Become a Ballerina

Back in December I took pictures of the Christmas performance of the dance ministry at my church. This included the members of the company as well as the kidlets and teens from the dance classes.


I was entranced by their beauty and graceful strength. Later, I crawled the website to learn that they offered an adult/teen beginner class!

Partially, I considered myself pretty crazy for even debating it. I’ve never been an athletic person, and as for graceful, well, I trip over “thick” air. Though, when I was a kid I bounced around our living room pretending to be a ballerina, so there is that.

I tried my first class, felt like a bumbling flailing idiot, struggled to keep up, couldn’t make my body bend the way it needed to, and my quads were planning my murder for several days after. But, it was love…there is something incredible about your body becoming strong and graceful :).

So I bought pretty pretty ballet shoes, sewed the straps in and went to my second class. Surprisingly my quads didn’t hurt, but I felt even more like the bumbling girl who couldn’t keep up. And I learned I’d actually have a class performance in the Spring!

Doing dance, learning a new skill that involves trying to get my body to do something beautiful, is very difficult on my perfectionism.

In class it is so easy to feel embarrassed thinking that the teacher’s critiques are all about me. I have to use my counselor skills to focus on each movement, getting better each time.

Yay to becoming an adult ballerina and doing seemingly silly things!

Lost Motivation in January

My personality type is ENFP and we are infamous for being able to start a bazillion different things, and we are lucky if we finish one of them. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions there is this same tendency. Trying to incorporate consistent change in my life I’ve adopted the “Monthly” resolution process, but this even ended a quarter of the way into the year last year. Still, not a reason to give up this year!

2015-01-26 19.49.49

In the month of January I take an entire month to brainstorm/evaluate the changes that I need to make. Usually, too, January ends up being the month of organization since that seems the be the best way to get started. While I wanted that to be more house organization, it has mostly been about personal life organization.

At the end of 2014 I had just discovered that a counseling position to begin in January was postponed with no indication of how long. This means that my daily life needed help and structure even if I was gonna wait. Specifically, these were the good ideas of waking up at a more reasonable hour, eating better, eating breakfast and then going to the gym/doing a workout from home, being more disciplined with chores.


Here’s my roller coaster of motivation with resolutions:

* “Oh this is easy, I can do this!” – That first time that I try something, I have extra energy, and coast through said activity. Its that workout that I breeze through, excited to see how much better my life is gonna be.

* “Ugh, its cold I don’t want to go to the gym!” – This one was easier to get over. I told myself that anytime I went to the gym this winter I could get yummy sushi on my way out. That motivation was enough to put the gym clothes which was enough to get me out the door. I’m totes okay with bribing myself, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Also, surprisingly, I don’t make myself buy sushi. If I already have leftovers in the fridge I’ll focus on eating that instead. Plus, I kind of lost out because I don’t want to even get take out when I’m hot, red, and sweaty from the gym. :-/

* “Ugh, why isn’t this a natural gumption yet?!” –  This was me during the second week. I’d worked out several times, been waking up earlier, and accomplishing more…but the resistance against these new habits was UNREAL. I felt like I was attempting to roll a giant boulder up a steep mountain incline! It honestly made me want to quit. Then, I took a new workout class and my quads were intensely hurting the next day, BUT I didn’t experience the same taken-a-back-ness at the sore muscles. Instead, sore muscles meant that I was getting stronger. But, really, the resistance in my life is the same as the “sore” muscles. So, I resolved to accept this unseen resistance and keep on keeping on.

* “Ugh, I’m never going to be able to do this, because I’m a horrible person/failed before” – Finally, the saddness of past failures can sometimes overwhelm me. This makes for less energy to try. All I could do was wait for the feelings to fade away, focusing on the fact that I have a Savior that blots out all of my failures and short comings. He’s the one that helps me to be a better person than I could ever dream of being. :0) Romans 8:38-39.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Have you struggled to keep them? What has worked?

Soared into 2015

The past couple of years I’ve struggled with resolutions, but something that does help guide my year is picking a word to meditate on. This year I thought I’d pick light, because I could study what God’s word says about light, take fun light photography, and focus on being an individual of warmth. But the word “Soar” chose me.


