Nashville Rescue Mission

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I work in a position where I see a lot of people come in looking for help. 

Last year, I realized that because I've been in this position for several years (eight), I had become desensitized to the fact that a lot of these people come in feeling ashamed, hurt, and desperate.

So, around Thanksgiving last year, I scheduled Brenn and me to volunteer at the Nashville Rescue Mission men's campus. Let me just tell you, it changed my view of homelessness, mental illness, and poverty in general. We have since volunteered there several times and every time we go I leave a piece of my heart. 

A poem one of the guys at the mission wrote for me last year

I know there's always going to be people who buck the system. People who really could go out and get a job and support their families. People who are just lazy.

But, the majority of people I encounter at the rescue mission have things they're dealing with that are far greater than laziness. Some have fallen on hard times either because of bad decisions they've made or because life just happened...sickness, a lost job, etc.

The group we took to the mission this past weekend

Some have mental or social diseases that make it very hard for them to function in society. This means it's very hard for them to perform normal everyday activities, let alone keep a job.

And, some are so gripped with the weight of addictions that they don't know how or don't even want to make a better life for themselves.

Several of the men who help in the kitchen are a part of the recovery program that's offered by the rescue mission. I love talking to these guys. They are from all over the country and are so grateful for what the mission has done to help them get back on their feet.

My boyfriend and me

One man named Bill came up to me this past weekend and asked me to keep him in my prayers. He said he had just gotten out of jail and had contacted his family but hadn't heard back from them. He told me he didn't want to say he was too good to be at the mission because he's very grateful, but he knew he was capable of more. 

My boyfriend also had a conversation with a man who is actually going to school, but has no place to live. He sleeps at the mission and then rides a city bus to school everyday. This man is working hard and making straight A's.

Brenn and a friend waiting for the men to come in

So, the moral of this story is don't judge people before you know their story. We don't know the journey that some people have had to trek.

Overthinking

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I tend to overthink EVERYTHING

There's no area of my life that's safe. It doesn't matter if I'm thinking about clothes, hair, friends, work, parenting...I'm going to beat that dead horse over and over again (by the way, WHERE did that saying come from??).


Okay, well no time to overthink why beating dead horses is a common saying.

One of the major areas of my life where I tend to overthink the most is in my dating relationship. It always starts out pretty small.

"Does he think I'm pretty?"

"Do I talk too much?"

Is my laugh getting on his nerves?"

But then as the relationship progresses, my overthinking takes a sad turn. It sometimes consumes me. Every action, every word spoken or not spoken is analyzed. I begin to worry. Worry about the future. Worry if I'm good enough for this person. Worry that I'm not giving enough to the relationship. 

It's a horrible cycle for anyone to be in. And it's not healthy for me, my partner, or our relationship.


I don't know the future. I don't know all the answers on how to have a successful relationship. And, overthinking everything about my relatipnship will continue robbing me of the happiness that comes from having someone to share life experiences with. Someone who is with me because he wants to be. Someone who knows my flaws and cares about me anyway.

So, I'm slowly learning to replace my overthnking and overanalyzing with  just being in the moment. 


I'm learning to just let things be. To let the relationship naturally progress and not try to guess what's going to happen next or if I'm doing everything right.

Girls trip to Gatlinburg

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A couple of weeks ago, my mom called to tell me that she and my sister were taking a weekend girls trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and asked if I would like to meet them there. Of course I jumped at the chance. They live in South Carolina and I only get to see them maybe twice a year. 


We had the best time. I joked the whole weekend that what happens in Gatlinburg stays in Gatlinburg...and that's what we're sticking to. 

When I was younger, my mom would pack us up in the car on Thanksgiving and we would drive to Gatlinburg just to see the lights. We did that every year until the year our car broke down and we were stuck in Pigeon Forge for a couple days. I think by then we needed a little bit of a break from the Smoky Mountains, although now I think about that trip and just laugh. Ahhh...Memories.


Saturday, we started our day at the Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge.


That place is almost a tad overwhelming. We spent HOURS in there.



 I found some ideas and items for wreaths which made me feel like I accomplished something. 


We then went to eat at Johhny Carino's Italian Restaurant where my sister shamefully flirted with the waiter who happened to be from Ukraine. I guessed where he was from because his first name is the same as the hunky Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Dancing with the Stars.


