Day Two: A Two-Part Post

Part I: Liebster Award

Now, I’m not sure who this Liebster chap is, but let’s just say I’ll take any excuse to shamelessly promote a few blogs I love. The idea is that if you get a blog nod, you give a nod to five of your favorite blogs in turn. So here they are (in no particular order):

1. Effie’s Recipe Box – Now, Jade over at Effie’s place is actually the one who gave me the nod in the first place, so you might say “What’s with the constant back-patting, guys? Love fest, sheeeeeesh…” But the thing is, Effie’s Recipe Box is just one of the coolest blog premises I’ve ever seen. The idea is that my fantastically gifted, talented friend Jade (who is an amaaaaaazing baker/chef) came across her grandmother’s old recipe box. Now she does the Lord’s work, i.e. handing down these fabulous recipes to all of us. I’m loving the combination of food-porn-meets-family-history. And yes, I just said “food porn.” Check out those goodies and tell me you don’t agree.

2. The Suburban Bohemian – This is my friend Liz Pardue-Schultz’s blog and it’s…well, fantastic. Liz has a way with words unlike anyone I’ve ever known, and she writes honestly about some very un-pretty topics, without an ounce of fear. This woman is definitely one of my biggest inspirations and I love her! Oh, and Liz is working on a novel about mental illness and the journey she has been through – check it out here and donate if you feel compelled to help get this message out!

3. Faith, Fitness, Fun – Awhile back, I met Tina Reale on an online fitness forum. At the time, Tina was expecting her first child, and began blogging to chronicle the whole thing. What eventually came of this evolution of woman, daughter, mother, and writer is this incredibly empowering page. Tina preaches this uplifting brand of body confidence that I think we all need to hear at times, some more than others. She’s just a good person, and I love reading her blog. It always leave me feeling a little “lighter,” if that makes sense.

4. Two Of A Kind, Workin’ On A Full House – This is the family blog of another friend from that fitness forum where I met Tina. The author, Brie Zentil, is a fabulous, ridiculously positive, outrageously strong individual. This girl has been through some stuff, y’all. I don’t know how she does it, but I can promise you that after reading a few posts, you too will be a member of Brie’s quickly expanding cheerleading section. She’s amazing.

5. live.tri.bark. –  This is the blog home of my friend Jen Hall. Jen and I worked together at Fluor for a few years, and since I’ve left, we’ve remained pretty close friends. Jen is a heck of a personality. This is the rundown of her life as a citizen of Corporate America (tons o’ fun, ain’t it, Jen?), a triathlete and runner, and the “mommy” of rescue dogs that she loves to death. Her sarcastic sense of humor will have you giggling for sure.

So that’s the bloggy award thingy! Hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!

Part II:

My Nine Loves:

1. My Son. Really is there any stronger love that we can experience? He amazes me daily, inspired me hourly, and yanks at my heartstrings every second that I’m with him. He also inspires some of my biggest fears, but I guess we’ll get to that part tomorrow. I just would throw myself in front of a bus for him. No questions asked (‘course, hopefully, that will never be an issue).

2. God. This has been a struggle for me. Why? Well, I’ve always believed in God, felt like God was probably an innately good and kind force/individual/dude. I was raised in a church setting where God was more of a vengeful, difficult-to-please, crabby uncle figure than someone you loved and who loved you. Only in the last 6 or 7 years of being a part of really positive, uplifting church families in Myrtle Beach and Greenvile have I been able to let go of that crap and see God for what He really is. God is love. End of story. And oddly enough, he manages to love me. I think that says something, don’t you?

3. Jonathan (my husband). This guy came into my life when I least expected it and changed every expectation I had about what “love” was. He makes me a better person, but still loves me even when I’m having trouble being that better person. My life would be pretty empty without him.

4. My Family. Sure enough, they drive me insane sometimes (yep, all of you – you heard me!). But the thing I’ve learned in my short lifetime is that love is what happens when you actually have to work at it. And these people are my bedrock.

5. Driving around the country. If I’m ever in a funk of some sort, a country drive pretty much solves it. It’s been like that since I was a newly licensed teenager, taking my mom’s Buick Park Avenue “the long way” home. I used to line up my musical playlists in advance of a long trip, just so I could roll down the windows, blast my music, and sing along. It was total freedom. Now that I have two other people in the car with me AND my CD player is broken (has been since January), I don’t miss the music. Jonathan and I talk the whole time. In fact, most car trips, we don’t even turn on the radio. We just talk.

6. Running. This January will mark 10 years that I’ve been a runner. It never would have happened if not for my friend Jessica, who was the person who decided to change up our usual after-school workout during senior year of high school one day and go for a run (much to my chagrin, at the time). I’ve been all over the map as a runner (from normal person, to crazy half-marathon person who “accidentally runs 15 miles,” back to being normal, to now having a pretty balanced workout approach). But one thing remains constant: running keeps me sane, and there’s just not much that a nice outdoor run can’t at least make better.

7. Nine Inch Nails. This is my favorite band, ever, evaaaar, of all time ever. Trent Reznor is a genius in so many ways, and his lyrics never fail to give me goosebumps. Okay, well…maybe a few songs don’t have that result. But I just skip through those. And the concerts are incredible. I just love the catalog of work and I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking these songs are amazing.

8. The Lake. To be more specific, my family’s lakehouse on Lake Marion near Manning, SC. I guess the technical address is Summerton, which is odd, because everything we do and everything we know relative to this place is in Manning. Manning has darn near replaced Conway as my “hometown,” of sorts. And this place is the best. It’s relaxing, beautiful, quiet, and just a place of respite and relief. We feel so blessed to have it.

9. My Life. Geez, did I ever dream that this is where I’d end up? No, God no. I really am amazed daily at how much I’ve been blessed and how God had this plan put together. It’s one of the reasons I believe in God. The way the timing in my life has worked out, as if by some preset plan, has really stopped me in my tracks a few times. I don’t think it can be coincidental. Compared to many other lives, mine has been relatively good and easy, and my childhood was mostly positive. I don’t take that for granted, and I hope I always remain aware of what a blessed existence I have. Is it perfect? No. There are plenty of things that I *could* whine about. But that would be a smack in the face of those who really have misfortune and pain to deal with. If for no other reason than out of respect for those people, I need to always remember how much I’ve been given. I don’t deserve one bit of it.

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