Calling for Change and Equality

Last night, I voted for my loved ones and other members of the LGBT community who deserve the same rights and securities that I have. Last night, the town in which I live and work voted for discrimination.

There’s really no other way to say that, when the majority of voters chose to repeal an ordinance that was only recently put into place to protect members of the LGBT community from being fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes. It’s infuriating that in 2015, people are still so motivated by fear and, well, ignorance that they can knowingly vote against their fellow community members.

I saw several tweets and Facebook statuses that said things like “I can’t wait to get out of this town” and “This is exactly why I can’t wait to move” and “When these kinds of things happen, it makes me want to move far away.”

I get it. I feel those feels.

But, if everyone who is for equality moves, the town will never change. Change can’t happen when there’s no one here to support it.

As disheartening as it is that bigotry ultimately won, the fact that it was such a close race (51.4% – 48.6%) is encouraging. It means that voices are being heard and people are waking up. It means that negative attitudes directed toward the LGBT community are changing (albeit slowly). It means that organizations like ACLU of Missouri, Planned Parenthood Action, PROMO, One Springfield, and so many more are making a difference in our community.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: Dear Friends and Family in Springfield’s LGBT Community, stay strong. Change is coming, and when it arrives, we will all celebrate. But, in the meantime, you have thousands of supporters who are pulling for you and are willing to help in any way possible. ❤

PS: If you live in the Springfield, MO area, you can view a list of businesses that supported the LGBT community by voting NO on the repeal here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Repeal-Business-Listing/836366719770139?fref=nf. Go, and support them!

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A Yoga Story

Do you remember back in the day when TLC ran shows named A Baby Story and A Wedding Story? No? Okay, well, I must be old.

Let me start out by saying that I really enjoy yoga. Lately, though, my normal yoga routine has been seriously lacking. For the past year or so, I’ve been doing yoga a couple of days a week during my lunch hour. The University I work for has a yoga instructor that comes in and leads the class, and I always leave there feeling like I’ve had a good workout. I’ve also participated in a Yoga in the Park program the community has every year, and I’ve done a hot yoga class a couple of times.

Again, I’ve always enjoyed whatever class I’m in, but there has always been something missing. Yoga isn’t just about stretches and movement; it involves mindfulness and total body-mind balance. That’s the component I haven’t been getting.

Last summer, I bought a Groupon for a month’s worth of classes at a local yoga studio. I fiiiiiinally got around to using it at the end of September, and I. Am. Loving. It. I’ve been going to a variety of classes and I have gotten to experience a couple of especially mentally and physically challenging practices (more on this later).

The instructors are wonderful, and I love that we begin each class by dedicating our practice to all living creatures, and we end each class by celebrating the light and love each of us brings. Those two practices help me be focused and mindful not only of my postures during each movement but also of my breath and the directions of my thoughts.

I still have a couple weeks left, but I’m already planning on becoming a member at this studio. I think it’s going to be a good fit for me! Do any of you do yoga? What’s your favorite part about it?

Weekend Trip to Kanas City

Over Labor Day weekend, I went to Kansas City to visit one of my best friends. We had a blast! I wasn’t able to take a “real” vacation this summer (this summer was waaaay too busy for that kind of nonsense), so this was definitely a great getaway!

KC is always fun to explore.  From the sports fanatic to the fashionista, there’s something for everyone! Here’s a brief overview of what was the perfect weekend for two, late-20’s, fun-loving ladies.

We started off the weekend by buying everything at Trader Joe’s. Sadly, my fair town of Springfield doesn’t have a TJ’s, so I go crazy anytime I get to visit one. I’m pretty sure our cashier thought we were legitimately insane. #whatevawhateva

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Trader Joe’s haul.

Saturday was our adventure day. We started off getting our culture on by visiting a couple of FREE art museums. I mean, I totally would have paid to get into the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, but hey, it was definitely a perk. I would definitely recommend both museums to anyone who visits KC.

Louise Bourgeois | Spider, 1997

Louise Bourgeois | Spider, 1997

Various pieces from the Kemper and the Nelson.

Various pieces from the Kemper and the Nelson.

Front lawn of the Nelson-Atkins

Front lawn of the Nelson-Atkins

After visiting the museums, we decided to head to Westport to grab lunch and to wander. I love the Westport district. There are so many different kinds of shops and fun restaurants and bars!

