A Moment of Gratitude

25 September 2013

This is Fox. If you've been around here long, you'd know that he is my nephew, my sister's son. Since I live with my sister, I get to see this boy every day.

One day, I will share with you the story of the day he was born. It was a very special day. He was even born on my dog, Lucy's birthday! But I am saving that story because it is special, and has more to do with my sister than with my nephew.

No, today I want to talk about Fox, and how grateful I am to have this time with him.

I've been feeling a bit of insecurity of late as to the fact that I am thirty (soon to be thirty-one) and I live in my sister's basement (which is a heck of a lot nicer than it sounds). I never imagined that at age thirty, I would not be living in a place of my own. But reality had other plans. For one, I do not do well living on my own (hello, severe depression), and the economy (and student loans) have required me to cut back spending on things like rent. Sometimes I just don't feel grown-up.

But that is the glass half-empty version of things.

Tonight reminded me how my glass is overflowing in a way that I will likely cherish for the rest of my days. After spending a little bit of time playing with Fox this evening, I asked him if he wanted to tell me night-night. He walked me to the baby gate that partitions off my sister's living room from the hallway, and then he waved bye-bye (which is part of his usual night-night ritual). He then kissed me through the rungs of the gate, and then he reached up his arms to me. He only recently began giving hugs, and tonight he wanted a hug in addition to his usual goodnight kiss. When I picked him up, he put his arms around my neck and rested his golden head against my shoulder. After I put him down, he reached up again, wanting one more hug. It was the sweetest moment, something he did entirely on his own. And that is when I realized that my insecurity is flawed.

If I didn't live with my sister, I wouldn't have such moments as this. Fox is already growing up so quickly, and his days as a toddler will pass before I know it. It's the small moments that I appreciate the most, and living with my sister's family means I get to spend lots of small moments with Fox. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

What sort of small moments make you feel grateful? I would love to hear form you in the comments below!

Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Slowing Down

23 September 2013

Happy first Monday of Fall, my friends! I'm still not quite ready for the cold and the darkness, but I accept that it is here. If anything, drinking hot cocoa will no longer have to be done in shame (yes, I still drink hot cocoa in the Summer).

Anyway, it is time again for Weekly Wishes!

Last week, my wish was to write something non-blog-related every day. Well, I didn't. I did when I had time, but frankly, I just feel time slipping through my fingers these days. I simply don't have enough to do all the things I want to do.

And that takes me to this week's wish. My blogging confidence has been waning, and to me, that means it's time to slow it down. I might not post every day this week. I will definitely be stepping away from Twitter. And I'm probably not going to be commenting on quite so many blogs this week. Instead, I want to take some time for myself so that I can focus on the content of my blog, since that is the main course of this blog. This is something that I need to do for me, and I am hoping it will help me get back on track.

Have you ever found that you don't have quite a good grasp on time? DO you ever find yourself needing to slow down? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: September 20

20 September 2013
Happy Friday, my friends! It's time to celebrate the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend!

To get the weekend started off right, let's talk about some of the things that made this week fabulous:

I spent a day at the coast.

I went to yoga class three times this week.

I had family time with a delicious brunch at home in celebration of my dad's birthday.

I got in lots of Lucy cuddles.

I had a yummy dinner with my mom, sister in law, and nephews, where I had to fight my oldest nephew for my brownie sundae (it was with malt gelato- as in Heaven).


All in all, not a bad week, though to be honest, it's been a bit stressful. Let's just say I'm glad to rest this weekend.

And now, before I sign off, I'd like you to meet another one of my lovely sponsors, Helen from Says Helen:

Says Helen is my little platform on the internet. It's a place for me to share the things I think are important, or awesome, or scary. Like you, Rachel, I realized that I was adhering to a script, trying desperately to write my life story. My biggest achievement to date is that I've been able to "let go" and just love and trust in the bigger picture. (Well, sometimes anyway!) I share my thoughts via Says Helen in the hopes that other people will read, witness and take up the challenge themselves. It's also a way for me to continue my writing practice. It's also also just a place to be silly sometimes!

1. When do you feel most confident? I'm confident when I'm strong (physically and emotionally), when people look to me for answers, when I'm running the show. I'm confident when I'm singing something I know really well. I'm confident when I can articulate a need and then fulfill it for myself, without hoping someone else will read my mind and fix it for me.

