Archive | June, 2010

The Chicken Curse: Deep-Fried

30 Jun

Congrats to the South Carolina Gamecocks – AKA my brother’s alma mater – for winning the 2010 College World Series! It’s their second-ever, and first major, national championship. The past two games have been really exciting – it’s always a nail-biter when it comes down to the final inning, then extra innings, then the final pitch. They really outdid themselves and should be really proud for their accomplishment! Take that, West Coast. The SEC reigns supreme!

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Ten Things Tuesday – June 29

29 Jun

Weekend update:

1. My parents had a yard sale on Saturday. I say my parents, because it wasn’t really my project. While I’ve been working so far this summer, they’ve spent their time off cleaning the house, throwing away old stuff, and getting ready for the sale. My grandmother got rid of a lot of stuff she brought with her when she moved – not enough to not need that storage unit, but quite a bit of stuff that’s just lying around collecting dust. It’s amazing how much that stuff can accumulate.

2. Speaking of accumulation, I spent my Saturday cleaning up my room. I’d had some piles of papers and old magazines sitting around that I needed to sort through, and they were getting on my nerves. So instead of helping out at the yard sale, like I really probably should, I organized my room and my horribly messy bathroom counter. I also backed up my computer and deleted old files.

3. I had time to do this because I didn’t have any programs scheduled, for the first time in quite a while! I did do a couple hours of prep work for my art program yesterday, but I didn’t actually have to go in to work, and didn’t have to go anywhere else. It was kind of nice.

4. I didn’t go to the gym once this weekend. And I didn’t exactly stick to my calorie counting, either. Luckily this didn’t show up on the scales, but I’ve got to get back on track! I don’t feel bad, just a little bit guilty is all.

5. Kelly was in town this past weekend for a wedding. We didn’t get a chance to meet up – I know she was really busy! It would have been nice to see her.

6. I feel like I haven’t seen my brother in days. He’s here, living in this house, but he just keeps to himself. When he’s not at work or at his friend Kal’s house, he’s up in his room playing video games with the door shut. I mean, I know I have no life, but at least I spend time downstairs with the rest of the family.

7. The new Harry Potter trailer is out! I’m so freaking excited about it – I just might scream. I don’t know how I’ll wait til the winter to see it, and then til next July for the actual ending. Patience, patience…

8. In my cleaning mood this weekend, I updated my Netflix queue. I’ve been so slack about this lately – I’ve had The Hurt Locker since the middle of March, and I really need to get around to watching it. I mean, I sit around and watch enough TV or other movies anyway, I certainly have time to watch it. I really need to get it back so I can get something else!

9. When I go to sleep at night, I usually watch one of my TV shows on DVD. In the past few months, I’ve gone through Arrested Development, Dead Like Me, Glee, and The Office, not to mention several episodes of Dirty Jobs. Now I’m going through Friends again. You forget so much stuff from those early seasons! My mom and I watched several of them together this weekend.

10. I want to go to the movies soon! There are so many summer movies I want to see coming out – I need some friends or dates to go with!

The Peanut Butter Bandit, Part 2

26 Jun

I’m a little late in posting this, but I just wanted to give the update on the peanut butter situation in my house. If you recall from last week, we began an experiment at my house to see just how much peanut butter my dad could eat all by himself. He’s your typical man that just loves peanut butter, more than about anything else. Last Tuesday, June 16, we decided to see how long it took him to eat an entire jar of peanut butter by himself.

I’m here to day that it took exactly one week. As of June 24, there was no peanut butter left in the jar. He was the only one who had any for the entire week, so he polished off a jar in one week all by himself. That certainly didn’t take long…

This is What my Heart Looks Like:

25 Jun

A quiet place:

Pick-Me-Up

24 Jun

Why is it that a little iced coffee in these hot summer months is the perfect thing to wake you up from your midafternoon doldrums? A little caffeine is the perfect thing to wake you up and combat those nasty sinus symptoms we’re all suffering from around here. I don’t know about you, but yesterday and today have been miserable for me – dry and itchy eyes, pressure headache, general laziness. Sitting at my computer all day doing research and other such things doesn’t help, either!

All I know is, I’m glad we made a coffee run! I feel much better already.

Gratefulness Increases the Value of Everything

23 Jun

Every week in yoga, our teacher reads a short meditation at the end of the class, usually having to do with relaxation, finding inner peace, being kind, etc. You know the drill – inner enlightenment through good thoughts and happiness, as only yoga teachers can prescribe.

One thing she often says that really hits home for me is that “gratefulness increases the value of everything.” I believe this to be absolutely true. I think that the more you practice gratitude, the more blessings you will receive. This is partly because it’s easier to see them when you’re really grateful for them. It’s quite easy to just focus on the things we want and forget the things we already have. Indeed, I too keep a running list of movies I want to add to my collection, or places I want to visit. Most of these are just dreams. But I’m learning to focus on gratefulness, to appreciate everything I’ve experienced in life thus far, with high hopes for the future. If that doesn’t include the things everyone else has, so be it. I don’t have to be just like everyone else. No one else is like me, so why should I want to be like them? I’m fine with the way my life is going. It doesn’t always match up with what the crowd is doing, and that gets frustrating sometimes. But then I look back and think, “Well, no one else is doing what I’m doing. That makes me really special.”

And it’s true. Although I lead a fairly typical life, the fact that I’ve had some incredible experiences, like going to college, traveling to amazing countries, have a loving and supportive family, and really enjoy the work that I do – I think that’s really rare. Most of the time I think that I’m unhappy, but when I really think about it, that’s not true. I am satisfied with my life, and I am quite happy about it. The times when I’m not are the times when I’m focused on what other people are doing, or what they’re getting. But that doesn’t change anything – that isn’t me and it never will be.

