Tuesday, April 30, 2013

love.this.post. -- the interfaith effort

Last week, in the midst of the media aftermath of the Boston tragedy, I received an email from an organization I follow: Interfaith Youth Core.  This is an "interfaith movement" that strives to build "religious pluralism."  My interaction with Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) goes back to college.  Angie received a fellowship from IFYC, based out of Chicago, and had the opportunity to participate in a global interfaith youth effort to promote religious pluralism and peace.  Much of what Angie did was in line with our efforts on campus with Interfaith Circle, the student organization we ran.  IFYC is a very active organization that I admire.

Eboo Patel is the founder and Executive Director of IFYC.  In the email that I received, he attached an entry he had written from the Huffington Post: 3 Reasons Interfaith Efforts Matter More Than Ever.

I won't ruin the post for you - you really should click on the link and read it yourself, but I thought it was a brilliant post for the current religious climate here in the United States.  Here are his three reasons:

1.  Interfaith helps harmonize people's various identities.

2.  Interfaith efforts help us to separate the worst elements of communities from the rest.

3.  Interfaith efforts remind us America is about welcoming the contributions of all communities and nurturing cooperation between them.

Interfaith work has been very important to me.  It has taught me to appreciate all faiths and has aided in the quest to find my spiritual home.  Interfaith work has instilled in me a sense of peace and cooperation that can be attained provided there are people who are willing to work together despite their differences.  In the wake of such sensitive issues surrounding the events in Boston, I think it is important to bring these points up again.  I think the last time we really had to think about this, and think very hard, was 9/11.

Eboo Patel has also written a couple of books:

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation - Angie gave me this book as a birthday gift after we graduated from Miami.  I have yet to read it, but I have seen it on book club lists recently, much to my happiness.  It is on my list of summer reading, which I plan to get to after I complete a few major projects in my life.  I've had to put a halt to my reading streak of joy.

Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America - This is Patel's latest book that came out in August of last year.  I will also be putting this on my summer reading list.

Here is a great speech by Eboo Patel.  It's about 20 minutes, but worth the watch.

Interfaith work continues to be important to me and I agree that it is more important than ever.  Our country is very sensitive to issues of religion and faith and unless we continue to make positive efforts in uniting people of different faiths, in reaching a degree of understanding, the religious climate won't get any better.

love.this.list. -- a motley crew of love

I couldn't come up with a good title for this post because it contains so many random things... so I decided to make it a list!

1. It pays to read blogs!!! - So... I've been trying to amp up my presence in the dog-blog community.  Yes, my blog isn't all about the dogs, but they have a lot to do with it.  Anyhow, I've really just been trying to find some good dog-blogs and I have run into a few.  One of them is: Peggy's Pet Place.  Last week, I entered a giveaway of four bags of all natural Cloud Star dog treats.  This morning, I was surprised to see in my email inbox that I, or rather Opie and Maizy, had won!  I am not a person who usually wins things, so this was really surprising and delightful, especially since it benefits my babies.  The thing is, I have been stocking up on all natural dog treats from TJMaxx (they are WAAAY cheaper there) so I already bough them 8 bags/boxes of dog treats, but then, while cleaning my car last night, I found another bag of dog treats that I had bought at least a month ago and forgot to bring in.  So Opie and Maizy will have dog treats until the end of time, especially once I get this package from Peggy.  What lucky dogs!!!

2. More music! - I said in a previous post that my "summer concert" had been decided and that Angie and I are going to see Darren Criss.  Well, lucky us, there is a three-day music festival, the Bunbury Music Festival, in Cincy in July and we are going to the Friday concert, which includes fun., Walk the Moon, and Tegan and Sara (among others).  But holy cow, three of my favorite bands in one night.  Heck yes!  This summer is going to be filled with awesome music for me.  Love love love!!!