2. What do you like to do to “treat yo’self?” Like Aimee, I like to get my nails done -- and like Erika, I love a good massage (my current office has massage Thursdays, $1/minute chair massages! Rock on.) I also like to spend time with friends in the sunshine. Although I'm trying to move away from food & drink as a form of treats, I admit I like to have a glass of wine or a cookie for a job well done too!

3. What is the best compliment you have received lately? I just finished a reading of a musical that was really fulfilling. Many of the other performers involved were Equity actors (like the Big Leagues of theater), including one actor whom I'd seen and loved in a performance he did in one of the top theaters in my geographical area. The morning after our performance, I awoke to a Facebook message from him thanking me for the experience and that my "voice and delivery rocked." SO COOL.

To read more, check out A Giveaway in Celebration of my First BirchboxBeing a Part of a Musical Workshop, and An Open Letter to my Husband on our 5th Anniversary. Helen can also be found on Twitter and FacebookStop on by Helen's blog and say hello!

Tell me now, what has made your week fabulous? Do you have any plans to treat yo'self this weekend? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

A Playlist for the Harvest Moon

19 September 2013

In honor of this morning's Harvest Moon, and the beginning of Fall on Sunday afternoon, I am bringing you my Fall playlist. Here you will find songs that invoke rust-colored leaves, the smell of a bonfire, a chill in the air, and days that have grown dim. The cold is already settling into my blood, and it is time to wear my hand-warmers and wool socks once again. Whether you are feeling the changes or no, I hope you enjoy these songs, perhaps with a spiced latte or a cup of cocoa.

By the way, I am absolutely obsessed with that first song right now. I can't resist a pretty harmony.

Do you have a Fall playlist? What songs appear on yours? I'd love to hear form you in the comments below!

Cannon Beach and Guest Post

18 September 2013
Hey everybody! Today I am guest posting on one of my favorite blogs- Leaner By the Lake! My piece is part of her Mindful Health series, and I am talking all about belly dance and how great it is for women- mind, body, and soul. Check it out!

Just so I don't leave you totally in the lurch today, here are some photos from my Saturday trip to Cannon Beach:

A Year in Poitiers

17 September 2013
Today I am linking up for Blogtember and the prompt is this: a memory you would like to re-live.

For me, it's not so much a single memory, but a chapter of my life. The year I spent studying in Poitiers was one of the best years of my life, filled with many wonderful memories and amazing friends.

I would love to meet up with Adrienne in front of the hotel de ville, where we would inevitably run into at least a few other of our American clan.

I would love to cozy up on Ina's floor with Sarah and Lindsey while we drink tea and watch Pride & Prejudice.

I would love to enjoy a warm pain au chocolat from La Mie Caline with Adrienne, Edana, and Renee while we gossip about who likes who at the moment.

I would love to explore Strasbourg with Sarah, Ina, Lindsey, and Renee, despite the rain.

I would love to stay in the strangest and coolest hostels and B&B's with Adrienne, laughing nearly every minute of every day.

I would love to slap my knee every time Lawrence says something funny, while Ed documents the number of times I slap my knee, all while planning the most spectacular Thanksgiving show Poitiers has ever seen: Rachel et ses Amis.

I would love to have a big group of friends to call on any given day, to grab a coffee, an ice cream sundae, or a kebab and relate about our language faux-pas and the things we missed back home.

There are so many memories from that year that I would like to re-live, that I cannot choose just one. I could reminisce for days, but I will spare you. Perhaps I will save it for when I am older and more creative with my memory. 
Do you have a time from your life that you would love to re-live? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Anti-SAD and Writing

16 September 2013
Bonjour mes amis and happy Monday! Once again, it is time to link up with Melyssa for Weekly Wishes.

Last week, I discussed putting together an Anti-SAD kid as my wish. How did I do?

Well, the project turned out to be a bit bigger than I'd intended, so at this point, what I have is a list. It is going to take me a little time to physically pull all of these things together and put them in one easy-to-reach location. So, be on the lookout in the next few weeks for a post highlighting the contents of my Anti-SAD kit.

