Yes, I’m Still Thinking

As I continue to traverse the stages of shock within utter humility, my mind is blown that I’m attempting to get a doctorate. You know the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin”? Yeah, that’s me. Perhaps a doctorate isn’t the wildest idea in my history – I did join the military at age 28 which is still almost incomprehensible. But the smokescreen of doubt lingers. Do I have what it takes? Funny thing is I don’t worry about failure. Once I get started, I know I’ve got this. It’s the getting started part that worries me. When I look back on the moment I received the phone call stating I had passed my master’s capstone (essentially the final mountain), I was speechless. I looked around my big empty gym and took in the silence. Then I smiled the biggest smile I’d ever had until that point. I’d done it.

Shortly after I shared the good news with anyone who would listen, someone asked what’s next? I recall answering something to the affect of this is it for me. When the thought of a higher degree crossed my mind, I told myself ‘that’s not me’. Why not? Because it can be me. In time that passes so quickly, it will be me. In the meantime, much work remains.

I haven’t shared the news with mini yet. Perhaps the scope of it will be lost on her; that’s ok, too. But I did speak with her on the phone a few nights ago. Typically we video chat but she was with other relatives and it was late, etc. I had a tough time grasping how old she sounds on the phone. Not “age old” but “mature old”. She’s very matter of fact and wise in all her 6 years. She was also exhausted so anything she could do to stay awake was fair game. She had been struggling that night with a headache – when I asked questions related to how it came about, her answers were child-like, then I remembered she’s still my baby.

Proof

Me: Have you been drinking enough water?

Her: No, I haven’t drank any.

Me: Well, that may be part of the problem, honey. Did you hit your head on something while playing?

Her: Maybe!

Nothing like a conversation like that to bring life into perspective. I can hear the conversation in my head right now. “Mom, why is (this, this, and this) happening?” Me: I don’t know. “Well, you’re a doctor!” Leave it to a child (my child) to make you question your education.

_____________________

I ask you –

What song resonates with a journey (no pun intended) in your life?

Have you ever limited yourself with the phrase or mindset of ‘that’s not me’?

Share a moment where a child put you in your place. If you dare.

Talk It Out

“Because of grace, everything in your story has purpose. Even the dark parts. Especially the dark parts. Your brokenness is what allows the light to get in.” “Our lives are built by the voices we hear. It’s why they matter.”

Credit for the quotes above belong to separate devotionals. The intent is similar. What we hear, what we read, what we tell ourselves shapes the narrative in our minds. Our ‘self talk’ is perhaps even more important than what others tell us! Think about it. Haha no pun intended. Goals, dreams, aspirations begin in the mind. Ours!

The past two weeks have been particularly difficult in my own little world. For starters, I was completely out of commission one day for allergy-related breathing issues, then there was the seemingly neverending jaunt of dance performance rehearsals and end-of-year school activities. Then I accidentally took a double dose of daily medication which really made for an interesting day. I don’t remember most of it.

tea time

As hard as I’ve tried to be gentle with myself and manage my own expectations of what life should look like, my tank has been running on E. This is why… it’s called Running on Fumes. But I think I’m completely past E. There’s strangers pushing the truck from the intersection at this point. Beep, beep! My cycle is messed up, my hormones are out of whack, and I’m alternately exhausted or can’t asleep. Classic signs of burnout.

So how do we fix it? Maybe just by saying I’m done. The world with its political everything and life with its constant battles. I need some time to reset, recharge, relax. But not from blogging. It’s beyond time to fill up the tank. Side note: who can afford to do that now?! I can. You can. We all can. Sometimes we choose not to which sounds worse than paying for it.

I’m using this four-day weekend to catch up on things that make me happy – like Tom Cruise, long runs, and meal prepping. And muffins. aka cupcakes without icing

____________________

I ask you –

Are you on proverbial E?

What do you do to “fill your tank”?

Average gas prices where you live! $3.89

Resiliency Revolution

Occasionally I accept as a compliment what people say when it fact it isn’t. That’s a you problem! For example, someone in my office stated “You’re always doing something.” I saw them smile as the words exited their mouth so, naturally, I thought it was a good statement. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I have no idea. But it got me thinking – am I doing too much?