Saturday evening, we went to the aquarium at a perfect time. I think it was around seven and there was practically no one there.




Sunday before we parted ways we drove through Cades Cove, which is one of my most favorite places to go. 



You don't even have to try to take good pictures there...they just happen.




My mom somehow got us lost coming out of Cades Cove. I'm not sure how that even happened given there's not many ways in and out...



It was a great trip full of lots of laughs. I am so thankful for my family. The older I get, the more nostalgic I become. Memories become sweeter and I notice that I try to savior moments just a little more.

Confession Wednesday: Santa

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Confession Wednesday Button

Today, I was reading a blog that I follow regularly where she shared how (in a very grown up, positive way) she told her daughter the truth about Santa.

This got me thinking to when Brenn first learned about Santa. Now that I look back, it was a little bit of a train wreck...which is apparently how I like to go about doing many things in my life.

I had wanted to have "the talk" with Brenn for a while. I felt he was old enough to understand that presents didn't just appear. I worked hard to give him the presents he received every year.

I honestly can't remember how old he was when we had the discussion (I'm using the word "discussion" lightly). It went something like this.

Brenn: "Mom, how does Santa have money to make all the gifts he gives to kids?"

Me: "Well, Brenn we need to talk about that. Santa isn't actually real. I'm the one who buys your presents, wraps them, and puts them under the tree after you go to bed."

Brenn: "Well, I kind of figured that because kids at school had talked about it." 

...he pauses and then I hear the beginning of a sob....

Brenn: "Wait, you mean to tell me that you've kept this from me and lied to me all these years?!"

The boy has a flair for being dramatic...

A couple months later he lost a tooth and immediately came to me and said, "Mom, is there something you need to tell me about the tooth fairy?"

I said, "Yes, the tooth fairy is really Dwayne Johnson." (Don't all moms wish!!)

Holiday Memories: Galavanting Around Nashville

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Now that Thanksgiving is over I am okay with talking about all things Christmas.

I LOVE Christmas.

I love the decorations, lights, music, movies (see my top ten Christmas movies here and here), and most of all the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is head to Nashville. We are fortunate to only live an hour away, so it's something we're able to do pretty much every year. 

Some of my most special memories involve going to the Opryland Hotel with friends and family.







A few years ago, we found Gingy at the Opryland Hotel. My sister...who loves is afraid of fake gingerbread men had a wonderful time tolerated the visit.







Last year, I was given tickets to go see the Nutcracker at TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) in Nashville. I took Brenn and some other friends.





Brenn's exact words during intermission: "Mom, you never told me this was a ballet." 

Poor kid...I don't think I scarred him too bad.

I am so blessed to have many holiday memories. If you're close to Nashville during the holiday season, make a point to check out what's happening in the city!

Self esteem and children

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Happy Monday peeps! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Today, I would like to talk about a topic that's always been a sensitive subject...

Self-esteem

This is something I've always had little of as a child and as an adult. I have trouble believing in myself when it comes to any and every aspect of my life. But, 14 years ago I was blessed with the responsibility of raising a little human, and I knew without a doubt that I wanted to raise him to believe in himself and believe in his potential. 

The boy now wants to be a lawyer and possibly go into politics. I told him just last night if he didn't become a lawyer then I was going to smack him...mainly because the boy will argue any subject from every angle possible. 

So, self-esteem is something I wanted to instill in Brenn even from a young age. Something that helped me in teaching Brenn is reading him books. I never realized how many books there are about self-esteem.

Mommy Edition has a great resource that lists all kinds of books to help parents instill a strong foundation of self-esteem and confidence. It's never too early to start building this foundation! 

Some of my favorites listed:


Who can go wrong with Dr. Seuss?!


I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this book. 
Brenn and I wore this book out when he was younger!


Because I know I'm lacking in the dancing skills department
 but I LOVE to dance.


Brenn is is big into sports, especially football. This book is great,


I'm pretty sure I don't even have to include a caption as to why I like this book...If you have a teenage son I know you'll understand...


This has always been one of my favorite books, even when I was a teenager.

These are just a few books listed on the Mommy Edition page, so please make sure to go check out all the books listed!

For the love of turkey...let's just slow things down a little!

