Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zen

I often think of myself as having what I call a "zen core". Down inside I'm grounded. I believe everything happens for a reason and I have a lot of faith in The Universe and karma. I know everything is always going to work out in the end. I practice kindness and compassion. I think everyone has their own story that motivates their actions and therefore try not to take anything personally. However, in between my core and the rest of the world there's another layer. Sometimes it's a thick layer that hides my true self and causes me to be prone to anxiety and outbursts. Other times it's thin and I feel calm, safe and able to me my true self. I am continuously on a journey to cause that shell to become so thin that it eventually disappears.

According to The Oxford Dictionary, zen is a noun: a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition. The way we use the word today is different. It typically is used to mean a state of calmness, a togetherness of mind and body.

I'm currently reading a book called The Dude and The Zen Master. It was written by Jeff Bridges, who played The Dude in The Big Lebowski, and Bernie Glassman who has been Bridge's Beddhist teacher turned close friend. The idea of the book is that many people see The Dude as a Zen Master. The book is a collection of conversations between the two men  on this and other thoughts on living well and doing good.

What I've come to realize from this and other books I've written on the subject, is that zen is a little different for everyone. For me, it's about getting to that place of loving myself and being untouched by what others think of me or comparing myself to others. It's about staying calm in the face of anxious thoughts and letting them pass because in the end, everything will work out so I might as well not throw a fit. Some days I'm totally zen, other days not even close. But if I can reach it on some days, I know I can reach it on all days. One of the most important things I've learned on my journey is to stop and ask "What would serve me best?". When I answer that question honestly and follow through, I am peeling back my shell and truly being myself.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for YouTube

If I'm feeling sad, stressed or angry, whether it's after a rough day at work or I'm sick or just worn out emotionally, there is one thing that can always break the tension and cheer me up: funny YouTube videos. I have a few marked as my favorites that will make me laugh every time, no matter what is going on with me that day.

I've always felt a special fondness for YouTube because one of it's founders, Chad Hurley, was a year ahead of me at the high school I went to in Pennsylvania. I didn't know him but just because we came from the same place, I can't help but feel a little pride.

At this point, I know YouTube is filled with and capable of much more than funny videos. I've used it to watch videos on roller derby skills, cooking and crafts. It's become a part of our culture now, the go-to place for instructions and information. I certainly appreciate that part of it as well.

As I worked on my posts this month, I knew that YouTube would be my subject for Y so I've been trying to decide which video is my absolute favorite and deserved to be posted. It's a difficult task. I figure I should go with one that's G Rated, in the event anyone is reading my posts at work or around their kiddos. So here's one that never fails to make me laugh. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xavier Roberts

X is the only letter that really stumped me for this challenge. All I could come up with was xylophone and xanax, neither of which left me feeling inspired. So I did the only thing I knew would work to come up with good ideas: I called upon my FaceBook friends for help. I asked for suggestions and was pleased to see so many of my friends willing to pitch in their thoughts! There were several more for xylophone and xanax and a bunch of other great ones that definitely got me thinking, (some of which I didn't even know the definitions!): xenolith, xenophobia, x-rated, x-ray, xeroform, Xanadu and many more.

Xavier Roberts was suggested by two of my friends. I liked the idea right away but settled on it when my boyfriend was reading the list of suggestions and said "Who's Xavier Roberts?". Since he's almost six years younger than me, my other half was born a little late to fully appreciate Cabbage Patch Kids. He has a sister who is my age and of course she had one, but apparently he didn't realize they were such a big deal. Yes, actually, Cabbage Patch Kids were a really big deal to a seven year old girl in 1985. Once I did some Google research and found this photo, I knew my X topic was decided.

I only had one Cabbage Patch Kid, but man oh man, I sure loved her so much. She was a "preemie", with a peach colored outfit and a smooth bald head. She smelled like baby powder and that scent lasted for years. I'm surprised I can't remember her name but I'm pretty sure she's still in my parents' house, packed away. I know I have a photograph of me opening the box at my 7th birthday party and I've searched high and low but can't find it.

I was surprised to learn that Cabbage Patch Kids are still being made. They're modernized with glasses and TShirts sporting catchy phrases. You can even go to www.cabbagepatchkids.com to adopt your doll or plan a visit to Baby Land General Hospital. I'm pretty sure that would have blown my seven year old mind!

