Not that I intend to end the gratitude with the end of the month–far from it.

Nov. 22:  I’ll admit, there are days I don’t act very grateful for this crazy ball of fur.  In my heart, though, even on the bad days, I’m so grateful that Charley came racing into our lives almost a year ago.  She can be a terror, but she can also be the sweetest mutt you’ll ever meet.  She’s also a riot.  She LOVES playing fetch and carries a ball with her everywhere.  It’s hard to see, but if you look closely you can see that she dropped the ball IN the water here–just long enough to get a drink.

Nov 22 new week

 

Nov. 23:  There are no words to express my gratitude that I get to live in a world with sunsets like this.  I’m so glad I stopped long enough to take a few photos and to enjoy the colors changing this night as the sun sank below the horizon.  Breathtaking.

Nov 23

 

Nov. 24:  I’m so thankful for colleagues with big hearts.  One of my team members nominated me for this on-going award (that comes in this cool envelope with a few mini candy bars and a letter including what you were nominated for and by whom).  I know that most jobs, not just mine, can feel thankless–this is such a cool opportunity to remind each other that someone DOES notice and that we ARE making a difference.  I’ve “turned in” other people for this before, but this was my first time receiving one.  Super fun surprise!

Version 2

 

Nov. 25:  No photo today!  Days like this remind me that, for as much as I enjoy chronicling my daily life through my photos, I’m really grateful for days that are so busy and full of life that I don’t even think to take a photo.  This day I saw my parents for the first time in about 5 months–perfect chance for a photo, right?  Eh. Turns out that spending time laughing and catching up with them without ever thinking to pick up my phone was even better.

 

Nov. 26:  Thanksgiving Day.  There are so many things I could list here–some of them repeats from earlier in the month and some that I’ve only just begun to contemplate.  I started my day by going for a run to remind myself that my health is a blessing.  A blessing denied to many and that I take for granted far too often.

Nov 26

 

Nov. 27:  We ran into a snow storm driving back to our house this day.  I’m thankful that we all made it back safely and without incident.  Not everyone was so lucky that day.  With the amount of time Clint spends driving for work, I try to remember that I have much to be grateful for every time he returns home safely from a trip.

Nov 27

 

Nov. 28:  I’m so incredibly grateful for this woman–my mama.  Strong, smart, kind, beautiful, and patient.  If I turn into her as I age, I’ll be lucky.  We spent some good time together over the weekend, including time spent taking care of a friend’s cats.  I was reminded of my mom’s abundance of patience and her calm energy as she worked to befriend Myron, the cat in the photo.  He’s VERY skittish, but in just a few hours spread over three days, she not only convinced him that it was safe to come hang out with us, but that it was kind of nice to have his back scratched–by BOTH of us!  I know this probably doesn’t sound like reason to celebrate…  if you knew Myron, you’d understand. 🙂

Nov 28

 

Nov. 29:  I’m so incredibly grateful for this guy–my papa.  Funny, playful, hard-working, thoughtful, and full of love.  I don’t have to ponder turning into him as I age, as he and I share SO many pieces of our personalities that it’s almost scary sometimes.  This particular morning I woke up in a pretty terrible mood, but after coffee and breakfast and conversation with my dad, it was like my whole world had brightened.  I’m so thankful for the way he gets me and the way my brain works sometimes–and that he makes me giggle and gives great hugs, too.

Nov 29

 

Nov. 30:  My job has been a challenge at times over the last several months, but I’ve maintained through it all that I believe in the direction we’re headed and I fully trust that we’ve made a positive impact through the changes we’ve made.  My boss has been out of the country for a couple of weeks, and I asked him to bring me a post card for my collection.  He slid this under my door this morning.  I’m pretty damn lucky that I work for people who recognize that I’m working my tail off and who are willing to express THEIR gratitude, too.

In the end, that’s what this whole thing–this life thing–is all about.  Sharing our gratitude and love for and with each other.

Nov 30

Week 3!

Nov. 15:  Whenever my parents visit, my mom always writes us a note the morning that they leave.  I always leave it up until the next time they come to town.  Obviously it’s been awhile since they’ve visited, given the date on this note, but today I JUST noticed that she had added “love!” after the “things to fetch…” prompt on the paper.  I’m so incredibly grateful for my amazing parents–and for the sweet smiles they add to my life in both big and small ways.

Nov 15

 

Nov. 16:  I’m grateful for simple, easy-to-access means of calming and soothing myself after stressful days.  Coloring is one of my go-to activities for relaxation.  I’m grateful for people in my life who know this, too–like Kriste, who sent me this awesome book and the pencils to go with it.

