Monday, December 31, 2012

It's been a great year.

2012 in Photos....



Jan. 2012, I got PRK eye surgery. Now, on 12/31/12, the surgery is PAID IN FULL (holla atcha girl), and I can see without help. LIBERATED. 
George got hired on full-time working for a special effects company!
I worked... a lot! Grateful to have a job in this tough economy. Even if work gets annoying...

We got married.
March 24, 2012.
Best day of my life. 
We moved into our first house together. Just a rental, but absolutely adorable.
Though it's back on the market (let me know if you're interested...2 bed, 1 bath in Grapevine, TX)...we will ALWAYS have a special spot in our heart for this gem!

We went to ACL. I got plenty of dips in Barton Springs. 
We got another 4 years! 
Get down, girl, go 'head, get down.

We went to Bartlesville, saw Wol-a-Roc, and were gifted a traditional Osage wedding blanket. ONE AMAZING weekend!


The DWC facilitated several Finding Kind screenings, oh, and we MET LAUREN AND MOLLY, no big deal. JK HUGE DEAL. AWESOME NIGHT!

The DWC had another successful clothing swap.

I saw my sister graduate Summa Cum Laude, and start her Master's! Go Bud!

Celebrated my 25th year of life! With one of my bests, Jess.
Celebrated my BEAUTIFUL mom's 50th!!!

After a weekend of floating the river, one of my bests, Ash, and I, took a pit stop in a Pegasus Starship! What??? 
We got to celebrate Stephanie's birthday, and got some quality time in with these lovebirds! Looking forward to seeing them again tonight and tomorrow!!!!

I got some empathy for the hard work my man does! And helped shoot off fireworks on July 4th!

Saw Frankie Valli with my sister, mom, and her sis!

Tinker Family Reunion in Ruidoso...when the newest member of our family decided to come on down to the Earth plane and join us on this crazy ride... 

On the 10 hour drive home from Ruidoso, with no idea what was ahead of us (and within me)....

And here we are today...
Dec 31...
I am so grateful for the blessings 2012 brought us, and I'm even more excited for 2013!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Inhale, Hold, Exhale, Hold.

One of my best friends from college is of Hochunk Native American descent.

Her mom is one of the most calm, zen, peaceful people I've EVER had the privilege of knowing. While I'm convinced it has to do with her native heritage, I know she also chooses a life of peace everyday. She has status updates on Facebook that are SO REFRESHING compared to all the other random tidbits in my mini-feed. One she posted last week really spoke to me...enough to where I thought I'd blog about it, at least.

"Inhale, and God approaches you.

Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. 

Exhale, and you approach God. 

Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God." 

-Krishnamacharya

Source: Native Breath
Breathing is the most basic, yet most powerful action we do every single day. Most breaths are not acknowledged. Imagine if we slowed our breathing, and thought spiritual affirmations about our breath, three times a day...just as often as we consume nutrition! How spiritually satisfying would that be??

While it's most obvious at my job in the recovery room after surgery, most people are aware that pain can be lessened with deep breathing. Anxiety can be resolved with deep breathing. Fears can melt away with deep breathing. And we can feel instantly connected to the Source of that breath.

I have been hesitant to blog about my pregnancy (though I've written two posts, I've published neither...I've stuck with journaling, as I'm not ready to make my pregnant self vulnerable to other people's opinions JUST yet)...so just a quick comment...this is the first time in my life where my breath sustains not only me, but my child. And if I focus on my breath coming directly from God, and visualize that holding my breath brings God closer to both of us, I not only feel connected to God...I feel connected to our baby.

If one believes in the Holy Trinity being Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and believes the Father provides the breath, and the Son has set the example to be connected to the Father through the Holy Spirit...is the Trinity not ever present while I deep breathe and feel the powerful connection to my baby?

Focused breathing is essential whether one is pregnant or not, but I have been finding it especially pleasing to deep breathe and meditate in my current state. And I have felt beyond blissful by doing so.

xoxo,
L

PS: Click HERE to see "Imagine," a video Whitney and I made for her mom.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21/12...End of the World. Sort Of.

As I look out my window and see a gorgeous sun illuminating paved sidewalks, bare branches, and crinkled leaves, I hesitate before chuckling at the "end of the world" scare.




I hesitate because maybe it isn't a completely fabricated and ridiculous idea to think that today could be the end of something. There might not be aliens and zombies outside my front door, but there is a crisp, fresh breeze. And our four furbabies (Teddy, Stella, Dunkin Donut and Earl Grey) are alive and well, completely unaware that today is different than any other.




And that makes me aware that as a human being, we have a huge edge over animals. We are aware. We are conscious. Our brains are capable of processing amazing thoughts that even other mammals aren't capable of. 