3. Goetta, yummm. - So... since I have known Angie, I have not been able to attend a single Glier's GoettaFest in support of Yat Ka Mein.  For those of you who don't know, Yat Ka Mein is my most favorite restaurant of all time and place.  It belongs to Angie's family and has the best, healthiest, and tastiest Chinese food.  We're not talking greasy buffet food.  Not Chinese-American friend junk.  This is the real deal and it's the best.  So if you are ever in Cincinnati, I suggest you stop by and say hello to Clarence (Angie's dad).  He is a very nice, generous man and will make sure you find something you like on the menu if you are having a hard time deciding.  He's great like that.  I highly suggest the tofu pad thai.  It is ah-mazing!  And if you are planning to be in the Cincinnati area and want to stop by Yat Ka Mein, go to this link and pay $20 for a $40 gift certificate to Yat Ka Mein.  Good until next April.  I know when I get paid, I am going to buy at least three because I'll be in Cincy at least three times this summer.

4. Veggie gardening! - Last night I went to Home Depot to pick up some seeds for the vegetable garden.  I'm so excited.  We start planting tomorrow.  I bought seeds for cherry tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, sugar snap peas, spearmint, basil, and cilantro.  I got a pair of cute gardening gloves, too.  I can't wait to see the first harvest.

The weather is gorgeous again, after a bout of rain.  The sun is shining again and today, it's not as humid.  Keep it up, weather.  It makes me so much happier.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

love.this.weather. -- nature is showing off

Yeah... nature is totally showing off.  For weeks, it has been dreadful and FINALLY - this is weather I can deal with! I took pictures of these tulips today in a friend's garden.  They are too delightful. And I took them on my iPhone 4.  I'm quite impressed with the quality.

So my birthday is coming up in a few weeks.  The big 2-6.  I only mention this because this is the time of year I start getting awesome coupons in the mail.  Yesterday, free shipping and $15 from JCP.com and today, $20 from verabradley.com.  Score!

In other news, my summer concert has been decided and tickets have been purchased.  Angie and I are going to see Darren Criss (!!!) in Cleveland at the House of Blues on June 14th.  It was kind of a pain in the butt to get tickets and we had to go by way of stubhub because they sold out on ticketmaster... I hate ticketmaster.  Even though we had to pay double for the tickets, it's totally worth it.  This makes up for the sold out show in New York a couple years back.  We were ten minutes away and we didn't get to see him.

Looking forward to more beautiful weather and taking more awesome pictures!

Here is the song that I was humming all morning... I think it is very springy.  P.S. - I hum when I am happy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

love.this.day. -- a breath of fresh air

The sun is shining today, much to my delight.  I have accomplished much, also to my delight.  There is oh, so much to do, but I will take my wins where I can get them.  Not only is it a beautiful day, but it has been peaceful as well.  I've appreciated the calm and quiet of today.  I used to be someone who had to have noise.  I couldn't do anything without the tv running in the background or my iTunes playing or what have you.  Now, I've come to really appreciate the stillness.  My dogs really like to stare out the window and I used to think it was out of boredom, but I think I get it now.  There is power and peace to being... very... still...

I am so ready for the summer to begin.  And when I mean summer, I mean moving, accomplishing, getting dirt on my hands, taking long walks with my dogs, absorbing the freshness of the morning, etc.  The undergraduates will go away and the town will be calm and pleasant.  I will enjoy this city a little more than I do during the school year.

I have a few summer projects:

1.  Train for Cincinnati Colorpalooza. -- Yes, I am doing a color run.  But I can't run.  I'm just going to have to do the best that I can and try not to drag my friends behind too much.  I know it will be great fun, but I've got to get moving.

2.  MOVE. -- I am ridiculous.  I have lived in BG for four years and this will be the third time I am moving within town.  Each for good, and unexpected, reasons.  I will spend the better part of June nesting and dissertating.  It will be fabulous.

3.  Gardening. -- Yeah... I can keep animals and children alive, but not plants.  Despite that fact, I am attempting to create a vegetable garden with some friends.  This will be a long, long project.  I will have to learn how gardening can bring me peace and happiness.

4.  Oh, yeah... that dissertation. -- That's all I have to say about that. (Bleck!)

I am extremely grateful for today's sunshine.  I can't even express how grateful.  And, of course, I get to spend the rest of my day indoors working.  But that's okay... just so I know that the weather is cooperating with my mental health.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

love.this.dog. -- maizy update

Just got a phone call from WCHS.  Maizy will be spayed next Friday.  Yay!!! One more step closer to adoption!

love.this.book. -- you had me at woof: how dogs taught me the secrets of happiness

Truth 1:  I love dogs.

