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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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! 🙂

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!

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!