My Thoughts On Negative Political Ads…

At a friend’s barbecue last night we had the TV on and of course some of the negative political ads came on (because unfortunately for us, Virginia is a swing state…so almost every other ad is something political). Well this provoked a political conversation amongst us, which can sometimes be a scary thing to dive into. But my point basically came down to that I think instead of using each of those 30 second ad slots to talk negatively about the other opponent, I think that the candidates should use those TV spots as an opportunity to educated the “average American” on what their actual platform is…what their philosophies are, what they hope to achieve, how they hope to do it… My reasoning for this is that I don’t think that the “average American” actually takes the time to research political candidates to make educated decisions each November. I think a lot of people, unfortunately, cast their votes based on feelings, which have usually been swayed by all the negative, 5th grade girl antics that political candidates succumb too. Rather wouldn’t it be great to not vote based on someones race or even necessarily their tax returns…but based on what they stand for and how they hope to “fix” whatever needs to be fixed. I feel like with negative ads this is a lost opportunity….

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Donating Hair to Cancer Patients

Ever since I heard about organizations like Locks of Love, I have always wanted to contribute my hair to make wigs for children and women who have lost their own hair due to cancer.  As many probably have, my family has lost loved ones to cancer, so programs like this hit home.  So yesterday I had my hubby measure my hair to make sure it was long enough, then I cut it!  I will be sending off the 9 inches to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Since 2006 this program has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig bank that distributes wigs to cancer patients across the country.  There are many outstanding programs similar to this one, but I chose Beautiful Lengths because they only require at least 8 inches, instead of 12 inches like most other programs.

Before, During, & After:

 

After having long hair for the last two years the short hair is a little bit of a shock…but as hair always does…it’ll grow back :)  Sending in my hair to Pantene is as easy as putting it in a plastic baggie & mailing it…as the Geico commercial would say, “It’s so easy that a caveman could do it.”  And I am excited to have contributed to a wig for some child or woman out there who will receive a it and maybe feel a little bit like themselves again.

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I Was Tagged…

An acquaintance from my comm major in college that has now become someone I’d consider a good friend through reconnecting over social media tagged me in a blog post she did! It is sort of like those fun chain letters we used to do back in high school, so I’m going to post my answers to Maggie’s questions she tagged us in on her blog.

1. What is the one item you have to have in your fridge/pantry? 
Black Beans
2. Is there a song that evokes an emotion/memory from you no matter what? (can be a happy, nostalgic, etc)
Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” because for some reason I think of my parents every time because I remember Dad leaving Mom a message one time when he was on a business trip just to tell her hi.
3. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date? Could be personal or professional.
I would say my most fun accomplishment is moving to DC.  I always had the desire to live in a city and thankfully my life path led me to DC and I’m so thankful for it!
4. Would you rather go the rest of your life without ever watching your favorite show/movie or without reading your favorite book?
I would rather go without a tv show because I love reading so much more.
5. Skydiving or bungee jumping?
I’ve been skydiving and would certainly choose that over bungee jumping.  I just can’t imagine bungee jumping…something about snapping my neck that spooks me.
6. Where is the one place you want to go before you die?
Am I allowed to say Europe? I have so many things I really really really want to do & see that it would be so hard to narrow it down.
7. If you had a book written about you and your life, what would you want the title to be?
Learning to Live
8. What would you want your 15 minutes of fame to be for?
In a dream world I would say completing an Ironman, but in ‘real life’ I would say I would like to have 15 min of fame for an article I write.
9. Is there a hobby or activity you did when you were younger that you’ve given up, but wish could start again?
Can I choose two? Since it’s my blog I’ll say yes :) so I would pick tennis & spanish.  I took both for years but didn’t keep up with it.
10. What would be the hardest food to give up forever? (Mexican, Italian, cake, etc.)
Gosh, I have so many…in general I would say mexican b/c we eat it like twice a week…but I’d have a really hard time if I had to give up ice cream/desserts.  I dream of them.
11. If you could be amazing at one thing, what would you want it to be?
Being spontaneous. I have to have everything planned and I LOVE planning, but I’m sure everyone around me would like if I was a little more flexible about my plans  =)
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Reflecting Back On A Quarter of A Century

