Saturday, December 15, 2012

Making Christmas Ornaments 101

I had this idea in mind all year long, to create ornaments for Christmas.  I quickly realized it was going to be more trouble than I expected.  But that's OK, usually means the end result it going to be pretty special. 

I looked on Pinterest for "How To", went to Michael's to get supplies (acrylic paint), then just did a bit of "winging it".  I've never been very good at following instructions anyway.  I figured it couldn't go too wrong.  :)


I added a good bit of water to the paint bottles, but when I dripped it into the ornament, I realized this wasn't going to work.  The consistency just wasn't watery enough.

Surprisingly, more paint is needed than you think.  Even though the bottles are small and you think you need to conserve, the fact is, I used a TON of paint and I still have quite a bit left over.

I dripped a few drops of water in by straw, then put my thumb over the hole and SHOOK and WIGGLED it and did some creative moves in order to get the paint to completely cover all the surface.
Once finished, I transferred the excess water into a new one.  I originally wanted only one or two colors to mix within, but obviously, when they all share the same water, that's just not possible. :)
By the end, I mixed most of the colors together: Rose, Purple, Turquoise, Silver and Confetti.  I was hoping the colors would stay lined up, but water changes everything.  :)

Yay, all finished, yet still needs to dry at least a day, but mine dried about two days. 

First, upside down in the packaging it came in (so the excess paint could drip out).  Second, (day 2) on its side to allow airflow into the orb.

I used something that Michael's called twine.  It's not what I had envisioned, but luckily it turned out better than expected.  On some of them, I used white puff paint and wrote, "2012."  I hung one of the "duds" on my tree.  The light sparkling through looks really good.  Yay me!  I'm quite pleased with the finished product.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Dear Friends and Family,

God continues to answer prayers! It’s only now, as I’m reflecting over the past year, do I really see all that He’s done! I’m amazed and humbled by His continual blessing in my life; what favor! Jason and I have been dating nearly three years now. Every day, we fall more in love with King Jesus and each other. :) I wanted to honor Him by sharing a huge answer to prayer! Earlier this year, He completely healed me of Sciatic nerve pain! My life has dramatically changed as a result!

Jason and I had a whirlwind of adventures this year and countless memories to boot. Here are a few examples: a surprise Ricky Skaggs Concert; “Experienced” the COLOR RUN; Played in the ocean under absolutely perfect conditions—crystal clear and calm waters; 4-hour trek through an underground cave; Camping in all climates and our biggest trip was to Michigan to visit friends. It was a 19-hour journey one-way! Admittedly, we did make a few stops along the way: Cincinnati for a self-guided tour around the city and Kalamazoo, just to say that we had been. :) (Coming home was a mere 15-hour.) If you’re in our radius, we would love to visit you!

God likes to give me themes to work on throughout the year. In 2011, my goal was to be the “Active Ingredient”. In 2012, my mission has been to “Create Something Beautiful”! This theme presented itself in so many ways and gave me the freedom to stretch my artistic muscles. I’ve dabbled in different art mediums before, but never really considered myself an artist… until this year. :)

As many of you know, I’ve always loved taking pictures, but never dreamed God would use it for anything more than a hobby. After MUCH prayer and patience, God finally revealed the name of what’s to be my next adventure, a photography business called: Pockets of Grace*.

It’s quite a leap of faith though, as I definitely don’t feel ready for something of this magnitude. A good friend reminded me recently, “If God has confidence in you, don’t you think you should feel a little more capable”? Well said.

I don’t share this bit of news with you to elicit business; rather I covet your prayers. I feel quite confident in my ability to capture God’s glorious creations: flowers, sunsets and the like. But people are another thing all together. Which is the point, I suppose. The end result will be completely all God! I feel that He’s been pushing me this way for a while now though, so we’ll see what He has in store for me next! I’m sure, like most things in my life, I’ll be able to look back and see His fingerprints all over everything. He’s pretty cool like that!

I pray you and your family have a blessed Christmas season! This sounds like a cliché, but remember the real reason we celebrate the season: King Jesus! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!

*Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Roots Before Branches

I need to take my photography "business" to the next level.  As you know, I've always had a passion for capturing God's beauty through pictures, but it would be ideal if I could also make a little extra money on the side.  Thoughts have been brewing how I might best make that happen: name the business (been working on that forever), create business cards (need a name first), create a website (need name and business cards)... you can see how it all semi-hinges on a name.

I want it to be memorable... easy to spell... creative... and yet, when people read/hear/see it, they'll know it describes me and my art work.  It would be fun to have "Quintana" in the title, so that a part of our family history will always be with me.  But... that seems like the easy way out: Quintana Photography.  There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but I need more.  I need something, perhaps catchy.  Though, not like a friend suggested, "Meredith's Photography and Chainsaw Repair".  That's just silly and inaccurate.  

I'm thinking about Chazown Photograpy.  Crazy name, I know.  Right off the bat, I know it already doesn't meet one of my criteria (easy to spell), but oh, when you learn what Chazown (khaw-ZONE) means, you'll understand why it's in the running.   

"Chazown is the Hebrew word for vision, and it's what God had in mind for you when you were created. Each of us is a masterpiece, placed on earth for a unique purpose that's solely ours to fulfill. Chazown helps you discover and pursue your purpose—the reason God placed you on earth." []

William Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
"  Apparently Mr. Shakespeare didn't understand the inherent value a name has to a person or thing.  (Though I do understand I'm taking a quote out of context.)

There's a school of thought that believes you'll grow into your name.  Or your name becomes you.  That is, if your name is Jason, the Greek definition of your name is "to heal".  Perhaps God's blessed you with certain talents that lead people to Jesus.  I know my Jason has an INCREDIBLE talent for musical instruments.  I always say, anything with a string, he can play it.  :)  Perhaps when others hear him play, they are soothed, become peaceful, relaxed, not stressed out (healed)?

All this to say, names are extremely important.  But not only that, I've always felt like I'm uniquely qualified to fulfill a specific, God-ordained moment in history.  I'll never discover what that is though just working through the daily grind, earning a paycheck.  I need to switch my focus Heavenward... focus on what really matters in this world.  I get distracted by the world sometimes.

I feel like God's leading me in a new direction with photography.  I don't exactly know what it looks like yet, but there's an expectancy.  Most moms have nine months to prepare to give birth to their baby, but since I don't know when my "baby" is coming, I'd better be prepared. 

"There's always a seed
Before there's a rose
The more that it rains
The more I will grow

I gotta have

Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be
And faith
To take chances
To live like I see
A place in this world
For me"

-by Room For Two

I do know of one opportunity that's fallen into my lap.  I'll tell you more about it when the time is right.

So.... do you have any ideas what I should name my business?  If so, please share.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Only a Miracle Will Do

Back to the grind, fat burning grind that is.  We did Bob's Pure Burn Super Strength workout today.  I thought it might be a nice change of pace... less painful... umm, yeah, so anything with Bob Harper's name on it is actually going to be quite painful.  Silly me.  As he said today, 'You don't get fit by doing ten minute workouts, you get fit by working out hard every day.' 

Today was all about muscle strength.  I used one pound weights and Jason used two.  Now, don't be nay-saying those small weights.  Go pick up a bag of flour, hold it over your head, do some deep runner's stretches, do all kinds of crazy lifts and stretches and then let me know how light one-two pounds are.  It's funny, but they quickly become very heavy. ("Heaby" as my nephew used to say.)  We did an amazing job though!  It's encouraging to me that even the workout helpers are sweating like crazy and grunting and wanting to quit when Bob's not watching.  They must forget they are being filmed.  It's quite funny, really. 

I can barely keep my eyes open.... oh wait.... I'm typing with my eyes closed.  It's kinda nice really.  Hope I don't make any mistakes.  If I do, I won't correct them, just to see how funny it looks.  Waking up at five after sleeping until nearly eight every day last week is a SHOCK to my system.  I'd like to go back to bed now.  Who knows?  Maybe there's time for a quick cat nap after blogging.  OK, My eyes are open again.  How'd I do?  Make any mistakes?

Weekend Roundup:
Saturday, I spent the day at my parent's house for an early Easter celebration.  My Sister and Nephew came over and eventually Jason did too.  We spent a good portion of the day outside, taking pictures, wandering around with G trying to find the eggs Mom had hidden (missing two still).  I hope those aren't the ones with chocolate inside, but pennies instead. 

