Thank you, Shelby!

Dear Friends,

I received a comment on one of my blog pages today from a fellow blogger notifying me that she nominated my blog for “The Inspiring Blogger Award.” Even though I was unaware of the award, I was very touched. I proceeded to read her post where she acknowledged being nominated and how she was returning the favor. Her task to me was to answer the following questions:

1. What is the one blog post you have written, that you are most proud of? Wow, that’s a tough question because three posts come to mind where I paid tribute to 3 individuals who have since passed away. The postings brought comfort to not only me, but more importantly to their family members.

2. What is a day well spent to you? Any day that I can be around my family or good friends. A day where I laugh a lot and forget about all the cares and worries of the world.

3. What would you do with a million dollars? I would move my parents into a safer, renovated house; pay off a debt of a stranger (preferably a single mother struggling to pay her bills); create a scholarship for first-generation college students. These are just a few of the things I would do.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? The most valuable lesson I have learned is that almost always, your gut is right and that you need to trust it.

5. Where is the best place you have ever traveled? I have been fortunate to have the travel bug early on in my life by my parents. I would say that the best place, so far, was Durango, Colorado. In somewhat of a random choice, I chose that city for a girls weekend with my sister and wow, was it breathtaking. We went in December which made it even more of a perfect choice.

6. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? Hmm, interesting question. I would say I am doing what I believe in to be my calling for this time of my life. Is it my end all career? I don’t know. Right now, I enjoy what I do, enjoy who I work with and get to see the results of my work. Not everyone can say all 3 of those things.

7. What would you do differently if no one would judge you? Wow, another deep question. I honestly have no idea.

8. What could you not go a day without doing? Drinking coffee.

9. Who is your hero? Every member of the U.S. military who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom and safety.

10. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

11. Why do you have a blog? I have a blog to share stories, let out my frustrations, share my joys, and interact with others who are an inspiration to me.

Time for me to nominate 5 blogs and pose my questions to them. Here are the 5 blogs that I nominate:

Trophy Wives: This is the blog of Sarah Roberts, an FCA staff member who is in charge of the women’s ministry. She’s also the “team chaplain” to the OU Softball team which I am a big fan. Sarah is an incredible person, friend and leader of Jesus’s teachings. She never ceases to inspire me with her thought-provoking

Just One Way Ticket: This blog makes me want to pack a bag and go explore the world. I got to know the author through a freelance writing opportunity. She’s been to some very cool places and gives great hotel reviews.

Charlie & Co. Photography: I’m a little biased, but this is my cousin’s blog. She is a fantastic photographer and inspires me to take more pictures. Frequently, she will photography her little boy (my cousin) in her shots so I get to share and show him off as well.

jsack1’sblog: I love quotes and this is a blog authored by a proud mom who always incorporates quotes into her posts.  I always love reading what she has to say.

Momdeavor: A blog that incorporates two of my favorite things: family and photography.  This mother of 9 also has made me start weaving in gratitude into my posts which is never a bad addition.

These nominees may choose to accept the nod or not.  If you do, here are my questions to you:

1) Why did you start your blog?

2) What is the book you’ve read that touched you the most?

3) If you could eat dinner with a famous person, who is still living, whom would you choose?

4) Where is the one place you’ve visited that gives you complete calmness?

5) Are you a bucket list person?  If so, name one thing still on it.

6) What is your goal for your blog?

7) Copying from Shelby, what is a day well spent to to you?

8) How do you start your day?

9) What is your favorite holiday and why?

10) Are you where you want to be professionally and if not, what will you do about it?

11)  What is your favorite quote?

I was touched by Shelby’s gesture and glad it gave me an opportunity to reciprocate.

Happy Holidays!

Mary

Finally Friday: Bedlam Week

I skipped a few entries on my “Finally Friday” segments, but here I am again.  The week after we come back from Thanksgiving is always hard.  For most of us, we’ve just spent the past few days with family and it’s hard to get back into work mode.  Fortunately, things are slow at the office so we can carry over “Holiday Hangover” for a little bit.  I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with friends this week.  I’ve always had the mentality of having a small group of quality friends vs. a large number of friends that I rarely contact.  These particular friends are definitely in the category of quality.

This weekend, the OU football team plays their last game at home for the season.  What this really means is one thing: Bedlam and our in-state rivalry.  It’s always fun to be in our stadium for this game because our fans go crazy, and fortunately for the most part, they behave.  The rivalry isn’t as strong for me as I haven’t “lived and breathed” it for my whole life.  I’ve been around it for a mere 8 years.  No question though, I bleed crimson.

Tonight is our holiday office party.  I love that we are a group that wants to spend time together even after hours.  That is one reason I have stayed in this particular office, because I get along with my co-workers which is refreshing and I know not the case everywhere.  We are playing “Dirty Santa” which always brings out an interesting side of people…should be entertaining.

Sunday, a few of us are leaving for New Orleans for a conference.  A girl in our office has been kind enough to give us a list of suggestions of where to eat and some fun places to visit.  As I looked it over, I joked to the rest of the group that I hope we’re able to get in some workshops.  We’re a very talented group and are quite sure we can master the art of time management, ha!  I haven’t visited New Orleans in a number of years so it should be a fun return…especially with the group joining me.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Boomer Sooner and Beat OSU!