Truth 2:  I love to read.

I bet you didn't know this things about me...

Fostering Maizy has changed something inside me.  It's like a flip has been switched.  I've gone from loving my little Opie, loving dogs in general and thinking they are wonderful to being OBSESSED with dogs and happily accepting a possible fate of being single for the rest of my life so long as I can be surrounded by dogs.  I don't just love dogs and have the occasional "aww... I wish I could have that dog.  It's sooooo cute" anymore.  When I see a dog, my mind flips to "What do I have to do to have you?"

I'm not ashamed of this.  In fact, I have accepted it as a passion.  Recently, my dear brother-friends Joel and Nathan and I had a conversation about passion.  Joel and I were unsure that what we were doing, what we were going to school for, was really our passion.  What does having a passion mean?  If your passion is your work, will you lose your love for your work eventually?  Is it bad not to have a passion?  Does having or not having a passion affect your happiness?  Does having a passion make life more meaningful?

Like many conversations with Joel and Nathan, this one went nowhere.  Not because of the company, but because of the topic.  We often find ourselves talking through unsolvable issues.  Our conversations are like puzzles that paint an ugly picture and we pull it apart to scrutinize the pieces, wondering how we can put the pieces back together so that the picture is prettier.  In the end, we put the puzzle back to its original state.  Unfortunately, I left the conversation feeling very down on myself and upset.  I felt like I was going to ruin my life continuing my current course of life.  I walked away with the feeling that my life would be meaningless unless I had a passion and that because I currently had no passion, my life was pretty much meaningless.

Of course, my life is not meaningless.  I don't believe that, but this was my thought process.

Talent.  Talent is another thing I have concern over.  I don't feel like a talented person.  When I think of talent, I think of something extraordinary... and I know talents aren't necessarily so.  But even at the most basic of levels I feel relatively without talent.  As I write this, I'm unsure as to what a talent really is to begin with.

Okay, so Maizy changed something in me.  A few weeks ago I found myself at the library and I just started pulling memoirs about dogs, life with dogs, owners and their dogs... I didn't know why and I honestly wasn't sure that I would even read these books, but I started to and I realized what I was looking for.  I was looking to connect with others who have been as affected by dogs as I have.  People who have thought about being a "doggie parent" as much as I have.  People who wonder how they ever lived without Sparky or Spot.

This particular book, You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam, really hit me.  It hit me hard.  I'm new to this whole foster thing and reading about Julie's experiences in fostering really got to me.  I wanted those experiences, good or bad.  I wanted those stories, funny or not.

With the turn of each page, I realized that I had identified my passion.

Dog rescue.

There are very few books (or movies) that make me cry.  I cried while watching Bridge to Terabithia and I had to watch Marley & Me with a box of tissues on my lap.  I cried when Harry Potter "died" (in the movie, not sure if I did reading the book).  50/50 did make me cry too... but watching a movie about cancer after my mom had just battled breast cancer probably wasn't the best idea.

This book made me cry.  Julie's words resonated with me.  I felt everything she was feeling because I knew. My heart knew what her heart knew.  I had to give it 5 stars on Goodreads.

I know I've mentioned fostering before but I am feeling this passion like I've never felt it before.  I want to devote my life to helping place dogs into happy homes because I truly believe a house is not a home without a dog or two.  Happiness really is a warm puppy (no matter how old, big or small).

So I'm the dog lady and will continue to be so.  No, I don't paint my dogs' nails and I don't feed them people food, and though they do have a few t-shirts, they do not have their own wardrobe.  But I love the crap out of 'em.  And there's enough love to go around.

Julie Klam showed me that being a "dog lady" doesn't have to be a weird obsession or a hoarding issue... being a "dog lady" is a noble calling, one that can and will change your life for the better.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

love.this.morning. -- cuddling with dogs and words

After a brief period of down-ness and a hiatus from my reading, I am back to devouring books. I work in a couple of hours and since I have been awake (for a couple of hours) I have been warm and cozy in my bed beneath my mother's soft, crocheted blankets, which I love, and cuddled against Opie and Maizy.