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Winter

Winter is not my favorite season. It might make you wonder then, why I choose to live in a place where it typically snows during at least nine months out of the year. Trust me, there are definitely some days when I wonder the same thing myself. Like when I'm shoveling a foot of snow in the dark at 6am or when it's 40 degrees below zero and going outdoors is unsafe due to risk of frost bite. But ask me on a day I'm skiing, with the sun shining in a blue sky or snowshoeing in the mountains to cut down my own Christmas tree and I'll tell you winter isn't so bad after all. Living here does take some getting used to, I'll give you that. The first winter I lived here, after moving from North Carolina, I spent most of the time inside. That makes for a loooong winter. By the following year, I knew I needed to learn how to enjoy the snowy season or I wouldn't be able to last long here. So I took skiing lessons and bought some used gear. Now I own both downhill and cross country skis and snow shoes plus lots of hats, gloves, mittens, long underwear, etc. My car has an engine block heater, which I have to plug in with an extension cord on cold nights so that it starts the next morning. My dogs wear coats and boots. I even have a "Happy Light" to get me through the long months of short days and minimal sunlight. It's not for everyone. I've found that the people who do live here are generally pretty happy and fit because they choose to stay here because they enjoy it. People who can't tolerate it tend to move away.

 I've lived in Montana for six years now and I'm still constantly amazed at the amazing experiences I have and the beautiful scenery I see on a daily basis. Yes, I've had to wear snow boots with fish net stockings to go to a roller derby event and it was cold but it was also kinda awesome. I think it does take a special kind of person to thrive here and I feel so lucky to know so many of them and to be making this my home.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vegetables

Even though it's late April, it's still not quite spring here in Montana. As is usual for this time of year, my house is full of seedling plants waiting to be transplanted into the ground once it's warm enough. Gardening in Montana is hard work. The growing season is short, summers are harsh and particularly where I live, the soil is not great. But despite all that, it's worth it to us because there really is something special about eating vegetables that you grew yourself. There are so many benefits I get from spending that time outdoors caring for the plants and harvesting. I like weeding the garden barefoot and eating tomatoes and peas right off the vine. There's nothing like it! Fresh veggies are great all summer long but it feels extra good when it's the middle of winter and we're eating eating tomato sauce, salsa and jam that was made with our harvest. We've given some of our preserved foods away as Christmas gifts and it always seems to bring people joy.

Every once in a while, I run across a person who says they don't like vegetables. It always surprises me because I eat so many that I can't imagine what I'd be eating without them. I've never been a picky eater and I've always liked veggies and eaten them readily. Sure there are a few on my Least Favorite list but I'll eat just about anything!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unexpected

I have several tattoos and some of them are fairly large. When I'm fully dressed, none of them are visible but in warm weather, they peek out from short sleeve tops, capri pants and sandals. There have been countless times when someone first learns that I have tattoos and says something along the lines of "I would have never expected you to have tattoos!"I used to be highly offended when this happened, taking it as an insult. I've never understood what it means. Even when I've asked, no one ever had a decent explanation for what they were trying to say. Many people seem to have preconceived notions about what a person with tattoos looks and acts like and I guess I don't fit that mold.

I recently told a co-worker about my desire to go to taxidermy school soon. The response was similar:
"Wow! I never would have expected that from you!" And that's when I got to thinking that I like being "different" and presenting people with the unexpected. Perhaps I'm giving people a gift by shattering their expectations. If everything happened just as we expected, life would be boring. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a planner and I like to know what's coming and try to prepare for it, but life doesn't always give me what I'm expecting either and sometimes I'm glad for that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Teammates

Before joining my roller derby team last year, I had never played a team sport. I'd never played any sport, actually. I started running in my late 20's and that was the most athletic I'd ever been. I joined the team for several reasons but mostly to enrich my life and give myself something to strive for that wasn't job related. In just a few months, these ladies became more important to me than I ever could have imagined. In case you wouldn't have guessed, roller derby is pretty tough. I knew I could do it, but I was in my 30's when I joined and had never roller skated before. I was "behind the curve" a bit. It took me longer to pass the skills test than most other girls and I was really hard on myself. Without the support from my teammates (both physical and emotional), I might not have stuck it out. I know it may be hard to believe since we all hit each other on a regular basis, but there's not a single lady on this team who hasn't shown me kindness. There's a pretty wide range of personality types and lifestyles but when we come together with our skates on, we blend together pretty darn well. When we practice we knock each other down and yell at each other but we also cheer each other on. I've never experienced anything like it. I truly love these women and my life is better because of the things I've learned from skating with them.