Nov 16

 

Nov. 17:  I don’t love working late, but I’m grateful for the amazing views my office offers me.  Sunsets lately have been beautiful, and I’m happy that I get to experience them, even if it has to be while I’m working.  No matter how busy I feel, I make sure to take some time to enjoy the view if I’m still in my office when the sun sets.

Nov 17

 

Nov. 18:  I’m so grateful that I have the freedom to do cool things with my class!  On this day, a student group presented on the ways that contact with animals can contribute to stress management.  They had one of the campus reference librarians bring in her trained therapy dog, Mavis, for the “experiential” part of the presentation.  Mavis and I spent a little time together before class, and obviously she did her job to demonstrate the group’s points during the presentation!

Nov 18

 

Nov. 19:  I’ve posted about our peer advisors previously (and about how amazing they are)… This day, I was SO grateful for their collective sense of humor!  The boss was out of town, so I was in charge of their weekly meeting.  It was completely ridiculous and random and full of SO much laughter.  They totally crack me up.  I feel lucky to have them, with their positive attitudes and willingness to play and have fun, around the office each day.

Nov 19

 

Nov. 20:  Today in class the “art” group included the creation of this poster as part of their presentation.  They encouraged us to “stop and smell the roses” and asked us all to add our hand tracing and a list of things that make us happy or that we’re thankful for.  It was a fun reminder to stop and be thankful together–making me grateful for students who are willing to pause together in a thoughtful way.

Nov 20

 

Nov. 21:  I’m so thankful for these two sweet boys.  I love them both beyond words, and my heart still melts a little when I see them snuggled up and happily snoozing together.

Nov 21

purpose diagramWhoa.

Have you ever finished reading something and then slowly looked around just to make sure no one is watching you, composing your thoughts, right as you watch them unfold on the screen in front of you?

It just happened here, this quiet, day-before-Thanksgiving morning, as I was lazily perusing the interwebs in that gloriously aimless way that I only get to do over long weekends.  Authored by Mark Manson, you can find the link to the post I just read here.  Caution to intrepid clickers: prepare for a passion smack down! Read More

Week 2–So much to be thankful for!

Nov. 8:  There’s something special about home-baked treats for breakfast on weekends.  I’m grateful for lazy mornings, and I’m SUPER grateful for a husband who is an excellent chef and who is willing to spend part of his morning whipping up yummy treats!

Nov 8

 

Nov. 9:  We have new neighbors across the street, and they have an escape-artist puppy.  He got loose this night and ended up in our garage when I got home from work.  I was thankful that I was able to scoop him up out of the dark and eventually get him back to his family–but I was also pretty darn happy that I got to spend some time with such a sweet little guy (needle teeth, puppy breath, and all).  Let’s be honest–I’m grateful for a world with puppies.

Nov 9

 

Nov. 10:  I’m thankful for grown-up puppies that bring so much humor to our lives, too.  Chaco got to play weather-dog for the first time this season, and he reported that it was indeed snowing.

Nov 10

 

Nov. 11:  At the risk of dog photo overload, I was so incredibly grateful this night that Chaco was ok.  He vomited multiple times the day before, and, given that he’s old-man dog, I was really, really worried about him (ahem, as I spent hours cleaning stains out of the carpet–I spared you the yuck of that photo).  By the time I took this photo he was acting like himself again, and for now all is well.

Nov 11

 

Nov. 12:  This day an unexpected thank you note from a student showed up in my work mailbox.  The day before she had come in just needing someone to talk to, and we spent more than an hour sharing stories about friends, change, stress, and other typical college-life topics.  She’s awesome, so it was really fun to connect with her.  Apparently she felt the same way, and she went out of her way to write me a note to say so.  It’s such a blessing to have the opportunity to work with students like her–students who are willing to share their stories, their backgrounds, their highs, and their lows.  I learn from each of them, and, when I’m lucky (like with this one), my heart gets a little hug too.

Nov 12

 

Nov. 13:  This is a photo from the new book Impossible to Know by one of my favorite author-artist-storytellers, Brian Andreas (link here… and I cannot stress enough how very much I think everyone should check him out).  I’d had it for five days but finally made time to sit down with it this day.  I love his work for many reasons, but maybe most importantly because so often his work expresses what I’m feeling when I can’t seem to do so on my own.  Such gratitude for his willingness to share his heart through his work.

Nov 13

 

Nov. 14:  Our little town loves parades, and this day was the infamous Storybook Cavalcade Parade–an event about which I’d heard a lot of strange things but that I’d never actually witnessed.  I went this year with some pretty awesome friends and co-workers, and it was a hoot.  A strange, half-fascinating, half-terrifying hoot, but a hoot all the same.  I’m grateful for friends who are willing to go on silly adventures with a girl wearing a yeti hat!

