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Sweet, sweet, Summer

Our oldest daughter had a hankering for sunflowers so she and Hubs planted two rows at the beginning of the summer and man, oh,  man do we have some beauties to behold.  I am torn between cutting them and putting them into vases or just leaving them there to enjoy.  We have done the latter.  For now.

This has been a truly odd summer.  Not in a bad way, but this is the first summer that the reality of our growing family spreading their wings is in full effect.  Our oldest son moved out May and our youngest son stayed at school for the summer to work–so we are down to our girls.  Who are both driving and pretty much only home to sleep, shower,eat and work.  They are sleeping when I leave in the morning and I’m sleeping when they come in at night.  I cook about three times a week and eat cereal on nights I go to yoga and leftovers and a dinner out pretty much sustain Hubs and I.  It’s a season of change.  It’s not bad, but it is taking some getting used to.  I thought I’d be more melancholy, and here I am mostly accepting things, trying on our new normal and loving it when any of our kids are home.

Just like those sunflowers.  I really want to put them in a pretty vase and keep them close, but they are at their most splendid when I let them be.

Happy Summer.

The B word

Budget.

That was your first thought, right?

Do you use a budget?  Wing it?  Excel spreadsheets?  Kind of eyeball things?  We used to have a VERY loose budget….a monthly tally of which bills are to be paid and when….which kept us on track and on time but really didn’t do a lot of  accounting for dollars or planning ahead and kept us in a paycheck to paycheck cycle.  Through my job we were offered the opportunity to Dave Ramsey’s budgeting app Every Dollar.   We painfully and prayerfully and sometimes loudly created our actual budget, instilled the envelope system and went at.  Talk about your wake up call.  Phew!!

I’ve talked about our Dave Ramsey journey before here  and we continue to plug away.   We have gotten away from our monthly budget meetings and haven’t really touched base in awhile so this weekend we bit the budget bullet and updated our journey.  Annnnnnnd this is why it’s a good idea to actually meet on this regularly, because apparently I have been a litte loosey goosey with some extra funds—I am absolutely a “free spirit” when it comes to budgeting and the Hubs falls more in the “nerd” role.  Yesterday as we added, subtracted, updated and figured this out, I was laughing OUT LOUD at my fluid cash flow issue, however, I was internally ETERNALLY grateful for the guy who was NOT LAUGHING across from me–because he keeps us on the path to our goals.   So thank you, Hubs—YOU ROCK!!!

Long story short, there really was no fighting, we updated our budget and planned to review again in April after my new job and benefits have kicked in and we have our new budget to update.

The encouraging piece of the meeting was looking back to where we started—shudder—and where we are now…..soooooooooooooooooooooo close to Baby step #3, with just the car left to pay off.  It pays off to just start.  It might be slow.  It will definitely be frustrating.  Consistency pays off.  And so now, as we continue our way through the Baby Steps (which you can read about and follow if you don’t already have a budget system with Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover)  I’m also fascinated by Chris Hogan and Everyday Millionaires—because it’s completely within reach.  Not today or tomorrow, but realistic. The reality that we can absolutely retire at some point and live our lives comfortably and have the ability to give to others……that’s an incredibly freeing feeling.

On that note, I am going to try and get a nap in before work tonight…..peace!!

Tracy

annnnnnnd Pivot*

You know, life has a way of pretty consistently changing things up.   Have you noticed that?  I am finding one of the things I am actually enjoying about getting older is recognizing that this IS life, change is constant and learning how to pivot* a little more gracefully with some of the changes.  (confession:  this is a lifelong lesson and there are times there is much less grace on the pivot….more like digging heels into sand and being dragged—but the point is I RECOGNIZE this)

A few months ago when my life pivoted unexpectedly at work I came home and took a day to throw a little private temper tantrum and pity party with the Hubs (bless him) and then put on my big girl pants took the hit and moved into a job that has allowed me time to lick my wounds and do what I do best while enjoying some extra time at home and learning to trust in the waiting and as Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part”.   However, in learning how to lean into the waiting instead of fighting it and enjoying where I am RIGHT NOW, I have found a lot of peace.

