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It’s Okay to be Scared. Being Scared Means You’re About to do Something Really Brave.

Fear is a scary thing! And, so many times, the fear we feel is exaggerated by our own thoughts!

I had to recently think about this quite a bit as I was making decisions about what I want to look like in my second half! I spent so many years living in a box…the box of getting up each day, driving to work (anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes), working for someone who made the rules, driving back home (another 15 to 45 minutes), cramming a workout and time with my family into my 2-3 hours before bed (and most nights I would end up completely exhausted by that bedtime), go to bed…only to wake up and do it all over again! Yes, I had some time off from work to relax, but I used this time to do the things necessary for life…appointments, work/repairs around the house, and maybe a minute or two to spend with friends. And what I realized was that I was not living the life I wanted for me! But, change is terrifying!

So, I did what any other normal (what is normal anyway) person would do, I had to have a little pep talk with myself. This quote has definitely been one of those phrases I had to keep repeating to myself through it all. I finally realized that life is just scary…period! And, if I stay right where I am, will I come to the end with regrets of not trying something new…and that caused fear. Or, if I do branch out, what would this new life look like…so much different than the structure of my career in public education…also terrifying! I just had to choose my scary, right?

But, what if the quote is right? What if when you do encounter a scary decision in life…and make a decision about it, one way or the other, it leads you to amazing changes! What if it leads you to the most success you have ever had? And, what if it leads you to a life where you have NO regrets?

So, my friends…I say no matter what life throws at you, be brave! Don’t take the easy road…take the one that you feel is right for you! Live the life you have always dreamed about! How awesome would that be!!!!! Until next time! Cheri ❤️

Throughout my many years, I have had several opportunities to reinvent my life. Sometimes on purpose, and sometimes because life just has that funny way of hitting us when we least expect it! A Girl and Her Dog Coaching services are here to support you as you work through finding what you desire in life, and learning how to go get it! If you would like more information or are ready to begin working with us at a deeper level, click the link below! I look forward to our journey together!

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Your Inner Circle…and Your Outer Circle!

Today was a great day! I got to spend a minute seeing some of my oldest and dearest friends! These ladies looked great…as we have all grown older these days! These ladies are people I can walk in a room with and feel like I have not missed a minute with them! If you are reading this, you know who you are!!!!

It’s funny…I was actually out running the other morning and thinking about my friends! As any of you know as runners in the Houston summer heat…you have to get your mind on something else! Well, yesterday I put my thoughts on my friends. I was a transplant…which means that I left my family and friends from my childhood and went somewhere totally new, away from every one I knew, to begin my adult life and my career. As a teacher, and very people-y type of people, we find each other quickly and get close even quicker…especially when you are a transplant! I love my friends that quickly became my family!

These friends also became my network in my educational journey! I went from classroom teacher to campus administrator with many of them right by my side! I can meet up with them, share anything that is stressing me in my career and get the BEST advice!! And, they understand my overwhelming number of hours spent on work, when may be not everyone else in my life does not! They are truly my rock, my ride or dies, my FAMILY!

As I transition into my new life…a new relationship, a career change, just about everything I have done up to the age of 51 differently…how do my friends fit? This is something I think about daily. They know me as “the principal”… they know me as “the mom”…they know me as “the divorced woman”. Will they know me as the Online Entrepreneur? Will they know me as “the business woman” that I am destined to be?

I learned many, many years ago, people definitely come into your life for a reason or a season. I have a friend that I got very close with during my divorce…she supported me and my really bad decisions during that time…and although we catch up every once in a while, we do not see each other daily nor do we feel the need to connect each and every day. She was brought to me for a reason during a specific season in my life. Now, on the other hand, I have one very dear, dear friend that was by myside pre-divorce, during the separation, and continues to be one of my closest friends….she was brought into my world for a reason…but she is here to stay for sure!

So, as we think about our friends, and who is in our inner and outer circles, here are my thoughts:

  • Sometimes there are people who come into your world to support you through a difficult time. They are there for every step of the way, but when it is all over and you feel back on your feet, their friendship begins to fade. This does not mean that they were not a great friend…quite the opposite! You needed them…and maybe they needed you to need them! And, once you were back on your feet, their work was done! Embrace these friends! Don’t let them completely fade out of your world as they were very important to you at some point! I recommend contacting them today and tell them how important they have been to you!
  • Sometimes there are people that show up in your life, for a reason you have no idea about, and they become one of those people you find you need more than you ever thought! These are your go-to’s! They are there when you need a friend, they are there when you need advice…and hopefully in return, you provide the same support! These are not your every day conversations, but when one of you need each other, they are there!
  • Sometimes you find those that have all of the drive and ambition you have…and they are your network of people! They have a similar work situation as you…and they can not only recommend and support you, but you can do the exact same for them! They are your crew and you know you need to appreciate them every day…as work may not get done without them!
  • And, sometimes, if you are very lucky…you find your true family! Your chosen people you surround yourself with that are more to you than they will ever know! You grow together, learn together, and find yourselves together! Not every one finds this! Only the lucky ones! I know, as I found this in my crew long ago…and when I walk in a room 2o something years later, they are still there for me…smiling…asking questions…wondering how life is going…and always there as a support! These are the people you will love forever and never stop calling “family”!

As you work through your upcoming week, think about your inner and outer circle. Remember to always be sure they know who they are…how much your appreciate them…and do onto them exactly what you would want them to do for you! I know I could not have made my journey through my adult life in the way I have without anyone of the people in my circles! Thank you for all you do! Until next time! ❤️Cheri

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If the Plan Doesn’t Work, Change the Plan, Not the Goal!

Hey y’all! Working through so many things these days getting my business off the ground! I am currently working on a Reflection Journal for Women to think about being a strong woman and living their best life. As I have been researching, I find that I have so many quotes/sayings that I absolutely love, can relate to, and want to share with the world! So…I have decided to provide an extra blog post each week with one of my favorite quotes and how it relates to me.

I have been working recently with a client on mindset and how to build confidence in one’s self. I find that if I determine what I want, set a goal, make an action plan, and work the plan, it gets me to my end result. Now, I won’t say that I have always met every goal working through my original plan…I have definitely learned to pivot throughout my life. And that is exactly what I think about when I see this quote…”If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.”

So many people in the world believe that if something gets hard or uncomfortable, the plan is not working, which means they will never reach their goal. Setting big goals, goals worth working toward, mean that you are going to get uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean your plan isn’t working. However, sometimes, our first action plan isn’t the best way to accomplish a goal…which is perfectly ok. It just means you need to make an adjustment, not give up on the goal all together!

So, my advice to you…if you find yourself in this situation, is to first breathe! Then pivot. I have listed a few ways I adjust below.

  • Look at what is working and, of course, isn’t working. Parts of the plan may be helping you get exactly what you want…don’t reinvent the whole wheel if you just need a few adjustments.
  • For those action steps that are not working, think about how you can adjust them. Reflecting on why they are not helping you reach your goal will be important. Knowing this can help you know how to adjust.
  • Make your adjustments early…as soon as you realize that something isn’t working. This will definitely help you stay on track with your goal as you won’t get so off track and find it feels impossible to keep going.

Goal setting and having plans to accomplish these goals are very important to have in life, especially if you are working to design a life you love! If you need additional assistance, please feel free to reach out. I can help you get yourself set up with some great goals and action plans that will get you exactly where you want to go! Until next time! Cheri ❤️

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When to Take Small Steps…and Big Leaps!

Hey everyone! Well, it definitely is summer here in Houston! I was out for a run today and it was HOT! I plan to run a 5k on July 4, so I am working to get myself ready so I am not the last one to cross the line…but today’s run was ugly! I am guessing I need to make some better choices on timing so I am not out there in the over 100 degree feel like temps!

But, running is always my think time…it gives me time to sweat out the impurities and breath in new air…and process through things that are on my mind. I definitely needed this time today, as my life has gotten a bit complicated lately…all good, but just a bit messy. On the run, I started thinking about my next steps in my career. As you know, A Girl and Her Dog launched its first course last month and I have a customer! Yay! I keep telling myself to expect small steps that will eventually lead to success. But, as I was thinking today, when is it time to take a big leap? There was actually a point in my life that I embraced the motto…go big or go home…and that is all I did!

So, back to reality and thinking about these big leaps…how, in the world of business and change, do you know when it is the time to take bigger steps? Every business is unique and in the world today, there is so many pieces of uncertainty, it is wise to take bigger action? But, if we don’t go out and make big moves, will we always stay small? These are the thoughts that are constantly running through my mind…knowing that I have a plan in my head, a vision for what my business will be, and goals set to meet…am I ready to take big leaps????

Well, here is the outcome of my thoughts…I am going for it! Now, I will stay smart…but I have lived my life in a box for so many years…it is time for me to step out of that box and share my knowledge and experiences with others! And, hoping to help anyone who works with me find that my support will help them design the life they dream to live!

Stay tuned for more! I am excited to keep you all posted as I embark on these big leaps! Cheri❤️

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Social Media is GREAT…Until You Have to Show UP!

So, if you have been following my blog, you all know I recently “launched” my business! And, with it, my first paid course. Now, in my mind, the whole “launch” would be very Sex and the City like…with the party, the people, and the (social) media! And, I am proud to say…the party was perfect, the people showed up, and yes, the social media posts received a lot of traffic! Social media is GREAT!

As the weeks have gone by since the launch, I have been learning and growing, and finding out that most of my more popular posts are the ones with me in the photos. Ugh! Until recently, I really have not been the type of person who likes their photo taken, let alone video and multiple photos posted for the world to see! Social media is GREAT…until you have to show up!

As I am also learning, in person networking, although starting to make a come back since the pandemic, is not the most effective way these days to get your name out there, especially if you are an online business. And, TV and advertisements in magazines and newspapers are definitely a thing of the past. So, this old girl will need to adjust with the times and begin launching into new areas. But what about my anxiety with my picture being taken…although I did sign up for an online business, right? Let me share some ways I am learning to overcome my fear of social media posting and getting my name out there!

  • I have learned that my picture is not the worst…and how to focus on the right angles when taking pictures is very helpful! I recently posted a live video on Facebook from my phone. I am not sure what I was doing, but you can clearly see that the angle of the camera was the worst! I came up from the bottom, which I have learned, you must take the photo with the angle at the top. A little adjustment, but it sure did make a difference!
  • I am one to certainly look the part when I am at my day job, but once I would get home, I would quickly change into something much more comfortable. Well, this was a lesson learned as well. When you are going live, if you are speaking about supporting women and all the things, including dressing for success, you can’t just wear any old thing. I have learned that when taking pictures and making videos, I want to show up as my best self! I plan out my clothes and take the pictures or videos before getting comfy in the evening!
  • It is not only about what you wear, but how you wear it! I called my daughter after a live video one day, laughing. She could hardly understand me, as I was laughing at myself so hard! I had to retake my live video that day because after posting it and watching it, I saw that half of my chest was hanging out of my shirt! Yikes! Don’t need to give anyone a peep show! Now, I am sure I am seated appropriately and that my clothes are not hanging in a strange, revealing way! And, definitely preview before posting!
  • My voice…since I was a kid I have always thought it sounded bad. I think we all do…when we first hear our own voice, we tend to judge it a bit too harshly! I was always too worried that I sounded too much like my mother…long story…and so I had to learn to accept it for what it is. As a teacher and now a campus administrator, I speak publicly often…but I don’t usually hear my voice recording back. This has been a thing to get used to…but I have learned, we all have something about ourselves we wish was different and can’t change. If I wait until I love the sound of my own voice, I may never get started to begin with…so I am learning to accept those things I cannot change!

There are many positives to this whole social media marketing as well! I know that it is certainly a great, free way to get attention to my blog and business! And, many opportunities to see how others handle some of the same hurdles that I have getting my business off the ground! So, I am working on reframing my mindset around this whole social media advertising…Social Media is GREAT! And that is my new mantra! Until next time! Cheri ❤️

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Learning and Evolving!

Hey y’all! It has been a minute since I have had time to write, but here I am! Back at it! Let me tell you, for sure, so many great things have been happening! If you follow me on social media, you have seen all the things!

These last couple of months have been a lot of learning, a lot of stepping out of the box, and lot of new things! I launched my first course! Yay! I also have links to my coaching services! It is a lot of remembering to take baby steps…especially for this ADHD girl who wants it all to happen now! In addition, I have started working on a few other projects that will be launched soon. So more info to come!

I have been thinking about starting a podcast, but wanted to see what would happen with video blogging. So, I now have a You Tube channel. It is a bit slow, as I know people love passive listening, rather than active…but I am wanting to give it a shot! You can definitely find the link for the channel below as well!

So, just a quick note today to update y’all! I will include all links to everything below! Come check me out! And, above all else, don’t hesitate to share feedback or ways I can help you be the best you! Cheri ❤️

You Tube – Cheri@agirlandherdog

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJZTFr537zR9hw7wGBtCtbA

Facebook – A Girl and Her Dog

https://www.facebook.com/A-Girl-and-Her-Dog-105721968311847

Instagram – @agirlandherdog19

https://www.instagram.com/agirlandherdog19/

Courses and Coaching

a-girl-and-her-dog.teachable.com/p/a-mindset-challenge-with-a-girl-and-her-dog

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Mother, Mom, Mommy, Mama! I am them all!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I had an amazing day…and I HOPE you did as well!

My journey to motherhood was not your typical one! At 16 years old, I believed I would probably never marry, and never have children. I knew I wanted to teach, but the great thing about teaching is that when the day is over…you send them HOME! At 19, surprise! I was a mom! And…from the moment I saw her face, I was absolutely in LOVE! She has made me the best version of me…and I love the title of Mom!

My own childhood was very untraditional, and if anyone asked, my relationship with my own biological mother was not ideal. Yes, I had other mother figures who came into my life and helped me be the strong woman I am, but I cannot credit my own mother. So, it will not surprise anyone that I did not aspire to this role. But when I was put in the role, also not surprising to my closet people, I was only going to do it to the best of my ability! Am I the BEST mom…well, I am human so…I have made my fair share of mistakes, but I have learned a few things along the way…and I think I have done a pretty good job of being the world’s “OKAYEST” mom! And that makes me proud!

Let me share a few lessons I have learned along the way!

