My significant other!

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Week 2 –

Nathan and I met 17 years ago this February – a lifetime (or about 1/2) of a lifetime ago! It’s hard to look back and not run into a memory where Nathan isn’t in.  When counting my blessings, Nathan is definitely toward the top of the list 😉

Even though, we’re very different in many ways, we compliment each other in a way that works. The main reason why it works is because our priorities are aligned – we both have God at the top of our lists, and I truly believe that’s the most important thing for our relationship. We’re not perfect, we have our faults, and we both have made mistakes, but, giving up on each other is not an option.

When thinking about being grateful, the big things always jump to the top of the list because those are the things people expect you to be grateful for, but, the day-to-day little things that go unnoticed but end up making or breaking a relationship, those are the things for which I want to make sure I express my gratitude.

Nate, I am eternally grateful for:

  • your naiveté – innocence about certain things in the world – it balances us out!
  • the nights when you get in bed first and warm up my side of the bed before I get in
  • getting up earlier than me to make me coffee before taking me to work
  • putting up with my crazy OCD tendencies
  • listening to my stories from work and pretend you understand 🙂
  • supporting my hobbies, new interests, and crazy ideas
  • reaching across the bed with your warm feet to warm up my cold feet
  • how excited  you get about new things, like your bike, or a game, or a new place you like
  • how careful you are when you drive
  • how tightly you hold my hand when watching a suspenseful movie
  • getting your ‘cooking-mojo’ back
  • loving my family the way you do
  • putting up with Michín
  • complimenting me even on the days when the mirror does not lie
  • encouraging me to slow down, to take a break, to take care of myself
  • knowing that you’ll be by my side, regardless of what’s going on in our lives

Love you!

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Goals and Challenges

2015 is the first year in a very long time that I begin without a resolution list in my hands.  It’s not exactly because I 100% believe Calvin…

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…but it’s more because of what I read here last year – A Year of Productivity – So, I made a list of goals.  There are areas of my life I want to improve, and since in a way, we’re still getting settled here in this city, I wanted to make sure I was purposefully taking a more active role in the community I now live in.  Also, the weather this time of the year is truly hard on me.  I can’t recall being a moody person, at least not since I left my teenage years! But, when the sun doesn’t come out or I have to wear 3+layers to barely stay warm, my mood is not the best. My only desire is to stay under the covers all day, and my motivation and energy are all pretty much gone! So, publishing some of my goals adds a degree of accountability I need, at least until Spring arrives, to encourage me to do what I say I will do, and also to be motivated to do it.  If you’re reading this, then, you’re part of my accountability group 🙂

Among my goals is the desire to write more and to continue exploring my creative side with crafts and projects around the house, in spite of my time-consuming job. However, with the weather situation, I feel like I’m complaining a lot and not enjoying the incredible amount of blessings I do have in my life. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I ran into this –

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– and it was perfect! It’s a challenge that appeals to me, it’s not incredibly difficult, it’s attainable since I’ll have a whole week to think about what I will blog, and it’ll help me stay focused on the positive aspects of my life. I love the fact I don’t have to write about the weather until week 18, and that I’ll have a year to come up with a blog about the things I like about Winter (insert sardonic grin). But, in all seriousness, I do need this. I believe I’m a grateful person, but when I’ve been blessed as much as I have, gratitude is not something I ever want to overlook.   Thus, this post. Week #1, check!

Anniversaries

Screenshot 2014-08-31 08.17.32     There are days in one’s life that are absolutely impossible to forget. Days so deeply etched in your memory that all you have to do is close your eyes to bring forth every detail lived, whether you want to or not. August 31st, 2013 is one of those for me.

In March 2009, when Nathan came home and told me about a job opportunity in Saudi Arabia, I laughed! There was no way I would move there. Or so I thought. Then, 4 years later, I had to say goodbye to the kingdom, knowing that, more than likely, I would never go back.

In spite of being excited about starting our lives in a new city, and being closer to family, those last days in Arabia were heartbreakingly sad. The friendships I made while living there are among the greatest blessings I’ve received in my life. There’s something about being away from everyone and everything you know and have come to rely on that brings people together and closer that anyone would have ever imagined.

Those last few days at KAUST brought with them an amazing outpouring of love and comfort and hugs from all our friends and people who had touched our lives in ways that are impossible to describe. When the taxi arrived, and it was time to say our final goodbyes, I could feel a piece of my heart breaking away and deciding to stay nestled among the cushions of the yellow couch at I-5317. What a ride! It’d take me hours and thousands of words to relate how much I grew, changed, and experienced while living there.

In about a month, we’ll be celebrating the first anniversary for our life in Knoxville, while marveling at the fact that just a year ago we lived on the other side of the world. And that’s how life is. One chapter ends while another begins, and for as long as there are pages turning, changing is inevitable and welcoming it with open arms and a smile is how I choose to face it.

During this past year, so many of our dear desert-adventure friends have visited us here in Knoxville, that now when I close my eyes and think of them, the last memory I have with them is not one of tear-filled hugs but of shopping at Turkey Creek, or hiking The Smokies, walking up our hill in the snow, or just laughing in our kitchen.

Today, then, I cherish my nostalgic and wistful memories, and thank the heavens for an amazing and friend-filled life!

“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us”

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 A couple of months ago, I was reading a TED blog, when I found this piece on making your life more surprising. Now, I didn’t even know that surprisologist was even a word, even less, a profession, but it is.  It’s sad that people might need an expert or a professional to tell them how to be suprised – really sad. However, I get it. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and to stop noticing the little things that make each day unique. When I was working at the schools, I never ceased to be surprised by the children and the adults with whom I worked. When we first moved here, it was also easy to be surprised because everything was new and different. But as time went by (and I mean just a few days, even), my senses became accustomed to the sights, sounds, and smells that surrounded me. Then winter came, and everything seemed gray and gloomy.

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I guess I needed that article after all! Once I read it, I dragged a friend with me to follow one of Tania Luna’s tips and collected sensations for a few days.  We chose a sense to focus on, and for a day or two, we paid special attention to our environment to find something we hadn’t stopped to notice before focusing on just one sense. Such an easy but incredibly enriching exercise!

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Some of my “Surprises”

– Snow glitters

– The feel of the sun on my skin after many days of gray skies feels like a luscious kiss

– Cauliflower looks like a brain

– Dosas are an explosion of flavor in my mouth – Yum!!!

– The crunching sound I hear when walking on the snow makes me hungry

 Lessons Learned

– It’s almost impossible to separate your senses! I tried to isolate one sense, but, somehow, that sharpened the others – helping me find even more surprises along the way.

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(Excerpt from The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones)

– There are so many things I take for granted!

– My brain registers sights, smells, sounds, textures, and I need to make a deliberate choice to acknowledge what I’m experiencing

– Go out and enjoy life! It goes by too fast, and it’s too easy to ignore the beauty that surrounds us.

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*images taken from Google images