This photo was taken on a morning in March when it was about 27 degrees out! One of our teammates is a photographer (Bellissimo Photography) and toughed it out with us to get some awesome shots for our promotional material. 

*I know I only referred to ladies in this post,  so I want to clarify: we do have three male referees on our team and they are stellar guys!

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Self Portraits

I was a fan of taking self portraits even before digital cameras allowed multiple chances to get the perfect shot. In my younger years, I developed many rolls of film containing some duds but also some gems. Now with my iPhone and its self portrait setting, it's easy to take a picture without anyone's assistance. I like taking photos this way because it allows me a chance to capture a moment without including anyone else. I often take pictures of myself with my dogs with this setting because I can usually take it without really interrupting what we're doing and they don't get too distracted. Because my boyfriend and I do most of our traveling without anyone else, we take a lot of our own pictures of us. I usually think they're cute because they're close up and sometimes off centered and just an honest glimpse of that moment. I have a lot of very special photos of me with a close friend that we took when it was just the two of us.  I can look at any of those photos and remember exactly when it was taken and what we were doing. We're usually having fun!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Road Trips

To say I hate flying is an understatement. I loathe flying. It terrifies me. I cry and tremble, even when I'm trying really hard not to. A stranger has offered to hold my hand during lift off more than once. Thankfully I figured out that my doctor can write me a prescription for sedatives and things go much better. But I still don't like it. It's a good thing, then, that I enjoy driving as much as I do. Flying gets you there much faster but you miss all the cool stuff along the way.

I've driven across the country several times, twice completely alone. For me, there's something almost spiritual about it. It's empowering to watch my progress tick along on a map and know that it's just me putting that distance between myself and the place I left. Road trips can be great fun if you're with the right people. When I was in college, a group of ten of us traveled from Wyoming to Canada for a concert. Many of us formed friendships on that trip that are still in tact today. Four years ago, I drove to Las Vegas with one of my best friends. It was on that trip that our bond became as solid as it is. We referred to the passenger seat as The Issue Seat because whoever was there at the time seemed to be therapeutically venting, telling stories of her past and seeking advice.

I typically don't get bored or tired by driving. Even on the daily commute to work I find driving to be a great time to think. Luckily my boyfriend doesn't care to drive as much as I do, so I usually get to pilot most of our drives. He's looking forward to driverless cars becoming available. (They're already being tested in some parts of the country) but I just can't imagine enjoying it as much. He promises me I can always have a regular car "just for fun"!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quotes

As an avid reader and writer, I have a passion for words. When I read, I'm often highlighting lines that reach out to me or writing them in my notebook. When I write, I get a little thrill each time I put together a string of words that fits with exactly what I was trying to say. It's not always as easy as it seems. I like to use these "perfect words" to motivate me and remind me what's most important in my life. Things like appreciating my life's journey and focusing on practicing kindness.

Here are what I've determined are my three favorite quotes:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say, and then don't say it. ~Sam Levenson

It isn't what happens to us that causes us to suffer, it's what we say to ourselves about what happens.  ~Pema Chodron

The last one was passed on to me by my life coach during our work together and it has truly changed the way I look at things when they happen. I like the fact that there are so many amazing people in the world, and many more who have come before us, whose words have been preserved over time to continually remind us that we all share the same experiences. I like to pass these quotes, and others I like, on to people who need them.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Pets

I blog about my pets often. I know I'm biased, but I think they're pretty extraordinary creatures. When I think back over my life, I can only come up with about 11 months total that I've been without a pet. Even when I lived in college housing I had a parakeet. I was raised with cats and consider myself a "cat lady". I never imagined I'd own one dog, let alone two. They came into my life seven years apart, with no dogs in between, and there is a long interesting story as to how each came to claim me as his person. I truly believe that pets find us and not the other way around. I also believe that each of them have something to give, to bring to our lives, to teach us. My oldest dog has been an incredible companion to me, and has been with me through the most difficult years of my life. I was able to live on my own, which was something I really needed to do, because in him I always had company. My younger dog has taught me patience and compassion in a way I'd never experienced before. There have been countless cats in my life and they remind me to go with the flow and to take care of myself. My youngest cat was a hand raised baby and he is different than any cat I've ever had. I have a large tank full of goldfish that often inspires me to sit and do nothing but watch them, to decompress.

