Life Lessons, Milkshakes, And A Walk Down Memory Lane

Sometimes I read blogs and roll my eyes at people.  Sometimes I read them and forward them (because they’re great or because they’re awful).  Sometimes, however, I read blogs and think, “You are in my brain, Stranger-Blogger Whom I Feel Like I Know IRL .”  Here are some posts from the latter category:

Happy weekend to those of you with bankers’ hours!

 

 

*I also endorse the Oxford Comma.

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Not As Good As It Gets

Resolution shmesolution.  Every year I try, every year I fail.  Nothing says “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” like setting yourself up for failure, amIright?

I read this quote yesterday on Pinterest:

‘Stop thinking you’ve been through it all… just wait until you see where the road takes you.’

Year after year, we resolve to be better versions of last years selves – but what about the things that have yet to come your way?  I propose we leave room for reactionary resolutions in addition to a generic effort to just. be. better.

This year, I will do my best to be better than last.  To learn from my mistakes, to grow from my opportunities, and to live in a way that future Jess will not regret. (Except that second third glass of wine.  I always regret that the next day because now I’m becoming an old lady and gravity is setting in and alcohol is much more mean than it used to be.  I digress.)

Ultimately, I’ve decided that if I’m making a conscious effort every 365 days to jot down what I need to get better at (or start doing, for that matter – sorry eye cream, I just can’t seem to hang out with you on a nightly basis yet. You and your pal gravity kind of suck.) it means I should be making that same effort the other 364 days.  I think what I need to focus on are the small, day-to-day things that add up to make the big thing: me.  Well.  You know what I mean.  Moving on.

If I can work daily at things like being an encourager, keeping in touch, making it to the gosh darn post office in time to have someone (just one person! maybe two!) receive a card or gift on or before the day of their celebration, then I will have succeeded!  And if I’m not bound by the confines of any resolutions, just think of the things I can achieve!

I get that this is a sort of resolution list in its own right, but since the typical way of doing things just hasn’t panned out in years past, I’m gonna give this a go.

This isn’t as good as it gets.  Life gets better every day if you let it… just be sure to help it along its merry little way.

 

 

{If you’ve figured out this is a long-winded approach at talking my way out of New Year’s resolutions, congratulations! You probably know me in real life.}

When It Rains, It Snows

You know – because it’s below freezing outside and frozen rain is… SNOW! Ha. Hahaha. No? OK, whatever.

I was reminded of the old adage, “When it rains, it pours,” because of some good fortune as of late.  I’ve decided that both troubling times and the best of times are both created by an avalanche effect that’s often brought on by ourselves.

For instance, once one thing doesn’t go the way I had hoped or planned (we all know I like my plans), I easily become distracted about other things in my life.  After a short amount of time, I’m spending less time on the things that matter and more time complaining or dwelling on my misfortune.  At which point, I should be asking myself, “Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve complained about it?” (BUT DO I? Not as much as I’d like to.  New Year’s Resolution, anyone?)

Alternatively – and this is what got me thinking – when one good thing happens, doesn’t it seem that a few others (no matter how small) seem to follow suit?  And while I wondered why I had been blessed so much lately, I realized that these blessings are quite possibly the result of hard work and patience (which is really hard work for me).  I also realized that my attitude also determines how I process what comes my way.

For example, this summer I went through a phase of extreme boredom in which I decided to take on the world.  I applied for graduate school, and enrolled once I was accepted.  I began a Rosetta Stone course to learn Portuguese.  I took on several hefty projects at work that were truly for personal development.  I traveled nine weekends out of twelve.  Needless to say, I was exhausted… but lately, it seemed as if things were starting to head in the right direction.  But what I’ve realized, is that even though my very full plate became an overloaded Buca di Beppo-sized platter, good things have been coming my way because I have been working tirelessly on them.  The results are my rewards.

So I guess what I’d be interested to know is if you’re working toward the potentially great outcomes, or if you’re rolling down a mountain in your own avalanche of suckiness (poetic, I know).

MORE IMPORTANTLY, IN THE WORDS OF ELMO:

He’s going to bring us good tidings of great joy! Merry Christmas everyone (all four of you).

Music Fun Times!

Yesterday while browsing the seasonal scents at Yankee Candle, I came upon this.

