30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 10

What is your “go-to” Starbucks order?

A grande, hot, chai tea latte and a bacon gouda breakfast sandwich (if it is close to breakfast or lunch time).

This combo was something I craved (and was actually able to keep down) during my both of my pregnancies. And even now, is one of those comfort food combinations that’s like a hug. It’s perfect to get on a chilly, overcast day. Or in the summer. (Though, sometimes I’ll sub a passionfruit tea for the chai if I’m feeling it.)

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 9

Write about a habit you are trying to change.

It’s fitting that this prompt came up today, as I am one chapter away from finishing the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. (Which, is a wonderfully FANTASTIC book that has already helped me reframe my ‘all-or-nothing’ way of thinking and has SIGNIFICANTLY impacted my W.O.T.Y. (word of the year) journey with PROGRESS. (Honestly, it helped me pick my WOTY in the first place!)

I have about 5 habits I’m actively working to change this summer:

  1. Wake up at 5:30 am. I prefer to sleep in much later… so right now, I’m working on waking up then. (I’m not even trying to be productive yet, the goal right now is just to get used to waking up.)
  2. Go to bed by 9:30 pm. This is almost more difficult than waking up early. I’m a chronic night owl. I LOVE staying up late. The house is so quiet and I don’t feel like I have to ‘beat the clock’… the way I do in the morning. (Because the rest of the family can wake up at any time.)
  3. Write/blog/journal every day. This 30 Day Writing Challenge has successfully motivated me to blog more consistently. But I want to be better about journaling more regularly too!
  4. Daily exercise. Between all of the exercise programs I own on DVD, and the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike we have in our basement, you would think this would be easy to get down there and start. However, finding more enticing motivation than the obvious intrinsic value of being healthy…. has proved difficult.
  5. Working on chores/projects in small chunks of time, daily. This has also been frustrating to even get started. The projects are BIG and feel overwhelming… and I know I just need to start. I’m hoping if I can make the work-chunk small enough and frequent enough, the progress will add up quickly.

I am using a combination of a habit tracker (a sheet of paper I can check off each day as I complete my new habit) as well as earning rewards after a certain number of days in a row. (Star Wars merch I’ve been wanting, Olive and June nail polish (it’s the BEST), etc, etc.)

I’m hopeful it will go well… but successful or not, I’ll update at the end of the summer!

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 8

What are FIVE ways your spouse won your heart?

  1. Chivalry. Even before we started dating, my husband would open my car door for me. That seems so small… but it felt big! Once we started dating, I had a mutual friend message me to say he had held the car door for her too (which she’d never had someone do for her before) and to never let him go. (Spoiler, I didn’t.)
  2. Compassionate towards animals. You can tell a lot about a person in the way they interact with animals. Again, before we ever officially started dating, my husband brought my cat a gift on her birthday. It was completely unexpected and so thoughtful. Since we’ve been married (over the span of 14.5 years), he has agreed to own 4 dogs, 4 cats, 5 hamsters, two rabbits and a fish. (Not all at the same time.)
  3. He was good with kids. The summer after we started dating, my husband volunteered to work at his church’s VBS. He was placed with a young group.. maybe 6 or 7year-olds, and was given a few of the more challenging boys. I got to help on one of the days… and just watching him interact with the kids and play with them… it warmed my heart. I knew he’d be a good dad someday. (And he is!)
  4. We could face challenges together. About a month after we started dating for the second time (yes, he broke up with me after 2 or 3 weeks the first time, and then we got back together after a month) I went to live in Japan for a year. The majority of our dating relationship was spent over 6,000 miles apart. We made it through with many hours of phone calls and so many pages of cards and snail-mail letters. It was tough though… there was a 15/16 hour time difference (Japan doesn’t do daylight savings), lack of technology, (I didn’t have my own computer and only had access to one at the junior high where I worked, 4 days a week.) and the expense of phone calls… which I had to buy international calling cards for. But it all worked out… and we got engaged 3 days after I returned home, and married 4.5 months after that!
  5. He sends me flowers, even when he can’t. While I was in Japan, my husband took photos of flowers to put into a book that he then sent me. It was unique and so thoughtful! He knew one of my love languages is gifts and that I love flowers! And I have to say… he is STILL particularly GOOD at surprising me with flowers now, even after all the married years… and not just the typical “flower giving holidays”, (though he has always remembered those days too) … but often, randomly.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 7

List FIVE songs you’re loving right now:

