from today:

4a.  I just got to encourage someone who assumed that a college degree was too lofty a dream for them to achieve that they could do it. That’s my favorite thing that’s happened this week.

4b.  This – oh, my soul – THIS.  Thank you, Jesus.  And more, please.

5.  Watching – 100 pictures.  Sometimes, I just go through my photos, and my day is better.  There will probably be way more than 100 pictures, and all of them might not make it to the blog.  But all of them will make it to the Facebook (here’s Spring and here’s Summer), where I basically live, so peruse and enjoy!

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It’s summertime for me.  I know, it seems a little early.  Summer camps haven’t started.  The summer reading program at the library hasn’t begun.  The kids aren’t even out of school yet.

My seasons tend to start early, though.  I work with college students, so the seasons tend to go with the semesters and their breaks.  Also, I live in Texas, so it starts to feel like summer here earlier than most places.  In fact, it’s not so much fall, winter, spring, summer for me as it’s fall, holiday, spring, summer, because February might not always feel like winter here, but it always grades like spring. I turned in grades on Monday for Spring 2013 and have started working for summer conferences, so in my mind, I’ve transitioned.

It’s a new season.  A new photo album on Facebook.  A new goodbye, making way for a new hello.

I will miss my residents.  Well, most of them.  I will not miss teaching, but I’ll be ready to go back to it in August.

Summertime means conferences, the part of my job where I feel most like a fish out of water.  Day desk has been rougher than I expected it to be, but conferences are even rougher.  Training is my strength; customer service is not.  And customer service is all that summer conferences entail.  On the upside, it’s easier to leave behind when I leave work for the day.  I gratefully flee.  No chance of it following me home.

Summertime means reading.  I read a lot anyway, but there’s more time for it in the summer.  I am not reading many deep things this summer.  I actually have romance novels on my list.  I might flip out and throw some Proust in there or tackle Infinite Jest, but I make no promises.

Summertime usually means more writing, too.  I am going to work on my Fishbowl story this summer.  I am also submitting a few posts in a few places as a guest blogger.  And I have the urge for the first time ever to try my hand at poetry, so perhaps I will do some of that, too.  I am in love with poetry these days, from E. E. Cummings’s “I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach a ten thousand stars how not to dance,”  to Pablo Neruda’s  “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

But most important of all – summertime means snow cones and popsicles and yoga.  Cooling off and calming down.  It’s my sanest season.

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Wherein I am so, so lazy

In lieu of actually writing something myself, I wanted to share with you two things I read today that are awesome:

One of the best essays I’ve ever read on body image

How to have the best summer ever

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Fat Tuesday

My New Year’s Resolution has been enlightening. Annoying. Frustrating. And enlightening.

In focusing on a lot of things I want to stop doing, it has become more obvious what I want to start doing. I mean, I knew already what I wanted to start doing. Cooking at home more, eating better, actually going to the gym that I pay for or running or something at all active, writing every day, reading every day, living in a home that doesn’t look like some sort of natural disaster hit it…and the list goes on. There are moments of these things, but moments flee almost as soon as they arrive. I don’t just want moments of what I want my life to look like. I want a whole life of it.

The problem is that there are only so many hours in a day. Stupid time limits.

Lent for me has been a special time for increased reflection and mindfulness, and that will lend itself well to this process of whittling down what is extra to make room for what is good. The last month of following my resolutions has revealed a lot of things that I do that are just extras – things I do because I’m resting or restless or just wanting to do something but not too much, but that don’t necessarily add anything to my life other than pass the time. I am going to limit or eliminate these things altogether for the season. I won’t be playing Facebook games at all. I’ll be watching no more than one episode of TV a day (if that much) – so no weekend marathons for Lent. Those are the two main things that I do that don’t really add much to the pursuit of life as I want it to be, but I’m sure that there are others that Lent will reveal.

I think I am also going to cut out fast food for Lent. I might like it so much that I cut it out for good. I suspect that my eating it has a lot to do with my not doing a lot of other things (cooking, being active, etc.), so we’ll see how that goes. It may just turn into 40 days of soup, sandwiches, carrot sticks and bean dip, but we’ll see.

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Resolved, 2013

I have been dragging my feet on what my New Year’s Resolutions will be, which is unusual for me. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want my goals for the next year to be by early December. Every time I have thought about it, though, it has stressed me out. I’m already so busy; when do I have time to do anything new? It was a rough semester, moving to the daytime desk position and teaching four classes instead of my usual three. My workload this spring isn’t going to be any lighter. All previous attempts to compose a list of resolutions so far have resulted in stress baking (you’re welcome, family) and the first three seasons of Smallville (you’re welcome, eyes). I want to continue to learn and progress in some way, though, so I sat down this afternoon to barrel through and come up with something to guide me.

