Saturday, July 30, 2011

Be Still

There is something to be said about being still. Just listening, observing, appreciating, living, breathing, and not thinking about it all. Just existing. Being content. Not wishing or worrying or planning or dreaming. Just being.

It is a trait I think many people have lost. Just think if you didn't have this computer or this connection to the world through the internet, how much easier it would be to just be. I find my mind is always racing and is hard to shut off. I blame the internet, phones, televisions, the instant ability to be connected to anyone or anything. We have lost some part of life in this world of instant gratification. It makes being still a form of anxiety. When the moments we aren't connected through technology are the ones we are truly living. My memories are not those of being online, or watching TV or texting a friend, they are the moments of living and enjoying the moment.

So I think it is good to turn off everything once a day. Just look out your window and take it all in. Go for a walk. Enjoy nature.

Just be still. It's becoming rare. But it's who we are and have been since we began.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

HSTW

Greetings! I just came back from my first ever work conference. My school sent 7 faculty members to Nashville to attend the High Schools That Work conference at the Gaylord Opryland hotel from July 20-23rd. It was fabulous! The hotel is AMAZING (pictures do not do it justice- I got lost multiple times in it), and it was really fun to be involved in such a huge conference (5,000 educators attended) and to explore a little bit of Nasvhille. I also got my own room with a king bed, which I have never had before (gave me good practice on what it would be like to live on my own), so I really enjoyed all the space I had. Honestly, you could stay at this hotel and never leave- we only left once to go out to eat in the city on Thursday (and allow my coworker buy some cute boots). There are so many restaurants, clubs, bars, events and things to do at this place (even a boat ride!). You have the feeling of being outside while not actually being outside (fountains, trees, pools, GREAT gym). It was great.

 It was also nice to get back into work. I have enjoyed my time off, but I do miss the feeling of productivity, accomplishment, thoughtfulness, problem solving and excitement that work brings. I got many great ideas for programs we are implementing at my school next year (and some that I am on committees for) and was enthused about the prospect of a new year. We each went to 13 sessions over the course of 2 ½ days, which was tiring towards the end, but they were all interesting I also got to get to know teachers better in my school who traveled with me. So it was a great time (minus the flying bit- only 1 of 4 of our flights was on time. Thanks Delta)! Next year the conference is in New Orleans- I hope I can get special permission to go again!

Some pictures of the hotel (yup, all inside)







The street vendor that reached out to give me a necklace, which made me scream and jump loudly, causing many bystanders and my group to laugh profusely



Meadowbrook High School crew in the city




I love when work is educational AND fun!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

To Buy or Not- That is the Question


I have the buying bug. I want to own a place and make it my own. But I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. I really want a condo in the city, but they are so expensive for how much space they have and aren’t selling very well. You would think because they aren’t selling well that people would lower the price for them, but somehow that isn’t happening (though I am sure you could try to bid lower), but they are in GREAT locations. One of my issues with buying a house is that I would have to buy furniture to fill it (which I don’ have)! I also can’t afford a house in the city, so I would have to compromise in an area further away (like the Near West End/Willow Lawn or Bon Air area). I also do not like doing yard work, so that is another concern. But I would get more privacy and space and wouldn’t have to pay condo fees.

I will have enough money by next summer to buy a decent place, but I can’t decide if it is worth it. Should I wait another year until I have more money and know for sure where/what I want? Should I live by myself before I buy a place? These are great questions, and I don’t have to decide until March when we have to let our rental company know we’re not returning, but I hate the idea of spending another year throwing away money when I could be investing, ESPECIALLY when it is a buyers market. I am enjoying where I live now, but I still have the itch to make a place my own.

Luckily I do have about 6 months to decide. I also want to make sure that I am committed to staying in Richmond, so I will see how this year goes. Through the end of summer I am also house/apartment sitting for people, so that will allow me to see what it’s like being by myself in the evenings. If anyone has input or advice, please let me know!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stuff I did on vacation

Drank summer drinks...


 Painted my toes (crackle!)...


Hit 60,000 miles on my car...


Read and read and read and read and read (15 books)...


Drank more summer drinks...


Had crazy hair....


Saw horses on the beach...




Went parasailing...




Made (and ate) some good food all while becoming a vegetarian...


Hung with family...




And friends...



...and celebrated....


Saw beautiful sunsets...





Completed 2 puzzles (not by choice!)...


Hung on the beach for a total of 13 days...