  1. “Run” by One Republic
    • This is primed to be my favorite treadmill song soon; it has so much energy to it and hearing the word “run” throughout, keeps me going!
  2. The Ma Ya Hi Song- English Version [Originally called O-zone by Dragostea Din Tei]
    • I first heard the original non-English version of this song on the radio in Japan in 2005. One day I was having lunch with a Japanese friend, the song came on over the restaurant speakers… and I asked her, “Do you recognize this language?” (I knew it wasn’t Spanish or Japanese… and she had no clue either.) Before I could learn the name of it, the song disappeared off the face of the earth… and there was no way for me to look it up. Out of the blue, an English version was in a new Netflix movie called “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” (released this year), and now my kids ask me to play it every day…. instant dance party! (With a touch of nostalgia.)
  3. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd
    • Again… the energy of this song is just fantastic. It is less about the words and all about the music/beat. Another treadmill fav!
  4. Take On Me by a-ha
    • This is my go-to playlist song and is on every treadmill/run mix I make. It is one of my favorite 80’s songs!
  5. Corona Virus Anthem – a parody by Ajay Stephens
    • Oh my goodness… I JUST found this song a month or two ago… I wish I’d found it earlier. It just makes me smile… as someone who was genuinely concerned and took all-of-the-precautions, this is kind of the thing I can smile about… now that there is some relief in sight and we move toward “more normal”. Also… I love the original Maroon 5 song it parodies, so… there is that too.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 6

Discuss FIVE weird things you like.

  1. Canned lima beans, heated, with butter, salt, and pepper. I can eat these as a side… (specifically a side to meals like chicken and rice, or BBQ short ribs and mac-n-cheese) or alone as a snack. And I sometimes get cravings for them!
  2. Japanese Sumo Wrestling. I fell in love with sumo in 2004 while on a mission trip to Japan. I remember being amused that people actually watched it as a sport… when the husband of the missionary team we were working with, turned it on during dinner. He explained the simple rules and shared a few things about the specific rikishi (wrestlers)… it only took one day to fall in love with it. I still remember asking if there was a way to tape it, a few days later, when we would be out of the house during the broadcast. Once I moved to Japan, it was something to look forward to every other month. I would race home from my teaching job and prepare dinner while it played. I had (and still have) favorite rikishi… and have even been to two days of different bashos (tournaments) in person! Once in March 2006 and again in March 2010. I still love it now in 2021.
  3. Science Fiction tv/movies. I think the number of women who love SciFi is constantly growing, but maybe it is weird that I have a pretty feminine craft room… that is also decked out in Star Trek TNG, Doctor Who, and soon… a bit of Star Wars too!
  4. Dark Purple paint on walls. In the craft room I mentioned before… the walls and ceiling are dark purple. I have been told this feels too dark and depressing. But when I walk in, the color soothes me. If a room could give a comforting hug… it would be this room. It is one of my favorite spaces to be in… because of the paint color.
  5. Ketchup on fish. I honestly don’t like fish as much as other forms of protein. But I love a good battered cod or tilapia/salmon with some buttery sauce. And sometimes, I love ketchup on it too! I think it takes away the fishy taste. I’ve been told this is weird… by my father-in-law… who puts ketchup on everything (other than fish).

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 4

Write about something that is part of your routine that you enjoy.

I absolutely love the ritual of making a cup of tea. It is something I do at LEAST once a day… usually more. This isn’t something I’ve spent a great deal of thought or time on, and it isn’t structured or mandatory… it just kind of happens and has evolved over the years.

While I make breakfast, I select a mug (out of my continually growing collection) that fits with the theme, mood, or event of the day. (I have mugs I love to use on rainy days, snowy days, a watermelon colored mug for summer, Disney Starbucks mugs when I’m feeling nostalgic, Denver Broncos and Sumo mugs for game/tournament days… etc., etc.) Usually, the tea I pick for the morning is black tea like English Breakfast or Yorkshire Gold. Occasionally I am in the mood for Japanese genmaicha (the BEST green tea with toasted rice) or Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy. Anything usually works for this morning cup…as long as it has a bit of caffeine.

Sometime around 2 or 3 pm… sometimes earlier, sometimes a bit later… I’ll have an afternoon cup of tea. Depending on what my energy level is looking like, sometimes I’ll have Earl Grey or another choice from the morning caffeine selection. If I use a tea cup, this is usually the time I do that. Occasionally, I’ll try to have a small treat with it too. It’s fun to feel fancy and slightly formal in the middle of a regular day.

At bedtime, I LOVE a good cup of peppermint tea! I’ve also got other caffeine free herbal teas in my stash… when I feel like mixing it up. I’ve got a few small mugs (5 – 6 oz) that I use for my evening tea. I may, or may not, have learned (the hard way) that a large mug of tea before bed guarantees a middle-of-the-night bathroom visit.

I love my tea so much, that when I travel… I usually take an electric kettle and tea cup with me!! It’s just such a fun way to slow down, take a few minutes to rest, and enjoy something tasty.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 3

What are your top 3 pet peeves?

(In no particular order.)

