Sunday, December 30, 2012

#61. Adopting a Family

Every year, Christmas with Sean's family is the same. We draw names, and then we buy each other gift cards. It's always Target or Best Buy or Bass Pro - not even creative gift cards. We were literally just exchanging money. It was silly. What's the point? Honestly, the $40 limit we had for each person didn't get us the expensive things we're all looking to buy, and we really don't need the money either.

This year, my sister in law and I came up with a brilliant plan - we were going to adopt a family with that money. We went through Sts. Joachim & Ann, a parish church that runs a care service that provides a food panty, housing assistance, career centers, and adopt-a-family programs - it's a great great organization. Also, I'm a HUGE fan of the fact that .96 to every dollar goes into the programs - it's a completely volunteer organization and the only operational costs are things like electricity, internet, and website fees. A family has to be at 50% below the state median income (which for Missouri is less than $24,000).

We adopted a 3 person family - a mom, dad, and daughter. We split them up so that each couple had one person (meaning $80 of fabulous gifts they couldn't otherwise afford), and Sean's parents took up the "toiletries" aspect - buying them cleaning supplies, household goods, and a large gift card to a grocery store. Sean and I did our shopping for our girl on Black Friday - meaning she got the most bang for her buck. Her list reminded me so much of myself when I was 13 - hoodies, fuzzy pajamas, fun socks, etc. It was wonderful knowing we were helping a family in need.

Here's a picture of the back of my sister-in-law's car taking everything up there - she literally filled her ENTIRE trunk and backseat. I think we did good. :D
Here's to making someone's Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#11. 50 Questions that Will Free Your Mind

This one is on my 101 in 1001 list, and I'm finally knocking it out. Here goes nothing!