  • It is ok to not know how to do everything! Let me tell you, my kid is pretty perfect! She is funny, smart, kind, and just a well rounded human. And, I did not always know how I raised this human to be so great! But, I know, I did my best. If I did not know how to do something, I asked those around me…and although I knew I did not just want to be that person who was giving me advice, I took what they said and made it my own.
  • Kids don’t get to make the rules. As we sat and had dinner tonight, I was definitely reminded of this. We as adults have to take the responsibility for the life we are making for our kids. It is ok to mess up, but just take responsibility. The line tonight was, “well, you chose to sit outside”, as the 4 year old was complaining of the heat and wind on the restaurant patio. Really? The 4 year old made this decision? I won’t continue to dwell on this, but I learned early on, my child is a child. She needed to be guided and molded into a person who learned to make decisions, but she did not make them before she was ready!
  • Let them try new things! I had a hard time with this…I will admit! I wanted my kid to experience everything I did not get to in life…and in feeling this way, I probably “encouraged” her to choose things that I wanted her to do. I had to finally realize, she isn’t me, and if she wanted to do something I would never dream of doing, it is OK! Let them! They will never know what they love about life if they cannot experience it!
  • And, my hardest lesson….and until recently, I still over protected my child…even at the age of 31! Let them experience a productive struggle! Kids need to learn that not everything is going to work out for them…as much as this kills us on the inside…and they have to learn how to recover from these set backs! If we always protect them and fix everything for them, how do they become problem solvers in life? The answer is…they don’t! And they will want you to fix everything for them for the rest of their lives. Productive struggle is not a bad thing….and I have finally learned this. And, happy to report, my child is productively problem solving every day successfully since I have learned my lesson! 😊

I have done a lot of fabulous things in my life! I also say, I feel pretty successful in most of them! Being a mom has been one of my most joyous experiences in life! I love my girl more than anything in the world, and I am so very grateful for all of the hard work and support I have been able to show her so that she can now be the best human I know today! I have also learned how important the role of parent is and just how much power we have on the outcome of our children’s lives. It is a serious job…and I would not change it for the world! Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there…not matter what your role is in your child’s life! Until next time! ❤️Cheri

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Patience in a World of Instant Gratification

I was out for a steamy run this morning. I think this is one of those years when Houston forgot Spring and jumped from Winter to Summer. As I was out there, so many thoughts were going in my mind. The Fence Guy and I were having a conversation recently about our future workout room, and he mentioned he would want a treadmill. Now, if you have read my posts, I avoid the treadmill at all costs, but today, with the sun beating down in the 85 degree 10:30 am morning, with feel like temperatures already at 90, the treadmill crossed my mind. But, I gave myself the little pep talk that I always do when uncomfortable (ok girl, you can do this, let’s just think about one step at a time…you will be finished in no time) and I made it through the run!

I married very young. And, as we transitioned to our first home (an efficiency apartment for our family of three), I wanted it all…and I wanted it all NOW! I remember thinking, why can’t we have a house, like our parents, and why can’t we have the car we want…I knew in my mind that being a college student, a new wife, a mom, having a husband that was working hours just to get food on our table, and me working full time to pay bills, we were not at the place where we could have it all right then….and that is when I had to learn the lesson of patience.

So many times in my 50 years, I look back and think about how I had to remind myself of the same saying I said on my run today, one step at a time, so that I could keep myself motivated and on track, and from making a serious mistake in wanting it all in the moment. But, it is not easy…the world is a different place these days…all the social media posts with people flaunting how they have it all! It makes it hard to find the patience!

So how do we stay patient in the world of instant gratification? How do we remember, when we want something so badly, that we must put the work in? Here are my thoughts:

  • When I am in the thick of it all and wanting something more than anything, I step back and remember, what lasts in life comes from the time and hard work you put in. Sure, we see people who win that lottery…those that find the trick to going viral, but does that produce benefits in the long run? I have known people who have literally won the lottery, and too soon later, the money is gone because they had the itch for the instant gratification.
  • In my career, I have had many leadership opportunities, which landed in my lap right at the right time. However, I have known others who have landed that “dream” job with little effort and experience….and then they have failed. Leading is a very difficult job and if you are not putting in the work to prepare yourself for when times get hard, how will you be able to persevere and do your best? I wanted to be on the fast track in my career as well…and to some extent, I was…but at this point, I have also learned, you cannot take on the job if you are not well prepared….or it will lead to disaster in the end.
  • As I am working to start my online coaching and consulting business, I find myself thinking, if I could only have this done now! If I could only have a business that I could focus on full time so I can quit my day job. If only I could make the money I know will eventually come…NOW! And….with anything online….I want all of the followers…NOW! But, again, I have to remember that with anything worth anything and will stand the test of time, putting in the work is the only way to get there. One step at a time.

I am not sure about you, but as a person who can be quite impatient at times, I want it all and I want it all NOW! Finding ways to remind myself, in a world where everything is NOW, to take it all one step at a time. Put in the work….because in the end, the work will take care of you! Until next time! ❤️ Cheri

**On a side note….today, we announced the launch of A Girl and Her Dog Coaching and Consulting! So excited for the great things coming soon! If you are interested in learning more, head over to my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/A-Girl-and-Her-Dog-105721968311847, to see the announcement and join our private group! 😊

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Muscles in the Mid-Life

Two years ago, during Half Marathon training, I did a little something to my knee. I was trying to be a rock star, and when I turned a certain way during a cross training activity, I felt a little pop…and all of a sudden, I was a person in the mid-life with a knee problem! Of course, I did not see a doctor (because that would make sense, right?), but I iced it, used some icy-hot, used the heating pad, and got myself a brace. it was pretty painful to walk the first few days, but then, I found I could walk and run with minimal pain…but squats, lunges, etc. were a bit much. I made it through the training season, completed the half marathon successfully, and continued on with my 4-5 times per week workouts.

During the half marathon this year, my knee began to act up again. I credited it to the extra cold temperatures that morning and the fact that I did not do as much training (I ran the miles, but not necessarily like I normally do and I avoided cross training with fear of the knee bothering me again). Since January, that dang knee has hurt in every workout until this weekend!

As I am beginning to put my online coaching and consulting business together and learning all of the things, health and wellness training is part of my plan. I have been researching several health topics, attending many online webinars, and following health coaches and personal trainers on social media. I am hearing a lot of the same things happening to other women who, up until the mid-life, were strong and healthy, in shape, but experiencing setbacks. Some are injury related (like mine) and others are just the realization that as our bodies age, our health needs (including our fitness needs) change.

Now, I will not pretend to be any kind of fitness expert (yet), but doing my research, here is what I am finding.

  • Women begin losing muscle mass after the age of 30. One trainer, Molly Galbraith with Girls Gone Strong, just shared in her email today that “bone density typically starts gradually decreasing around the age of 35, more slowly at first, but faster as estrogen production decreases during menopause.”
  • Pubmed.gov shares that not only does bone density decline with the declining production of estrogen, but also muscle mass and strength. Women who are postmenopausal require regular physical activity and higher intakes of protein to balance this loss.
  • Many personal trainers recommend women include regular strength activity into their weekly workout routines. The more muscle that is built (and remember, women do not naturally build big, bulky muscle) the higher your metabolism will remain.

Again, I am not a trained personal trainer…only my associates degree in physical education gives me a little background knowledge, however, I have changed up my workout routine since this last half marathon and as I mentioned above, this has been my first pain free weekend since! I am including many more opportunities to use weights and other resistance tools into my workout routines. I am ensuring that I am getting all of my workouts completed (although this time of year running a school makes it hard…welcome to the 4:00 am workout streak!), I am ensuring I get an ample amount of protein each day, and taking all of my vitamins and supplements.

I have included links to some of my workouts I have been completing below. I was a religious Lifetime Fitness girl prior to the pandemic, and found these ladies (group trainers at my gym location) did a GREAT job of keeping us all on track with workouts during the quarantine. Please feel free to check them out! They are not perfect workouts by any means, but after running through them a time or two, you realize where the flaws are and can adapt easily!

I have also included some of the workout equipment I purchased below. I have found that I very much enjoy the freedom of having equipment on hand at home. It helps me ensure that I get all of my workouts in, even on days when my busy schedule makes it challenging! Disclosure: I may link to relevant products, companies, or helpful information. Some of these links may be affiliate links, meaning I am earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate and associate with other affiliates, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you. The views and opinions are my own.

As we all continue to age with grace through life, I cannot help but stress the importance of taking good care of ourselves! Remember, self care is NOT selfish! Until next time! Cheri ❤️

Emily Miller – Quarantine Workouts: https://www.youtube.com/user/bradleemiller1

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They Call Me…Coach!

One of my fondest childhood memories was when I was on the 8th grade girls track team. Back then, I was small and quick (not the fastest, but not the slowest either). I loved to run even back then…but what made this experience so memorable was my coach. He was also one of our classroom teachers and he had a special gift for encouraging you, even when your day was just not your best. He has now since passed on, due to cancer, but I will never forget him and how he made me feel that I could do anything….even when maybe I couldn’t!

While in college, I had opportunities to coach little league teams, and once had the chance to lead my adult softball team…which I LOVED both experiences! With the little kids, everything I taught them was new. To see their eyes light up when they realized they could do something they did not think was possible was the BEST! With my adult team, motivating them to show up and do their best…and then be proud of themselves was my goal! I had a BLAST!

As a mom, years later, I had the greatest coaching job of all! I got to co-coach my daughter’s cheerleading team! I have never cheered a day in my life, but I was honored to be able to teach my own child how to believe in herself and have fun with a physical activity she enjoyed. We had the greatest time!

There are many amazing coaches out there in the world. I am a college basketball fan, and immediately think about the great John Wooden…which I’ve used a lot of his philosophies through the years as a school leader. He believed in hard work and respect. And, if you worked hard and showed respect, he did all he could to ensure you were successful. He even got his players that sat out of most games to learn that they had just as important of a job on the team as the starters did, as without them, the starters wouldn’t have great players to practice with which bettered their skill.

As a school leader, coaching my staff to be their best is one of my favorite parts of the job! I get the awesome responsibility to mold my team, to encourage them to believe in themselves and never give up, and to learn that working smarter and not necessarily harder, is the best way to accomplish any goal. Seeing them grow and flourish with our students is one of the greatest gifts I can ever receive!

As I have been working through my “mid-life” crisis…I mean transformation, it makes sense that I want to continue to have an impact on the world, by helping others be their absolute best! And, as a strong woman who has conquered many obstacles in life, focusing on women also seems to be the path for me, So, I am very excited to announce….once again, THEY CALL ME COACH!

I finished my life coaching certification in March and I am working diligently on my launch! I cannot wait to work with and help women find their true passions, accept who they are, and live the life they dream about! I am currently working to add health and wellness coaching so that I can truly make an impact for these women! Look out world, here we come!

Learning new skills and taking a new path can be scary, but knowing that I have the skills to do the work, the passion to help others, and the ambition to do my very best for others, I know A Re-Invention with A Girl and Her Dog will be a coaching and consulting business that will thrive in the near future! Stay tuned for more information coming very soon! ❤️Cheri

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Perfect…to Progress!

Saying that I am a Type A personality is an understatement! I like structure and control, especially in situations that may be stressful or unknown. I am very good at planning and being as proactive as possible. These are not bad traits…it is exactly these traits that have gotten me where I am! I have gone from a small town girl, afraid of EVERYTHING, to living comfortably in the big city with a job that affects a lot of people! And, I am not sure people who knew me when I was young would have ever thought I would get to this point in life.

I also have to confess…for most of my life, I have been a perfectionist. Due to circumstances in my world, I felt that if I were “perfect”, people would love me. I don’t allow myself to fail…I am sure to be the hardest working person in the group…I strive to wear the best outfit…needing to be perfect. And, wow…this mindset is EXHAUSTING…and very disappointing.

As I have aged and grown as a strong woman, I realized that perfection is definitely unreachable. I have had to learn how to give myself grace…give myself permission to make mistakes…and learn to love progress over perfection. This was not easy. It took a lot of reflection and self-assessment. It took a lot of work learning to love myself as I am, and not the image I thought I needed to be. This is not easy work! Let me share with you how I did it.

  • I spent time reflecting and writing down everything I loved about myself. I had to find my best qualities that I could build on. As a perfectionist, this is not easy…we look for everything we do wrong, so if you begin to do this, you have to focus and stay on the positives.
  • Then, I looked at uncontrollable factors in my life that were stopping me from reaching every one of my goals…these were the things that no matter how much I obsessed over them, I was not going to be able to change them. I wrote them down…writing things down really does make them more real.
  • Then, I set new goals for my life…realistic goals. No, I was never going to be the President of the United States (looking back on that, thank God I changed my mind there!). But, I had to really look at what I could accomplish. Now, these were not little goals…there were still big…and scary…and would still require work to achieve…but realistic.
  • Once I had goals, I developed plans, or timelines for accomplishing my goals. I included milestones…places along the path when I would reward myself for my hard work…look at that…I had begun to focus on progress!
  • Along the way, I did a lot of reflection and readjusting…as any smart woman would do…as, life is life. We can have the best plans, the best goals, and believe with all of our heart that we can achieve them…but we really do have to remember to give ourselves grace along the way. And, friends, this was the BIGGEST lesson I had to learn…and to be truthful, still working on!

As I progress through my 50’s and prepare to announce BIG changes in my life, I keep my planners, my notes to self, and my motivational items that keep me moving forward…and keep me focused on PROGRESS! Life is hard some days, and for the former perfectionist, finding a way to learn that people will love you unconditionally, not only when you achieve your big goal, is key to living your BEST life! Until next time! ❤️

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A Girl and Her Dog…and a Boy!

It’s the second Saturday of Spring Break…which means it is almost over! I am not ready to go back to reality of the daily grind, but I have to say…this was one of my best Spring Breaks EVER! And, as you can see…we added a new member to our crew!

8 years ago, I met the love of my life. I actually had him come to a house I was redoing to quote me a price on a fence for my dogs. The minute I met him, I knew…he was the one. At the time, however, I was still working through the healing process of my divorce, and I just couldn’t give all of me to the relationship. I relocated back to Houston and we tried the long distance thing, but he still had young children at home, I had a busy job….and long distance is HARD! But, his parting words were…give me 5 years…I will be back.

It was a beautiful October day in Houston and I was out in the yard working on the landscaping and a received a very random text message from a number in Iowa, but I did not recognize it. It only said…Glover. This was a street we had lived on in Des Moines, but my mind took a minute to put the connection together. But…he was back! How does that happen???? It’s like my own Hallmark movie! We have been talking, visiting as we can, and building a life together ever since! It is like we did not skip a beat!

Spring Break was amazing! He made his first drive to Houston (through snow, ice, rain, wind…I think he experienced all 4 seasons during the 16 hour trip!). We spent time doing some of our favorite things…rodeo, crawfish, time with friends, NCAA tournament games, St. Patrick’s Day…everything we wanted to do! But more importantly, we spent LIFE together! No interruptions, no work, just time to reconnect and really plan our future life together!

Reflecting on the week, here is what I have learned:

  • Life has a funny way of surprising you! I had resolved to believe that I was going to navigate through the rest of my years alone. I was completely fine with this, as it was the new reality for me. So, when they say “love finds you when you are not looking for it”, that is ABSOLUTELY true!
  • People change over the years, but when you find a love that is strong…the kind that the person is your soulmate, your best friend…that doesn’t change! I ran from it back then, as I was not ready to commit to anything…but the feelings have never changed. If anything, it just made them stronger! It made us both realize that this is exactly what we want!
  • Spending 24 hours a day with another person when you are used to living alone can be a bit challenging. Yes…I followed him around the house and turned lights off or picked up things he left laying around. But, when I look back on it all, we are ALL flawed in the world…including me…and if these things are his biggest flaws…I will take it! He has only been gone 12 hours and I am missing him like crazy!
  • And finally, when you go through a very hard situation (like a divorce) and you feel like you may never find love again….I am here to tell you…it is out there! I tried to forget him over the past 5 years…tried to move on…and finally felt that I just couldn’t find a better fit…again, why I was just fine with being alone. But, patience and understanding….along with taking care of yourself so you can be your best in a relationship got me right where I needed to be when he came back! You can do it too!

