The Tomboy All Grown Up

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Yup, I was a tomboy when I was a girl. In the land of princesses and Barbie dream houses, I was the one playing tether ball and running around the playground. Looking at me now you wouldn’t know it, but I loved playing sports and playing outside…at least until Junior High happened…

I was raised by my father and some may attribute my tomboyishness to that one fact. But the truth is, I never liked girly stuff. I hated wearing dresses and skirts because I couldn’t run around. If I’m going to wear shorts under my dress in order to play on the jungle gym, why can’t I wear just the shorts? I got dirty and messy. Scrapes, bumps, and bruises were just a part of the day. Bike riding, roller skating, and kickball were what made the world go round, and I loved it.

Things that were pink or purple were not allowed in my room. Anything with ribbons, forget it. Someone bought me a Barbie when I was in elementary school; I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with her. So I cut off her hair. I received a Barbie Corvette one year for my birthday and I spent that first week rolling the car down the hallway in our house & watching gleefully as it kept crashing into the wall.

As I grew out of childhood, some of my tomboy tendencies began to fade. Apparently around 13 or so, you are no longer allowed to play sports with boys. You are now supposed to giggle and blush at even the most mundane things that they say. Tetherball gave way to talking on the phone for hours on end. And roller skating was no longer to be done outside but at the local roller rink where you met up with your friends to…yes, that’s right. Giggle and blush at the boys.

Now that I am a mom to a young daughter, I wonder what kinds of things will she be interested in. Dinosaurs or Barbies? Maybe both? Will I be throwing princess-themed birthday parties? I know she’s not even 2 yet but already I see glimpses of a young me. She doesn’t like dolls or stuffed animals. She loves books, building blocks, and puzzles. She hates when you try to put a barrette in her hair and the few times I have tried to put her in a dress, it was a losing battle.

I believe my not-so-girly childhood has served me well in my adult life. I didn’t like the mall then and I don’t like it now. Sure I like nice clothes and what girl doesn’t like the M.A.C. counter, but the thought of setting foot in an actual mall gives me anxiety. Playing outdoor activities has fueled my love of sports and to this day I still watch football and hockey, rooting on my favorite teams. My Hubby often jokes about the fact that when the game is on, we never have to fight over the remote. And playing sports also taught me that sometimes you have to play with people you don’t like. As an adult, this translates into “being a team player”, the cornerstone of many a corporate jargon.

Yes, the tomboy has transitioned to an adult woman. But if you want to play a round of kickball, you just let me know.

**** Sidenote: I wrote this post originally on my old blog 5 years ago. My daughter is now 7 years old and still loves books, building blocks, and puzzles. However, dolls have made their way into the house  😉 Elsa and Anna from the movie Frozen and of course Wonder Woman, because helloooooo, it’s Wonder Woman!!! She likes playing dress-up but if given the option, she would rather play outside instead  🙂

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

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If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

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If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

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Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

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I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

I Remember

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I remember this day… this day four years ago, like it was yesterday.

I remember being stuck at work in meeting after meeting.

I remember finally getting a break and checking my phone for messages.

I remember hearing a voicemail from my dad, not liking what I heard in his voice.

I remember calling him back and hearing him tell me the inevitable: my grandmother had died… and my whole world shifted.

I remember trying to keep my composure at work, but failing miserably.

I remember telling my co-worker, I had to leave because of an emergency. I gripped the steering wheel the entire way home, vaguely aware that the brake pedal had been applied, and I was now sitting in my garage.

I remember my husband, then fiancée, holding me as my body was racked with uncontrollable sobbing.

I remember the funeral, but not the days in between. It’s all a blur, still.

I remember how many people came to say good-bye and I was moved to tears again, by how many lives you touched Grandma, with your grace and quiet humility.

I remember trying to be strong for my dad.

I remember coming back home after the funeral and collapsing on the kitchen floor, because the tears would not subside.

They say time heals all wounds, but that is a lie. My wounds are still open, raw, and full of salt.

I remember all the time.

It’s been four years and all it takes is hearing a certain word or seeing your picture and I sob incoherently for minutes on end.

It still hurts and I don’t forget.

I remember you being an instrumental part of my childhood, the mother I didn’t have, the female figure to aspire to.

I remember you being one with your faith and instilling that faith into me.

I hate the fact that you never got to hold your great-granddaughter, but I know you see her. And see that her smile, is your smile.

I don’t forget, and on days like today and your birthday, the awareness that you are really gone, is even more heightened.

I miss you Grandma and I cry as I write this. You live on through my father, through me, and through my daughter.

