#Reverb11: Appreciate

Appreciate (Written by Victoria Klein): What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I apologize. This is late, or at least by my standards it is. I just couldn’t figure out what one thing I’ve come to appreciate most this year, let alone how I express gratitude for it. I came up with two things I appreciate all the more now: health and autonomy. Why do I appreciate these so much more than I did before 2011? 1. I was fairly healthy before, or as healthy as an anxious asthmatic can be. This past year I’ve been sick more times than I can count, and I’ve suffered from some serious conditions as well. When you don’t have insurance, though, it’s rather difficult to handle all that ails you. 2. I had been an autonomous individual for 8 years before moving into someone else’s house. Sharing a kitchen? Did you just see me physically cringe on my end of the Internet? I make no effort to hide my foodie side around here — and I feel like I’ve been paraphrasing that over and over during this year’s Reverb. Of all the concessions I’ve made, keeping the majority of my kitchen items boxed up in a garage has been one of the worst.

Now that we’ve covered how much more I appreciate my health and my autonomy, how do I even begin to decipher ways in which I’ve shown gratitude for those precious things this year? How can you express gratitude for something you lack? I’m truly at a loss. Planning to bring these qualities back into my life hardly seems like a way to express gratitude for them. And when you live with a smoker, even a good health day becomes a bad health day. If I wake in the morning, refreshed, feeling well, and feeling happy, all I need to do is walk out of our side to the kitchen. I don’t even need to take a deep breath — a shallow breath is all it takes to incite a coughing fit for my sensitive lungs. I look back on the times when I was well, the home was my own, and the rules came from me (with a good helping of my husband’s agreement, of course). I look forward to the times when that will again be the case. But for now, I try to ignore the fact that my mind and body are both loudly screaming at me to remove myself and my family from this situation.

Because I can’t truly decipher a way in which I show gratitude for my lack of health and lack of autonomy, I promise each and everyone of you who’s read this that I will celebrate my autonomy on February 1st with a healthy dinner. I’ll serve up a fresh salad, whole grains, steamed veggies, and a lean protein choice. For dessert, we’ll dine on fresh fruit and cheese. I’ll go to bed early, and I’ll awake on Groundhog’s Day ready to determine when “spring” is coming, where spring really means the blossoming of better times.


#Reverb11: Action

Action (Written by Scott Belsky):When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

My next step involves moving into a place of my own. I’m cramped, crowded, and cranky with this current living situation, and it’s not at all conducive to creative ventures. I feel less inclined to type a thoughtful, eloquent essay or piece when I can’t escape the tiny space I currently call home. I know there are people who welcome tinier spaces, and I respect their differences — it’s differences that make each of us wonderful individuals, after all. But I can’t tolerate the cramped space we occupy. If I hear the incessant laughter of SpongeBob, it instantaneously blocks my writing and dampens my creative spirits. (I’m sorry, but little yellow sponge doesn’t even belong on my sink, festering with all sorts of bacteria.)

My next step has to be moving out. Once I am able to unpack my belongings, settle into a place of my own, and set all the ground rules, I’ll be able to better focus on moving forward. Until then, I need to keep dedicating myself to purging our belongings, reorganizing, and beginning the process of packing unnecessary items. I must be vigilant for places that offer enough space for our whole family — furry little members included — for a reasonable rate, in a pleasant and safe location. My business has plenty of time to launch and thrive, but I need to find a wonderful place where I can feel empowered and energized in order to do so.


#Reverb11: Wisdom

Wisdom (Written by Susannah Conway): What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

To be honest, I think taking my part time job was the wisest decision I’ve made this year. Of course, it was a decision I would have made sooner had something else come along sooner, but I knew I needed to get a steady form of income to take care of my family and to show to potential landlords. While I’d love to focus on my business solely, I know the fluctuating income isn’t going to pay bills or impress landlords. Of all the decisions I’ve made this year, I believe this was the wisest.


#Reverb11: Foodie Friday, Reverb Style

Foodie Friday, Reverb Style: Food nourishes us. Some foods give us more enjoyment than others. Share your favorite food moment of 2011. Describe the food, where you got it, and/ or how you made it.

Here we go again: chocolate. Yes, I’m going to talk to you about chocolate again. Moreover, I’m going to talk about Chocolate Therapy Cafe again. What can I say — that chocolate cobbler was just the most amazing food find of 2011. I had decided that once I finished tutoring my student, my husband and I would split some chocolate cobbler and get some coffees. They call their half hot chocolate/ half coffee drink a “chocolate au lait,” and you can get different flavors added to it. Our server warmed up a portion of chocolate cobbler, topped it with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce, and brought it out to us. If you’ve ever had molten chocolate lava cakes, this trumps those. The flavor, texture, and warmth of the chocolate cobbler brings a big smile to my face. It makes me giddy like a child. It’s a particularly special dessert, though, and I only order it when my husband and I plan to split — even if he only plans to eat a bite or two.

