Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
- T.S. Eliot

As the year comes to an end and a new one begins, reflections come to mind. 

2011: Home & Reset
In moving back to Oklahoma, I came home both literally and figuratively.  I feel like this was invaluable in allowing me to reset my goals and expectations and life in general. 

2012: Meatless Happy/Sad
Looking back on this year makes me think of two things - no meat, and emotional contradictions. 

Assuming I make it 12 more days I will have had a meatless year.  Honestly, I've enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  Without intending to do so, I've become way more sympathetic to the animals.  By removing meat from my diet, I now see meat as animals... whereas before I simply saw it as food.  That being said, I do plan to return to the carnivorous lifestyle and we'll see where I decide to go from there.  

Emotions... sheesh.  Am I right?   
The insatiable desire for the good ones; the persistent reality of the bad ones.
This year, more than others, I have been filled to the brim with joy and felt emptied by sadness. 

Explanation of the sadness:
- Even when life is going great, when it doesn't match up to your expected and/or desired reality... it can leave you feeling disappointed. 
- Having a pointless job with waaaay too much free time and waaaay too little challenge can leave you feeling insignificant, bored, useless, and stuck. The mind and time can be your own worst enemy on this one... when it wanders it often wanders in the unhappy direction.  I've realized that sometimes the distractions in life are really helpful. 
- No matter how many loving people bless your life, it can be a lonely world sometimes.  And I don't handle the lonely feeling very well.  I identify strongly with being independent, but I also thrive off human interaction in a powerful way.
- Honestly, sometimes I couldn't even explain my emotions and for the first time in a long time felt controlled by them.  Although it may be weak and/or seen as taboo to talk about our emotions in this way, I'll go for honesty and openness and admit that it happens and it happened and will probably happen again.  Not all the time, and not in a significant way... but I feel its worth mentioning. 

Sharing of the many joys!
- OUPS reunions!  I have felt so lucky to have seem my amazing friends from college so much this year - in small groups and large ones.  These people are my family and I could not love them more.  Being surrounded by them fills my heart with joy!
- Friends!  I have rekindled old friendships, developed new ones, etc.  Wonderful friendships continue to be one of the best blessings in my life. 
- Weddings!  By the end of this year, I'll have been to 3 awesome weddings of 3 spectacular couples.  I have honestly felt so happy for these dear friends.  Weddings are such a fantastic celebration - both in the actual party, and more importantly in the significance of the event.  To watch your friends feel so complete in that aspect of their lives to make a vow of forever is such an unbelievable thing.  To share in the happiness of that moment for them is truly a joyful blessing. 
- Trips! Lots of traveling this year - from little hops down to Texas and to a big hop across the pond!
Houston, Austin, Dallas, Tulsa, Devil's Den (Arkansas), Denver, Memphis, Atlanta, Portland, NYC, Glasgow, Dublin, Cork.  
If I were to say how much happiness these trips brought me, I'd be going on for hours - fun fun fun!
- Time. While time was previously noted as my enemy, it is also my friend. I am still very much enjoying having a stress-free job and no schooling to worry about.  I can be involved in my community, do fun things, and relax at my leisure.  It is a luxury I won't have for too much longer.
- Home.  Being in Norman has still brought me a tremendous sense of relaxed happy belonging.  It is familiar, yet evolving.  It has people and places I love dearly.  It is full of simple joys.

All in all, 2012 was honestly just a year of transition.  Of not being where I was and not going where I'll be.  And celebrating awesome events and making great memories in the meantime.  And as with all things in life, there was the good and the bad.   Overall - good year... but looking forward to the next one.

My only resolution is to floss more... my dentist would be so proud.  
But my vision for my life in 2013 is one of change and forward motion.
I'm not sure what will happen in 2013... I have no idea what my life will be like, where I will live, what I will be doing, or who I will know... and I'm excited for all the possibilities that exist in those uncertainties. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Downtown Norman may be laughable to others, but it has such a quaint sense of home for me.  To calmly stroll the streets, passing by favorite local shops and restaurants to explore the new ones popping up in the ever-changing and growing culture of the town.  Running into friends along the way, providing an even greater sense of belonging.