Saturday night was the big event. We saw Chippendales perform at the AmeriStar. It was just as hilarious and cheesy as you can imagine! Helloooo, pretty men!

I think you can figure this out.

I think you can figure this out.

On Sunday, we visited the church where another friend preaches, and we had lunch with my friend’s family. We also went to the Legends to shop. We grabbed drinks at the T-Rex Cafe (they were NOT good), and we got pupusas at a little El Salvadorian restaurant. I’m now obsessed with pupusas.

Monday, we took it easy. That was the day I left, but before I headed out, we went to a new restaurant in Liberty, MO. It has several vegetarian options, so it was perfect for me! If you’re ever in Liberty, I highly recommend getting the quinoa breakfast burrito at Morning Day Cafe. You won’t be disappointed!

As you can tell, we were able to fit A LOT into the weekend. It was so great! What are some of your favorite things to do in Kansas City? Did you do anything fun over the long weekend?

Perfect Summer Dinner

Guys, I LOVE summer. Seriously, it’s my favorite season. I love the heat (although I’m not a huge fan of the humidity), the sunshine, the pool, the longer days, and the produce. Is there anything better than fresh summer produce? No? I didn’t think so.

The super easy dinner I made the other night featured tomatoes. Perfect, juicy, wonderful tomatoes. Unfortunately, it did not feature these tomatoes that my sister picked from my grandparents’ garden. I left the homegrown ones at their house. #fail

Freshly picked tomatoes from my grandparents' garden.

Freshly picked tomatoes from my grandparents’ garden.

Sunday evening, I wanted something that featured tomatoes. It also needed to be quick to make, because I was getting hangry. For those of you who don’t know what hangry means, it is when you’re angry because you’re hungry. Hanging out at the pool can be hard work!

I decided that an open-face tomato sandwich would fit the bill.  I baked mine for a few minutes, so it was creamy from the mozzarella cheese and tangy from the tomato. It was perfection.

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For this deliciousness, you will need:

  • Bread (I used some take-and-bake bread that had roasted garlic in it. SO GOOD.)
  • Tomatoes (obviously)
  • Fresh mozzarella (regular would be fine in a pinch)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

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So, first, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, I put a piece of foil on a cookie sheet and sliced a few of the bread on it. I drizzled that with some olive oil. I put a couple of thin slices of the fresh mozzarella on the bread, and sliced up a tomato on top of the cheese. I sprinkled some salt and pepper over the tomatoes, and five minutes later, I threw everything into the oven. About 10 minutes later, everything was perfect. The tomatoes were warm, the cheese was melted, and the bread was toasted. Mmmm….soooo good!

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This is SO easy to make! I did end up making a salad to eat with it, but everything was finished in less than 15 minutes. Now, that’s the way to make dinner.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

 

Proud Adulting Moment

Hello, dear readers! I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. The past month has been just been insanely busy.

This morning was extremely frustrating. On my way to work, I decided to grab some caffeine to stop the pounding headache I had (okay, I’m addicted to coffee…let’s move on). I was in the drive-thru lane of Starbies,  AND MY CAR STOPPED WORKING. WHAT. That’s not supposed to happen. Luckily, I was able to pull into the parking lot so I wasn’t between a million caffeine-crazed people and their coffee beverages.

For those of you who know me, you probably definitely know that I don’t deal with car-related issues well. I loathe having to deal with car problems. I mean, my car doesn’t really have problems, but still. When it does, I tend to fly off the handle a bit. My philosophy is the car has one job to do, and I should just be able to turn the key and go. Anyway, if this had happened a year ago, I probably would have called either my mom or brother in tears, begging them to deal with it. Yes, I realize this is irrational since my mom lives 70+ miles away, and the brother I would call lives 600+ miles away. Whatever.

Today, though, I calmly called my insurance company to have them send a tow truck since I now have roadside assistance, and then I called my mechanic to let them know I was on the way. The whole process actually went very smoothly. I’m proud of the way I handled the situation, and I thought I would share that adult moment with you all.

Also, in case you were wondering, I did not get my caffeine fix at Starbies. The mechanic I go to has a Keurig machine in the lobby though, so I made that work.

