Thursday, January 31, 2008

California Snowstorm

Yes, actually, it does snow in California! Rumer has it that our church's youth group actually got snowed in over last weekend. I know they were all heartbroken to miss an extra day of school.

This photo was taken from the office building where I work. On my drive in, I enjoy views of three different mountain ranges/peaks, and when the rising sun hits the snow-capped mountains, it is just awe-inspiring. I love it!! (I tried to capture that moment, but turns out taking photos from a moving car while driving in traffic isn't all that easy.)

Thankful Thursday: Weekend Getaway

Woohoo! I love traveling, and this weekend promises to be a lot of fun!!

In December, my mom had a big birthday, the kind where her new age now ends in a zero. My dad, brother, sister-and-law and I pitched in for her gift, which is a plane ticket for this weekend: the three of us girls are going to northern CA to visit with friends and go sightseeing in San Francisco!

So this week's thankful list:
- we are healthy and well and able to travel
- airplanes that bring us to see people we love and fun places to enjoy together
- umbrellas to keep us dry from the weekend's apparently inevitable rain
- a camera to capture the memories we will make together

I'm so excited I've hardly been able to think of anything else! My bag is packed and I'm ready to go... is it Friday yet???

(Pictures of the trip next week!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The big rock on the road called "Change"

A couple weeks ago, I posted about my plans to make some changes in my life this year. It's a given that change is hard, but I was a little surprised to discover that the biggest obstacle in my way is... me. (For some people, this might be a big "duh," but I'm learning here, give me a break!)

I've been frustrated professionally in almost every job I've had for the same reasons: no matter how good I am at it, I just don't get anywhere. I get stuck in the same box, without opportunity to move up or move around or be challenged. Never has this been more true than now. I've lost track of how many times I've sat at work and wanted to write a resignation letter right now. Thankfully, the pragmatic half of my brain, the half that pays the bills and is saving for a house down payment, has kicked in and short-circuited this urge!

So now I'm thinking not just of changing jobs but really of changing fields, and this I find scary. Very scary. Did you see it? The light next to the words "Fear of Failure" just lit up. When I look back at some of the decisions I've made in my life, I recognize that some of them were made out of fear of failure rather than desire for something better. Ok, so that probably wasn't wise. I am finding that I need to work on building faith in myself so I can be prepared to step out in that faith into something new and better. This quote is often attributed to Robert Schuller, and I find myself asking it often these days: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

Another obstacle was the fact that I was angry with myself over the current situation. Very angry. As in, I should have somehow known this job was going to be crummy and not ever taken it. I should have had more faith last spring and held out for a better offer. I should have . . . fill in the blank with one of a million other different choices I could have made since I was 14 years old that would have put me in a different place today. I'm struggling to forgive myself and focus on what is possible for me to do now so the future will be different.

Mixed in with all this is a tension with the idea that, as a Christian, I've been taught to be content in all situations. But what is contentment? Does that mean that I must passively accept whatever life hands me, even if I don't like it? Is creating change for myself a sin because it is the opposite of contentment? How do I balance the fact that when I took this job, I was sure it was the right thing with the fact that it didn't take very long before it was apparent that this job is absolutely not for me? Can contentment and change co-exist?

The questions are hard and the answers do not come easy. At the same time, I have a feeling of expectancy; I’m not exactly sure what is going to come next, or exactly how I’m going to get there, but somehow I feel better knowing that there is a “next” and that to some degree, I can influence what that will be. Mostly, this feeling leads me to a question, "God, what do you have planned for me? Oh, and it would be OK if you chose to fill me in sooner rather than later. I'm getting worn out trying to figure it out on my own."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Book: Hissy Fit

This book was fun! The premise of the book is: girl catches fiance in a compromising position... at the rehearsal dinner... with the maid of honor... who just became the EX-best friend. The book fills us in on the "what next." It was a little predictable, but funny, too, and unlike most "chick lit" books, the indescretions weren't discussed in a detail like they are so often in this genre – a nice change of pace for those of us who prefer to keep our minds out of the gutter.

I'll be watching my favorite used book haunt for the other books from this author.

Hissy Fit
by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunday, January 27, 2008

White Elephant

So they say one's trash is another's treasure, and every year, people have White Elephant parties just to try and prove it's true. Usually we discover that one's trash is another's... white elephant gift for next year's party by the same name.

The 20- & 30-somethings group at my church hosts one of these exchanges every year in January as a post-holiday party, and this was my first year attending. Apparently there are some gifts that have been around year after year, and some people who notorious for bringing doozies. Those are the people who sneak in the room with their wrapped gift inside a paper grocery bag, and quietly slip it on to the pile when no one's looking.

So the exchange begins and I have number 16 in the open/grab/steal game. By the time my turn came up, tension was beginning to build as no one's gift had been stolen yet. But I had my eye on something under the basic premise that I'd rather take home something known rather than opening a gift from the unknown pile.