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? I would definitely be older than I am now. I've always acted older, which is sometimes kind of lame. I'd probably say late 20s or early 30s (everyone at work already thinks I'm that age!)
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying? Definitely never trying. Always try for things. Always shoot for the moon - even if you miss, you land among the stars.
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do? It's a means to the ends. Being a productive member of society is necessary for society to function. Like it or not, there are things we just have to do. The key, I think, is not getting caught up in those things.
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? Probably. I'm a talker ;) I have great ideas and inspirational words, but I'm lazy as hell. I try to make up for that, but it doesn't always work.
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world? I wish I could end bigotry. I wish I could end people judging others for illnesses, skin colors, abilities, political beliefs and religions.
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich? Any sort of job where I'm helping people. In fact, I love my job right now. I think the other other job I could like more is owning a bakery (without the threat of failure). And I'd love to have a bakery with young people working, where profits could be donated.
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? A little of both. I don't believe my job is settling in any way, but it's not a job I'd ever see myself in. A lot of people don't see my job as necessary or helping people, but I'm helping goods get across the country - and helping people move. It's a great job.
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently? I would have gotten married earlier, and I would have had kids sooner. It's something I definitely don't want to miss out on. Sean and I wanted to get married years before we did, but it was important to us to finish school first. We don't regret it at all. But, if I knew I was going to die in 16 years, yeah, I'd totally change my views on that. I'd also go on more mission trips - so much more fulfilling than regular vacays.
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken? I think it's been pretty well controlled. I chose my school and to marry Sean. I think the hardest thing for me was giving up control when Sean got into law school.
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things? Honestly? Doing things right. But at the same time, 95% of the time, those are the right things.
  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do? I definitely defend people. Especially my friends. And my friends know how stubborn I can get when I'm defending something/someone I believe in.
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be? Find something to believe in, and believe in it always.
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one? Absolutely.
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? Yes. A lot of people I thought were absolutely crazy in high school, but they are some of the most creative people I know now.
  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people? Say windmill :D I do a lot of things differently - we have a weird family closeness, we celebrate birthdays weird (seriously, we call you a horse's ass), I'm a lefty - the list goes on.
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy? A lot of the things that make me happy are simple...I think a lot of people have come to rely on materialistic things or things you have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on to be happy. Plus, I get more happiness out of things I work for - not everyone is like that.
  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back? Skydive. The ONLY thing that's holding back is the cost. And trust me, it's in the works.
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of? I've been trying really hard to let go of the idea that when Sean graduates he'll get a job in St. Louis and we'll move back, find a perfect house in South County, I'll be transferred, and have lotsa babies. Bad self. You know life doesn't ever work out like that.
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? Texas or Florida. We have family in both states, and I hate the cold. Plus, who can say no to the beach?
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster? I rarely do actually, because I don't think it makes it go any faster. I will push the door close button though :)
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton? Oh that's a tough one. I think I'd rather be a joyful simpleton - the happy things make life what it is, not your intelligence.
  22. Why are you, you? Because I am.
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend? Most of the time, yes I think so. The only thing I don't agree with is that I tend to lose touch with people. I wish I didn't, and I'm trying to work into not doing that - but I'm having a hard time. But I'm working on it!
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you? A good friend moving away. I think losing touch with friends is natural - people grow and change. But losing someone you're still close to? Bummer.
  25. What are you most grateful for? My family. I have an incredible family - they're ridiculous, but I love them. I know they'll help with anything we ever need, and I'm so grateful I was given such an awesome set of relatives.
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? I'd rather never be able to make new ones. My old memories are things I can never get back - memories of grandparents and friends gone, memories of simpler times, and memories that make me who I am. I think there would be a great void in my life without my old memories.
  27. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first? No. Everyone should question the truth and really search for it. Forgetting how to question things causes us to stop learning, and to stop knowing. After all, how can one explain and defend the truth without first challenging it themselves?
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true? No.
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now? Yes, I remember. And while it wasn't quite 5 years ago that it happens, I'm still upset about it. It still affects me, and so yes, it does still matter. It definitely affected my opinion and my relationship with the people involved too (at least for a while it did).
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special? Making cookies with my grandma. I lost her when I was 8, and while I can't remember much, I still have a perfect memory of rolling cookies in powdered sugar.
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? You know, it's happening pretty often lately. When the surge of customers hits me at 7 am, I feel passionate about my job. At a wedding, I feel passionate about the choice I've made to be with Sean and how we're doing. But it was probably our time in Europe that hit me the most - how fortunate we are to experience that, how awesome it was that we traveled spur of the moment to places, how well we did in foreign countries, how miraculous it was to see things that have existed for thousands of years, and how beautiful everything in the world truly is.
  32. If not now, then when? When the time is right.
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose? The opportunity.
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever? Absolutely. It's amazing how a few minutes of being with someone that you don't see often can seem like an eternity.
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars? I think it's a sense of pride. Pride that everyone's religion is better than any other.
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil? Nope. What may seem evil to one person, could be saving and good for another. You can't judge someone - you don't know the path he/she has walked.
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? Nope. I love my job. I love how it makes me feel - I love the people I work with. I have no intention of ever EVER leaving it. Plus, if I won a million dollars, I wouldn't tell anyone but Sean. ;)
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing? More work I enjoy. Like I said above, I love my job. Plus, being bored drives me crazy.
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before? Nope. I think every day is new and interesting. It's a gift.
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in? When we moved to KC. We moved here blind - no jobs, no apartment - nothing. We moved with the idea that God will provide, and that we're motivated enough to make things work. And we were!
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today? My besties. Seriously. Life only works because I have a deadline on when I'll see them next.
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous? No. I don't think so anyway. Though I might agree to it if it meant that things always worked out perfectly and that we could live comfortably.
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living? Someone who is truly living is vibrant and has a reason to be alive. They have a spirit.
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right? When your head starts to hurt from doing the math. Just go for it!
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake? Cause then we have to learn!! ;) Kidding! Our society definitely puts an emphasis on being perfect, and mistakes aren't perfect. 
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you? Honestly? A lot of things. I'd move somewhere new. I'd paint my house green. I'd probably be lazy about recycling.
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing? Probably in youth group from high school - we spent a lot of time quietly meditating/praying. 
  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love? I love life - everything about it. I'm trying my hardest to appreciate it - stop and think for a bit, getting healthy to live longer, putting my phone down, and really enjoying my moments.
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that? Well, Facebook and Twitter will. ;) I won't remember the daily things, no doubt. But I'm sure I'll remember the milestones. That's why I blog, facebook, twitter, and instagram.
  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you? A little of both. I can't make every decision for my life - things like my boss dictate that. But I am making decisions to the be the best person I can be in order to get to where I ultimately want to be. You can't decide fate. But, you can put yourself in the best possible position for things. You can make yourself the best person you can be. You can change yourself.

Monday, December 3, 2012

#9. 30 days of Thanks.

I was one of those people. I did the 30 days of thanks (though, admittedly, I did forget to post the 29th and 30th on the Face). I was one of those people that everyone hated :p

But you know what? I'm really glad I did it. I actually learned something from it. Do you know how hard it is to come up with 30 individual things you're thankful for? I mean, sure, I probably could have said "I'm thankful for pizza" or "I'm thankful for awesome sex with my hubs" time and time again, but I really wanted things that were meaningful. Most of the time. Cause sometimes you just can't be meaningful on days when everything is wrong and the only thing that truly makes it right is the glass of $6/bottle wine that comes with a screw top.

