Give Thanks…

What I love about today is the reminder to appreciate the things we have, the things we learn, and the people we love. What do you love most about Thanksgiving?

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Thankful and Thoughtful

Today I’m Thankful. For friends. For family. For freedom. For success.

And for heartbreaks. And losses.

Because they gave me a chance to experience the love and friendship that came before.

This last week I lost a close personal friend. It was unexpected. Came out of nowhere. I stood up in her wedding. She was only 30. She was one of those people who asked me for sex advice. Who laughed and flirted with me. Who I Dommed, just a little bit…all for fun. She’d come to my pleasure parties. In fact, I threw her a pleasure party before she got married because she had a dear, adventurous heart and wanted a sex swing. But at the core of it all, we were friends of the heart.

I was a mentor for her professionally. She was a supportive friend. We shared a passion for dogs. Talked about arranging a play date for our girls. Sadly, it never happened, and now it never will. Life happening, and us not spending as much time together as I’d have liked are my big regrets. But she lived big and loved bigger, so I’m thankful for the time I had with her.

I’ll never forget her. And I know she’s smiling down at me as I remember our shared laughter and the irreplaceable moments. We had a friendship that lasted a lifetime.

I’m also thrilled and thankful to announce that I’m sharing a part of myself in one of the coolest projects with one of the most amazing people I have the pleasure of knowing.

Yep! I’m finally announcing my super secret surprise.

August McLaughlin, the host of Girl Boner radio and author of suspense thriller, In Her Shadow, invited me  along with several other authors and experts to contribute to  a project of love.

Embraceable
This book, all about empowerment and strength, will be coming out soon. Isn’t the cover charming? To read more about the book and the various contributors, CLICK HERE! If you’d like to help spread the word and join in the blog tour for the book, click there, too. The way to sign up is there, too.

Finally, I’m also thankful for my newest nephew who, after a scary introduction into the world, is thriving. My sister was due to have her first child this May. He actually arrived much earlier… Like. February. He was in the NICU for a long time as he was a micro premie, born at 1.5 lbs. It was a scary time for our family, and was the beginning of my radio silence. These days, though, he’s a ray of sunshine and a ball of energy…and enjoying his first snowfall. I’m sure my brother is looking down from heaven, enjoying his nephew’s laughter and grins.

So, despite all the craziness and challenges…. I’m both thankful and blessed. God is good, and I have faith that he has a plan. I just don’t know what it is. 😉

What are you grateful for?

Family, Food, Football, and Fun

This is the first Thanksgiving in about 15 years that I won’t be cooking. Normally my whole day would be spent between the kitchen and the tv…cooking or watching football. But this year, for the first time in forever, hubby has to work. It’s pointless to cook for one.

Fortunately I have friends and family who’ve been generous enough to invite me to share the holiday with them, so I’m going to hang out at my cousin’s. I know, little foodie that she is, that she’ll have brined the turkey…(I usually do the same).

Brine
If you got the above turkey naked and swapped out those rose petals with other seasonings (though you could also keep those roses if you’re that kind of chef)…and maybe used a cooler instead of a bath tub, that would be brining. 😉 The turkey is terrific that way!

And of course, the house is usually full of family and friends and definitely football….so you’re always looking for ways to keep everyone entertained. Let’s face it, not everyone is a football fan…. This year I saw this particular version of BINGO and cracked up! Can you imagine?

Bingo

Okay, so some of it isn’t nice or Thankful….but you have to account for close quarters and family…and the complications that are usually entailed when you get a mix of such different personalities (and family members) in the same room.

My Cowboys play every Thanksgiving, so I always have that joy…. I’m also finding it very interesting that this year is going to be an all NFC game holiday. For me it’s definitely a “Go Cowboys!” day…so all Cowboys gear, even to Thanksgiving dinner.

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Of course when you combine Family, food, and football….fun usually ensues. Sometimes it comes from the announcers on TV, other times it’s from the people at your table… (C’mon…y’all had to know I couldn’t keep it clean forever. Whose blog did you think you visited?)

Phrases

Still, at the end of the day….it’s all about gratitude. And making a difference. Recognizing those meaningful moments. Some prayers answered, and some gifts of unanswered prayers. I’ve seen a lot of different videos today, but I think the one that touched me most was shared on Facebook by my pal, Jess Witkins. Watch this and see if the power of this message doesn’t move you the way it did me.

Finally, I’d just like to say that I’m thankful for each and every one of you. May you all have plenty to eat, love that knows no bounds, and a life well lived…with very few regrets!

Thankful For YOU!

I'm thankful for all of you and your wonderful support!

I’m thankful for all of you and your wonderful support!

Hey all! I know it’s been a little while since I’ve been on. Life has taken some strange twists this year. Last week hubby lost his job. It’s okay, though. Don’t worry about us. We’re feeling optimistic and have some opportunities on the horizon for both of us. In fact, keep your fingers crossed as there are 3 different companies who have expressed an interest in him. I would really love for him to have options.

As for me? Well, keep your eyes peeled. My first book will be launching shortly, and I’ve been approached with an awesome job opportunity that falls in my wheel house of teaching, training, development and sales! I admit it. There’s something that feeds my inner competitor when I get to wheel and deal. 🙂

I just wanted to take a few minutes to jump on here today and say… Family isn’t always the people tied to you through biology and marriage, but also the people with whom you choose to open your lives and hearts. I’m grateful for the family (biology and otherwise) that I know on sight…and the wonderful family I’ve found here. You guys have embraced me and supported me and cheered me on. Thanks for that!

Ya’ll know my passion for music… There’s no way I could leave it out of today.

