Sunday, May 28, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee... (Vol. 12 - The Competitive Beast)


If we were having drinks on this Memorial Day Sunday evening, I'd suggest we sit out on my deck.  R and I just pressure washed the covered portion yesterday so it's nice and clean.  You could help me officially declare the "2017 Deck Sitting Season" open.

You'd immediately comment on the new patio furniture.  Gone are my mismatched pieces from previous summers.  "Yeah, R bought this over spring break when I was in West Virginia.  It was a sweet gesture and I'm very appreciative, but I kinda miss my red adirondack chair," I'd say as I pointed to the area on the uncovered portion of the deck where my chair has been relegated.  "He went to all the trouble and expense, I feel like I have to use it," I'd say while motioning for you to take your pick of seats.



As we settled it, I'd ask how things have been with you, for it's been a while since we chatted and properly caught up.  You'd then ask about things in my world and I'd tell you how chaotic the month of May was.  I've  never been so glad to see the end of a school year roll around.  

After a few minutes, you'd notice my tan. "Have you been going to a tanning bed?  You're really tan, especially for it to only be the end of May."  I'd look down at my bronzed arms and hands and laugh.  "Oh, Lord, no," I'd say with a chuckle.  "Believe it or not, this tan is the result of pure Kentucky sunshine and I got it without even trying." 


I'd point out my white feet that are in stark contrast to my tan legs and say, "I got it simply by walking outside this spring."  You'd look at me with surprise and say, "You got that tan just by walking?  You've obviously walked a lot."  I'd nod in agreement.  "Yeah, I have," I'd say with a sigh.

I'd take a drink of my soda, kick my feet up on the ottoman, and elaborate.  I've been walking regularly, like 3-4 times a week, since last September.  When school was in session, I typically walked 3 days after work with my walking buddy and one day on the weekend by myself at a nearby park.  I usually averaged 25 miles a week.   

"Well, that all changed around mid-April when I decided to participate in a step challenge at work."  You'd look at me inquisitively and I'd continue.  "That seemingly innocuous little challenge awakened the competitive beast that lurks deep down inside me, the beast that I manage to keep under wraps 95% of the time."  

You'd look at me with a puzzled expression.  You see, I'm a reformed competitive person.  I was uber competitive in high school - grades, sports, involvement in extracurricular activities, awards - you name it.  Because of that competitiveness, I graduated in the top 5 of my class and, most importantly, one spot ahead of my competitive best friend.  

But, all that competition was stressful and because of that, I  developed a severe case of TMJ syndrome.  Once in college, I decided that the symptoms of TMJ - pain in my jaw joint, difficulty chewing, headaches, and my jaw locking up - were not worth it and I suppressed the competitive beast.  But, every now and then, sometimes when I least expect it, the beast rears its ugly head, like it did in April.

A few days after the challenge started, it was obvious that the 10-member team from my school would not be able to win, for we were going up against teams from other schools that consisted of hardcore runners.  Now, when I say hardcore, I mean hardcore - marathoners and Ironman participants.  Because winning would be next to impossible, we set our sights on finishing in the top 3.  As a result, several of us made a commitment to kick our walking up a notch.  

Unbeknownst to my team, I also set two personal goals - to  come in first amongst my teammates and to finish in the top 10 overall (out of 140 participants).  There were no prizes for either, but I just wanted to achieve the goals for me, for my own personal satisfaction.  

"And that's what drove me to double my average weekly miles and walk a staggering 492,358 steps during those 29 days, which, for me, equals the distance of 203 miles."

Your eyes would widen and you'd sit there with a disbelieving look on your face.  You'd finally blink and I say with a chuckle, "Yes, you heard me correctly - 203 miles."

You'd take a drink of your beverage and say, "I can't even begin to imagine how much time it took to walk that distance.  No wonder you're tan!"  We'd laugh and after a moment or two, you'd ask, "Well, how did you finish?"  

A big smile would break out on my face.  "My team finished third and I finished first on my team and 10th overall."  

I'd rest my head back against the cushions.  "The lady who coordinated the step challenge has already mentioned that there will be another one around the beginning of the school year, but honestly, I don't think I want to do it again."

