Seven Quick Takes Friday: Asparagus, Kindness and, of course, Bunnies

Friday, February 28, 2014

Linking up with Jen for 7 Quick Takes Friday! Or I guess I should say, continuing to link up with Jen since I've been doing 7 Posts in 7 Days. I am linking up via my link up with Jen. Okay.

1. If you know me/read this blog/ever met me, you know that I am known for eating Sheetz' food every Thursday night. This post explains it in greater detail, but suffice it to say, Sheetz and I are Thursday night bros. HOWEVER, if you've been reading then you know I am truly trying to commit to turning over somewhat of a new leaf concerning food. So instead of going to Sheetz after dance tonight, I came home. Now... last night I went out to eat with my friend Mel and I got a buffalo chicken flatbread. (Recall I said TRYING to commit :) ) I had three little pieces of it left, and I was battling whether to finish it off for dinner tonight or eat a salad or something else. I finally decided that it would be okay to eat it, as long as I ate a vegetable to go with. So I roasted some asparagus! And promptly burned it. Really? Not to be defeated by a vegetable, I roasted another few pieces (stalks?). This time they turned out just fine!

A somewhat lifelike rendering of the asparagus I made for dinner. Obvs. 
2. A lesson that I am trying to learn/teach myself is that when people offer to do something for you or help you out, they are wanting to help not criticizing the work you do. For instance, one of my sweet teachers at dance tonight told me she was going to get light bulbs for the bathroom. At first I was like - oh man, she totally thinks I'm a loser and doing a terrible job (even though I just noticed TODAY a couple were burned out). Then I was like -- ANNA. She is offering to help to be nice and do something helpful, not because she thinks you're a loser and can't keep it together. I am continually learning this lesson. And it did remind me of this great post I read once that Jen wrote about how when you allow others to help you, it blesses them. And it's so true! I know that anytime I do something that I think helps someone I care about, I feel SO GOOD about myself. So we should remember that we bless others when we allow them to help us.

3. I started wondering the other day how mommy rabbits show love to their bunnies. (Beyond the obvious like they feed them.) I thought maybe Snicks would enjoy what would be considered a display of love by his species. I thought maybe mommy rabbits nuzzled their babies or something. Then I realized -- ANNA. (Apparently I've had a lot of talks with myself lately.) YOU ARE SNICKS' MOMMY. Dude, I adopted him when he was 5 months old and he lived with another girl another few months before that. He has no recollection nor knowledge of what a mommy rabbit would do. He is aware what I, the actual provider of his love and care, do. In related news, I should read up on help for neurotic people.

4. I may be making a life change soon that would greatly reduce my disposable income. As I really enjoy giving gifts to people, I realized that that is not something that will be able to happen for a couple of years. I started thinking about gifts I could maybe make for people. My sister Erin is SO talented with this sort of thing -- she's always crocheting someone a hat or blanket or something. My brother Thomas is a really talented painter, and his gifts are always good too. I don't have a ton of talents, but I do like to make cards! I made my sister Emma a box of cards once and they were cute! I also made this mint-infused water the other day ("made" might be a strong word) but wouldn't a couple of cute bottles of flavored water be fun? If you know me and I regularly give you gifts, please note you may be receiving water on your next birthday.

Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas Mel, Colleen, Ash, Mom, Dad, Erin, Emma...

5. As of today, four of my lovely dancers have been accepted into some wonderful summer programs for dance! I am so proud. One is going to the American Ballet Theatre, one is going to the Atlanta Ballet and two are going to the Joffrey Ballet! The costs of these programs are HIIIIIIIGH -- room and board, tuition and travel are all pricey, not to mention pointe shoes, tights, leotards and other gear. I would hate to think of any kid not being able to live their dream only because of money -- ugh! We are doing a couple fundraisers for them, and one of them is just a website where people can donate. We're up to $1,325 after only a couple days! One or two of these donations have been large, but mostly this is money given in $10, $15 or $25 increments by many people giving what they can. I LOVE THAT!