They all remind me constantly what unconditional love is and how important it is to spend time with those who matter most. Through all these amazing animals, I've come to embrace my role in the universe as a caretaker to them and to all the others who will come after them.
This is my lot, to have pet hair on everything I own, nose smears on my car windows and dog treats in my coat pockets.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Opossum

One evening when I was about 10 years old, my mom went out onto our apartment balcony to shake out the dust mop. The mop head fell off so she went down the two flights of steps to the yard to grab it. She didn't have her glasses on and it was getting dark so she reached for the gray blur on the ground by her feet. It was an opossum. It hissed, she screamed, and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

Having lived for many years in the north east and then the south, I've become quite familiar with opossums. When I moved to Montana, I was surprised to learn there aren't any here. I found this out when I told my new co-workers one of my favorite jokes, "Why did the chicken cross the road? Opossum said it couldn't be done. ", and no one got it. My boyfriend was born and raised in Montana, so he has never seen a opossum in real life. When we traveled to New York to visit some of my family a couple years ago, I was convinced we we see one at some point but we never did. I even glanced at roadkill as we drove by but no luck. A few months later, my step-mom sent me a care package which contained my favorite cupcakes and SURPRISE, a stuffed opossum. I found it to be a really funny thoughtful gift-I'm sure it wasn't easy to find.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Naps

There are few things in life I find as glorious and self indulgent as taking a nap in the middle of the day. Lucky for me, I get to do this a couple times a week! My current schedule requires that I get up around 6am for work and I'm at roller derby practice til 9 or 10 some nights. Most days, I can't make it that long without some rest in between! I like to come home from work around 2-3pm, change into a t-shirt and yoga pants, then crawl into bed under the blankets with a book. It usually doesn't take long til I'm surrounded by pets and drifting off to sleep. Sometimes I don't actually sleep more than 20-30 minutes but I usually feel refreshed when I get up. Sometimes it's the act of lying down and physically resting, decompressing after a busy shift at work that regenerates me and readies me for the rest of my day and evening. There's something about waking up with the afternoon sun streaming in, feeling warm and sleepy that makes me feel happy and lucky to have this little moment to myself.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Music

Someone recently told me: If someone shares their music with you, even if you think it sucks, you shut your mouth and listen to it and appreciate it. Because if someone is sharing their music with you, they're sharing their soul. I laughed really hard because I find it to be spot on. I remember the days of the Mix Tape. That was a lot of work. Not only do you have to choose the songs that are exactly perfect for your intended audience, they have be in the correct order to make the maximum intended impact and then you had to actually have access to those songs. This meant you had the song on another cassette, and had a double deck tape player or borrow from a friend or, the worst, attempt to record it off the radio which required impeccable timing. It was possible. When you were finished, you listened to the Mix Tape in it's entirety to make sure everything was right. Then and only then, could you pass it off to it's recipient. Never mind the fact that the person may or may not even listen to it (probably not if he was a high school aged boy) but it was the intention that mattered most.

Now a days, burning someone a CD still requires some of the above mentioned effort but it's not quite the same. Music is so much easier to access than it was 20 years ago. So with that being said, if someone takes the time and energy to burn me a CD of music, instead of saying "Hey, go to YouTube and listen to so and so...", you better believe I'm going to sit my butt down and listen to it. Because I know that if I take the time to make a mix of music for someone, it's special stuff and I like that person a lot.

When the iPod first same out, I was against it. I thought no way, I don't want to give up my CDs. Then I borrowed a friend's at the gym once and I was sold on it. Holy crap, those things hold an incredible amount of music. Now it's been six years and I have an iPod and and iPhone. I have my music with me at all times. It makes life so much better!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Liz Lemon

When I first started watching 30 Rock, it was because I had a roommate who watched it and I thought it was pretty funny. Then, the more I watched it, the more I came to feel like I was watching a version of myself in the main character, Liz Lemon. There is a bit of a physical resemblance (depending on how I have my hair or if I'm wearing my glasses) but there is much more than that. One of the first times a friend made the comparison, it was via a text message "Is it bad that you remind me of Liz Lemon? She's very successful!" Soon after that, other friends starting telling me that she reminded me of them and that I looked like her, even strangers have mentioned it. Watching the show with my boyfriend is fun because he often laughs harder than he normally would at a situation Liz is in because he knows it's something I would do or say. The episode where she goes crazy because no one is following rules is particularly hilarious to us because obviously (based on the name of my blog!), I'm a rule follower. My relationship with food is also very similar to hers. While some people tease me because of the similarities, I take pride in them. Sometimes, I honestly feel so much familiarity with Liz's situations that it's a relief to me because I think 'Hey, if someone is writing a TV show about this stuff then surely I'm not the only one to experience it".

