Tag Archives: #AtoZChallenge

Fourth

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

F is for Fourth

Tell me a memory from the Fourth of July. Where were you? When? What was the like light? Why this particular Fourth?

There’s magic in the Fourth of July. It’s the heat of the summer, so there’s always water involved, whether you’re in a swimming pool, boating across the lake, or just running through the sprinkler in the backyard. Everyone comes over, and there’s a lot of How’ve you been? and I haven’t seen you in forever! and Man, have you grown! The barbeque pit is working double-time, as the men man the grill, fresh hotdogs and hamburgers for everybody.

No two Fourth of Julys were ever exactly the same when I was growing up. They all had the same basic recipe of food, family, friends, and fun, but the location sometimes changed, as did the people and the events. But one thing that remained constant was the fireworks show. Fireworks and the Fourth are synonymous. I can remember going to the fireworks show with my family when I was younger, around 10 years old. After all the festivities at home, we’d load up in the car and drive to Post Oak Mall, the only mall in town. We’d have to get there by 8:30pm to get a good spot, because the show always started at 9:00 on the dot. I remember laying a blanket down on the hood of the car, where we’d lay to get a good view of the night sky. Looking back now, I’m not sure if we actually laid on the hood of the car or on the ground next to it, but I think it was the car. At least, I want it to have been the car.

With that first explosion of light in the sky, nothing else mattered. With a smile plastered on my face, my brother and I trading Did you see that one?‘s and the quintessential oohs and aahs, all of our bickering was suspended. We were sharing a magical experience, one that only came around once a year. The finale always came too soon, and while it was our favorite part, we never thought it was enough. We always wanted more.

Source

End

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

E is for End

Tell me about how a relationship ended.

I’d been dating T for six months, longer than any other relationship before him, and I was in love. Like really in love. Like the I’d do anything for him, melt whenever he looked at me, and thought we’d be together forever kind of love. So when he broke up with me, with no warning whatsoever, on what was supposed to be a great day, I was instantly heartbroken.

It was early morning on Saturday, December 3, 2005. I still remember the date; it’s forever etched into my memory. We were driving in my truck, on our way downtown to the University of Houston for a robotics tournament. I was the coach, and my team was excellent. The excitement of the day ahead made me giddy that morning. T was coming along to help out, since he’d been volunteering with the team all semester. He was one of us now.

About halfway there, he shifted the conversation from talking about the tournament and what to expect for the day to talking about us. More specifically, talking about how he felt about us, about me. He ambled on about this and that, most of which I can longer remember, but I wasn’t prepared for what would come next.

“You know, a lot of the guys that sing on stage with me at church have girlfriends or wives that look like models,” he said. Perplexed, I wondered where this was going. “I think that I deserve a girl who looks like a model, too,” he continued.

My stomach started to tighten and my breath suddenly caught in my throat, bracing myself for what would come next.

“You know, I love who you are as a person. I love your personality, your humor, how kind you are. I think you are so pretty, too. But…you’re just not thin enough for me,” he went on to say.

The silence in the truck was deafening. As I began to process what he’d said, my heart felt like it was splitting in two. My world crumbled in an instant. You’re just not thin enough for me. Those words echoed in my head over and over. Reeling from the shock of it all, I was dumbfounded. As I ugly-cried the rest of the way there, trying and failing to catch my breath, I couldn’t believe he’d done that, that he’d said those things. That’s not what you say to someone you love.

And to do it right then, that morning, when I was on my way to a tournament where people were depending on me to lead them was beyond selfish. Not only that, we were in the same vehicle, which meant I was stuck with him all day and would have to make the ride back with him later that evening. I remember asking him why over and over, but the only response I received was that it was what he deserved.