I MEAN.  I get that they did a cutesy little “Favorite Things” line, but that can’t be a pleasant smell to wake up to.  And I can’t imagine it doesn’t wear on your nasal passages quite quickly.

ANYWAY.  That was my unnecessarily long way of telling you this post is about one of my favorite things: mix tapes!

I get that mix tapes are a thing of the past, but gosh darn there is just something so lovely about having a compilation of songs that someone picked out especially for you. (Any fans of Avenue Q should already be singing this little ditty in their heads.)

The best I can do is to make a Spotify playlist of some current tunes that are a mix of sweet, sassy, soulful… there I go again with the alliteration again.  Someone stop me!

 

¡cuarenta!

Another “cheat” blog in which I direct you to creative content done by someone else that’s not me.

Check out ’40 Things To Say Before You Die’ – it’s a worthwhile read and a solid time-killer for your end-of-the-day blues.  It should even make you think a bit.

What I like more than the phrases, though, are the simple diagrams that accompany them.  Good perspective on simple thoughts; the expanded explanations are pretty solid too.  My favorites:

#30: “I am home.”
Home is every adventure’s final destination and starting point—and we all need one to call our own.

#29:

#29: “I did my best.” If this is true, you did something amazing.

#28: “How can I help you?”
Because you want people to come to your funeral, and if they can’t make it, at least they’ll miss you.

#8:

#8: “Let’s go!”
Where you’re going often matters far less than the enthusiasm you have for the trip.

#2: “I love you.”
We all want to say this, and we all want it said to us.

¡cuatro!

Saw this fun prompt on a favorite blog and decided I owed you people something.  I know it’s hard, but contain your excitement.

 

1. Name 4 jobs you’ve had in your life.

  • Front desk attendant at a gym (first job, lasted thru freshman year of college!)
  • Event photographer for a lifestyle magazine in Scottsdale (got to go to some exclusive events to cover professional athletes on the social scene – sweet deal)
  • Guest Relations Hostess at Magic Kingdom (simultaneously awesome and awful some days, but mostly magical)
  • Secretary for the Executive Chef at Magic Kingdom (holy cow, I ate A LOT of food…)

2. Name 4 movies you could watch over and over.

  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Bridesmaids
  • A Lot Like Love
  • The Holiday

3. Name 4 places you’ve lived:

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Fountain Hills, AZ
  • Orlando, FL
  • Hartford, CT

4. Name 4 things you always carry with you.

5. Name 4 places you’ve been on vacation.

  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • San Juan
  • Sitka
    (Sorry. I really like alliteration.)

Pick Me Up

Everyone could use one, whether they’re having a good day, or a bad one.  Though it was published a month ago, I believe this article contains some good advice.

My favorite is #2, but only because I think it’s something @RooneyKraus would say to me if he knew English.  I hope.

‘Three Different Sources Have Confirmed That You’re Generous, Nice To Animals And Funny.’

 

What is the nicest thing someone has said to you that brightened your day?

Love Story

It’s no secret I love a good story; whether it’s informative, a tale of triumph, or an old-fashioned, “When I met your mother…”

This video is out there on the inter-web and I think it’s one of the sweetest things I have ever seen/heard/watched.

Get some Kleenex, then enjoy Danny and Annie Perasa’s love story.

Comfort Zone

Often times when talking about travel, I refer to certain locations as “my happy place.”

Today, in this blog post, Rashard Mendenhall refers to something similar, instead calling it a “Comfort Zone.”  Though football used to be the thing that kept him steady, hoping, striving for excellence, it is no longer what he clings to.

“If I placed my faith in football, it wouldn’t be a very strong faith. I’d rustle around like a plastic bag in the wind, and find myself displaced with every playoff win or embarrassing loss. My esteem would be subject to change through every breakout game, or fantasy football slump. My morale would rise and fall depending on injury and health. And my character would be totally dependent upon every great article about myself, or every negative blog post intended to down me. This shaken existence would go on all the way until my eventual and swift exit from the game of football. That is if even at that time I am able to let go. And as great as the game of football has been to many others and to me, I don’t believe it was built to sustain mental, spiritual, and emotional stability.”

Call it what you want, but it’s important to identify what that is for you, whether it be a physical location or a state of mind.  Now I’m no professional athlete, but it’s safe to say I’m a workaholic who often gets caught up in finding satisfaction solely in the quality of my work and the content of feedback I receive.  I struggle to remove myself from my job mentally – something I believe our society will continue to suffer from as technological advances continue to make it easier to work 24/7.  (Anybody else sleep with their cell phone? Guilty as charged.)

