This post was written a year ago and has been sitting in my “pending drafts” folder because #life, #husband, #child, #job (pick any one of them… if you are adventurous, pick all of them.) A recent shift in life priorities has offered me more time to write (you can read about that here.) I offer this post with a better late than never sentiment attached to it! Enjoy!
There is a hobby that I have loved since childhood and I am kind of embarrassed to admit it. In the spirit of the whole “be transparent, life out loud” mantra, I am forcing myself to share it… Are you ready?
I don’t really, entirely know how to tell you this so I am just going to go ahead and say it…
I sometimes enjoy putting together puzzles – And by “sometimes enjoy” what I mean is that I friggen’ love putting together puzzles. Also, they make me giddy.
Possibly weird, I know.
You might think this factoid about me basically means I am super lame… Whatever, Bruh. Before you judge me, hear me out.
I come from a long lineage of professional puzzle constructors. My grandma and grandpa did puzzles and my Ma herself has laid down the pieces to many a puzzle. I remember growing up helping Grams and Gramps on their latest masterpiece. We would sit at the table in their basement and sort through thousands of tiny pieces. If I close my eyes I can still feel the shag carpet between my toes and smell the amazing smells of Grams’ house. We must have put together thousands and thousands of little jagged pieces. I was such a Rookie at the time but years of practice has paid off. I basically I have a PhD in puzzle constructing now. You can have my autograph if you want.
There I was in Target, minding my own business on an outing with my little man. What caught my eye as I was gallivanting through the aisles was the phrase “The 1980s”.
Why hello sexiest decade ever.
I kinda smiled.
I kept going.
I stopped again.
I went back.
I picked it up.
I put it down.
I picked it up.
I put it in my cart.
I was made in the 80’s.
Who was I not to do this puzzle?!
1000 pieces. Enough to be a challenge while keeping me engaged. I already had a game plan for putting it together before I reached the checkout line. Start by putting together the phrase “The 1980s” and work out from there. Find the corners, separate the edges from the middles. A little MTV, a little JFK, some Maverick and yes, Mr. T… That A-Team tho!
Back at home, I got baby boy down for his nap and I unboxed the puzzle. I was giddy with excitement. Each piece I sorted through offered a little childhood nostalgia. I came across a Rubik’s Cube and put it off to the side. I found some Run-D.M.C. next and before I knew it the Rubik’s Cube and the Run-D.M.C. pieces fit together. After that came a Mac Computer and some Adidas Superstars (swoon). That was followed by Cheers, Blues Brothers, some Dirty Dancing, a little Michael (both Jackson and Jordan) (double swoon) and of course Rocky…
It is here that I pause my writing to offer some wisdom. I urge you disconnect from the world and destress via a puzzle… Preferably one that reminds you of all the amazing things from your childhood. Just sitting and sorting the pieces thinking about zero things beyond the moment I was in. No phone calls, no emails, no texts pinging, no red notification badges or banners popping up to distract me. Just me and the 80’s and a trip down memory lane. I got all ZenAF with the puzzle. I think we had a moment.
As I was constructing this new puzzle, a thought occurred to me and my ego laughed at the irony. Sometimes in life we are sure of the path we are going to embark on. When I picked up that puzzle box, I knew exactly how I thought it was going to go. I had a plan in place to ensure my success. As soon as I opened the box, my plan became as jumbled as the thousand pieces that laid before me. Isn’t that just like life sometimes? As I sorted through them trying to make sense of the big picture, piece-by-piece little vignettes started fitting together to make the whole. It became clear to me as I nostalgically trekked through the 80’s that more times than not, our best laid plans are nothing like what actually happens in life. Sometimes they end up being just that- best laid plans. Something to pivot from, something to learn from, something to grow from.
Don’t have a cow though.
It’s not all grody-to-the-max.
Sometimes, it ends up totally rad and bad-to-the-bone.