Around 3, I went in to escape the heat and mosquitoes and had a tiny cat nap.  It was one of those sleeps, where you can still hear things going on around you, so I wasn't totally out.  I heard Mom and G coming back inside saying, "We need a girl, a rope and a ladder."  What in the world? I thought.  Turns out, Mom needed my help to take down a tree in the backyard.  Why take down a perfectly good tree, you ask?  Well, Mom said it was shading her garden too much.  Why not move the garden?  She already had twice, so the tree moved this time.  It took a bit of elbow grease but we finally got the tree sawed enough that we could pull it down (tied a rope to a top section earlier). 

[.....14 hours later....]  I was so exhausted this morning, I went back to bed for an hour before going to work.  :)

It's easier to show pictures than to explain:

Steph and Mom sawing down the tree

Yay! Girl power took down the tree!

Easter Sunday, we went to 8am church.  It was an amazing service!  Pastor Chris sermon was entitled, "When Only a Miracle Will Do".  I knew from the very moment he mentioned that we were going to do things a little different, I would be going forward to receive the miracle of healing in my body.  I was both excited and nervous at the same time, but I knew God was leading me to take this step.  This wasn't the first time I've been prayed over for this ailment (sciatica), but this time was different.  I don't know how to explain it, I just knew.

By the time the moment to go forward came about, I nearly pushed Jason out of the way to get out of my seat.  I knew if I didn't obey in the moment, I would talk myself out of the blessing.  I've asked Jesus to heal me over the past three years or so, but He's chosen not to.  Who knows why.  Maybe it required me to sacrifice something of myself?  Maybe I had to take the actual step of faith and trust that a stranger praying for me and ushering in His spirit of healing would be enough. 

I had to wait my turn in line... I couldn't sing the praise song... all I could hear was my beating heart pumping blood into my ears.  When I stepped forward, the sweet lady asked me what was going on with me.  I said, "I've been suffering with sciatica for years and I just need the pain to stop."  She said, "Oh, girl, we're going to get you healed in the blood of the Lamb."  She then began to pray and say things that ONLY King Jesus would know about me.  Things I've only said to Him, things no knows, yet she was praying them over me.  That's the second time that's happened to me in my lifetime.

My human side (head) wants to err on the side of caution and say, let's wait and see if I'm truly healed.  But my heart tells me, I was healed the moment I asked Him to bless me with a miracle.  I've prayed He would heal me many times before, but all I can say is it was different this time.  I hope and pray I truly am healed.  What a glorious experience I will have for my life to remember Easter 2012... the day I was healed.

Any other Highlanders out there?  Or has anyone else received a miracle in their life?  I'd love to hear about it!  Please leave me a comment!

Sunday afternoon, Jason and I decided to create something beautiful by doing an art project I had seen on Pinterest.  You glue crayons to a canvas and then melt them using a hair drying.  The finished product looked amazing and so I thought we could figure it out and give it a try.  The whole project was less than $20 for us both!  It took muuuuuuuuuuuch longer than either of us thought it would, but the finished product was completely worth it!  I'll save you all the numerous behind the scenes details (unless you just really want to know) and show off our finished art project! 

My art

Jason's Art

Finished Products!

Today was the first of many two-a-day workouts.  It actually was pretty OK.  I probably could have done more cardio, but my right side extremities fall asleep within 10 minutes of starting.  By 40, I just have to quit.  Pins n needles are no fun.  Does anyone have any idea why only my right hand and foot go to sleep?  I would love for that to stop!

Friday, April 6, 2012

What a Week!

You probably think because I haven't written in a week means that I haven't worked out either.......

And you'd be correct.  *hangs her head in shame* 

I survived my 'hell' week, but with not much extra energy to do much of anything else.  Being all things to all people all week long is utterly exhausting.  Plus, I was super duper busy all week long.  It takes me a little bit to get focused on something so when I was CONSTANTLY interrupted with phone calls and questions and whatever else, it drained me.  So, my theory, albeit rationalization at best, was that I did a great job keep everything afloat, it was OK to take a break this week.  The funny things is, I had lofty goals for myself.  If I wasn't going to wake up early, I was at the very least going to to go the gym every afternoon after work.  I packed my clothes on Sunday night to go on Monday, but that same bag is still in my car with completely clean clothes in it.  Oh well.  No biggie.  I'm not going to beat myself up about it or anything.  Such is life.  I'll hit it hard this coming week.  In fact, I think Jason mentioned two-a-days.  5am and after work workout.  If that's true, boy will I be going to bed early and get the best sleep ever.