When it comes to travel, Coronado Island does it for me.  There’s a peace I have there that’s hard to match anywhere else.  I turn my cell phone off and just let myself completely unwind while enjoying some of my most favorite things: incredible food, dwelling on memories I’m fond of, and the sound of the Pacific crashing onto the shore.

Alaska also holds a special place in my heart, but it’s less about peace and more about realization of the incredible abilities of God to create something so wonderful.  There’s a camp on the coast that is nestled among glaciers… where the ocean and the mountains meet – that’s where my heart rests in the comfort of the One that created everything.

My mental place needs some defining.  I owe it to myself, and to the thoughts and things I hold dear.  So often, I am overwhelmed with thoughts and to-do lists that I mentally jump from one to the next without taking time to rest in my comfort zone.  At 26, I can’t imagine this pace will last much longer without destruction creeping in slowly but surely.

What’s your place or zone? Where do you go – physically or mentally – to get away from the things that will never satisfy you fully and revel in the comfort of something that will?

#BIRDGANG – Pt. 1

I love football. I mean, on so many levels I just love. that. sport.  Growing up as a Steelers and Cardinals fan was a pretty sweet deal: on one hand, I was taught the game by watching the Black and Gold fight on the gridiron each week.  I remember family gatherings in Pittsburgh when I was 4 years-old and everyone was making friendly wagers and cheering as one, through thick and thin.  I never made it to Three Rivers, and I didn’t make it to Heinz Field until I was 18, but I grew to learn how much of a privilege it was, and the wait was well worth it.

When we moved to Arizona, it was easy to go to Cardinals games.  I went with my dad, my grandfather, and as I got older, my friends.  The draw was always a little different–sometimes it was the temptation of garlic fries (don’t judge), but mostly it was just the love of the game.  And that stadium? Obviously I’m biased as an ASU alum, but our stadium is (was) IN A MOUNTAIN.  Arizona at its finest, ladies and gents.

In 2008, things got WEIRD. In August, my friends and I did as most football fans do; we made our playoff and Super Bowl picks for the upcoming season.  Everyone was really thoughtful when responding, except for me. “I say Arizona and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, because that’s how I want it to be.  So that’s how it should be.”

And then everyone laughed. And I would forever remember that moment as the only one I ever wished I was at a casino and put money on something silly that came out of my mouth.

Fast forward to January 2009 and the Steelers become AFC Champs… not all that unusual.  But yes, the Cardinals were a fluke 8-8 team that no one saw making it to Tampa, but forever and always In Kurt Warner I Trust, and so it went.

Because I am blessed beyond measure to work for the Worldwide Leader in Sports, I was able to head to Tampa for 11 days to work at Super Bowl XLIII.  Not only did I wear Jerome Bettis’ Super Bowl ring for a hot second, but I also got to attend both teams’ Media Day activities, press conferences, and… I got to go to the Super Bowl I predicted 7 months earlier.

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My dueling allegiances were no secret, so leading up to the big game I was asked several times a day: who are you rooting for?  I would always answer: “I’m just glad they’re both here! I’d love to see the Cardinals win though, because it would be so great for that team–for Kurt, for Larry.”

Fast forward again…
DAY OF THE GAME.
FOURTH QUARTER.
Kurt and Larry connect for a b-e-a-utiful 64-yard touchdown and the Cards go ahead.

I start crying. Sad tears. Semi-uncontrollably. In front of several members of the ESPN crew and talent team… real smooth, Kraus. And then one of the group members approaches me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Well, I guess know you really know who you’re rooting for.”  I left the stadium that night as a happy fan.  My mild deflation over the Cardinals loss was well-masked by the glow of a sixth championship for Pittsburgh.

So there you have it, I am a Steelers fan first, but a Cardinals fan always.  Each team holds a special place in my football-filled heart, but one a bit more than the other.  I could probably identify specifics, but that’s really more for a therapist than my blog readers, so I’ll stop while I’m ahead.  You’re welcome.

——–

Have you ever wished you could accompany me while I people watch? If so, get excited because I took pictures at the last Cardinals game I went to because some things are just better when they’re shared with the masses.  Stay tuned for #BIRDGANG part two.