So far on the list for my kit are:

  • this tea
  • chocolate
  • happy song playlist
  • happy pictures
  • happy movies
  • this book
  • fuzzy socks
  • hand warmers
  • Little Hotties
  • blanket
  • lamp
  • yoga DVD
  • favorite chocolate chip cookie and brownie recipes

As for this week, I would like to boost my writing confidence. And I'm not talking blogging. My goal is to write something unrelated to this blog every day this week. A poem, a journal entry, or even a bit of fiction. I stumbled across an idea in my mind last week that I would like to begin putting to paper (or screen), so this goal should help me jump-start that process.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my Anti-SAD kit? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: Friday the 13th

13 September 2013
Are you superstitious? Because today is Friday the 13th, so you best avoid black cats and walking under ladders. I'm not entirely superstitious, but every now and then I'll knock on wood for good measure.

In any case, it's Friday! And that means it's time for me to share what made this week fabulous. I've had a pretty good week, minus a ton of stress at work today and horrible traffic on my way to yoga. But that's what a glass full of Bordeaux is for, right?

Right. Here are a few of the things that made this week fabulous:

This purple ice cream is rocking my world right now.

I went wine tasting with my parents in Hood River, and enjoyed this lovely view from the alpaca farm.

Pizza always makes me do a happy dance.

My sister made me a headband from the alpaca wool we picked up in Hood River.
My Snail Mail Collective package arrived.
Before I wish you a happy weekend, I would like to introduce you to Aimee, the blogger behind Dear Harper. Not only does Aimee take beautiful photos, but she writes from the heart.

A few good reads from Aimee's blog to get you started are: Why I Blog, A Letter to You, Yes, YOU, and 10 Ways to Beat the Gloomies (and Be a Generally Happier Person).

You can also find Aimee on Twitter and Facebook. Go check this wonderful lady out- she'll brighten your day!

And now I'd like to hear, what made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Songs That Define Me: A Tribute

12 September 2013
Helene in Between

Today I am linking up with Helene for Songs That Define Me. Since today is my dad's birthday, I thought I would pay tribute to the man who has instilled in me a love of the Beatles.

When I was little, my dad would take us on his rail-fanning day trips, and in the car he often played The White Album. Bungalow Bill will forever be a road trip song in my mind, and Abbey Road is likely my favorite album of all time (to be listened to in order, since it is a progression for the second half of the album).

So, in honor of dad's birthday, I'm sharing my favorite song from each Beatles album. Sadly, the Beatles are not on Spotify, so you'll have to click links to YouTube.

I Saw Her Standing There
All My Loving
If I Fell
I'll Follow the Sun
I've Just Seen a Face
In My Life (quite possibly my most favorite song ever)
And Your Bird Can Sing
When I'm Sixty-Four
I Will
Honey Pie
All You Need Is Love
Golden Slumbers
Let It Be

What is your favorite Beatles song? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Snail Mail Collective: Under the Sea

11 September 2013
This past month, I joined up with the Snail Mail Collective for the second month. Basically, I signed up on the first of August, was paired somewhere around the 9th with another blogger from somewhere far away, and over the past few weeks, this other blogger and I got to know each other. And then we send each other some small gifts and post cards.

I was delighted to be paired with Jess, of The Gap Year Guru. Jess is a cool girl from Ireland taking a year off from university to travel Brazil, where her boyfriend lives. She makes really cute vlogs that make you want to go to Brazil, play on the beach, and eat all the things.

Jess sent me some sand from Copacabana and shells from Ipanema, after I told her that I dream of visiting Brazil one day. She also included a magnet, not knowing that I collect magnets from different places! There were stickers and also a little surprise for my nephew- some toys for the beach (which he commandeered as soon as he saw them). A map and some thoughtful notes on postcards completed this truly wonderful package.

I've had so much fun getting to know Jess, and I look forward to continuing our correspondence. She is an absolute gem, so I hope you check out her blog too!

How do you feel about snail mail? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

A Different Future

10 September 2013
Today I am linking up with Jenni for Blogtember. The prompt: a moment when your life took a turn.

I remember it so well. It really was a moment, a big moment. In reality, it was a deflation, when I was planning on inflation. A downturn instead of an upturn. Staying put instead of leaving.