Once I found that peace in my new place a very unexpected change presented itself for my career.  A position that I have long known I was ready and qualified for opened up.  With the Hubs encouragement to reach out and go for it, I did.  The kicker was that I was mentally ok with it going either way…..I was in the groove in my job OR I was ready for the very challenging and exciting possibility of moving into this new position.  I took my time to write out my thoughts and vision for this opening and presented them at my interview and again at my second interview.  After a long weekend, I was offered the job.  Which I readily accepted.

Once again I pivot.  I start in a few weeks and that’s a good thing because I have so many ideas, thoughts and visions I need to timeline them and reign myself in so that I don’t completely overwhelm everyone once I come in.

Next season in life, here I come!!

Until then………I am halfway through my 2nd #Whole30 and about to grab that tiger blood!!!  I’ve enjoyed it so much more this round….more prepared with recipes and meal plans, mentally prepared for what the 30 days brings as I detox from my sugar dragon and most importantly prepared with a plan for AFTER this re-boot!

And now, I have clothes that need to be put away so that I can sleep in my bed and PJs that are calling my name.

Have a great weekend!

*pivot:  a term I picked up and loved from Greg and Jennifer Willits’ podcast:  Adventures in Imperfect Living

2019–let’s do this!

Happy New Year, blog friends (and real-life friends and fam!)

Hope your year is off to a good start and that your Christmas was wonderful.  I have ZERO complaints here–I did work Christmas Eve/Christmas and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s but honestly, no complaints. It made for an  interesting change in our usual traditions and hopefully next year we will be back to our regularly scheduled (maybe some unscheduled) customs.

I thought I’d share a fun little ditty to start your year with some intentionality and  introduce you to a new Saint in your life.  Jennifer Fulwiler started this a year ago (or several) and I tried it out last year….”just to see”—what I was seeing was yet to be determined but you know that curiosity cat just can’t help himself………

For 2018 I used Jen’s “saint generator“; my Saint of the year was St. Frances Xavier Cabrini–patron saint of hospital administrators (as well as malaria, immigrants and orphans)—and so that fit right in with my job.   Hmmmm, interesting.

Next up was my word of the year with the word generator:  Gratitude.  Good one!

So what did I do with that information exactly?    I can’t say that I really and truly embraced every aspect of either my Saint or my word, but I did keep the screen shots on my phone for reminders throughout the year that I had a Saint-buddy interceding for me and a reminder of an intentional focus on gratitude and in all honesty there were a few times that little act really grounded me in whatever moment I reached for those reminders.  Which is something, right?

Fast forward to this past week and I worked the little generators again–they were some interesting rolls of the dice and I figured “let’s see what comes of this” and so…..drum roll, please……… to this year’s Saint and word of the year:

Saint of the year–St. Nicholas:  patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need.  Lots of variety there, St. Nick!!

Word of the year–Rescue.  Interesting, eh?  Very interesting!  and a little scary……….

There you have it.  We shall see what 2019 brings!  I have a feeling this year has some pretty cool stuff ahead.

Peace!

Breathing through Advent

December 6.  How y’all doing?  It’s a tough time of year isn’t it?  If you follow social media you might be getting overwhelmed by all the things of Advent and Christmas….Jesse Trees, Advent books, St. Nick shoe stuffing, decorating, gingerbread houses, parties and cards….oh my.  No wonder we are all exhausted come Christmas day–and probably earlier!