He will be back in about in about 10 weeks…I will go up there this summer…and then we can start our life together this fall! I do still ask myself if I am dreaming! And if it is a dream, I don’t want to wake up! Even Oakley has welcomed him back and shared his mama with him! That says a lot! In the meantime, I hope you all find exactly what you are looking for….and can continue to enjoy whatever life you have created! I consider myself lucky…and looking forward to what is next for A Girl and Her Dog…and a Boy! Until next time!

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My Happy Dog!

Oakley became my new best friend of July 2011. I met him after seeing an ad on craig’s list. I had been looking for my next dog after losing my beloved black lab earlier in 2011, and thought that I had decided on a pair of pitbulls (a brother and sister) that were playful and loving. But, once I met this guy, I knew we had chosen each other!

He was far inside the kennel all of the puppies were in, laying cuddled up all alone. When he saw me, he got right up, walked out of the kennel and into my arms. He nestled his head into my chest as I held him close and that was the moment I knew we belonged together.

At that time, I was still processing my divorce and how to live a single life. Raising him definitely gave me the distraction I needed at the time. He is part lab, so if you know anything about that breed, you know they will give you hell until they are about 3 years old…and he was not the exception to this rule! His other half, the pitbull, however, made him one of the most loyal dogs I have ever met. And smart! This guy is truly a genius among dogs! And, after all of these years, I still find myself looking at him while he cuddles me on the couch, wondering how I got so lucky to have this guy as my BFF, my loyal partner!

Over the past 10, almost 11, years, I really can say I have learned to read him well. And, I can definitely know when he is communicating to me his happiness! Not only are these my thoughts, but upon doing my research, it is confirmed that dogs will communicate their love and happiness to their owners in many ways. Here are a few I get from Oakley…

  • He is excited to see me when I get home. He is always waiting at the door, wagging his tail. And, when I walk in, he is there to nestle his head against my leg. Of course, I joke with him that he’s really just excited to eat or go outside once I get there, but in all sincerity, I know he wants me there with him.
  • He follows me around the house. He wants to be right there by my side. Even if we have company! He needs his first few minutes to check the visitor out and then he comes right back to me. Not only is he there beside me, but wagging his tail and looks as if he is smiling…telling the world, “Look…Here I am right here with my mama!”
  • On our daily walks, he can be seen walking proudly, with his head held high, again with that smile on his face. He isn’t hesitant to prance along, sniffing all of the smells out in nature!
  • But, I think the most telling moments are when I know he is comfortable and happy enough to curl up and sleep or cuddle throughout the day. It’s as if he is saying, “This home is the greatest place on earth! I live here! How lucky am I?”

Many will say I spoil this big guy, and I won’t deny that for sure! I want him to live his best life! But, he in turn has spoiled me! Life is hard and there have been days where I struggled. Not only have I created a happy life for him, he has helped me get back to a place of happy once again!

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend, never owned a dog! Until next time!

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I’m 50… Why am I still afraid?

Fear… it sure can be an interesting thing. I’m 50 years old. You would think that with all of the experiences in my lifetime, I could conquer fear. But here I am, finding myself thinking about changes in my life, and once again, I feel fear.

In my experiences, I have found that there are a few different kinds of fear. One, of course, is the fear of change. Why do we fear change? Thinking about this for a while I started to think maybe it’s because we get so comfortable in our regular space. For example, I get up every day, I go to work, my work routine is basically predictable, I come home, and I do the things I typically do on a weeknight. On the weekends, I follow the same routine. I wake up, I eat breakfast, I work out, I do housework or schoolwork, I spend a little time on self-care, and I go to bed. It seems very boring, yet comfortable.

Then there is the fear of failure. By 50, we all seem to think we have it all figured out, right? We have been through the past 3 decades learning how to adult successfully, and we are finally at a point where we can enjoy life. Myself, I have a steady job, a good income, and can basically do whatever I want (within reason). The fear is that what if I fail and lose it all????

As a perfectionist…and I know there are a few of us out there…there is also the fear of disappointing someone. What if I do something that would make my daughter see me different? Something that would make me not continue to be a role model for kids and teachers? Scary, right?

What this is all boils down to is this…I think I am having a mid life crisis! Not one of those crazy ones where I am buying sports cars, taking exotic vacations, etc…but one that is making me question my life. AND, I really have designed my life to be easy and comfortable…AND boring! It is definitely time for change! I am working toward something completely new and different…and very exciting (details soon!)! Now, I just have to find the ways to conquer my fears so that I can live the life that I imagine!

Stay tuned, my friends!

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Lessons Learned from Half Marathon #11

Well, it was a cold day in Houston yesterday and the marathon/half marathon was back live, in-person! I had completed my training plan and I was ready to go! Fear that the new strand of COVID would delay or change the course was worry I did not have to do. Picking up my packet on Saturday, after a very WINDY 2 mile warm up run, I even got the chance to browse all of the running gear at the expo! It had started out to be the perfect run weekend!

My daughter and I got to the start line to wait for our start…about an hour after the “elite” runners (yes, slow and steady wins the race), and I realized just how cold it was! I had a knee injury the year before and the cold air was not treating that knee kindly. But, I started out strong and found that the first 8.5 miles were PERFECT! Then it hit! My knee was not going to let me continue on the path that I had started. I knew I could walk it out, but running at the pace I was at was not going to happen.

I am a perfectionist for sure, and this was devastating. Yes, I was out there completing 13 miles while most were at home still in bed. And yes, at 50, I should feel blessed that I got the 8.5 done strong and could still finish within the time allowed for the run. But, I was looking forward to completing at my goal and, although I finished, I was about 15 minutes over my goal time. So, I did what I could do…thought about the lessons learned from this experience!

  • Lesson 1: While walking the 4 miles I needed to do to get to the finish, I reflected on why I started running these each year in the first place. I know I don’t run them to win. I run them for other, personal reasons. I run them to realize that I can set a lofty goal, train based on a rigid schedule, and complete the miles. I do them to keep myself in shape and healthy, as one doesn’t just wake up one day and go out and run 13 miles for fun…at least this ONE doesn’t. Although I didn’t run the entire thing, I completed the 13.1 miles within the allotted time!
  • Lesson 2: Like most organized runs during the pandemic, last year the run was virtual. I did it in my neighborhood, but something was missing. Yesterday I realized what it was! It was the crowd, the city! My city does an amazing job of organizing this run! My city does a fabulous job of supporting the runners by having our community out cheering us on, even when it is 35 degrees in Houston! My city makes even the slowest of runners feel like they have “won” their race when they cross that finish line! Although I didn’t run the entire thing, I felt like a winner when I crossed that finish line and I got my finishers medal because my city made me feel that way!
  • Lesson 3: Perseverance! I talk to my staff and students every day about the importance of working hard and not giving up when things are tough. I relate my motivational talks with them to the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” I could have given up yesterday. I was upset with myself and I did not want to keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel and go to the injury station with this silly knee bothering me. But, I dug down deep and found the strength to finish. It was a good reminder that we all can do hard things…we just have to find that inner strength that says keep going, even when times are tough!

By mile 11, I thought, maybe next year I will just take a year off….and then when I crossed that finish line (yes, I did run the last half mile into the finish!), I realized that I have to do it again next year, tweak my training plan, and redeem myself with my time. I realized that this city, this run, and my own abilities will help me pick up, celebrate that I did finish yesterday’s run, and look forward to Houston Half Marathon 2023! And, I believe next year, I become a legacy runner…which means I get to use the real bathrooms while waiting at the start line!

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Remember Your Why…

I am not sure about you, but wow…there sure is a lot of negativity in the world right now. Everywhere you look, someone is upset about something, someone is complaining about how hard they are working, someone is just not happy with life itself. I get it, these are hard times. The cost of living is crazy high right now! The media only focuses on sickness and violence (at least that how it seems)! And, no one knows from one day to the next what new something is going to hit us hard and cause our whole world to change! These are tough times!

Reflecting on this today, I started to think maybe we need a little reset…almost like a positivity challenge…something that would force us all to only be able to share positive things happening, rather than all of these negative thoughts. But, thinking more realistically, maybe we all need to stop and just remember our ‘why”. Why do you do the things you do? Why did you start in the first place?

I have always been pretty bright and school was pretty easy for me. I have a few college degrees and really, I think I could have chosen any career that I had wanted. I often think that maybe I should have chosen to “be rich”…a career that made much more than what I make! But I chose my path in life, not because I believed I would be rich, but because I felt I had a calling to make the world a better place. I am a realist, and I know I cannot change the world, but I truly always felt that if I could change the world for just one person….over and over…then I really could make a difference and possibly have a part in making it a better place. Let me share…

  • My day job is in education. I knew I would be a teacher when I was young….and I never gave up on that dream. But, I didn’t chose to teach children because of the fame that goes with it. I did it because a teacher made me believe…way back when…that I was someone who could do anything in life. Without this teacher in my corner, I am not sure I would have persevered through tough times in my life and finished college and took a job 1000 miles away from home to teach children at Title 1 schools. I would not have continued to find a way to get my degree so that I could lead schools that need good leadership in order to help communities become better. When it came to determining my career, this was my why!
  • I am slow, but I call myself a runner. I promise, I will never win any races….and my neighbors probably see me out in the neighborhood and think, “man, that girl sure does like to run!”…because I am out there most days of the week. I will share that if you look at me, you can tell I keep myself healthy, but I do not have the typical runner’s body….but this is not why I run. I run because I believe a person needs a good outlet for stress AND running allows me to forget all the challenges from the day and just breathe! I am very healthy and keeping this healthy lifestyle is very important to me. It is hard on those few “cold” Houston days (experienced one of them this morning), but remembering why I do it, keeps me on track and consistent with my health.
  • I have recently decided to begin pursuing my side passion of home decorating/real estate. I do not anticipate that this will become a full time paying gig for me anytime soon, but I LOVE it! AND…there is my why! I need something that is different than always trying to teach someone something…a little break if you will…and let me use my creative side of my brain to enjoy something that makes me feel good about the designs I have done. I do hope one day I can make this something that can help others design/decorate spaces that make their homes beautiful, but until then, I continue to learn and dabble with this because I LOVE it!

I could spend hours talking to you about why I do the things I do, but what is most important for you to take from me today is that I believe in this challenging world, it is crucial that you find you why! And, if in the process, you can’t then maybe it is time to find a new why….it is never too late to start fresh! Take time to reflect on what you are doing in your day to day life and find the thing that will help you get out of bed each day…the thing that you can find that passion for once again! Until next time…

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And Just Like That…

From the first time I saw it, Sex and the City was one of my favorite series of all time (of course, it runs close with Friends, but I am one of the original Gen Xers!). I have seen the series several times and will even find myself finding an episode in the middle of the night when stress gets me and I need the noise of the tv to get myself back to sleep! I am completely hooked!

So, it should surprise no one that the “new” Sex and the City is also one of my new favs! Most of the characters are back and I am THRILLED to continue to follow the life of my girl, Carrie Bradshaw! And yes, it definitely is one of those series that I can forget about real life for a minute and live vicariously through my favorite cast! And congratulations to them all…they have done a FABULOUS job of depicting the aging woman with grace AND tackle living in the real world of 2022! Let me tell you what I love about this “new” Sex and the City!

  • Great job, Cynthia Nixon! I love that you have embraced your natural hair! It takes a lot for a middle aged woman to feel comfortable in their own skin, especially when everything changes, and I believe she has done so with grace! Society can make decisions like these hard, but she definitely needs to be recognized for not being afraid to show the beauty of a middle aged woman!
  • Kristin Davis has clearly aged…and good for her! She looks amazing! People have commented on her “pear-shaped body” and other things about her and how she has aged. But, I say, keep doing what you do! You look great and really, who cares what society thinks!
  • Well, Carrie…Sarah Jessica Parker…just looks amazing as an aging woman as well! I love the fact that she can still rock a fantastic outfit! Kuddos to her for continuing to make Carrie the girl we all love and want to grow up to be one day!

The world is truly a different place in 2022 than it has been in the past. I think about myself as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult….completely different issues in the world, completely different things to worry about…and as a mom of a now 31 year old, completely different growing pains when it comes to raising children. I think this new series has done a great job of shedding light on how women of an older generation are learning about new world issues and figuring out how to navigate through. We are going to make mistakes and sometimes may take a minute to digest and understand new ways of thinking…but as I enjoy my weekly And Just Like That fix, I applaud the whole team on how they are portraying how we all might handle these things!

I share this to say, I love the new series! It is about real life issues that these ladies have found a way to address in a world that is ever changing and dealing with new and unprecedented times. In addition, it gives all of us 50 somethings a little nostalgia to cling to when our own lives are changing and we just need a break! I think it is a GREAT reminder to us all, live your life as YOU find is best! Embrace the aging process…don’t shy away from it! And stay a strong woman! We got this! I hope you have a chance to check it out soon! Until next time, y’all!

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Being Optimistic in a Pessimistic World

Happy New Year, everyone! Social media has been blowing up with so many posts about how a new year is like a new chapter of a book…making each year such a great time to reflect on the year 365 days and make changes to live your best life in the year ahead! I have always believed that as we progress through life, it is so important to plan your life, reflect on your progress, and adjust as needed! And, the new year is the perfect opportunity to do this!

As you have probably read here in my blog, I married my high school boyfriend young….married for 19 years….and then divorced. I had not had opportunities to live alone, navigate through life alone, nor did I learn how to handle the “noise” of being alone. It was a very hard time for me, especially the first few (ok, 10) years. Looking back now, I can definitely admit that I was angry, depressed, anxious, and had a very hard time moving forward because I just basically hated the world. I learned to hide this fact pretty well and most people would not have even realized this. I played like I was having the best life ever…and even went through all of the rituals in life…hoping to eventually find that I could feel normal again.

Well, it took time, but I really had to stop and give myself a little “come to Jesus” talk…and set myself right. I had to remind myself that as long I continued in this manner, I would not grow…and I would not probably ever feel better. That was the moment that I committed to myself to take care of me…find me and invent the person I was to become. And, of course, the timing was not perfect, as it was also the time the world went crazy and COVID hit! But, I had committed to this transformation and I wasn’t about to disappoint myself again.

What did I do? Well in my true fashion, I made a plan.