When I arrived in Upstate NY my in laws presented me with a gift. A Willow Tree figurine called “Soar.” It was a sweet congrats regarding the plan to start part time with a counseling agency in town. Honestly, I was feeling a little shy about the partnership, feeling insecure over my lack of skills and that inability to project a strong confidence in interviews. Seeing that gift and their excitement really just melted my insecurities away, and I knew what word I needed to focus on.

(Side note, the job situation is pending case load, so more updates once its all official).

The verse to meditate on will be Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

It is about continuing on the trend of being Anchored in Christ (my word/theme from last year) and being renewed in His strength each day.

It adds neat imagery with the idea of helping others. I picture my role as a counselor (a helper) to help when the bird is stuck in the trap of the sticky oil of bad life decisions, or the world being awful. I get to come alongside and help them learn better thought patterns that frees them and helps them soar in their own lives.

Also, I decided to do a paper agenda for schedule appointments with clients. I’ve missed having a paper agenda. It took me forever, but then I found this simple gorgeous one from Mintgreen at Walmart. (Seriously, I scoured the place and then hubby drove me to another Walmart to get the one that I wanted). It is simple, but boldly colored on the inside. I’ve already taken the liberty of adding some fun feathered stickers to it.

2015-01-05 17.18.28

So excited to see what God has in store for me, us this year :0).

Reviewed My 2014 Travels

Unlike any other year, because of my brief stint in a full time soul-consuming job, I became behind in my life documentation practices (both scrapbooking and blogging). Also posts were delayed due to taking thousands of pictures with the DSLR in each trip that required sorting and editing.

The main thing that sticks out to me about 2014 were all of my amazing opportunities to travel across the United States! I traveled more this past year than I have in many years, even if I never left the country. And in these travels, it wasn’t just about the places I got to see, or the ways in which I was entertained, I was changed by my experiences in these new locales. Plus, I was able to deepen my relationships with others in the process.

So here is the list and review of all of those wonderful memories that I’m finally posting about (in chronological order):

January: Richmond-Lobby Day, Walked Richmond’s Canals


February: Florida- Fallen in Love with the Emerald Coast, Fed Penguins at the Gulfarium, Piloted a Ship, Been Snowed-In in Florida


Arizona- Discovered Desert Beauty, Toured Old Town ScottsdaleVisited My Mom in Arizona


May: Visited New York City, Toured Chinatown and Little Italy, Seen Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway


SummerBeen Pickpocked at the Fair

2014-07-12 16.50.30

SeptemberExplored Manteo in OBX


October: Staycationed at Smith Mountain Lake


NovemberNature-walked with Family

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_980edit

December: Celebrated My 27th Birthday, Pet a Penguin at Busch Garden’s Christmas Town, Christmas Towned at Busch Gardens,

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_920

Upstate NY- Christmas’d in Upstate New York in 2014, Toured the Zippo Case Museum


Here is to traveling with you in 2015 (in a more timely manner of course)!

Christmas’d In Upstate NY in 2014

This Christmas we were able to travel to visit husband’s family in Upstate.

IMG_7406 IMG_7405 IMG_7387

Mom and I made cookies again…which I horribly butchered. Seriously, I can’t even make cookies in as nice a shape as my mother in law. PLUS, the recipe set me up for failure with waaaay too much baking soda/powder.

IMG_7419 IMG_7422

IMG_7429 IMG_7432



We were fed lots of yummy meals.

Even the puppies got to help clean the dishes.


We got to play a fun game with his sister and her hubby. We actually won Forbidden Island and defeated the board the second time around!

IMG_7561 IMG_7555 IMG_7544 IMG_7540

I got to snuggle with his brother’s handsome pit bull named Boo. Larger dogs may droll and smell more, but they are also warmer.


Christmas Day was so much fun. I was goofy elated, watching the Disney Christmas Frozen Spectacular while breakfast was set up.


IMG_7715 IMG_7761 IMG_7734 IMG_7723 IMG_7687


The rest of the trip went by quickly, but was great. Such a good nurturing time with his family. I’m so grateful for the way that they love on me and have adopted me into their crazy family :0).