The pounding in my head got worse and worse, as the realization of what he’d said set in. I tried to pull myself together and stay strong for my students, but I just couldn’t do it. I had to pretend to be sick, claiming that I’d come down with a bad cold the night before, but came because I wanted to be there for the team. The moms knew something was wrong. They saw the telltale signs of my puffy, red eyes. A few of them pulled me aside to ask me what happened. I fell apart and told them everything, as they enveloped me in hugs and words of support, all while glaring at T who was across the gymnasium.

Somehow I managed to get through the tournament, and my students even won a few trophies. I don’t really remember the ride home. I don’t think there was much said, as I stared out the window, tears sliding down my cheeks. The rest of that weekend was one of the lowest points of my life. I couldn’t eat. I tried, but every time I went to put food in my mouth, I thought about those words. You’re just not thin enough for me. The me that was content with my body before he uttered those words was no longer there. All I could think about was that I was too fat. Too fat to be loved.

The pain and shame and embarrassment of it all was too much to handle. I called in sick to work on Monday, and stayed home and cried. I didn’t eat much that day either, apart from a bowl or two of Raisin Bran. I lost 8 pounds in three days. That’d be the start of a 25-pound weight loss that would happen over the next few months, as I painstakingly went on a diet and spent many hours in the gym, trying to attain the body I thought he wanted.

I wish I could tell you that this was the end of our relationship altogether, but it wasn’t. We got back together and broke up a few more times before I finally called it quits. But that first break-up hurt the most. I didn’t see it coming, and the wounds he inflicted with his words have never completely gone away.

Driving

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

D is for Driving

Let’s talk about driving. How did you learn? What kind of driver are you?

Learning to drive was an ordeal. At first my parents decided to save money by teaching me themselves, but after many failed attempts and screaming matches that ended in tears, they forked over the money for driving school. We were all so much happier that someone else was teaching me to drive.

I remember getting my driver’s license in 1997, when I was sixteen years old, but unlike most of my friends, I didn’t get it on my birthday. Due to the driving school debacle, I received it several months later, which at the time, was utterly embarrassing. Looking back now, who really cares when I got it? A few months doesn’t make much of a difference.

My first car was a dark gray 1991 Ford Mustang 4-cylinder hatchback with very low mileage. Having to earn the money to buy my first car was so unfair to sixteen year old me, but I’ll admit, once I had saved up the $4,000 to buy it, I was very proud of myself. Plus, it was a Mustang, which was super cool back then.

As a young driver, I got into quite a few wrecks, the first being with my best friend Nicole, when we were joy riding around in the neighborhood behind our high school one night and I ran a stop sign, hitting another car in the intersection, causing them to spin a few times and land their car in someone’s front yard. Luckily no one was hurt, but it was not my finest moment. When the police and my parents showed up, I was in a lot of trouble. I’m not sure how long I was grounded for, but it had to be at least a few weeks or a month.

The next two wrecks in the Mustang happened a few months later, coincidentally on the same day! After school, I was driving near the high school when a car turned left across traffic and hit my car, damaging the front fender. After dinner, I drove back to school for an NHS meeting, only to get hit again by a student driver who backed up into my car in the parking lot, damaging the front bumper. When I came home later that night, I remember saying to my dad, “Guess what happened tonight?”, to which he replied, “You got in another wreck!” “How’d you know?” I asked. He actually didn’t know; he was making a joke, but was shocked that it had happened again.

In the years following my first year as a driver, I would get into numerous wrecks, but luckily none were too serious. I earned a reputation as a bad driver, and as much as I tried to dispute it, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I eventually grew out of the poor driver phase, and became more confident behind the wheel.

Coffee

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

C is for Coffee

A whole world exists in coffee. Glean those details. Write everything you know about coffee.

There’s something about the smell of coffee that makes me feel comfortable and content, like I’m wrapped up in a big hug. The sounds those fancy espresso machines produce at coffee shops make for great background noise when writing, reading, or doing work on a Sunday afternoon. Meeting a friend for coffee is such a great way to spend the afternoon, catching up on life.