What if today, I choose to end a cycle of anxiety and negative thinking? What if I think of today not as a "fake end of the world," but a "start of a new chapter." Kind of like New Years, only in my imagination, this is a way bigger deal, because there's a new year every 365 days, and there hasn't been a fake-end-of-the-world-day since Y2K. 

With so many changes going on, it's easy for me to feel out of control. I wouldn't like to think of myself as a "control freak," but in all honesty, I probably ought to own it. I ought to own it so I can discard it. Awareness is curative, right? I think I pride myself on my "get 'er done" mindset, and restless work ethic. And up until recently, these key ingredients, paired with a positive attitude, have allowed me to shape the exact life I've wanted for myself.





But this past year, some decisions have lead to other life-changing situations, and for a while, I was scared. I felt out of control, and like even my usual "recipe for success" wasn't going to help me this time. Thank God for a strong and loving family, solid friendships, and of course, my loyal partner. With a renewed attitude, refreshed perspective, and grateful heart, I can honestly say I'm beyond excited to see how this next chapter in my life will unfold. 




I know this is a bit of a tangent, but I have strengthened my belief in the importance of developing and maintaining a strong network. I was lucky to be born into an amazing family, but I have to continue to give (in whatever ways I can) to them, as they have given to me. My mom just had shoulder surgery (rotator cuff tear, which I know is a very painful recovery), and I need to make myself available to her. I am fortunate to have great friendships, but these are two-way streets, and I have to be sure to check on my friends and make sure I am up to date in their individual lives. I must continue to focus on my husband's needs, not just my own. In this next chapter, I think I will inevitably learn selflessness, which will be a struggle since I have REALLY enjoyed being selfish the past few years. Confession. 




Back to my point, today is not the end of the world. It's the beginning of a new world. And that new world starts in my head, in my heart, and in my thoughts, which fuel my actions. To encourage positive thinking and maintain this feeling, I'm going to do a few things out of the ordinary.

1) I'm going to clean my house. Like, really clean it. On my hands and knees, scrub the baseboards, kind of clean. Laundry. Dishes. Sweep. Mop. Because a clean house will make my husband happy (YAY! Progress.) and also will make me feel comfortable, and relaxed.




2) I'm going to enjoy some quality time with my closest friends, delivering presents (and necessities) to a family in extreme need. I'm very grateful for my friend Jessica, and her mom, Monica. They opened my eyes to a foundation called "I Have a Dream" in the projects in Dallas. The best part about this event is not just giving money, it's giving time. We have been buying gifts throughout the week, Jessica wrapped them last night, and today we will go bring them to the family we sponsored, and break bread (or pizza) with them. Put names with faces. They won't just be "two girls in Dallas," they will be actual people, and I know this time with my friends will be not only a memory-in-the-making, but also a unique opportunity to remind me of my many blessings. And how blessed I am to be able to give back to a family, when I thought financially I was strapped. There's always enough to give. It's a matter of what I can't do for myself, or what needs to be eliminated from the budget. In this case, it means Drunken Noodles (my utmost favorite dish, that unfortunately costs $12). Seriously, worth it.

3) I'm going to work on an embroidery project. Because it seems like there is always something better to do, but really, this quiets my mind and I always feel productive when I finish another line.

4) I'm going to drink hot tea. On a cold day. And when I drink it, I won't be drinking it on the go. I will sit, and enjoy each sip. This is how I drink my coffee many mornings. A hot drink can definitely be a form of meditation for me, and I intend to have one after this blogpost.


5) I'm going to pray. I remember as a little girl, praying the same thing every night, to "cover my bases," or make sure I was being good. That's not what prayer is about to me anymore. Now, I know it is a DIRECT connection from my soul to the Soul of the Universe. And how lucky we are to have that, if we only quiet the mind and tune in. I won't be asking for anything. I'll be thanking God for what has been given to me. I love the Edward Sharpe song, "I Don't Wanna Pray," because one of the BEST lines is 
"Not much good to talk, better to walk it
Not much good to take, better to give
We are gone forgiven and forgotten of our sins
I promise you my friend all that dies will live again
Pardon god and mom, what I'm sayin' isn't rare
See I'm looking to become, not the pray-er but the prayer"

I want to focus, not just today but forever, on not being a person who prays asking for qualities, emotions, or things, but being the actual answered prayer. Living out the words I am affirming. When I pray for peace, gratitude, and love, I am affirming that I AM peace, gratitude and love. 

6)Burn sweetgrass, thanks to my friend, Stephanie. She told me it invites good energy when you burn it, and I want to bring as much good energy in today as possible to start this new chapter out right. Thanks for that, Steph.