6. The idea of marriage aside, I was thinking tonight that one reason it'd be really fun to have a wedding is because ALL of the people you love would be in one room at the same time! People from all the different "compartments" of your life would all be there together! So Mel and Story from ballet would be with my friend Sarah and Colleen from DC and Ashley who I grew up with and my mom and dad and cousins. I truly can't think of another occasion where all those people from all your compartments of life would be together at the same time.

7. I am doing the coolest thing Saturday! There is this local bed and breakfast called Chateau D'Italia that does special Italian meals 2-3 Saturdays a month. You have to make reservations, it's a prix fixe menu and it's like a gazillion courses! My mom and Sarah and I have been trying to go for a few months, but it never seemed to work out. However, a couple days ago I saw that one of the courses for this Saturday is GNOCCI. My favorite food ever! It also happens to be my dad's fav food, so he, mom, Sarah and I are all going for dinner Saturday! Best part? Story's mom Jenny is friends with the owner/chef and often helps cook. Sometimes Story does too, but this week she's going to eat with us! So mom, dad, Sarah, Story and I will all be having dinner together! That is so awesome and little bit like #6!

How delish does this look?!

Have a great weekend!

Choosing People

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I am an introvert. Pretty much a textbook one. My Myers-Briggs personality profile is INFJ. (Incidentally, that's the rarest all types... and I feel compelled to mention Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela were INFJs. :) ) When I was younger I had no interest in being an introvert as I, like a lot of people I think, incorrectly thought that being an introvert meant you were anti-social and didn't like being around people, while being an extrovert meant you were cool, outgoing and confident. As I got older I realized that those assessments weren't actually true. The best explanation I've ever gotten of introvert vs. extrovert, and the one that makes the most sense to me, is it is all about where you get your energy. Extroverts get their energy (could be called "recharging your batteries") from being around people and social interaction. Introverts, on the other hand, get their batteries recharged by being alone. So it really has nothing to do with how much or how little you like people, how outgoing or social you are, etc. It's about energy. And when I heard that definition that really clarified everything for me. There have been days in the past where I've gone to work all day, then straight to the dance studio where I taught for 3-4 hours and by the time I got home after 9 p.m. I was honestly in tears. I wasn't sad at all, it was just that I was so exhausted from being around people all day long. I need a certain amount of alone time every day in order to feel energized. Sometimes this is difficult, as if I'm gone all day long (some combination of work, dance, school, meetings and errands) and don't get home till late, I can't go straight to bed. I still need at least an hour to be alone and piddle away time reading blogs or whatever.

Since I learned this about myself a couple years ago, I always think ahead when making plans to see what alone time I can build in for myself. I  just know it is better for my overall mental, spiritual, emotional and  physical health to have that time. But sometimes I have to try really hard to be sure that I don't take it too

Sometimes there are opportunities that arise to hang out with someone, take a class, etc. and it's realllllly hard for me to give up scheduled alone time for that. But the thing that's REALLY hard is when there is an opportunity to volunteer somewhere or do some sort of service for others. I really believe that our primary purpose here on earth is to be of service to others. Love God, love people. The Catechism even tells us that the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him in the next. I agree with all these things as they definitely make the most sense to make up a life well lived. The blog I mentioned the other day that I just started reading, Amy's, featured a post where Amy and some of her friends got together on a Saturday morning to paint a low-income preschool. Obviously, after working all week, there are a LOT of things people want to do on Saturday mornings - sleep, drink coffee, read the paper - that do not involve getting up at the crack of dawn and doing manual labor. But Amy notes that one of her friends concluded that if she wasn't there painting, she'd probably be at home vacuuming or something, and really, what is the better use of her time?

Considered "people" :) 
It seems to me that maybe the best gauge to use when making this kind of decision is what involves people. When choosing between two things, always choose people. If it's community service or some sort of volunteering, choose people for sure. If you mom asks you to go shopping with her, choose your mom. This doesn't mean you have to say yes to hanging out every time someone asks you, but when it comes to the important choices - choose people. We are here to serve, and as far as the people you love go, they will definitely not always be here. Sometimes when I'm petting Snicks the Bunny and I'm getting sort of tired and want to go to bed, I always pet him for at least another minute because I think to myself - when he's gone, I know that I will think I would do anything for just one more minute of him. So I need to take that minute now.