I had my 25th birthday recently.  My how life has flown by…. I wish there was a way to slow it down some and enjoy the moments more, but as everyone has come to gather, life seems to speed up and not slow down.  25 years ago my mother woke my Dad up and swore I was coming a month early even though Dr. Marchese had assured her early that day that it was just false contractions.  15 years ago I remember crying because I was going to turn double digits…this was probably caused by my cousin making fun of me and her brother because we were only 1 digit. 13 years ago I loved turning 12 because it was my favorite number. 10 years ago I was getting my permit to drive a car on a rainy, foggy December morning.  6 years ago I thought I had my future all planned out.  Wow…the memories…from family dogs, to four-wheeling, to driving & wrecking my first car…to boys…to college…to the “real” world.  It’s been amazing and too quick….  I am so happy where I am in life, but I do have brief moments when I wish to experience different times in my life for just one more day…

I know these letters to yourself have been a big fad this year, but I kind of love the idea so here are a few things I would have liked to told myself 10 years ago:

Don’t grow up so quickly or rush things that should wait.

Learn to listen to your gut (it’s normally right, long before your mind & heart realizes).

Pray more. A lot more. And work hard on listening to God’s guidance.

Thoroughly enjoy times with family & friends. They will not always be there, even though at this point you feel life may never change.

Be nicer to your mother.  She’ll become your best friend.

Everyone will tell you to be more spontaneous…maybe let your shield down & try ;)

Study abroad.

Just because something is on sale or is a good deal, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. (Especially talking about clothes!)

Take your time…enjoy your teens to explore sports, hobbies, friends, relationships…you won’t get that M.R.S. degree and get married at 21 so don’t make that your sole focus…focus on growing yourself before you try to focus on others.

Learn from your past, but focus on your future & the positive.

And life may seem extremely tough, but through prayer, faith, & support of others, it will work out the way it’s meant to be.

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Forks Over Knives–Making Our Own Decisions

We did a free trial of Netflix yesterday just so we could watch the Forks over Knives documentary. In my own opinion, I definitely think it is worth the time to watch it. As individuals our health is the only thing we can come close to controlling and with the eating habits of the western world, it is going to come down to the choices each person makes for him or herself.

And as consumers we have to do our best to be aware and to a degree be critical of who is telling us what.  The United State Department of Agriculture puts out the food pyramid and tells us how much of this and how much of that we should eat, but who are on those panels to create those guidelines…and who might they have ties too? The pharmaceutical companies make”miracle” drugs, but the pharmaceutical company also does not make money on healthy people…hmm…
Science has given us cows that produce more milk, chickens who pop out more eggs & have more meat, but then years later we find out that these additional hormones are negatively affecting the generations that grew up eating & drinking these things everyday… ?
We eat food with numbers, letters, & colors…with high fructose corn syrup & now with aspartame that might give us cancer… doesn’t it scare you?  It makes me wonder…Why does it seem that cancer has now become rampant? Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.? Why is it not the same statistics in areas that do not have as much accessibility to fast foods?

Forks Over Knives mainly focuses on data & studies done that supports a whole foods and more of a plant-based diet.  And no, I am not going to become a full vegan after watching the documentary, and I will still drink some milk & eat eggs Saturday morning, but I am going to start tweaking my diet and doing things such as using my steak & chicken as a side or to add flavor instead of eating a large portion as the main course.  I am going to start paying even more attention to what makes up the food I put in my body.  And I am going to become more of a do-it-yourself cook, even if it takes me longer in the kitchen & cost me more at the register, I will be saving money & time in the long run when I am not having to go for sick visits or chemo or surgery.

So yes, I recommend watching Forks Over Knives. Not that you have to agree with all of it, but I think it is one of those documentaries where you will take away bits and pieces that will ultimately make your life even better.

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Working Out-It’s Only For You

I had a tough but awesome workout today during lunch.  The last 5 min of my run I was really having to concentrate on breathing, I was sweating profusely, and I had a fleeting moment when I wanted to just stop and walk…but it was the next moments when I pushed through, I challenged myself both mentally & physically,  and I achieved.

That’s the thing about working out, when it comes down to it, it’s only for you.  You are the only one that can overcome the doubts, that can talk yourself through, that can dredge up the motivation.  I workout 5-7 times a week because I love the feeling of being completely in control of the outcome.  I see growth of muscles & my ability to run farther & lift more, but I also feel growth in my mental strength & motivation.  And as a person that love love loves working out, I want everyone I know to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment like I do, but also have come to realize that people feel accomplished in different ways and through different things.

