Tag Archives: Freedom

In remembrance, We Honor

25 May

Today is May 25, 2015.

It is Monday.

Where I live, it has been mostly sunny.

I slept in this morning.

It is the unofficial first day of summer.

These are all true statements about today, and yet they are not the most important, for today is also Memorial Day.

Today is the day we are supposed to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. These brave men and women who laid down their lives so that I, you, we may live in peace and without fear.

But do we remember the names? The stories? The faces? The families left behind with empty seats at the dinner table and echoes of their loved one’s voice in their ears? Do we honestly remember that freedom has never and will never truly be free? Someone, somewhere paid a high price.

image image image

As I stood listening at our local Memorial Day service, a story was recounted of a local boy who fought valiantly during World War II. He would not return home alive. The speaker stated he is “forever young” – and as I reflected on that statement and it’s truth, it really sunk in. Today we remember the lives that were ended far too soon, the young men and women who would never grow old, right along side the veterans of wars past who are not with us this year to share their stories and wisdom with the youth today.

The ringing of the bell and the reading of the deceased is one of the most sombering moments as it is heralded by the Twenty-One Gun salute and the playing of Taps.

When I was a high school student I had the opportunity to play Taps twice, once as a freshmen and again as a senior. It is hauntingly beautiful, and whenever I hear it I can’t help but get emotional thinking about the number of times it is played as a last farewell to our fallen men and women all across the country.

Yes, today is a day when many communities will have parades, kids will be out of school, businesses will be closed and people will gather for BBQs and picnics. But during all of that excitement, I ask that each of us take a moment to reflect, to pause, to really let the weight of this day and the meaning behind it sink in.

Freedom isn’t free. The debt is paid everyday by the loved ones who must carry on, but as a community let us embrace these families so the weight might be spread over more shoulders. While no one could ever replace that person or perfectly fill that void, the love, support and encouragement can do wonders for the family. I’ve seen it happen twice in my community, and today I proudly wore a USMC shirt in one of their honors.

My sister, Macayla and I

My sister, Macayla and I

And, because I have a couple of pictures from our parade, I’ll include those here at the end.

Happy Memorial Day, may we always remember those who are forever young, gone too soon while protecting the country they loved.

My Priority Statement:

4 Jan

My fitness and health are my number one priority – I will honor this by committing to loving my body as it is today, while pushing myself to become stronger, trimmer, and healthier tomorrow so that I can be around for a very long time.

I will honor my priority when I feel love for myself and remember to use only words and phrases that will build up my self-esteem and confidence. I will remember that my body is just the shell where I live – it doesn’t define me or limit my potential; however it does house my soul and my true self.

I will commit to exercising 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week and will come as close as possible to the recommended 10,000 steps per day as I can. I will also be more mindful of how late I am staying up so that my body has a chance to fully recharge and recover during a full 8 hours of sleep each night. I will be more aware of the food I am putting into my body and why – am I really hungry or am I thirsty, tired, stressed, anxious or mad? I will choose water more often than ice tea and juice, even if that means drinking it at room temperature. I will do better at counting my calories and using the resources available to me (i.e. My Fitness Pal and my Jawbone Up 24 app).

I will not feel guilty when I turn down my coworkers offer to order out for lunch or feel obligated to eat a cookie or something sweet they brought in to share.

I will limit my time reading for pleasure or watching TV so I can fit in my workouts.

I promise myself I will notice one thing I love, that is beautiful about my body everyday. I will never talk negatively when clothes don’t fit right or if I have yet to master a simple yoga pose. I will stop comparing my body to my friends, family members and celebrities as we are all at a different place on the fitness journey.

I will work to not punish myself for “bad days” or “slip-up days”. I will acknowledge that I was not trying at a 100% and will start again tomorrow; I will get up and try again. Failure is not an option and is not in my vocabulary any longer.

I will know I am perfectly committed to my fitness and health when I feel pride and joy in my progress and power in my choices. I will see a girl who is confident, radiant, self-assured of her place in the world and a beautiful person inside and out. I will have a smaller dress size and a smile that lights up the room! I will have energy to spare, smaller body measurements, healthy lab levels, control over my emotional eating, knowledge of how to live a healthier lifestyle, the desire to share that knowledge with others and the piece of mind that my outside finally matches the beauty I’ve always felt on the inside. I will hear the compliments of people who’ve noticed my progress and want to know how I’ve done it, I will hear my breathing is easier, no wheezing in my lungs and my heart won’t be pumping as hard. I will hear the roar of the crowds cheering when I cross the finish line of future races!

