Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Advent season is approaching like a freight train. How quickly this year has zoomed by and we are entering into December. I feel like I was run over a few times on the way to this month, but we’ve arrived. Advent is a season that I’d never really participated in until I joined the Christian Church, but it has become part of our Christmas traditions. To me it puts Christ at the forefront because each week of advent we are celebrating the promise of Christ’s birth. In our house we follow the pattern of the church with candle lighting, scripture reading and a prayer maybe not in that order though.

Since my son went to live with his dad three years ago this makes advent a bit more challenging for us as a family. This blog is about how we do advent long distance. It’s meaningful and it’s still Christ centered. 

What guide do I follow? My favorite and the one I keep stored in my bible all year long is an insert that was sent to parents called teachable moments. It gives each week, what it means, what candle color and a scripture to read. Makes it easy for me. 

Teachable moments

In other years I’ve used different material but this year I decided to go back to my favorite. I let my son know on Friday that he would need to set aside a little time for me. Teenagers are busy creatures! I shopped for my last candle on Saturday, so I was ready to go for our Sunday afternoon time via the phone. I assigned him the verse to read, and I read the week one info as given on the sheet. Once I got to the scripture I had him read it. Then we finished off with ways that we are filled with hope because we know Jesus. That kid brought tears to my eyes with what he said. He knows even during the hard times that Jesus will be his hope and strength. Since the candles are here I light the first purple one. At the end I offered up a prayer for our time together in celebration of advent and how Christ represents hope to each of us.

Some other ideas that I’ve used can be found on Pinterest, and I’m including the links here➡ Advent Wreatha fresh Advent wreath, and new verse ideas. I’m sharing this example because finding purple candles that aren’t tapers is hard as heck! I don’t have a taper holder, so I use purple tea lights. I have enough for one more year. This is my plan once I finish them off. 

My twist on an advent wreath – eclectic

How does long distance work? You have two options phone call where you put them on speaker so you can manage the tasks. I will normally ask my son to read the bible verse, since I’ll be lighting the candle and normally he’ll want me to pray. Divide up those tasks so they are being in the moment and not doing something else. The other option is facetime. This is awesome because you can see each other, they can see the candle lighting and it makes the family time feel more like you’re together. Sometimes the connection isn’t so good, so then we fall back on a phone call. Again even with facetime divide up the duties. 

Today he actually had a friend over, but he took time out to spend it participating in our family tradition. I could hear his buddy about the time we were coming to a close. He was shouting tell your mom ”hi”, so I was returning the the greeting. Not our first exchange. Hopefully I’ll finally get to meet him when my son graduates.

I think it’s important for a child or children to understand the who, what, how, and when of certain celebrations. He’s experienced prepping communion during my first year as deacon, we’ve practiced Lent together, and both of us had challenging tasks. I felt for a long time that I was failing him with his christian walk. As he becomes an adult I want him to know the religious celebrations, as well as, having that relationship with Christ. I’m trying to make sure he has all the tools and support I can give him to grow into a strong christian man. He took care of finding Christ all on his own bless him.

As we go into the following weeks remember that distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to traditions or family. It’s taking the time and being purposeful that you can share in them together. Photos, calls, facetime, and even texting can all be ways to bring you closer to the ones you love that are far away.

Week 1 of Advent

Many blessings – G.

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Another holiday weekend come and gone 

Another holiday weekend come and gone 

Thanksgiving is a great time to spend with family gorging on the traditional fare and hanging out. I enjoy the time off but this isn’t my favorite holiday. If it wouldn’t cause a riot I’d probably travel during my time off. With my son staying with his dad during this holiday I always feel at loose ends. I hate Black Friday shopping so that’s out, so instead long naps and leaf raking happens. It’s dismal and I need a new plan for next year because this is getting old!

Let’s talk food – despite my goal of smaller portions which I did….somewhere I miscalculated and had too many carbs. I took a 7 hour carb coma nap and then I’ve suffered every day after from the food. Ugh I totally get why meal preppers take their own food and get grief, but it may be worth it in the long run. Damn I’ve been miserable.