Visited the Zippo Case Museum

Because I get a little stir crazy during vacations my Italian Mama Bama coordinated with the husband to plan a quick day trip. We went to Bradford, PA to see the Zippo/Case museum. This was a fun trip for my hubby and siblings when they were kids. PLUS, I’m kind of afraid of lighters. (I know so weird, since I’m not afraid of firearms). So we thought it would be fun to get me a nice lighter to get acquainted with :0).


It is a small museum, but fun to walk through. I had no idea the type of legacy that zippo lighters have. There were many examples of lighters lasting through the wars being inscribed with personal information of soldiers. It was neat to think about what those lighters had witnessed in foxholes overseas.


Plus, there were all kinds of decorated Zippos with famous musicians and cute Mickey designs.

IMG_7494 IMG_7493

A fun family trip.

IMG_7519 IMG_7456 IMG_7451 IMG_7442

Now, look at this cute tactical pink lighter.2014-12-23 18.32.10

Celebrated My 27th Birthday

This birthday was probably one of my best. I got to go to Christmas Town, I got to pet a penguin, plus I got to spend lots of time with friends. I was taking advantage of all of the birthday coupons that I had.

We went to IHoP for a pre game birthday event.

2014-12-03 19.14.16 2014-12-03 19.13.35

Our road trip food on my birthday was won with coupons from yummy Firehouse Subs, Moe’s, and Panera. Score!

2014-12-04 11.09.55 2014-12-04 10.49.10 2014-12-04 10.40.16

Once we arrived in Williamsburg we went to Red Robin with old friends for dinner. Such a great time to catch up! Plus, I redeemed my free non birthday related coupon from Bath and Bodyworks at the mall.

2014-12-04 17.48.58


2014-12-04 19.14.39 2014-12-04 18.59.47 2014-12-04 18.55.52 2014-12-04 18.55.27

The next day we hung out in Williamsburg after petting the penguin and before the park reopened that afternoon.

Husband was excitedly nostalgic over the realistic fake toy guns. See, he was tortured visiting this place when he was a kid. He was dragged all over all of the historical areas and he HATED it. He promised he’d never come back. Well, whoops, guess that is what happens when you marry a girl from the Tidewater.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_298 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_287 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_377

For lunch we went to the Cheese Shop in Merchant Square. We got delicious Prosciutto on Focaccia sandwiches with provolone & roasted tomatoes, it was incredible with the Parmesan we’d also bought. Seriously, if ever in question, marry an Italian because they introduce the best sorts of food into your life.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_347 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_325 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_319

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_330

Once we returned back home, I got to go out one more time for a post birthday treat all girls appetizer party. I lived this birthday thing up right for like a week! It was pretty awesome.

2014-12-06 20.38.20 2014-12-06 21.12.51

Christmas Towned at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens would open for Christmas festivities when I move away from the tidewater. BUT, in 2014 I finally got to go!

After an awesome time getting to meet a penguin, we explored Williamsburg, and then returned to the park.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_388

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_394

I’d read to get there early, and I would definitely agree with this. The rides have shorter lines, and the air is slightly less chilly for the wind in your face rides.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_406 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_432

It was sad to not revisit my roller coaster favs of Apollo’s Chariot and Loch Ness Monster, but it was great all the same.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_562 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_524

We purposely took our time, and I enjoyed having a photographer to take pictures since he didn’t enjoy the rides as much.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_669 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_596 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_579 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_566 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_899

The best time to photograph the lights is during the golden hour when the sun sets but there is still some light. However, husband and I ended up catching the Scrooge, No More show at this time, so whoops.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_704 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_1016 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_738

The lights were pretty, even if challenging to photograph.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_1122 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_969 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_920 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_914 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_838

I’m glad to say that we did the park trip up right. We took our time, circled the park once in daylight and another in the dark. We sat down and people watched over wassail, funnel cake, hot prezels, and hot chocolate. For the record, they sell hot chocolate everywhere at kiosks around the park, but if you want more options get your hot chocolate from the Cocoa Cafe in Holiday Hills.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_1121

A fun date night, but somehow I neglected to get a picture of the both of us :-/.

