Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

1. Good habits are harder to make and bad habits are harder to break. An apple a day

I read an article that said the things we do (or don’t do) as twenty-somethings will define who we become as 30 and 40 somethings. I brushed it off when I read it (I was probably 16). I really do remember a time when it was so easy to just start eating an apple as an afternoon snack, or to quit waking up 30 minutes before I had to be in my seat at school. Now however, choosing an apple over the cookies a client brought to the office, or changing my morning routine to give me a few extra minutes to relax in the A.M are hard habits to make and break! Twenty-somethings are in the final frontier of being able to change who we become, so I need to work on myself in 2012!!

2. Sticking to commitments and plans creates, maintains and restores friendships.

In college, the best advice I was ever given was that “there will always be another party”. This advice was given to let me know that I wouldn’t be missing out if I chose studying over partying. Great college advice. But as we twenty-somethings settle into our our daily, “adult” routines of jobs, pets, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and babies, planning a social experience is really the only way to make it happen. In college it was so easy to be spontaneous because one or more friends would always be available to hang. But we are growing up and getting busier. Friends MUST factor into our other commitments or we will end up not having any.

My miniature Christmas Tree3. Christmas trees will start to smell bad and eventually die if you do not raise them in their stand.

Like, really really bad. Imagine a stew made of dead fish and cat poo. It is NOT pleasant for the olfactory system.

4. The saying, “Its the thought that counts” really should be, “Its the effort that counts”.

I made my own gift tags this year. …I had a lot of time on my hands…I spent a lot of time on their intricate designs. And most of the people I gave gifts (and gift tags) to appreciated the gift tag as much, if not more than the gift! People really do feel more loved and appreciated when you make the effort to do thoughtful things for them. Little acts of effort can make a huge difference.

5. One month, 6 months and a 1 year is just around the corner.

At some point in the last few years, the ongoing calendar in my head has become much more at ease with longer-term planning. Don’t get me wrong, 5 years feels forever from now, and 30 is still old – but in the dead of Winter, when I used to feel like Summer was a light year away, it is

Boss on the ball chair

I even caught my boss trying out my ball chair

now just a few months down the road and I already have 3 weddings and a week long cruise marked in my date book.

6. Correct daily posture is crucial.

My back and shoulders used to hurt every day. Sleeping was uncomfortable. This was because I was slumping in a chair for eight hours a day. I invested in an exercise ball chair 6 months ago. It has done wonders. Twenty-somethings are not only getting older, but we live in a workforce largely comprised of desk jobs. We need to teach ourselves how to sit properly.

7. Social media has single-handedly caused my generation to be an unproductive amoeba of self-centerdness and insecurity.

Not only are we all filling our brains with useless information about what our friends ate for breakfast and what they watched on TBS last night, but we are bombarded with how thankful they all are to have such amazing lives. Whether its their perfect job, boyfriend, husband or baby, we are consequently forced to compare the lives of our friends to our own. And in our attempt to define who we are against our online audience, we end up creating a persona of the perfect version of ourselves. This causes EVERYONE to feel like they can’t keep up with the Jones’s, and it wastes hours and hours of time when we could be doing other things…like exercising, or reading, or talking with our voices and not our keyboards.

8. Sometimes you need to do things just to make yourself FEEL pretty.

The day to day routine is not always pretty. Getting a manicure is sometimes a better use of money than going to that movie that you didn’t really even want to see. Taking a shower after work and blowing your hair dry just to watch TV or read a book can make a world of difference in your confidence.

Walking outside9. Being outside really does do wonders for your soul.

Like I said above, we are a generation of office working, computer staring, vitamin-d deficient souls. Getting outside, even if it is just walking around the office building can and will change your entire day.

10. Reintroducing yourself to an acquaintance is so much better than awkwardly avoiding them because you assume they won’t recognize you.

Both of us are doing it. We see each other from across the coffee shop and we are doing whatever we can to avoid saying hi because we are afraid the other person doesn’t know who we are. But clearly the other person does, or they wouldn’t be acting just as foolish as I am, pretending to be intensely studying the pastry menu, or worse, making the fake phone call or text message. Just say HI and reintroduce yourself, even if you’re sure they know who you are. You’ll seem more humble and nicer for doing so. I worked on this one in 2011, and like my mother told me years ago, it gets easier the more you do it.

