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Originally from Texas, I am a reader, writer, pseudo-gardener, baker, record collecting student working on my Ph.D. in the Midwest.

Thursday, December 30

How many days in a year?

Me: How many days are in a year? 365?

Husband: Ummm.

Me: or 364?

Husband: I dunno.

Together: *Google-ing* how many days in a year?

Google: 365.242199

Husband: 365.25

Me: .242 does not round up to .25.

Husband: Fine, 365 days.

Me: Where did 364 come from?

Husband: I don't know. Wrong. Just wrong.

Crimbo

Isn't that a fun name? Shutter Sisters named this week between Christmas and New Year's that. I'm not that creative.

Anyhow, hello end of Crimbo!

I've missed blogging. I'm really impressed by people who kept it up during the holiday; I just couldn't write with my parents here.  I missed them too much. In fact, I only pulled out my laptop twice while they were here, and the husband never pulled his out. That is really impressive for us.

Anyway, this is not a post about my missing of blogging (though I did).  This post is about how I love this week in between because it gives me a chance to think. I've been out of school long enough to not be thinking about that business and far enough from starting up the spring semester to not be worrying.  So, I get to think. And, of course, I think about the previous year.

It's been a pretty good year. Especially these last few months.  So many things just came together for me beginning in September. I busted my ass over the summer putting in 50-60 hour weeks working since we were recovering from both being unemployed and moving across country and yadda yadda.

The husband found a job he adores.
I finally started feeling like I was making it in the program and loving seeing clients.
The course load was ridiculous (I was clearly feeling spunky when I decided to do 11 hours), but I was enchanted by it.
We made it through some tough spots in our baby marriage. 

And, because we actually had an income (ahem, I wasn't worrying about electricity, rent, food, etc.), I was able to start taking care of myself. And by that, I started doing things which made me feel happy.
 

I started slowing down.
I started writing.
I started taking photos.
I started learning about typography.
I started dancing more.
I started reading again.
I started teaching.
I started meditating.  


This year, I've felt whole. I've felt better. I've felt loved and appreciated. It's been a good year.

I don't do resolutions. I just don't; they never end up well. But, I want to focus on my connections, on being creative, on living life, on my spirit. I want to get my health in check and exercise. I want to stop eating out and cook more. I want my husband to teach me stuff.  More than anything, I want to go into 2011 intentionally. 

How do y'all do things intentionally?

Sunday, December 26

Happy Holidays!

Photo from: Shannon Claire B-Side Images
Maybe a day late, but the sentiment is all the same.

See you guys after the New Year!

Tuesday, December 21

#reverb10 -- Day 21

Today's #reverb10 is kind of a cool one.

They asked us to write about where we see ourselves in 5 years from today.  However, I answer that question on a nearly daily basis (hazards of being in graduate school).  The flip side to that question was write a letter to yourself 10 years ago.  Most bloggers (well, the ones I read) are in their late twenties and early thirties. However, I am not. Ten years ago, I was 13 and I was headed out of and toward some pretty traumatic stuff, so I decided to write that letter. 


Dear 13 year old me:

Did you know that you're beautiful? You really truly are and you will appreciate your beauty more once you turn 23 and look back at all those photos that you hate having taken. You have a lot going on for you right now.  You're at the end of the middle of your 7th grade year and you are totally lost and hurting and confused and scared.  I know, I remember. And you're not taking care of yourself.  You've also made some fairly shady friends in that big world of yours and that's going to bite you in the butt. But, for now, they're loving you and celebrating you and making you feel wonderful, and I'm glad you feel that way.  You don't get to feel that way often enough.

But, darling, I wish you would tell your truth.  That's what is eating you alive and what is making life really hard for you. I know it's scary but I think it might help you.  I understand why you don't, I know that the thought of what has happened is just too much to bear and lying about everything makes things feel better.  And it will, for a little while.  It's how you're coping right now, and that's okay.  Life is tough and sometimes it gets better and sometimes it doesn't.  But, I want you to know you are love.  You don't love yourself and there are only a handful of people who you think love you, but I promise you there are more. More and more than you will ever know.  Did you know that you have even inspired some people? Yes, you. There's even someone who looks up to you, but you won't know that until later.  That's how amazing you are. Even when you're lost and terrified, there are people who look up to you and people who you inspire.  Isn't that special? Aren't you special?