  • First, I sat down and generated my list of things I loved about my life, things I could live with, and things that I could not do (or pretend to do) anymore. This took a minute and a lot of truthful thought, but it sure gave me a starting point to find my new direction.
  • I had to also identify and embrace my fears. And, yes, there were a lot of them! I was afraid of commitment, afraid of disappointment, afraid of setbacks, and basically afraid of failing! I had to learn why I developed these fears, as prior to my world crumbling, I wasn’t really afraid of anything!
  • Then, I had to plan how I would reinvent myself! This was the fun, but also challenging part! I created goals, timelines, and milestones for celebration (although the celebrations were small and only shared with select few people in my world).
  • And, finally, I put everything into action! The more progress I made, the more normal I began to feel…but I am not going to lie…it was definitely a new normal! A normal that I liked a whole lot better! And, a normal that felt like I could once again, accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Were there hurdles? Were there setbacks? Absolutely! Especially, as I mentioned, we were also in the mist of the pandemic. Everyone and everything around me felt very pessimistic! The news…social media…conversations with family, friends, and my employees. How do you stay optimistic in a world that was falling apart….and everyone felt it? It wasn’t easy…but that is how I absolutely know that I have finally found myself and I am ready for my future!

It is a new year…2022! It is a great time to write your new life, or make those adjustments to make your life your best one ever! My advice…take the time to reflect. Really look at YOU (not your family, your spouse, your partner) and determine how YOU can make yourself the best version of you. Then, make your plan and work your plan. Celebrate your milestones and don’t be too hard on yourself when you experience setbacks…you are human after all! And….turn off the news! Limit your social media time….surround yourself with people who understand your plan and will support you! Set yourself up for success!

I am excited for my new adventures of 2022 and beyond….as I am anticipating some really great ones! I am also excited to hear about your journey….your transformation into becoming your BEST YOU! Until next time! 🙂

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Let’s Reflect on 2021

Wow! 2021 is over! I have heard from many different people that it has been one of the toughest years yet! I had brunch with my daughter this morning, and we talked about just this…the pros and cons in the world of 2021. Of course, as educators, we both have educating children after the pandemic as one of the biggest hurdles that anyone can experience right now. But then we talked about things like the housing market, the job market, and inflation. No wonder more people are drinking these days!

When she was a child, I often required us to end our day with sharing one negative thing that happened and one positive thing that happened to us before we went to sleep. We did the same today as we reflected on our own experiences throughout 2021. I can definitely say, for both of us, the positives outweigh the negative. We have worked hard, taken care of our own health, and made good “adult” choices throughout the year.

Here are a few highlights of my accomplishments that took place this year.

  • I decided to build my “dream home” this year. On January 5, 2021, I put my earnest money down and began the build of my home, as a single woman. I was very proud of the fact that I could get to this level after going through a divorce and at times, feeling like I would never get to this point again. I successfully closed in July and am comfortable in my new home 6 months later!
  • In 2021, I started my blog, A Girl and Her Dog! Although I have spent a lot of time learning, consistently posting, inconsistently posting, knowing exactly what I want to write about…and experiencing that ever dreaded “writer’s block”. However, I have learned so much over the year, and I am ready to take this blog to the next level. I am planning to connect this blog to my next big adventure, home staging and decorating! And, so looking forward to that!
  • After my divorce, I have to tell you, I had a hard time. 2021 was finally my year to say, “I am ok with being single in a ‘couple based world’.” I also can say that I finally realized that just because I was involved in a broken marriage, it doesn’t define me….and I am proud to say that I feel I have invented the person I was born to be! Now, this may sound silly, but it led me to believe in myself again, and know that my possibilities in this world are endless! And, I am ready to live again!
  • You may remember that this year, I also made a commitment to myself to look for a more of a work/life balance! I don’t know if I did the best with this, but I do think I am making some progress! Well, part of this balance, in my opinion, also includes being open to possibilities. Dating is one of these areas for me that I will shy away from, and throw myself into my work…especially when I would get a little “too close” to someone, in fear of getting hurt. Well…without going into all of the details here (as that is for an entire post of its own), I opened myself up to the possibility of what “could be” and I am happy to report…I am in a committed relationship that I feel 100% comfortable in…and not afraid of getting too close!

I have also accomplished a few other things this year, and of course, experienced some setbacks! However, the thing that I had to focus on and change was staying focused on the positive…not dwelling on the negative. Yes, bad things happen every day to good people. And, in the past, I would be one of those people who would (quietly) continually dwell on the setbacks, living in a world of pessimism…not a fun place to be…not a productive way to live! Purposefully changing my mindset has made a huge difference for me! My confidence level is up and I know that I am ready to face it all…with a smile and confidence that I can accomplish anything!

I hope you also have time to reflect on the setbacks and, more importantly, your accomplishments of 2021. I am currently working on my 2022 goals and plans to achieve them in the new year. Good luck to you all! Cheers to great things in your future!

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Self Conscious to Self Confident

I grew up in a small town about 20 minutes south of Minnesota in north central Iowa. I lived with my parents (biological parents until high school, then my dad and step mother until I married my ex-husband). I have a sister and a brother, and I am the oldest of the three of us. I had grandparents that lived close to me, aunts and uncles, and cousins. For most of my life, we were all very close.

We were not a highly educated family, however, everyone worked and worked hard at their jobs. But, I was very self conscious throughout my childhood and very, very shy. If I got to know you well, then I could open up to you, but in school and in unfamiliar places, I basically kept to myself. I was always nervous, and always felt judged. I felt ugly for most of my childhood…I hated my teeth (thank God I had the means to get them fixed as an adult). I did dabble in sports and stayed pretty active, but there were times in my childhood and young adult years that my weight would fluctuate, causing me more anxiety and reason to stay even more to myself.

As I was out running today, I was thinking back to my transition to Houston. We came here after graduating from college and started my teaching career here. It took me a year, but I finally realized that being so shy and intimidated by everything certainly was not going to get me the life I wanted. I wanted more…and I had to make a change. And this change was hard! I had to re-invent myself.

I started by making friends. Sure, I had friends growing up, but adult friendships are different. This was a challenge, even though I was up for the task, my ex-husband was also very shy and he wasn’t ready to make changes just yet. But, I made it work. Then I began taking part in extra activities through work. This helped me meet more people, and allowed others to get to know me better.

As I started moving up in my career, things started to become more natural…until I had to do my first public speaking! Boy, that day I learned how to be a duck…smooth and calm on the surface, but like a paddle boat under the water. But, the more I took on these experiences, the better I felt, and the better I had become. I think I even got to a point when I could walk in a room and liven up any party! That is when I knew I had finally overcome my fear and was on the road to being much more self-confident!

I laugh with others at time, especially when I tell them that at one time in my life I was so painfully shy…and then follow up with the line, “I may be 5’4″ now, but my confidence makes me clearly 6′!” But, the greatest part of it all is that I now feel that I can take on any challenge…meet anyone new…and take over the room, when needed.

Today, I posted the picture above on my social media and captioned it with, be proud of the person you have become. I certainly am proud of the work I have done and the person that I am today! I know my childhood and early adult years were a very important part of who I am today, so I do not regret any of them, but A Girl and Her Dog has many great things to accomplish in the future, and I could not be where I am if I had not taken that first step to become the person I envisioned I could be!

Until next time, my friends!

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Dating in the Mid Life

Well, it happened…I went on a date this weekend. It was a great time. He made dinner reservations at a beautiful little restaurant, and we finished our night with a glass of wine. It was with someone I have known for a while, so it wasn’t awkward…because you know how first dates can be…and I would rate it a 9.5!

As the weekend progressed and I had some much needed down time (work definitely has been crazy), I began thinking about dating and relationships after 50. I will preface with, as I married my high school boyfriend, I did not experience adult dating back in the day…but I think I have truly made up for it since the divorce. But, it just seems a bit weird to me to say, I am dating, at 50. Especially when my friend texted today and said, “how’s your boyfriend”…see, strange.

Here are my thoughts…agree, disagree, but hear me out.

  • As a career-minded woman, how much time to you commit to dating (in general)? How much time to do you talk on the phone? Do you talk on the phone? Does texting count? Yes, I over think things often, but until you are in the situation, you don’t realize that this is actually something to think about. What is the right balance of work, life, and dating? I sometimes feel like I need a schedule to keep myself all on track!
  • Relationships…what are they supposed to lead to at this point? Am I planning to meet the love of my life? Or, am I looking for a great partner to spend my mid-life with? And, if you are both successful adults, set in your ways, how much compromise does it take?
  • I think back to when I married my husband. We were young and didn’t really have our own identities, so we created an identity together, as a couple. Whether that was the right or wrong way to do it, it worked out that way. Now, I have an identity…do I change that to become a couple again?
  • How fast do you move? Let’s face it, we aren’t getting younger. If I spend all of my time worrying about the things above, am I losing precious time with someone who may be the “one”…and when do you know that? Do you just wake up one day and realize it?
  • And…the million dollar question, will the overthinking of these things above ruin the relationship? You see, this is why I can only write about these things here and not actually discuss them with a potential partner…definitely a turn off!

I guess that although I am now 50, I still have no idea how to date and really commit to a relationship…so, for me, I am going to take it slow! I don’t have any of the answers above, but I do know I enjoyed my time out this weekend and could see more exciting adventures with him! Life sure is complicated sometimes…and who said adulting…especially in the mid-life…was easy! Until next time…stay tuned, my friends!

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They Call It Puppy Love!

“Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend, never owned a do” is one of my favorite quotes! It suits me perfectly! Sure, everyone loves a little bling, but there is nothing better than the love of your dog on a long, tough day…or any day, for that matter!

I got Oakley in July of 2011…and we spent our 10th summer together this year! He was the most adorable little guy when I met him and knew immediately that he belonged to me. I also know, he knew immediately that I belonged to him! He grew quick…and as any typical lab, he got real messy real quick also! At one point, my friends even joked that he actually was a “meth lab” and would send me crazy pictures of dogs that looked like him to show me the comparison.

Yes, he ate a window sill, a few pair of shoes, and even my best bra…but each time he did something he knew he shouldn’t, he would look at me with those loving eyes and I had to forgive him immediately!

Not only has he been there for me on my good and bad days, we have been through a lot together. We moved 1,100 miles away, and back, together. He has been with me through random boyfriends…and soon I realized that he certainly is the best man in my life!

I highly recommend a pet companion for anyone…but I also say, do your research and be prepared. He has been such a blessing to me, but pets are a lot of work…and a “lifetime” of commitment. Here are a few tips I would give anyone looking for their best fur friend!

  • Determine what breed of dog/type of animal fits your lifestyle. I spend many hours at work and I had to really consider how I would meet Oakley’s needs and work commitments. It is not easy. I have days where I have to sacrifice social events because he has been left alone all day. Just choose what is best for you.
  • I chose to get a pit bull mix…even with all the controversy that surrounds the breed. I will tell you, it has not always been easy. He has a lot of anxiety and doesn’t do well with other animals…so I have to deal with that, especially as he could be stronger than other animals and cause damage. Again, just do your due diligence and research to find what works best for you.
  • Vet bills….they can be no joke! My guy has skin allergies, so besides the expensive dog food he requires each month, I spend about $100 monthly for his medicine. He is also getting older, and being a larger dog, has some hip problems…again another monthly expense. I am fortunately enough to be able to afford these costs, but not everyone is. Plan wisely.
  • Training is a must. I don’t know where I would be without the support of my doggy kindergarten group that helped me ensure he knew how to walk properly, learned his manners, and listens when I give direction. There is nothing worse than a dog that can’t do these things….and people do watch!
  • Must love dogs (animals)….who remembers that movie? But so true! If you are not in it for the long haul, not committed to giving your pet the BEST life ever, not ready to sacrifice….I don’t recommend the commitment. They will love you forever and they deserve to live their best life! You can make this happen for a pet! But if that is not your goal, please don’t take the first step!

I have always had a dog…and I want to say that with each one in my life, I have learned to be a better and better pet parent. I cannot tell you how much I love this beautiful boy! You can find this also…just be sure you want the commitment. I will say, however, nothing is better than puppy kisses on any given day! Stay tuned my friends!

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Free Therapy!

Well, it’s official! I am signed up to run my 11th half marathon! I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t get a spot, as I waited too long to register! It is the 50th year for the Houston Chevron Marathon/Half Marathon…but I wasn’t too late! Yay!

It’s still very hot out there! I took the couple of months off from running as I was preparing for the move…then hiring staff…and trying to prepare the school year, so I am back at it now. I am having to start a bit slow, but it is good! It is hot! I ran today, 90 degrees…feeling like over 100…by the time I went out, but it felt good!

As I run, I do a lot of reflecting. Today, I lost myself in my thoughts, which I do regularly. It helps me get out of my own head about running…like when they say, running these distances really isn’t about your body, but more about the mind…but anyway, as I was thinking, I realized that this really is my mental health time.

Think about what we have all endured over the past two years…we all need a little therapy, right? We all need to be able to exhaust our minds and bodies to a point where we can believe we can do hard things again, right? And, I have always said, I run to get rid of the stress and the crazy…what better time to begin a routine like that to help with this COVID crazy, right?

If I could give anyone advice right now, I would say it is never too late to start some kind of exercise routine! Running may or may not be for you, but any kind of exercise produces endorphins…the feel good hormones that make everyone feel a bit better about their lives. Plus, what better feeling than knowing you have completed a very hard workout that exhausts your body, pushes you to limits you never thought you could accomplish…what a rush! And, the best part is…it costs a whole lot less than therapy…right?

So, I challenge you all to give it a try! Set a goal to accomplish just two physical activities this week! Schedule your time…as you know, I book these appointments with myself…and get it done! I promise, after doing it for a month, you will definitely feel better about life…and find ways to control your stress! I cannot wait to hear how it goes! Stay tuned, my friends!

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Embracing Change

Thinking back on the year 2020, I think we can all say the theme of the year was DOOM! Well, my 2021 theme definitely has been “A Year of CHANGE”. And I have the choice…fight it, or embrace it! So…let me share my year of change with y’all!

It all started with me decided to move forward with building a house. I was so excited….but, it meant leaving the neighborhood that I have lived in for years. It meant reconfiguring my space and learning how to live in a house that is about 300 square feet less. It also meant moving about 10 minutes from my area…still within driving distance for sure, but no longer would my normal go to’s be just 3-5 minutes away.

Then, I participated in my first virtual half marathon. I ran it all and did great, but it was definitely a different experience than in years past. Not going downtown for the pre-event festivities, pacing myself along a route I had to chose, and not having a crowd along the way to keep me going sure made the run more challenging than in years past.

As the school year began to wrap up, I realized how much change we experienced with the change in our school calendar this year. We continued classes into June, which was completely different than in a regular year. And, this had a domino effect on several other aspects of my job…planning for the upcoming year and hiring staff were only a couple of things that became a challenge.

As we did wrap up the year, my right hand girl…my assistant principal (who I have been with for the last 15 years), decided that she and her family were moving away from the area and I was going to need to find a new assistant. This was a big one for me! Not a change I was anticipating and let me tell you, I had a hard time with this one.

Now that I am settled in the new home…I have new assistant principal on staff…I have hired all teachers for the new year…and I have discovered my new normal (new place to get gas, my new running routes in the neighborhood, etc), I am ready to move forward with this “changed” life. But it took me a minute to get here.