Choose people.

I'm doing 7 posts in 7 days with Jen over at Conversion Diary. 

Power Roaming the Halls

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I am not generally known for my outstanding physical health. Sure I dabble in a yoga or zumba class now and again, but people certainly are not flocking to me to learn my secrets of how to be in awesome shape. :)

I totally get the benefit of exercise. I always feel better after I do it. But, and I think this probably applies to a lot of people, sometimes exercise is better in theory. Am I right? :) When I was growing up I took several ballet classes a week and I loved to dance so that pretty much took care of it. But as I've gotten older it's been harder to stay in shape and find exercise I enjoy. For a while I was jogging but to  be honest it was killing my hips and knees. I think that has something to do with the years of ballet, but that's neither here nor there. I never really liked yoga but then I went to this great local place called Brown Dog Yoga and really enjoyed it. The only thing is it's a little pricey (totally worth the money, but hard if you don't have a lot!) and also I have to find classes that fit in my schedule. Oh, along with that I should also say that I like to exercise right after work, so I don't have time to go home and sit around and get too wrapped up in reading blogs or watching Hart of Dixie to leave again. Just sayin'.

I think we all know those people (and if you are one of these people KUDOS) who seem to have this awesome workout regimen they stick to. I envy these people, I really do. But I don't know how they deal with the unexpected like a meeting that comes up or something like that. Anyways. If I go a couple days without exercising I start feeling really guilty. Not only because I feel kind of like a lump but also because I think that I'm really neglecting to take care of this body God gave me and the ability I have to walk, run, dance and do yoga. The lumpy feelings may also be attributed to the amount of Sheetz nachos I eat, who's to say. :) I wrote a couple of days ago about trying to turn over a new leaf with the foods I buy and what I cook, etc. but the other big component to overall health is exercise and I'm not getting enough of it.

Regularly on Mondays I go to yoga from 5-6 p.m. Usually nothing interferes with this class. But the rest of the week usually gets jumbled up with school, dance and other things. A couple days ago an idea popped into my head and I decided to run with it. Or walk with it as the case may be. You see...

I work in an office complex that is quite large. It used to be a department store. Basically there are three long hallways that run parallel to each other and then one connecting hallway that runs through the middle of all of them. There are offices as well as unfinished offices that line those halls. But the halls are big, open and uncrowded. I can't quite remember how this idea came to me, but I decided that I could power walk those halls for 30 minutes at lunch every day. Kinda like a senior citizen mall walker but in my office. The truth is, I usually get an hour for lunch and if I'm not running a personal errand I usually spend that hour at my desk. I like to bring lunch from home to save money and I usually eat it while sitting at my desk. It probably goes without saying (especially if you sit at a desk all day) that sitting at a desk all day is ROUGH. Like I think it's actually killing me. So stepping away for 30 minutes at lunch every day to power walk seems like a super good idea for several reasons.

Clearly I didn't take this professional shot with my camera phone but this is what my work halls look like. Three of these longies with a long one connecting them. 

First, it gets me away from my desk. (Duh. Just checking your reading comprehension I guess.) Second, if school/dance/meetings prevent me from taking a yoga or other class in the evenings - whether I know the problem will occur or something pops up last minute - then at least I can feel good about the fact I at least moved for 30 minutes. Sure I am not running a marathon or even a 5k - well I guess I'm not running at all! - but a 30 minute power walk five days a week is not something to be ashamed of by any means! I've been doing this for two days now and it feels awesome. I left a pair of sweatpants, a tee-shirt and my tennis shoes at work, and I just quickly change into those at noon, do my power walk, then come back to the office and put my work clothes back on! Then I still have another 20-25 minutes left to eat my packed lunch.

Another bonus of the 30 minute power walk? It is THE perfect length to say a rosary. Seriously, so awesome. I just open my Laudate app where you can listen to a rosary podcast and get to work. There is nothing in the halls distracting me so I can just walk and do the rosary.