Between now and when my son gets here for Christmas break I’ll get the house all decked out…totally deck the halls. This is one of our favorite holidays to spend together. I work from home while he’s here which I appreciate and so does he. I have a presence in the house, we have our meals together, and have some awesome conversations. Give us time and we’ll solve some world issues! It’s during those times that we’ve plotted and planned the future. He’s a sharp kid and I can’t wait to see what he does in life. 

What else? Cooking – I have some truffle Mac’n Cheese to make while he’s home so gathering ingredients is on the to do list. This dish ranks higher than chocolate cheesecake with ganache. The cheesecake I’d be restricted to a sliver so I’m kind of glad this one is off the table. I’ve been researching other options. Flourless chocolate cake is on the list along with a chocolate tart. High in cacao and lower in sugar. Still looking so if anyone has a recipe to throw my way remember low carb. 

Holidays don’t always work out like we want and that can be ok. This year I drove my grandfather home. He only complained a little about my driving and I’d be shocked if he didn’t. It’s part of the experience. I wanted to offer to take him down to my grandmother’s grave, but he looked tired and ready for a nap. So I kept the offer to myself and gave him a big hug and took off. As I was tooling down the road I still felt the need to visit family that had passed. I was coming up to the turn off for the cemetery where my dad is buried I jumped two lanes and made a crazy right turn. No other drivers were harmed in the lane change or turn. It was like some internal need that had to be met. Maybe I’m just strange but I was heading to the graveyard in no time. It wasn’t planned so when Ginger jumped out I’m snatching her up in fear of having my dog decide she needs a potty break. That just seemed wrong. 

Many years ago I read a book and one of the characters would leave a stone on the headstone to represent they had visited. The cemetery that my grandparents on my dad’s side are buried you can’t leave flowers because they have strict rules, so I got in the habit of leaving a stone.  

My step-mom has really pretty flowers throughout the year, so again no need to bring flowers to the cemetery where he’s buried. Every time I visit or when Seth comes with me, we leave a stone to say “we were here.” So on this visit I’m looking around for a small stone with a dog under one arm. It was a brief visit but it settled something inside of me. 

What’s next? Tomorrow it’s back to the office and the daily grind, but it just means I’m getting closer to time for my son to be here. Deck the halls and let’s be merry cause I’m ready for some mom and son time!

However you celebrate the holidays enjoy! If that’s not your thing have fun on your days off if you get them. 

Peace and goodwill – G.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life

The Game of Life, not to be confused with my favorite show – Game of Thrones. Although I can draw a correlation between the two. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” I think of diabetes as a potential road to death, hence the game of life. What kind of life do I want? I’m insulin resistant, which is type 2 diabetes. It’s treatable and I have the option to take control of my life.

I like my food. Plus I travel and I have a desk job so I’m not staying as active as I should. Although I did start wearing a Samsung watch that gives me nasty grams to get my butt moving throughout the day…stay active. Foodie and desk rider does NOT pair well with diabetes of any sort.  A key piece of the game.

Earlier this year I had been feeling miserable and just couldn’t get past symptoms that had been coming and going for more than a year. I’m terrible to treat myself with home remedies a lot of times. Plus I kept thinking I eat healthy so I’m not getting why I feel so bad. Along comes June and a girl I went to high school with walks up to the event I’m supporting, and I’m like damn she looks fabulous! What has she done? Since we’ve known each other a long time I had no problem asking. She tells me she had bariatric surgery. 