Home is a feeling, and I think that in this past year, combined with the four from college, Norman has truly become a home for me.  Not my home forever, but a very distinct home in this very distinct time of life.  It is a place for reunion, and a place for memories.  It provides both a sense of security and a sense of development.  

Life lead me back here to find a home here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

OU Football

One of my favorite parts about being back in Norman is getting to go to all the football festivities!  College football is not nearly as important to me as it was as a student, but it still holds a very special (and wonderfully fun) place in my heart!  What can I say - I love my Sooners!

A special thanks to Brad who has taken me to so many games over the past two years!
I have LOVED them all! :D  You have made football season so much fun!

Saturday was the last home game I'll go to for quite some time... a bitter sweet realization.
We played Oklahoma State - a huge, but friendly rivalry.  I was glad it was a close game - exciting down till the last second... when we won in overtime!! Here are some fun pictures that capture some of my favorite parts of Sooner Football:

Sooner pride and pregame:
 So many great memories and amazing friendships from my time with the Pride!
 The pregame videos... aaaah they get me so excited for the game!

 Brad did a good job heckling the OSU fans behind us. 
 And most of all, I will miss the festive time spent with friends!

There is a certain feeling that I get from being in this beautiful stadium with 84,000 other people all cheering for a common purpose... and that is why I love college football.

Another major highlight of the weekend had to be included - seeing these two lovelies!!!

Boomer Sooner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Devil's Den

This weekend, Sally and I went on an adventure to Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas.   
The drive to the park was really nice in itself.  I love winding roads over rolling hills... especially in fall!
 I was really hoping to catch some of the fall colors the Ozarks are known for.  I missed the peak season by 1-2 weeks, but I still enjoyed the ground being carpeted with all the shades of brown and orange, with the occasional red and purple.  The weather was beautiful - sunny, mid-60s, with a crispness to the air.  

Devil's Den had a very friendly and helpful staff, and the trails were very well maintained.  Additionally, there were park facilities closed for the off-season, and I think it would be a wonderful place for families to enjoy.  

Hike #1: Devil's Den Trail
1.5 miles

One of the parks most popular hikes, this trail winds around a lot of very cool rock formations and caves.  Honestly, I think caves are very cool and fascinating .. and creepy.  I don't have pictures form my favorite sights on the trail, but here are some that'll give an idea of what it was like.

Hike #2: Fossil Flats
5 miles... +1.5 miles in correction

This trail is primarily a moderate mountain biking trail and I highly recommend it as such (particularly the Sawmill Loop section).  This hike was a pretty typical trail in the woods. 

Hike #3: Yellow Rock Trail
3 miles

Another one of the park's most popular trails.  The most desirable part of this hike is the lookout/photo op.  There is a rock that sort of jets out over a valley and its a very pretty scene.  Tons of couples were up there picnicking - adorable.... almost as adorable as me and Sally! haha

Sally was a wonderful hiking buddy!  It is so nice to see her happily explore the trails - I love watching her have so much fun.  And she is very well behaved, which is impressive if you know Sally. haha She nearly got bitten by a snake so that was a little traumatizing for her.  She was super tired and didn't really want to go on the last hike, but I was really happy with her for keeping up! Here is Sally, taking a break. (hehe)

Lessons learned:
1. Clip toenails before a full day of hiking... ouch!
2. Consult the map.
3. Trust your instincts, trust the trail. 
4. Arkansas is for lovers... there were couples all over the place!

Then we drove home, chasing the sunset arriving just in time for the OU game, drinks, and pizza with a friend. 

Good weekend. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I'm stuck.

Write... delete... write... scratch out... write more. 
Start over. 
Sit... think... stare at the page.
Do something else.

It doesn't even feel like writer's block... it just feels like an overall block.

I want to go to grad school, so I have to apply, so I have to write this statement of purpose... but I can't seem to do it.  It's not just the statement - I'm dragging in every part of the process.  I'm not sure why... is it a fear of rejection?  A fear of actually going through with this new plan for my life?  

Its odd that I want this, and I know I want this.... but can't seem to go through the steps that will get me there.  

And I can't figure out why.

But deadlines trump my worries. So I'll write something and I'll submit it... I just want to feel differently about it... or at least figure out why I feel the way I do.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

naturally happy

On Saturday Sally and I took a trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, OK.
We saw some wildlife, went on 3 hikes, and had a grand ol' time. 
 "Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam..."