The thing is, I hate the taste of coffee. Always have, always will. The bitterness comes through, no matter how much you try to cover it up with sweetness, dilute it with milk, or hide it in a dessert. Don’t give me coffee-flavored ice cream, frappuccinos, or tiramisu. I just can’t do it. No matter the package it comes in, coffee just isn’t my thing.

Coffee is ingrained in so many cultures, making it hard to turn down. A new friend invites me for coffee, but I have to politely tell them that I don’t drink coffee. I’ll take a hot chocolate or tea. But why don’t you like it? It’s so good! They can’t understand that someone could possibly hate coffee. When I lived in Albania, there was a coffee shop every few hundred meters, if not closer. The seats were always filled with patrons getting their fix, sipping ever so slowly on the tiniest cup of espresso, making it last forever, as they caught up on the latest gossip. Not drinking coffee was a cardinal sin.

When I was younger and I first started earning my own money, first from babysitting gigs and later from part-time jobs at the local Sonic and cinema, I always bought my mom coffee mugs and fancy flavored coffee from the specialty coffee shop in the mall. She used to love drinking coffee, hazelnut her favorite flavor. It made gift-giving easy, and her mug collection is extensive, thanks to me. But several years ago, she gave up drinking coffee. One day she couldn’t get enough of it, and the next, she was strictly a tea-drinking gal. I’ve asked her why she quit numerous times, but there was never a real reason. She just stopped.

Part of me wishes I liked coffee. It’d make life a lot easier, I’m sure, but having made it to nearly 39 without a taste for it, means I will probably never enjoy it. And that’s okay with me, because while I might miss out on the social aspects of coffee drinking, I’m not dependent on the bitter, brown liquid to get me through the day. I don’t have the jitters that come with caffeine withdrawals, and I don’t have an expensive Starbucks habit.

Source

Bicycle

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

B is for Bicycle

Tell me a memory associated with a bicycle. The spokes, the wheels, the narrow seat.

The white and yellow Huffy, with the white thick-tread tires, wasn’t a girl’s bike. No banana seats, baskets, or tassels for me. I had to have the tough boy’s bike. At that age, I rejected everything girly. No pink. No Barbies. No dresses. None of that stuff would do.

Tearing through the quiet streets of my neighborhood, I pumped, not rode, to the sidewalk park, where I’d meet my friends for races, make believe, and hide-and-go-seek. That bike wasn’t made for leisurely rides. It was made for riding as fast as I could, at break-neck speeds. To stop, I reversed the pedals, and on more than one occasion, I nearly flew over the handlebars. But I didn’t mind; I was tough.

When I would come home to grab a drink of water or a bite to eat, I’d ride right up to the front porch and throw my bike against the concrete steps, scuffing the sides every time. My mom constantly nagged me to use my kickstand, but I had more important things to do, and her requests were always ignored. I knew I wouldn’t be home long anyway. After a pit stop, I’d be back at it, riding around til the streetlights came on and it was time to come home.

I don’t remember when I grew too big for that bike, when it was finally retired. I’m not even sure what happened to it once I moved onto a newer, shinier model, one I can’t for the life of me remember now. I wish I had a picture of me on that bike, with the curly, never-brushed blonde hair I was known for back then. The girl who rode that bike was sure of herself. She was who she was, unapologetically, and she didn’t care what anyone else thought of her. I want to go back in time and talk to that little girl and tell her that the world’s going to expect a lot from her. That they’re going to try and change her, fit her into the mold that’s expected. But she needs to stand firm in her beliefs and fight like hell to stay who she is. She doesn’t have to fit in. She can be whoever she wants to be, and that’s okay.

Africa

This April, I’ll be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I’ll write an entry a day centered on my theme of Memoir. I’ll be using  Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration for my daily topic. Each post will be a quick write (about 10-20 minutes) to help me notice and remember.

A is for Africa

Tell me about the time you went to Africa.