Credit: mytherapistsays via Instagram

My predominant belief is I should/like to give my time and effort to select things. In the Navy, we were encouraged to participate in everything. The problem here is you can’t give even 60% of yourself to 10 obligations. Hello, short stick. I chose (and often got dirty looks) for giving my time to 2-3 collateral duties. Those duties deserved my attention. Fast forward to the Air Force, the duties are called additional duties yet the volun-told status is still in effect. This is why… I take the initiative to cultivate and choose my own additional duties.

Introducing the Resilience Training Assistant (RTA). After a very involved two-day, interactive, emotional course, they felt I was qualified for certification. Yippee! I recognize resilience is a military buzzword; however, it is something I truly believe in because it can be used to reframe the culture of mental health stigma, as well as foster the conversations between military personnel both up and down the chain of command and within all branches. Yes, I know that’s a lot to ask. At the time of viewing the list of qualified personnel on base (nearly 40 people), I only recognized 2 of the names. TWO. Clearly there’s a problem because it means I didn’t know them from resiliency efforts, but from other duties.

Super incredible classmates!

The next hurdle is attending the Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) course at Maxwell AFB. Genuinely looking forward to a TDY. In the meantime, there’s a huge need to provide this curriculum to squadrons, groups, and all personnel. My vision is to ensure the word resiliency doesn’t go the way of other buzzwords, aka out of sight/out of mind. I want people to talk to each other when they’re hurting, when they’re struggling, when they need help. Billions of dollars a year are spent on (I’ll say it) completely useless things – why aren’t we spending money and time on changing culture instead? It costs nothing to empower others.

“If you’re self-aware enough to be self-deprecating, your IQ must be high!” – Will Lannon

We’re going to spark a revolution!

________________________

I ask you –

Have you ever heard of Resiliency Training?

What are some buzzwords in your profession?

Tell me about a time you participated in a culture-changing curriculum!

RoF – Caffeine Injected

It seems we’re a family of gadgets. I don’t know how we got to this point, but it’s here for the long haul. I realize it has been awhile since I’ve created a new post for this series; life got busy for a few minutes. This is why…I need coffee.

New Family Member

small but mighty

Introducing Evelyn, the espresso machine. Not to worry – the blog post heading was click bait only. As coffee is an essential part of my life, so shall an inanimate piece of machinery be aptly named. Like Betty. And Dot. Evelyn is a lovely new friend. She graces my life with dainty shots of life-giving liquid heaven and then she elegantly spins regular cold milk or cream into heated, frothy additions. It’s quite the sight.

I can’t wait to share my new coffee-making skills with others. Thus far, mini has had a portion of an espresso shot. Then, she didn’t stop talking for nearly 2 hrs. Whoops.

such a beautiful sight

Seems my afternoon routine isn’t complete without a double shot. I’m not quite there with creating any fancy designs, but occasionally it looks like I poured a glob of foam at the top of the cup. I can only get better from here! Unpopular opinion: the more I research how mainstream coffee shops create their beverages, the more I dislike their practices. Did you know a (very) well-known coffee establishment’s drinks are either a) nearly 3/4 cup milk (as in very little actual coffee) or b) made entirely from a carton of pre-made tea or coffee? Yet we pay $6 or more for something touted to be “hand crafted”. Just wow. I understand we’re paying for convenience, but, honestly, the coffee – what little you actually get – isn’t even that good!

I did my research on what coffee to buy; I even asked my favorite coffee shop for their feedback. What with millions of options, the choice was difficult but I believe I made the perfect one. Lavazza Super Crema has a beautiful finish, it’s smooth and delicious, and it isn’t bitter in the slightest. Granted, Lavazza isn’t a “reserve”-type coffee, but for the price it was a great start on my coffee-creating journey.

Unbeknownst to me, there are many common terms in the coffee industry. Some are puck, brush, demitasse, and many others. I’m still learning designs and pretty things. All I know is I’ve sort of become a coffee snob. It’s hard to pay for coffee when I know I can make the same (better!) at home.

So this is where I typically give you the name and location of my Caffeine Injected series. Alas, there is none to give this time. But if you ever want to stop by for a fancy coffee and some random jokes, I’m always available. Except when I’m not. Which is most days, 5am-9pm.