  1. Being behind someone who doesn’t use the on-ramp to accelerate up to the traffic flow on the highway.
  2. Loud chewers/eaters.
  3. People who aren’t aware of how their body/car/shopping buggy affects the people around them.

I could spend more time giving examples of all of these… but I’m not in the mood to dwell on negative things today. (*Someone* woke up with some great motivation to get things done… and I’m not gonna waste it!)

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 2

Write about a piece of advice someone gave you that you’ve never forgotten.

In case I haven’t mentioned it in a while… my dad is a retired USAF Lt. Colonel who piloted fighter jets. Throughout his Air Force career, he got to know some really neat people and became good friends with some of them. One guy in particular visited our home a handful of times. I don’t remember his name, but he was one of those quiet, smart, and genial men, who was either in the service at one point and then worked in intelligence, or was a government contractor with one of the intelligence branches (think: top secret/confidential).

While most of my memory about him is fuzzy… there was one evening during my senior year of high school that he stayed in our home. I vividly remember we were waiting for dinner to be served and while we waited… my dad, this man (let’s call him “Lou”), and I were talking in the living room. “Lou” was sharing some fun stories about his life… experiences he’d had, famous people he’d met. I was completely fascinated.

It was during that conversation that he gave me some advice I have tried my best to live by: “Say yes to new experiences… as often as you can.”

And no… he didn’t mean illegal things, or things that would harm (like drugs). He just meant, if an opportunity to travel somewhere new, or try a new hobby, or meeting new people presented itself… “Say yes.”

It was that advice (along with God’s peace and provision) that helped me push passed fear and insecurity when new things DID present themselves.

Like the time I said “yes” to going on a mission trip to Japan with my university. Which lead me to meet someone in the JET programme… to which I applied and was accepted… which led to to my first job after college graduation and a life changing experience living and working in Japan for a year.

And saying “yes” to being a camp counselor in Texas during two of my college summers… even though I lived in Colorado… and that meant I had to drive (by myself) almost 1,000 miles one way… WITHOUT a GPS device or smartphone technology (or even good cell phone reception on many of the state highways), or cruise control (my purple Suzuki Swift was SO basic). Nevermind the impactful life lessons, new skills learned (sailing/high ropes/etc), and amazing people I met working at camp itself. I felt like I could do ANYTHING after that first solo drive.

Or when my college roommate and I went to San Francisco for Spring Break our junior year of college, stayed with her uncle (who works for the national park service and knew all the best places to go and visit), and spontaneously signed up to be an extra in a tv show that was filming in Los Angeles… and the crazy drive down there and back (a 24 hour trip)… but getting to meet (and HUG!) Dean Cain, Jeremy Sumpter, and saying hi to Christopher Lloyd in passing… (and getting to watch all of them act… and getting to see what it looks like to be on a real tv set…) It was more than I had thought I would get to experience in my life!

To be fair… all of these examples are from my college days. It was definitely easier to “say yes” before I got married and had kids… now there are more things to consider: time restraints of school, work, finances… and just my own personal energy to do things… sometimes the answer isn’t “yes”, it’s “not right now” and sometimes… the answer is “no”. But just because I don’t get to say “yes” as often as I’d like, doesn’t mean that I haven’t made AMAZING memories when I can! Some of these are grand and travel related, some are relational, some are seemingly minor… like changing a part of our daily routine to spontaneously get happy meals or ice cream. All are meaningful.

“Lou”, I am eternally grateful for the advice… I’ve never forgotten it!

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 1

  • List 10 things that make you really happy.
  1. Being in viewing distance of water, especially if I can see it from the place I am staying. Lakes, rivers, or even a pond will do… but the ocean has my heart.
  2. Opening a brand new planner and getting to fill it in with all of my special dates, sports events, and people. (I did this yesterday!)
  3. Rain. I love the way it smells, the way it sounds, and the cozy feel of the dark clouds. I don’t mind the occasional lightning and thunder either.
  4. Snow. Snow feels magical. It is so graceful to watch as it falls. It sparkles like millions of little diamonds in whatever light it is in… and something about it quiets the world outside .
  5. Fresh cut flowers… of ANY kind…but especially gladiolas, roses, or tulips.
  6. Fire in the fireplace, firepit, or campfire. I love watching the flames dance, the smell of the smoke, and feeling the warmth.
  7. Travelling (solo or with one other person) and the time before I travel… during the planning and waiting/anticipation period.
  8. A good cup of tea… in a favorite mug or tea cup. My favorite is black tea with Truvia (sugar, if I want it to feel really indulgent) and a splash of organic half-n-half or heavy cream.
  9. A clean house. This is harder with kids…. but when it happens, it feels amazing!!
  10. Alone time AND being with people I love. I’m happiest if both of those needs are met frequently.