Nov 14

For over 5 years now, I’ve participated in a daily photo blog.  Each day, each group member posts a photo that represents their day.  I love it as a non-traditional way of journaling, and I love the friends it’s brought to my life.

A couple of years ago, at the suggestion of a fellow photographer, I dedicated my November photos to portraying things for which I was thankful.  I LOVED how it led me to focus on gratitude, so each November since, I’ve continued the tradition.

Since I don’t share that photo blog address widely, I’m going to post each week’s photos here, too.  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s always room for more more gratitude.  Here’s week 1:

Nov. 1:  First, I’m grateful that a friend inadvertently convinced me to sit outside for a bit this afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather.  I’m grateful for dear friends like Kriste who love me unconditionally, and I’m grateful for technology that makes it feel like we’re not quite so far apart!

Nov 1

 

Nov. 2:  I’m grateful for the time change because I get to get out of bed in the mornings without it being totally dark outside.  Sunlight makes it SO much easier for me to get up and moving.

Nov 2

 

Nov. 3:  I’m grateful that my job allows me the chance to play and be goofy sometimes.  I won’t try to explain this one–knowing that we got a good laugh out of it is what’s most important.

Nov 3

 

Nov. 4:  This represents a moment I couldn’t photograph.  This morning, the first snow flakes of the year fell while I was teaching.  When I pointed them out to my class, I discovered that one of my students had never seen snow before.  She was like a little kid–ready to bounce out of her seat with excitement.  I made a quick decision, looked at her, and said, “You have 1 minute and 30 seconds–go!”  She flew out the door and was back, breathless, grinning, and speckled with snow flakes in less than two minutes.  I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to allow time for those spontaneous moments of fun while I’m teaching.  It’s a product of my teaching style and my students’ ability to be respectful and flexible, and I love it.  Totally worth the short interruption to make someone’s day (not to mention that her smile made my day, too).

Nov 4

 

Nov. 5:  This semester we have a new group of peer mentor advisors assisting my professional team.  This day they organized an open house event for students needing help with registration and scheduling.  About 85 students showed up, which is awesome.  I’m so grateful to have such creative, dedicated, fun students on board as part of our team!

Nov 5

 

Nov. 6:  I’m so grateful for all of the little sweet things Clint does each day.  This day, he left for work before I was even out of bed.  Chaco was being a total bed-hog, and while I was half awake, he quietly told Chaco to move over and then shoved him over so I could stretch out.  He made sure I was snuggled back under the blanket before giving me a smooch and telling me he was heading out.  He makes my heart glow.

Nov 6

 

Nov. 7:  This morning Heather and I went for a walk–we just wanted some time to catch up, which we definitely got, but the fresh air and the opportunity to move were really good for both of us, too.  I’m so grateful for the special friendship we’ve developed–there’s nothing quite like knowing that someone really gets me and loves me for my ups and downs, not despite them.

Nov 7

 

This weekend, I stumbled across an infographic titled “17 Counterintuitive Things the Most Successful People Do.”  I didn’t agree with all of it, but the following jumped out at me:

Counterintuitive

“Seek Out Rejection.”  Huh.

I’m not convinced we can become fully desensitized to the fear of rejection, but there’s definite wisdom here. Humans are wired to avoid the pain that accompanies rejection. We instinctively run from it. Hide from it. And, when it inevitably happens, we quietly tuck it away in hopes that no one will notice–and with hopes that maybe we can forget about it, too.

Seeking out rejection sounds a bit a lot like playing with fire to me. Sounds like openly inviting the commentary that the haters and the doubters are dying to provide. Sounds like an adventure requiring the type of courage that usually takes me days to muster up.

However, I’m willing to consider that, perhaps, if we hear the doubters’ voices enough, we’re more able to let their negative chorus become nothing more than background noise.  Without their constant chatter, maybe what once felt scary and risky becomes adventure and opportunity instead.

If less fear means more willingness to take risks, then it also means more opportunity for big payoff.

…or for more rejection, of course.

Ah!  But if we’ve shrunk that fear, that’s a far less cringe-worthy, shame-inducing possibility, isn’t it?

 

What do you think? Can we desensitize ourselves to rejection? How do YOU move on from rejection?

You can check out the full infographic, created by Roda Marketing, by clicking here .  It’s worth the look!

By nature, I’m a fixer.  I like puzzles, and I like problem-solving.  It’s a great skill for putting out fires at work and helping disgruntled students, but no matter how hard I deny it, my fix-it strategy just does not cut it in my personal, relational, emotional, psychological world.

(please tell me I’m not alone in this?)

My brain is a constant whir of “fix it!”  I hear the whirring, and I hear its message:  If I could just figure out what’s bothering me, I could fix it.  If I could just find the reason I’m sad, I could fix it.  If I could just understand the underlying cause to student complaints, I could fix it.  Right?