Want to see more?

If you or someone you know owns or frequents a favorite coffee establishment and you’d like to be featured (or nominate them to be featured), please comment below!

Cheers to the Caffeine Injected series!

_______________________________

I ask you –

How much is too much to pay for coffee?

Where is your go-to coffee spot?

Rate my naming skills! Evelyn: A+

Drinking from a Broken Cup

I got this idea from Bossy Babe in her post The Lonely Block to check out the following website: London Writer’s Salon. I love following other bloggers who come across other avenues or groups to write in besides the standard local library group (not that there’s anything wrong with those).

Essentially, there’s a writer’s group via London Writer’s Salon that meets virtually throughout the week. It would be so nice to connect with other writers and just be. Wholeheartedly, I want to complete my book this year. And I know an amazing woman who is publishing her first book soon so she’s been a valuable source of information on what to do/not do. I shall pick her brain like any good friend would do.

mood improvement techniques

Since I’m not running, I guess now is the best time to get started on cover art, contents, and publication challenges. Really, though, this walking thing is garbage. My mood sucks, my digestive health is blah, and I’m still fighting to get into PT sooner than March. I’m going nowhere at the speed of my government-approved desktop computer. Good thing my building has no windows. I need to run!! My first question will be this: can I at least cycle? Give me anything more than walking! In related news, the constant pain is mostly gone. There’s only twinges and an occasional achiness now. Yay progress!

available at Amazon

Somehow I’m still maintaining a book a month. Don’t get excited, Kel. It’s just February. Recently I finished Matthew Mcconaughey’s book, which I originally purchased for my dad but he loved it so much he gave it back to me to read. The writing style was unexpected; however, it was a great book and I could hear his voice with every line. I remembered a time when I had “the drive” each day…I would listen to books on Audible. My favorite was listening to Anna Kendrick narrate her own story. Some say we bear a resemblance. Her sense of humor has me snorting laughing. Perhaps that’s our only resemblance.

__________________________

I ask you –

Have you ever published a book or some other publication?

What’s the last book you read (or listened to)?

Share some reading suggestions!

As It Goes

“We’re not depressed, we’re discouraged.”

How often do we – the collective – find ourselves down, tired to the point of exhaustion, sad, or unmotivated? Pot, Kettle.

Credit: word porn via Instagram

I manage to find small ways to “fill my bucket”, so to speak. Seasons in life require us to take from one bucket to pour into another just to stay afloat. Anyone want to juggle?! At the end of the day, after filling countless buckets that may not even be mine, recharging my batteries – aka filling my bucket – is top priority. This isn’t relegated to end of day either!

Taking Care of You!

What do you enjoy doing? How do you fill your bucket? It’s easy to find myself saying I’ll go see them (insert whomever) soon or I’ll call them tomorrow or, my personal favorite, I’ll add it to my list! Which list, Kel? Then I never get around to it and my bucket is filled with other things and what-do-you-know it never happens. Supplies!!

Bucket filling can be as simple as taking a walk around a bookstore and indulging in expensive coffee. For me, I visit my children’s shelter coworkers. Those women know how to make me laugh. And they remind me where I came from…a 19 yr old girl missing pieces of her heart. She was a mess. They know more about what I believe in than any words could convey. We laugh, cry, and share what it means to be a true friend. They fill a bucket within me.

Taking Care of Others!

Perhaps you fill a bucket for someone else; you probably don’t even realize what you’re doing. It can be a kind word, a text, a joke, even a smile. You know the feeling you get when someone says they saw something the other day that reminded them of you? Unless it involves cops. It only takes a second for you to give the gift of water into an empty pail.

Speak good things into another’s life! How convenient we find it to blame, ridicule, or negate someone else’s happiness when it really shows how empty our bucket truly is. The “you never”s are a reflection of our own insecurities. You know that saying about ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’? Start being it.

As far as discouragement goes, I firmly acknowledge depression is real. It manifests physically, mentally, and spiritually. However, I believe, more often than not, we are more discouraged than depressed. Life lets us down. We get in our own way. Discouragement + empty buckets = sadness, loss of hope, etc.

Taking It All In!