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Right after Halloween was over, I started searching for Thanksgiving items for wreaths that I was making. 

I searched and searched and searched. Even the guy I'm dating searched stores for me...Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Old time Pottery...

There was very little Thanksgiving stuff to be had in any of these stores. And, do you know what one of the Hobby Lobby workers said?!

"Almost all our Thanksgiving stuff has already been picked over." 

WHAT?!


They had already shoved what was left in a small area of the store. However, Christmas decorations had thrown up all over the place.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. I LOVE decorating for Christmas. But, for the love of all things turkey, let's not forget we still have a holiday in between Halloween and Christmas.

People are already putting up their Christmas trees for crying out loud. 

And, you know what's going to happen on December 25??? People are going to be tired of seeing all this Christmas stuff and they're going to pack it up until next year. 

What ever happened to putting the Christmas stuff up on Thanksgiving and enjoying it until New Year's? 

What has happened to Thanksgiving??

Who do YOU run for?

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After running my second half marathon in September of last year, I came across a wonderful organization that pairs runners with children or adults with special needs. Finding this organization came at a wonderful time. I had been searching for some kind of organization or group to be a part of, just so I could have even more inspiration to run.

 I enjoy getting the medals, t-shirts, and having that sense of accomplishment. 

But, I wanted more. I wanted a bigger purpose.

Through a friend on Facebook, I came across an organization called I Run 4 (IR4).


 

I immediately signed up to be paired with a buddy. I then had to wait...and wait...and wait. The waiting list was long, so the wait was about three months.

Finally, RIGHT before running my third half marathon in Florida, I was paired with my running buddy.



Her name is Yusra and she is absolutely adorable. Yusra lives in Australia and has down syndrome. She is a very smart girl and I am blessed to be a small part of her life.

I've been able to run two half marathons for Yusra so far. I really became burnt out with running after my last half and my running has scaled back a lot (that's what happens when you cram four half marathons in a year). But, I still get out there and I'm planning to do some races next year. 



There's been so many days when I don't want to go run. She is now the reason I get out there.



It's so easy to sign up as a runner or to sign someone up to be paired with a runner. Just go here and follow the instructions.



I run for Yusra. Who do YOU run for?

A little about me

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I find it funny that I've had this blog for several years, but the most difficult section to finish is the "About me" section. 

I have procrastinated forever in finishing this section. It intimidates me for some reason.

I mean, where do I even start? How much do I share?

Well, I'm just going to let my fingers type and we'll see where we end up. 

Here's the obvious first fact about me...I'm a single mom. I have a 14 (going on 30) year old son who is strong -willed, a natural leader, and keeps me entertained all at the same time. 



I was young when I found out I was going to be a mom. Young as in 19 years old. His dad and I hadn't dated for a very long time. Yes, I know how to prevent procreation, but it happens. And it did. His dad and I stayed together until Brenn was about eight months old. I was young and immature. He was about ten years older than me, but at the same time just as immature. We fought a lot. We didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things. I wanted to get married and he didn't. So, through a series of events, one day he disappeared out of my son's life for years. 



I was a mess when he left. The thought of raising another human being by myself terrified me. But, as days went on and with the support of my mom and then pastor I realized that everything was going to be alright. 

Fast forward 14 years and things are still alright. Brenn is a good kid. I am blessed beyond measure.



Here's a little more random facts about me:

* A few years ago, I had my "aha" moment and decided it was time to stop being miserable with my body. I started working out and eating better and began losing weight. I've recorded much of my journey on this blog.



* I found a love for running half marathons. I NEVER thought I would become a runner. I've never been athletic. I've never been able to run without thinking I was going to pass out. Slowly but surely I found that running is a type of therapy for me.



* I've dated...oh my goodness have I dated. I think I have gone out with every single type of guy there could possibly be. Even though I would eventually like to find "the one," I'm not in a hurry. I kind of have high expectations and I've been single for this long...I won't be settling.

* I couldn't have gone on any paths of this journey without my relationship with Jesus. Period.

* I've recently discovered my crafty side. I make wreaths and sell them. Check out my Etsy page.



* Some of the blogs I follow daily are Mix and Match Family (I want to be just like her when I grow up!), Skinny Meg, and Mama Laughlin.