But if I can say to each of you…Find something, at least one thing, that you can do for yourself and no one else.  Only you can pick that hobby or goal and then take some time to strive to achieve it or incorporate it into your life.  The feeling of self-accomplishment is irreplaceable, whether it is completing a half-marathon, finishing a book, or becoming a CEO.

So good luck.  If you need help getting started or thinking up something, then talk to a friend or grab a piece of paper, but make sure in the end, that you are doing something during your day, week, or life for yourself. You will thank yourself.

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If I Ran The World

I have absolutely no desire to rule the world, so don’t get any ideas.  But with all that is going on with the housing marketing falling, the debt ceiling raising, the uncertainty of my future and my children’s future…I have taken a look at some things and created a hodgepodge of ideas of my own (& I’m not necessarily saying I’ve done research enough to know if these ideas are even possible, these are just my own opinions based on my little world):

People should live within their means…a BMW would mean a lot more if only people could buy them that had worked hard, saved the money, and could pay for them…rather than giving someone a line of credit where they pay half their paycheck every month to “look cool” (don’t get me wrong, I love BMW’s and we actually have one, but I’m talking about the principle and not the actual item).

Credit cards and loans with little money down have caused the “American Dream” to become bloated and basically unreal…because a bank approves someone for a loan they feel it’s okay to have that much debt on their hands…they don’t comprehend the “what happen’s if x loses his/her job” which brings me back to point number one–living within one’s means.

As for the government…I’m flabbergasted that we are in such a dire situation…if people (aka almost every politician) would quit mouthing off about it being the other party this and the other party that and start representing the people and making decisions based on families/real workers and not the money they get from some corporation in their political race fund, we’d all be better off.  But instead it’s right wing, left wing, no one can make a darn decision and they have screwed over 300 million people.  Way to go guys.  Thank you for messing up my parents’ retirement, my retirement, heck my grandchildren’s retirement… But I digress…

I think that every individual should pay the same tax fee for all monies they bring in, whether it’s wages, capital gains, $2 or $1M.  There should be no tax breaks for poor, rich, small business, big business.  And if I really had it my way I think that we should all pay the same property taxes, income taxes, car taxes, insurance taxes, etc etc.  Make government & laws cut and dry, it’s easier for everyone to understand and there wouldn’t be this debate about some CEO’s secretary paying more in taxes than the CEO.

And if America is SO in debt why in the world are we giving millions and billions to other countries…?!?  Don’t get me wrong, I understand helping out the human race, but let’s look at home first where 23% of the homeless are veterans who served for our country, where the unemployment rate is over 9%.  Yes, we see the children of Africa who are in dire need of food and water, but what about the 17.2 million children in America that live in food insecure households (meaning they went hungry because of the inability to afford enough food).  I honestly believe you need to help those around you before you help others, and that may seem like a selfish statement, but looking at it in the big scheme of things, as a county we should not be going more in debt by helping other countries buy ammunition when we can not even feed our own mouths here.

And a slight side note, if I ran the world I would tell all the soft drink companies they could not produce drinks over 50-100 calories, no more of this CocaCola Classic being 240 calories that people just drink down (even though it’s clearly labeled on the side…).  There is Diet Coke & Coke Zero that can take the place…people’s taste buds will get used to it when it’s the only thing available…  I don’t think we should allow food to be produced that has such outrageous calories…even a Subway sandwich can put you easily at 700 calories for one meal…we see staggering numbers where 1/3 of U.S. adults are obese and around 17% of children (2-19 yrs old) are considered obese.  REALLY?! Stop buying the potato chips, the donuts, the fast food for every meal people… get out and walk…now I realize some people have genetics that cause them to be larger than others but not 1/3 of the population.  We’ve created a world where kids stuff their face with fake juice, potato chips, and play video games all day long or adults drink a Coke (240 cals) & have a Lean Cuisine (550 cals)  for a snack.  That’s a sad world.

America, it’s sad to say it, but if I could, I’d probably pull all my money and stick it under my mattress, buy some gold, buy a little island, a cow, a chicken, some vegetable seeds, a load of books, and take my family with me and be just fine.