Measuring Success

I recently read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington.  Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve been on The Huffington Post once or twice.  Arianna Huffington is the cofounder, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She’s also a wife, mother, philanthropist, and she has authored fourteen books. She’s kind of a busy lady.

www.randomhouse.com

In her book, Huffington explores a different kind of success – one that isn’t based on power, money, and status. Instead, Huffington’s success focuses on being a healthy (both mentally and physically), well-rounded  individual who is able to unplug from work.  In order to avoid burn-out, Huffington also encourages readers to embrace meditation in order to be in touch with one’s inner-self. She offers up a myriad of examples of companies who attempt to help their employees take better care of themselves. For instance, her own company has nap rooms for employees to utilize, and Google has a printed dog policy that allows employees to bring dogs to work with them.

Thrive compelled me to think about my personal definition of success. I tend to carry work-stress around with me, and this book made me think of new ways to keep work from seeping into my personal life. It also made me resolve to keep practicing my current methods of “unplugging”:

  • I refrain from checking my work email when I’m at home or on vacation. I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t have my work email account synced to my phone, so checking it while I’m away from the office is a very deliberate process. Of course, rules are made to be broken, and sometimes I find myself logging into my account(s). I always try to keep it as brief as possible though.
  • I use my lunch breaks for actual breaks. Sometimes, it’s pretty tempting to work through my lunch – especially when I’m focused on a project. I think it’s more important, though, to take a break during the day. I try to eat lunch with friends, walk around the beautiful campus I work on, participate in a wellness class (like yoga), or read. It really helps to get away from my computer screen for an hour.
Today's lunch view.

Today’s lunch view.

  • Office Yoga. Okay, I know I look ridiculous when I’m doing office yoga (which is really just a series of stretches), but it feels soooo good! A couple of times a day, I move away from my desk and do stretches for about five minutes. I usually rub on some Mental Clarity and do some deep breathing, too. If you have a desk job, I highly recommend checking out these “secret exercises” and the Washington Post’s work workout.

Have any of you read Thrive? What were your thoughts? Do you have any tips for keeping work at work?

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

An Ode to Lavender

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I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy. In fact, I have Badger Headache Soother (a balm containing peppermint and lavender) and a bottle of Mental Clarity (a blend of basil, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, grapefruit,  and lavender oils) sitting on my desk right now, and I use them on the reg.

I’m also a huuuuuge fan of just plain lavender. The plant itself is gorgeous, and the scent is intoxicating. I’ve recently realized that I use it in some unexpected ways, and I thought I would share some of my lavender #protips with you!

LAVENDER LEMONADE It’s summer, so obviously, I’m going to be drinking a lot of lemonade. I really enjoy mixing up the flavors a bit, and I’ve found that lavender lemonade is one of my favorite variations. Basically, instead of adding sugar to your freshly squeezed lemons, you’re going to make a lavender-infused simple syrup using dried lavender. Then, you will hear angels sing, because it is just that delicious.

LAVENDER LINEN SPRAY I love the smell of lavender so much, that I want to sleep surrounded by it. I spritz my sheets with this stuff every night, and it smells amazing! Some linen sprays are complicated, but I just mix a few (okay, like 20) drops of lavender oil with about 12 oz of water in a spray bottle. It also makes a great air freshener.

LAVENDER FOR HAIR About three times a week, I put 3-5 drops of lavender oil right into my conditioner and massage it into my head. I let it sit there for about 3 minutes, and then rinse it out. I love the way it makes my hair smell!

LAVENDER AS A CLEANER Okay, guys. It’s time to get serious. Traditional cleaners freak me out. The chemical smell is overpowering, and I worry about what my kitties are ingesting when they lick their paws. The other day, I was cleaning my dressing room vanity, and I created this awesome paste that worked wonders! I used baking soda, salt (for some added grittiness), lemon juice, and a few drops of lavender oil. I scrubbed the vanity and sink with it and then rinsed it off with a damp rag. Everything sparkled, and the delightful scent of lavender and lemon lingered for hours. Perfection.

I’ve found so many uses for lavender essential oil, that it totally justifies having three bottles of it, right?!

I have a few of these bottles stashed around my house.

Do any of you have a great love of aromatherapy and essential oils? What is your favorite and what do you like to do with it?