I know, now, that our truth won't be told for about 12 years. That's a long time and those secrets hurt us a lot.  But, love, when you do decide to tell, you tell an amazing woman.  A woman who won't judge you for anything that happened. A woman who tells you to love yourself and forgive yourself, because none of it was your fault. Did you hear that? None of it was our fault.  And none of it is worth the pain that you put yourself through. It truly isn't.

I also want you to know what amazing intuition you have.  You feel it in the bottom of your belly.  It kind of feels like when you're thinking about crying (and you should cry, way more often) and you get those tingles in your spine and in your belly? That's your intuition.  And it's almost always spot on.  Listen to it, because it would help you get out of some jams you find yourself in. 

Also, you're an amazing judge of character.  You really are. You can meet a person and decide who they are and you're almost always right.  Listen to that.  There's only one person you've ever been wrong with, but you ended up marrying him so that's okay. And he's amazing, by the way. He'll help you love yourself, so trust him when he comes along.

You're also searching for god. You're looking for him because you ache and you wonder if he could even be real. Let me tell you that your questioning is core to who you are. As of now, you haven't given up on God, but that search that you have just started, that search makes your faith deeper and stronger and more beautiful.  You're open to so many new ideas and ways to see things, and that helps you make some amazing connections, because, I know that you're striving for connection to somebody. A connection that will shake you to your core and you are looking in all the wrong places.  That connection comes for you, love, listen for it.

More than anything, my dear 13 Year Old Self, I want you to take time for you. I want you to let your mom take pictures of you when you're happy and when you're sad.  I want you to know that life gets better.  I want you to know that you do end up in Ph.D. school (and it's amazing), and you do make some amazing friends who will honestly support you, love you, and celebrate you.  I want you to know how glad I am to be on the other side of all that pain and to know that you will get there to. Life is worth living, and you genuinely make this world a better place because you're here.

Love,
Your 23 Year Old Self.

Friday, December 17

TGIF {3}

Note: TGIF stands for Trust, Gratitude, and Inspiration Friday.  It's the brain child of BrenĂ© Brown. She writes that it comes from the idea that joy is more like twinkle lights because it comes only in moments, those ordinary, everyday moments.  But, we miss those because we're so busy wanting more, or looking for something more extraordinary. "I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration."


This week I am trusting that I can relax and enjoy this break from school. It's surprisingly hard to do. 

I am grateful for finishing my semester. The first of my second year of my Ph.D. program.
And friends.
And wine.
And laughter.
And 750words.

And, I am inspired by the lights of the season. I love this time of the year, even though I am typically more sad.  It's just so beautiful and glowly and warm. I love walking into our apartment with all the Christmas lights on and smiling because it's just lovely. And, I hope our decorations make people driving by smile too.

What's your TGIF?

Thursday, December 16

#reverb10 -- day 16

Oooh! I'm doing another one! In order! I'm patting myself on the back.

When this reverb hit my inbox, I felt like I had to write about it, because there's a lot to talk about.  Also because in the author photo, the necklace she is wearing is one of the husbands tattoo's, and who could pass that up? It's meant to be.
December 16 – Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
(Author: Martha Mihalick)
This year, I have been amazed at the friendships which are slowly opening to me.  I feel like I still have a lot of acquaintances, but I am definitely opening myself to friends, which I have not done in ages. I also came to peace with two friendships which ended, and that changed me to. 

Those two, which ended for good this year were painful. Super painful. They both meant a lot to me, and I lost them both throughout the wedding planning process and that loss was solidified this year. But without that pain, I don't know if I would have opened myself to others who are so beautiful.

Who have infectious spirits and laughs and humor. d

How have the friendships of these people changed me? I've learned to trust. I've learned to be authentic. I'm still not 100% open, because it's scary and I worry about friendships ending, but I'm working on that business. I've learned that I love these people for what they've taught me and for what they will and for how they've all supported me, even if they didn't know it.  I'm grateful for all of them, even the ones which have hurt me because those are just growing pains

And, because I like pictures:

 

This isn't everyone. There are many of whom I don't have pictures of.
So, for everyone who has been a friend to me this year, thank you.