As our kids get older, a lot of the perceived pressures are letting up, my “NO” is firmly established in my vocabulary and I have learned to pick and choose what I’d prefer us to focus on as a family.  Game changer.  Some things are trends that came along too late in the game to adopt (looking at the Elf debaucle—Pinterest, I blame you) and others are traditions we didn’t grow up with and opted out as we went along;  life looks different for every family and it’s OK to NOT do all.  the.  things.  Truly.  Pick and choose what works, try new things but man…………don’t sweat the pursuit of the unattainable.  This I know for sure, we don’t get any of this back, those perfect squares come with a price and each day is a gift—so choose wisely and embrace the choices.  Good, bad and ugly.

Here’s what OUR Advent and Christmas season are looking like and I’d love to hear yours!!

Advent wreath is up with mis-matched candles that are lit a few times a week.

Started a #moveandgrooveDecemberchallenge on Instagram with some friends (and ANYONE who wants to join in) to keep us accountable for some very important exercise goals, food choices and in general taking a minute to breathe as well as this very important idea and almost impossible (it seams)– a little time to take care of ourselves during this chaotic time of year. Crazy, right?

St. Andrew novena.  First time doing this.  Not sure if I’m doing it right, but overall it gives me some centered and focused prayer time each day and that is always right!

Christmas cards are done and mailed out.  This is a tradition that works for me and gets my brain in gear and helps to prevent procrastination.  It’s weird, but it works for me.

Baking to come soon!  Just a few tried and true faves as much to share as to save.

And there you go.   We will add a few things, do a few parties, and enjoy our twinkly lights.  Time spent with our friends and family is the most precious and everything else is just glitter.

Peace friends!

Tracy

 

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Night shift Survival

Friday, Friday–favorite day of the week and I am looping in with the Quick Takes Crew over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  

With December here, I am starting a December focus challenge on Instagram (#moveandgrooveDecemberchallenge) to help cheer each other on by focusing on some self care, activity, and overall awareness of our choices throughout December so that maybe once we reach January we will have come through a little less stressed, maintained our weight (or lost a few–but hey, it’s December so let’s be realistic here)…but mostly just trying to center and focus on A) the real reason for the season and B) evaluate priorities and not get so sucked into the madness and chaos of all the Christmas and Advent things that we lose all of our sh**.  Let me give you your first gift:  the word, “No”.  Feel free to use it without explanation.  It will save your life.

I completed my first solo week on my night shift and though I still need to tweak some sleeping issues, I would say that overall it went well.  Here are a few things that are getting me through–which honestly, can be used by anyone anytime!

I like a little Kombucha for my ride home in the morning.  It is a nice change from water; I don’t need coffee at that point and the little fizz and fun taste is like a party in my mouth and helps keep me a little more alert and oriented on the interstate.  Extra bonus:  antioxidants!  If you’ve never had Kombucha…..it’s an acquired taste and one you may have to try a few flavors to find your favorite, but it is worthwhile hunt!

I fill this baby up with all the sleepy time oils (and rub some on my feet, wrists and neck)  and then say “Good night!”  I don’t know if it truly works but my room smells good and it certainly can’t be hurting!!

Winter came to Central Florida this week for a couple of days so out came the LLBean Flannel sheets and my grandmother’s afghan.  Heck to the yes.  Slept so hard I wasn’t sure where or who I was when my alarm went off.  

The coffee pot is for my a.m. crew and I reheat it when I wake up, but the BUSTELO…..that is my 5 a.m. hit mixed with almond milk and honey.  YES, SIR!!!   All the wide eyes and bushy tails to carry me through the end of my shift.  

If I don’t feel like coffee in the afternoon, these teas have been hitting the spot.  Warm, comforting and so tasty!

My walking shoes–don’t let the “Run” fool you.  I walk my dog pretty much every day and on my off days he gets a good long walk, so these are a lifesaver.  I had another pair that wore out far too soon and you know what?  The store wouldn’t/couldn’t replace them, but Saucony is sending me a new pair. Free.  Yes, please and thank you for doing the right thing, Saucony!!