Mary

The Joy of Anticipation

Two months from yesterday, I will be flying to Hawaii with a dear friend of mine, Terri.  From the moment we booked our flights, Terri (and I) have been like little kids, breaking out into huge smiles as we tick away the days until we leave.   This will be my first time there (though not hers) so she’ll be able to have some insight.  When we were in the early stages of planning our trip, she asked what all I wanted to do, how much I would be up for spending, etc.  I told her I wanted this trip to be awesome and am up for it all–from a helicopter ride to snorkeling….anything that will create a lasting memory, I say “bring it on.”  We went to lunch two days ago and she reached over to grab my arm and said, “Two more months, I can’t wait.”  I just smiled because I loved seeing her excitement. Terri is one of those people who would do anything for her friends (or really anyone) so with this being a trip that benefits her as well, I’m thrilled.  Oh, and we didn’t just randomly decide to go to Hawaii.  The OU Softball team is playing there so we figured that was a good enough reason for us to join them.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Life is short” but that took on a whole new meaning in 2013.  Between my Dad getting pneumonia, a horrifying tornado ripping neighborhoods in Oklahoma to shreds and taking innocent lives with it, to losing two dear friends (one of whom was Terri’s husband), we’ve both embraced a new motto of living life to the fullest….now. We’re not waiting or wasting any opportunities.  Though I have written on this topic before, I never tire of expressing my appreciation for God giving me another chance with my Dad and my friends.

In closing….I love the feeling of anticipation and seeing it in someone else’s face.  You look forward to seeing a friend for lunch and when you lock eyes, you both smile because you’re happy to see them….I love that.  To me, life is truly about making the little things count and creating memories from them that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy each and every day.

 

Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller

forever christmasThis is a wonderfully written story about a second chance at life.  Readers follow the couple Andrew and Beth Farmer along their journey.  Childhood sweethearts, Andrew and Beth have been married a long time.  We come to find out Andrew is also married to his job as a literary book agent.  Beth’s career fulfills her but doesn’t drive her like Andrew’s.  This puts a damper on Beth’s desire to have children.  Andrew is visited by an angel who tells him that he has 3 days to make things right before his life will dramatically change.  Prior to this, Andrew’s life is consumed with work and consequently puts his marriage second.  Now, Andrew shifts his priorities and devotes the next 3 days to his wife.  After telling her they can spend the next 72 hours wherever she wants, he never thought she’d say his home town of River Falls.  But because he made a promise, they go there.  While visiting, they run into old high school classmates who are now living in Andrew’s childhood home.  This brings back difficult memories for him but for Beth, he forges ahead.  Andrew also learns that his estranged father has moved back to River Falls and has resided in a nursing home.  Not wanting to have anything to do with him, Beth convinces him to at least go see his father.  Andrew finds that during the 3 days, various people are disguised as angels who remind him of what’s at stake and this causes an internal fight within Andrew.  During this time, he realizes what he has not appreciated in his life and wants to rekindle the love he has for his wife.  He wants to stall the inevitable but the angels silently tell him that’s not possible.

This is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, support and teaches us to value what we have right in front of us because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Happy Reading!

Finally Friday: Almost Family Time

For those that live away from your family, you know how hard it is to be away from them. There are many holidays I can’t spend with my family because I live about 600 miles away. However, there is one holiday, that is non-negotiable and I am home no matter what: Thanksgiving. It happens to be my Dad’s favorite holiday as well so he loves when we are all together. For the most part, we do too, ha!

In a matter of days, I will be on a plane bound for San Antonio. I will be picked up from the airport by my middle sister. She and I are the closest out of my two older sisters. I admire her very much. She’s married with 5 kids, yes 5, and is so good at multi-tasking. Heck, you have to be with that much going on, right! I feel sorry for the people who are not close to their siblings. Granted, we have our moments where we want to look for sharp objects, but we are always there for each no matter what. I talk to one of my sisters once a week or at least twice a month when things are really hectic for both of us. Now that my parents are getting older, we really rely on each other’s strengths to get through the times and deal with critical issues. Thankfully, we all have a great sense of humor which helps us through the various trials as well.

As Thanksgiving draws more near, I am sincerely grateful for my family. Be sure to express your appreciation and gratitude for those you love.

Enjoy the weekend…it’s FINALLY FRIDAY!!!

Finally Friday: Off Week

This weekend is a weekend where the OU Football team plays away from home and therefore, allows me to get some other things done. I work the home games so my personal time revolves around the home schedule. What tomorrow means to me is sleeping in….and having two cups of coffee and relaxing in my bed. I do have to work for a few hours in the afternoon but otherwise, nothing planned and I’m good with that.