I hadn’t really thought about having surgery until that moment and then I thought “would that work for me.” I went home and did my research, met with her to get the lowdown on what she did, and then talked with another friend that had a different type of surgery. It was a big decision and I needed to talk to my doctor. He had to officially sign off on this medically. 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” Amelia Earhart

I was at that point of making a decision. What action do I take?! I’ll tell you after much discussion and bless my doctor for spending the time talking with me. I decided that based on my health, and how I felt about my “sugar control” that surgery might not be the best choice. I had other challenges that needed to be overcome like a carb addiction. If you just laughed no worries but I’m not being dramatic. A lifetime of eating whatever I want and especially carbs because my body craves the crap out of them thanks to insulin resistance. You feed the demon and it demands more. I’d been happily feeding mine and now I have to find control, so I can be healthy beyond right now. I don’t want to fall into full diabetic status and just by having surgery wouldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t happen. In the end it might cause more complications so controlling my sugar a necessity. Mostly so I don’t have the highs and low’s – gain some control. 

First thing was the list my doctor gave me of what to avoid:

  1. Sugar – no kidding
  2. Pasta – OMG I love this stuff and I’d make a fantastic Italian
  3. Bread – nirvana
  4. Rice – stay away from white food
  5. Potatoes – I cry over this
  6. <30gm/meal of carbs – fml

He gave me a book that lists most every food. What I thought was a good option got booted and figuring out ways to eliminate carbs but feed my foodie soul was a challenge. It’s still a challenge. There are days I just drink a protein shake cause nothing sounds appealing. I try to eat as fresh as possible. I think over processed food is a major issue as well…go natural as possible. Fortunately for me right down the road is a farmer’s market. The Fenton’s have their own store front they keep open most of the year. The owners are wonderful and I love supporting a local farmer and the produce that is sourced from around the state.

Beyond just controlling food, aka the fork as my doctor called it. I have to exercise. Failing in this key area….I think weight loss would be greater if I would exercise. I decided that I would breakout the hated exercise ball. Previously I completed the New Rules of Lifting for Women. I’d like to start that program over again, but I’d need to get a gym membership. Ugh my last gym burned down and it was in a great spot. The options left to me are 3x’s as expensive and I hate paying for classes I’ll never use. I like lifting and I detest cardio. Just throwing that out there right now. All those cardio memes are probably for me. Anyway in NRFLFW there are several exercise ball circuits that will make you wish for death….I mean make you sweat. Plus the body weight exercises will be an improvement over doing nothing. Geez admission makes me feel like I have to do it now to have some accountability. Gah

As I said in the beginning I’m playing the Game of Life. My life as a person that isn’t held hostage to diabetes and all the other issues that come along with it. What does it take for me to win or die in this game? It takes control of the carbs I put in my body. Sounds easy but it’s not. It takes losing weight so my body can hopefully right some of the insulin resistant issues I’m creating. Again no easy task because one thing a person with insulin resistance knows is that losing weight is like winning the Olympics. Lots of effing hard work. When you do those things you keep doing them because you can easily slip into old habits that will put you back on the path of death. And finally being active and exercising. Riiiight, like exercise is something we like doing. All I can say is find something you like doing. If it’s hiking then hike, walking then walk that ass, or if you’re like me and it’s lifting get in the gym. Until I can get over the sticker shock I’m going to torture myself with the freaking exercise ball and body weight exercises. I’m committing to a future report out to stay accountable just don’t expect it next week or even next month. This task is almost as hard as the carbs. 

Oh to be young and willingly go for a run, now I’d rather sit on the couch with a book and a glass of wine. So I’m going to gather some courage and start this program. I’ve been tenacious up to this point. I’ll keep grinding on until I know I’m in a place where my body is healthy, and I’m winning the game not back in the pack.

Play to Win – G.

*photo Voodoo donuts Portland, OR – Voodoo doll (deliciousness also a sugary sweet carb)

Black & white experiment

Black & white experiment

I was tagged recently to post black and white pics for seven days. If you’ve been on Facebook you’ve probably seen some of your friends doing this and then finding other willing victims to do the same. Only rule is no people. Seems easy enough. I started with my dog who is technically a person (she thinks), missed the second day because I was on the road all day and forgot, so now I’m going to see if I can finish off this experiment with a bang. 

I’m going to share all 7 of my b&w wonders. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. ✌

Day 1 – rat terrier at rest
Day 2 – key to the kingdom
Day 3 – travel finds

The rat terrier and the cigar box have drawn some good conversation. Dog people love dogs. I should know I follow UPS dogs on Facebook and then dogs on Instagram. 