You'd ask why and I'd explain.  Although I got a lot of satisfaction out of achieving my goals, it came with a price.  Contrary to conventional thought, all that walking didn't help me lose any weight - I actually gained weight during the challenge, probably due to a combination of too much cardio and of being legitimately hungry all. the. time.  It also took up a lot of time and my feet hurt, like really hurt, every day.  "I did what I set out to do and I don't regret doing it," I'd say, "but it's time to lay my competitive beast to rest again."


~~~~~

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest installment of IWWHC.

Have a wonderful and blessed Memorial Day Weekend!




Linking up with:
#WeekendCoffeeShare

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Letter to My Stepdaughter on Her Graduation Day


Dear G,


Today you will publicly pass over a hallowed threshold, a rite of passage that signifies the closing of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.  Truth be told, your father and I have often wondered, sometimes aloud, sometimes silently, for reasons that need not be mentioned again, if this day would ever come.  Well, here we are.  This is it.  You made it.  Congratulations!  

There is an old saying that goes something like this - Advice, like youth, is wasted on the young.  

Your dad and I were not always the uncool, middle age adults that we are now. Once upon a time, we were young and arrogant, just like you.  When we graduated high school,  we received a lot of advice.  Some advice we heeded, some we did not.  Some of the advice was completely unnecessary and some of the advice, we admit, we wish we would've listened to.

I fully expect the same from you, because that's just a part of becoming an adult - the arrogance, the leaping, the testing of one's wings, the trial and the error.  I just hope that you listen to some of what I have to say today.  Although there is no scientific basis for any of what I'm about say, through my own experiences, I know these things to be true.

  • Steer clear of drama, especially estrogen-driven drama.   No good ever comes from it.
  • Take care of your teeth.  Dental work is expensive and sometimes painful.
  • Find a hobby.  It's important to have at least thing one thing that you enjoy doing. Not only do hobbies keep your mind occupied but they will help you de-stress.
  • Learn to eat a healthier, more balanced diet  while you're young.  Trust me, it's all fun and games until your metabolism slows down.
  • Get regular pap smears and do regular self breast exams.  Cancer doesn't care how young you might be.
  • Exercise.  There are many healthy benefits of exercise that you may not think are important now but you will later.
  • Get in the habit of saving a portion of every paycheck.  Over time this will add up.  Everyone has to utilize their "Rainy Day Fund" at some point.
  • Appreciate all the compliments you receive.  Chances are that if people take the time to compliment you, they truly mean it.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.  If you make a mistake, own it and learn from it.
  • Aging is inevitable.  Enjoy your youthful glow, smooth skin, and gray-free hair while you can.
  • Learn to be still.  Life isn't always exciting and it's unreasonable to believe that you will be doing something entertaining all the time.  
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Learn to cook at least one signature dish.
  • Some days you will love your job and some days you won't.  
  • Your job doesn't have to be your passion.  It helps, however, if you at least like what you do.
  • It's ok to be single.  In fact, there are many advantages to not being in a relationship.  You have the rest of your life to settle down.
  • Surround yourself with people who lift you up, who inspire you to continue to grow and improve yourself. 
  • People will disappoint you.  Don't carry that disappointment around with you.  Learn to let go. 
  • Steer clear of complainers.  Those people will suck the joy right out of you if you are not careful.
  • If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Don't take your grandparents for granted.  There will come a day in the not-so-distant future when they will no longer be here.
  • Don't be reckless with credit cards.  Rebuilding credit can be a bitch.
  • Be careful with other people's hearts.
  • Be kind, for you never know what struggles people are silently fighting.
  • If someone bestows their trust in you, do everything in your power to maintain that trust.
  • I know your generation does not remember a time before smart phones and social media.  Everything you see on social media is not real and it is very easy to paint a certain image of oneself and of one's life.  Don't compare your behind the scenes footage to someone else's highlight reel.  
  • You have infinite knowledge at your fingertips and almost anything you want to know is just a Google search away.  Look up from the screen of your smart phone from time to time - look at your friends and family, connect, make eye contact, have real life experiences.  Trust me, there is so much to be gained from putting the phone away.  
  • Life doesn't always work out the way you plan, but that's ok. Sometimes the unexpected things that come your way are the biggest blessings.
