Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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! 🙂

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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
Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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
Featured

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

Handling Setbacks

Something I have certainly learned in life is dealing with setbacks. Some are big…some small…but with each one, you have to deal with it, figure out how to overcome, and move forward. I often speak to people about things that happen in their lives and quickly realize that handling setbacks is definitely something one needs to learn how to do. Not everyone has the skill to deal and continue to move forward in a positive way.

I think back to being a parent of a young child. Having gone through many things in my own life, I realized that I sheltered my child from so many things in hers. I did not ever want her to have to experience some of the things that I did. But, then I learned that I had to let her experience setbacks so she could learn to problem solve; she had to learn to handle them and grow from them. As parents, we never want to see our kids struggle, but sometimes its the struggle that teaches them the way to handle so many things in the world. Once I had this epiphany, I could help her on the path of becoming a functioning adult.

As mentioned above, I truly believe so many people have not had an opportunity to build the capacity to deal with setbacks. One person I think of in particular will completely shut down…as if her life is over…and will need her family to “fix” the problem, so she can move on. It makes me sad to think about her, as she is close to me, and how if we were not around, would she be forced to deal with her own problems and figure them out??? Are we actually enabling her?

This summer has been a series of setbacks for me…and honestly both positive and challenging. I really must preface with, I am truly lucky to have all I have…,meaning: to have the grit and wisdom to do what is needed to be done to get all that I have. But, setbacks are hard, nonetheless. My setbacks have included, losing staff members that needed to be replaced with strong candidates, dealing with a very busy schedule that has made working out and self care challenging, learning to change with moving to a new neighborhood and being out of my comfort zone for a while, starting a new school year with new staff who do not know our systems, requiring many additional hours both at work and home for me…again, not all negative, but needing to be dealt with. So how do I handle them? Please see my process below.

  1. Stop, take a breath, and evaluate what is happening. This is the first step in my processing. I really need to take a minute to evaluate the magnitude and what kind of response I should have to the current situation.
  2. Remind myself that I do deserve some grace and if the situation cannot be solved immediately, it is ok. I can give myself time to resolve…and really, this will help me in the long run, as I know I make better decisions when I am not in a rush.
  3. Determine the best steps in fixing the problem. It may mean adjusting my schedule, waking up earlier, working later, or a little bit of all of that. This planning process will help me know exactly what to do to resolve.
  4. Ask for help if needed. This one is exceptionally hard for me, but I have learned over time, that when in a situation that could be considered a setback, I may not be thinking as clearly as normal and other’s input can be very helpful.
  5. And finally, I keep moving forward. If I miss a week or two of workouts, for example, when I have the time to get back at it, I start fresh. I never overdo it to “make up” missed time, as that is the perfect recipe for an injury.

I will never say that I am an expert to any of this. To be truthful, I can panic at first, and just have learned the most important part is to calm down so that I can recover from any setback. And, more importantly, never give up, never shut down, and keep moving forward! Stay tuned, my friends!