Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Miscellany

Monday Miscellany is for recounting my weekend (in totally non-chronological order) and whatever thoughts are swimming around that may not make for great standalone posts. Enjoy!

Last week, I started to find these little bumps (which I thought were bug bites) on my hands and feet (and a few on my arms/legs), and they were SUPER itchy. I figured I had just walked into a cloud of gnats or something (do gnats even bite?) and that they'd go away eventually. To make a long story slightly shorter, the itching didn't subside, the "bites" multiplied, and yesterday I went to Urgent Care. Found out that I have "dyshidrotic eczema" which is not contagious or dangerous (or, thankfully, permanent). But, as you can see if you click that link, it can get pretty ugly if you scratch at it and let it go untreated for too long. Yuck! I have to put a steroid cream on the affected areas, and the doctor gave me an itch relief prescription for the evenings so I won't scratch in my sleep. I'm hoping it will all clear up in a week or so. (PS: There are even bumps on the palms of my hands and bottoms of my feet! NOT FUN.)


Saturday I went to a baby shower up in Santa Ynez, at this gorgeous house with its own private lake. I did not prepare to be outside in the sun, though, so I got a gnarly burn on my shoulders/back and the tops of my legs. This does not mix well with an itchy body, FYI. But Joe's been slathering me with aloe which is a huge help.


Friday night we went to our friends' going away party which was really fun and a great way to say goodbye. I also talked with a few girls who, Lord willing, WON'T be moving out of state anytime soon. I've been so blessed by the group of girls I've been in a Bible study with this year, but all four of them are moving away! Caitlin is already gone, Lauren is leaving this weekend, Julie is moving sometime this summer, and Kindra is taking off this fall. So it's time to seek out a new group of Christian girls! Truthfully, I'm a little anxious about it, because it took me almost four years to finally develop a few deep friendships here. But I think I've come out of my shell and I feel a lot more comfortable introducing myself to people and, if I feel a connection (that sounds awkward but you know what I mean), saying, "We should be friends!"


Speaking of awesome girls -- Saturday night Joe and I went to karaoke (one of my favorite pastimes) and met up with an assortment of friends, including two girls from the small group we attended earlier this year, Amy and Kristen. They are basically the most adorable ladies ever, and it was so much fun singing and dancing with them! I always love it when I get to see friends discover how much fun karaoke is. Here's a pic Kristen took of us that night:


Exactly two months from today, Joe and I will be arriving in Scotland! I seriously CANNOT WAIT for this trip, you guys. I haven't been out of the country since 2008, and Joe hasn't been out of the country EVER. We're going with his parents, which I am also super excited about. AND John and Kelly are going to meet up with us for the last few days of the trip, so we'll have the whole Carnes clan there together for a bit. Get ready for a buttload of Instagram pics, people. (At least wherever we will have WiFi.)


Oh, and yesterday after Urgent Care, Joe and I checked out a little restaurant we've noticed and been meaning to try for ages: The Nugget! It was clean, cozy, friendly, and the food was really tasty! I had a grilled turkey, bacon and green chile sandwich with a side of THE BEST sweet potato fries ever, and Joe had a half rack of ribs with extra BBQ sauce. We'll definitely be going there again!


 How was your weekend?

Friday, June 22, 2012

A to Z Book Challenge

So a while back (on my old blog), I started up one of those "101 in 1001" lists. And while I basically failed miserably*, it was definitely a good challenge that helped me to start being a little more goal-oriented.
*(I think I completed maybe 25 of them? And the official end date is in less than two months.)

Anyway, one of the items on the list was to read 26 books, one by an author whose last name starts with each letter of the alphabet. I am already a major book lover, but I wanted to explore and find books I might not normally gravitate toward. So while I gave up on the 101 in 1001 thing, I'm still working on this A to Z book list. I've chosen all 26 books (and let me tell you, it was NOT easy finding books that looked remotely interesting by authors with Q, U and X names); now it's just a matter of reading them!

For the record, I'm reading a lot more than just 26 books; these are just the ones related to this challenge. If you want to see my entire virtual library, find me on Goodreads!

I'll update this post to keep track of my progress; currently I've read 21 of 26. (The numbers in parentheses next to the books denote the order in which I've read them.)

AThe Summer We Fell Apart, by Robin Antalek (6)
BThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley (7)
CLittle Bee, by Chris Cleave (11)
DSarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay (8)
EA Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan (17)
FSurely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, by Richard Feynman (4)
GThe Magicians, by Lev Grossman (14)
HBetween Sisters, by Kristin Hannah (3)
IAngry Conversations with God, by Susan Isaacs (to-read)
J13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson (20)
KThe Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley (21)
LGrace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott (5)
MThe Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton (12)
N —  One Day, by David Nicholls (18)
OBefore I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (9)
PKeeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult (2)
QEvery Last One, by Anna Quindlen (to-read)
RHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling (15)
S — The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer (1)
TThe End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas (16)
UThe Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, by Brady Udall (19)
VTimequake, by Kurt Vonnegut (to-read)
WI Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells (10)
X Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, by Xinran Xue (to-read)
YThe Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, by Michele Young-Stone (to-read)
Z The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (13)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fighting Infectious Negativity


As I'm working on being more joyful, I've become increasingly aware of all the negativity around me. Pessimism. Complaining. Jealousy. Gossip. "Why can't I? If only. It's so unfair!" And so often, my first inclination is to join right in and be just as negative. Someone complains about how early she had to wake up this morning? First thought to pop into my head is, "Well, I was up 20 minutes before that, AND I tossed and turned all night!"