I realized the other day that I am becoming the person I want to be, slowly but surely. I have grown a lot in the past year and though sometimes painful, it has definitely been worth it. Yes, there are many things I wish that I was that I am not yet, but I am getting there.

I am a person who devours books and makes weekly trips to the library. I am also a person who loves loves loves dogs and every joy that they bring to life. I didn't think I could love dogs any more than I already did, but I do now. I have been reading memoirs by Julie Klam about her experiences in dog rescue and I am inspired to participate in this kind of work when I am settled.

Opie and Maizy are my constants. They keep me going and they keep me happy. They entertain me, they love me, they need me, they are loyal to me... They have saved me as much as I have saved them, if not more, and that seems to be a theme among those who devote their lives to dog rescue. I think I am that kind of person. My dogs' well-being has become a passion and I really do hope to expand that to more dogs in the future, regardless if they are mine. So long as I have my core canines, Opie and Maizy, I think I can spread the love and be a good foster. Sure, it will break my heart ten thousand times over to part with my foster doggies, but would I be a good foster mommy if it didn't???

Another person I have become is an introvert. I never thought of myself to be an introvert before, but definitely so now. I am not sure that it is something I wanted to become, but it is working for me. I am finding peace and contentment here. There is something about the quiet of reading a good book while 70 pounds of dog is piled on top of you. I am not so bothered by silence anymore. I actually quite appreciate it. Silence used to drive me crazy and I would always have the television on in the background to accompany my thoughts. Now I am ok with just my thoughts. The tv is rarely ever on and I like it that way. Oh, sure, I get my entertainment's worth. I am caught up on practically every tv show I watch (ashamedly so). But I no longer consume television in ginormous quantities. I have replaced that with reading, something I used to do quite frequently.

I love this.

The birds are chirping outside and I hope that means it is warmer today than it was yesterday, though I am not sure.

Reading was not on my to-do list for today (is it ever on any to-do list?) but i feel quite accomplished anyway. It's a good feeling and motivates me to use this Saturday to its fullest. I know I will be rewarded in the end because tonight, I am going to see a fabulous show with fabulous friends. I will come home, tend to my babies, and then slip into bed for a fulfilling rest before the Sabbath.

Tomorrow, I will feel wonderful, I just know it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

love.this.website. -- recyclebank

So I'm always surfing for cool websites to support my transition to a healthier, more socially responsible and eco-friendly lifestyle.  Just this week, I happened upon Recyclebank.

The website is really cool.  You basically play games, read informative articles and participate in polls, among other things, to gain points that go toward eco-friendly rewards and savings!  I'm all for it!  As you can see, it costs nothing to sign up and I've found it to be a GREAT learning experience.  If you are trying to teach yourself (or your kids) about the 3 R's (Rinse, Reuse, Recycle!) I think this website is a great place to start.  I've learned so much already and I've only poked around this site for a couple of days.

love.this.talk. -- the hope of god's light

This is my follow-up to April's General Conference.

Oh, boy.  President Uchtdorf never fails me.  Love that guy.  Why?  If you're ever depressed, feel worthless, or having one of those bad days, or just need a little spiritual boost, any of President Uchtdorf's words from any Conference will just lift your spirits.  Click below to access the talk.

Photograph from lds.org.
I don't want to spoil the whole talk for you and I could never do it justice anyway, but I do want to say a little bit.  

We all feel darkness at some points in our lives.  Sometimes we are completely consumed and don't have any hope to see the light again.  Sometimes we are surrounded by light but boy, do we see the darkness coming.  Sometimes it's a little black rain cloud following you around.  At least, that's what darkness has felt like to me in the past.

Your darkness can be anything.  Stress, fear, worry, a negative situation, an emergency, what have you.  Oftentimes that darkness seems as if it will last forever.  When I think of this, I try to remind myself of Doctrine & Covenants 121:7

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.