My thoughts for you today…

  • Change is inevitable. Life is an ever-evolving process and if you think it will always be the same, you will have a difficult time adjusting to life.
  • Change can be a good thing! I may miss my old running routes in my old neighborhood, across the street from my go to Mexican restaurant, but my new running route brings me along the greenbelt areas with water ways, fountains, and some new wildlife to see…not so bad on an early morning run for sure!
  • Routine can make life boring…and for those of you who know me well…I truly have become boring over the past couple of years. Change can bring exciting new adventures in your life! You just never know…adventures that you really could learn to love!
  • And most importantly, although change is scary, it will be much more challenging if we refuse to embrace it and fight against the change. No one wants a miserable life, and if we refuse to change over the years, we are sure to find ourselves stuck, spending more energy on resisting the change than embracing what could come of it.

I am certainly looking forward to many new adventures in my life (after 50 :)…and I am starting with the year 2021! I cannot wait to see what change will bring for me as I continue to live my best life! Stay tuned, my friends!

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You can Talk the Talk…But Can You Walk the Walk?

Waaah! What a July it has been! One month ago today, I began the official packing and moving process…and it has been non-stop since! One does not really know how much work and stress it can all be! But…I am getting there! Between work, life, and unpacking…my goal is to be done done by Labor Day!

In between packing, organizing, wrapping up a school year, closing on the house, unpacking, planning for the start of a new school year, and hiring staff….it really has been a whirlwind! But, I like to look for lessons in all I do! Of course, one BIG lesson was the whole home buying process (which we will NOT discuss today!). But, surprisingly, I learned another BIG lesson this summer!

I have been doing my “day job” for many years (25 years in education and 15 as a principal). I have experienced many, many different situations…enough to say I feel that not much can surprise me these days. However, this year, I had some experiences both in the work place and in my personal life, that made me go HMMMM! The word INTEGRITY stands out in my mind. And, unfortunately, I have to ask…is that a thing of the past?????

I am a smart girl and I know that everything that goes on in the world has quite an impact on how we all live our lives. What I pride myself in, I discovered, may not be the same as others. I strive to be kind to others (even when they make it hard to do so), make an impact in the world (even when it is hard), and do what I say I am going to do…even when no one is watching! But, I am finding that this may not be the norm. I cannot tell you how many job references I have completed this summer, only to learn what the candidate says just isn’t true. And, what is more disturbing, is when you take a chance on a new relationship, it also tends to not be so true.

I won’t go into details…but, here is my advice to all of you…woman, man, child, adult, and anything in between…if you can talk the talk, make sure you can walk the walk. If you can’t, which is just fine, then don’t say you will. Don’t make the promises you cannot keep! Have some integrity!

As I continue on my journey through life…I plan to continue to put myself out there….and actually looking forward to that next relationship adventure…but, do us all a favor, say what you mean and mean what you say! I know it can be scary, but trust me, everyone will believe in you a little more if you do! Stay tuned, my friends!

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An Unmarried Woman

Wow! The house closing is done! It was a whirlwind of an event. Very last minute on many things…I didn’t get the final closing amount until the day before, had to rush to the bank to get the check, AND I was unexpectedly chosen to have my file audited at the last minute! I had to work my “Cheri Magic”…which translate to getting a little dramatic…but in the end, I closed on June 30 at 11:00 am, started moving my things from the rental at 5:30 pm, and successfully vacated the property by midnight! I certainly could not have done it without all of the fabulous people in my life….who endured a day of craziness with me and did not complain once! I am eternally grateful!

However, one very strange thing occurred during the process. Now, this is the first time I bought a home by myself. The last two homes I owned, I purchased jointly with my ex-husband…so maybe this is a thing I just didn’t know. I think it also shocked my realtor, so I feel it is something to share!

As I was reviewing the online paperwork the night before closing, I set myself up in my living room, surrounded by boxes and cuddled with my dog who, by the way, was over the top anxious as his world had been turned upside down. I did though, take my time to really look everything over and carefully read each page of the online document. And on the very first page, I discovered my surprise! Here is what it said…

Cheri D…, UNMARRIED WOMAN, will purchase the home at...”

Not only did I discover this phrase on the first page, but it was repeated several times throughout the document! What?????? I was instantly shocked that I had to have that title added to my home documents! Was it that important to point out more than 5 times that I was an unmarried woman???? And, when did that become a title appropriate for a strong, independent, very successful, single woman????? I felt like they wanted to be sure to make it clear that I was doing this, but don’t forget…she’s unmarried!

My realtor joked that maybe they were impressed that a single woman was able to afford the home alone…as she felt just as surprised as I was to see that phrase on my documents. And, at the end of the day, we are going to go with that!

I am sure there is a reason it was stated like that….I assume they want to document that there are no other owners or people being put on the mortgage. But, do they list unmarried man, if a man is purchasing a home alone? And, let’s just think about this more a moment….is this really a title that we want single women to have? You all know me well enough by now and you know, I am perfectly content with being a single woman! Yes, I do anticipate that one day, I will again be part of a relationship, and maybe even marry, but until that time comes, there certainly is NOTHING wrong with being an UNMARRIED WOMAN!

Ladies, remember, you choose your life…you choose if you want to partner up or not! Don’t let society make any of you feel that you are any less for being single! If I can share nothing else, I share…being single definitely doesn’t make you wrong or any less than anyone else!

So, this unmarried woman is currently enjoying a great glass of wine, in my beautiful new home, that I purchased on my own, with money I earned while working hard at my day job, which I have because I earned two degrees to meet the educational requirements, which I also paid for on my own! And, I wouldn’t want it any other way! I am proud of me…unmarried or not….

Stay tuned, my friends!

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Who needs the internet anyway?????

Hey all! What a couple of weeks it has been! I cannot tell you how busy finalizing everything on the house and moving has been! I woke up this morning and realized that my vacation is about to be over and all I have done is moved!

Now, I have to say…I am LOVING this new home! It truly is my dream home! I cannot wait to share all of the pictures with you…as soon as the rest of the furniture comes in and all of the curtains are up! I know you are going to love it too! But, it has been a bit hard to get pictures, posts, and social media caught up on…I HAVE NO INTERNET!!!

As a 50 year old, you all know I grew up in the privative age…meaning, I was alive and around as cable tv became a thing….I remember being a mom already when cell phones and internet really got started! And, back then, I was terrified to know that this was the new way of doing things. However, over the years, I have gotten very used to the convenience of my smart systems and my internet! And, I never thought I would be the one to say….I have gone 10 days without access and I am dying! And, I still have 7 more days to go! Let me tell you what happened…

Choosing to build a house rather than buy an existing home was a hard choice. I knew I would have to deal with delays in building (which happened for sure) and I was totally at the mercy of the building company to get this house done perfect! But, I was willing to deal with those things so that I could get the sparkly, fresh home that I always wanted. What I didn’t realize is that when the cable company comes to “transfer” your service…they need to access the box….and it may not be in your yard! Yep…the box is in my new neighbor’s yard. And, they keep a large dog out during the day and the gate locked. So, when the tech arrived, and did his very best to contact the family and see if there was any way to help me, I quickly learned I would have to reschedule my appointment…and it would be an additional 11 days before they would be able to return!

So, here I am my friends…at the mercy of my hotspot on my phone! Ugh!!!!! Now, I am a smart girl and I know that I will not die over this. Saturday will come soon and it will all be back to normal, but I sure do miss having immediate access to my sites, my devices, my workouts, my normal life!

In the meantime, I am learning how to fall in love again with regular tv (and an antennae…thanks Dad for hooking me up with that!). I am spending more time on the phone actually having conversations with my friends rather than emails and text messages (and this is certainly not a bad thing). And, I am getting stuff unpacked, put together, and settled so one day soon I can relax again, streaming my netflix, writing my blogs, catching up on my social media, and enjoying all of the perks of living in the 21st century!

I haven’t forgotten about y’all! If the posts are few and far between, know that I will be back online soon and back to sharing all of my adventures with you! Stay tuned, my friends!

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When to Take Your Heart Out of Negotiating!

I have always been a very passionate person. Some would even say a little dramatic. I guess if I have to really be honest, my very dramatic daughter (love her) gets it all from me! I find when I decide to do something, I go all in. When I decide to love, I love all out. When I decide I am done with something, I am completely done. It is just who I am and, truth be told, I kinda like me and wouldn’t want it any other way!

As an educator, I don’t get to “negotiate” much. I get a salary that is pretty much set by state guidelines. I get allotments to run my building based on state and district guidelines. There isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to my day job. The same thing held true when I built my first house. We didn’t have a realtor assist us, and we just assumed we would walk in, they would say, “this model is this much”, we would say, “ok”, and the deal was done. That is what we did, so again, no real experience with negotiating.

Fast forward to this home build….and I had to actually spend time negotiating a bit. Wow! It is not easy! I cannot tell you the amount of stress I had and the amount of patience I had to learn. And, as a very passionate person, looking to get the best deal for my very hard earned money, it was very difficult to keep my feelings out of it!

Doing a little research on the topic of negotiation, I keep seeing the phrase, take the emotion out of it. With my personality, I am not sure I am the best at negotiating….but, I think I got the deal. Here is what I did.

  • I started the conversation with being honest. I had a specific amount of money, and that was all I was going to have. I even said, at one point (because I am dramatic), there is not a money tree in my yard and I can’t grow more. Once I explained what I could and could not do, the person on the other end of this was much more understanding of my situation.
  • I persevered and didn’t give up until I was comfortable with the scenario that would work best for me. The negotiation had to do with buying points on my new mortgage…something I had zero knowledge of…I had to learn quickly and then take the time to work through different rates and how that would affect the loan, the closing costs, and my monthly payment. It was a lot of back and forth, work, and time, but in the end, it paid off.
  • Once I got what I felt comfortable with, I got everything in writing. Of course, this is just good practice, but also, the way things started going…I kept telling myself, if something changed in the future, I would want proof that this deal had been made. Luckily, this saved me in the end. The person I began the negotiation with no longer works for the company….but, I had everything in writing, and with a little more back and forth, I am getting what I was promised.
  • I continually thank the people I am working with. I know this may sound silly, and I certainly don’t want to go overboard with my gratitude, but these people also took their time to work with me and all of my questions. I need them to know that I appreciate their time. Besides, they may say I was a little emotionally involved, but they can never say that I wasn’t grateful!

I certainly am not a professional when it comes to this type of work! And, I can’t even say that I am qualified to give negotiating advice…but I can share my experience and hope that this may help anyone out there in a situation such as mine. And, this leads me to my original thought…when do you take the emotion out of the negotiation? Well, had I not been passionate enough about wanting to get the deal with the limited budget that I had, I am not sure I would have had the patience to get through this. Not only patience, but the strength, as I probably would have just thought…ok, I am not qualified to be a home owner…and given up. So, stay strong! Do your research! Use emotion when you need! And, in the end, persevere so that you can get what is best for you! If I can do it, so can you! Stay tuned, my friends!

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Treadmill or Outside Running??

As you know by now, I am originally from north central Iowa…20 minutes south of the Minnesota border. Although we experience VERY cold winters, we have the BEST summers…well, except this year…yes, they set an all time record high this past week! I have always dabbled in running, and back in college as a PE major, I would run in the below zero temps…outside! Of course, I was young, and I do believe your body does adapt to the cold. Fast forward to adulthood…and more specifically, midlife…and I had this dilemma of adapting myself to run in the heat. Not just heat, but the thick humidity that we enjoy in Houston in the summer! I found that I had a harder time adapting to the heat than the cold, but I did it! I think I finally crossed the line when I forced myself to run every day for a year outside. Yes, prior to that, I spent as much time running on a treadmill as I did on the streets. It was a hard, hot year…but I am now acclimated and, although the summer runs are still tough, I get them done! And, have even run a few 5k races each summer!

So, let’s talk about treadmill running. I got serious about running in 2005. I was going through a tough year at work (with a lot of stress) and when I found myself feeling overly tired and just not myself, I decided to see the doctor. I don’t go to a doctor often, as I do not get “sick”, so I chose one that my ex-husband used and made an appointment. After a few tests and some blood work, I was diagnosed with a minor disorder and the doctor told me to stay healthy, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Well, I know I do not sleep, so I had to ensure that I was doing the other things very well. I decided to start running 5 days per week…and it must have been a time when my ex-husband liked me a little, as he went out and got me a fancy treadmill so I could make it happen!

I LOVED that treadmill! I fell in love with running, and soon began planning for my first half marathon. Here is what I loved about treadmill running:

  • I could run no matter what time of day and I was safe! If I decided to get up at 4 am for a run, I didn’t have to worry about running in the dark and who may be lurking in the bushes!
  • No matter the weather, I was safe and sound on my treadmill! Rain or shine, heat or cold, ice…snow…a hurricane (as long as there was electricity)…I was set!
  • My fancy-ass treadmill had all of the bells and whistles….and I could simulate running on different terrain, different elevations, etc. It was amazing and I felt I was really conditioning my body for my upcoming run.
  • When I work out, I sweat! Probably more than the average person…but on the treadmill, I could crank the AC down and put a fan blowing on me and I was a happy girl!

So, I ran on that treadmill day in and day out to prepare for my first half marathon…and…I probably should have run a little more on the streets. I quickly realized, as I left the start line that cold January morning, I had always been running on a machine that held my pace for me. And, it sure didn’t require my muscles to put in the effort to push me along, as the machine was doing that work for me during my training runs. It was a LONG 13 miles! I finished, of course, but quickly learned that training for number 2 had to be a bit different!

That is how I learned to be an outside, street runner! Yes, the concrete is hard on your body. Yes, it is hot out there! Yes, I had to learn to pace myself. But, after running now for 15 years, I have to say my aging body thanks myself and the effort I put into learning how to run on the mean streets of Houston (haha…I live in a posh neighborhood in the suburbs…but the streets are still concrete!).

Reflecting on all of this, I cannot say treadmill or street running is better or worse than the other. I can say, you pick what works for you! But, think about what your end goal is. If it is to run longer distances, I definitely say train on the terrain you will be running on. If you are an early morning runner, and woman like me for sure, use that treadmill so that you are as safe as can be. There is no right or wrong answer…you do you! I think the most important lesson in all of this…just get out there and run! Stay tuned, my friends!

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Style: Can it Affect Your Confidence?

Since embarking on this journey of entering the blogging world, I have chosen to spend time trying to learn from many different people, in many different formats. I recently found that I really enjoy spending my time during my commute to and from work, listening to different podcasts. I have been drawn to many, and LOVE learning from all of these different people! I, of course, now dream of one day having my own podcast!

A few of the different people I listen to are lifestyle coaches, style coaches, etc. And hearing them talk about how they work with people to help them improve their own self image through many different avenues, including their style, fascinates me! And, it leads me to ask the question…style…does it have power over your self esteem? So, I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on this…and here are my thoughts!