This is one of my absolute favorite Liz Lemon clips from one of my favorite episodes. It seems like something that would happen to me and exactly what I would probably say in response!

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Karma

        The word karma and the concept of it are often misused and misunderstood. Essentially, karma means action. In Buddhism, there are three components to karma: mental karma is created by the mind and thoughts, verbal karma is created by speech, and bodily karma is created by physical actions. Of course there is both positive and negative karma. Karma is also often thought of as cause and effect, which makes sense. Each and every thought and action we carry out has consequences. Karma is often linked to reincarnation. Personally, I believe in reincarnation and the thought that actions we carry out in this life will follow us to the next. But it's not like if you do bad things, you'll come back as a worm  (or undesirable creature of your choice). What karma is really about is intentions and suffering. If you intentionally inflict suffering on others, you will endure that suffering in your next lives. If you act with good intention, then you are putting more positive energy into the universe, of which you will reap the benefits. I was recently listening to a Deepak Chopra audio book and he gave what he called his Golden Rule, "Feel about others as you would have others feel about you". That's really something to think about, isn't it? I can be nice to people but that doesn't always mean I'm feeling positive about them or that I like them. I've been reflecting on this "rule" a lot lately. It goes along with a quote I love from another book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. My favorite of her personal resolutions is "Act the way you want to feel". I've tried it out for various lengths of time and it really works. So it's led me to believe that if I'm acting positive and thinking kindly of others, pretty soon I won't be acting, but being and feeling good all on my own. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jackalope

Considering the fact that I take care of animals for a living, it may come as a surprise that I'm really interested in taxidermy. I know some people think its crude or cruel but I've always found it fascinating. I think it's a way to pay tribute to a beautiful powerful animal who once lived and also a way for hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts to learn about these creatures and enjoy them after they're no longer in the land of the living.

I first saw a jackalope as a recurring character on America's Funniest Home Videos as a kid but never gave it much thought. I figured it was a jokey TV thing. Then, shortly after moving to Wyoming when I was 15, I encountered a mounted jackalope head in the local Dairy Queen. I was mesmerized. "Is it real? No way, it's not real, right? But it looks so real..." Ever since then I've always taken an extra moment to examine one when I come across it.

I've always wondered who in the world thought up a jackalope and how they became such "a thing". It turns out that rabbits infected with Shope Papilloma Virus can grow horn-like tumors on their heads and faces. It's believed that sighting of such rabbits in the wild is what lead to the myth of the jackalope.
Interesting and bizarre, that's for sure. But that's nature at it's best, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Indecisive

It's ironic that i is the first letter I've really struggled with when it came to choosing a topic. But I'll admit it, I have trouble making decisions sometimes. When I have lots of choices, I often get hung up. I'm not talking about major things, for the most part. I'm talking about little things like which flavor granola bar or dog toy to buy. I've stood looking at greeting cards until I was literally fatigued because I couldn't decide which one was exactly right. If I have two options, it's easy: red or purple? Purple. Strawberry or banana? Strawberry. It's when there are lots of options: red, purple, orange, blue, green, teal, brown, pink, strawberry, banana, mango, orange, grape, peach, that I start to second guess myself. I definitely like strawberries but I also love peaches. Oh, and mangos? I always like mangos. What if the recipient of the greeting card would like butterflies better than balloons?

I'm not sure where this comes from. It seems that when it comes to more serious stuff, I'm usually confident I'm making the right choice. Or as in the case of some old boyfriends, I know what choice I need to make, it's just a matter of doing it. I like to change my hair color. I have several tattoos. I've never agonized deciding whether or not to get them.