Not blogging for a week leads me to think that a lot more life happened that I remember to share.  Sometimes I think I ramble too much.  OK, who am I kidding?  I know I ramble, but I generally have a point.  I should have started this post earlier tonight.  I'm suddenly very tired and must sleep.  More to come.

Happy Trails all.


Our Deepest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hello Again, World!

Hi, my name is Meredith and I'm a slacker.  Hi, Meredith!  No, really.  Work was crazy slow on Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday and today have been insanely busy.  Yesterday I wasn't even able to leave and get lunch.  Yes, I could have left, but by the time I came up for air, it was 3:30.  It just seemed silly to get lunch that late.  However, today was much like yesterday, but today I left at 3:30 to get lunch and brought it back to my desk as I continued to work. 

Let's rewind a few hours.  For whatever reason, I just couldn't fall asleep last night.  I was playing Draw Something until well after midnight.  Ugh.  I hate when I can't sleep.  So, subsequently, when 5am came around, I wasn't feeling my best.  I actually popped right out of bed and turned on the hallway light to prepare for Jason's arrival.  But I then got back in bed.  :)  I texted Jason to see where he was and to let him know I might need to cancel for the day.  Ugh, twice in one week.  I'm such a slacker.

I went back to sleep and accidentally forgot to set an alarm to wake up.  So, at 8:15 when I gingerly rolled over, I freaked out when I saw what time it was!!  Granted, I have a pretty open schedule.  I can arrive to work any time between 8:30-9:30, so I had some leeway.  But I enjoy getting off at 5pm instead of anything later.  I felt late though and rushed and my whole morning was thrown off.  Plus, I knew I would get ribbing from my boss about it. 

Anyway, crazy day. 

My new modem came in the mail today.  I always have a bit of foreboding when it comes to the installation process of new networking issues, especially when dealing with AT&T.  I hooked everything up... and one green light.... two green light..... and.... fail, internet was a red light.  I did all that I knew to do, then gave up and contacted AT&T.  Arg.  I actually contacted them through their chat thingamabob and that worked well... until I got lost connection TWICE!  Each time I would have to retell my issues, and go through all the steps.  Even though I told them, I've already talked with your coworkers, I'm on this step.  But no, they had me run through all the steps again.  Grr.  By the third time when I lost connection, I figured I could figure it out on my own.  Eureka!  It finally found whatever magical connection it needed to get me back on the WWW.  I was never more happy to see Google!

Now, I should be asleep.  I shouldn't be blogging.  I should be getting restorative healing while I sleep... but, I'm writing.  Writing about nothing in particular.  If you're reading today's post, then I know you just love me.  As there's no real value here today, folks.  Nothing insightful.  Nothing witty.  Although, I did watch a good movie tonight, "In Time" with Justin Timberlake.  Pretty good movie, kinda long, only one bad word that I remember.

I just got majorly distracted playing DrawSomething, so I'd better close for today and get in bed!  5am comes early and Bob and Jason need me to be up and at 'em!  Yay, TGIF!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Duggar's, Butterflies and More

Oops! I just realized I hadn't yet blogged today. My deal with Jason this morning is that I could go back to sleep after working out if I blogged when I got home. When I got home earlier I actually did something I've been meaning to do for a while now. I took fingernail polish remover to my car's headlights. They were super foggy and not allowing the light to go through cleanly. Jason's Dad actually recommended using the acetone. Worked like a charm! I really should have taken before and after pictures! Now I can't wait to drive in the dark to test out my new and improved headlights!