I pity the fool who doesn’t agree. 😎
Thanks to a recent shift in priorities and a social media hiatus, I have had a lot more time to write… Lessons I Learned from Earning my Master’s Degree was written in December of 2016 (ummm, I’ve been busy… better late than never). It’s finally seeing the light of day and that’s cool because life lessons are timeless things. Enjoy…
It’s a freezing December day, but the Breslin Center is packed and I am sweating under my cap and gown. I look around and I cannot believe this day is here. This journey that I have been on is coming to an end and I have so many emotions about it. My family is with my little 2 month old Baby B in the stands. I think of him and smile… And feel my milk come in. SHIT. While part of me is so sad this part of my journey is coming to an end, my body reminds me that it’s time. The next chapter is here in full force and it’s time to raise our tiny human.
The commencement speaker (whose name I cannot remember #MommyBrain) talked about how he became an accidental surgeon. It wasn’t his intended plan in life. I write this having my life echo that exact sentiment. When I earned my Bachelor’s degree a decade ago, I thought I was finished with my formal education. Yes, I believe you never really stop learning but for all intents and purposes I was finished learning in the classroom… Or so I thought. (There are many points in life where I believe God must watch us and just laugh and shake his head. For me, this is probably one of them.) During my Master’s pursuit, I solidified my path to becoming an accidental educator. I write this now having a Master’s in Higher Education and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed. In a nutshell, I found my calling working with college students and helping them become the best versions of themselves in and out of the classroom.
Working full-time and earning a degree isn’t for the faint of heart. Throw in growing a human, building a house and being a wife, and you have your work cut out for you. I learned a wealth of fascinating things in the classroom these past couple of years. Theories and practices that I will carry throughout my career. In addition to that, there are a multitude of things I learned outside the classroom that have become imbedded in who I am. The highlights of the journey are what follow…
EVERYTHING WORTH DOING IN LIFE NEEDS A SOLID HASHTAG
By solid hashtag what I really mean is a strong “why”. Hashtags began as kind of a joke with my people. It started with the Fallon/Timberlake hashtag skit, (if you have zero idea what I am referring to… HERE also, you’re welcome.) then grew limbs and took on a life of its own. If a story is good enough to tell, it better end with a good hashtag or three as the punchline. A good hashtag can motivate you even on the worst days. #ThePursuit was mine for my Master’s and it carried me through the toughest days. A good hashtag can become your why- which is the most important of all things. In everything you do, I am a firm believer that you must know your why. Another way of saying this is come up with a damn good hashtag and use it everywhere to motivate the pants off of you. Times will get hard and you will lose the will to keep going and for these times you need to remember your why. #FindYourHashtag
WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Sir Isaac Newton was onto something here. Though I am on this journey, I am not on this journey alone. My success is not mine alone- it is because of the educators and researchers who came before me, and the family and friends who stand beside me. I don’t believe in coincidences- we were born for this time in history. We are here to make discoveries, be successful in our endeavors and leave our little spot in the world better than we found it. “If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” #YouWereBornForThisMoment
BE A SELFISH JERK
You know when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you incase you lose cabin pressure to put the mask on yourself before you help the person next to you… This is just like that. Sometimes, to succeed in life in a certain season, you have to learn how to create boundaries and be selfish. Sometimes that makes you a selfish jerk. So be it. You have to learn to say “no” and “I can’t take that on right now”. You have to learn to protect your time and your resources. Life is ravenous and if you let it, it will eat away at everything you have worked so hard to build. It is up to you to protect that with a vengeance. Create boundaries and be a selfish jerk over the things you love. #BeSelfishSometimes
DON’T BE A SELFISH JERK
If you know me at all you know it’s super easy for me to dig in my heels and be a selfish jerk. My Master’s taught me how to not do that- actually, Hubbz taught me that while I was getting my Master’s. My Master’s taught me that there is a balance in life, especially in marriage, that needs to be honored. My husband selflessly supported me through this process. He did this with no complaints… Like, zero. Even when I know for myself, I would have totally complained… He didn’t. He cleaned the house. He cooked soooo many dinners. He did the grocery shopping. He took care of the yard. He got the oil changes and filled the gas tanks. He shoveled the snow. He did the laundry. He did all of this (and more) while I studied and read and wrote papers for countless hours. He showed me what it meant to selflessly love another while supporting them in their endeavors with zero question. He allowed me to be privy to the blessing of his selfless love. #LessonsFromHubbz
I am a firm believer that in anything worth doing in life, it takes a village to help you accomplish it. At the end of the journey, after I walked across the stage, it was up to me to thank the people that helped me get there and make it through. The ones who planted the seeds, the ones who encouraged the process, the ones who prayed over us when things got hard, the ones who helped me see it through to the end. Gratitude is everything in life. When people talk about an attitude of gratitude, it’s a real thing that shouldn’t be downplayed. On our journeys through life, the most important thing we can do is have gratitude for and acknowledge the people who have helped us get to where we are going. Zig Ziglar knew what he was talking about when he said “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” #BeGrateful
Find your why- the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and make it a #hashtag. Recognize that you didn’t get where you’re going alone. Be a selfish jerk over the important things. Don’t be a selfish jerk where it matters most. In everything, above all, show gratitude.