This verse is all at once comforting, yet hard to swallow.  Sometimes I find myself crying, "When will this end?!?!?!?!"  In many situations, it is up to you when the darkness ends and the light starts.  President Uchtdorf gives us steps to follow to feel the hope of God's light.

First, start where you are.

Second, turn your heart toward the Lord.

Third, walk in the light.

These steps are so simple yet sometimes we neglect to follow them.  I particularly love "start where you are."  Oftentimes I feel like I can't do anything about my situation or my feelings because I'm "just not in the right place to do anything about it."  As my dear Angie constantly says, "You can always do something."  It's also very comforting to know that we can start where we are and get results.  It's never too late.  We are never too far from Heavenly Father to return to him.  Isn't that just a ray of sunshine through your soul?

As you can see, each step above is an action, which emphasizes our agency and the concept that we must ACT and not be ACTED UPON, something I've been thinking about lately.  Start.  Turn.  Walk.

My thoughts aren't anywhere near as gorgeous as those of President Uchtdorf's, so I suggest you click on the link and read it.  I just wanted to share a few things on my favorite talk from April's General Conference. Can't wait until October!

love.this.dog. -- maizy update

Today was a big day for Maizy.  Today she was tested for heartworms again.  She was tested for heartworms before and it was negative, so they put her on heartworm prevention.  After three rounds of heartworm prevention, she had another test and it was negative.  She is officially heartworm free.  This means that as soon as she is out of heat (yeah, it's been fun) she will be spayed and the adoption will be official.  This has been quite a lengthy process; at least it's never taken me this long to adopt a pet.  Well, I've only done this once before and Opie was a puppy and not special needs.  In any case, the Wood County Humane Society has been AMAZING.  Thanks to Megan and Ariana for all the great care and love they've given to Maizy.  She loves seeing them whether it be in town or at the Humane Society.

Here is my sweet little girl with her celebratory sign that Auntie Megan made for her.  (Notice the little pink thing on her backside?  Yeah, that's a diaper.)  

We (Opie included) left WCHS and went to PetSmart to pick up some presents.  Opie and Maizy both got Smart Bones (rawhide alternative) and brand new laser-engraved name tags by TagWorks.  Maizy's name has already worn off the original tag I got her when she first came home with me.  These new tags are not supposed to wear down.  They were quite happy, but wiped out after a long day of tests and traveling.

The Wood County Humane Society is participating in the Animal Rescue Site $100,000 Shelter+ Challenge.  As it states on WCHS's website, "A total of 247 prizes, including $100,000 in grants, as well as prizes of vaccinations and pet beds in the U.S., will be given to eligible rescue organizations as part of this Shelter+ Challenge.  The grand prize will go to the eligible Petfinder.com organization with the highest accumulation of votes for the duration of the Challenge as specified in the rules.  Voting ends April 28th."  Please help WCHS by voting daily here.  Make sure you vote for "Wood County Humane Society."  Tell all your friends and just take a moment each day to vote from ALL your devices!!!

I love my Maizy so dearly and want to advertise as much as possible for the Wood County Humane Society.  They do such great work and are wonderful people.  Please go to their website here to find information on all their events.  They have quite a bit going on this spring!

Show some love!

Friday, April 5, 2013

love.this.weekend. -- general conference

I am so excited.  I've been a member of the Church for just over 2 years and this will be the first time I will get to sit home and watch all of General Conference live.  No distractions, no academic conferences to attend, no going out of town.  It starts tomorrow!!!  My plan is to be in my pajamas, curled up on the couch with Opie and Maizy with some hot chocolate (because I still have plenty of Stephen's from my trip to Utah over Thanksgiving).  I will for sure have my iPad in my lap and be taking notes too.

Because this is the first time I am staying at home with my family to watch General Conference, I wanted to start a General Conference tradition to carry throughout the years.

Preparation.  Friday night before conference, I will harbor a question in my heart and my mind to be answered.  I will get on my knees and pray long and hard.  I am at a very interesting point in my life where I am identifying what is most important.  For the first time, I feel very comfortable with myself and who I am.  I feel like all the changes I've made as of late have been very me... for the first time ever, I feel like I know who I am.  I'm not just borrowing myself from other people, but I am my own person.  This Conference I will have some big questions for Heavenly Father.  I will be sitting at the Prophet's feet, and at the feet of other authorities, listening carefully.