  1. I find that on days I just do not want to get up and get going, if I pick my most amazing outfit, I can walk out that door and slay the day! I am a heels kind of girl…well, to be honest, all kind of shoes grab my attention…and on those days that I just don’t want to go, a GREAT pair of heels makes me feel more confident and gives me a little pep in my step!
  2. I have a tendency to wear looser fitting clothing. I do this for a few reasons…one, I move and groove a lot in my day and I want to be able to deal with the day’s activities easily…and two, and now I am going to give you one of my insecurities, I worry that if my clothes are too tight, people will think I do not have my life together! So…after working through some body image types of issues, I have learned, the best fitting outfits ACTUALLY make me feel better about myself and others comment how much more put together I actually do look!
  3. Accessories…they sure can make or break an outfit…and they can also make a girl feel just a little more stylish and put together! I find days that I include jewelry…usually earrings, bracelets, a ring or two, and a great statement necklace…the outfit just goes together much better. And, when I feel better about my look, I feel better about my life!
  4. Days that I do not work, especially during COVID, I found myself finding a pair of yoga pants, a t-shirt (usually one from a past race I completed or from a GREAT concert), and tennis shoes. Sure, after a long week, dressing casually feels great, but looking back at it now, sometimes it made me feel like this was a great outfit in case I just wanted to crawl right back in bed and not deal with the day. As we have begun to transition out of COVID, I have required myself to move away from the yoga pants and put on real clothes on the weekends. I can still feel comfortable and casual, but if I were to get that last minute call to meet a friend for drinks, I feel confident enough to walk into a bar and not look like I just left the gym!
  5. I few years ago, I was in Chicago for a conference and decided to join some colleagues for a little shopping. I had recently worked to save up a little money to complete some home projects, but as I entered Nordstroms, I forgot all about the home repairs that needed to be done! My attention fixed on the BEAUTIFUL Christian Louboutin’s that were on display! Now, I wear good heels/shoes, and I don’t mind paying a little for them…not necessarily as much as these were, but I had the money, so I did it! And, I fell in love!!! I did have to deal with a little buyer’s remorse after, but the first time I wore them out, I felt like a boss! Let me be clear, I don’t think you have to spend that much on something to make yourself feel good, but for me, it was a complete confidence booster! For me, it made me believe, I had made it to a place in life where, if I chose, I could afford something special for myself without the worry of not being able to eat for the next week! That is what boosted my confidence!

I am sure you may be able to share some of the same thoughts that I listed above…and you and I may not have anything in common at all! But, I learned by taking this time to reflect, what I tell my students and staff at my school, “If you look good, you feel good…and if you feel good, you do good!”, resonates with me! I highly recommend taking a minute to think about your next outfit…take time to put it together early, add some accessories, and ensure that it fits you well. See if that next day when you wear it, do you get a different response in others? How do you feel when wearing it? Could it give you a little boost in your confidence and make you believe you actually can achieve your goals? It’s an easy experiment and it could produce some pretty amazing results! Stay tuned, my friends!

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The Real Estate Market

I chose to become an educator as my first career, however, I have dabbled with real estate a few times in my life. As you all know by now, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE anything about homes…home design, home decorating, home remodels, anything that makes a house a home is one of my passions! So, it should not surprise anyone that I have taken the real estate courses…however, I have not completed any exams. I took them while back in Iowa, working on the house flip and thinking of leaving education. Then, I decided to move back to Houston, and I got a job back in education…so I just went with it. I did meet with a real estate company and started the Texas courses, but as a campus administrator, I had limited time and I knew I couldn’t give it my all.

But, that doesn’t stop my passion, for sure! I continue to follow market trends and anything that includes houses, housing, design, etc. So, today I want to share my own thoughts on this crazy real estate market!

I built my first home in 2001, in Houston, Texas. It was a lovely, 2200 sq. ft. home in a reputable neighborhood, zoned to great schools, and I got a fantastic price! At that time, the average price for a home like mine was around $120,000…which looking back, seems like a STEAL! Houston was one of those cities that the housing prices really did stay pretty stable and I definitely benefited from that! I ended up selling years later, and although the market was beginning to adjust here, I still would say homes were very reasonable and I was able to find a buyer quickly.

When I returned to Houston two years later (2015), I noticed prices starting to rise. Nothing too, too significant, but enough where as a single income, I couldn’t buy in the more trendy areas of the city, and chose to wait and lease in the suburbs. During my last 6 years of leasing, and finally deciding to make the commitment to purchase a home, I certainly have had a few surprises along the way!

Here is what I now know:

  • I began this house journey in January of 2021, and just had the home appraised so I can begin to process the closing, and I am already in appreciation of about $20,000! And that is above the cost with my pricey upgrades!
  • My friend just sold her house, on the market for one weekend, for well above what she paid to have it built…like I am guessing over $100,000 more!
  • My real estate agent is having a very difficult time finding homes for her clients, as most homes are getting offers above asking, before clients are even seeing them!
  • Listening to my podcasts last week, the low interest rates are driving these home prices up everywhere across the US, and it may not change until 2022…or beyond!
  • The cost for materials has increased so much recently…lumber, piping, etc…that it has become difficult to build at prices that I locked in at, just 6 months ago!

It amazes me that housing prices are so high…thinking about many of the homes I looked at prior to deciding to build would have needed a pretty major overhaul….and they were higher than the cost of building. As I mentioned, I watch the market often and it really is everywhere!

So, I wonder….how does the average household afford home ownership? A new teacher in many district around my side of Houston have a beginning salary around $60,000…and that is not enough to purchase the average home in the area. (However, rent is not much better right now!) I also wonder…what happens if the market shifts….will all of us home owners be at a loss? And, if rates do go back to a higher rate, will a yearly salary just over $100,000 allow for home ownership?

All things home truly will continue to be my passion….and I hope to continue to dabble in many areas of real estate in the near future. I am anxious, but also completely excited to see what happens with the housing trends in the future! And, I certainly hope that one day, I have the ability to answer some of my wonderings, especially when it comes to how I can help others (what I do believe I was put on this earth to do) find affordable housing that becomes a safe and secure place for those who are the average, hardworking families around the Houston area! Stay tuned, my friends!

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First Impressions

As a little girl, I was always fascinated with people who walked into a room and were completely put together. I observed everything. I noticed their hair, make-up, teeth, clothes, and of course, their shoes! I watched how they carried themselves. In addition to that physical presence, I also noticed how they lit up the room, made others feel, and who got the most attention. All of this together made an impact on those around…I guess I was already learning about first impressions.

As I continued on my journey through life, I quickly realized that making a positive first impression is EVERYTHING! And, it doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money! And, I have learned, that the first impression is your natural business card. It is what people are going to remember about you. And, you only get ONE first impression! So, I have learned that personally, I want to leave a mark on the world whenever anyone first meets me!

As an avid home decorator over the years, your home leaves a first impression too! The lawn, the upkeep of the home, the landscaping, and the front facade of the home is what draws people in. It is your home’s business card! So, how do I ensure my home leaves a GREAT first impression? Let me share a few of my tips with you below.

  • The Lawn: I do my own lawn work. I, one, enjoy the hard work and sweat that goes into perfecting it each week. But, I also like to be sure I take the time to explore my yard, and touch each inch of it. I like to have the edging done like I want. Fresh cut grass and trimmed edges make a huge difference to the appearance of a home! Whether you do your own lawn or have it hired out, be sure to keep up with your lawn. You sure do not want your “first impression” to be of an over-grown yard that looks neglected!
  • The Landscaping: I will be the first to admit, I do not have the best GREEN THUMB! So, I always want to be sure that my landscaping is easy to care for. I live in a very hot, humid climate, so I need landscaping that can accommodate the sun, the heat, and the varying precipitation. I LOVE rocks, yard boulders, unique plant pots, and dark mulch. Again, things that are easy to maintain! Whatever your preference is, be sure it meets your lifestyle. If you have plenty of time to spend on your landscaping, go for it! But if you are like me and work a lot, find easy ways for your landscaping to look neat and fresh, and still bring the right attention to your “first impression”.
  • The Home: I like homes that have some kind of design element that stands out in the front. Whether it is the lighting, the porch, or the front door, I find that whatever can draw attention and ensure people stop and think, “Wow”, the more I love it! I am not a very traditional type of girl, and prefer an eclectic or modern type of look. I love grays, black, and white color schemes. I suggest that you spend time looking at other homes in your area. What do you love about them? What draws your attention to the home? Once you know your personal style, you can then work with your home’s design and ensure it gives that feeling of “wow” when someone passes by!

These tips have worked for me over the years, as I truly believe that first impressions are definitely important. I think what is most important to think about in it all, however, is to find what works for you! You certainly don’t want to put together a great look that you cannot maintain! Nothing is worse than a messy, un-kept front facade! Take time to think about what you want and enlist the help from a professional if needed. But remember, you do not need a ton of money to keep a clean, neat, home. To me, it is definitely a HUGE element in your home’s “first impression! Stay tuned, my friends!

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The Story of Too…

What a busy week it has been! Ending the school year is always busy, but during a pandemic…or the end of one…makes it even crazier! Not much writing done this week, but I did get a chance to keep up with my social media. And, let me tell you about a real life story that is sparking this post!

I recently have been friending and following some great new friends through my networking opportunities with my blog and ran across a post from a new friend on Facebook. Basically, she was sharing that she, after a divorce, has been starting to date again. It sounded like she found someone she liked to spend time with, but unfortunately, he felt she was just TOO much! What???? How can anyone be too much???!!!???

However, during my journey of being a strong, single woman, I have encountered this many times. I have heard the following phrases….

  • You are just too smart. Translation: Are you smarter than me?
  • Oh, you are just too busy for me. Translation: If you are spending time with others, are you “cheating” on me?
  • I think you are too involved with your daughter’s life. Translation: I don’t have children and do not understand the parent role.
  • Maybe you are too fit for me. Translation: Why do you spend time eating healthy and working out?
  • You are too particular for me. Translation: Will you see my flaws soon??
  • And this one is the best….you are too important to too many people. Translation: I want all of your attention. (Yes, this one was the best yet…without going into too many details…this one made me realize someone who was trying to isolate me from my old life and wanted to form me into his new life.)

Yes, I will admit….I am busy, smart, fit, and a bit particular. I run a school so of course, I am important to many people and it is a job that you are on 24/7. But, to be real, there are many women…and men…who have jobs that are just as busy. Many who workout and stay active. Many who have children and are committed to family. These people have very healthy relationships with their significant others and I know it can be done.

What I believe is that, looking back on these relationships that I have had, clearly they were not the people for me….but more importantly, were these men intimidated by me? Because ultimately it does come down to hearing…”you, my dear, are too much…for me!”

So, after taking a break from a relationship that just was not working, I will begin dating again…and this time, looking for someone who is comfortable enough in their own skin to be able to handle a woman who is too much. Because I truly believe, can you be too much????? Stay tuned, my friends!

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They Call Me Boss…

It happened for the first time this year….a first grader saw me in the cafeteria on the first day of in person school, and not knowing my name yet, he said, “Hey, Boss!” It struck me as funny! Not necessarily because it is not true, but that even the students know that the buck stops with me!

When I decided to be a teacher at the age of 6, I really did not anticipate doing anything but being a classroom teacher for my entire career. However, if I think back to my childhood years, I have always been around leaders. My grandma was a “unit head” at her job…my grandpa was a respected, unofficial leader of the town I grew up in…my dad was a deputy sheriff for a time and then a lead at his job…my step-mother is a manager at the town Walmart Pharmacy. I also think back and guess who was always in charge of deciding what games or things we would do in my neighborhood….yes, you guessed right….so I guess I have to say, I have always had it in me. But, at that time, if I didn’t know you well, I was painfully shy. I knew I was smart, but did not want others to know. I knew how to organize things, but not confident enough to stand up and take charge. I guess I can say, this completely changed in me as I grew into my career.

Now, I will not lie to you…becoming the “boss” comes with a lot of sacrifices. Just to get my bachelor’s degree took both my es-husband and I working multiple jobs, missed time with my daughter, and late hours studying at night after the others went to bed. Fast forward to deciding to take on leadership roles in my school lead to me having to change my relationships with my friends that I taught with. The master’s degree was even more of a sacrifice…not because of the cost (I was lucky enough to find a grant that paid for it all), but because my daughter was beginning middle school and it required, again, missed opportunities to spend some important time with her. And, ultimately, getting the job, which does require a lot of time and effort to do it well, probably contributed to the failure of my marriage.

But, would i change any of this? Absolutely not! I affect hundreds of children’s lives each year. I make decisions that impact the future. And, I think I am actually pretty good at it! Does it still require sacrifice….of course. It is hard to spend time dating when you already have people around you that you want to spend the little time you have with. When work needs to get done, it needs to get done…which means you work until it is done. But, being the “boss” has been a very rewarding experience for me and I really would not want it any other way.

As far as missed time with my daughter over the years…well, I truly believe that we have used it to teach us. She has seen me move into leadership roles and serve others. She sees her mama as a strong woman that is making a difference in the world. And, she is even beginning to follow the same path in her career, one day serving others in many anticipated leadership positions in education!

And, what it has provided me more than anything else…I am a single woman in a position where I do not need anyone to take care of me. I can problem solve when situations, not only in the work place, but in real life arise. I can financially support myself, which is something I have seen other women over the years not be able to do and possibly be in a place where they are stuck without other options in life. And, it has given me a chance to have a big impact on the world.

As I continue on my journey through life, I embrace the many titles that I have. And, boss…is certainly one of them! Stay tuned, my friends!

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My Aging Body…Part 2

Last week, I shared with you thoughts about my aging body. Turning 50 has made me very critical of myself, as I want to be sure that I have done everything I want in life, lived life on my own terms, and still feel that I “am myself” as I continue to navigate through life. What I did not share with you is how I continue to preserve and care for my body.

If there is anything I learned this past year it is truly that our health is very important….and without it, you just do not know what could happen to you with illness and stresses that are out there. I have been very fortunate to not really have been affected too much from the pandemic. I do have some “acquaintances” that did not do so well with this virus. But, I also have to say, I have friends and other people in my life that even before this crazy virus, have had several health problems that potentially lead to unfortunate resolutions. Now, as a former PE major in college, and a current runner, of course, I thrive to keep myself as healthy as I can….not just concern about the “image” of it all!

So, how do I do it? Let me outline my daily, weekly, and monthly routines.