I will know that I have done my best and that I gave it my all. I will know that I am worth spending time on. I will know strength, power, and freedom and have a clear understanding that I am in control of my life and that I have the power to change the things I don’t like with a little hard work and determination.


**Are you wondering how I came up with my personalized priority statement? Interested in creating one for yourself? Watch the same videos I did by Chalene Johnson – I’ve made it very easy for you to find the videos on this playlist! If you’re interested in following along with the worksheet she mentions, here it is: SSS Life Balance Worksheet! I hope that you’ll take what she has to say seriously to heart, I have a better understanding of the things I need to change and focus on in my own life now! 

Memorial Day 2014

26 May

Today was bittersweet as we watched my youngest sister, Macayla, march in her last Memorial Day parades. Way to end on a high note, kiddo!! 🙂



My Virtual Thanksgiving Table

28 Nov



Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

31 Aug

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. – Isak Dinesen

Feet in the Mediterranean Sea

My feet in the Mediterranean Sea at night. The water was cold, but relaxing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a fish out of water. I love being in the water. And to be honest, I’m not sure where this love for the water came from. I can count the number of times I’ve been to the ocean on one had as I have always lived in the mid-west USA…no oceans close by, and no, The Great Lakes don’t count.

The first  time I saw the ocean I was about four years old and I went on vacation with my grandparents to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins who were living in one of the Carolinias at the time. Since I was so young, I really don’t remember much. I’ve been told about the trip and seen pictures but that’s not the same.

I wouldn’t return to the ocean until I was 11 years old during a family vacation to Florida. I remember splashing in the waves and wondering if there were any sharks around (I had this weird fascination with sharks, and I guess on some level they still fascinate me today – but not enough to participate in Shark Week, go figure.)

Up to this point in my life I have only seen the Atlantic Ocean, but that would change with a visit to Northern California when I was 14 years old. I had this image of the beach: hot sand, beautiful rolling ocean waves and the cute surfers – everything I’d ever seen in the movies I wanted to see in real life. Can you imagine my shock when I was informed that was what the beaches in SOUTHERN California looked like. Here’s what we saw:

A beach in Northern California, Pacific Ocean It was so cold in late June that we had on hoodies and long pants! WHAT?! Too cold to swim, too cold to surf, too cold to do anything but dip your toes in quickly just to say you had. But then, when the water comes down from Alaska, that’s about all you can do.

And then finally, FINALLY, I made it out of the country in 2007, at the age of 18, and I found myself on one of the beautiful beaches of Costa del Sol in southern Spain at sunrise.

Costa del Sol, Spain at sunrise I was in Spain as part of a school trip during Spring Break my senior year of high school. A friend and I woke up a couple of hours before sunrise, “snuck” out of our hotel (we didn’t much care for the teacher who was chaperoning and she didn’t seem to care too much what we were doing as her husband and son were also on the trip, so we were kind of left on our own and took full advantage of it) and walked the 3 or 4 blocks to the beach in the dark.

The view was breathtaking. The colors indescribable and believe me when I say the above picture does not do the actual view justice. It was so peaceful sitting on the beach in the early morning hours. We watched that little fishing boat, listened to the waves and soaked in the beauty. As I sat there, it was easy to let go of everything, to stop thinking and just be – be happy, be calm, be at peace for just a few precious moments, while all around us the city was waking up.

I can’t explain the connection I have with the ocean. I love the rhythmic sound of the rolling waves, the call of the seagulls, the song of the whales and dolphins. Maybe it’s because it’s unpredictable, one moment the water is calm and serene, the next hostile and punishing, a mighty power that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. The color is intriguing – deep blues, turquoise, teal and crystal clear. It holds stories, secrets and mysteries in its depths, and wonders we are only beginning to uncover. It’s another world from the one we live in – oh how I long to be a mermaid sometimes just so I could explore and discover what’s really down there. I see the ocean as a reminder that things aren’t always as they appear on the surface – danger or beauty could be closer at hand than the casual observer realizes. It’s learning to recognize the difference that will determine your success and survival.