Entering our riad that night, exhausted from a day of travel and a hectic night of driving in an unfamiliar country, down too-narrow alleyways where I thought for sure we’d scrape the mirrors of the rental car on the walls, I was immediately taken aback by the beauty of it all. The outside revealed nothing of what we would see inside the walls. The vaulted ceilings were illuminated by intricate chandeliers, and the colors, textures, and shapes in the furniture, flooring, and decor were nothing short of breathtaking.

Waking up the next morning, with the sun streaming in from overhead, I was again stunned by the gorgeous surroundings. Following our breakfast on the rooftop, we set off to explore the medina, a series of twists and turns in a never-ending maze of alleyways, at times only wide enough for two people to pass by. As we went deeper into the medina, we found ourselves immersed in the sights and smells of the vendors hawking their wares and the fresh produce and spices for sale. Every turn revealed something new that caught our eye, an old wooden door, barrels of colorful spices, heaped to overflowing, or a storefront with beautifully designed pottery spilling out into the walkway, begging us to come in and take a peek.

But the food. The food is what really got me. From the tagines to the bastilla to the so-sweet-you-instantly-get-a-cavity mint tea, I was in love. Cafe Clock was my favorite find of the trip, an unassuming restaurant tucked away in an alley, with only a small orange sign to alert you to its presence. Upon entering, we immediately headed up, scaling the three flights of stairs to the rooftop terrace, an inviting area with comfortable seating and more plants than you could count. From there, towering above the medina, you could see out for miles. Down in the medina, where we were shielded from the sun, we were cold, but up here, the sun shone down on us and warmed our faces, bringing with it a smile or two. Their version of iced lemon tea, more a slushy than anything else, was frothy goodness, a mix of black tea, tart lemon, sweetness, and cold. Each time we ate there, I tried something new from the menu, but it was always paired with the iced lemon tea.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020

Today I’m embarking on yet another blogging challenge, which comes right off the heels of my first blogging challenge of 2020, the Slice of Life Challenge, that ended yesterday. The difference in these two challenges is that the SOL Challenge is one in which I wrote a slice of life story each day for a month about whichever topic I wanted to explore that day, while the A to Z Blogging Challenge is centered on a theme and each day’s topic starts with the next letter of the alphabet.

My theme for this year’s A to Z challenge is Memoir. Memoir is a form of writing dear to my heart. I adore memoirs, both reading them and writing them, however I have never felt like I was very adept at writing in this genre. I think too much and get in my own way, wondering if I’m getting the details right or if I’m going to offend or embarrass anyone else who happens to be in my writing.

One of my fellow slicers, Paula from LitCoachLady, inspired me to write memoir with her slices last month. She used the book Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg to get ideas for her slices. I have since downloaded the book myself and will be using the prompts to help guide my daily entries. Each prompt is meant to be written about for 10 minutes, which is what I’ll endeavour to do.

My memoir muscles haven’t been used much lately, but I figured the only way to get better at something is to just do it, right? So here I am, starting a new challenge today, where I’ll stretch myself to become a writer of memoir. Wish me luck, and if you’re so inclined, come along for the ride this month!

Letter Q #AtoZChallenge

Only one thing really stands out for the Letter Q.

Quilts

One thing that made Mamaw Mamaw was that she was a quilter. She had an entire room devoted to sewing, and it was full to the brim with spools of thread and scraps of fabric. When she wasn’t gardening or cooking, she was quilting.

I remember her hand sewing scraps of fabric into intricate and beautiful designs. I would watch as her hands nimbly attached the scraps to one another. She tried to teach me when I was younger, and I sewed a few quilts and pillows for my baby dolls, but I didn’t have the patience for it at the time. I wish I could go back in time and sit with her again while she taught me her craft. I’d listen this time.