And for my more playful friends? Here’s a little Thanksgiving fun!

What are you thankful for? What’s your favorite food on Thanksgiving?

Passion Energizes and Why I’m Thankful

Last night I planned on getting into my hotel room and writing a quick blog before crashing face first into my bed. Planned. Well, we all know what they say about the best laid plans… (Silly side note…why is it that all the best lays are reserved for plans?) What actually happened? After a workday that started around 10am, I left the store around 11:40 pm. I immediately changed into comfy clothes…aka Pj’s…and flipped my iPad open. I woke up at around 7 am, hand dangling over my king sized bed…tablet still open, relaxing on the floor. It had fallen out of my hands! Keep in mind, I baby my electronic with as much love as I show my doggies…who I’m missing (along with the hubs). That should give you an idea of how utterly exhausted I was.

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That’s my baby pup sleeping!

The thing is, I should feel exhausted. Drained! But I don’t. Instead, I’m exhilarated! I’m on a new adventure. I’m using some of the most powerful leadership tools in my arsenal…and I’m loving every minute of it. Things have certainly not been easy. We had our final inspection yesterday. We passed. We called our entire staff in to help us clean and organize. They all showed up…initially uncertain, but there. But enthusiasm is catching…so I shared mine. In under five minutes everyone was talking, cleaning, folding and organizing new merchandise and the place was filled with smiles and laughter. I was able to set expectations, give tips and pointers, begin the initial process of building a team. There is nothing quite so energizing as being able to start learning your staff…their strengths and weaknesses, then teaching them how to use them in a way that guarantees their success. We will be grand opening a Cowboys merchandise store in El Paso on Thanksgiving night/Black Friday!

I’m not going to lie…I wound up steamrolling the guy who is supposed to be the manager running this place. If he’s smart, he’s learning a few things about leadership, setting the tone, expectations and how to motivate, energize and train. If he’s smart. My only concern is that I enable my very good friend who has entrusted me with her brand new store…to get off on the right foot. It is my job to ensure her success. And they can either get with the program or get out of my way! 🙂

Today I am thankful for the beautiful mountain view outside my hotel room window…(will take some pics and post when I have time) El Paso is gorgeous and the people have been welcoming. I’m thankful for you guys…because your warm acceptance, kind words and crazy humor have really been a huge source of enjoyment these last few months. I’m thankful for my handsome, loving man who supports everything I do, including a nearly month long trip to be here, using another of my passions. I’m thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me. I’m thankful for my family’s unwavering love and belief. The beautiful friends (and cyber friends) that I’ve accumulated. I’m also thankful for the songs in my heart and the smiles on my face.

I’m also thankful for all the many firsts I’ve experienced this year that have enabled me to be exactly where I am today. Yes, that includes first time being fired. 🙂

What about you guys? What are your biggest strengths? What are you passionate about? What are you thankful for?

And here’s a little writer humor for ya’ll…

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Happy birthday, Mom!

Several years ago, I was so caught up in my very high pressure retail career that I forgot my mother’s birthday for the first time in my life. My mom was so concerned that she called me and asked me the one question most parents jump to when their children behave in manners they are unable to explain….

“Are you on drugs?”

…That day I gained a valuable insight into parenting. It doesn’t matter how old you are (I was in my early 30’s). Parents will always worry because you will always be their “child”.

Today I no longer have that kind of grinding career. I was able to enjoy the simple moments… Invite my parents and some friends over and honor my mom on her birthday as well as enjoy an early Thanksgiving before I fly out on Tuesday.

Hubby made some awesome cranberry dishes (one with pears and lemon juice and zest and the other a more autumnal one with blueberries). I made my green bean casserole & cheddar cheese mashed potatoes to go with the awesome turkey, gruyere cheddar biscuits, quinoa cranberry nut stuffing, pancit, Mac and cheese and apple pear salad with cranberry vinaigrette dressing.

Dessert was pumpkin pies and chocolate pecan pies with the options for ice cream or cool whip. Hubby also made this awesome drink called Asian pear grapefruit fizz…you couldn’t even taste the vodka! Dogs and children chased each other around my tables while adults conversed.

I finally got to use my formal china I received from my wedding. What do you like about the holidays? What insights have you derived from your parents?

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Family Time

Well, my sister and her husband are in town and staying with us. They arrived on Halloween evening and go back to Chicago on Monday. So far our time has been spent catching up, walking our dogs and enjoying our pool (we heated it for their time here).

While they’re here, my sister is also doing her schoolwork for her classes she’s taking online. Her nursing one is work…but she’s also taking a Diversity class that we’re both finding very interesting. I remember taking a workshop at my prior job about leading diverse teams. This takes it a step further. I think tomorrow I’ll be posting some of the intriguing questions that have come up.

Tonight we spent our evening playing Apples To Apples…a very fun game. Have you guys ever heard of it? Basically each person takes a turn as the reader. The reader reads off a specific word and definition. Everyone else has 7 cards that have words that could be used as an explanation or example to represent the reader’s word. Once all the cards are selected each person gets an opportunity to argue their case to the reader. The reader picks which word he thinks best represents the definition. It’s freaking hilarious! What games do you guys enjoy playing with friends? Do you guys play board games?

Tomorrow we go to a cousin’s birthday party. The next day is our family’s early Thanksgiving since my sis and her hubby won’t be here. We’re gonna head to mom’s to chow down! My hubby will be making a gluten free chocolate pecan pie. I’ll probably be making a carrot cake. Step dad will be deep frying a turkey.

What foods do you look forward to for Thanksgiving?