I often struggle with the bad habit of complaining, and the deadly sin of jealousy or envy. I sometimes find it hard to really, truly appreciate the things that make my life so great while not looking to see what is making someone else’s life so wonderful. It’s something I constantly battle with, and often lose to. It’s just so easy to complain, and see immediately what you’re not getting or what the other person has. Although, I have discovered, it does take a lot more energy. When you’re only focused on your own life, and not worrying about what others think or what they’re doing that you’re not, you really have a lot more energy and inner peace. It makes sense, of course, but you don’t realize it until you actually do it. It’s one thing to make a resolution to quit complaining and be happy for yourself; it’s an entirely different ballgame to actually do it.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being goal-oriented and working hard for the things you want. In fact, I admire this far more than those people who are given everything in life and don’t know the meaning of an honest day’s work. The problem is when we get so wrapped up in accomplishing goals to impress others, rather than for ourselves, or to buy things we really don’t need or can’t afford – then we forget how great our lives are and just focus on what we don’t have yet. I think if we were to step back and really, truly be appreciative of things in life – whether that’s family, friends, house, clothing, appearance, job, travels, love, whatever – we would realized that we are blessed beyond measure. Focusing on the haves instead of the have-nots will only serve to make us happier, more satisfied people. We can still go after our goals and dreams, but we won’t be doing it for anyone, or anything, else besides our own happiness. And because it’s something we really enjoy, I think we’re more likely to appreciate it. So it’s a circle over and over – work hard for the things you want, be grateful for them, realize all the blessings of your life, achieve another goal, give thanks for that, etc. You see where it’s going.

I think we’d realize that we really don’t have it as bad as we thought we did. We don’t need all those fancy cars or the most fashionable wardrobe. We don’t need those famous friends or that high-paying but ultimately unsatisfying job, either. It’s the rich experiences in life that truly count – the places you get to see, the people you love, the things you’re good at. That’s really what matters. And in counting your blessings, you shouldn’t leave those out. Blessings aren’t just monetary – it’s everything you see around you. The air in your lungs, the flowers, the love pouring from friends and family, maybe even that little diploma on the wall that you poured your soul out to earn.

I’m going to redefine success in my life. I know I say this over and over, but I’m going to really commit to breaking myself of that complaining habit. Yeah, we all whine here and there, but I’m going to make the conscious effort to count my blessings and increase my gratitude rather than focusing on the things I don’t have yet. Life’s not about that, after all. I’m going to actually live my life, rather than sitting around mourning things lost or yet to be gained.

Ten Things Tuesday – June 22

22 Jun

Ten places I’d like to visit:

1. Greece. My ultimate Greek experience would be a cruise on the Mediterranean of all the little islands, of course stopping over on the mainland to check out Athens for a bit. You see those pictures of those gorgeous rocky beaches, the brightly painted houses built right on the cliffs, that pristine blue water, and you just swoon. I mean, could anything be more beautiful? Nevermind that fact that it’s one of the oldest civilizations on earth, and there’s so much history there.

2. Alaska. I’ve never been to the West Coast, and I think if I was going to go anywhere, this would be it. I’d love to spend a few weeks up there cruising on the coast, seeing icebergs and whales and all the glorious nature that’s up there. I have this romantic vision of it in my mind, that it’s this huge expanse of wilderness that would be so peaceful  and yet so alive. Add British Columbia to that list – after seeing so much of it covered at the recent Olympics, I want to check that out, too. 

3. Costa Rica. My brother went there on a mission trip two years ago, and he really had a good time. I’ve never been to Central or South America before, and I think this would be a great place to go. Hiking and swimming in the jungle – that would be awesome. Not to mention the beautiful wildlife you’d see. I’m an outdoorsy kind of girl – I think I could swing that for a while!

4. Italy. I mean, really. Who doesn’t want to visit Italy at least once in their life? Especially art students like myself? You can’t find better art museums anywhere (except probably Paris). Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, Sicily – I’ll take it all!

5. Southern France. I’ve been to Paris twice, and I’d go again anytime I got the chance. But I’d really love to see the French countryside, drink my way through the little vineyards and stop in all the little villages for amazing bread and cheese. All the way down to the famous Riviera, where hopefully I’d meet some dashing, rich European man, and he’d whisk me away on his yacht for the rest of my life. Yeah, that sounds about right.

6. Peru and Chile. I saw the episodes of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain went to these countries, and it just looked amazing. The Andes mountains look so intense, but beautiful. The food culture there looked incredible – every time I watch that show I salivate and immediately feel tempted to blow my life savings on travelocity. I don’t know why exactly, but I really feel drawn to Peru and Chile. It’s like some siren call coming from the ocean. I just really, really want to go there.

7. Istanbul. Another Anthony Bourdain-inspired trip. It just looks so alive and eclectic – my kind of city, for sure. Also a great place for some incredible architecture and design. You have to admit that such a colorful history makes for some awesome art!

8. Ireland and Scotland. Few things are more attractive to me than Irish and Scottish accents. Little Irish pubs, cobblestone streets, and rolling green hills don’t hurt, either. I’d go and never come back.

9. Uganda. I did my senior art therapy paper on African child refugees, and I’d love, love, love the opportunity to actually go and put my research into practice. There aren’t many opportunities for that, and I’d jump at the chance to break down that door.

10. Morocco. Something about those rich, colorful, spicy open-air markets is wildly appealing. All the different smells and colors in the air- I have this gorgeous image of it in my mind. I’d love to try the food, too – I’m always up for that. Paul Klee once said the light on the North African coast is unlike any other, and I’d really like to see what he meant. Maybe I’ll pack some paints in my luggage and do some light-inspired art while I’m there. I have a feeling it would be an entirely new perspective on the world, in all senses. I’ll hop over there the next time I go to Spain.