...in heaven:)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Journaling

I have decided (in addition to this blog) to start a journal to write in every night before I go to sleep. I  just read an autobiography where the author had a collection of entries from her entire life. It would be a really nice way to chart things I do and my moods and might be a nice way to decompress at the end of the day. I had journals as a child, but was never consistent with them. I plan to start tomorrow night when I get back from the beach (sad...don't want to think about going back home to real life, ugh). Hopefully this journal will fare better than the ones of my childhood!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Food for Thought

I promise I am not going to only talk about my new eating viewpoints, but while at the beach in Duck, North Carolina, I have been on a reading frenzy. I have read twelve books in four weeks, three since Sunday. Anyways, before anyone can argue with me that eating animals is ok, I will only speak to you about it if you have read these two books:

"In Defense of Food"


"Eating Animals"


Natalie Portman describes the latter perfectly, “[T]his book reminded me that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities, but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.”


OK I promise I am off my soapbox!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sample Menu

Four days into veggie living and it's going well. I am finding that I don't miss meat at all and that it is pretty easy avoiding it. I was at a dinner party last night and knew they were having steak, so I didn't know how that would go with me not eating it (I actually don't like steak anyways, so I wouldn't eat it even if I wasn't a vegetarian), but they actually had an alternative dish for the non-red meat eaters.

For those curious as to what I typically eat on a regular basis now, here is a sample:

Breakfast- Fiber One Cereal w/ Soy Milk and a piece of fruit (Banana or Strawberries)
Lunch- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on Wheat Bread (delicious w/ Sweet Pickles), Honey Wheat Pretzels, Yogurt and a piece of fruit (typically Grapes)
Dinner- Spinach leaves topped with Strawberries, Blueberries, Pecans/Walnuts, and Low-Fat Poppyseed dressing with Carrots and Hummus (and sometimes bread) as a side. I usually have Soy Ice Cream Sandwiches for dessert.
Snacks- Granola Bars, Fiber One Bars, Apples, Nuts, Pretzels, ect

I have also been clearing out my milk/egg products, so I have been eating more yogurt and egg whites than I will once I go more "vegan." I don't expect to be a real vegan at any point because I think it will be too difficult and I do not want to be rude or difficult at events/parties/eating out, but I will try my best. Anyways, vegetarianism is pretty simple in our day and age, I just have to make sure I don't overload on carbs! This is making me more interesting in cooking, though, so I think I have a new hobby starting...:) I am already cutting out recipes and getting more creative with veggies in dishes. I may be a chef after all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Going Veg

I have never been a huge meat eater or a huge proponent of animal rights. I love animals, but their treatment in regards to killing so we could eat them was never something I thought much of. I have dabbled in vegetarianism before, simply to see if I could do it, and while I felt that it was never terribly difficult, I had no reason to really continue once my goal was reached (however many months I was trying for).

Now I do.

At the beach this past weekend my friend Nicole had the book, "Skinny Bitch," at her apartment. I was zipping through my romance books so I decided to take a break and read something more educational. This book blew my mind. Learning about what farmers do to animals (and then watching a PETA video) sealed the deal. Not only was I going vegetarian...I was going vegan. That's right. No meat or animal products, including eggs or milk (I won't go into the details of the book, but a huge point is that we are the only nation in the world that drinks milk after we are a kid (it's for GROWTH), let alone the milk of another species, and that the marketing telling us milk "does a body good" is all by the dairy industry NOT nutritionists, also the cows are treated awful...as are the chickens and pigs). Luckily, we live in an age where this shouldn't be too hard of a feat to accomplish due to the availability of soy and tofu based products, but it is still a big life change. I figured I can use my blog to chronicle my journey.

I am slowly easing into it- I am officially a vegetarian as of yesterday, but I am not going to be a full fledged vegan until the end of the month. I do not want to waste food I already have and with vacations and traveling it will be too difficult to start right now. Once I have time to find good foods and plan for events, traveling and such will be easier. I also recognize that I may not be able to be vegan all the time, but I will try my best and see how it makes me feel. Supposedly, going vegan is a very positive change for your body. I also am cutting out artificial sweetener (aspartame, splenda, ect) for more natural substitutes (truvia). It will be hard to give up my crystal light habit...that may be a more gradual change. What I really like about the vegan lifestyle is that it is NOT about counting calories or fat grams, it is about watching what you put into your mouth (i.e. reading ingredients) and not how much. Obviously you shouldn't gorge yourself on french fries (they are vegan) but if you eat mostly veggies, fruits and grains, you won't be fat.

I also know that many people think this is stupid. That is fine. I am doing this for me and the environment and I do not expect everyone to agree with it. If I hate it, I'll stop. But I am going to really go for it for the rest of my summer break since I have time to shop and cook foods I like.

Anyways, day #2 done- wish me luck! (And good luck to Nicole who is doing the same thing:))! And if this is something you have thought of or want more info on, visit www.thekindlife.com

Baby, You're a Firework

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. I was lucky and got to spend it at my good friend's apartment on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, so I was soaking up the sun from Saturday night until this morning. Three and a half days of reading, relaxation, good friends and fun. Definitely a perfect way to celebrate in my opinion.