7) I will quite possibly do a few ideas from this blog which I found from a friend, Greer's facebook page. 

  • Read my horoscope
  • Paint my nails
  • Listen to my favorite album (I will actually listen to that Edward Sharpe song, on vinyl. Perfect.)
  • Bake something tasty (cinnamon rolls via waffle iron. Perfect.)
  • Write in your journal.
  • Make a fort.
  • Breathe in. Breathe out.

That post actually inspired this post. Which is pretty awesome, that a girl I don't even know inspired me. I think the connectedness and openness has already started, if we choose to embrace it. What a wonderful world we live in. 

HAPPY Non-End-of-the-World Day. Since we have the rest of our lives after all, let's make the absolute best of it. Today and everyday. It's one extra day that we might not have had. Celebrate!


xoxo,
L

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Merge Between Feminism and Beauty

I work full time as a registered nurse in the operating room of a plastic surgery center. I've been working in cosmetic surgery for almost four years. Working in an industry where surgical body modifications is a "norm" pushed me outside of my comfort zone and into a feminist group while I lived in Norman, Oklahoma. When I moved back to Texas a few years ago, I started one of my own.

The Denton Women's Collective accepting a Certificate of Appreciation from the mayor of Flower Mound

If somebody didn't know me very well, they might question how I could be passionate about women's issues while assisting in altering women's bodies for a living.

First and foremost, I must say, I prefer working in a plastic surgery center as compared to my previous experience in a cosmetic surgery center. Plastic surgery includes reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic surgery is entirely elective. Most of our patients are cosmetic/elective procedures, but it is refreshing to have patients who have battled (and defeated) breast cancer. We also work with patients who have 2nd and 3rd degree burns, and children with birth defects. My favorite charity, Smile Train, operates on children in 3rd world countries with cleft palate, and it is one of my lifelong goals to go on a mission with them one day. Until then, I continue to support them monetarily.

With that disclaimer being stated, most of our patients are healthy, happy, and wanting a change in their appearance. Many people are open about the "work they've had done" and consider cosmetic surgery and/or aesthetic treatments a status symbol, similar to the car they drive or the purse they carry. Other people are judgmental of the industry, and assume it is an industry saturated with vain and superficial people.

I think I fall somewhere in between...

The reality is, unless you don't wear make-up, have never colored your hair, have zero tattoos, zero piercings, don't work out, don't take supplements, and have basically NEVER altered your appearance from your natural state of being...YOU have participated in a form of body modification. My question is, what's the driving force of your body modification? Is it a significant other that has encouraged you to alter a part of your image? Do you alter your appearance because you have a competitive nature and want to look better than somebody else? Do you wear a certain make-up because a celebrity you admire is the spokesperson for that particular brand? Have you been brainwashed by an industry that is degrading to women? (Think...Victoria Secret Fashion Show...and don't get me wrong, I love me some PINK! sweatpants, but seriously, that show is HORRIBLE for the average woman's self esteem!)

(Thought I'd throw in a pic of the VS models without make-up...and to be honest, I STILL THINK THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL!!!!!)


Or, do you just feel more confident when you look your best? Do you feel a NEED to alter your appearance, or a DESIRE? Do you like the person you see when you look in the mirror? There is a major difference between an ENHANCEMENT and a total CHANGE.

Many mothers have endured extreme changes to their bodies after carrying and nursing babies. There is a major difference between an 18 year old girl wanting breast implants to be a "D cup" and a 40 year old mother wanting a tummy tuck because despite a healthy diet and exercise, her abdominal muscles will never be reattached at the midline, and her loose skin will never go away without a surgical incision. Who is to judge the woman who gave up her body for her children, altering an image she sees in the mirror, which in turn psychologically alters her identity??? I'm not saying the 18 year old breast augmentation is any less deserving of the surgery, but I am saying the REASONS behind the surgery are without doubt, completely different. Another thing to keep in mind, is that a surgical modification is PERMANENT. If you wouldn't get a tattoo at 18 because you think "it might not be cool at age 80," ask yourself if you are sure you want the surgery!!!!! And also keep in mind that MOST implants need replacing in 7-10 years (saline) or 15-20 years (silicone), and you might have a different set of priorities at that point in your life. Be an EDUCATED consumer.

Many women purchase night creams and anti-wrinkle creams for their eyes, but cast judgment upon women who get BOTOX or other dermal fillers. Why? Don't both serve the same purpose? There might be slightly more pain (about a "2" on a 0-10 pain scale, lasting about 2 seconds), but without question, the BOTOX and fillers are more effective.