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Why God Made Eve Girl-Friends

So someone would be there to comment on your haircut, because Adam probably would not notice…

So they would notice when you have lost weight and tell you how little you have gotten, because Adam probably would not think you look any different.

So there would be someone there to tell you it is okay to feel a bit crazy…and emotional…and to sometimes cry for no reason, because Adam would actually think you are crazy… (haha)

So you can pour a glass of wine and talk about all the world’s problems…or let out all your own problems…because Adam would want to actually solve the world’s problems…and your problems…when you most likely just need to hear them outloud.

But to all that, God did make Eve & Adam to share, live, love, and learn.  And at the end of the day Adam will be the one to make Eve’s eyes twinkle and after time he may still not understand everything, but he will try, and that will mean the world.

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A Tribute to (Wo)man’s Best Friend

On December 14th, our family’s oldest dog Smokey died.  He was a miniature schnauzer and would have been 13 years old in March.  Smokey was a surprise for me when I got home from Camp Seafarer the summer after 5th grade.

Mom & Dad had decided mid-summer to get a dog so they looked at a few different breeds.  When Mom & Dad walked up to the house where the schnauzer puppies were, there was one little guy peeking out of the screen door with eyes just for my parents.  And that was it.  They picked him up, named him Smokey after the Smoky Mountains where he was born, and off to Carolina Beach he went with my mother for the summer.  There are many funny stories in those first weeks while Mom & Dad trained Smokey, like Mom accidentally dragging him through the surf on an evening walk… =)

They brought Smokey to camp to pick me up and I was ecstatic!  I had certainly not expected a puppy and even more so an inside dog, as I had grown up with dalmatians and chocolate labs.  He was SO CUTE!

The rest of the summer I helped walk Smokey and I fondly remember trying to force him to pee on the fire-hydrant, then getting frustrated because I did not think he was a “real” dog if he did not pee on it…ha.

Smokey went every where with us.  After the condo at the beach, we bought the motorhome and traveled around the country.  My Dad laughs at me and says Smokey probably saw more of the sights then I did.  Smokey has walked every campground, seen thousands of sunrises, sniffed & marked territory in 45 states.  In essence, he was my little brother and I loved him at times and despised him at times, as siblings do.

I still like to tell about the Christmas when Smokey received more Christmas presents than I did….as you can tell I have gotten over it ;)

Since then we have added Rocky, who is 6, and Bella, who is 2.  It is interesting to me how they all have different personalities, yet Smokey will probably always be my favorite.  Over the past few years he has had health problems and has persevered to teach us many lessons about life.  He was always there to greet me. Even when he could not see anymore, he would wiggle his tail as he blindly bumped his way across the kitchen when he heard me enter the door.  He was certainly man’s (in this case woman’s) best friend.

I will miss my Smokey.  But I have faith that he will be sitting on the steps of Heaven waiting for us with his doggy grin.  Love you Smokey Maltba.

The World's Cutest AppState Dog

Mom & I with Smokey, Rocky, Jonboy, & Billy.

All the doggies.
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Perspective from Elizabeth Edwards

I had a lot of respect for Elizabeth Edwards because even though life threw her many rotten lemons she pushed through with a positive, bright attitude.  She found beauty through the journey.

While on the treadmill the other day I watched The Nate Berkus Show when he was doing an interview with Elizabeth about reclaiming her life.

The quote that stood out to me in that show was something from Elizabeth’s book Resilience: “ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” by Leonard Cohen.

Then a few days later Elizabeth passed on from cancer.  Many articles came out and I was reading one that talked about Elizabeth & the institution of marriage.  A few lines from this article really stood out to me as well and reminded me that life is not always roses even though we expect it to be…and the quotes also gave me a different (mostly good) perspective on marriage and life.

‘Being married is unlike any other relationship, so full it can be of surprises, challenges, difficulties and opportunities for growth.’

‘no one can realistically promise that marriage doesn’t have its periods of pain–sometimes great pain–instances that force a couple to decide whether their bond can be salvaged, even built upon, or ought to be dissolved. But name me a single human institution that isn’t flawed by the being human of its participants.’

Rest in peace Elizabeth.  Thank you for being a strong role model to so many of us.  Prayers for your family.  You will certainly be missed.

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