Day 4 – beautiful fall day

This oak tree has been the most liked post. It was the most work. I actually took the pic upside down in my hand standing with my phone angled enough so I wouldn’t be in the pic, rather than laying on the ground and facing up.

Day 5 – rest and relaxation
Day 6 – a gift that keeps giving

A family friend made the birdhouse and it is in use all year long. The birds have a home to enjoy and squirrels a nice place to stand and observe their domain. 

From this photo you can’t tell that it has a bright red roof and it draws the eye immediately when gazing in my backyard, which I do often since I’m a backyard birder. Still working on my life list and with many thanks to my friend that built this house. Unfortunately he passed on the day I took the photo but I have a reminder of this sweet and generous person. May he rest in peace and sing with the angels!

Day 7 – thankful for those that serve

My seventh day is just shy of Veterans Day, which lands on a Saturday this year. As I left work all the flags looked so pretty at the entrance. Glad I work for a company that recognizes our veterans contributions. Thankful for my family members that were in the armed forces. 

This “experiment” because I’m not sure what makes it an experiment unless it’s a social experiment. I can see that possibly considering I was using social media and trying to elicit a response from people. And I was successful with more than one of my photos. 

The experiment did foster a lot of conversation social media or in person. Part of the challenge was to solicit others aka challenge them to participate. I did tag three people that didn’t take up the challenge. They’re the control for the experiment or failures depending on how you look at it. It was interesting and fun to see what people identify with or recognize from the photos I’ve posted on social media. 

I challenge anyone that is interested to post photos for 7 days on their favorite social media site. Hopefully you have more success finding willing victims that will participate with you. Share in the comments if you had an interesting experience with your b&w experiment.

Enjoy! -G.

What defines you?

What defines you?

‘We cling to memories as if they define us, what we do is what defines us.’ 

Great quote from the movie Ghost in the Shell. It struck me to the core. Movie was pretty good but the quote was outstanding. Why? Maybe because I don’t live in the past. Life moves forward and I’m moving with it. I know there are times we get bogged down by things that have happened to us…we all do it. It’s how we react, at what point we shake it off and move on.

Bitterness is so hard to let go of because that means you have to let go of what you’ve been carrying around for hours, days or years. It’s not easy and I can say that from experience. Forgiving someone that has done you wrong and has caused this well of bitterness inside you might seem impossible, but truly it can be done. Once you let that burden go it’s like a breathing in new life giving air. You’re renewed and you can move forward with purpose. 

I would like to say I’m like Jesus and I’ll turn my cheek every time. I’m not Jesus so that doesn’t always happen. I can carry a grudge with the best of them. So I don’t want you to think I easily let go of burdens or that I forgive at the drop of the hat. I’m a real person with real challenges both externally and internally. We all are. It’s up to each one of us to decide how much control we want to give that person or instance in our life. Maybe forgiving isn’t an option but moving on is….

This quote is a reminder that moving forward with a happy spirit we will see things in a more positive light. Things will work out because our perception about where we are in life, our emotions, and maybe even our situation has changed. 

I’ve talked about being positive more than once and I admit I’m not always in a positive mindset. It takes effort. One thing I have seen are people that choose positivity then their positive outlook shines for others to see. The power of positivity! I want to be defined in such a way that I have the power to impact those around me in a positive way just by having a higher awareness of my attitude. 

For example, I was given news the other day that I could’ve taken in a negative light but instead I saw the positive. It was a win for me. I’m not letting this one instance keep me from my goals or throw me off track. With the power of positivity I can do anything. Sometimes I just have to give myself reminders. I’m my harshest critic. Really no one else can top how tough I am on myself. 

Things will work out and I decide how I’m defined!

Enjoy some fall weather wherever you are and be positive!

-G.

Mecca looks like a balloon festival

Mecca looks like a balloon festival

I’ve written about ballooning and festivals a few times already and if you want to check out my trip to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta look here or the Arkansas Balloon Festival can be found here. Both include tons of pics of balloons.