Mamaw had everyday quilts that adorned the beds and special occasion quilts that she put on display. She gave quilts as gifts and donated them each year for her church’s Chili Day auction. Everyone fought to outbid one another and get one of her quilts. One of her specialties was a double wedding ring quilt that she’d make her loved ones when they married. My mom has always treasured hers. When Mamaw passed away, she left certain quilts to each of us in her will. They were the ones we’d coveted when she was alive, begging her for them. I can remember her saying, “You’ll have to wait until I die to get that quilt. I know you won’t take care of it and I just can’t see that.” When I assured her I would take care of them, she didn’t believe me. She said she knew I’d put it in the washing machine and dryer and she simply couldn’t handle that.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Letter P #AtoZChallenge

Letter P memoir encyclopedia entries on deck for today.

Packing

As someone who travels and moves frequently, I’m no stranger to packing, and while I’ve gotten more efficient at packing over the years, I have yet to master the art of packing light. It’s not to say I don’t want to or that I haven’t tried. I have. Many times. The thing is, I always think, But what if I need this and I don’t have it? I better bring it. Sometimes I really did need whatever it was and ended up being really glad I brought it, but other times I end up bringing it right back home untouched.

Parties

I know I’ve already touched on this one in Letter E when I wrote about entertaining, but it’s worth mentioning again. I love throwing parties, and I’m pretty good at it, too. It’s one of my gifts. No, seriously, I took a test when I was in my early twenties about my gifts and my number one gift was hospitality. At first, I was confused. I mean, I don’t work in a hotel or anything and I thought teaching should’ve been my top gift, but after I read the description of it, I realized it actually did fit me.

Whenever I plan parties, I mull over the menu ahead of time, scouring Pinterest for new recipes to go along with my old favorites. Menu planning is key, as I want everything to complement each other. Next up comes the drinks. Who’s coming and what do they like? What kind of party is it and what’s appropriate for the occasion? After food and drinks are settled, I’ll decide on whether or not decorations are needed. For most parties I don’t go all out with decor, but for things like Friendsgiving, Christmas, or baby showers, decorations just add a little something. Last comes the playlist and any party games we might want to play. I always have to consider my audience when planning these aspects.

The day of, I have to make sure I don’t have anything else going on. I get up early and go shopping for all the ingredients I need for cooking, if I haven’t done that already, and then come back to cook. I have to be strategic when prepping and cooking, considering which items need more time and which ones will hold up if I cook them earlier. Then it’s a whirlwind of preparation. In between cooking, I always bustle around, making sure the house is in order. Are the decorations set? Are all the beds made and everything tidy in case people want a tour? Is the music set up? Are the candles lit? I always have candles going because it adds to the ambiance and makes my place smell good, too.

No matter how much prep work goes into my parties, I always stress out and think I won’t make it. As you’ll read about a little later, I’m a procrastinator, so I push things to the wire. I almost always finish in time though. Despite all the stress and work that goes into the event, I love it and couldn’t imagine not being the ‘hostess with the mostest.’

Passport

One of my favorite possessions is my passport. For obvious reasons, I love it because it allows me to travel, one of my main obsessions in this world. But I also love it because I get to look back at all my stamps and visas, remembering trips I’ve taken. I’ll always keep my passports forever for that reason.

My current passport is my second one. I got my first one at age 18, when I took a family trip to England. That passport only had stamps from 4 places…England, Germany, Fiji, and Australia. I got the passport I have now in 2010, just before moving to China. A couple of years ago, I had to have pages added to it, mainly because of all the Chinese visas and stamps that took up a lot of room. Even though my passport doesn’t expire until 2020, I doubt I’ll make it that long before I need a new one. I currently have 11 blank pages, but with visas often taking up a whole page, and with more traveling in my future, I’ll probably need to get a new one in 2018. I’m going to opt for the larger one this time.

Perfectionism

In many things, I’m a perfectionist. I’m not sure what makes me want to do some things perfectly, while being okay with other things not done quite to perfection. My perfectionism has been a driving force in my successes thus far, but it’s also caused me much stress. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to mellow out more and not let things bother me quite as much as they used to. I still like things done just so, but I’m getting better at not letting it bother me if they aren’t.