Recognize your buckets! Share your struggles! Feel free to juggle, but don’t live on the Merry Go Round of Paul & Peter. You know, robbing Peter to pay Paul or however it goes. Stop occasionally. Ask for help!

If all else fails, do you know how much wine a bucket can hold?! Probably a lot…I’m willing to find out!

__________________________

I ask you –

Was this helpful at all? Do you understand the concept of buckets?

How often do you unexpectedly reach out to someone to say you’re thinking about them? You don’t remember? Then do it right now!

Please share what works for you when it’s time to refill your bucket!

To Thine Own Self Be…

…the truest you can be.

Amazingly enough, there are still people in our world who feel like they can’t be their true selves. As if society dictates how/what/whom they should look and feel, it’s a very common occurrence.

In recent conversation, it came up that a woman I know, after expending emotional energy, allows herself to cry and mourn what she has lost. It struck me as profound because how often do we let ourselves just feel? Believe me, it can be a terrifying journey to embark on – with the scariest of turns and very little sustainable food sources. At the end, however, you will be rewarded with soul food beyond anything you’ve ever tasted. So how do you get there? You simply start.

Please pause for a random thought:

Exercise does for the body what feeling does for the soul. It hurts! True. It really does hurt. You won’t catch me lying about the pain. But so much good can come of it. The mind and soul need ample time to process; without this time, it’s much like complacency – everything starts to feel the same.

For example, do you know what food tastes like when you rapidly inhale it and don’t take the time to enjoy it? Sure, you taste it but you don’t really taste. There is a means to an end.

The above was an awe-inspiring documentary I am better for watching. Truly unbelievable are the men and women whose souls flourish in bringing people together for a common goal. As the caption states, the hope one witnesses in others who have faced a tough set of circumstances really proves how much we need one another. Try not to feel moved while watching this movie; I dare you.

And now back to our main content:

In being true to yourself, I believe it’s also important to be – what these hip young people call and I know as a buzz word – transparent. Transparency doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. (The word doesn’t, the idea does.) It’s not so much about being see through to others; who cares what they think. Easier said than done, I know.

There was a time in my life when perception was reality. Loathing. In the real, wide world this isn’t necessarily true. As a child, I didn’t know why I was different. The pressure on myself to be perfect and have things just so was, frankly, debilitating. At the age of 6, when I’d visit other friends’ homes, their bedrooms would be a wild mess. How I envied the randomness of it. In an effort to curtail my perfectionism, I’d go home and ransack my dresser drawers to make my room look “lived in”. But each time I did this (yes, multiple times), the experience would end in tears and my returning the room to its former cleanliness.

Coloring is calming. Try it

It took many years to embrace my Type A personality. Today, I’m comfortable with it. It’s just how I am. Things have a place and belong somewhere. I take pride in a clean car and home. Sure, bordering on compulsive, this behavior isn’t always healthy but it’s who I am. I do my best not to impose myself on my mini’s way of living because obviously choice is very important. But if I’m being completely honest, her lackluster care for order in some things but not in others drives me insane.

You know that emoji with both arms up and a big shrug? Just insert that right here.

_________________

I ask you –

When was the last time you dove into your emotions?

Any buzz words you’re sick of hearing? Transparent is definitely the biggest for me.

Type A? Type B? Thoughts on this?

Pardon Me, Ma’am, Have You Seen the Crabs?

Much like this

Ahhhhh. The smell of sun, salt, and decaying ocean creatures is on the horizon. It only took 8 years. Yeppers, my vacation is officially booked!

Contrary to popular opinion, I snagged a condo rental when the price was well below market value. And I think my opinion was deemed unpopular only because of uncertainty in our current times. I don’t care; I did it anyway. And these people will be thanking me in a few months. I shall reward myself with tiny umbrella-infused drinks.

A short walk from the beach, close to all my favorite eateries, and on the best island in the word. South Padre, I’ll be seeing you soon! My excitement was contagious because even the little munchkin got in on the list-making action. The kite she has been promised is icing on the cake. She wasn’t too keen on the 13 hour commute, but we regularly traveled over 25 hours from Virginia to Texas so this sounds like a quick jaunt to me. Note to self: we need more coloring books.