Wednesday, December 15

#reverb10 -- day 15

Remember #reverb10? And, my first one?

Here's today's:
December 15 – 5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. 

Even the husband did it!

Here we go!

traveling: chicago, colorado, indiana and around nebrasaka
apple picking
dancing in our new apartment with records on
learning how to cook more than 5 dishes, and cooking better
moving to a beautiful home and decorating
chet being hired at his dream place
me getting an assistantship
starting to write again
buying my new camera
making my way through being a wife
moving church locations
having fun people visit us
learning about gardens
finding music i love
creating my life list
baking
becoming more authentic and vulnerable
making new friends
snow! lots of it! 
having four seasons
completeing my first year of graduate school
starting my second year of ph.d. school
learning to do more with less money
having money to do more with 
completing something on my life list 

and, my five minutes are up.  What are the things you want to remember about 2010 in 5 minutes? 

patience on this journey

dear heart:

you're lovely, did you know that? 

you and me, we're at a really beautiful place right now.  we're at this place where we happen to be listening to eachother. well, perhaps i'm just listening to you, finally. 

i'm hearing that i've neglected you in a lot of ways. i haven't always paid attention, and i haven't always listened to the little messages which you've sent me. 

and now? and now i am. i hope it's not too late. i'm slowly learning that you have a lot of really good things to say about me, about my values, about my faith, about my work.

but i hope that you'll be patient with me, because i'm experiencing growing pains.  do you know how hard it is to be vulnerable with people and to show those not so perfect and pretty sides?  it is. it's especially hard when i've protected you and myself for so long. 

and, as we're 10 days from christmas, with all the lights shining, and the darkness enveloping, i know that i'm ready. 
and i know that i couldn't ask for a better companion on this journey. 

with all my love

Tuesday, December 14

Monday, December 13

Action and Life Lists

Today's reverb is: Action.  More specifically, what action are you going to take to move you to the next step.

Which I just think is the absolute perfect way to share my life list with all y'all.

See that new page that's opened up at the top? It's this one.

It's my life list.  It's things which I want to do before I go. It's how I want to enjoy my life.

I've kept something similar in my head and on scraps of paper, in conversations and in journals, but I've never compiled it all in one place.  So here it is.  My life list will grow and change, though, as I grow and change.  Because, I am only twenty-three, and I still have lots of life left in me and lots I want to do with it.

As I complete goals, I'll write about them, because that's just fun. 

So, what is my first step to something on this list? Hmm? Well, I am going to work on a wedding quilt over the break.  That feels just a little bit anti-climatic, but it's true.  And it's a fantastic way to start my list.  Because, really, I can't just go fly a plane without taking a few lessons, right?

What's something you want to do, dear internets?

P.S. I'm this {} close to being done for the semester. Yay!

Sunday, December 12

#reverb10 -- Day 12

Have you ever heard of Reverb10?

I heard about it from my mentor and wanted to do it. But for some reason, I just didn't want to blog about it. So, I checked the prompts and thought about them, talked about them in a round-a-bout way with husband or someone else, but I didn't blog.

However, I've decided to blog (sporadically) about some of them.Or maybe all. We'll see.

Today's Reverb is about the mind and body being integrated. When have I felt that way?

Friday, December 10

When We Stop Counting

I'm not supposed to be blogging, I know. Stupid Finals.

But! I had to share this and since I don't have access to facebook, here we go.

Last night, I was at a screening for the documentary, When We Stop Counting, which follows 6 highschoolers in Crete Nebraska.



It was beautiful.

Whatever you believe on immigration reform, this was powerful. It was these kids stories. It humanized the debate. It talked about the fact that immigration isn't always dangerous or bad.

But mostly, it's about a community which embraced the immigrants coming in and helped them to make a better life, rather than pushing them back.

Immigration is inevitable. It happens. It has always happened. It will always happen. What I hate, though, is the negativeness surrounding immigration, because it doesn't have to be negative.