Pillow Person

Back in the 80’s, pillow people were all the rage, so naturally, I had one. My pillow person had blonde braids coming off the sides of her head in pigtails, and she wore a pink dress and black shoes with white ruffled socks. I remember having her throughout most of my elementary school years. While I didn’t play with her much during my awake hours, she was essential for sleeping through the night. When I think back on my pillow person (I find it strange that I never named her; I just always called her my pillow person), two distinct memories come to mind.

pillow person

Not my actual pillow person, but mine looked exactly like this one.

Since I slept with her every night and occasionally played with her during the day, it’s only natural that she’d get dirty. I can remember the first time my mom telling me that she was filthy and it was time to wash her. I panicked and threw an all-out temper tantrum, truly believing that she would be utterly destroyed in the washing machine. Nothing my mom said could assuage my fears. Nevertheless, mom wrestled her away and into the washing machine she went.

I cried and cried, and refused to leave the washing machine’s side during the entire wash. Once she came out, clean and intact, I calmed down, happy she was still alive. That is, until my mom threw her in the dryer. Fearful of the worst yet again, I stood guard by the dryer, hoping and praying she’d survive. Lucky for me (and my mom), she did.

Another memory that comes to mind occurred during fifth grade. I had spent Saturday night at a sleepover at Ashley’s house, so of course, I took my pillow person to help me sleep. Ashley was really interested in her and, to be honest, I think she was jealous she didn’t have one.

The next morning, my parents picked me up and I went home. It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized she was missing. I freaked out, crying uncontrollably, unable and unwilling to sleep until I had her. Figuring that I’d forgotten her at Ashely’s, my dad called her parents and confirmed that my pillow person was indeed at their house. Despite it being 9pm on a Sunday night, my dad drove over there and got it back for me. Turns out, I hadn’t simply forgotten her. Ashley had hidden her in hopes of keeping her for herself. We remained friends for a while after that, but I’d be lying if I said I ever fully trusted her again.

Pretend

As a kid, I was always using my imagination and playing pretend, or as I called it for the longest time, ‘playing buh-tend.’ I was the kind of kid who played well with others, but I was also content playing by myself. My imagination really took off when I played alone.

There was a huge stack of cinder blocks in the back of Mamaw’s house that I commandeered as my playhouse. I had Granddaddy build a staircase up to the top out of some of the cinder blocks, and I used leftover bricks from when they built their house for my props. I made it my playhouse, pretending the bricks were other things.

I had a kitchen, with a stove and a table, where I’d cook all kinds of food. I’d use grass, sticks, berries, dirt- whatever I could find outside- for the food and utensils. I’d make full meals in that little makeshift kitchen. I had a bedroom for my baby dolls, with a baby bed and changing table. I’d bring out my Cabbage Patch dolls, baby bottles, and blankets and take care of them just like a real mom would.

Sometimes I invited Andrew to play with me. A more accurate description is that Andrew would occasionally give in to me begging him to play in my playhouse. We’d play house up there for hours. If I close my eyes, I can still picture everything about that place and be taken right back to my childhood, a time when things were far easier and there was no stress and time seemed infinite.

Procrastination

As I alluded to earlier, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. It’s a trait that bothers me, yet it’s one I can’t seem to shake.

It started with school work and chores. I’d push everything to the last minute, testing fate as I struggled to get it all done in time. As I’ve grown into adulthood, it’s permeated other aspects of my life, including work and home. I will get my work done, but without the deadline propelling me to do it, I tend to put it on the back burner. That is, unless I’m super interested in doing the task. If I’m into whatever it is, I’ll devote tons of time and usually finish before the deadline, motivated by my own internal push. I’m also the worst at responding to personal emails. Work emails are different, because I have to do it, but I find it really difficult to respond to personal emails in a timely manner.

As a leader, I’ve actively worked on changing this part of my personality, and I have improved. I still have a long way to go, but I’m working on it.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Letter O #AtoZChallenge

Letter O has only one entry. Oh, well…it’s got sub-headings, so it’ll do.