Snacks.  I guess it is common for people to have a General Conference snack.  I haven't decided what I want to make my GC snack.  Something healthy, so I can eat a lot of it, haha.  But tasty too, since this is a special occasion.  And I have to get something special for Opie and Maizy.  Stephen's hot chocolate for sure, but the rest I will have to figure out tonight.

Post-Conference.  I will blog about my favorite talks and the spiritual insight I have gained.  I think this is a no-brainer.

Really excited!!! If you have any ideas for General Conference snacks or traditions, share with me!  I'd love to hear your ideas.

love.this.website. -- goodreads

One of the things I wanted to do to help make me happier was read more fiction.  So I did.  I stopped buying books, I went to the library, and just checked out a ton of books.  To be fair, some of them are non-fiction, but they don't have anything to do with what I do for a living.

And I started devouring them.  Namely, I devour James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series which isn't necessarily good literature by any means, but completely captures me.

I had joined Goodreads last year and then kind of forgot about it.  Not many people I knew were members so suggestions didn't come so easily.  When I made the commitment to read more, I logged back in and lots of my friends have joined at this point.

I really like Goodreads because it is a great way to keep track of what I have read and what I want to read. It's neat to see friends' reviews of books - it helps me gauge what I might like to read and what to stay away from.  Why I really love this website, though, is because it really encourages me to read and reminds me that reading makes me happier.

I do a lot of reading everyday.  I'm a grad student, for cryin' out loud.  But no longer to I get to enjoy a literary escape from real life.  They kept my head above water when I was a kid.  Ain't nothin' stressin' me out while I'm trying to solve a murder with Lindsay Boxer!

Anyway, if you love reading and have yet to check this website out, do it.  It brings me joy.

Oh!  Another thing that brings me joy, loosely related to this, is that public libraries offer e-books and Overdrive audio mp3 books.  Just this past week I listened to two audiobooks on my iPad, delivered from my local library system through the internet in just minutes!  I love technology.  Yes, I love the physical book, the pages, the smell, the presence of it in my bag, but sometimes I can't choose what I want to read.  I'm in the middle of 5 to 7 books at any given time.  I never know what I'm in the mood for.  Sometimes I start reading a book and decide that it's really a different book I want to be reading or need to be reading at that moment.  Being able to borrow e-books or audiobooks on my iPad lets me carry many, many books with me without all the bulk and back problems.

And e-books are eco-friendly!!!

For a while, I was averse to libraries only because I had worked in them for so long.  Nothing like working someplace to spoil your love for it.  I am thankful that my aim for increased happiness has reinstated my passion for reading and libraries.  I never stopped loving them, but I really needed to rehab myself.

love.this.product. -- barkbox

If you've been keeping up with me, you've realized that here, there's a little bit for the human and a little bit for the canine.  I have two dogs, Opie and Maizy, and they are quite possibly the best parts of my life.  I adore them so much and, as any dog does to their parent/master/owner, they adore me too.

This blog truly is about love, happiness and joy.  You might be confused as to why I write about products here.  A couple reasons: 1) There are things I find on the internet that I don't want to forget; 2) I want to share things I find with other people who have similar interests and/or needs; 3) Okay, and a third reason... As minimalist as I am going and as much as I am learning that things do not make me happy, there are some products that do make me smile, make life easier, encourage me to do better, etc.  So... things can make me happy.  The point is that they stay a small part of what makes me happy.

Anywho... really excited about this - BarkBox.  I think I might subscribe this summer just to see what it is all about.  Basically, as the website says, it delivers a "monthly box of dog goodies."  Free shipping.  As low as $19/month.  10% supports rescue groups.  Sounds all good to me.  Anyone who knows me and anyone who is a doggie parent like I am knows that $19/month spent on the babies is pennies.  I spend waaaay more on Opie and Maizy than $19 and what BarkBox could send me would be a better value than what I buy sometimes.  Honestly, I've bought my dogs $17 dollar toys before.  That's right, $17 for ONE toy.  Granted, you must pull out the big buck to pay for the toys that suit "powerful chewers" like my lovelies, but still... the BarkBox offers more than one toy.  It's worth a shot.