So in the past couple of days I've gone from spending an hour flipping through Facebook or whatever to exercising and praying. Guys - 30 minutes. That's all it takes.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I really like to read blogs. Like REALLY. If there was some sort of profession where you sat around and read blogs that'd be for me. I think one reason I like it so much is that you can find people who are just like you but also not like you at all at the same time. Does that make sense?

For instance, one of my most favorite blogs is Conversion Diary by Jennifer Fulwiler. (She's hosting the seven posts in seven days this week.) Jen is a Catholic, like me, but she's also a convert from atheism, a little bit older, has six kids and is a stay-at-home mom. So, like me but not like me.

Another blog I love is Camp Patton by Grace Patton. Grace is a Catholic like me and also my age. But she also had three kids and one on the way and is a stay-at-home-mom. Like me, but not like me.

Jenny, Sarah, Dwija, Miranda -- all Christians who talk about their faith and all are moms. It probably goes without saying, but like me and not like me.

I have some really wonderful "in person" or possibly "real life" friends that are awesome people and always there for me to talk to and support me. So it's not like I need "blog friends" to fill some sort of void. But I think one reason I get so involved in the lives of people whose blogs I read is because I feel like they would be great people to have as in-person friends for so many reasons. Truly, there is no one who lives in my town who is my friend who is single and childless and likes to talk about God and pray who would also like to have kids and have a great community of peers who like to talk about God and grow a garden and take my kids on adventures. But the blog gals are those people and I'd love to know them in real life.

One person whose blog I just started reading (and subsequently read her entire archives... creeper) is Amy. I came across her blog on Facebook when a post she made about the Sochi Olympics was making the rounds. In brief, Amy is 30, has one biological child and two she adopted from Russia, lives in California, is a stay-at-home mom and grows her own food and always seems to be surrounded by a great group of peers and always involved in some sort of family activity or community service. She just totally seems to be joyful all the time, and I'm teetering on obsessed with her awesomeness because she is the person I'm so desperate to be. Like I want to move to SoCal and buy a house on her street. Yeah now I'm even creeping myself out.

Lots of things she says stand out - she writes a lot about adoption - but I read one of her posts recently where she and her husband were trying to decide whether or not to host an orphan for Christmas. She said there were so many reasons NOT to do it - lack of money, they have their own kids, it's hard to say goodbye. But she said one thing that has been rolling around in my mind ever since I read it. She concluded that God calls us to love your neighbor as yourself, and she said (here's where it gets good) "I didn't want myself to be sitting alone in an orphanage for Christmas."

Wow. Like on one hand, that should probably go without saying. But on the other hand, wow - THAT is what that commandment really means. Not treat people how you'd like to be treated blah blah but what would you actually want for yourself? Would you like to be alone in an orphanage for Christmas? Well, in fact, no I wouldn't. And it really made me think that if we all measured our lives by asking ourselves before every decision we make "is that what I'd want for myself" this world would be a much nicer place. So I'm honestly going to try to make a concerted effort to do that.

So look - blog reading is making me a better person. :)

Is that Mint in Your Water?!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Those who know me - even a little bit - know I am famous for not cooking. As my sister Erin once said, "We all have things we're good at, yours just involve more nachos." Touche, Erin. I am famous for frozen pizza, frozen waffles, bagels and peanut butter and cereal and milk. Pretty much four of the five food groups, with number five being fast food.

I have recently, however, wondered if there's really something to this whole eating healthy and cooking at home thing. (Don't laugh.) The truth is, I always think I want a Big Mac, but then I eat one and honestly, I don't feel that great. (Surprise.) I also think there really is a major connection between the food we eat and our mental health. Physical health, obviously, but I really think mental health too.

A doctor told me recently that there are three things within our control: what we eat, how much we exercise and what kind of sleep we get. You can let one of those things slip, he said, but once two are gone, that's when your health really deteriorates, especially your mental health which is so affected by all three of those things.

I am pretty guilty of going a few weeks without exercising and only eating toaster strudel. I also get a lot of headaches and stay up really late. I'm not convinced that that's the best thing for me. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I don't have anyone I'm responsible for besides myself. Well, I'm responsible for Baby S, but he and I aren't really eating the same diet. Over the past couple of days I've really given some thought to changing some things as far as my diet and exercise regimen.