11. Time actually is running out. Do the things you have dreamed of doing before it really is too late. 

This is our last chance to do the things we have talked about doing for the last 5 years. Those dreams we had when we were 20 need to happen NOW or they will never happen. Jobs will begin to tie us to the city we live in. Marriage will add a 2nd opinion in making a decision. And once a baby is on the way, your dreams will naturally change. We twenty-somethings need to make a plan, and make it happen.

12. Drinking water makes a visible difference in the condition of my skin, my workouts and my mood.

I don’t think this one needs an explanation.

13. Bring a bottle of wine or a food dish as a thank you when you go to a house party.

Embarrassing at it is to admit this, I actually made fun of someone who brought a little thank you gift to a house party when I was 20. Lesson learned. After now having a few dinner parties myself, I fully understand the preparation time and the money involved with hosting even a Fill in a monthly planner!casual get together! A bottle of wine goes such a long way and really makes the host feel appreciated. I finally get that now.

14. Writing things down on real paper with my real hand with a real pen has multiple benefits.

  • I remember everything I actually write down on pen and paper so much better. It must have something to do with being able to imprint my own handwriting into my memory. I have a hand-written planner I use everyday. Google calendar has nothin’ on my Baldwin Cooke Monthly Monitor.
  • Practicing my handwriting on a daily basis helps when I need to (sparsely) write a check, sign my name or send a thank you note.
  • It exercises my brain. Writing things with pen and paper makes me think about what I am writing before I write it.

15. Tracking expenses is so important. Seriously, so important.

Good spending habits need to begin now. More importantly, good SAVING habits need to start now. And with online banking making it so easy to track everything spent in a month, its super interesting to see a free pie chart of spending! With a few clicks, I was able to see that I spend 7% of my monthly income on groceries and 5% of my monthly iExpenses Pie Chartncome on restaurants. And in December, I spent 27% on clothing and general merchandise… (we will blame that on Christmas shopping…)

16. Learn to cook, grill and bake.

I really don’t want to juggle LEARNING to cook with LEARNING to raise babies. Better to knock out one at a time, and I’d rather not learn to raise babies right now.

17. I understand why people get lonely on the holidays.

Not that I was lonely this year…on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was surrounded by family love all day long. And I cherished it. For whatever reason, most people just don’t want to be alone for the holidays. I really do understand why, when I was growing up, my mom invited so many people from our church over for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was a realization that only occurred this Christmas…my first Christmas away from home. I am so thankful I had a 2nd family in Charleston to spend it with.

18. Taking small daily risks is invigorating.

And it changes the mundane routine most of us are in day in and day out. I stopped to take a photo of the sunset a few weeks ago. To get the shot, I jumped over a gate that said “shrimpers only beyond this point.” I forgot how thrilling it feels to break small rules that don’t really affect anything or anyone. But maybe that attitude is why I received Saturday detention almost every weekend of high school? At any rate, it felt good.

19. Family does matter the most.

In the transition from college to adulthood, friendships are largely based on what city you are living  in at the current time. And being part of such a transient generation has really made me understand that friends will come and friends will go. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just life. But family is Love a dog!always there. And they always have been. So whether your family is comprised of 1 person or 30 people, stick with them.

20. Loving unconditionally takes practice.

And we all need all the practice we can get. So practice loving unconditionally. Get a dog before you get a spouse or a child 🙂

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Something magical happens when daylight savings time ends in Charleston. The sky can shift from baby blue to grapefruit pink to blood orange in a matter of seconds. I’ve never seen such a diverse and ever changing skyscape. On this evening, I was lucky enough to capture some of the beauty.

So the next time I complain about shorter days, I need to remember to look up. And give thanks.

Twilight over the waterDusk in the LowcountryRainbow sunsetNovember SunsetBlood orange sunset

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Sullivans Island is a special place…especially for dogs.