Independence Day 2013

7 Jul


I don’t know how your holiday was, but mine was jam packed. And while it was a fun day, I couldn’t help but find myself wishing I was at Disney watching Magic Kingdom’s special fireworks: “Disney’s Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky.”  The year I worked at Disney, I saw this show from two very different places, one was during my break from backstage by The Haunted Mansion and the other was on the beach at the Polynesian Resort…and in my opinion it’s one of the BEST places to watch fireworks. Don’t believe me, here’s a video someone pretty special to me filmed from the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort this week.

To see more of his Disney videos, check out Scott’s Disney Vlog!

As for my day… I had the day off work, gotta love when a holiday falls in the middle of the week! We went to a family reunion in the early afternoon. Same thing happens every year, good food, good company and catching up on family news. After the reunion, I had an hour of downtime before I headed off to work at a local country club. (A friend and her mom work there when they have big events and sometimes ask me to come help as well.) I was told that we would be home by 11pm (I needed to have some sleep because I had to be at work bright and early Friday morning) and since I wasn’t doing anything else, I figured why not get paid to watch some fireworks?!

Usually when I help out at the country club I am a waitress – bringing food, getting drinks, clearing tables, but this time I was going to be learning to bar tend.


Let me explain….I can count the number of drinks I’ve had on ONE hand and I’m okay with that. I’ve never felt that I needed to drink to be accepted and still don’t. I don’t think it makes me weird either, it’s just my own personal choice and I respect the different choices and opinions of others when it comes to social drinking.


Anyways, my knowledge of alcohol is little to none, but luckily I was with someone who has been bar tending for years and he was very participant in teaching me the ropes. The waiters and waitresses were also very understanding. After a few hours I was starting to feel a little less overwhelmed, however I don’t think I will be quitting my day job anytime soon. After 7 hours behind the bar, I had mastered mixing one of the four specialty drinks, I was starting to get pretty good at pouring beer and I was starting to remember which type of glass went with each drink (tall and skinny, short and fat, with or without a stem, pop glass, water class).

The event was for members only of the country club and was happening all over property. There were about fully-stocked 4 bars open and operating at the same time. We closed our bar around 9:30PM, just in time for the fireworks. The show was okay, yes there was music playing (it may have been from the other festivities happening around the club), the fireworks were huge and the colors were beautiful, but nothing can compare to Disney fireworks. I saw a quote online that said something like “July Fourth is the one day Disney fans go to their local firework shows and say ‘eh.'” Yup, that pretty much summed it up. There were like three encores so that was kind of cool I guess.

By now it’s 10:15PM and we are more than ready to leave for the night, but we can’t until two of the bars are completely torn down and cleaned up for the night. We didn’t even clock out for the night until 11:45PM (home by 11PM, yeah, guess not.) and it was another hour or so drive home. I didn’t fall asleep until after 2AM and was rudely awaken at 5AM by my alarm clock announcing it was time to get up for another day at the office. I have never wanted to stay in bed more than I did at that moment. Luckily it was a quiet day at the office and I got a lot done on a project I was designing.

So, in a nutshell, that was my day. Hope you had a wonderful (if less exhausting) holiday as well! Here’s a few photos from the day! Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday – 5/29/13

29 May

Make a wish, set it free


Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

25 May

In the Background: The places that we pass through day after day, or even once in a lifetime, leave in their small way, echoes and traces of themselves upon us. But so often when taking self portraits or pictures of friends, the places themselves become a soft blurred mush of indistinct semi-nothingness, the limelight stolen by our smiling faces.” – The Daily Post

Purple flowers in focus as a soldier walks in the background, face hidden

As soon as I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge I went searching for this photo. It is about 4 years old now but I still get chills when I see it. And to think, this shot was pure luck, no staging, one of those perfect moments forever captured in a still-shot. I wish I could find the file without the added text, but then again it aids in the storytelling of this very special photo. Let me explain…

As I have already mentioned, this photo is 4 years old. I was a sophomore in college and my older cousin, Alan (who I adore and think of more as my older brother because he has treated me like a little sister all my life. I have no brothers of my own and his sister and I are the same age, so we are kind of a packaged deal. He pestered us both, made lots of jokes and had our backs growing up. He’s two years older than me, so you can see the relationship!) Anyways, Alan was graduating from Basic Training in Ft. Jackson, SC in 2009 and I got to make the trip down there with his parents, his sister Manda, future wife Erica and our grandparents. We were all so proud of him! We got to see his base and watch him graduate, it was a very emotional weekend.