I guess I just don't understand how it's even possible there can be dozens of flavors of mustard or yogurt or vodka. Why do we need so many choices?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hotsprings

Hot tubs and whirl pools are great but in my opinion, you haven’t really lived until you’ve soaked in an outdoor pool filled with hot water that’s coming directly out of the earth.  There is a large amount of geothermal activity in this part of Montana (Think Yellowstone Park, geysers, super volcano, etc) and as a result there are places where that results in natural hot springs available for our enjoyment. Some of them have been commercialized and turned into a lodge/resort, some are more like a public pool with entry for just a few dollars and other still are in untouched/natural areas where you can hike in, take a soak and hike back out.

My favorite of the hot springs I’ve visited is Norris Hot Springs. It’s the most rustic I’ve experienced. The pool is made of wood and there are places where you can feel the hot water pulsing up between the slats. I like visit hot springs because it’s always a fun, relaxing experience and it’s also a reminder of how amazing and powerful nature is.

This photo was taken last spring when I was staying at Jackson Hotsprings Lodge in Jackson, MT. I got up early in the morning to walk the dog and saw this stream, which ran near our cabin, steaming in the chill morning air. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gratitude

Several years ago, I was living in a basement apartment in the home of a lady I’ll call Annie. She was single and about a dozen years older than me. Whenever I saw her in passing, I’d ask “How are you today Annie?” and she’d always answer with “Oh I’m grateful”.  After a while, it was like 'oh come on, nobody is grateful ALL THE TIME', but as I got to know her I came to realize it was true. She was always calm and pleasant, able to see the positive side of whatever I was griping about. One evening over glasses of wine, I was voicing my frustrations over my current romantic situation. I exhaled an exasperated “Why does this keep happening to me?” to which Annie replied “It’s because you keep allowing it to happen”. I said “Huh?” She lent me a copy of The Secret on DVD and I put off watching it because I thought the whole thing sounded hokey. I finally watched it one night when I was home bored and my life has never been the same since. I’ll admit the presentation is cheesy but the content is solid. There are some interesting, charismatic speakers and by the end, I was practically standing up cheering for myself and the great changes I was about to make! A few months later, I went through a bizarre, messy relationship/break up and that’s when it occurred to me that situations such as this were happening for me and not just to me. My heart was broken and my world was upside down for a short time but I was still standing and I still lived in a beautiful place. Eventually I was able see all the good things that came out of the experience and look back on that time in my life as a transformation phase. It’s when I started to see how much there really is to be grateful for in each day. I started by writing in my journal at the end of each day and listing three things I was thankful for right then. If you've never done something similar, I suggest you give it a try. I moved out of that apartment that same year. It was time to move on for several different reasons. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that Annie crossed my path so that I could finally learn what The Universe had been trying to teach me. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Food

I get teased at work for being so serious about food, almost like it's a disability. My co-workers once left a moldy container of leftovers in the fridge, thinking it was something of mine and fearing my response if someone threw out food I later went looking for. I certainly can't help the fact that if I'm hungry for too long I lose the ability to function properly. I also see it as a blessing that I get so much joy from a favorite food, because sometimes during a long hectic work day that's the only break I get.

I know some people who just like to eat, no matter what it is. For me, it's the specific food itself that satisfies me, physically and emotionally. For example, if I'm wanting home made macaroni & cheese a store bought substitute won't do. If I'm starving, just about anything will fill that actual need for food but typically I'm still left craving something.

I find a lot of comfort and happiness in making and eating foods from my childhood and the region where I grew up (Pennsylvania Dutch Country). I enjoy cooking with my partner and the fact that we make    most of our meals from scratch with fresh ingredients. I also like to indulge in junk food every now and then because let's be honest, sometimes simply nothing else will do.

I've heard other people use the word "hangry" so I know I'm not the only one who experiences these feelings. We all have to eat to survive so I'm glad I get to enjoy it, even it means I get crabby when I can't eat what I want!


Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Elephants

When I was 18 I got an elephant tattoo, and that was the beginning of my elephant collection. Why? Because I really like elephants. They're beautiful, extraordinary creatures. When I was younger, my dream was to work with elephants and other large mammals but that faded a bit when I discovered how much I enjoy working with smaller pets and also realized how much less likely it is that my smaller patients could kill me during the course of a work day.

So ever since I was a teenager, people have given me elephant things as gifts. I have most of them gathered in one room as a collection but there are little ones stashed here & there; an elephant candle holder or plant stand being put to use in the living room, an elephant mug in the kitchen cabinet and lots of elephant jewelry. Out of all the elephants I own, I have purchased very few of them myself. Many of them have come from people who aren’t in my life anymore and I like having that connection to them, knowing there was a time when that person cared for me enough to give a thoughtful gift.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dave Matthews Band

I know I've written about this subject before, but there really isn't a better D topic for me! I have a hard time finding the right words to describe how I feel about Dave Matthews Band. I think it's just one of those things there aren't really words for.

