Lent 2012

I need your help. This year Cory & I are giving up fried foods for Lent. And while it will be a challenge to stay away from french fries, that’s not why I need your help.

I’ve also decided to give up gossip for Lent. It’s something that has been on my heart & a nasty habit to begin with. Nasty, but ingrained into my being. And the being of  many, many other people. Come on, be honest.

Don’t get me wrong, I can keep secrets. And I treasure my friendships. Gossiping is just an easy way for women to connect and that has been a huge part of certain past friendships of mine (past for a reason, mind you).

I want to be better. A better Christian. A better friend. A better human being. I want to be able to share information, but make sure that I’m doing it the honorable way. And I know this won’t be easy, but it’s worth a good, concentrated 40 day shot. If I can ban all gossip from my life for 40 days, hopefully I will see gossip in a new light & be able to avoid it more often.

So I need help in defining what gossip truly is. Dictionary.com’s definition is, “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” & it gives the example of, “the endless gossip about Hollywood stars.”

No celebrity gossip?? But I LOVE celeb gossip. It doesn’t feel like you are hurting anyone or damaging their reputation because celebrities are public figures & people that we have never met. Is this a big, fat excuse?

Merriam-Webster defines gossip as this, “to talk about the personal lives of other people.” Come on. I mean, what am I suppose to do if someone asks me how a friend or family member of mine is doing? Life happens & we are all going to discuss it…

I’m lost.

Off of the top of my head, these are the things that I believe & don’t believe about gossip:

It is NOT gossip if your intentions are pure & not malicious. Pretty simple.

It IS gossip if you are envious of or uncomfortable w/the person you want to say something negative about (& you really need to dig deep & be honest w/yourself on this one) or if you are speculating about something or someone & your speculation could be potentially damaging to their reputation.

Also, does it count if you’re talking to your husband or best friend??

This is a start, but I need your help coming up w/some rules. I want to be as clear as I can about the goal that I am working towards. 

And I think it goes without saying that a Gossip Girl Marathon should probably not happen throughout the next 40 days. (Note to Alex: Let’s get it on the schedule for after my birthday.)
Please leave your comments below, on my Facebook post, in reply to my Twitter post or direct message me. And thank you in advance for helping me give up gossiping for Lent!

The Happiness Project

One of my favorite hobbies is reading. I have loved to read & write since I was a child. Therefore, I think it is time for a book review.
One of my best friends, Alex & I decided at the end of 2010 that we would like to start a book club. Then we discussed how to go about organizing a book club: invite others, set a date & time, make a group decision on what book we would begin…And to be honest, we can be very lazy.
So this is how our two-person “Exclusive Book Club” began.
I have a list of 37 books on my current reading list & an additional 30 books sitting on my shelf  at home waiting to be read. And let’s not forget the list of authors that I adore or am interested in & will read anything they write (there are only six on that list right now). Yes, I realize that this is probably unhealthy. But it’s one of the best obsessions one could have, agreed?
So in January of 2011 we decided to tackle this book:
What initially attracted me to this book was that Gretchen described herself as “happy”; she was living in NYC, working as a writer (one of my fantasies – actually after the world met Carrie in Sex & the City, I’m sure that life became a fantasy for many of us), married to a wonderful husband & had two little girls.
Her life was everything she could have dreamed of. But she felt like she could appreciate it more. She felt like she could be happier, not by having more things or life being different, just in the way she treated life.
I too, felt like my life is on track with my dreams: I have a college degree, I married my high school sweetheart, we own a home together close to my family, we’ve both made some solid friends over the years, I have a good job that I love. I wanted to take it all in & appreciate it to the fullest.
So Gretchen embarked on a year of trying to be happier & Alex & I followed, month by month.

 She divided her life out into 11 areas and made goals each month, based on the area she was focusing on for that month (December was used to practice everything).
Gretchen had 3-5 goals for each month (this WAS her full time job, as she is an author). Some of her goals included: go to sleep earlier, fight right, launch a blog, acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings, take time to be silly, don’t gossip, indulge in a modest splurge, keep a gratitude notebook, master a new technology, stimulate the mind in new ways and laugh out loud.   
We didn’t end up doing a full-on “Happiness Project”, like Gretchen, but it was fun to read her experience & take away pieces of info. that we now incorporate into our daily lives. For Christmas, I even got us “Happiness Project” Daily Desk Calendars, to help remind us of all of the things we read about the year before. 
Alex & I on her birthday this past December.
So if you’re looking for a fun, little project (okay – it’s not that little) to take on in an effort to improve yourself, this book is great. You can take the outline & make it completely your own, or like Alex & I, not begin a project at all, simply take away ideas from Gretchen’s project.
Happy Reading!