When I was in college, my long-term plans were to get my bachelor's degree in French with a minor in Art History. I would then go on to grad school to earn first my master's, and then my doctorate, in Art History. In the distant future, I would become a professor of Art History, sharing my love of art and history with college students every day, and inspiring many more budding art historians.

During my senior year in college, I was dealing with a lots of new emotions that left me reluctant to make concrete plans for after college. On top of severe reverse culture shock, I had to deal with the first death in the family that I had ever experienced- my uncle's suicide. Throw in my dearest grandmother's swift death just a few short months later, and I was an emotional wreck. What do I do when I'm an emotional wreck? I decide to move back to France after college to teach English.

So my plans for grad school were pushed out, but they became more concrete as I had time to consider it. Upon my return to the States, I would get a job and then focus on taking a couple Art History classes in my free time and study for the GRE's. I would then apply to the best Art History programs that cover my chosen topic (which I still needed to decide). Easy-peasy.

Things went mostly according to plan. I took a Pre-Columbian Art History course, and a Women in Art History course during my free time. I volunteered at the Portland Art Museum. I totally rocked my GRE's. I decided on 5 Art History programs to which I applied, and awaited the results. In the end, only 2 of the programs accepted me. One was in Oregon, the other in Florida.

After much debate, I chose Florida. For one, I really wanted to work with the professor that I had been conversing with over the previous few months. She was incredibly nice and helpful, and her focus was the topic I wanted to study. Florida would also mean a change of scenery, something I was craving after living back home for two years.


Doubt started creeping in when I noticed the economy starting to tank (this was back in 2009), and I began to question if Art History is a very good idea, economically speaking. I had also begun to question the political nature of a career in academics, especially after some frosty encounters with another Art History department. I'm the kind of girl who when she realizes something is a game, she gets out. I don't compete- it's one of the reasons I never played sports.

But the moment everything changed was the phone call I received the day before I sent in a check for a deposit on the place I would be living in Florida. My adviser-to-be called me to let me know that after Fall semester, she would be changing schools. She felt that she should let me know, so that if she was the reason I had chosen Florida, that I could consider my options and really think things over.

To sum up, all my creeping doubts were validated by this one phone call.

So I let Florida know that I would not be enrolling in their Art History program after all. I called my mom right away, in tears, telling her my decision. I told my co-workers and then my boss at the time, letting them know that I would not be leaving after all, that they would not be needing to find a replacement.

And that is how I ended up staying here, with no concrete plans for the future.

Before I let you go, I would love for you to get to know one of my lovely sponsors and blog friends, Belinda!

My name is Belinda, and I am the writer, traveller, coffee drinking lady behind the blog: Found Love. Now What? There I share tales of living abroad in the UK, being a new wife (and expat), adventures to castles and abroad while sharing thoughts on developing your own blogging community.  I’m not perfect by a long stretch, so I classify myself as a work in progress with a sprinkle of humor and grace. I’d love to get to know you, hop on over and say hello!

 When do you feel most confident? I think my confidence steams from when I am learning a new skill, and I actually get something right! Currently, I am on a mission to take my DSLR off the manual mode and when I get a small victory, I feel just a bit more confident in what I am trying to learn.
What do you like to do to “treat yo’self?” Other than my Friday Starbucks? Hmmm… I would say that I love treating myself to travel.  We live fairly moderate lifestyles, in order to allow us to travel.  From day trip adventures to a week in Paris, I love anytime I can get out of the house and explore something new!
What is the best compliment you have received lately?  That I am inspiration to fellow bloggers, which is incredibly humbling to me.
How has blogging impacted your life? In so many ways! Blogging has given me a creative outlet to share my story with my beloved readers while connecting with fellow bloggers with similar interests.  Living abroad, blogging has created a community of support that I have come to count on when I am having a rough day or even a small victory.
Which blog post that you’ve written is nearest and dearest to your heart?  Oh, that’s a tough question! It’s like picking a favorite out of 350+ puppies… alas.  Of all the posts I have done, I would have to say one that I really love would have to be 5 Lessons I Learned in Paris. It highlights a bit of our approach when traveling somewhere new.