Because I view and treat my dogs as my family, as my children, I am always grateful when I find services like these.  It means that there are more people out there like me who care about their dogs like I do.  Let's face it.  I'm a 26 (almost) year old graduate student who wishes she was married and had kids, but does not.  My babies are my dogs and they give me joy.  A lot of people, especially those who are not "animal people," think this is weird and/or crazy, but... don't judge what brings someone joy.  Unless it's illegal... but still... don't judge.

Sometimes I judge myself for what gives me joy.  Last week, I was catching up on Glee and I watched the last episode, Guilty Pleasures, and it was quite funny what they exposed as their guilty pleasures... Barry Manilow, for example.

I'm not gonna lie, I still belt out Britney Spears when she's on the radio... or pops up on my iPod in shuffle mode... but my real guilty pleasures are treating my dogs as I would my children.

A little while ago, I bought Maizy a t-shirt at TJMaxx that I had to have simply because it made me laugh out loud.  It said "It's all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone."


I'm glad I'm not alone in my adoration of my dogs, haha.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

wmmh #11

Random strangers complimenting my dogs.

I just came in from a walk and some random stranger getting into her car goes "Those are some nice looking dogs!"  Yes, yes I know.

Whenever I take them walking, I get compliments.  Just the other day, someone pulled up in her car, kids in the back, and told me how beautiful they were.

They aren't complimenting me, but they are totally complimenting my babies and I take pride in them.

Thanks for making me smile, random strangers!

love.this.product. -- lunchskins

I've identified the next way I will get a little greener... LunchSkins!!!

I use ziploc bags... a lot.  I'm not proud of it.  I have been, however, letting them run out.  I haven't had sandwich bags in a long time and I have yet to replace them.  I don't plan on replacing them.  And I am almost running out of snack bags.

Where I'm really bad is the gallon or quart sized bags.  Man, I use them for EVERYTHING!!!  I need to kick the habit.  I try to use my little pyrex containers for lunchboxes, but... bags make things fit better.  So I'll get a few of these.  They are brilliant!!!

I love going green!

c25k -- week 1 day 1

As promised, I did the first day of the Couch to 5k program tonight.  It was a little too cold, but that's what I get for napping (recovering from yesterday's muscle relaxer) and doing this at 11pm.  It was a little dark for my tastes as well, but again... that's what I get.  I took the dogs with me and they LOVED it.

At first my shins started to hurt a little, but as I continued, that went away.  It was kinda hard for me to breathe in the cold air, so I didn't follow the program perfectly, but I'd say I followed it about 90%.  It hurts when the cold air is scraping your throat.

It really wasn't that bad at all and I feel that as it continues to warm up (come on, spring!) that it will be easier, or at least I won't have to deal with the cold air.  I celebrated by downing a bunch of cold water, which was delightful despite how cold I was.

I've gotta say, when it comes to health and fitness, I freaking LOVE my iPhone.  It's just a 4, but it does what I need it to do.  The c25k app was awesome.  I didn't have to keep time or anything.  It told me when to jog and when to walk, it was great.  As much as technology can cause problems, it can help to solve problems as well.

I'm looking forward to warmer weather and day 2!  I can do this!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

love.this.change. -- going REALLY green

"Happy is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that, but simply growth.  
We are happy when we are growing." 
 -- William Butler Yeats

I've been struggling a lot lately.  I've been working a lot and I've put myself on the back burner, which is not good.  All the commitments I have made have kind of gone down the drain.  I keep recommitting and then something that day kicks my recommitment out the door.

So I got sad.  Very sad.  I realized that I was sad because I needed another big change.  I was happiest when I was creating change in my life.  The quote above, which was emailed to me today, couldn't put how I feel about my happiness any better.  I really am happy when I am growing.  I feel like I am stuck and not growing, hence the recent unhappiness.