Before noon, the beach belongs to dogs. Allowed off leash, the shoreline morphs into a puppy paradise…the mother of all bark parks…an endless tract of territory unmarked. They are free to run, and swim, and dig. All shapes, colors and sizes are welcome…at sunrise, it’s a dog’s beach. Sullivans Island is for dogsIt is Saturday mornings on Sullivans Island when my soul is at ease, and Biscuits’ too. There is something intangibly good about a dog at play. The happiness a dog feels at the beach is contagious. I know this because it is on these mornings when I have met some of the nicest people in the city. And I am convinced it is because our dogs bring out the goodness in our hearts.

Man's Best Friend

So next Saturday, change it up a little. Go for a jog or sip your morning coffee on Sullivans. You and your dog will be equally grateful. (Just make sure to read up on Sullivans Island beach rules before you go…yes, you will get a hefty ticket if you break them.)

Below are photos I took this weekend at the beach with Biscuit. Prepare for utter cuteness.

Yellow Lab on Sullivans Island beachAnxious Yellow Lab patiently awaits beach time!

Beach Dog ParkHappy dogs…happy humans.

Digging DogDigging for fiddlers

Walking golden retrieverA Golden Retriever walks loyally with owner

Happy Biscuit in the surfHappy Biscuit

Pensive Biscuit on the beachPensive Biscuit

Maltese getting warm!

Maltese Dog at the beachA cute Maltese named JJ tries to warm up in owners arms!

Golden Retriever chasing ball in waterMission: Retrieve

Retriever doing her jobJob well done!

Biscuit Portrait 1Biscuit Portrait 2Biscuit Portrait 3Biscuit Closeups

Fast terriors runningCharge!

Exercise class with dogsExercising dogs in a pack

Spaniel on Sullivans IslandDog Rules for Sullivans IslandBiscuit loves Sullivans.

But she is beginning to tire.

Leaving the beachSo it’s time for her mid-morning snooze.

Until next time…

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit D.C for a few days before heading further north for a wedding in upstate New York. Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery. Spanning 624 acres of rolling Virginian hillside, this massive landscape is the final resting ground for over 300,000 military personnel. 27-30 funerals are performed here each day. The numbers are so large, it’s easy to think of Arlington only as a memorial for all who protect our freedom. Personnel – such an empty word until I stood on the grounds, and saw the rows of endless white gravestones.

Arlington Cemetery, VirginiaArlington Cemetery gravesChanging of the guardChanging of the guardChanging of the guardArchitecture at Arlington CemeteryArchitecture at Arlington CemeteryArlington Cemetery AmpitheaterArlington CemeteryWashington Monument and Lincoln Memorial from Arlington

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Below is a memory I have of meeting Pat Summitt for the first time, in conjunction with my weekly song feature.

Now playing on the porch: Nothing Lasts Forever by Brett Dennen

This song has always been one that I play when I am studying, going to sleep or just relaxing on my porch. I listened to it yesterday and all of a sudden it had new meaning. I don’t think I ever really listened to the lyrics. Or at least not fully. I always imagined this song to be a meditation on death, and how it is a natural, final step in life…and that, as Brett Dennen says, “Nothing Lasts Forever, not even the sun”.

This song is not about death. It is about Alzheimer’s disease. And having not been able to shake the news of Pat Summitt’s recent diagnosis, this song has never been more poignant.

I remember when Coach Summitt spoke to my school. I was 11, and determined to play Division 1 college basketball. I clung to every word she said that day. While the other girls in my class were passing notes, I was taking notes. When she finished, I circled “It’s important to give a firm hand shake.” I went to an all-girls school and Pat Summitt being the brilliant inspiration that she is, her speech was on the importance of confidence – in school, in life and on the court. So while the assembly gave a standing ovation, I scurried to the front of the auditorium and waited in the autograph line. But when I made it to the front, I didn’t ask for anything. I stuck my hand out to shake hers, squeezed as confidently as my 11 year old hand could, and said “My name is Nancy Sisk and I am going to play for you one day.” She squeezed back, gave me her infamous half smile and said, “Well then I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville Miss Sisk.”

I didn’t play for Pat Summitt. But I have carried the lesson she taught me during that speech and in our 5 second exchange forever.

So, listen, reflect and pray for her, and the Lady Vols family. And the next time you meet someone, give them a firm hand shake and exude the confidence that she is using to face her toughest competition yet. Because if anyone knows how to win, it’s Coach Summitt.

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