I will always remember…

**Sidenote: I wrote this post originally on my old blog 5 years ago. It has now been 9 years since my grandma passed away and I still miss her more than ever. I love you, my sweet guardian angel

 

Living a Life That Is True To You

Along with several other words in today’s lexicon, the word “values” has sprung up in more conversations and blog posts over the past few months. “What are my values?” and “What do I value in life?” seem to be the springboards onto which fraught conversations are run.

Value can be what you esteem to be worth relative merit or importance; what you consider to be essential or important. What you won’t back down on.

But are you backing down? Are your values taking a back seat to the monotony of life or the frenzied clamor of life and its draining entities?

Are you living a life that is true to you?

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“I’ve started asking myself: What type of person do I want to be? How do I express my interests and values? Am I living a life that’s true to myself and not the life others expect of me? By spending more time dreaming about what I want for the future, I’ve started to form a better idea of who I want to be and where I want to go”. -Sarah Moss

I am utterly enamored of this quotation by Sarah Moss because it causes one to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and really examine what is adding value to our lives and what is not. It causes one to think about the things that they are doing and wondering introspectively if these things are being done for someone else because it is what is expected or are they being done because we want them to be?

You are never too old to re-imagine the direction of your life and decide that things aren’t going quite the way you expected. It is also okay to feel a certain way about things and not feel guilty about them.

For example, I value my time with my daughter as sacred. If something is going to impinge on that time with her, I say no to other requests of my time. My child is only young once; there will be a point where as she gets older, Mom is no longer “cool” and friends will become her end-all, be-all. Children grow so fast; before you know it, they are out of the house and on their way to college. So for me, my daughter and our quality time come first. I place a high value on that.

While not related per se, minimalism helps me in this capacity. If I had to spend my time constantly arranging, organizing, and taking care of all of our things, I would have less time to spend with my daughter. Instead of snuggling together and watching a Charlie Brown cartoon, or baking cookies together, I would be cleaning, organizing, and taking care of our stuff.

And that is just not okay with me.

My life is a simple one, because I have made it so. That is not to say that I don’t experience heartache or have difficulties that I continue to overcome, it means that I choose a simple life because it aligns with my values. I strive for a minimalist lifestyle because spending time with loved ones is important to me and spending time taking care of stuff, is not. A simpler life helps keep me on my way to having more fullness in my life.

I still have dreams that I can’t wait to bring to fruition. Approaching a new decade in my life has brought home to me so many things, and I still continue to learn and grow and remind myself to stay true to the essence of who I am.

Are you living a life that is true to you?

Make Room For Things That Matter

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“Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t”. -Brian Gardner

As I have mentioned previously, my word for 2017 is Well. Wellness applies not only to the physical and emotional but also to the mental. So in addition to eating right, working out, and my introduction to meditation, I am also working on sorting out what I need and want in my life and what I don’t.

This fantastic quote from Brian Gardner really resonated with me because I feel that minimizing or getting rid of completely what has no business being a part of my life, has been in a word… refreshing.

Doing things or being a part of things that are not good for my soul are just not going to cut it anymore. Lighter and freer are two beautiful adjectives that I feel are working their way into my heart. Although I continue to work on what makes me happy, that work… it’s a good thing.

Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t.

Here is how I am applying this to my life:

♦ I make time to work out in the mornings. This is important not only for my physical health but my mental health as well. Studies point to exercise helping with forms of depression and anxiety.

♦ I eat what makes me feel good. I have a gluten intolerance and when I inadvertently eat it, I pay for it big time. I drink my green juices, try to eat as many vegetables as I can, and I recently started drinking kombucha which has probiotics which is good for my gut.

♦ I have started meditating. You can read more about that here.

♦ I have minimized my wardrobe. I have found that there are only a few colors that I really enjoy wearing and it is much easier to get dressed and mix and match items. My daily attire usually consists of a t-shirt and jeans or pants, and a cardigan. Some days, I am wearing Converse. Other days it’s boots. When it warms up, shorts and flip-flops will be added back in. This is what I wear literally every day. There is truly something to be said for not owning a ton of clothing that needs to be sorted through every morning. Whew!  🙂

♦ I watch less television. I do enjoy my favorite shows like Sherlock, Elementary, old episodes of Murder She Wrote, Victoria on PBS, and sports games like football and hockey. Luckily they don’t all come on at the same time! However, the endless scrolling through a zillion channels trying to find something to watch? No, I do not do that anymore. If I am watching television, it is for a specific show like Jeopardy. My daughter and I watch this every night without fail  🙂 I read more books now (if that is indeed possible) or read blogs about health, wellness, and/or minimalism. So the television is still here. It is just not a supreme focus.

♦ I have cut out the negativity. Whether that is in the form of people (energy vampires), certain people online, certain blogs, or certain time-wasting endeavors, I have let it go. I want more of the good and less of the bad. If I feel like something is not adding value to how I live my life, I eliminate it from my every day.