But anyway. Here's my list, top to bottom (with the missed items). Because I AM thankful. I'm thankful for everything I have. And sometimes, it really is necessary for me to sit down and actually list out what I'm thankful for - rather than just an all-encompassing "everything". There's a lot of things I don't sit and take the time to appreciate.

Side note: Sorry - I've totally become one of those people who refers to her husband as "hubs". Whoops. How did that happen?! I'm still not going to fight it. No judging!

Day 1: I'm thankful to have such an amazing family, including an awesome husband and two furbabies.
Day 2: I'm so thankful for the rest of my family - for my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my cousins, and all of Sean's family - they've truly helped shape me into what I am today, and I know they'd be there for us if we needed them!
Day 3: I'm thankful for a great job. One that I can enjoy having a weekend from :)
Day 4: I'm thankful for our fantastic church. For our priest who believes in marriage equality to the people we see. I love it so much!
Day 5: I am thankful for this great opportunity Sean and I have had to move to Kansas City - we've had a great chance to grow and we seriously love it here!
Day 6: I am thankful we live in a democratic republic that allows us to vote for our leader at regular intervals. No matter what the outcome of today is, I am still grateful for the opportunity.   
Day 7: I am thankful for my friends. The ones I see daily, the ones I see monthly, and even the ones I see once a year - I am so thankful to be able to call them my friends, and I know they would be by my side in a heartbeat. ♥ you all.
Day 8: I am thankful for a great, reliable car. It's taken me to San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, Orlando, Destin, Des Moines, across Missouri more times than I can count, and now? Knoxville!
Day 9: I am super thankful for a fabulous road trip partner. I can't think of anything better than hopping in the car and driving all day with the hubs!
Day 10: I am thankful for a fabulous football association. I bleed black&gold for all time.
Day 11: I am thankful for our Veterans. To all those who have served, past and present, thank you.
Day 12: I'm thankful for my home. It may be a tiny little rental with single pane windows and plaster walls, but it's our tiny home and it's so wonderful to come home to. House, thanks for being so good to us in the last year. Here's to one more!
Day 13: I'm thankful I have fabulous recipes. Food is love, and the recipes of my family are truly wonderful and I'm so grateful to have them all!
Day 14: I'm thankful for my coworkers. Y'all are awesome (and give me free steak and donuts), and seriously make my job enjoyable. I couldn't imagine moving districts and having to leave everyone!
Day 15: I'm thankful I don't have to drive downtown through rush hour. Seriously.
Day 16: I am thankful for my education. I am so grateful for the resilience of Catholic school, the openness of public school, and everything of college. I've learned so much in my schooling, and I honestly know I wouldn't have as good of a life without it. The skills I've learned are the most valuable I could ever have.
Day 17: I am thankful for delicious, tasty drinks.
Day 18: I'm thankful I was raised without traditional gender roles. I'm thankful to be raised knowing that a man can cook, a woman can be the breadwinner, and a dad can take care of children just as well as a woman can. I'm thankful to know that a woman can wield a circular saw, and a man can rock an iron. I'm thankful that my parents, aunts, and uncles have all taught me this so well.
Day 19: I am thankful for the access to modern medical care. I cannot imagine a world without allergy meds, high blood pressure Meds, or painkillers, A world where smallpox and influenza killed thousands, or a world without regular doctors visits.
Day 20: I'm thankful for paid vacation. Not everyone gets to spend the holidays with their families (let alone get paid for it), and I'm truly appreciative that I have a great job where I can.
Day 21: I'm thankful for rest stops. Can you imagine having to stop at gas stations the whole way? I just need grass for my pup and a potty! 
Day 22: I am thankful for LIFE.
Day 23: I'm thankful for traditions. From thanksgiving to Black Friday to all the holidays coming soon, I love them all!
Day 24: I'm thankful to have a hunter in the family. Bacon wrapped duck? Yes please.
Day 25: I'm thankful for access to the internet. I love being able to communicate with everyone everywhere, and the vast amount of knowledge that we can gain from it is incredible! 
Day 26: I'm thankful for hot showers. I remember cold showers from my mission trips in Mexico, and I'm totally okay with warm and steamy. Not everyone gets them.
Day 27: I am thankful I can cook and bake. It's something I love to do, and (thankfully) can do well. Now if only I could eat everything without gaining weight...     
Day 28: I am thankful that we can fill our fridge with good, healthy food.            
Day 29: I'm thankful that my hubs has turned me into a nerd. I was always on my way, but I truly acknowledge it now. And it's opened a whole new world to me of entertainment and amusement for me.  
Day 30: I am thankful that I took the time to do this, and truly appreciate what I've been blessed with.