I think I can say annual with confidence since this is my third year in a row…my annual trip to Albuquerque. Has a nice ring to it. By the time I left on Tuesday afternoon I was thinking I’d be lucky to make it through Oklahoma before I was ready to stop for the night. It had been a long day at work and then add driving on to that…. Thankfully I had lots of phone calls and long chats with friends and family all the way up to 1am when I finally stopped in Amarillo, TX. 

As you drive into Amarillo heading west bound there is a big sign that says ‘Amarillo’. Once I see the sign it’s like George Strait kicks on in my head. Amarillo by morning up from San Antone… Off to bed with balloons dancing in my head…not really but it sounds good.

I had planned to be up early, so I could finally check out the Cadillac Ranch. No such luck since my alarm didn’t go off for the second day in a row. Wth – It took a phone call to bring this sleeping beauty around to the living. Ugh it was after 8am and later than I wanted to start my day. A frantic beauty prep and I was hitting the road to Albuquerque aka Mecca. 

The landscape of the southwest is somewhat desolate with low growing plants and dark red outcroppings with arroyas here and there. I spotted a train that looked a mile long, passed a million trucks and campers, and cruised down the highway at a brisk 80mph. Before I knew it I was driving through the Sandia-Manzano mountains coming into Albuquerque. It feels like coming home, but I’ve never lived there. Crazy thing about this vacation I get up at 4:45am, so I can meet my pilots by 5:30am to drive to fiesta field. That’s love peeps. 

I would like to say this was vacation only but work creeps in especially when you have a big project on a time constraint. So there were about three hours with my head stuck in a laptop sitting in my hotel room. Then there were the phone calls and requests that relate to the project. It will be worth it in the long run isn’t that what we say to ourselves. 

Each day was beautiful for flying. I was a little rusty since I haven’t crewed in a year, but I’m happy to do the work. My pilot landed on the field every day I was there so I had it pretty easy this year. No tumble weeds, locked gates, soccer fields or the reservation. I might be jinxing myself for next year. Omg

We tailgated a couple of times and watched the balloons come across the field while pilots were trying to hit the target with their baggie. An evening hanging out at a beautiful home with the oldest wisteria I’ve ever seen. Saturday was game day and off to the Uptown bar to watch some SEC action. Like the previous year there were a bunch of Sooner fans there watching their game against Texas. The UT fans were huddled in the corner and left pretty quick at the end.

Ate at some familiar places and got to try some new ones. Jimmy’s Cafe was delicious. Highly recommend eating there. I had the huevos rancheros with christmas. Yum!

Spent time switching out baskets and envelopes. It may all seem kind of mundane and like a lot of work I’m sure to some. I enjoy the experience, the people I’m with, and the ability to just be myself. I took naps! It’s a privilege at my current age to be able to nap. Once I creep up in years it might be the norm. Lol

On one of the nights we went to the balloon glow and fireworks. Hung out on the tailgate and drank bloody Mary’s. It was an interesting evening especially when we saw the senorita balloon break away from its tiedown.

On the last day we flew I got to go as well. It was the highest altitude I’ve been in a balloon so far. We were going up to 7200′ not sure if we got all the way to that or not, but I know we got to 6800′. The fiesta field still looks huge from that height. It’s just so massive. There was so much balloon traffic that day – more than I’ve ever seen on one of my trips. All of us in the basket were keeping an eye out for balloons above, below and to the side. Some are just so huge you don’t want to hit by accident. Talk about a potential catastrophe. We went from that height to down on the deck pretty much, so we could land on the field. My pilot did an excellent job. I’m fortunate to have the experience and grateful I continue to have the opportunity to fly. 

If you’ve never been it should be on your bucket list or must see items. It’s a sight to behold that’s for sure.

Until next year mecca.

-G.

Goal achiever or just a setter: Practical strategies for success.

Goal achiever or just a setter: Practical strategies for success.