Once again, this week passed in a blur. The weather was cold most of the week which, for the most part, I enjoyed. I don’t, however, like walking to and from my car in 30 degree temps. Tuesday was Veteran’s Day, a day we honor the men and women that have served our country so we can have our freedom. There was a ceremony on the OU campus in the morning and I made a point of getting to work in time to make it. As cold as it was and as tempting as it was to stay in the warm office, myself and a few colleagues braved the cold temps and attended. I kept thinking of my Dad who served in the Korean War and cousins who have selflessly given their time to the Marne Corp, among the countless others who are a part of our military. I said multiple times when asked if I was going, “It’s the least I can do.” President Boren spoke briefly (though he admitted his original remarks came out to over an hour) and then all who were gathered there were given an American flag to post around the flagpole. I felt good about going and am glad we did.

Wednesday evening, I was able to attend the 60 year anniversary of the Oklahoma FCA at Crossings Community Church. My best friend’s husband was the emcee and did a stellar job as always. What a neat group of people in attendance. Kenny Mossman (aforementioned emcee) introduced former Congressman and OU alum J.C. Watts after we heard the talented home run queen Lauren Chamberlain sing the national anthem. Wow, what a voice! I had never heard Congressman Watts speak and was impressed and enjoyed him introduce the keynote speaker, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Oh my gosh, what a fantastic woman and role model! What a career she has had: National Security Adviser, Secretary of State and Provost at a large institution….not to mention being on the Football Bowl Selection Committee-not a bad resume in my book. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Dr. Rice discuss her faith and how it plays a role in her life. She is such a class act and was very inspirational. I loved how unapologetic she is about her faith and that she pushes others to discuss and embrace it.

Other than a staff tour of the OU library yesterday, this brings us to today. Ahh, Friday….the day my colleague and friend Erin have had circled on our calendars for a while. Why you ask….because today was the day tickets for Garth Brooks concert in Tulsa went on sale. Due to my speaking in a class in the morning, Erin and another friend Terri were tasked with getting tickets. When I returned from the class, I stopped in Erin’s office only to find her chatting it up with Terri as if they were longtime friends. I couldn’t help but smile. What we were hoping would go fairly smooth turned into quite an ordeal. Just as the timer turned to less than a minute of wait time, the message popped up saying there were no tickets left. As Terri and Erin clicked and waited patiently, I scrolled through Twitter to see if other people were having as hard of a time. At one point, I screamed, “Oh my God, he added 3 more shows!!” So we switched our search to the earlier dates and then encountered more waiting and more glitches. Just as we began to lose hope, I returned to my office and tried on my computer. I began looking on my phone as well. Fortunately, our patience paid off as I was finally able to secure tickets. What an ordeal! But…this is Garth Brooks…someone who hasn’t done a full-blown tour in over 17 years. He puts on a hell of a live show and we are so pumped. We’re in for one fun girls night out!

Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium 2013

I start the weekend on a high note. I’m so blessed to live in a state that has four seasons and allows me to enjoy fall (even if it feels like winter right now) and be surrounded by friends who make me feel so rich. I am where I am supposed to be and I am grateful.

Happy Weekend to all!
Mary

Finally Friday: Wow, what a week!

It is finally Friday, and boy am I glad. This week has been an emotional roller coaster. As I sit here with my feet up on the couch, enjoying a glass of wine, I am able to digest the events of the week. I can’t help but laugh but know God gave me this week for a reason. I pity the people that don’t have their share of ups and downs because they don’t know their own strength. They don’t know just how much a sense of humor can get them through the day. At work, we are all inundated with statistics and data entry right now, that I’m so mentally checked out…thus, the wine. I love that it was a crazy week because there was never a dull moment. I don’t do boring…I like keeping things interesting. I love having a co-worker (who I’m lucky enough has turned into a friend) who emails me shortly after we both got to work and says “Coffee?” That’s all her email says…but it’s enough to make me smile and know that she wants (or needs) a trip to Starbucks…which, thankfully is located in our building. The week was a blur for the most part…that seems to be happening more and more these days…I’m sure it’s my age, but this is just a hectic time of year. Holidays, end of semester, statistics, oh my…

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Barbara Niven, an actress who stars in one of my favorite shows, Cedar Cove. She was sweet enough to offer 2 people a short chat with her via Skype. Well, the night before I opened up Skype to make sure it was working which it was. The hour leading up to our phone call, I was nervous….will I know what to say, what should we talk about, should I dress up? Sheesh, I thought..just relax. She’ll be herself so just chill. At the set time, I get the notification that her call is coming through. Not 5 minutes into our chat, we encounter audio issues…and of course they are on my end. I was so embarrassed and frustrated…she could hear me one minute, but then not the next. Darn technology. Being the sweet person she is, she said we would try it again another time. I wanted to crawl in a hole and snap my fingers, hoping to start the day over…preferably with a new laptop.

Here we are and it is Friday night…..back to me on the couch with the wine. Ahh, comfort zone. when I think about the week, I smile. It beats the alternative….except having more wine, not much beats that. Tomorrow, I will do my “volunteer job” (well, there is some money but don’t do it for the money)….I’ll work the football game. I get to see a room full of Sooner fans gathered in one place to watch our beloved Oklahoma football team hopefully beat Baylor. It’s an early morning but to be a part of the day and see everyone’s faces is worth it….

Here’s to a wonderful weekend.

Mary