This morning I got to sleep in until 5:30-blessing! Mer loves to sleep. (I just laughed at myself for referring to myself in third person!) JP and I did Bob's Pure Burn Pure Strength DVD. We did the 25 minutes beginner's workout. I think we're used to Bob killing us so this workout wasn't so bad. Of course... We didn't use real weights, rather only the weight of our own arms. I'm pretty sure that has a lot to do with it. :) Tomorrow we're going to do half of the real workout, with real weights. I might now be able to lift my arms all day and be singing a different tune as to how hard the workout was! We actually previewed it a little--much harder!

I also watched the "18 Kids and Counting" special from last night. I had heard the reports at the end of last year that the Duggar's had indeed lost their 20th child so I expected it to come up in the episodes eventually. I cried right along with their family a they grieves for baby Jubilee Shalom. I so admire Michelle and Jim Bob's faith during a trial like that. The first words out of Michelle when they found out the baby had no heartbeat, "The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."  What an amazing attitude of faith, love and trust in the Lord that He's in control an knows the plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11-13). What an eternal perspective they have! I wonder if I could say the same?! 

The Duggars' are such a controversial family but honestly what right do we have to have any say over the number of children they have? They are raising such sweet children who whole heartedly love Jesus and their family. Well I'll get off my soap box about them. I would jus like to say that I'm sorry for their loss. I can't imagine how hard that must be. 

In other news, my lovely assistant at work is getting married this Saturday to her best friend! I've heard about many of the details and can't wait to see everything for myself. The flip side is she'll be on her honeymoon next week. So happy for her.....sad for me.

I've been dreading next week for several months now. I've been so spoiled by my excellent assistant. She's so awesome and does such a great job at everything! I can teach her something new and she's good after that. She's just been such a pleasure to work with. She keeps me sane and is my first line of defense when the phone rings. But next week, everything will rest on my shoulders again. Answering the phone all day and dealing with people just exhausts me. I'm already quite busy (answered 74 email today)! 

I'm praying everything will go well. I'm praying there won't be an influx of ACT parents. I'm praying there won't be crazy people calling on he magnet biz side. I'm praying... Will you pray with me that it's an easy week?!

Also my love will be gone that week, camping in the mountains by himself. No assistant. No love. Working out by myself. Whew! It's going to be an interesting week. Maybe it'll be a week of define meant? Maybe I'll prove to myself that I really can handle everything? Maybe my new disciplined self will get up dark and early with Bob and do an hour workout instead if 30? There are a lot of maybes there. 

Jason's recently started calling me "butterfly". I know he sees in me what I do not. He sees the changes in me and is encouraging me to grow into this new creature I'm becoming. I already feel so different than even six months ago. I know in the depths of my soul, this change, unlike all the others before, will stick. I have already made so many changes to my life, for the betterment of me and my future. If I'm not at my best, how then can I be ready to serve Him at a moment's notice? It I my sincerest hope that like the butterfly I too will blossom into something completely different than when I started. Then and only then will I reveal my before pictures. :) 

Thank you, Father for giving me the strength and ability to push my body through a workout. Thank you for allowing my sciatic nerve pain to basically have disappeared. That, in and of itself, is a miracle!! Praise the Lord! Thank You! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Catch-up not Ketchup

The weekend was great. Relaxing time spent with both Jason, my Sister and nephew. Friday night after work, Jason and I met at La Reunion in Helena. If you live in the area, you know about this little hidden gem. They serve very yummy food and have a great environment for hanging out and playing games. Friday nights, they do trivia. It's both maddening and fun to have that going on in the background while we concentrate on our game. However this particular night, we were learning how to play a new game, Settlers of Cattan. It doesn't come with instructions, rather an Almanac! I'm not very good at reading and following directions, so we sometimes make me figure out how to play a game to stretch me. After about 30 minutes of having no idea what I read, I passed the buck to JP. He, on the other hand, is good at figuring stuff out. (In fact, there's really not much that he can't do.). Remember there's very loud trivia going on around us so this takes skill of concentration.  I got put on charge of ordering dinner. We shared an egg salad sandwich (pretty good) and a Asian chicken salad sandwich (yum) and potato salad (amazing!).

After much reading, (along with a hefty learning curve), we finally figure out how to play. For a total of nearly five hours we played! At ten, they closed and we carefully moved everything to the front porch. What a fun game! Since it requires at least three players, we both played two people. That was sometimes confusing but helped both your opponents.