I entered 2011 having no idea a cobbler didn’t need fruit, and now I’m going into 2012 wondering where chocolate cobbler had been all my life.


#Reverb11: Travel

Travel (Inspired by Tara Hunt and Gwen Bell): Think of a place, trip, or event that really resonated with you. Tell us about it, how you felt, what you did, who you were with, etc.

Back in June we took a day trip to Chattanooga. We wanted to go to Publix (if you’ve shopped at a Publix, you understand why), and I had a gift card for Dairy Queen. It was the five of us: me, my husband, my older son, my 4-year-old daughter, and my younger son. At this point, the boys were still 8 and 1.5 years old respectively. It took us an hour to get there because we traveled that back roads, trying best to avoid I75. We did eventually have to contend with I75 and I24, but we mostly enjoyed the scenic route. This is going to sound silly, but all we got at Publix was orange blossom honey, mascarpone cheese, and maybe a couple of other little items. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Dairy Queen, which cost maybe $2 after I used the gift card — not a bad deal. The trip back home wasn’t exactly fun because the younger two kids got car sick. Way to handle a mostly free meal, huh? We’ve only been to Chattanooga just that one time mostly because we’re waiting on the kids to get stronger stomachs.


#Reverb11: Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart (Inspired by Teresa Deak): Where will you follow your heart to in 2012?

At this present moment, my heart is screaming to find a home of my own. This year has been a difficult year. Think living with parents as a child is difficult? Try living on your own for 8 years, only to find yourself hitting near rock bottom, needing to move in with the parents. And I’m not talking about the parents you grew up with, the parents you know and can predict — I’m talking about the in-laws. My heart is telling me that I shouldn’t hide this. I’m following it right now, no need for boundaries. For all I know, someone could be landing on my post right now, nodding their head in agreement, understanding exactly where I come from. There’s no place like your own, especially when you’re used to making the rules. My heart is yearning and aching for February because that’s when we plan to move. I’m willing to make a few compromises to meet that goal, but I’m no longer willing to compromise with regards to having a kitchen of my own. Part of nurturing a growing family involves nourishing them with healthy, home-cooked meals. As you can tell by my Foodie Friday posts, I’m a very food-oriented individual. I follow food blogs in my Google reader because I enjoy looking at pictures of food and learning new recipes and techniques. And according to Klout, I’m pretty influential about food and food related topics. My current living situation hasn’t been very conducive to my foodie exploits, and I want to unpack my kitchen already.

So while my heart wants a lot next year, what it wants most of all is a place where I don’t have to even share walls with a neighbor anymore, let alone share a kitchen.


#Reverb11: Path

Path (Inspired by Patrick Rhone): Patrick Rhone tweeted “some times the best path chooses you.” What path has chosen you?

Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be considering taking root in Georgia — ever. I thought happiness would be further north, in the portion of New Hampshire. I reluctantly moved here considering it a temporary move, a short stay until we got on our feet. I didn’t plan to walk this path, but it chose me. Rather than making a dash for I95 North, I’m slowly meandering down a barely worn dirt road. During this year in Northwest Georgia, I’ve fallen in love with how graceful the landscape appears during the changing seasons. While I doubt I’m going to get a decent amount of snowfall in the winters, I’ve also discovered that it isn’t just about my wants and needs — it’s about my kids, too. Do you have any idea how much my oldest would despise me if we moved somewhere that would fall below 30 for a couple of months a year? The temperature drops below 65, and he’s whining about the cold. (I’m actually quite convinced that he’ll move back to Florida when he grows up.)

There’s tons of land. The planting zone allows for all sorts of delicious plant-life to be grown — including majestic cherry blossoms. I’m close enough to the city of Chattanooga, and I’m fairly close to Atlanta. The people are friendly and offer Southern hospitality. I was looking for small town charm, mountainous landscapes, and sprawling farms, and the path led me here.


#Reverb11: Health

Health: How did you treat your body this year? You only get this one vessel one time around. How will you treat your body next year?

I confess, I should have given credit to Jasmine for inspiring me to pause and reflect on why it is that I’d like to lose weight. She inspired me to look more at being healthy regardless of any weight change — to simply be healthy for the sake of health. Admittedly, I do suffer from body image issues. I agonize over the shape of my abdomen, which will never regain that pre-pregnancy smoothness. I grimace as I attempt to hide a little pudge here and a bit of pudge there under my clothes. But somehow, not many other people see the flaws I see. (Of course, not many are invited to see what happens after a 5 foot tall woman has three children, two of whom were 10+ pounds.) But I’ve realized it isn’t just about feeling like I look good — it’s about actually feeling well.