The good news is, I'm getting better at filtering those initial negative thoughts before they come out of my mouth. But I find myself feeling physically unpleasant when I spend too much time around someone speaking negatively. I want to say, "Hey, could you tone down the b****ing and moaning for two seconds? Go smell a flower or something." But obviously, I need to find a better way to express myself. I've been trying to be a lot more intentional about keeping my own attitude positive when I'm around people who tend to be not so chipper, hoping that my mood will rub off on them. Unfortunately, it seems a lot easier for their bad moods to rub off on me instead.

I've also considered saying, "My pastor's eight-year-old daughter has cancer for the third time, and SHE'S not complaining!" but that may not be a great approach either. Although it IS certainly inspiring and humbling to watch little Daisy and the Merrick family go through all of this crap with such joyfulness. That's Jesus at work, friends.

I digress. What I want from you (whoever's reading this) is advice. What should I do? Should I just avoid talking to those people all together? Or can you think of a tactful, helpful way to gently encourage someone to try to be more positive? And if you do have suggestions, you might as well also tell me how to be good at confronting people, since I'm still pretty terrible at that, too. Especially when the person complaining is in some way my "superior" -- older, wiser, higher-ranking at work, and so on. (Because sadly, the majority of Negative Nancies I encounter seem to be folks who are theoretically more mature than me.)

PS: If you're reading this and you think I'm writing explicitly about you, you're probably wrong. But I suppose if you see a little bit of yourself in the stuff I'm talking about, you could choose to try to be more positive and see if it rubs off on other people. Let's spread joy!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday meme: Finish the sentence...

I'm still getting back into the blogging routine, so I keep batting around all sorts of post ideas in my head, but none of them spring up effortlessly just waiting for me to write them like they used to. So bear with me for awhile. For now, I'm stealing a little meme from another blogger called Finish the Sentence, with an Instagram-themed spin.

Maybe I would curl my hair more often if it didn't take hours to get it all done.

I love watching my husband practice martial arts.

People would say that I dance like a white chick, and they would be correct.

I don’t understand how it took me 27 years to go on my first desert hike.

When I wake up in the morning and start my day with quiet reflection, everything seems to run more smoothly. (Too bad this is still such a hard habit to hold onto.)

I lost my ability to withstand spicy food. Still love it, but I'm such a wuss about it nowadays!

Life is full of opportunities to be silly. Don't miss out on them!

My past is full of choices. Some of them still have ongoing ramifications, while others might have seemed less important, but they all brought me to where I am today.

I get annoyed when things go wrong at inopportune times (but I'm blessed with a guy who will step in and help any way he can, like he did when he got my flat tire fixed).

Parties are fun to plan when you have the right people on your team.
(These were for my friend Julie's baby shower!)

I wish I had more self control when it comes to eating sweets.

Dogs are silly, lovable, intuitive and I want one as awesome as this little guy:

Cats are often cranky, sometimes weird and always allergy-inducing. I appreciate them from a distance, NOT when they block me from getting into my house.

Tomorrow I’m seriously thinking of getting one of these for lunch. Mmm...

I have low tolerance for traffic and dreary weather.
(Obviously it's even worse when they occur together!)

I’m totally terrified of becoming allergic/intolerant to gluten. I can't live without carbs!

I wonder why cold beer tastes so much better from a mason jar.

Never in my life have I regretted going for a run...even when I shattered my phone's screen halfway through a tough one.

High school was not my favorite four years, but I went to school with a guy who is totally famous now, so that's cool I guess.

When I’m nervous I turn to my incredible husband for comfort and advice.

One time at a family gathering my father-in-law and I wore matching outfits without planning it. (It was yesterday.)

Take my advice: learn to love the foam roll. It can be a mean little bugger, but your muscles will thank you.

Making my bed has never been a huge priority. (Workin' on it.)

I’m almost always indecisive about outfits, so I turn to the internet for input!

I’m addicted to playing games on my phone. The latest is "FIT" which is sort of a combination of Tetris and Tangrams.

I want someone to hurry up and invent a teleportation device so I can see my distant loved ones more often.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On a "formulaic" Friday night

I don't know what kind of shenanigans you've been up to on this fine Friday night, but I bet it's not as exciting as what's kept me up till 2:00 AM...

Yep. I just spent the better part of 87,000 hours* figuring out some relatively complicated Excel formulas. *You guys know I never exaggerate, right? The result may not look like much, but I am pretty much ecstatic right now!