I was supposed to be in surgery Wednesday morning. I had an almost 8 centimeter cyst on one of my ovaries that wasn’t going away and was growing steadily. Two weeks ago, my doctor scheduled surgery. I cried. I got mad at my body. Then, I decided underneath all of that emotion was fear. After much coaching from my People, I decided instead of being fearful I was going to pray it out and trust in the Lord. The more I prayed, the more I felt God saying “Hey Dez, how about you put your faith where you say your heart is and trust me.” #woah
Set with this God-given resolve, I got a small team together of Prayer Warriors. To be honest and tell one on myself, I was so ashamed about what was happening that I didn’t tell a lot of people and I didn’t reach out to ask for prayer like I normally do. I learned a lesson from this… don’t ever do that. It’s not our responsibility as followers of Jesus to live in shame and embarrassment. It’s our responsibility to be vulnerable and come together. Lesson learned on my part. Over the next two weeks, the small group of Prayer Warriors prayed, I prayed and we all waited. Two weeks felt like an eternity but everytime I would begin to feel the anxiety of worry I would lay my fears at the foot of the cross.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Though she wasn’t going to, I asked my doctor to run one last test the day before my surgery. She doesn’t normally do that because she said the likelihood of it resolving wasn’t great, but she agreed to recheck me anyway.
You guys, I was supposed to have surgery Wednesday morning… but I didn’t. As sure as I am typing these words, that cyst that had grown so large had shrunk in half in less than two weeks! My surgery was cancelled. #ThankYouJesus #HesOffTheHizzy
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Hubbz and I took this little miracle as a prompting to do something different than the norm. We did something that is unthinkable in our modern-day society. We both took the day of my surgery off anyway. We were taking a moment to recenter our focus from our very busy schedules to what really matters… God, each other and our family.
We woke up and played with our son and didn’t rush to get out of our jammies. It was a leisurely morning with nothing to do and nowhere to be. Hubbz and I went to the gym together – something we haven’t done in so long. He got a lift in and I got in a solid hour of yoga. I sat in the steam room with no place to go and not a thing on my agenda.
It. Was. Glorious.
Hubbz and I met at a gym and spent years working out side-by-side (couples who lift together stay together #liftheavysquatlow) but in a world of to-do lists and deadlines it rarely happens anymore. To be in this space with Hubbz, so many good memories come flooding back. Post-workout we got brunch together at one of our favorite eateries. I met my Mom for tea and three hours later we still sat there cracking up with conversation. Though we see each other everyday, we rarely sit down and talk just the two of us with zero interruptions. It was soul-quenching. At night, my sweet cousin brought us dinner and we spent the night laughing till we cried a little. God turned a day that I had been dreading into a day that I would like to stream on repeat.