Obsessions

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the kinda person who gets obsessed with things. As in fixated, can’t get enough, have to have it all, all the time. It’s a good thing I’m not a smoker and I never tried drugs; I’m afraid of what this personality trait would do if I got obsessed with the wrong thing. The deal with my obsessions is that they usually come on quick and stay a while, until they fade into oblivion, only to be replaced by the next one. Some are just a blip on the radar of life, while some make a lasting impression.

Daisies

When I was in high school, my parents finally let me redo my room, and I got to pick any paint color and decorations I wanted. I was stoked! I chose a bright, almost electric blue that made them raise an eyebrow or two, as they questioned me incessantly about whether this was really what I wanted. Of course it was! When the paint was spread across all four walls, and not just on a 2″ x 2″ paint square, I have to admit, I didn’t love it at first. It was way too loud, and I began to seriously doubt my choice. But being the teenager that I was, there was no way I was going to tell my parents I didn’t like it. When they asked, I gushed over the blue, painted a huge fake smile on my face, and told them I loved it. And I did, eventually. Like all things, it grew on me.

After the paint color was decided, I quickly settled on daisies for the decorations because, at the time, I was utterly obsessed with daisies, particularly the white and yellow variety. Nowadays, I would tastefully decorate with a pop of daisies, but my teenage self went full-blown daisy crazy and everything was daisies. I had a daisy comforter and pillows. I had all kinds of framed daisy artwork hanging on the walls. I hand-stenciled daisies around both of my windows. I had large fake daisies (that I bought and brought back from a trip to Germany) in a metal vase sitting on the floor in the corner, in addition to the smaller vases of fake daisies on my nightstand and dresser (Just for the record, I now cringe at the thought of fake flowers). I painted daisies on an IKEA mirror that hung on the wall, as well as on the lampshade of the lamp on my bedside table. It was over the top for sure, but I loved it.

I’m not sure when the daisy obsession faded, but it did, and while I still enjoy having fresh daisies in my house from time to time, they no longer hold the same appeal as they once did.

Books

Ever since I was little, books have held a type of magic for me. They take me to faraway places and allow me to befriend interesting people. My nose was always stuck in a book, and the best extrinsic motivation for me was the promise of a trip to the bookstore to pick out a new book. Books were all around me, and continue to be.

I started to amass a huge collection when I began teaching, knowing that in order for kids to become readers, they needed to be surrounded by all types of books, and not just in the school or public libraries, but in our classroom library as well. When I picked up and moved to China after six years of teaching, my classroom library contained over 1,000 books. I wanted to take them all with me, because knowing them inside and out meant that I could always match a reader to a book, but shipping costs are prohibitive, and I had to part with some. Whittling my collection down to about 500, I gave some away and stored the rest.

I began in China with roughly 500 books, and just added more during my five years there. When it came time to move again, I again sorted and sifted, once again parting with a huge chunk of my collection. It’s always so sad to part with beloved books, isn’t it? I left Albania abruptly, therefore, my book collection is still there. I hope to have friends ship some over to me, but again, I can’t take them all. The life of an international educator means, for me, leaving a trail of books around the world. I guess there are worse things to leave behind, right?

Glasses

As an exclusive glasses wearer for about 15 years, glasses have become part of my look. I don’t really like myself without them, as I feel naked and like something is missing when I don’t have them on. When I lived stateside, my glasses were pretty boring…just your everyday pair. Once I moved to China, however, I discovered the wonder that is the glasses market, where I could get a pair of prescription glasses for about 20 bucks. Let the obsession commence! I went a bit overboard, as I tend to do, and ended up with over 20 pairs of glasses and sunglasses. My favorite thing is matching my glasses to my outfits. I only brought 3 pair to Thailand, and it’s killing me…I need variety! Here are a few of my favorite pairs…