  • Sleep! I am not a great sleeper. Sleep is so important, and it is a struggle for me. I fall asleep, but I cannot usually stay asleep. So, I allow myself to sleep when I can. If I want to stay home and go to bed early on any given night, I do it. If I want a nap, I take it. If I want to sleep in late, I welcome it! This is my ME time….and I have trained myself to take full advantage of it.
  • Water! I start my day with a large bottle of water (equivalent to 4 servings). This is a daily routine, no matter what. I know it helps flush my system out each morning and starts my day out strong. Throughout the day, I continue to drink 2-4 regular size bottles of water (more if I work out). Then I finish my day with the large bottle of water to clean out anything from the day and settle my system.
  • Food! I have learned over the years that I can no longer eat whatever I want. However, I cannot stay with a diet. I follow the rule, everything in moderation. I always start my day with breakfast. And, this is where I try to consume most of my carbs. I am a creature of habit and I LOVE peanut butter…so it is usually two slices of wheat toast with all natural peanut butter (currently I am eating Smuckers). Then, I have a small snack later in the morning (on work days). This includes carbs if I am planning a workout later in the day. I make a protein shake for lunch each day. I include “super fruits” in this smoothie, and I am NOT a milk drinker, so it is always almond milk. However, this keeps me full for about 3 hours…and especially if I am working out later, I need an additional snack. So, I eat a protein bar later in the afternoon. I LOVE Quest protein bars….and I am pretty particular on flavors….but these do keep me going during that afternoon slump and keeps me full through the evening workout. And, finally, I usually eat a sensible dinner (expect on Fridays and Saturdays…these are truly my cheat days!). But….I am the first to say…I don’t turn down a good sweet treat! And, I am ok with allowing myself this every once in a while!
  • Wine and Margaritas! Again, everything in moderation….most weeks (haha)! Who doesn’t love a good Margarita! I limit myself during the week, most of the time, and allow myself to enjoy life on the weekends.
  • Exercise! As you have heard me say, I do strive to workout 3-5 days per week. I always ensure that my weekend workouts are longer, as I have more time. I do a little bit of everything. I LOVE my running days and training seasons. But, when it is hot….and it is in Houston….I also dabble with HIIT workouts, kickboxing, and spin classes. And, no matter what, I include some weight training each week. This will be something I am planning to increase doing now that I am aging, and anticipate that will make a bigger difference and affect my slowing metabolism.
  • Vitamins and Supplements! Ok…here is where you are going to call me a little flaky! I totally believe in vitamins and supplements! Here is what I take daily: a multivitamin, a probiotic, a metabolism booster, calcium (remember, I do not like milk!), vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, and this year I added elderberry with zinc. It seems like a lot, but so, so, so important! I really do swear by these. I truly believe this is part of what keeps me going on a daily basis.

In addition to all of this, I do make sure that I see my gynecologist yearly. I don’t have a general doctor, as I do not get sick, but I do take my daily allergy medicines AND I did get a COVID vaccine. Also, I ensure that I hug my dog every day! I also truly believe this has such a calming effect and it surely keeps me grounded! My daughter is the joy of my life! I talk with her at least 3 times a day….and it keeps my (and hopefully her) stress level in check. I even have been thinking recently about a statement she made. She told a friend one day, I live a life of peace. I feel that is what we try to do. We have stressful jobs and of course, things happen out of our control….but staying away from people who are negative and enjoy “drama” is not something we practice. My friends are important. I make as much time for them as I can…and we try to ensure we talk about life….not just work. And, finally, I try to ensure that I make time for my family. They all live far away, so seeing them regularly is hard, but with the new technology discoveries this past year, we have learned to love zoom!

10 days as of today until birthday number 50. I am ready! I am looking forward to seeing my aging body continue to conquer this world! Stay tuned, my friends!

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My Aging Body

My biological parents were quite a pair, physically speaking. My dad is tall (over 6 feet), slender, and was pretty athletic growing up. My mother was short (I believe 4’10”), stocky, and very uncoordinated. I believe I was pretty blessed to get a very good average between the two. I cannot complain at all. However, growing up and spending time with my mother as a young child, I would hear often about diets and losing weight. I remember times when she would eat something, then move into the other room to “exercise it off”.

Unfortunately, I inherited a bit of this craziness. I too have been known to be overly concerned about my weight during my teenage and adult years. It took time for me (and I honestly still have to work at it), to accept that I was not going to be model material! Haha!

I really have to say, the obsession seemed a bit much for years. I have been a runner for a long time, not to say I have the typical runner’s body, but I have never been anywhere near overweight or unhealthy. However, aging can really take a toll on the body! About 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with the early symptoms of menopause….fantastic, right? And after that, everything has begun to change.

Not only have I lost my “abs”….but my body has undergone changes in the elasticity of my skin, the ease of losing weight quickly, and there are days I feel the aches and pains of life. This was hard for me to accept. As I prepare for my 50th birthday in a couple of weeks, this has certainly been on my mind. Does that make me shallow???

I have dedicated this month to self improvement and reflecting on my life. Today, I told myself this (yes, I do self talk sometimes on my morning runs!), it is going to be ok. I am able to get up each day and live life. I don’t usually get sick, not even the common cold. I workout 3-5 times per week….and can do it even when I am feeling tired and don’t want to. And, for 50, I still look pretty good.

So, my friends, I share this today to say….I think it is absolutely normal to have fears of aging. And, as women, I think we are always concerned with our bodies….and I think to some extent, that is ok too. But, I will say, learning to accept the changes in life are difficult, but doable. As I continue on my journey of self improvement and reflection, I want to embrace myself in all aspects and live life with no fear! Stay tuned, my friends, as I am sure there will be more on this! 🙂

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My Des Moines Adventures!

About 3 years after my divorce, I had the opportunity to move back to Iowa. I didn’t want to go back to my super small town, especially after living in Houston…but I wanted to be closer to my family for a while. So, I said…if I get a job, I will move. Well…I got the job, and the move was on!

The first home I lived in was a rental that I did love. It was small, but so cute! It needed a lot of work, however, and I really wanted to live in a different area of the city. I lived there for the first year, and then moved to one of the suburbs. This home needed work also, but nothing structural, so I was good to go!

The house was sweet! It had a lot of those old house features…hard wood floors, glass knob door handles…and they caught my eye. When I first went to the home, I fell in love with it. I am not really sure why. It was not super cute, but I guess it was because I walked in and the first thing I noticed was the potential! I thought…I could finish these floors, I could change this kitchen, I can make this home one of those that you walk into and just say, “beautiful”! I was so excited! I couldn’t wait!

I started with floors! They were hard! I stripped them down and refinished them all on my own! It took forever…or at least what felt like forever! I wanted a modern feel in the home, so I went from that generic brown oak color to the darkest brown I could find! Although the dark color showed all the dust and dirt and I was cleaning them every day, I was so proud of the finished project!

Once I did all of the stripping, I did the staining…loved it so!

Then I worked on the bathroom! It was hideous! I wanted something that felt like me! I visited several different design stores, open houses, and looked through many pinterest posts before I found something I loved! It started with the counter for the sink. I was in a design store, and this quartz counter was in one fo the model kitchens. What stood out was that the cabinets were a taupe color and the door handles sparkled! The quartz was quite expensive, but for the bathroom, I was able to get them to a price I could afford…with the rectangle sink included! This was truly a statement piece and I wanted to go bold. The bathroom already had wainscoting, so I painted that a fresh white and the rest of the wall a dark blue! I used a gray tile flooring and white subway tile in the bath surround. t was amazing when it was done!

The picture does not do it justice! The counter sparkled!

We did more work, but my most favorite project was my back yard! I fenced the yard, cleaned up and made the deck area pretty, and cleaned up the old fire pit in the back! Cool, fall wine nights were amazing just enjoying the night air!

Although I made the choice to leave this project early and head back to Houston, I totally enjoyed my time in this home. It made me believe that home decorating and design is actually a passion of mine! I cannot wait to begin the final touches on my new build. And, soon, starting my next love project…A Refresh by a Girl and Her Dog, a decorating and staging company! Stay tuned, my friends!

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Big Goals!

I have recently been on a journey….learning how to be 50! While on this journey, one of my reflections has been….am I doing everything that I I planned to do in my life? Now, yes….I have done some pretty great things! I’ve touched the lives of thousands of children as a teacher and principal. Yes….I have helped hundreds of teachers perfect their craft. Yes….I have raised one of the most amazing young ladies that I know. And yes…I really feel that I have done a good job of being a friend, a daughter, and a sister.

So, I ask myself, is this enough? And, I have to say…no! I want more! I want to leave a legacy. I want to be able to say, yes…I did that too! I want to see if my other skills are worth pursuing. Call it a mid-life crisis, but whatever it is, I know I am not done learning, growing, serving, and making a difference in the world!

So what is next???? That is the question. I am loving sharing my thoughts with y’all in my blog! It is a place where I hope I can just tell my story like it is…raw, real, and honest. I also hope that when it is read, it can have on impact on at least one person. Maybe even one day, I can take my story on the road and get into public speaking. Did I tell you that I have been a public speaker before….I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a community of young mothers, talking about my journey as a teen mom and how I was able to get my degrees and secure a career that enables me to have a good life.

I am also starting a book! Yes…I am so excited! Finding time to write while wrapping up a school year…during a pandemic, is a bit challenging, but when it is done, I know it will be great! And, I cannot wait to share a bit of it with you here! Did I tell you that in college, I had work published? It wasn’t huge, but it certainly was exciting!

I love, love, love this big journey I am taking while building my dream home! It may not be a mansion…but it is the home of my dreams! And, when I finish the decorating, it will SPARKLE! This will be the start of my next venture…home decorating and staging! I plan to use the staging of my current rental, a few free jobs for my closest friends, and the new home project to start my portfolio and really attain one of my dreams! Did I mention that for a period of time at the end of my high school career, while preparing for college and my plan of study, I dabbled in home design????

I know I will continue running, with a goal of at least 20 half marathons…and hopefully one full marathon before it is all over! In addition, I want to help others on their own health journey! I enjoy planning with someone a path to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle! Did I mention that I have an associates degree in physical education….so why would I not???

I believe 50 and beyond is going to turn out GREAT! I am loving my day job (my career) and looking forward to what else is out there for me! And, maybe…just one day….I will have someone give me a new job…that of grandma!! Stay turned for more, my friends!

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Sparkle, Sparkle Everywhere!

My ex-husband and I decided to build a house back in 2001. We picked the neighborhood, the floor plan, but the type of home that we built was somewhat of a “package” deal…they gave us the package, and we only had to choose a few upgrades, if we wanted (upgraded carpet, garage door opener, and that was about it). Fast forward to January of 2021, and the home building process was SO MUCH DIFFERENT!!!!! And I could not wait to get started!!!!!

I got the call that my first home buying appointment would be virtual (yes, that dang pandemic), and I would need to review the workbook prior to my 3 hour appointment. Just let them know if I had any questions…they were emailing me the workbook! I excitedly checked my email and WOAH….the workbook was about 100 pages! I was choosing just about everything! I had already picked out the floor plan, but basically, everything else was open for options! I had my budget and I was ready to go!

Now to say I made choices, changed my choices, and changed my choices again was definitely an understatement! There were just so many sparkly things to choose from! How was I ever going to make a decision????? That is when I decided to do what any good home designer would do, get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere! I began by researching Pinterest and Houzz, and of course, watching HGTV…I was looking for that exact look I wanted for my new home. I did some virtual home tours and thought about design choices I have done in the past. What did I love about each place/picture I found…what didn’t I like…and what would make me feel absolutely at home when it was all done! This process helped me tremendously!

Then, I started reaching out to my peeps…my parents, my daughter, and my friends to see what things could we do together that I could save money on. You know, sometimes you can achieve the look you want without spending the amount builders will charge you. This helped me as I began to prioritize what I needed/wanted that could not be an easy fix later on (like the 9 foot ceilings).

Once I had done my homework, I was ready to sit down and make my lists. As any good planner would do, I had a list A, list B, and list “here are the fun things I will add if I still have money left over”! Well, my friends, here is my list below!

  • 9 foot ceilings – which allowed for 8 foot doors and 42 inch cabinets
  • Vinyl wood plank flooring
  • Subway tile back splash
  • Stainless appliances
  • Granite counters in the kitchen
  • Rectangle undermount bathroom sinks
  • Elongated bathroom toilets
  • Coach lights at the garage
  • Garage door opener
  • Upgraded brick
  • Upgraded interior doors
  • Upgraded kitchen faucet
  • Pendent lights above the kitchen island
  • AND….my splurge….a stainless apron sink in the kitchen

With the items that come with the home, I know this will make me very happy! What I still will need to add as I move in and it becomes mine are ceiling fans and additional ceiling lights, various paint colors per room, cabinet hardware, and a back patio (I will need time deciding on this design for sure).

After my first design appointment, then I had the privilege of visiting the design studio in person! Oh boy! Now I was in my element! I am so glad, however, I spent the time researching and making my lists, as this can be a very overwhelming process. I did not make too many changes in my choices, but I did decide on flooring and faucets during this visit. But to be truthful, if I had not done my homework before, I would have definitely went over budget!

So, here are my lessons learned in this part of my home building experience. Know that this can be an overwhelming process and you definitely need to do your homework. Having an idea of what I could not live without and what my bottom line price point was helped me stay right on track. Also, trust your instincts. You know what you like…and this is your home. You have to live there day in and day out…make your choices based on what you want! And finally, understand that there are things you can do later or on your own that will help you save money in the end. You can google how to do almost anything these days, and I am sure if you offer your friends cold beer or a bottle of wine, they will do anything to help you make your home just how you want it by tweaking the little things. Focus your money on the things you cannot change later (like those extended ceilings).

I am happy to say I only went over budget by $30. And that was due to the kitchen sink, which really was a splurge! Now, as I begin thinking about design choices for furniture and other accessories, I feel that the canvas is ready for me to begin making art! Stay tuned for my exciting decorating adventures!

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Appointments I Make With Myself!

One thing that I have learned over the years is that it is very important to ensure that you are living a healthy lifestyle. I had a bit of a cancer scare a few years ago, and while preparing for surgery, my nurse and doctor both commented how although I was in my late 40’s, my health stats were like I was still in my 30’s! Yay me!!! They know that I am a runner and that I really do follow the motto…everything in moderation! But I can say, after enduring that scare and learning that I am fine, I would contribute most of that to my my healthy way of life.

Now, I will say, I have had friends and colleagues ask me over the years to help them start living a better life. They have asked for workout plans. They have asked for eating plans. I have provided, but with hesitation…because a person can have a plan, but until they are committed to a lifestyle, a plan is just a plan. So, how do I run a school, start a blog (and eventually a new career), raise a healthy and happy young adult child, mentor aspiring leaders, clean my own house, mow my own grass, find some time for fun, and keep this healthy lifestyle? Well, it isn’t easy! But, it can be done!

Although I am pretty ADHD, I have learned ways to cope with this so that I can function without any medications. I have learned to be a planner! I plan almost everything! And, I work the plan! Just as I make my to do lists and fill my calendar with my work and other responsibilities, I do this for my workout and my eating schedules. I plan to workout 3-5 days per week, which is scheduled on my calendar (and yes, I am old school, I still use a paper calendar). I plan my weekly meals so that I can ensure that I get the groceries that I need each week (as that too has been a challenge to remember to buy the groceries). And to make sure that I can stick to these plans, I also plan for flexibility…because even the best made plans can go wrong!

When my above mentioned friends and colleagues ask for plans, and I share how I do it, I am often asked…how do you stick with this? This is a lot??? Well, I look at it as if I am making appointments with myself! I feel that I am important enough to stick to these appointments. Most people don’t just skip important appointments, so it helps me stay on track and not just skip out on myself!