  • Be courageous, be honest, and do the right thing.  Your actions, especially when no one is watching, are what define you.
  • Don't waste time.  Travel, see the world, do the things you want to do now because tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Live like you are dying.
  • You are the one responsible for making your dreams a reality.
  • Lastly, when life throws you for a loop, as it often will, keep the faith. Give yourself time to process before you react.  Things are rarely as dire as they initially seem.


G, your father and I wish the very best for you.  Above all else, we wish you a happy, fulfilling, and productive life.  Congratulations on your graduation.

Sincerely, 

Ericka


Linking up with:

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Happy List - What's Up Weekend Vol. 2


~ I have been cracking up over this meme for the past two weeks:


~ My officemate shared this video with me.  I must admit, it made me smile.


The step challenge (sponsored through my work) I've been participating in since mid-April is finally OVER!

On Wednesday, members of the 2017 graduating class of SCHS (the high school that the students at the elementary school where I work will attend) came to school, dressed in their caps and gowns, and paraded through the hallways so that our students could see them.  In the mass, I spotted several of my former students.  Although they may not remember me or even remember that they were in speech many years ago, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride that I contributed to that moment.

It also made me feel very old...  LOL!

~ After today, I only have one more day with students and then closing day on Tuesday.  

This:




Hope this finds you having a great Friday and may your weekend be even better!  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Five Cocktails and Four Film Soundtracks

Today I'm linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings and discussing two Tuesday Topics in one post - Five Cocktails and Four Film Soundtracks.  


Mojito - My favorite cocktail. My preference is a straight up original with a sugar cane stick, but every once in a while I will try an exotic flavor.



Oaks Lily - If you've never attended Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, then you are probably unfamiliar with this drink.  The Lily is the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks race (whereas the Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby).  The Lily has become a popular alternative for track attendees who, like me, do not like Mint Juleps.



Hoegaarden Original White Ale - In the last decade, I've apparently developed an allergy to beer.  Seriously.  I used to love - and I mean LOVE - Blue Moon Belgium White, but it got to the point where the facial flushing and severe nasal congestion I experienced after drinking it became too much, so I gave it up.  But, for some reason or another, Hoegaarden does not affect me the way the majority of other beers do.  Thing is - it's not easy to find.  When I do get a hankering for a beer, I seek out Hoegaarden, which I first discovered in Belgium in 2009.



Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider - Once I discovered my allergy to beer, I had to find an alternative and that's how I became a cider drinker.  Because I love apples, am not allergic to anything in cider (as far as I know), and Angry Orchard is fairly common and easy to find, the transition to a cider drinker has worked out nicely.



Original Sin Elderberry Cider - If I could drink one cider for the rest of my life, it would this one.  I love balance of the sweet apples and the tart elderberry.  Almost as hard to find as Hoegaarden, I don't get this very often but when I do, I enjoy and savor every single drop.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


To me, Purple Rain is the quintessential movie soundtrack.  Often, the thing about soundtracks is that there are a handful of good songs, but the rest are just throw away.  In my opinion, there was not a bad song on the entire Purple Rain album. 



This soundtrack is from the motion picture, which was based on the Broadway Musical of the same name.  Rent is full of catchy tunes that often get stuck in my head.  Several of the songs, especially "Seasons of Love" and "I Should Tell You," are incredibly touching.



I'm a self-admitted child of the 80s.  Both the Broadway Musical and motion picture soundtracks of Rock of Ages deliver a memorable musical trip down memory lane.  I'm usually not very fond of tribute versions or remakes of classic songs, but I like these versions.
  


Before seeing the film Begin Again, which stars Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, I had not heard any of the songs from the soundtrack.  In fact, I had never even heard of this movie before my husband stumbled upon it one day while channel surfing.  Many of the songs are very catchy and unique.  The fact that I bought the soundtrack in its entirety speaks volumes.


So, what is your favorite cocktail and your favorite film soundtrack?  I love interaction, so please feel free to share in a comment below.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recently Read - Vol. 18 (Apr. '17)


It's the second Tuesday of the month, so you know it's time for me to link up with Jen and Steph for their monthly Show Us Your Books Linkup and discuss the books that I read last month.