I was in a meeting early this week and I was told something that struck me in the gut of my heart. My colleague and I were talking and he reminded me ever so eloquently that “God is good and He is still on the throne.” I don’t know about you but I forget that… all the time. I let the demands of the world overwhelm me and my faith that I like to think is steadfast and unwavering becomes frail and weak. My sweet readers, I am sharing this story, this tiny little miracle God gave me to bring to light that despite what is happening around us and to us, God is good and he is still on the throne.
I urge you sweet readers and friends, in the midst of our busy and hurried lives, take the day. Take a breath and just take the day. Take the day to do things for yourself and your relationships and your family that are so vital and important to a happy life. Take the day and say your gratefuls. Take the day and just breath. Take the day and pour into yourself, your life and your loved ones.
No matter what is happening in our lives, God is good and He is still on the throne.
YOU. GUYS. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It is my most sincere hope that 2018 finds you extraordinarily happy, tenaciously hopeful and ridiculously healthy!
2018 has entered my life in the middle of an interesting season… Exhaustion. Pure, utter, unadulterated exhaustion. Mentally, physically, emotionally and even a little spiritually exhausted. This whole living life exhausted thing is new for me and to be totes honest, I don’t like it. This past month I have taken a pause and have done A LOT of thinking. While I am not one to get into the “New Year, New Me” thing, this year it hit me that maybe that’s EXACTLY what I need. Not getting into the new years resolution fad over the years has allowed me to stay ridiculously comfy and play a small-ish game that I can’t really lose. Both of these things my perfectionist nature loves… HOWEVER… I am done with that thinking.
It’s about to get all “New Year, New Me” up in here so if you’re not ready for that you should stop reading… don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For some time now I have been contemplating the difference between being comfortable with the skin I’m in and being a raging fat-ass. I feel like lately I am equal parts of both. While some of you may see this as horrendous self-talk, I can assure you it’s not. I use the term fat-ass in an endearing and loving way. What I have come to terms with is that I have become a comfortable-in-the-skin-I’m-in-fat-ass… therein lies the problem. Putting all my ego and vanity aside, it’s not a healthy place for me to be. Not emotionally, not spiritually, not mentally and certainly not physically. While I know the truths of this to the very squishy gut of my soul, I also know that I love food… and by food I mean anything that’s not a lean protein or vegetable. If junk food were a person, I would have the biggest crush. Problem is, junk food is like the guy that all your friends think you should stay away from but you just keep going back to it because, well, it’s delicious.
All of this thinking about this comfortable fat-assness has led me to the conclusion that something has to change. While this change is something I have vowed to have happen every single Sunday night since BabyB’s debut on the planet, here we are, 14+ months post-baby and well… ahem. That jiggle is still in my middle and that junk is still in my trunk.
The ugly truth is that I am hovering 1-2 lbs above my pre-baby weight. This alone doesn’t sound so bad, right? Except thanks to fertility drugs and emotional eating, 1-2 lbs above my pre-baby weight also happens to be the weight of a small human. My 5’2″ frame is riding the Struggle Bus straight to OhShitsVille and if I don’t do something seriously soon it’s not going to be good.
I know what you are thinking right about now, why the blog post about this?
We have got work to do. By “we” I mean I… and I need some accountability partners. Left to my own devices, I will pick laziness and gluttony 100% of the time. Accountability partners are a powerful thing.
Do you have any goals for 2018? (They don’t have to be physique centered, they can be anything!)
Do you want to join me in reaching those goals?
Do you want to become stronger than your strongest excuse?
I’m not striving for perfection, just progress sprinkled with a ton of grace.
I left a lot in 2017 that’s not coming with me in 2018.
People (Byeeeeeee Felicia).
Baggage (ugh, it was sooo heavy).
Thoughts (gotta get that mind right).
Ideas (woke AF).
I would love to have you partner with me on this adventure through the Facebook Group I created… a 2018 Challenge to Change. I would love to go on this journey with you- to help each other, to empower each other, to share our stories and to be accountable.
If you are inspired, or maybe just a little curious, join us here:
This year it’s time to write a new story. Time to shoot for the moon. Time to thrive.