It's hard when you're not accountable to anyone but yourself, but there are some definite things I want for myself, and I am using that as motivation. My goal is to move every day... whether that's yoga like tonight or even walking the halls of my very big office building for 30 minutes at lunch every day. I also am going to eat more healthy foods. The thing is -- I eat what's in the fridge or the pantry. If there's nothing there, then I get fast food. But if there are healthy foods there - ready to eat quickly - then I'm more apt to pick something good for myself. Also it's a great cycle - exercise makes me feel good, which makes me want to eat better, which makes me sleep better as well.

To that end, I began today. I went to an hour-long yoga class after work and then headed over to the grocery store to pick out some healthy - and fresh - items. I'd love to have a little garden (I don't even recognize myself) to grow some things, but my apartment life does not allow it. So for now, it's buy what I can. Unfortunately the local foods store is closed Mondays, so I wasn't able to go there today, but I got several great things as the grocery store.

Whaaaaa? Are those brussels sprouts? RAW ONES?! Yes. They are. I roasted them and ate them for dinner tonight. :) I bagged up little snack baggies of grapes too to make lunches easier.

I have really been craving canteluope lately, so I got some even though I know it's not the season. Also I haven't tried doing the buy it whole, cut it up myself scene, but baby steps.

Perhaps the creation I'm most proud of - mint infused water! I don't really drink pop much anyways, but sometimes you just want something tasty to drink, am I right? So I thought I'd infuse some mint in this water and it might be delish! I'll let you know tomorrow! I also got some limes to do the same thing later.

My goal is to be sure to have food packed up for lunches and something I can make for dinner at home, whether it's a late night or an early one.

I have a lot (A LOT) going on this semester, like passing my final class... and passing and studying for comprehensive exams (dun dun dun).... as well as making some big decisions for my future. The best thing I can do for myself is take care of the trifecta: eating-sleeping-exercising.

Go team.

Living in Peace

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do you ever stop to think about what living in the will of God really means? If you're a praying person you pray it often "thy will be done," but do we really mean it? Do I really mean it?

There's an old saying that says "pray as if it depends on God, work as if it depends on you." Unfortunately too many times I don't do either of those things, but instead I worry as if it depends on me. That things will mostly only ever work out if I worry about them. Needlessly. Endlessly. Why isn't prayer my go-to option always? It should be my first plan of action, not my last resort.

The thing about God's will is -- when you're totally living in it, that's when you're living in peace. I think, to me, that is the definition of peace that is easiest for me to understand. I don't think I've quite ever felt that type of peace, but I think I have a better idea of where to look for it, how to find it.

I know that life is not easy all the time for anyone. We all go through periods of sadness, anger, heartbreak, pain, disaster. But I believe that, for the  most part, God intends for us to live our lives joyfully. REALLY live our lives. Not just survive our lives, getting through them every day where things are just fine. But to seek out His will for us and live in that will. Whatever that will is, that's where peace and happiness and joy really are.

So I have to wonder... why do so many people seem unhappy or like they are searching for something? And I think the answer to that is fear. We are afraid to move. We are afraid to change, to take some sort of action. What if I end up hating my new career path? What if I can't hack it in graduate school? What if I fail?

My good friend asked me the other day -- what's the worst that can happen? If the worst thing that can happen is that you fail to find a job in that field or you end up not liking the career path you think you will, then that's not really the worst thing. He also reminded me that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of peace and love and a sound mind.

Talk to God. Tell Him what you want. Talk to Him all day. Tell him when you're scared, anxious, stressed, in pain, happy, angry, tired. He already knows, but He wants to hear it from you. Be specific with your prayers. Don't just ask God to help you pass this test. Ask God to help you concentrate on studying, not be distracted, organize your notes well and not lose sleep because of anxiety. He wants to hear these things. I need to remind myself that. He wants to hear these things.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
- 2 Timothy 1:7

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
- Philippians 4:6
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