Our New Addition

Two weeks ago we lost our precious Coco and many of you followed our sad weekend through my blog. Your comments & prayers truly made a difference by helping us begin to heal, as it was encouraging to hear from so many others who had lost a pet.
Each day it has gotten easier to move past tears & towards happy memories of the short year & a half that we had with Coco.
Which brings to me to our little announcement.  
Meet Baby Winston.
He is the 3 month old chihuahua that we rescued from the Kansas Humane Society this weekend. A true baby. A NON-POTTY-TRAINED baby. : ) Have you noticed that I love my life complicated?
My sister called me last week to let me know that a litter of chihuahuas had just hit the humane society. Isn’t she so sweet?? Looking out for her big sissy. : ) So we took the boys (Brodie, Briggs & Cory) up to visit & met Mr. Winston (which, was not his name at the KHS, by the way).
 Cory & I placed a hold on him, but waited a couple of days before deciding that we were ready to take on a puppy.
We are so happy that Winston is now a member of our family. Here are a couple of facts about him.
Winston is 4.89 pounds – precious!
Winston has taken over Coco’s role of bossing Natty around the house.

Winston LOVES to cuddle w/his mama. He is a total mama’s boy. (Happy Sigh…)

Here, on my lap.

He also cuddles w/his big sister – cutest thing ever!

We’re doing things a little differently than we did with Coco, by kenneling Winston when we’re gone & not letting him sleep overnight in bed with us. Those things are going very well.

 Potty-training…Not as easy with the cold weather & snow that we’ve had all weekend. Haha. But the process is teaching us paitence & discipline. Example – we were actually EARLY to boot camp this Saturday morning because we had to wake up at 7 a.m. to let Winston out. Normally we’re about 5 minutes late.
Plus, this is just practice for a real baby some day, right??
Have a great Monday everyone!!

Moving Forward: 2012

New Year’s Resolutions. You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them. Too much. In fact, I look forward to making multiple NYRs every year. About the time October sets in I start thinking about what I was to put on my list for the upcoming year. You can see how this kind of thinking is flawed.
Here’s what normally happens: I have my list of NYRs & limit myself to one resolution per category in my life (for example, one phyiscal NYR & one social NYR & one professional NYR…). I finalize my list & get excited about it in the weeks leading up to New Years Eve. When the clock strikes midnight I make my vow to change my life in the new year and….then about two-three weeks into it I get overwhelmed because I’ve made too many resolutions & it’s too hard to keep track of them all.
So this year, I’ve taken a different approach. I was at a marketing conference in Chicago this summer when I heard a motivational speaker talk about a family tradition he had created. Instead of NYRs, they each picked a word of the year and vowed to live out that word as best they could, applying it to all the situations they faced that year. So for instance, if the word he picked for the year was “love”, he would do everything in the spirit of love, if his son picked the word “focus”, he committed to being more focused on whatever task was at hand.
So my word for 2012 is…(drumroll) – Balance. In 2011 I found it hard to balance my work & home life, friends & family, health & relaxation, among other things. This year I’ve made a vow to not over-commit, to eat a more balanced diet, to create balance in all areas of my life. I really don’t have a solid plan of how to do this, I just plan to keep the word “balance” in mind when making all of my decisions.
So far I feel that I’ve done a decent job of implimenting this. January & the beginning of Febrauary has been an insane time for us: Hawaii, Briggs, Coco, three weeks straight of work travels. So in response to the crazyness I:
– Turned down several invitations to events, groups & outings
– Spent quality time with the people I value most in my life as opposed to trying to cram in a little bit of time w/every friend I have
– Spent some nights just relaxing with my husband as well as going out on a couple of dates together 
– Got back to my steady workout routine (which means getting to work at 8:30 instead of 7:30 or 8, but also staying later or factoring my events & travel into consideration)
My sister & I hanging out with our neice, Madalynn at Family Game Night last weekend.
Balance is key for me this year. So far, so good.
PS – I must admit that I do have ONE, just ONE NYR for 2012. That is to write more. So far, so good!