Life is busy! Believe me…working 50-60 hours per week in my day job, starting a new 2nd career, and finding time to actually live life, is hard! If you value your health, please find time to make those appointments with yourself and KEEP them! You will find that it makes changing your lifestyle so much easier! More to come, my friends!

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Achieving Work Life Balance…or Giving It a Good Try!

One thing people can say about me, I am an extremely hard worker. I was given that gift by most people in my family. We are a working class family! Everyone….my grandpa, my grandma, my dad, my stepmother, my sister, my brother, and most of my extended family….has the same work ethic. It was instilled in us at a young age. My grandpa would say, do the work and do it right the first time. And that is what we do.

I decided early in my teaching career that I wanted to do big things one day. I would dream of one day working for the president as the Secretary of Education (then reality hit)! I knew that the more I moved up in my career, the more children I would be able to have a positive effect on. I also knew that you did this by working hard and showing those above you that you could juggle multiple tasks, while still doing the job assigned better than anyone else. So, naturally this became my world. I learned to juggle many things at once, including supporting and parenting my child, while still putting in the 50-60 hours per week to get the current job done. It all paid off and I now say that I influence about 650 students and 60 staff members per year…and I absolutely love it!

However, this sometimes comes at a cost. I find time to exercise. I find time to spend with my daughter (when she has the free time). I find time for my dog. I find time for friends, on an occasion. What I don’t find time for is traveling, dating, and resting….sad but true! My friends tell me that I need to balance a bit better. They tell me that at the end of the day, the job will still be there and they will replace me quickly when I am gone, but that I will regret the time I missed enjoying life.

Now, let me be clear, I enjoy life, but could I be happier with more? Of course! I want to live a life that is FULL of life, FULL of love, and FULL of adventure! So, I am committing to balancing a bit better. Just as I plan my daily to do lists for work, I will plan my to do lists for my life. I am going to enjoy this home buying process. I will commit to enjoying the home decorating process that goes with it. I will find time for relaxation…not sure what that looks like just yet, but stay tuned for more details! And, I will find time for a better social life, including dating when I find the right person!

So, as I reflect and move toward 50 and beyond, I am still learning! Learning how to relax and enjoy life…not just throw myself into work! It will take me out of my comfort zone, but I know I can do it! Looking forward to the next chapters of my life ahead!

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The Countdown Begins!

I was born on Friday, May 28, 1971, at 4:27 pm. My parents were pretty young, but I believe that didn’t mean they loved me any less! I am the oldest child of three, and the oldest of 9 first cousins. I am close with some of my cousins and siblings and not as much with others. I have good parents (my parents split when I was 14 and I lived with my dad and stepmother). I had great grandparents who have both passed away and are greatly missed. My mom died in a car accident in 2007, as we were beginning to repair our relationship. My dad and stepmother are living and loving life in Iowa!

I was 19 when I had my daughter, and 20 when I married her father. On my 24th birthday, I visited Houston for a job, and decided to move 1000 miles from home to begin my life! I have taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. I have been a district administrator, an assistant principal, and an elementary principal. I earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in educational leadership, and had the opportunity to study for a summer at Harvard University!

I raised a beautiful, strong daughter who also teaches. We have laughed together, cried together, and overcome many obstacles together. We are very close now, but have had our days when we didn’t always like each other. I have bought 2 houses (almost 3) in my lifetime, soon to be two new builds. I was married for 19 years, and I have gone on numerous dates (both from traditional meetings and online dating sites). I have friends that I met when I was 5 and some that I met just last week.

Reflecting on all of this, I must admit, it has been a pretty great life! And in one month, I will turn 50! It seems surreal to say I will be on earth this long, but on the flip side, I must say that I am proud to have lived, loved, learned, and thrived this many years…and still look and feel pretty good!

How will I celebrate the big 5-0??????? I have not yet made a plan, which being a bit ADHD this should not be surprising! But….however it is, I know it will be FABULOUS! And, each day leading up to my birthday, I plan to pamper and just take great care of myself! I plan to use reflection, gratitude walks, time for fitness, time for rest, and time for play, leading up to the 28th of May!

Happy Birthday Month to Me!

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com
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And the Journey Begins!

8 years ago, I put my house up for sale. I did “for sale by owner” and found a buyer within a week. I had decided that one, I would move back to Iowa, and two, I did not want to keep the house as a rental…I just wanted to be done with the memories that came with that home. It was hard to leave…we had been through a lot there. My daughter’s middle school and high school years, her high school graduation, my master’s degree graduation, numerous parties and get-togthers with friends, two hurricanes, and many redecorating experiences! It was the perfect house, the perfect yard, but carried just not so perfect memories.

I sold for exactly the purchase price. I knew I could have made money on the home, as the Houston housing market was beginning to shift,, but I certainly did not want to risk “drama” from my ex-husband, once he knew I made money (even though I paid for EVERYTHING in that home). I made a little money, considering that I lived there about 12 years. I took the money, packed my few belongings I wanted to keep, grabbed my Oakley and my daughter, and off we went, to a new life back in Iowa!

Boy, that experience was interesting! Reflecting on it now, I wonder how I became that girl that needed a man so badly that I sacrificed my money to keep not just one, but two around! The first one moved in with me (a rental to start), with a promise of a BIG, BEAUTIFUL life! Well….I am still single, so we know how that worked out! Another man who felt the need for me to pay for everything and take care of him. Well, that last about 6 months…and then I found another just like him! I guess I was a sucker for these beautiful…yes, they were both very nice looking :)…but both equally messy in their own lives and needed a woman to come in and pay for their life! And, sadly, I did it for another year…

Once I got back to Houston, I felt like I had finally got it together! I knew I was not going to get into another relationship with a man who needed me to finance them….and really, I am a school administrator….who am I to be financing anyone’s life! But, once I got back, my past continued to catch up to me. I ended up with a tax bill to the IRS that was going to cost me a lot of money…and I had to take on a payment plan, in addition to paying much more for rent, because as I mentioned, the Houston housing market was changing and rent was becoming much more expensive! And, on top of that, I had a health scare that cost me a year of payments to the hospital and doctors! Whew….I am exhausted to writing about all of that!

Well, as it turned out, I FINALLY, and I mean FINALLY, realized that if I was going to fix this and be able to live a stable life…one that includes travel, fun, and a home of my own, I was going to have to get it together! This was a year and a half ago. And here is how I did it!

  1. I started developing my vision. I did not know exactly what I wanted in the beginning of this journey. I knew I wanted to own a home again, but where and for how much, I had no idea. So, I started attending open houses. When I could find any of those, I started going to new neighborhoods and looking at their model homes. I needed something in my eyesight to keep my focus!
  2. I reviewed all of my finances and made a plan. I began paying off credit card balances. It was a slow process at first, as I struggled to discipline myself enough to really make a difference…but once I started to feel the success of seeing the balances go down, and my credit score go up, I was on fire! I did not really realize that part of my credit score was based on my revolving credit balance…thinking that it was fine to have a balance as long as I paid my bills on time (which I always did)…so it was also a bit of a learning curve.
  3. I started a savings plan. I had to convince myself that if I put more in savings each month than I thought I should, I could always transfer the money back, if ABSOLUTELY necessary. But, as I started to see my balance increase, it became harder and harder to justify what those absolute necessities were, and I discovered that I really didn’t need them! Besides, a 10 dollar bottle of wine helps one unwind and relax just as well as the 30 dollar bottle, right?
  4. Finally, I had to make a decision! My friends say I am afraid of commitment, and a house, of course, is a huge commitment! I was so worried that I would choose and then wish I had something different! I worried that if I decided on a new build, the next week, a great existing home in a better neighborhood would go on the market! It came down to me finally deciding, as I learned that literally ONE lot was left in my soon to be new neighborhood! I realized it was probably fate (yes, I am a bit hokey like that!). I put the earnest money down and the building began!

As I anxiously await my move in date…June 18 is the tentative closing…I have to continually remind myself, don’t spend money, don’t stop saving and paying extra on those bills, and don’t revert back to your old ways! I feel a little like I am in some kind of recovery program! But, really, it is just me, learning how to manage my own life and take charge (finally) of my own finances! Looking forward to what is next and sharing my home building process with you all!

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When Work Gets Me Stressed!

So many of us have high stress jobs these days…especially in education! My job is no different. I work 50-60 hours per week most weeks of the school year. I feel that there are days when I truly lead, and days when I just put out fires. I bring in on myself…I work to help struggling schools improve and this is not a job for the faint of heart!

As I became a school administrator, I remember how much I loved running (I started running in some capacity when I was young). I remembered how in college, it helped me focus and get studying done. As a young mother, it helped me find balance and remember that I was still a person, not just someone’s mom. And, as a principal, it not only helps with my health, but my stress level as well.

I run at least 1 half marathon every year. I love the training! I love the feeling of exhaustion after those long weekend runs! I love the feel of crossing the finish line! And I love that I know that I did it…my body allowed me to complete 13 miles (yes, I would love to run a full, but I am not sure I can commit to the time it would take to train)! I also love that after the official run, I can wear the shirt and walk confidently around, showing the world that I did it!

This year we had this little thing called a pandemic….have you heard about that? So, the Houston Half Marathon was virtual this year. Yes, I said virtual! All 13.1 miles on my own, without the crowd, without the noise, just me and my thoughts in my neighborhood on a crisp January morning! I am not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. I trained as usual, but I was fearful that if I didn’t have the crowd to keep me going, I would not finish!

Well, it was a perfect morning! I went out early, after the sun had just come up. My daughter and I had a route planned that included pit stops back home to get water and use the bathroom. She also had herself stationed around the neighborhood, with her music playing from her car, cheering me on! As I came upon my first mile, I saw a small crowd on the side of the road…some of my teachers and my assistant principal was there wishing me luck as I began my journey! About 4 miles in, another one of my teachers drove by, honking wildly, boosting my stamina a bit more! And, of course, at each trip back to the house, my Oakley was there to give me loves and to keep me going!

I finished with a pretty solid time! It was weird, but not as awful as I thought! And, I was even prouder of myself this year, knowing that it was more challenging than ever, but I could still do it (and in my 49th year of life!)! Of course, the medal and shirt were a bit delayed, but when they came in the mail, I wore them both proudly!

Running will always be a part of my life! It helps with stress, but it is definitely my place to lose myself in my thoughts, enjoy the beauty of nature, and feel accomplished by doing these half marathons each year! I highly suggest to all, find something physical that you enjoy doing and set yourself up to do so! It will truly help with your work-life balance! It will keep you healthy, and we all have learned this year how important that is! And, it will make you feel that you can be more than just the principal, the mom, the co-worker, or the single lady in the crowd!

The email came yesterday that Houston is back on, in person, in 2022! Cannot wait to be at that start line and do my thing!

My view as I approached mile 3, 7, and 10 during my virtual Houston Half Marathon 2021!
Running along Lake Houston during my virtual Houston Half Marathon!
My MOST favorite house in my neighborhood, which I got to run by 3 times during my virtual Houston Half Marathon!

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A 40 Year Old’s Guide to Divorce

I love spring days in Houston! I walk my dog, enjoy the low humidity (yes, we get like 10 days of low humidity here), and soak up the sunshine! I also lose myself in my thoughts…well actually, I reflect. It is such a peaceful time to look back on what I did that day, that week, that year, etc. Today, however, I spent time thinking about how lucky I am to have gotten to a point where I LOVE my life! I am in charge! I make my decisions! I got this!

This has not always been the case. There was a time when I would walk my dog and reflect (in a different world, with a different dog) on how lucky I was to have a partner (thinking I had to have a husband to be happy) and that we would go through the rest of our lives together. Of course, you are reading this because that is not the way my life turned out. Re-framing my thoughts definitely had to happen….and in the process of doing so, I made some good and bad choices along the way! And I also had to realize that that was ok!

Here’s what I should have done differently:

  • I should have realized that a major life change like this would take time to embrace. I wanted to feel better instantly, and when I didn’t, I thought there was something wrong with me.
  • I should have realized that my friends did not understand what I was going through. Until you have experienced certain things in life, you just don’t know. I was hurt that they didn’t understand.
  • I should have realized that I would learn so much from this experience. Instead, I was angry all of the time…or wanted to NOT FEEL anything. Not a great place to be.
  • I should have realized that dating in 2010 was WAY different than dating in 1989! That was my biggest learning curve ever…well, except learning Istagram! 🙂

But, here is what I did well…and got me to where I am today!

  • I got up and did life…every day! No matter what!
  • I learned how to sleep in a bed alone…well, ok, with the dog! But, he never snores!
  • I learned how to live alone…safely! Something we all need to know!
  • I spent time with my single friends (which I don’t think I did so much when I was married) and refreshed those relationships!
  • I took challenges that I may not have taken when I was married…like relocate 1000 miles back home! And, I didn’t feel bad when that move didn’t work and I rushed right back to Houston!

The list can go on and on…but my point today is, when you reflect on your own journey, know that however you handled it, whoever you got a little angry at, and whatever bad decisions you made (hopefully, they didn’t get you in too much trouble…haha), it is ok! Everyone needs to embrace their own journey…heal in their own way…learn to love themselves and their life again, no matter what it looks like when you come out on the other side! My biggest piece of advice, keep going, keep getting up every day, keep dreaming, and keep working toward you new normal! I know you will make it!

Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern on Pexels.com
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My Journey to Home Ownership

It took me years to realize that I could own my own home once again! It has been a bumpy road to home ownership! Let me share my journey (both mistakes and celebrations) with you!

When I learned that I was getting a divorce, I also discovered that my ex-husband was walking away from everything…well, almost everything…he wanted the washer and dryer…hmmmm. It made sense because at that point, we had separated our money and I was paying most of the bills, which included the house payment and all recent repairs needed due to a massive hurricane. Within a couple of years, as I decided to transition back to Iowa, I sold the house and used the money to fund my courageous move to a new life in my home state.

Once in there I decided to try a house flip. Unfortunately at the time, I could not get financed for a home loan, so I walked away, leaving behind the money I used to help a friend make her home better (yes, see, I made many mistakes!). I came back to Houston, with hopes that I would lease a house for a year or two, build my credit back up, and purchase my dream home! That was six years ago! Do you realize home much money one throws away renting for 6 years! Yikes!

I had to learn how to budget and save money! I love to shop, decorate, have fun out with friends to nice places…and I was spending a lot of money that I should have been using to pay off f credit cards or put into savings. Learning to do this was HARD! I think mainly because prior to the moment I realized that I really truly wanted to do it, I really truly did not care if I owned a home or not! It took me time to get feelings back…to care about my future….but once I did, it was on!

January 4 will stand out as a very important day in my life! That was the day I drove past my soon to be new neighborhood, went into the home office, and decided that I would commit to a mortgage once again! I close in June and to be truthful, I am nervous each day building up to the closing, but so excited to have something I can say is mine…that I did this, on my own, because I am a strong woman…whether I am married or not!

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com