April was a little better than March in terms of quantity (I read 3 instead of 2) and much better in terms of quality.  Here's what I read last month:


Replay by Ken Grimwood
Read April 2-9 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

What if you died suddenly, mid-conversation with your spouse one day, only to find yourself not dead but back in time and replaying your life?  That is the gist of Replay, which I found utterly captivating.  

I stumbled upon this book by accident and am so glad that I did.  It was entertaining, it kept me engaged, and it made me think - what would I do differently if I found myself back at the age of 18 but still with all the knowledge that I possess now? 

*I definitely recommend this book.


The First Rule by Robert Crais
Read April 10-20 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

This is the 13th book in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series and the second to feature Joe Pike as the lead character.  Of the two characters, Joe Pike is my favorite, so I was excited to read this one.

The First Rule is a solid detective/mystery novel with several unexpected plot twists that I didn't see coming, as well as a personal move by Joe Pike, but with the familiarity of characters that I've grown to love over the years.

Reading previous books in the series is not necessary, but advantageous because you see the character development of Elvis and Joe.

*I recommend this book.


Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
Read April 20-30  | Format:  Audiobook | My rating:  3/5

I have very mixed feelings about this book.  I found the premise interesting and I was drawn in trying to figure out who did it and why.  BUT, there were too many characters to keep up with, characters whose lives were all entangled, and there were a couple of subplots that were not wrapped up in the end, leaving me with several unanswered questions - which I hate.

*I would have a hard time recommending this book due to the frustration that the ending brought out in me.  


What books have you read lately?  Do you have anything that you recommend I add to my TBR?

As always, thanks for stopping by!



Linking up with Steph and Jana



Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 Blogging A to Z Reflections



The Blogging A to Z Challenge concluded on April 30 and I must admit that I was glad to see it end.  Overall, it was a good experience, but it is an exhausting experience as well.

Today I'm linking up one last time in order to reflect on my experience and to share some of my thoughts.


Notable Themes I Came Across:
  • Maryanne Holloway's (@ If I Only Had a Time Machine), "We Didn't Start the Fire" which broke down the history-filled lyrics to the Billy Joel's 1989 song of the same name.
  • Lisa's (@ Tales from the Love Shaque) "Hair Band Songs".  Lisa's daily trip down memory lane brought back a lot of memories from my junior high and high school years.
  • Donna B. McNicol's (@ Romance and Mystery ... Writing My Life) "Oh, The Places We Will Go" travel theme was a wonderful collection of her travels.  Reading several of her entries gave me a serious case of wanderlust.

I actually had a theme this year - '92 Time Capsule.  Here are some of my '92 Time Capsule Superlatives:


Thoughts On New Linking Up Format:

There was a new format for "linking up" this year.  In lieu of adding your blog to one, master link list, you had to create a hyperlink of your blog post that corresponded to the letter of the day and post the hyperlink in the comment section.  This new format, from what I understand, was an attempt to avoid dead links (people who sign up for the challenge and then don't follow through) and to save the A to Z team time, because they had to go through the list periodically to eliminate any blogs that weren't actively participating.  Here are my thoughts on this new format:
  • At first I didn't think it was too big of deal.  I changed my mind once I created a hyperlink and posted it in the comments after the 9th or 10th time.  It got old fast.
  • For me, it was a pain the ass to create a new hyperlink everyday, some of which I could NEVER get to work, go to the A to Z website, and post it.
  • Scrolling the comments everyday to search for other participants, in order to spread some blogger love, was irritating.  I never once felt like I could get a handle on the never ending comments section.
  • I completely understand the rationale behind the new method, but I did not like it.


Q & A

Why didn't I participate in the theme reveal?
Because I still hadn't decided whether or not I was going to participate in the challenge.

Will I participate next year?
At this point and time, probably not.

Why?
First of all, it's a lot of work.  Second, the challenge comes at a time in the year when my responsibilities at work begin to increase due to the approaching end of the school year.    I found myself working later and then scrambling around in the evenings to make sure my post for the next day was ready to roll, even though I prepared many in advance.  Third, although I enjoyed researching and writing the topics for my theme, participating in the challenge took time away from my participation in other linkups that I like to join in throughout the month. And lastly, as I mentioned earlier, it's a lot of work.