♦ I am continuing to de-clutter. I live in a very small apartment and if one is not careful, it can feel like the walls are closing in. I make an effort to really examine items and ask if they truly have a purpose in our modest abode.

♦ I am making the present moment more important. We all get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and it is easy to keep our face focused on what lies ahead. But I am working on being more mindful of my surroundings and noticing all the little things that may have escaped my vision before. The deep green on the leaves of a tree. The beauty of a 72 degree day in February. The first sip of coffee on a really cold morning. You get the picture. The present is important and it is up to us to be intentional with it.

Are you making room for what truly matters in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Diving Headfirst Into Meditation

Or an alternate title would be: What I have learned after meditating for 10 days straight  🙂

I am not going to say I am some sort of Zen maven now, or that absolutely nothing bothers me, or that I can calm my mind down without even giving it a second thought. Those would be untrue statements and it is nonsense to think that someone can be some sort of mindfulness expert after a mere 10 days.

Meditation is not easy. In fact, there are days when your mind does not want to do what you would like it to do.

But that’s okay because that is what meditating helps you do: notice your thoughts.

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I’d been thinking about meditation as a practice and I kept meaning to get around to actually planting my bottom on a pillow and just doing the darn thing already. It finally got to a point where I just needed to push myself to do it. That push for me to jump in the meditation swimming pool came in the form of Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. While the book and subject matter are not for everyone, I enjoyed what Harris had to say. Harris is an ABC newscaster who had a panic attack on national television which as you can imagine, was quite devastating for him. He then went on a journey, often hilariously, of finding a way to help him “combat the voice in his head” and found his way to meditation which to this day, he still espouses the virtues of.

Now I am not a newscaster, nor do I have a hankering to be on television, but I do suffer from bouts of anxiety and Harris’ book was the nudge that I needed to start my meditation journey.

“We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it” – Dan Harris

Eye-opening, right?

So, I downloaded the app Calm onto my phone which offers free meditations for you to utilize. They also have ones that are more in depth that you can access, but those come with a fee. I utilize the free ones. And as a side note, I have absolutely no affiliation with Calm. It just happens to be the app that I downloaded  🙂

So ten days ago, I did my first 10 minute meditation. My mind wandered as it is want to do, but the point is, I recognized it, and tried to bring it back to the present. I focused on my breathing. I listened to the lady with the soothing voice tell me to let go and notice the inhale and the exhale.

And I continued for the next several days after that, trying to do my meditation around the same time every day because I am a creature of habit. #babyiwasbornthisway

So what have I learned so far?

♦ The weekends are hard for me to do meditation. This past Saturday, my cat jumped on my lap while I was sitting meditating and completely threw me off my game. Then at another point, my daughter interrupted my session to ask me a question about Scooby-Doo. No joke  🙂 I realized it really is easier to meditate when she is at school and the cat is napping, preferably not where he can see my lap and jump on it.

♦ As I stated earlier, I am not in a zone where nothing bothers me (I wish I was though!) But I can say that when I feel a particular emotion bubble up, if I am able to, I notice the thought and ask myself “Is this helpful?” If the thought is not helpful, I try to change my thinking. I am still a novice at this whole mindfulness thing, for reals, but that one phrase “Is this helpful?” has helped me sooooo much. Try it for yourself when a thought that is trying to burrow itself into your brain that you know has no reason being there.

♦ I have realized that I look forward to my meditation sessions. If I can only do 5 minutes, that’s okay. 10 minutes a day is what I aim for and I have hit that goal consistently.

♦ I have noticed that I am much calmer after meditating. Like I said, I am no Zen maven. But I really do feel better after a 10 minute session.

So, bottom line is that I am going to keep going with this whole meditating thing. Now if I could just get my cat to understand that when mommy is sitting on her pillow, now is not the time for kitty snuggles. But when I am done? It’s totally kitty snuggle time!  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

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If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

2017: The Year of Wellness

Sometime in the last few years or so, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I always ended up breaking them sometime around mid-February and then spent the next 10 months saying to myself, screw it, I already messed up so what’s the point of trying to continue in that direction. Then January rolls around again and the same story would play out.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Having a specific word however, to represent changes you want to make in your life seems easier and more attainable in the quest to be a better person. That single word or phrase can encompass so much and we can steer our lives in a positive direction that allows for mistakes along the way without feeling like failure will derail the whole thing.

My word for 2017 is Well.

Be well. Feel well. Live well.

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According to the dictionary, wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Can also be an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Wellness. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

See the thing is, I feel like the past three years have been for me, a twisting and difficult journey, emotionally and physically. I have gone through some pretty rough times and I believe that there is finally a light at the end of this very long tunnel that I have been proverbially crawling through. That is amazing in and of itself.