I’ve been exercising on and off throughout the year, some days eating a healthful diet, others binging on a bit too much junk. I recognized what makes me feel well and what makes me feel like a rumpled pile of clothes carelessly tossed on the bathroom floor. At one point when I stopped seeing a difference on the scale or tape measure, I decided to stop caring about the numbers going down — I just wanted them to stop going up. I started to accept the fact that stress can be a very serious enemy in the struggles of weight loss, and I started to accept that I really need to focus on eating well for the nutritional benefits and exercising for the overall benefits. I’ve had the burdensome privilege of living with my in-laws, seeing how their poor decisions have negatively impacted their health. COPD, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity — you name it, they probably suffer from it. And I may upset a few of you, but a lot of their physical and financial woes can be traced back to cigarettes and junk food. Put junk into your body, and you’re going to turn your body into a junkyard. This is what I don’t want to do to myself.

Next year, I’m going to go gluten-free for the duration of Lent. I’m going to be eating sweet potatoes, rice, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. I’ve begun to suspect that perhaps my body no longer tolerates gluten, and I also suspect that my metabolism has begun to slow down. Pending how I feel after reintroducing gluten to my diet after Easter, I may or may not go gluten-free as a lifestyle change. Should the weight come off, that would be great. Should the weight stick, I’m going to learn to live with it. Life could be so much worse. And as important as writing and offering my services are to me, I plan to give more precedence to my exercising. I create the task of writing 3 pages each day, and I some times spend more than an hour trying to fill those three pages. Rather than sitting idly while I agonize over words, I could fill that time with a little stress and disease fighting exercise. I want to maintain my health throughout my life, and it is imperative that I take care of myself now so that I can feel great during my 60s, 70s, 80s, and longer (if I’m lucky). There will be more bouts with that punching bag, too.


#Reverb11: Time

Time: Time is a valuable resource. Did you spend 2011 wisely? What can you do to maximize your time during 2012?

Many memories of 2011 lead me to feel like I didn’t spend most of my year wisely. I missed many opportunities, but I think that towards the second half of the year I began to realize that I had opportunities where I hadn’t seen them before. And while I lost time that I can never get back, the lessons of those moments weren’t lost on me. Those moments taught me to see the possibilities in even the most desperate of times. It’s because of those “wasted” moments that I’ve developed ways to maximize my time.

In 2012, I plan to spend a lot more time conjuring ways in which to reach my goals. I plan to schedule more family outings — and naps! I plan to stop saying “I should” and starting doing. If I should post fliers, then I will post fliers. If I should write, then I will write. If I should, I will. If I don’t do it, I’m only hurting myself. I plan to visit my favorite little sanctuary to spend more time reading, writing, and living the dream. I can maximize my time if I simply manage myself and my time better. No more whining about The Man Trying to Keep Me Down. No more whining that there isn’t enough time. No more whining and wasting away the relatively short amount of time I have to enjoy this life. Now is the time to make my dreams come true — forget those circles of mints! I will not haste any longer!


#Reverb11: Reframing

Reframing (Inspired by Patrick Rhone): How are you framing yourself and your life? Could you reframe things going into 2012?

I began to question the frame in which I view my life back in September. I’m unhappy with my current life’s circumstances and my overall health. I’ve been framing myself as a victim of unfortunate circumstances most of the year, and I couldn’t help falling back into that view throughout the year. Try as I may, I couldn’t seem to shake that feeling even after I knew we passed the half-way mark through this temporary situation in life. Even knowing that February’s fast approaching hasn’t helped — in fact, I’ve become a bit more highly strung as a result. The pieces haven’t fallen quite into place the way they should just yet, and I know I’ve got a lot to do between now and February. This is me viewing myself as a frazzled mess scrambling to plan for better days. But this isn’t working for me.

What if I changed my perspective? What if I went into 2012 with a completely different outlook? What if I changed the frame? All these hardships and circumstances are learning experiences, teaching me to uphold my values, cherish what I have, and live my life in a way that honors myself and my loved ones. I don’t have to be a victim because I’m really a student of life. I’m studying and learning. This experience has opened my mind to downsizing and questioning if we really, truly need something. It has reminded me that my values and code of ethics are just fine. Family and education are incredibly important, and no one should ever try to sway me otherwise. I’m a stronger woman for having weathered these challenges. 2012 will bring plenty of opportunities to better myself and my circumstances. I possess the power to change things.