Notebooks

I cannot resist a good notebook. It’s like a compulsion. If I come across a perfect notebook…one where the spine allows it to lie flat when opened…I have to buy it. I also prefer ones with an elastic band on the side to keep it closed. Oh, and it has to be lined, none of that blank page nonsense. Pages with a tinge of color, ones that look a bit aged, are definitely preferred over stark white. I have loads of notebooks, some completed, others partially filled, and some awaiting words. And I always have to have a notebook around just in case words need to be written. If you come across a perfect notebook, my birthday’s next month. 😉

Neon

I went through a phase a couple of years where I was completely obsessed with neon and brightly colored clothing. My wardrobe was a rainbow of color, and opening it made me smile. Wearing bright colors makes me happy, and I think it just makes life a little more fun, you know? I’ve moved on from my neon-filled closet, but I have kept a few of my favorite pieces. I still enjoy a pop of color, but my current style is a little more understated.

Food & Drink Obsessions

One of the things I really get hooked on is food. I get a taste of something I love, and I have to have it all the time. The typical arch is a gradual obsession that quickly builds to a climax, followed by a decline, sometimes tapering off and sometimes stopping completely. A few of my past and current food and drink obsessions include goat cheese (one of the longest-running obsessions), chai tea lattes (preferably iced ones from Starbucks), mango sticky rice, the ricotta and house-made jam appetizer from Mercato in Shanghai, Pizza Express (in general, but the dough balls with garlic butter are pretty dope), pavlova (my fave dessert from Oz), Starbucks (again, generally speaking, but mainly an iced tea and an apple turnover does the trick), iced sweet tea (I’m from the South, you know!), and good queso and chips (I know all the best places to go in my hometown, and which ones are subpar and best avoided).

Lush

Have you ever tried Lush handmade cosmetic products? They’re totally my jam…I love that they are all natural and vegan/vegetarian, and that they are an eco-friendly company. I have been obsessed for a number of years, and many products are my go-to’s now. Faves include the Let the Good Times Roll face wash. It has a mild exfoliant that’s safe for everyday use, plus it smells amazing and even has popped popcorn in it! 🙂 My newest find is the Daddy-O shampoo designed for blondies. It was a little scary to try at first, considering it’s a deep purple color, but it really works to take the brassiness out of my blonde tresses. A bonus is that a 500 mL bottle lasts me about 6 months with almost daily use. When I travel, I always take one of their solid shampoos. It’s great for both hair and body, so it’s a good all-in-one. I’ve tried lots of their products, and I highly recommend them!

Owls

Okay, so I know owls were/are trendy, but my obsession didn’t come about as a result of its trendiness. I became obsessed with owls when my school in China adopted the owls as their official mascot. As a new principal, I had to decorate my office, and what better to decorate it with than owls? It was our new mascot, they’re adorable, and the trend meant they were readily available. It started with just a few accents, but once it started, I just accumulated more and more of them. Many I received as gifts, but I also couldn’t resist an adorable owl pillow or figurine I’d see at the market. At one point, a pre-k student decided to count how many owl things I had in my office. He counted 64. So, yeah…I was officially obsessed.

Traveling

My biggest obsession has to be traveling. Traveling has profoundly changed me and opened my eyes to new perspectives, and I’m a better person for having traveled. I firmly believe that life isn’t meant to be lived in one place.

Traveling’s like a drug…I can’t get enough of it! If I’m not on a trip, I’m planning my next one (or three). We live on such an amazing planet, and I want to see all of it. With only 35 countries and 5 continents under my belt, I’ve just begun. I could write all day about this obsession, but I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that sum up how I feel about traveling:

“Travel has made me more aware of me. I learn more about myself while on the road than anywhere else. It’s given me the ‘I can make it happen’ attitude.” ~Jessica Johnson

“The ‘traveler’s rush’ that hits you upon arrival to a new place is like a drug. And like a drug, the more you expose yourself to it, the more you want it.” ~Clayton B. Cornell

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.” ~Gayle Foreman

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~Anthony Bourdain

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]