This is the beginning of my life as a Spinning® instructor! I'm creating a Google spreadsheet where I can keep track of all the routines I'll make, complete with song title/artist, duration, cadence, notes/comments, and what you see in the picture above, which are the basic movements involved in indoor cycling. Those cute little icons? They'll automatically change based on the information shown in the adjacent cell. And you have no idea how many attempts it took me to get it right.

Now I just have to put together some routines and get my butt to the gym when the cycling room isn't being used for a class so I can practice leading my imaginary students. Eek!

Oh, and just so you don't think I'm a TOTAL nerd, here's proof that I did actually go out tonight before all this spreadsheeting:

We walked to Joe's favorite little sushi joint for dinner after a fun martial arts workout. The lady that runs the restaurant LOVES Joe, so she gave him a free plate of fried calamari, AND we got a refill on our hot sake after we'd already paid the bill. (Let's just say it was a good thing we decided to walk...)
Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Goals and blessings and stuff.

I've been thinking lately about some of the things I want to do in the near/immediate future.
  • Become a Spinning instructor
  • Train for a half marathon (starting with a 15K on the 4th of July)
  • Be awesome at martial arts with Joe
  • Get back into jewelry-making
  • Cook more healthy meals
  • Stick to my daily Bible reading plan
  • Keep my house clean and tidy

And I'm trying to map out my schedule to plan for all of these things to get accomplished, but I might not be able to do it all at once. (If you're someone I know in real life, you might notice that personal training is not on that list. I've put that pursuit on hold for a couple of reasons which I'll probably write more about in a future post.) But there's still a lot I am really excited to do in the coming months, and it's hard knowing how to attack it all without burning out.

My first priority is my marriage, and that's something I have to remind myself often because I do tend to get caught up in all of my other pursuits. Joe always tells me that one of his favorite things about me is how I can hone in on something and just go at it with all my energy and excitement -- but it's also a frustration we've encountered because there are other areas of my life and our relationship where I'm not always so passionate. (Keeping my house clean and tidy is high up on that list.) I think I sometimes feel so comfortable and secure in "us" that I forget it still takes work and effort to keep our marriage strong and healthy.

All this to say, there aren't enough hours in the day and I'm seeking the Lord's guidance for how I can approach my goals effectively. I'm asking for focus and patience. And sometimes, in the words of my former college pastor Chris Brown (not the rapper), I'm asking God for a bigger plate. (You know how people say, "There's too much on my plate"? Chris would say, "Then ask for a bigger plate!") Because I DO really want to start teaching cycling classes in the next couple of months. I DO really want to develop myself as a runner and see if I can actually pull off 13.1 miles. I DO really want to be able to kick anyone's butt alongside my husband in martial arts. I DO...well, you get the idea. Just look at the list again. It's all good stuff that I feel passionate about and want to achieve.

I remember not too long ago when I felt like I didn't have much passion for anything. And now suddenly I find myself chasing new and exciting things left and right. (I didn't even mention hiking, shooting, learning Linux, decorating my house, fostering strong female friendships, or any number of other things that are also on my radar.)

But I am so incredibly blessed to have such an array of opportunities available to me. I have a super supportive husband who is my partner, my best friend and my favorite person in the universe. And every day that I remember to ask God to be near me and help me to maximize my time, things run a lot more smoothly than the many days when I try to handle it all on my own. I guess it comes down to that: starting every action and activity in prayer. I mean, I didn't get Psalm 119:133 tattooed on my ankle for nothing, right? It's supposed to remind me to ask God to "Direct my footsteps according to [his] word." And I've witnessed the power of seeking the Lord's direction in life's big and small decisions, both in my own life and in my friends' lives. (I'm thinking of you, Caitlin!)

Ultimately I want everything I do to glorify God. It's when I get selfish that things start to go on the fritz and feel haphazard and unpleasant. I mean, when I look at the big picture, it's a miracle I'm able to even CONSIDER training for a half marathon. My dad reminded me last weekend about how amazing it is that I only have asthma, rather than being deaf, blind, mentally handicapped or dead. I was born with an awful virus that was pretty much screwing up my whole body, and all of those afflictions I just listed were legitimate possibilities when I was an infant. But at my 18-month checkup, the doctors declared me "inexplicably" (aka miraculously) healthy and free of that virus. So, uh, YEAH. I'm pretty grateful to be alive, you guys. I think the least I can do is spend my life praising the one who let me live.

Wow, this post went all over the place. Clearly I am out of practice. I promise the next post will possibly be slightly more organized or focused or something.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A fresh start.

This new blog is kind of my last-ditch effort to revive my passion for writing. Hopefully it'll be a revival of a lot more than that, though. I'm looking to improve my attitude, notice more of life's little (and big) blessings, and be more thankful. And I miss keeping record of all the things going on around me. There's been so much happening in my life for the last several months, and I just haven't been able to sit down and write about it because the old site didn't feel like me anymore. I think I kind of outgrew it, or maybe I just need a place where all the old stuff isn't lurking around in the shadows.

So here's to my new, cozy, comfortable little corner of the internet!

(Check out my About page for the story behind the name.)