Last year, I made significant changes to my health. I started exercising and eating better and I lost 30 pounds. Awesome, right? But then the seasons changed, Fall ushered her leaf-swirling head in, and I fell off the health train hard. And then old habits crept back in, and faster than you can say uh-oh, I was in over my head and beating myself up for derailing.

That has to stop.

When I say I want to be well, I mean in all aspects of my life. As mentioned above, I want to be well physically. That means getting back to eating properly and moving my body more. Exercise truly has so many great benefits and I want those endorphins back!  🙂

I want to be well emotionally. I want to start doing yoga and getting into meditation. I feel that this will help me get out of my own head sometimes and give me the calmness I need in my life. I also have been seriously looking at my home space and decluttering on an even grander scale than I had previously done, because too many things gives me anxiety. And although I live in a very small space, I am looking at my things differently and looking at them with fresh eyes and asking myself, “Do I value this? Is this something that I value? Am I really going to watch/read/ look at this thing again?” If the answer is no, than I get rid of it.

I want to be well financially. The things that I am getting rid of, my husband is selling online for me to bring in some extra-needed cash. Paying off some bills this year and getting a proper financial foothold will be of paramount importance.

2017 will be the year of well.

This is going to be a good year my friends. I can feel it  🙂

December in the Rearview

Wow, December was really one for the books, amiright?

What I enjoyed this month: Christmas. Spending time with family and friends. Watching “A Christmas Story” on repeat. Taking my daughter to see Santa  🙂

Seriously, best holiday movie ever!!!

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What I am absolutely over: All the dying. RIP George Michael and Carrie Fisher. All the Star Wars movies and Wham and George Michael’s music: staples of an 80’s kid’s life. So sad and so tragic.

My favorite Christmas present: This shirt inspired my spirit animal Lorelai Gilmore from the show Gilmore Girls

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Present that my daughter received that is totally awesome: The complete 1st season of the 1970’s television show Wonder Woman. My daughter loves Wonder Woman (in fact, that was what she was for Halloween!) so we always rented this from the library but they only allow you to rent dvd’s for seven days and then you have to return it and we could never get through them all before always having to return it, so my husband and I decided to just get her the collection for Christmas   🙂 She loves it, and I get to relive my childhood watching it with her because I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I even had Wonder Woman underoos, remember those? #80skids #thatshowwerolled

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I am absolutely looking forward to 2017. 2016 has been a crazy year, definitely one for the history books, and I think we all need a clean slate.

Happy New Year friends!

 

November in the Rearview

November flew by in a bit of blur, amiright?? Turkey day has come and gone and we are about to head into the mother lode of the busy holiday season  🙂

What I enjoyed this month: Decorating early for Christmas. I used to be a strict after-Thanksgiving decorator, but since becoming a mom, the decorations have come out earlier and earlier, and now I am pretty much a first-week-of-November-Christmas-decorator. #sorrynotsorry I love Christmas and since it is my favorite holiday, I feel like it should be celebrated for as long as possible.

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GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL!!!!!

Yes, I was one of gazillions who watched the brand new 4 90-minutes episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I laughed. I cried. I railed at the television when #thelastfourwords were spoken. I said a silent prayer that they would bring back Loralei and Rory for a second season, because we all need to know…WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN??!!! Also, can they just give Paris Gellar her own show? Because she literally makes me cry-laugh and I realize how much I miss her witty take-downs  🙂

What I am absolutely over: Politics. Enough said.

November was a fun month as I got to chaperone my daughter’s school field trip. Yay!!! And I also started exercising again, as it had been awhile (over a month) and I needed to get back in the saddle so to speak. I just hadn’t been making the time to exercise but I need to make it a priority again, because I honestly feel better after getting in some movement in my limbs, you know what I mean?

November was also the month that I apparently was in “documentary mode”. I watched more documentaries this month than I have in probably my entire life. I like watching them, it is just that I usually watch movies when I do get a block of time to watch something. That being said, I watched some interesting stuff. I don’t remember the actual names of the documentaries but this is what they were about:

♦ 2 separate but equally interesting documentaries on silent screen star Mary Pickford

♦ a documentary about the Dust Bowl that struck the U.S. during The Great Depression in the 1930’s

♦ a documentary on the Wisconsin primary race between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

♦ a documentary about the British Mail delivery system between England and Scotland in the mid-1930’s

♦ a documentary about the Kennedy assassination before, after and during which took place over a period of four days in Dallas, Texas.

I know, my choices were all over the place but I didn’t even realize I had watched this many until I started tabulating them all. I look forward to watching more!

Well that’s it for me folks. I am looking forward to December and Christmas and 24 hours of A Christmas Story  🙂

How was your November? Did you watch Gilmore Girls?