Pet a Penguin at Busch Garden’s Christmas Town

For my birthday I pulled some leverage to swing a trip out to Busch Gardens. They offered flexible tickets for $12 for certain dates, and one of those happened to be the day after my birthday. Then, I used my cute blue puppy dog eyes to ask if we could visit with the penguins, and it worked!

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_2

I tried not to get too excited about the experience, reviews online seemed mixed, and I knew there was no guarantees with temperaments from wild animals.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_23

We schedule the early meet and greet, which it turns out is usually the least booked. We arrived waaay early (obviously I was crazy excited).When the park employees waiting for us at the entrance told us that we were the only people on this tour I was proud that I managed to keep my shriek of joy on the inside level!

2014-12-05 20.10.08

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_80 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_170

Then, the animal trainers met us, and a crew of 6 of them and two of us walked back into the empty park. Once in the penguin area I saw the black footed penguins splashing about in their large aquarium, I was mesmerized.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_149

The trainers explained various facts about penguins. Luckily my husband was able to communicate with her. My brain just went “PENGUINS!” I was caught up in the adventure of tweaking my manual settings to captures these quick beauties. My new 50 mm lens was perfect!

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_75 2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_177

After a few minutes of education, the trainer asked if we were ready to meet a penguin. Then, OH MY GOODNESS, there was a cute little buddy who turned the corner.

2014-12-05 20.19.14

Immediately I decided to sit on the floor so I could watch this guy waddle around from a better vantage point. This guy was a magellanic penguin, named Jordan. Apparently, he is one of the most extroverted of the ambassador penguins on loan from the Seaworld parks.


At this point we were not allowed to pet the penguin, as he just gets to walk and waddle around us. Reaching out and petting him would have overwhelmed him. I had to hold my hands tightly in my lap not to reach out and cuddle him up!

Jordan the penguin waddled right up to investigate my husband. Husband had his arms crossed over his knees, and we’d seen what the penguin wanted when he cuddle up to the trainers; penguins like belly scratches. So husband moved his thumb ever so slightly on the penguin’s belly, and was rewarded with a happy penguin dance of flailing flippers. I only found this out later, but I mean the penguin was clearly asking for a pet.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_261

With the 50mm it was hard to get a better shot, being so close to my husband, so I relied on the Busch Garden’s photographer. Honestly, the best thing would be to video tape the encounter so you can just absorb the adorableness.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_223


2014-12-05 20.23.10 2014-12-05 20.21.20

Jordan the penguin walked around us for a little bit and we learned more about the personality of these ambassador penguins. The trainers said that they reminded them most like cats and that they have a tendency to chase laser lights around. Watching them waddle, and splash around, they reminded me more of dogs. They look like it a little when they scratch their heads with their feet.

2014-12-05 Busch Gardens_216

The trainer got Jordan comfortable and we posed for our picture while lightly petting his back. His tiny feathers were locked together and reminded husband and I of snake scales. It felt less fluffy and more of the smooth velvet of reptiles.

2014-12-05 20.29.40

You’d think after this encounter I could check experiences with penguins off my bucket list, but honestly I’m even more zealous to spend time with them. Seriously, can I just adopt one and raise it? Or is it too late to be an animal trainer? They did say that sometimes people have psychology degrees….I think I’ve found my backup career if counseling people doesn’t work out.

2014-12-05 20.30.33

Nature-walked with Family

Sometimes I don’t go places, but its still a travel adventure when family gets to visit me! My mom and step father were able to come visit us in November before Thanksgiving.

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_25

The mountains offer beautiful parks and areas to visit, so we took to exploring them. I’m always game for photography adventures!

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_784 2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_738 2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_725edit

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_202

We walked around the island that is sometimes submerged when the river’s water rises.

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_261

My stepfather is prone to finding wild animals wherever he goes, which led to a photo-op with a tiny snake.

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_392 2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_96

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_980edit

A great quick trip. I even got to introduce my mother to the wonders that is Frozen :0)

2014-11-04-Mom and Mike Visit_341