Angie, Kristin, Kate, and I are committing to eradicate fried foods from our diet this month.  It's a good idea.  Honestly, fried foods isn't a big problem of mine, but every now and again, fried foods are what I want and I love every minute of it until I feel gross afterward.  

In trying again and improving my health, I decided to watch Vegucated and Forks Over Knives.  They both share a lot of the same information, but have different aims.  The first documentary focuses on veganism, animal rights, and health, whereas the latter is more about health, period.  But both documentaries emphasize the relationship between animal-based foods and the poor health of Americans.

I have to say, I was inspired by Vegucated.  Thus, I introduce my next phase of change, my next goal - going vegan!  Yes, you read that right... not vegetarian, but vegan.  Let me explain...

The hcg was not a lifestyle change.  It was a diet.  And though it gave me the initial kick in the butt that I wanted and needs to get the ball rolling, I didn't have a plan for the end of the diet, which was a bad, bad idea.  I've decided that my plan is veganism.

In Vegucated, as you could assume, they shared a lot of images of inhumane treatment of animals in farms... the animals that we eat... animals that I eat.  It made me sick to my stomach.  It made my heart hurt.  It made me want to cling to my doggies who were sitting next to me on the couch as I consumed this information.  I felt really wrong caring so much for my baby canines yet having a stock of pork tenderloins in my freezer.  I felt really wrong that I had OD'd on eggs this week.  I felt really wrong that I live in America, have the great fortune to make choices that improve my health and help animals, but I am too lazy to do so.  

I just felt wrong.  Guilty.  Seeing baby chicks ground up while ALIVE and seeing cows being castrated without any anesthesia... I wanted to cry.  This ball of change grew inside of me, the kind that showed me have averse I was to being associated with all this.  My dogs are my babies.  Animals are precious creations of God.  Outside the whole animal rights point, the smallest portion of my diet consists of fruits and veggies.  I eat more things that are bad for me and less things that are good for me.  

I can kill two birds with one stone by going vegan (excuse the unfortunate pun).  I can show my support for animal rights AND make myself healthier.... and make myself HAPPIER!!!

I've tested being a vegetarian.  I was in college and all it really resulted in was me eating a lot more carbs to replace the meat I wasn't eating.  Bad plan.  It was really stupid.  How can you be a vegetarian and still eat very few vegetables???

Ok, let's change everything right now.  I'm not going vegan.  I am going HEALTHY.  What does healthy mean to me?  Adopting a vegan diet, being more mindful of where my food comes from, and being even more mindful of what enters my mouth and what it will do to my body.

There, I have a project.  And it makes me happy that I have one.  I know it won't be easy, but I don't think I can live with myself continuing to eat the way I do and really loving Opie and Maizy.  Someone, somewhere is eating a dog and treating them the same way that I saw cows and pigs and chickens being treated in Vegucated.  

I've known about this for a while too... it's not like I've been blind to animal cruelty and the practices of food factories... I've just chosen to ignore it.  In my opinion, that is worse than not knowing and being educated.  I knew and I didn't do anything about it.

I don't judge anyone who eats meat.  And I'm not going to.  Actually, I have to finish the food I have here and some of it is meat.  I won't be happy eating it, but I am a graduate student.  The food should not be wasted.  Even though I won't be happy eating it, I know it will still taste good.  So I will wallow in shame until all the meat is gone (it really isn't so much and I can share...).  

I will be 26 in a month and a half.  I have a family history of breast cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and tons more.  It isn't looking all the great for me.  So now is the time to change all that.  If I don't do it now, will I ever do it?  Will I fall right into the unhealthy pit that my family dwells?  

I don't want to.  So I have to act on this.  

Here's my plan, and I am going to try my hardest to update everyday to keep me honest:

1.  Go vegan!  Get through the animal-based foods you have I have now and replace with vegetable-based alternatives.  Eat more fruits and veggies!

2.  Drink more water!  Drink only water.  I've done it before, I can kick every non-water drink out of my diet again.

3.  Start Couch to 5k today!  I've been trying to start this program for the past week and I just haven't done it.  Today is the day.

Three goals.  That's it.  Nothing complicated, but what a world of difference they will make to my health.

I can do this.... Encouragement is always welcome.