Keeping my health on the radar throughout the holidaze.  It’s a sanity saver, mood lifter and performed regularly enough and with enough intensity a booty lifter as well!  Also, pairs well with the December challenge 😉

Peace!

Tracy

Night shift, shopping, opera and more!

Friday.  My favorite day of the week.  Forever and ever.  Amen.   Linking with Kelly and all the Quick Takers today….and here we go!!

  1. My first week of Night Shift is in the books.  This week I trained with the tech who currently works that shift to get her work flow, etc. etc.  We will train together next week as well.  She is an utter delight, a fount of information, crazy talented and creative and I will miss chatting it up with her.  She also has a delicious blog with tons of healthy and plant based recipes here at This Season’s Table.  So, while I continue to find my groove with the night shift gig, Tiffany is showing me how I can really maximize my potential…..it’s so exciting!!
  2. With Thanksgiving around the corner I am making my menu–although THANKFUL that mom is taking care of Turkey and stuffing since I work the night before–so I am taking care of side dishes and desserts (my fave) next week.  The guest list will probably change a few more times between now and Thursday but will plan on 15-17 folks.  Mostly teens and young adults.  Which is so fun!
  3. Annnnnnnnnnnd since I picked up my Christmas cards this week and pre-ordered our Christmas tree from our local Catholic High School’s fundraiser, I can begin my shopping on Black Friday!!  Is it possible that I might even be able to really enjoy Advent?  I don’t want to jinx myself but it is looking possible…………………
  4. Speaking of shopping.  If you have any special needs kiddos (or anyone) in your life, Kelly has a great list of ideas here.
  5. Also for consideration, donations to Hurricane victims or to agencies that are assisting.  Or the fires in California.  It is all so overwhelming and horrifying.  The need is phenomenal all over right now from natural disasters and although we may feel paralyzed with ‘WHAT CAN I DO?’  (at least I feel this way), I have an amazing friend and her family who have hit the ground running and made several trips to deliver supplies.  They inspire me that we might not be able to everything but we can all do something and when lots of people do something, big things happen. Below are some Facebook exerpts from some of the trips stolen from friend and her hubby.

     My family and I have traveled west to the coast nearly 1/2 dozen times since Hurricane Michael. Houses have been ripped off their foundations, massive trees have been twisted and snapped like toothpicks, and roofs have been torn from buildings and tossed aside like building blocks. And over one month later, we still can not even access Mexico Beach; authorized personnel only. The devastation is indescribable and the locals are still shell-shocked. Please consider putting on your boots and getting involved. Contact me with questions and I will help direct you.

     

                    Friends, please know that every sacrifice you made was appreciated. We just dropped off a truck FULL of supplies and then traveled through some smaller neighborhoods in Panama City. The devastation is utterly astounding. We handed out $20 bills to the people we could find. One man exclaimed that now he could buy dog food, another told us that his house is uninhabitable and he has to leave. Didn’t know where he was going or how he was going to make it. A man and another woman we met began to cry when we handed them money. Another young lady simply wept in my arms. Her name is Amanda – pls pray for her💗

    One of my new favorite things to do – hand out Starbucks drinks to those in need. While I don’t drink coffee, nor do I wish this devastation upon anyone, I am so grateful to be surrounded by a community willing to help. What you can’t tell from these pictures is that the backs of many of these buildings no longer exist. Please share, visit; help.
    #panhandlenotforgotten

    Image may contain: 1 person, drink
    Image may contain: tree, sky, shoes, outdoor and nature
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    Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature
  6. Switching gears:  the Hubs and I are off to the opera tonight.  Sounds so fancy, right?  Our son is a music major at UF and the college is putting on Hansel and Gretel tonight and tomorrow, with full orchestra so if you are in the area……..  Tickets here
  7.  And that is a wrap for this week.  Have a great weekend and stay warm.  Even here is Central FL it was a brisk 44degrees this morning, which 100% means pulling out boots, jackets and flannels!

Peace,

Tracy