As a starting point, check out these posts:
5 Years From Now
An Open Letter to My Husband
Royal Baby Fever {But Not Me}
A Harry Potter Moment in Edinburgh
Whelp Summer, It's Been Grand

You can also find Belinda on Twitter, Facebook, and Bloglovin'

Belinda is an absolute shining light in the blog community, and she has been an influence and inspiration to me. She is a genuine soul, and her vulnerability is what makes her one of my favorite bloggers. Also, she lives near lots of castles in Wales, so I am dying to go visit her! Check out her blog- I know you will like what you find!

Have you ever had a moment like this? One that defined the course of your future? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Weekly Wishes for Confidence: September 9

09 September 2013

Is it just me, or did this weekend fly by? I could use another weekend.

Reality is, it's Monday, and that means Weekly Wishes!

Last week, my wish was to complete the first seven days of the 30 Day Squat Challenge. I managed to keep up with it for the most part, skipping one day due to being so worn out I passed out on my couch at 9pm. Yep, some days I'm just an old lady. But I don't care, especially since I did some new, hard yoga classes this week. I do feel my glutes getting stronger, and my sister even pointed out that I"m finally getting a butt. Score.

As for this week's wish, I want to prepare a S.A.D. kit for the coming Fall and Winter. I get hit pretty hard by S.A.D. so I would like to be prepared this year. Nothing strips me of my confidence more than being in a low mood. This week I want to come up with an action plan for when I feel it hitting me, and a kit of things I can use to help fight it. I will share my kit with you all next week, and hopefully it can help anyone else who has the same issue.

What is your wish for this week? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: September 6

06 September 2013
Happy Friday, my friends! This week was a short week and it sure went by fast. Thank goodness for that!

I've actually had a pretty good week, despite opening my car door on my nose last night (very painful, I do not advise). Here are just some of the things that have made this week fabulous:

Went to the farmer's market with this goofball.

Bought some dahlias to match my outfit at the market.

Spent time at the park with this adorable boy, his mom, and my pup.

Had fun with these boys during my family Labor Day cookout.

Both of the boys wanted on Papa's lap while we played a board game.

I made banana cake with cream cheese frosting and it was awesome.

Now, before I wish you all a happy weekend, let me introduce you to one of my sponsors (and blog friends and life twins), Erika!

Hi there! In the 4 years that I've had my blog, I've traveled to over 25 countries and have lived in a couple of different ones, too. Currently, I'm a twenty-something California native who has found home in the middle of Michigan. Say what?!? I'm not sure exactly how that happened either, but I like it here (for now, anyway).

When do you feel most confident?
When I feel in my element -- when I'm talking about something I know about.

What do you like to do to “treat yo’self?”
Get a massage (doesn't happen too often on a grad school budget!) :)

What is the best compliment you have received lately?
That someone liked something that I wrote and found it helpful! :)

Over on my blog, Chimerikal, I share my reflections on life and what I’m learning about practicing positivity in an authentic way. From "How to Build Your Blogging Confidence" to "Confessions of a Reluctant Vegetarian," it's a place where I love to share my experiences and connect with others. I hope you'll stop by!

For more links, check out these posts: Uncovering Your Niche and 27 Things I've Learned from Celebrities.

You can also find Erika on Twitter and Bloglovin'

I hope you will check her out if you haven't already! Now friends, I'd like to wish you a happy weekend! What made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Some Advice I've Learned

05 September 2013

Today's prompt for Blogtember is:  Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.

I'm really not much of an advice person, and if people ever give me advice, I quickly forget it. I'm a learn-by-experience girl. So this prompt was rather challenging.

After some thought, I decided to share the "advice" that I've read before, advice that has inspired this blog. I don't know who to attribute it to since I've seen it countless times in multiple locations. But it all boils down to: "If you want to be a writer, write."

If there is something you want to be, be it. If there is something you want to do, do it. No excuses.

I've always wanted to be a writer, and for a long time I thought it was a fantasy. But what if actually being a writer is different from the fantasy? There are as many ways to be a writer as there are people who write. 

I write this blog because I am a writer. I also write notes to myself, journal entries, emails, letters, poems, and sometimes stories. All of these things matter- all of these things are expressions of myself. And so I will keep on writing.

Do you have a piece of advice that has stuck with you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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