And the word that kept coming to mind was “Stop.”

This year, I resolve to…

1. Stop being such a jerk.

The world was so mean last year. I know it was an election year, but I think it went beyond that. We as a culture seem to have all regressed to junior high, when we didn’t understand the difference between discussing an issue and attacking/belittling the person who disagrees with us on that issue. I would like to say that I rose above that trend, but I can think of a few instances where I gave into the temptation to be a little nastier than I needed to be to get my point across. My old debate coach would have been proud of my performance, but I am not. I don’t want to be a person who goes into discussions assuming that others only disagree with me because they are less informed. And even if, during the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that that is the case, I still don’t have to be an ass about it. At the end of this year, I want to look back and be more satisfied with how I deal with conflicts and disagreements than I am now.

2. Stop participating in Facebook drama.

I took a mini-vacation from Facebook drama in November when I was participating in NaNoWriMo so that I could focus more on writing. I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. In fact, even with the 50,000-word deadline staring me down, November was the calmest, most peaceful month of my year. So in December, I decided to intervene in heated discussions only when a voice of reason was needed. Heh. Yeah, that’s so not how Facebook drama works. In person, it works beautifully, but on Facebook, it’s like pouring gasoline on a lit candle in a hayloft. People seem to use Facebook to say things that they’re thinking but would never say out loud in person, because they’re too shy or reasonable. To them, Facebook is their safe place to say whatever they want (I strongly disagree, but that’s a whole other post). So here they are, in the middle of their glorious rant, and then some fool (i.e., me) steps in and tries to get them to dial it back. They, however, do not want to dial it back, and suggesting that they do so pretty much equals volunteering to be their new target. So I’m going to revert back to my Facebook behavior of yore, when it was a happy place where I connected with old friends whom I haven’t seen in a decade, liked all their pictures of their kids/food/cats, and when I had time, tended to my farm.

3. Stop the compulsion to fill up every moment.

I noticed something disturbing in these last two weeks that I was on holiday from work. I’ve lost the ability to sit still. I might have taken a break from my jobs, but I haven’t slowed down. I’ve been multitasking constantly, even if it was as simple as watching a TV show while I ate a meal. I can’t remember a single time in the last two weeks when I just relaxed, and I bet that has a lot to do with why I’m so stressed out. I value efficiency, but this is ridiculous. I want to get back to the place where I can be calm regardless of how busy my schedule is, and the way to do that is by taking time each day to slow down for a few minutes. I don’t even remember what that looks like, so more on this later as I rediscover it.

4. Stop saying, “Yes,” just because I can’t think of a good reason to say, “No.”

Another thing that has contributed to my stressful busyness is that I’ve started agreeing to things only to find myself, on the day of the event, saying, “Why on earth did I say that I’d do this? I don’t want to do this!” And when I reflect back, the only reason that I can come up with is that I didn’t have a good reason not to, and I didn’t want to leave them hanging with a maybe. As committed as I am to avoiding maybe (i.e., the most useless, impolite RSVP ever), I would like to work on adopting the viewpoint that “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason to decline.

5. Stop making excuses.

The main reason that I have had difficulty coming up with resolutions this year is that I’m tired of making goals that I don’t meet. Every year, I set reading, writing, fitness, wellness, organization, and financial goals, and every year, I fall short of them. As much joy as I get from the process of pursuing these goals, a part of me can’t help but feel unsuccessful, and that part of me feels the need to justify why they weren’t fully met. But I’m not going to do that anymore, because the truth is that I make time to do the things that are really important to me. My reading/writing nook in my apartment is always tidy, even when the rest of the place looks like a tornado hit it, and keeping it that way is not even something that I set out to do. It stays that way, because I want it to stay that way, so I make it happen. I keep up with inputting grades, because I don’t like having the constant nag of knowing there’s still work to be done hovering over my weekend, so I make sure I get it done before the weekend begins. And yes, I would like to be in better shape and take better care of myself and keep the rest of the house tidy and clean and handle my finances a little better, and it’s not a question of time, because somewhere, someone busier than I am is accomplishing those things. I’m not going to set specific expectations, though, until I better understand what my priorities are, because clearly, they don’t involve any of those things, or I would be doing them already.

So I’m going to stop making excuses to myself and to others about why I can’t seem to achieve these things that I consistently identify as goals, trusting that when they become important enough to me, I will do what I need to do in order to be successful at them. Meanwhile, I’m going to start a year of observation. I’m going to keep a calendar of how I spend my free time, and I expect that it will reveal what my priorities have become, since they’re obviously not the things that I want them to be. I suspect that you can look forward to some extreme navel-gazing posts concerning the issue throughout the year.

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