My apologies on the briefness of this post. I’m off to bathing suit shop and I’ve heard the dressing rooms aren’t yet available. Wish me luck. The curbside delivery people are in for quite a show.

I think my footprint is larger

——————————————-

I ask you –

Where’s your favorite place to visit/vacation?

Are you partial to warm or cool weather climates?

Offhand, does any one know the fine for public indecency? I seem to recall getting warned of this mid-race last year. Long story. Will share some other time.

Writers and their Ramblings

100%: the possibility of every gym, bar, church, and eating establishment with a line out the door once restrictions are lifted.

50%: the possibility I’ll be one of those in the line.

A dizzying site

Truthfully, I didn’t really “go” a lot of places before this time. But, I was able to and that seems to be the difference. Funny how when we’re told we can’t do something how much more we long to do it. Much like being a child. If something seems off limits or your parental figure says you can’t, the enticement eats away at our minds. Oh the possibilities.

However, many good things have come of this. 1) I spend a whole lot less money eating out and buying needless things. 2) Family time is most important. I didn’t realize how many things we could do together with a bucket of slime (yuck) and some kinetic sand (yay). 3) Time. Again. Working on my “projects”, reading, and gardening is valuable to an extroverted introvert. I don’t know if this is what I am, but most people probably ring true somewhere in the middle. But I digress.

Measurably immeasurable

Besides, what else are we doing with our lives that is so important? Be honest. As each decade passes, we get so caught up in going, doing, being, creating that we don’t even know what our values are. Who are we as people? I’m reminded of millions of tiny ants rushing around; ants that live to seek out a piece of food and return it to their nest. Is that what we do? Rush to work to make money to seek out food – and that’s all? I want to work to live, not live to work. Is there something better out there?

Waxing philosophical makes the mind wander even farther. Mine anyway. It’s normal to get caught in a rut – writer’s block, living day to day, etc. – so how do we overcome this? Be the change. A mindset can be changed by no one other than yourself. Find a place, a person, an idea, then run with it. Change is constant. I, for one, believe it can be a good thing.

Find passion in the written word

I had no clue where this post would go when I began writing. Life is like that, too. If you are to reflect back 1 year ago, 5 years ago, even 10 years ago: where were you then? Just the other day I located a journal from 2010. Holy wow. Reading my own words was surreal and I gently followed the path that young woman was on, where her head was, what place she was in at the time. It must be gentle because although she and I are the same we are world’s apart. And she deserves understanding.

——————–

I ask you –

Will you be first, middle, or last in the hypothetical line on the return to “normalcy”?

Uncovered any old musings? Tell me about them!

How gentle are you with yourself when looking back on days go by?

Running Update

We’ve barely touched May and the mercury is already nosing 100°. Ugh. FML. The show must go on.

Occasionally I can get in an early run outdoors, but usually I’m relegated to the treadmill. Honestly it isn’t so bad because at least there I have about an hour to devote to mindless television. Foreword: apologies to all my friends who recommended shows for me to watch. I continue to watch the same I have been watching for years. First, I finished Brothers & Sisters. Then, I watched Younger (currently awaiting the next season). Now I’m on Revenge.

I’m more of a Hulu fan

The truth is this: besides Younger, I’ve seen the other series at least once before. Creature of habit much? I just have a problem committing to a new show with several episodes I have to figure out. I’m sure that’s the whole point, but when I’m running, I want to sink into the show with little extra effort.

Seems staying at home does have its perks. Like running for alone time.

But also seeing this amazing sight! I really really really don’t like geese, but seeing the cute little babies before they become angry, drab creatures is exciting. I’ve heard geese babies typically stay where they’re born. Dammit. They just poop on everything and drives me insane. Yuck.

Why did the goose cross the road?

The most important reason to run is so I can continue imbibing in the bakery madness my home has become. Comfort foods extend to bread, old-fashioned favorites, and the like; mine is cookies. Guess it could be worse, right? And when mini-cookie maker gets started, we just can’t stop. Needless to say, I’m enjoying it immensely! My heart and blood sugar are overcome with happiness. Remember this for when I need an intervention.

Unicorn cookies

____________________

I ask you –

Shows you’re watching now?

Recommendations? I probably won’t watch them, but I enjoy you trying.

What’s the summer average temperatures where you live?