Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stephanie Nielson

I am watching Stephanie Nielson (of the Nie Nie Dialogues) on Fox News' Glenn Beck right now (before you start commenting, please note, I have never seen his program before) and I feel I have to write about Stephanie Nielson and how amazing her journey.

I have followed Stephanie's blog and personal journey (as depicted through her blog) for about three years now. I've watched her on Glenn Beck, Oprah, and 20/20 and read her sister's blog and her blog and I am just continually amazed at Stephanie's strength, character, and bravery. She is a great example of rising above bad circumstances and learning to find joy in the every day. Her story reminds me that no matter how bad life gets, it will get better, with faith, family, and strength.  Her family reminds me of what a support system can do to build strength in others. Stephanie's whole story is amazing and I can't wait to keep reading how it unfolds.

Please do yourself a favor and read her blog. It's great. Check out her sister, Courtney's, blog while you're at it. I don't know either of them, but I feel like I do, and that is why I love the blogosphere.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Catching up with myself

Tonight marks the end of my week off. Aside from the back pain, it was quite lovely. I majorly vegged out. I slept more than ten hours every night, watched TV, read, and just hung out in my new apartment. Then I went home to San Diego for the long weekend, where I did some of the same, but also ran errands with my family and ate yummy meals together. It was all glorious and tonight my back feels much better than it did a week ago.

I realized today that I haven't had a week off of nothing-ness since I was in college on Spring break (because I've decided Christmas doesn't count... that week is packed full of crazy and fun). Don't get me wrong, I have taken vacations since then, but I am always somewhere other than home (New York, Palm Desert, Texas, etc). I love taking vacations, but a week at home is a whole different experience of relaxation and a feeling of catching up with yourself. I guess that's how I feel tonight, that I've somehow caught up with myself. Don't you like the way that sounds? I sure do. 

Tomorrow begins my real life again... catching up at work, paying bills, finish unpacking my very last box (there's always one, isn't there?), and the other parts of my usual schedule. But I have learned this week who I am without my schedule and my job. It seems more of me than I wish to admit is linked to my job: what they think of me, how well I do, making sure my ongoing checklist continues to be checked off. It's depressing and I don't want it to be true... anymore. 

So, here's to a good week! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top Ten: Mona Lisa Smile

I love the film Mona Lisa Smile and here are ten reasons why...

1. Julia Roberts is just quality no matter the role and I seem to like her in her most random ones: Mona Lisa Smile, Mystic Pizza, and Ocean's 11.

2. Love the 1950's.

3. It's all about women's rights (which, as you know, is my passion).

4. The wedding scene - love then music, dresses, and dancing.

5. Teacher/student affairs.

6. The soundtrack (I highly recommend it).

7. The scene between Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal when she admits the truth about her marriage.

8. It's inspiring and motivating.

9. Included art history.

10. This movie is in my Top 5 favorite movies of all time because it resonates with so many passions and events in my life.

Where I'm at...

... on my couch, basically on bed rest (sound dramatic enough?).

I messed up my back while moving, which is pretty scary for me because I have a history of back surgeries and haven't had this much back pain since my recovery over ten years ago. I'm sure it has everything to do with picking up boxes, cleaning, and moving furniturere. It also doesn't help that I moved boxes of books a lot of the week prior to moving weekend.  Not to mention all the stress this month of May has brought full of busy weekends moving, planning a bridal shower, working graduation, and my job in general.

So here I am... resting? It's funny because I am the laziest person I know and have the excuse to rest, but all the worry and guilt and pain are clouding my ability to fully enjoy it. But, I am trying. Watching TV, catching up on my DVR, watching movies (watching Mona Lisa Smile with my sister as I write this), and reading (I'm reading "The Help" right now and really enjoying it).

This week has been full of new things. A new apartment, which I guess is sort of an old apartment because I lived in this same complex a couple years ago, and I really like it. We are almost completely moved in and I love the windows and how the sun and breeze just sweep through all the rooms. This will sound cheesy, but yesterday one of my neighbors (the back of my apartment is about four feet away from the back of another set) was listening to Michael Bubble and I was reminded of a time when I last lived here and I was in a state of panic and suddenly one of my neighbors starts rehearsing a beautiful song and I felt calm and comforted. I felt that same peace yesterday listening to Michael Bubble sing.

My other new experience was taking myself to the urgent care for some pain meds for my back. I was in so much pain and didn't want to call in sick to work again without some answers. Forty minutes later I had three prescriptions and a doctor's note keeping me home for the rest of this week.

Oh, and I also got my first duvet comforter, which has been really nice considering how much I've been in bed this week!

So, my couch or bed is where you can find me with a book close by, remote in my hand, phone next to me, and resting on a heating pad.

Until my next post...


The Oprah Winfrey show ended today.

I am not handling it very well. I have cried through the last two episodes and cried again today over the last one. 

What will we do without Oprah?

What will I do without Oprah.

One of the best things about getting cable and DVR at my apartment was that I could tape Oprah every day. I could see her interview celebrities and children and victims and everyday see people re-building and changing their lives.

Oprah has been on the air for my entire life. My Mom has always loved Oprah (my Dad too in some ways), so it has been the soundtrack of my life. 

People have been asking what will be the legacy of the Oprah show? I can tell you what I think...

Oprah's legacy is to live our best life. To get an education. To read. To forgive. To leave the world better than you found it. To create the life you want. To take responsibility for your future and to learn from your past. Oprah taught us about not letting your past dictate your future. She taught us not to be the victim. She taught us to pray and grow and be better. She used her show to reach all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, weight, religion, gender, or age. She used her show as a classroom of honesty, acceptance, and truth. Oprah used her show as a way to be your friend. Oprah is America's best girl friend.