And as Alan was taking us around, I was the “unofficial photographer” for the weekend….partly because my aunt was so excited to see him and emotional she knew she’d forget to take lots of pictures to scrapbook and partly because let’s face it, this is me we’re talking about. My camera is an extension of my arm. I hardly EVER go anywhere without it, because you never know when the perfect picture will present itself, which brings me back to my photo for the week.

Alan had stopped to point out something (a building a person, a drill course, I don’t remember now) and tell us a story about it when I noticed these BEAUTIFUL purple flowers blowing in the wind. So naturally, I start taking photos of them. The shots were nice but the composition was all off and that’s when I knelt down and saw it through the lens on my camera, the perfect visual representation of something BEAUTIFULLY STRONG.

Here’s why I love this photo. The flowers are this bold purplish-pink color and immediately the eye is drawn to them. The branches provide beautiful curving, dark contrasting lines to offset the color. And then if you look closely, hidden in the background among the green of the trees and the grass is a soldier in camo, with his face hidden. He could represent anyone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, father, friend…anyone. I’m glad that he’s out-of-focus because it forces you to really look for him, and once spotted he becomes what your eye is drawn to, the real subject of this photo, the strength and beauty of America. I choose to title this shot “Beautifully Strong” because it’s a beautiful sacrifice these brave men and women who serve our country make. They must be strong in their decision and their families, loved-ones, friends and those left behind must also be strong enough to support them.

How fitting a topic and photo for this Memorial Day weekend, I couldn’t be more proud of my cousin and all my other family members who are currently serving or have served. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to keep us safe. I love you all! ❤

Reasons to Run

18 Apr

**The following article was in this morning’s paper. (source) It caught my attention for a few reasons:  

  1. The title. I’m a beginning runner, so whenever I happen across an article about running I stop and read it hoping for tips or advice or encouragement. I am training for two 5Ks, one in 8 days (a Color Run!) and the other in 16 days (Walt Disney World’s Expedition Everest 5k Challenge!)
  2. I love reading this writer’s articles, they are witty, insightful and funny
  3. I knew it was about the tragic events at the Boston Marathon and I wanted to know what he had to say.

Newspaper Article, Reasons to Run, Boston Marathon

This is what I was thinking about during my run this evening. We will keep running. We will keep living. We will always remember the innocence and lives and memories that were lost every time we cross another finish line. We will keep their memory alive in our hearts and on the course, they will never be forgotten. ❤

To the angry jerk in the ugly red truck

17 Apr

Ever have one of those days where you just need a walk to let go of all the pent-up stress and frustration. That’s been my day. It didn’t help either that in my office I sit beside a large picture window with the sun shining in for 8 painfully long hours (honestly, how is the work day suppose to go fast when it’s that BEAUTIFUL outside?!) and that fact that I have a weather gadget on my computer desktop that was constantly reminding me it was a glorious 67 degrees and mostly sunny day wasn’t helpful either. So when I got home from work, my mom and I decided to take advantage of this rare nice day to go for a walk “around the block.” [Disclaimer, I live in the country, so when I say around the block, I mean making a square on country roads which is about 4 miles…. yup,  just one “block” and no sidewalks.] All was fine and dandy until we met this “pleasant” driver about 15 minutes into our walk who almost ran us off the road while we were crossing a bridge! This is the letter I proceeded to write him in my head during mile two. The best part about this…. we saw the truck again parked at a house at the corner of our road… turns out we have him as a neighbor, lovely.   


To the angry jerk in the ugly red truck,

Let me remind you that we live in AMERICA. We have every right as pedestrians to walk along the side of the road. We were walking TOWARDS you in broad daylight! For heaven’s sake I was even wearing bright PINK in the middle of the afternoon! We were following all the laws of the road! You saw every other driver in front of you go around us…there was no one even on the other side of the road, you had more than enough room to go around us, too. But for you to pull over and yell at us to “Get off the road” clearly demonstrates your lack of maturity, human compassion or general niceness. And here we though we were going to save the day by giving you directions to the highway because you and your nastiness must be from out-of-town. All the other drivers on the road moved over and waved! Next time I suggest you be nicer to the person walking, chances are they won’t be as nice as me…something to think about.


I have just as much right to the road as you do