Wrong.  So incredibly wrong.    Read More

Rumor in the blog world suggests I offer an apology after disappearing for months–and that I write a catch-up post when I return.  I suspect this is simply an opportunity to play “pay attention to ME!” rather than an actual expectation of anyone reading, but I’m opting in anyway.   I’ll make no pretense, however, that I’m doing so for any reason other than an opportunity to share a bunch of photos of our world since February (it’s my blog and I do what I want??)  That being said, here’s what I’ve been doing instead of writing:

Winter/Spring

Summer

Fall

Here’s hoping I’m back on track for more than quarterly postings!

IMG_1317

Today was supposed to be IT.  The BIG day.  The day that I finally returned to blogging.  Aimee invited us over, and instead of the Salsa Sistas, we were to be the Bloggin’ Sistas.  Brilliant!!  Teamwork and motivation!

I expected fanfare and inspiration and productivity!  Big things, people.  Big things!

So far, Cooper has finally decided to nap, Trey was falling asleep typing and has played the “I sleep when the baby sleeps” card, Lucia has puked from too much excitement (and all the baby lotion she’s licked off of Cooper), and I’ve eaten two cookies and a lot of chips and queso.  Not sure about Aimee.  She looks like a writing machine and I’m afraid to interrupt.

Oh.  And I just finished writing 600 words that I promptly decided were a bunch of BS that I don’t really believe.

Clearly my return to blogging is going to be less graceful than I’d pictured…

Just a quick update from my world.  I’ve been neglecting my friend the blog , and I’m starting to feel bad about it.  I really want to start posting regularly again, but right at this minute I can’t commit.  Will it happen eventually?  Yes.  Will it happen soon?  Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

Which, coincidentally, is the topic of the day.

My parents came to visit in January (mainly to meet the new puppy–who is doing fabulously, by the way, see photos at end of post), and I spent some time venting to my mom about my frustrations with life.  That there are so many things I want to do–blogging and painting and reading and meditating and doing yoga and exploring, etc.–but that life wipes me out to the point that I don’t have energy left at the end of the day for any of it.  I realize this is very much a classic “first world problem” and that all of my readers with children are cackling right now at the preposterous idea of my complaining about my too-busy life.

My wise mother suggested that maybe I need to put a few things on the shelf right now.  She reminded me that we have a new dog in the house who takes a remarkable amount of time and energy.  I have a new “big boss” at work, and, while all signs point to good things ahead, changes (both those that have happened and those that are looming) are stressful.  Shifting expectations are stressful.  Chasing around an adorable yet horrifically destructive adolescent puppy is stressful.

I listened but wasn’t immediately convinced.  After all, I feel like I can do more–like I have more to offer this world, better ways of using my time, a stronger impact to be making.  She told me to let it go (basically, anyway–and I love her for it!)

Last week I listened to a couple of ADHD podcasts a friend recommended.  One was about organization or time management or some combination of the both, and the presenter talked about a client who wanted to do everything and was making herself crazy trying to figure out where it would all fit into her already jam-packed life.  What struck me most profoundly was the presenter telling her client that she simply didn’t have time for everything–and that she might just have to wait until she’s retired to learn French.

While the concept bothers me a little (another day is never guaranteed to any of us… so should we feel ok putting things off until a later day, knowing it might never come?), she made her point.  Since listening to that podcast, I’ve found myself asking about both personal and work matters: is it possible I just honestly don’t have time for this?

For those who naturally manage time well or who are able to focus on one project at a time or have worked to master the skill of setting healthy boundaries, this probably doesn’t sound like a revelation.  For me, it kind of has been.

Does that make it easy?  No.  I feel guilty for not writing more.  I feel like I’m letting minutes waste away when I could be bettering myself.  I get antsy thinking about all of the things I want to do, then I kick myself for not being able to find the motivation to go do them.

I have a long way to go, but I’m trying.  I’m writing this post because I want to, not because I feel obligated.  I’ve started a few books, and the list of “want to reads” keeps growing, but I’m not forcing myself to pick up a book.  I’m trying to only pick up my paintbrush when it feels like the right way to express myself.  I’m practicing allowing myself to just let things sit.

Maybe they’ll sit for a long time.  Maybe if I’m lucky 40 years from now I’ll be around to find some of those things still on that shelf.  Maybe I’ll have more time, and I’ll dust off what still interests me and try again.

There’s no plan to learn French in my future.  However, “you can learn French when you’re retired” has become a bit of a mantra when I start to feel overwhelmed by my own unreasonable demands.

Remembering that it honestly, truly is ok to let a few things go, for a little while or forever, is remarkably freeing.

 

(and now the puppy photos you were promised…)