If it's so much work, why did I decide to participate a second year in a row?
Well, first, I love a good challenge.  I am a self-proclaimed challenge junkie.  I like to set a goal and then rise to the occasion, doing whatever I have to in order to complete it.  Second, I had done a lot of the prep work for my theme in advance and I hated to see it go to waste.  I seriously contemplated holding everything and participating next year with the theme, but the the whole reason for my theme, '92 Time Capsule, is because 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation.  Doing a time capsule theme 26 years later after the fact just didn't seem like it would be as relative or have as much impact.

Overall, how would I rate my experience on a scale of 1 to 10?
I would give my experience a 7.  I thoroughly enjoyed building my list, conducting the research, and writing the posts.  Everything I included was relative to the year 1992, which was a very significant year for me.  The entire experience was a nice little trip down memory lane.


If you are a fellow Blogging A to Z survivor - congratulations to you!  If you participated in the challenge, how would you rate your experience?  Was it a positive experience?

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful Monday.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Currently... (Vol. 16)


Attending...  Thurby with my two speech path buddies, Ka and H!  What is Thurby, you ask?  It is a day of racing at Churchill Downs on the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby.  Thursday + Derby = Thurby



Wishing...  that the weather would be more cooperative today.  There's a 100% chance of rain today.  Sigh... 

Thanking...  my co-worker, walking buddy, friend, and crafting genius, Ci, for helping me add a pop of color to my recycled fascinator (even though I won't be wearing it to Churchill Downs today because of the rain).

Rejoicing...  that the Blogging A to Z Challenge is over!  It was a good experience, but I'm ready to get back to a normal blogging routine with less publishing frequency.


Wishing...  a friend of mine Bon Voyage and Happy Cruising!  Have a fabulous time, S!

Keeping...  my travel envy in check.  Sadly, there are no vacations on my horizon.

Counting...  down the days until the end of the school year. 



Reading (well, listening to)... the audiobook The City by Dean Koontz.  It's my first book by the author.  So far, the jury is still out...

Walking...  a lot more than I normally do because of the step challenge I'm participating in at work.

Confessing...  that I am a challenge junkie.

Renewing...  my season subscription to the Broadway Across America.  It looks to be a great season!


Drowning...  in end of the year paperwork.  'Tis the season.

Planning...  several outdoor adventures for this summer - hiking, ziplining, and whitewater rafting.

Watching...  Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix.  I read the book about a year ago.  So far, I'm not liking the embellishments and changes that the television series has made.

Trying...  to bust through this weight loss plateau that I've hit.  UGH!


So, what have your been up to lately?

Have a wonderful Thursday!  Thanks for stopping by!



Monday, May 1, 2017

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Six Poems


The Tuesday Topic for last Tuesday (April 25) was Six Poems, but I was neck-deep in trying to finish the Blogging A to Z Challenge and didn't have time to get my post together.  The challenge is now over, hallelujah, so here are six poems that, for some reason or another, have made some impression on me at some point in my life:


"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, 
Old age should burn and rave at close of day; 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, 
Because their words had forked no lightning they 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright 
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight 
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, 
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. 
Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Sonnet 116
William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wand'ring bark, 
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle's compass come; 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me prov'd, 
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


i carry your heart with me
E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in 
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


We
Nayirah Waheed

we
return to each other in waves.
this is how water
loves.


Phenomenal Woman 
Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.


Do  you have a poem or two or more that you really like?  If so, please feel free to share.  As always, thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with Jenn


Disclaimer: I've never been one for poetry. I'm not sure why, I just haven't been. During high school and college, I had to read, recite, and sometimes write poetry. Despite this exposure, it's just not my thing. I try and have always tried to appreciate it, but rarely do I come across poems that resonate with me or stay with me the way song lyrics do.
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