Sally had a wonderful time!  If you know Sally, you know she is terrified of just about everything, but her happiness and pure exhaustion made her forget all her fears!   
 I was reminded and inspired by the effect dogs have on people.  Without fail, when I'm out with Sally, she brings a smile to people's face.  I think its the happy-go-lucky innocence and unyielding love... it sounds silly to say, but it would be nice if we could all be a little more like dogs. 
 She was a really nice companion to have along the trip... and I learned how out of shape she is! She slept the whole way home. 

The scenery was beautiful... not really comparable to other parts of the country but I was happy to appreciate a different part of Oklahoma.  After being in NYC, I feel like I have a new appreciation for openness. 
 The fall foliage was so wonderful.  I feel like every year there is one day where I suddenly realize all the color that is around me... it's one of my favorite days of the year.  Everything seems to pop and stand out in a unique way, calling extra attention nature's beauty.

As I was walking, I got to thinking... like ya do.  Every person I passed was enjoying themselves, their company, and their day.  Every person offered some type of pleasant communication.  Every person.  Our natural surroundings had created a simple happiness for us.  It made me think about two different dining situations.  Situation 1: fancy, expensive restaurant with delicious food.  Situation 2: a simple picnic on a beautiful day.  Both experiences provide joy.  But I would argue that situation 1 brings us a satisfaction that we have learned to find joy in whereas situation 2 brings a more pure kind of joy.  As a society, I feel we undervalue the simple, pure forms of joy that are just given to us... that we in no way need to earn or buy.  

Get out there and live in the pure joy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Portland, OR

A few weeks back I got the chance to end my season of traveling with a fantastic trip to Portland, OR!  I love this city and my lovely friend Heather, who happens to live there!  
I hadn't seen Heather since living in New York - this year has just been one fantastic reunion after another. :)  
Heather is one of the best things that came from my experience in NY - it would have never been the same without her there and I am so lucky to still have her in my life! 

Some highlights of the trip:

I just love a good farmer's market - at the Beaverton Farmers Market

Staying at the Ace - a Portlandia clip is modeled after this hotel.  So hipster, yet so cool.

Watching Heather run the Portland Marathon!  She was AMAZING - I was so proud of all the runners and enjoyed being part of the crowd, cheering people on.  Woohoo Heather!!

I loved the return to "our theater" - best place to watch movies.  

As Portland is home to many local brews, I enjoyed several beverages.  I love a city that loves good beer. 

Being in Powell's reminds me of being in Strand in NYC.  There is something to say about rooms and stories of mostly used books.  Its inspiring and overwhelming all at the same time.  

After a visit to Portland State University (future grad school for me???) I went to Portland City Grill for yet another local beer and contemplative afternoon.  After eavesdropping on the perfect candidates for "Real Housewives of Portland", I looked over the fog-covered city, river, and mountain and just had a moment to enjoy.  
To enjoy being right where I was and to think of where I may be.  Its frustrating when a picture doesn't do a view justice, but this photo still triggers that moment for me...

And just like a photo sometimes cannot properly capture a view, it often fails to properly capture a feeling... but this one is close. 
I wish you could bottle up the perfect fall weather, breeze, and change, combined with a calm happiness and sense of being.  Simple joy is sometimes the best joy. 

If I were to describe the trip in a few words, they would be:

A big thanks to my lovely Buxton hosts!!

It was lovely, Portland - until we meet again...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Juice Cleanse

After a very busy September/early October of fun and traveling, I decided to kick off my return to healthy habits with a juice cleanse!  I have been intrigued by the idea of doing a cleanse for a while, and there was no better time to try!

I researched the web and found some recipes that sounded the easiest and yummiest... and at home recipes are WAY cheaper than cleanses you can buy. 

1  beet
2 red apples
1 large carrot
It has a beautiful red-orange color and the combo of flavors is actually quite tasty! 

Lunch, Dinner: The Green Machine
A few handfuls of kale
A few handfuls of spinach
1 green apple
1 kiwi
1 banana*

*Blend banana in a blender with other juiced ingredients.  Technically this is a juice cheat, but it adds a LOT of substance to a very light diet. 
This tasted... somewhere between nothing and earthy. haha

1/3 pineapple
1 red apple
1 cucumber
A yummy way to end the night!