Oprah taught me about learning from experience and not giving up. She introduced me to Anderson Cooper, Randy Pausch, and Maya Angelou. She showed me the devastation of Katrina. She recommended books to me. She was the show to watch before great movies opened to hear what she thought of them and meet the stars to get their stories of filming. Oprah let me be a fly on the wall for her conversations with George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, and countless other celebrities.

Oprah ended her 4.561st show today perfectly. It was just her and the audience. It was her great last lecture. I love closure moments like this and I love that Oprah understands and lives the value of these moments.... teachable moments. 

Here were Oprah's lessons on today's last show:

She never missed a day in 25 years because she knew that her stage was what she was called to do.

"Everybody has a calling and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it."

"Live from the heart of your self."

"Each one of you has a platform... that is where your power is."

"You will receive in direct proportion to how you give."

"You have the power to change some body's life."

"Not everybody gets paid for [their calling]."

"Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world."

"When you know better, you do better." (she learned that from Maya Angelou).

"Nobody but you is responsible for your life." 

"You're responsible for the energy that you create for yourself and you're responsible for the energy that you bring to others."

Being responsible for yourself brings freedom.

"There is a common thread that runs through all our pain and and all of our suffering,and that is unworthiness. not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for." 

"You are worthy because you were born."

We all want validation.

"Everybody wants to be heard."

"What are the whispers in your life right now?"

Connect, embrace, liberate, love somebody."

She ended the show by giving her e-mail (oprah@oprah.com) to all of us, which I love because that is what a friend does when they leave their job for their next adventure in life.

And she ended her show saying "to God be the glory" and I have to agree.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dream like New York

Lately I have been thinking about change. Not small changes, big changes, which I know is unusual for me considering my hatred and fear of change.

I've been thinking about moving to the east coast, especially to New York City or Washington DC. New York is a no brainer, I love it there and it feels like my soul mate in so many ways. DC because Nikki is there and two of my cousins live there as well, so I'd have some friends, which would be nice and make things less intimidating. But what would I do? Where would I work? Where would I live? So many unknowns, which is why I quickly shelf the dream.

But what if I didn't shelf it? And what if I didn't let fear and the unknown stop me? And what if I just went out on a limb? What if I move there and hate it and move back? What if.

Maybe I should be asking why not?

On my Mary Englebert desk calendar today's quote was "Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." - Mark Twain. Is that a sign?

This really all started last week when my wise coworker told me "never underestimate the value of a one way ticket." She told me to travel before I enroll in a doctorate program. I think she meant go to Italy, but I think we all know I couldn't do that given my fear of flying, but her words keep whispering to me.

Never underestimate the value of a one way ticket.

What if?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nikki's bridal shower

This weekend my sister and I hosted Nikki's bridal shower. Actually, the whole family really did. Mom and Dad did just as much work as Ashley and I did. Nikki is one of my besties from high school and really became part of the family. Ash and I are really looking forward to being bridesmaids. 

Ashely was really the brains behind the whole thing.

She decorated and organized and rearranged the back yard. It looked beautiful.

It was so fun to meet all the bridesmaids. It's always such a strange, but lovely, mix of old and new friends all of whom love the bride but don't know each other. The best part was we all got along and I am already looking forward to spending the wedding weekend together. 

When settled

Hello old friend!

I feel like when life gets busy this blog becomes what seems like an after thought, but it is actually quite the opposite in my head. In my head, this blog is the reward. It is the fun task I get to complete after all my work is done.

When I was a kid my parents taught me that we could play when our homework was finished. As I grew up I still held to that philosophy (except when I watched TRL while doing my homework in high school). These days, I am the laziest person I know, but I still wait to blog once I have finished the chores I must do.

May is a month full of chores for me. Some have been fun (like Nikki's bridal shower... pictures and post to come), some have been work related (like working a full Saturday for graduation), and some chores are just that - chores (like moving, which is what I am doing this weekend).

So, be patient with my blog in the meantime and know that I will post when I am settled. I am busy packing, loading, moving, and actively trying to limit my anxiety about change, which I hate, even though I am excited to live in my new apartment.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May day, yay

Sunday night, May 1st, America learned of the death of Osama Bin Laden. A man we have been fighting for decades and who hurt us the most on September 11, 2001, a day Americans will never forget. To say there was celebration, relief, and pride in the hearts of many American citizens that day is an understatement.

For me personally, when I first read the news via a text message from MSNBC, I nearly cried. I then got teary-eyed over a late dinner with my sister as we read Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds about the news.

Many people are feeling conflicted about celebrating the death of a human being, while others can’t stand to even call Osama Bin Laden (OBL) a human at all. And others are simply grateful for the bravery, action, and intelligence of our military for doing what they do so well in protecting our freedom.

The death of OBL brought together Americans in a way that only 9/11 did nearly ten years ago. We are a nation of differing opinions and for one evening, regarding one person, a large population of people was once again facing a united front. Once again, we came together to heal. Once again, America came together despite politics, and people hugged each other, but this time out of joy and not fear.

I am so thankful to our military. I am specifically grateful to the SEAL Team 6. I am thankful for every military family member and friend who suffers during long absences and fears the death of their loved ones on a regular basis. I am thankful for their bravery and strength.
My prayer is also that the families of 9/11 can find a bit more peace. That they can take one more step toward healing.