Sadly, you can't watch it. Not because I don't want you to, (oh I do!) but because it's currently just local. They're raising money to hopefully send off to PBS to be aired though, so maybe you can see it one day, interwebs.

Okay. Back to my finals.

Interview with the Directors

Wednesday, December 8

Fall Finals

Hello internets!

I am in the middle of finals, so this is a love note saying that I will not be blogging until I have this semester nicely wrapped up and with a bow on top.

I'm shooting for Monday.

Wish me luck, and know that when I come back there will be all kinds of awesomeness to discuss. For example my birthday, and my birthday party (with hats!), holiday decoration, and cinnamon roll making.

Be patient and send me good vibes,
Love,
Nicole

Monday, December 6

Remember that weekend when...

Friday was busy.

Husband and I wandered around The Haymarket for a bit after he rescued me from school...

He kicked a tumbleweed






Then we went to a gallery opening for which we had been photographed. Think of Awkward Family Photos meets Festivus.
Image is all Shannon's from B-Side Images.

From there we booked it to a Hanukkah party, complete with Latkes, Driedels, and lighting the candles.  There were also veggies and wine as with any good party.

 
 
 

From that amazingness we headed back home to play pitch with friends of ours. If you haven't heard of pitch, that's okay. You're just missing out on a pretty fantastic card game.  It's a lot like one of the domino games that I grew up with, just with cards.

 
 

P.S. Trader Joe's opened here on Friday. So clearly we had to drink a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

And this was just Friday.  Actually, Saturday and Sunday were filled with me working as we're at the end of the semester (blah).

Hope all of you, dear internets, had a fabulous weekend.

Friday, December 3

TGIF {2}

TGIF stands for Trust, Gratitude, and Inspiration Friday.  It's the brain child of BrenĂ© Brown. She writes that it comes from the idea that joy is more like twinkle lights because it comes only in moments, those ordinary, everyday moments.  But, we miss those because we're so busy wanting more, or looking for something more extraordinary. "I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration."
Vintage TypewriterThis week, I'm trusting that I can make it through the next couple of weeks while feeling drained. 
I'm grateful for my husband who helps me stay sane while trying to get through everything. I'm also incredibly grateful for my new camera, and the way I'm expressing myself with it.
And I'm inspired by the fact that I have friends who are close to getting their Ph.d.'s and moving forward, because it tells me that I can do this, and I can do this with my husband. I'm also inspired by my typewriter.

Thursday, December 2

Book Thoughts: The Last Song

by Nicholas Spark

I picked this up from the free shelf at the bookstore the other day.  Even though I despise books with the movie poster covers, it was free so why complain? 

I had given up on Nicholas Sparks in September of 2007 when he made me cry my eyes out on an airplane back from a conference in {gorgeous} San Diego.  I was done.  Well, we all know where this leads to...

I started wanting to read him again recently {hey, 3 years? that's impressive}. I'd heard good things about Safe Haven, and Dear John the Movie was good so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Well, I did the uncute cry thing again finishing it yesterday, but it did have my wonderful fairy tale ending I wanted... so that made up for it.  Overall, pretty good book. And now I will be returning it to the free shelf.  Pass it on guys, pass it on.

Wednesday, December 1

Exhausted

The cursor is blinking at me as I try to figure out what to write.

I'm tired. I'm stretched too thin.  I did too much, volunteered for too much, and there's so much more I want to do.  I haven't had a good nights sleep in I don't know how long.  Apartment is too cold.  One of our pets died. There's so much going on.

Tonight, we're hosting Belated Thanksgiving at our apartment.  It's not cleaned. It's not dirty, but since the husband and I are "setter downers" (according to him), it's cluttered with papers. We're not unpacked.

I have a meeting at 2:30 and another at 6:30.  The dinner begins at 7. 

I have homework to do. Lots of it because I fell behind.  I have two tests to prepare for.  I have two papers to write, and 5 chapters to read, mostly buy tomorrow.

I'm stretched too thin and that makes it hard to write, even though it's what I love doing.

For now, I'll do as Dori does and just keep going, hoping for a respite soon.