The juice cleanse also allowed for coffee and herbal teas (no milk or sugar added). 

So... how do you feel?
For lack of a better word, I feel empty... in a good way.  
The past three days were a good exercise in self control, discipline, understanding hunger, and changing my relationship with food.
I have also gained a new found appreciation for solid foods... so much that I dreamed I ate grapes last night... such an odd thing. 

Overall, glad I tried it and will probably use juicing sparingly in my future food choices. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

OUPS Weddings

OUPS ("OU Party Squad") has been my biggest, loudest, most entertaining, and closest group of friends in my life.  I love them all so dearly.  Since college, we have all gone off to various adventures, but recently weddings have brought us back together for joyous reunions and times of great celebration.  

I'm so happy that this year we got to celebrate Kirsten and Preston in Colorado:

 and Megan and Mike in Ireland... and again in Dallas this weekend!

I am beyond happy that they have found such wonderful people to share their lives with!!

3 years ago, we were celebrating graduation and preparing for the next phase in life.  
I remember thinking we would be life-long friends, and hoping that life changes and distances wouldn't destroy our fantastic friendships.   
Turns out I was right. :D

I can't wait to see where life will take us in years to come, and I know we'll always be in it together. 

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, 
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
- Marcel Proust

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ingredients for joy and meaning

"Courage originally meant 'To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.' Over time, this definition has changed, and today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic.  Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we've lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we're feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage.  Heroics is often about putting our life on the line.  Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.  In today's world, that's pretty extraordinary."

Several weeks ago I watched this TED talk by Brené Brown called The power of vulnerability. 

As I was watching it, I knew it would have a significant impact on my life...
on how I live
on how I love
on who I am.

It threw me into a chaotic combination of self empowerment, self reflection, and self questioning. 

I went to the library and checked out one of her books.
Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are.
That sounds so incredibly liberating and joyful. 
But part of the problem is that it is now hard for me to distinguish between who I truly am and who I think I am supposed to be... or rather, is who I think I am a result of years of being who I was supposed to be?

I took away two main things from watching and reading Brené:
1. I am enough.
2. Joy is the goal.

"If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.... Worthy now.  Not if.  Not when.  We are worthy of love and belonging now.  Right this minute.  As is." 

This simple concept is surprisingly hard for me to convince myself of. It is so easy for me to agree with and to believe.  But it is hard for me to accept and to know.  And although a lot of people might not admit it, I think this is something that many of us struggle with.  And when taken seriously, this idea is unbelievably powerful.  

I am enough.

"It's easy to see how difficult it is to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy, and authenticity when we're spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and comparing."

Our society doesn't place enough value and importance on joy.
We work, and buy things, and do things, and say things, and make lists, and make goals... for joy?  
Pure joy?
In the book, Brené suggests readers make an 'ingredients for joy and meaning' list - and this should be the source for the things you place importance on.  The things you derive goals from.  The things you devote time and energy to. 

my ingredients for joy and meaning
  • interacting with others
    • enjoying the company of those i love
    • meeting new people
    • being in the crowd for the festivities/common purpose
    • helping people
  • nature
    • being outside
    • enjoying the changing weather
  • being active
  • organizing
    • planning
    • cleaning
    • finding order from chaos
    • routines
  • music
    • making music
    • listening to music
  • growth
    • being challenged
    • making goals, and working towards them
    • learning 
  • playing
    • smiling/laughing
    • being silly
    • dancing
    • spontaneity 
  • creating 
  • looking nice
  • relaxing
  • food/drinks
    • cooking/baking
    • enjoying delicious meals or tasty treats
    • delicious drinks (alcoholic and non)
  • photos
    • taking photos
    • looking at photography
    • memories and stories that accompany photos
  • exploring

Its a long list, I know... and it could be so much longer because there are so many things and places and people that bring joy into life.  

The point is we forget to focus on it.
We get distracted.

Joy is the goal.

Friday, March 30, 2012


i recently made some vegan muffins to take to our monthly work meeting - i wanted to show people how delicious vegan food can be - it was a huge success... three people e-mailed me later today to ask me for the recipe!