Some of today's post is copied & pasted from a blog I posted in May of 2012 when doing a "First Loves Challenge".

 Anyone who knows me at all can tell you I’m a pretty big fan of Mr. Matthews and his band. Actually I don’t usually like referring to myself as a fan because it reminds me of people who say they’re a huge fan of cheeseburgers or chick flicks and it’s just not the same. The best comparison I’ve come up with is to say that Dave Matthews Band’s music is like religion to me. That may seem blasphemous but I don’t mean it that way at all. These men and their music have been in my life for 17 years, which is exactly half the time I've been alive, and they have provided me with a soundtrack through some of the most wonderful and terrible times of my life. They've been a constant in my life during many years when everything else was changing. I’ve seen them in concert 24 times. The most fun I ever had at one of those concerts was when I went by myself and was in the 2nd row. I’ve met them once and have their FireDancer logo tattooed on by back. Many amazing people have come into my life through a mutual love of DMB’s music and I'm grateful for that.

Me with Dave Matthews and Boyd Tinsley in May 1998

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Candy

I really like candy. I have for as long as I can remember. As a child, I once ruined a very pretty Easter dress by attempting to eat a melted Cadbury Egg in the backseat of a car. Anyone who has spent any amount of time around me knows that I'm the one to go to if you need a sweet treat. In high school and college, it wasn't unusual for someone to whisper to me during class "Pssst...do you have any candy?", knowing I'd be able to discreetly dig in my book bag and produce a handful of Lemon Heads or a roll of Sweet Tarts. Now a days, even my boss' three year old knows I stash hard candies in my desk drawers.

The best thing about candy is that there are so many different types. There's a candy for every mood, season and holiday. There are some candies that compliment other foods and some that can practically be a meal all by themselves.

Yes, I've made myself sick by eating too much candy (those little orange pumpkins)

and yes, I have had a lot of dental problems. I have, in fact broken a tooth while eating Nerds (my favorite). I just have to be a bit more careful now; no more Laffy Taffy and I do have to make my boyfriend hide the leftover Halloween candy so I don't binge.

When it came time to pick my roller derby name, I only debated for a short time before finally settling on Candy Coma. Most people think
it's a cute/funny choice but anyone who knows me well usually responds with an enthusiastic "Oh Yeah! That's perfect!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Books

I refer to myself as a book hoarder. 

I’ve loved books as long as I can remember. My mother likes to tell stories of me walking around the house as a small child (before I could read) carrying my favorite books and talking aloud to myself, making up stories to go with the pictures. Reading is probably my all time favorite hobby. It serves so many purposes: entertainment, education, enlightenment. 

I happen to live with another book hoarder. My boyfriend is the only romantic partner I’ve ever had who loves books as much as I do (both of his parents were librarians). During one of my first visits to his house, I saw a copy of Great Expectations lying on an end table and I knew it was yet another sign that we were meant to be! Living with another book lover is great most of the time, but sometimes overwhelming. There are stacks of books on pretty much every flat surface in our house, in our cars, in bags we carry everywhere we go, not to mention the multiple book shelves we have plus more boxes in the garage...

There are definitely worse things we could have piled around our house, I suppose. To be honest, I often think of how lucky I am that I can stumble across something that gives me as much joy as finding a favorite book at a yard sale. I like to think I'm rescuing them, from being unappreciated, to a lucky spot in one of my many beloved stacks.

         My work space

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Ambitious

Today is the start of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’ll be posting a new blog entry every day in April, with the exception of Sundays. One of my friends participated last year and I was disappointed that I didn’t discover it in time to sign up. I’ve thought about it a lot since then and it has pushed me to think of creative new things to write about. When my friend told me the challenge was happening again this year, I didn’t hesitate and signed up immediately.

Blogging for 26 out of 30 days is an ambitious task for me. I write regularly in my free time, but it’s not always fit for the public!  Working on entries for this challenge has already pushed me to think of the stories I’d like to share and the things that are most important to me.  I have spent the past couple weeks jotting down ideas for each letter and penciling out essays. It’s a lot to take on but I’m very excited to be part of the challenge and to see what I come up with!