I love reading articles on LinkedIn. Sounds like a sickness but I find it relaxing. I came across an article that sparked my interest, but I didn’t have time to read it so I saved it. Such a handy feature.

The article will “squash all of those limiting perspectives and provide concrete strategies you can use to achieve your goals. There are no fixed-limits.” That statement alone peaked my interest and then I got to the core principles. I’m not going to cover all 21 principles but focus on some that stand out to me. For the full article click here. I highly recommend reading it because what is significant for me might not be the same for you.

The first strategy falls under core principles – Set Absurdly Ambitious Goals.

Under this first principle there is a slew of motivational thoughts about goal setting and going after what you want. One thing that struck me and has been striking me for some time now is that for some my competitive nature isn’t wanted, and I’ve been told to my face it’s disliked. I realized that yes, I’m competitive, but the problem is that I’m ambitious. I do 10x what is needed to achieve my goal! 

I was at a women’s symposium and one of the speakers talked about how important it is to be your own spokesperson. Talk up the good things you’re doing. Even the male executive in my group said I need to speak up more often. He said it to all of us. We don’t self-promote enough! Funny thing I’ve been knocked for self-promotion. So onward and upward. 

The second strategy I want to highlight is Learn and Work in Counter-Intuitive Environments.

What does that mean exactly? Think outside your normal box. That means letting go of worry and stress. Be in the moment so ideas can foster, synergy can occur, and be innovative. Do the unexpected because you think differently! Just in case you don’t read the article I really liked this quote so I’m sharing it.

“Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that. When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.”

We have the ability to master whatever we choose, but is up to ourselves to make the choice and Jump! Be creative, be ambitious, speak up, and be curious!

The third item I want to focus on Ignore What Almost Everyone Else is Doing.

Awe the competitive spirit in me gave a shout out on this one! I have to make excuses for being competitive like it’s a bad thing. To quote the article “In the book, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, Tim Grover explains that the world’s elite don’t compete with other people. Rather, they make others compete with them. They set the tone and make others react to their environment.” I haven’t read that book but it is now on my list. 

I want to be unstoppable. The only thing that holds me back is myself. Let curiosity win the day and fear take a backseat. Life is full of learning opportunities that I want to explore and experiences/adventure that awaits me in the future. If I allow others to set the bar I’ll never rise any higher than it. I decide where the bar is set. The same goes for my son. If I set the bar at easy or mediocrity then that’s what he’ll achieve. Set the bar high! Go for GOLD – Surround Yourself With People With Higher Expectation than You Have, which is the fourth strategy that falls under mentorship.

The fifth strategy is Give Credit Where Credit is Due.

Despite how independent I feel that I am, I know that credit for any success starts with God and the path he leads me down. Many times the path takes some crazy twists but ultimately my thanks goes to God and what he’s doing in my life. Credit also goes to the people on your team, mentors, sponsors, or leadership. I’m not an island unto myself and taking credit for others work isn’t my style. Appreciation should be a part of everything you do and especially for where credit is due!

Number six – Think Laterally

I think this describes my whole career life. “Rather than climbing up ladders the traditional ways, they think of alternative routes. They skip unnecessary steps by pivoting and shifting.” I started the traditional route of climbing and found it wasn’t really working for me in the male laden industry I was working. Hence finding alternative routes plus a few beaten paths that lead back to the main road. I’ve worked more on pivoting and shifting with some stagnating in there as well. Isn’t that how it seems to work sometimes. The important thing is to not limit yourself. I’m on my third career and I have personal business. No limiting. Shift and pivot so you can find a way. It’s documented that men don’t feel that have to meet all the requirements to apply for a job. Women have the opposite thought process. We tend to believe we have to stick every item. Men are confident they can do It whether they know it or not. Be confident and limitless. I have the same ability to learn and grow as the guy. 

Be whatever you want to be. Achieve whatever you want to achieve. Have the confidence to be ambitious, creative, competitive and don’t let someone else’s idea of what you “should” be set the tone for what you are. I’m fearless and I’m going to be limitless because I decide.

-G.