Time always passes too quickly with Jason around. It's like a vortex an the next thing we know it's Sunday night. But this weekend held a lot I adventure!

Saturday day, I spent time with my sister and nephew. We went out to eat, wandered around Target then headed to her house. Somewhere during that time, I developed a headache, which quickly turning into a migraine. By the time we arrived at my sister's, I collapsed int middle of my nephew's bedroom floor. It was dark, quiet, and cool. I was laying in corpse position, trying to get the pounding to stop. I'm pretty sure I scared my nephew. He was so sweet though. He would quietly come check on me. Sometimes standing right next to me. Other times, he laid in his bed next to me. Never saying a word. Just quietly loving me. Sweet baby! I eventually fell asleep and woke up about 40 minutes later feeling nearly completely better. Praise the Lord!

I was to meet Jason for a concert, Act of Congress. I'm so thankful my head got better, I would have kicked myself for missing that concert. They are incredibly talented musicians who play excellent bluegrass []. Check them out on iTunes as well.

Sunday, Jason and I got to go to the McWayne Center! We've been wanting to go there for two years now. We had so much fun playing with all the exhibits and even watched an IMAX movie on coral reef. It was a fun day filled with wonder an excitement.

Monday's workout was a no-go. My fault entirely. I couldn't get up. JP told me to go back to bed and I slept another 2.5 hours!

Today's workout was great! We did Bob's Warrior Yoga again. I'm finding some things getting easier; flexibility within stretches but I have trouble on ab work. Obviously those muscles haven't been used in a while and even though I tell myself not to complain, I still yell at Bob! (Good thing he can't hear me! He'd make me do more, I'm sure!)

I just found out that Jason won't be able to workout with me next week, so it'll be the true test of my endurance and commitment for myself to get up out of bed and put in the work. I'd like to say ill be strong, but it'll be so tempting to sleep in. Augh. I can't even think like that! I actually enjoy working out in the AM instead of at night after a long day at work.

On TBL tonight, they were driving the point home that exercise doesn't have to be boring. There's so many different activities that are fun and burn calories. I need to find my niche, so I'll look forward to working out. Once I start to see results, I know that'll be the push that motivate me more than anything.

What about you? What form of exercise do you do that's fun while getting a good workout in?! Anyone doing ZUMBA?! Please let me know what's helped you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Beginners" Workout 101

OHMYGOODNESS!!! THAT was NO beginner's workout!!! Or....maybe it was. Maybe we just experienced the first 45 minutes of what contestants on The Biggest Loser get when they walk on The Ranch! Maybe we're lucky because we get to breathe and rest and lie under a fan on high until we can stand and not faint. But they would workout for another who knows how many hours! (I'd love to see a behind the camera show! What really goes on, you know?!)

When watching TBL there's always a part of me that thinks, "Can it really be that hard?! Quit your whining and get going!" I now understand how Bob works! He lures you in saying it's a "beginners" workout but as soon as warm up is over, we're doing Burpees!! Seriously?!  (Don't know what a Burpees is? Stand tall, put your hands on either side of your feet, pop back into plank position and then pop back up to standing tall.) Oh don't be jealous! We did about 15 of those. OK, Jason did about 15 of those! I did a modified version, but trust me, it was still a workout!!

Unlike all the other days when I would lose my balance and fall over, today I moaned and complained and yelled at Bob and shed a few tears too! I do not <3 Bob today!!

OK that's a lie. I still do. I'm thankful he's pushing me to do more than I think I can. There's no doubt in my mind that we got an excellent workout today!! Geez, yoga's going to feel like a dream compared to this! :)

Jason and I took "before" pictures today: front, sides, and back. These will NOT be posted here until I have decent "after" progress for you. That day will come. I have no doubt. We went from basically not working out at all to 5-6 days a week straight! Good job us!

How are YOU doing on your weight loss journey!?  What's working for you? What's been your greatest triumph?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Heart Bob Harper

Oh allergies, how you vex me.  I have a tolerate/hate relationship with Spring.  Though, the pop of amazing flowers around town is almost worth the runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and steady stream of antihistamine... well, almost.