So here's what I ended up with:

Yes, that's right, a lamp shaped like a purse. Cheesy. Silly. And I love it. It happens to coordinate with the vintage fashion and shoes theme in my bathroom, so I figured, why not? It actually works, after all. So I brought it home and I'll enjoy it for a while.

When I get sick of it, however, you might want to avoid opening any white elephant gifts I bring to a party. Hehee.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday: Christmas Pictures

No, not my Christmas pictures - YOURS!

In other words: What happens to your Christmas picture after it arrives in my mailbox?

A few years ago, I decided it would be fun to start a Christmas scrapbook of all the fun holiday photo cards I received in the mail. Only I wasn't quite satisfied with that. Why? Because to put all the photos in a scrapbook means that while well-preserved, I don't get as much enjoyment out of them.

Now, instead of immediately putting them into an album, the year's pictures enjoy a long layover on a bulletin board before they reach their final destination. I've just finished updating the bulletin board, and will spend the next 11-12 months enjoying it. As for the stack of photos that was just removed to make room? Better get scrappin'!

So this week, I'm thankful for the photos I will now enjoy all year, and thankful for what they represent: friends and family I'm blessed to have in my life.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday: Free SBucks

Ok, just for starters, I am aware that it's already Friday. Trust me, someone who regularly celebrates TGIF has not overlooked that it is mere hours until the weekend. I just didn't get online last night to get this post done. (Have I mentioned that I hate dial up? Ooops. Supposed to be thankful in this post. Guess I'll shift gears.)

The committment of a weekly post has turned into something I'm not quite sure what to do with. I worry that my posts should be profound and deep, highlighting some great spiritual truth or amazing change of attitude on my part. Will people think less of me if my thankful posts are about silly things? Like cute shoes?

So I'm taking the pressure off myself. I'm going to blog about whatever I'm thankful for in the moment, remembering that the whole point was to practice gratitude, and that should apply to big things and small things.

(Are you still there? Are you wondering if I'm going to get to the point? Here it is.)

This week, I'm thankful for Starbucks. Not just my venti skinny iced latte, but my FREE venti skinny iced latte. I know! Starbucks is never free! So, here's what happened. A friend at work has a daughter who works at Starbucks, and came into some passes that offered customers a free drink every day for one week. Knowing that I just love Starbucks, she gave one of the passes to me. How cool is that?

Seriously, the only thing that would be better would be having Starbucks with you. Just for fun, if you reply to this post... share your favorite coffee house drink. It will be just like you are here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On a Related Note...

... to yesterday's post, I heard this quote today:

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."

- Steve Jobs

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year, New Dreams

It's a new year, and that means it's that time of year for thinking about goals and how to reach them. My 2007 was driven mostly by reacting to life, and I'm ready for something different in 2008... I'm ready to make some things happen. I'm tired of just taking whatever life hands me and having to somehow find contentment in that. Somehow, I've finally figured out that if I want something to change about my life, it's up to me to make it happen.

Some people are innately driven, I guess, and they figured out a long time ago how to set a goal, define the steps needed to reach the goal, then tackle them one at a time. I'm not one of those people. Guess I was a slow learner that way. So, I hope 2008 is a year of change. Wait. Let me re-state that: 2008 WILL be a year of change for me. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thankful Thursday

For those keeping track, I've overlooked posting for Thankful Thursday not once but twice. Ooops. Guess it takes a while to develop a habit!

This week, I'm thankful for a new opportunity to participate at my church by singing with the praise team. Last night, I went to my first rehearsal, and will sing with the team this Sunday. One of the reasons I've loved doing this in the past was the extra opportunity to spend some time in worship during rehearsal.

When I was growing up, our church sang from hymnals. I can remember loving to sing from a very young age. I listened to "Psalty" tapes endlessly. Now my worship music collection fills more than one visor CD holder in my car. Actually, that's one of the reasons I was invited to consider joining the praise team. Danae, one of my church friends who is involved with worship planning, was carpooling with me and she noticed my worship music addiction... er, collection. Dontcha just love it when something like that happens?

OK, one more funny story... I mentioned to my friend Randy that I was going to start singing at church. Obviously, my choice of words was wrong... although he fully knew my meaning was that I would be starting to sing on the praise team, he couldn't help responding, "Well, I hope you've been singing all along." Thanks, smart aleck.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How to Make Your Own Disco Ball (or learn how to do just about anything)

One day, I stumbled on this website that offers a "How to" of the day. These range from practical to creative to just weird. When I ran across this entry, I knew I couldn't keep this website a secret any longer! You have to check out How to Make a Disco Ball with CD's!

Also, when on this page, near the upper right corner there is a link marked Random Article. If you're bored... try clicking on this to see what you get, maybe you'll learn something unique/weird/useful like I did when I was bored today...
How to cheat at Card Games
How to Blend in With the Dark (This one begins: "Whether you're a spy or just playing an especially spirited game of hide and seek...." I'm a spy, of course.)
How to Clean Soap Scum from Glass Shower Doors
How to Sleep in Class (Where was this when I needed it???!!?)
How to Cook for a Date (Mr. Right - are you reading this?)