If you have purchased a shampoo that is "anti-frizz" and your hair naturally has some frizz, why did you want to change that about yourself? If it's to make yourself feel more beautiful, to enhance a positive self-image, and to feel confident, then more power to you. But if you're the type to cast stones at somebody who can afford a Keratin hair treatment, my feeling is you are judgmental out of jealousy, not righteousness.




There IS a problem, however, when somebody can't afford a phone bill or the rent, and they are getting their nails done, hair done, and countless other beauty treatments. But if priorities are in line, and the person can afford to look their very best, why do we have a tendency to bash other women for "what they've had done"?

I've heard many women (myself at times included) say "yes, she's pretty, but she just looks so fake." Well, some people definitely over-do it. The "Snookie tan" mixed with 3 inch long acrylic nails, caked-on make-up, breasts falling out of a shirt, and false lashes falling into their eyes in my HUMBLE opinion is not an attractive look. Or at least not one that I would want to have....but if we really want to empower women, we need to start by being less judgmental toward one another. I think that starts by looking within and being honest with ourselves.

But the awesome thing is, BEAUTY is not HOMOGENEOUS. Some people prefer blondes, some prefer brunettes. Some prefer thin eyebrows, some prefer thick. Some prefer fair skin, some prefer tan skin. We each define beauty for ourselves. We CAN'T let society dictate what "beautiful" means. Nor can we can't let our PARTNERS or our FRIENDS dictate what "beautiful" means. We have to individually decide what looks beautiful to us. That might be the "Snookie" look, for Snookie at least...and that's OK. It's also ok (and empowering to me!) for somebody to pass on beauty treatments, because they feel beautiful without anything! I think it's AWESOME when women don't wear make-up or get all fancy to go to the grocery store...it's like they have nothing to prove. But I highly doubt they've never put on lotion for dry skin...or never straightened their hair for a special occasion.

I see no harm in the cosmetic surgery world, when it is used for the right reasons, with people who can afford it, and with the will power and self discipline to limit themselves to a few treatments. The danger is when somebody starts down a slippery slope and wants every procedure offered, and no longer resembles a refreshed version of themselves. If you look in the mirror and you see somebody you psychologically identify with, you are beautiful and empowered. I think we need to do a better job, AS WOMEN, empowering other women and judging a little bit less.

xoxo,
L



Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Feeling Gratitude And Not Expressing It Is Like Wrapping a Present and Not Giving It."-William Arthur Ward


I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. I'm thankful for so many people (and things!). I'd like to express my gratitude through photos and inspiring quotes. 

Thank you to everybody who has helped me get HERE, which is the best place I've ever been.



I am thankful for my husband, George.




"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." -Thornton Wilder
I'm grateful that through hard times, we have bounced back stronger. I'm grateful neither of us have quit "us" and we both can depend on the other. I'm grateful EVERY day, not just Thanksgiving, that you married me. My best friend, my soul mate. 






 I am thankful for my family. They have loved me unconditionally. They are always there. Home will always be when I walk through the front door, hear the dogs barking, and smell my mom's cooking.


My dad's laugh warms my heart like nothing else. And with each passing day, I respect my mom more than I ever have. My sister and I have the exact sense of humor, and share a sensitive heart. I love my Van Meter unit! Can't live without them.


Grateful for my late grandmother and mother. And how though we each have our own look, the resemblance is still there. Grateful for heritage.
"Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life...a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year-and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God." -Ray Stannard Baker
Proud of my sister, and thankful she adds a Master's degree to our unit of four. Way to go, Bud.




My grandparents, Mimi and GrandDad.
 I am grateful for the opportunity to see two people still giddy in love after over 50 years. 

I am grateful for our family farm.




I am thankful for my Mimi's cooking, specifically her pies, and her teaching me how to make them this year.
Thankful for handwritten recipes passed down to me. Such a beautiful way for family tradition to live on.




I am thankful for my lifelong friends, who love me with every change of season. We've each grown and changed, but our friendship is unwavering.





I'm thankful for my furbabies. They teach me unconditional love everyday.








 I am thankful that my husband and I both have jobs.




"Thank God every day when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know." -Basil Carpenter





I am thankful I live in a state where I get to enjoy all 4 seasons. I love soaking up the summer rays, watching the leaves turn color and fall, snuggling up in winter, and being reminded of new life in spring.

Last spring, admiring new life.

Last summer at the pool.

Last week, enjoying autumn.
Last winter at the Caldwell's.




Last, but not least....


I am thankful for my Krispy Kreme, Drunken Noodles, and French Press coffee. Also known as the simpler things.


"If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this Universe, Who daily spreads a table in my sight, surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence." -G.A. Johnston Ross





"If the only prayer you said in your whole

 life was, "thank you," that would

 suffice." -Meister Eckhart






xoxo,
L



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