I'm late posting for the day, but Mr. Bendy and I did work out this morning!  Yay for us!  My internet has been down at home and write a blog on my iPhone was a bit challenging.  So, I waited until I could type it out on the computer.

After getting 8.5 hours of sleep last night, I mostly popped out of bed.  I say mostly, as I slept through my alarm for about ten minutes before it finally pulled me from my slumber.  JP was late getting here, but I didn't ask why and didn't care.  It allowed me time to wake up a bit and get things ready to go.  After our amazing success Tuesday morning doing Bob's Warrior Yoga, we decided to tackle the second half of the workout.  We quickly realized Bob must have gotten his little workout helpers from the circus, as no normal human being can bend and contort the way they were.  It was in utter shock and disbelief.  Several times I got distracted from doing my own modified version of whatever crazy move Bob had us doing, when I saw the ladies bend and stretch in ways only Stretch Armstrong can.

Also, I don't know what was up, but I had zero balance this morning.  I was falling over left and right.  I'm not sure what my deal was.  But between feeling discouraged that I wasn't able to do most of the moves and falling over many times, I just generally felt like it wasn't the best workout ever.  I mean, I sweated and all and my thighs have been sore today.... but, I didn't leave the workout feeling like I did on Tuesday.  Ho Hum.

Tomorrow will be better, I can feel it.  Jason and I are going to do "Beginner's Weight Loss".  I'm sure Bob will kick our tails, but I'm sure that's what we both need.  OK, I'm really tired and need to go to bed, but before I do, I quick product endorsement:

I received my Bob DVDs yesterday in the mail:

I got all six of these DVDs for $30 at: - Check it out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I'm so unbelievably sleepy. I can't wait to go to bed! It's only 8pm too! Today's late post is because I slept through this mornings workout. I woke up around 5, but Jason said he'd been calling and texting me with zero reply. I don't know why I'm so exhausted!! So he went to work early and I went back to sleep for TWO hours! In a way, it was nice but I missed working out this morning. I'll make up for it tomorrow. 

Bob's new Inside Out Method DVD set arrived today. Fun! I need to take "before" pictures before we start changing! 

I'm too tired to say anything intelligent, just wanted to give a quick update. I'm going to bed now. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We Are Warriors

Last night, Jason and I celebrated our second year anniversary! All along, we've been celebrating the day we met, every 19th of the month. We've been counting the months up to 24. I told him last night we need to start with 2.0 now. Ha. So next month will be 2.1. I know it might seem silly to some but we are so thankful God ordained our meeting two years ago! 

For some reason we both had it in our heads that our anniversary was today (Tuesday) so we were surprised to find out it was yesterday. We met after work and went to P.F.Chang's for a yummy dinner! I even brought home leftovers so I get to relive the experience again tonight! 

I wanted to challenge us a little for today's workout. We did Bob Harper's Inside Out Method Warrior Yoga Workout. If you'll remember, we did the 15 minute abs the other day and nearly died. So there was some apprehension coming into this workout. I knew we could do it though. 

It starts out fairly normal, breathing through your nose as you rotate through the poses: downward dog, baby cobra, plank, warrior 1 & 2, triangle, chair, etc. I noticed early on that we were sweating a lot more than when we do TBL workout. We were also doing moves we've done before and therefore I believe we gained confidence in our strength. The title "Warrior" can be a tad intimidating but with Bob as our guide, he teaches you that you're far more capable than you give yourself credit for!

Its actually a 60-min routine but we only have 30-min. We made eve minute count. I know I pushed myself in ways I haven't been able to before. There's a pose where our thighs are on fire but we have to sink a little lower and reach for our ankles. Mr. Bendy never has to even think about this move but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it after a bit of warmup. I was able to actually reach my ankle! Score one for Mer! 

We had a great workout! I was actually sad that our 30-min was up. But in order to get 60 in, I'd have to get up at 4:30am. I'm not quite ready for that type of commitment. :) I'm doing good to get up at 5. I need to do better about getting to bed earlier though. 

I'm sitting here blogging, as Jason comes in to tell me goodbye (about to leave for work.) He leans in for a hug goodbye and say, "Whew! You stink!" I take that as a compliment. It means I worked hard and sweated! He said, "I bet I'm going to read about this later, aren't I?" I said, "Yep, you gotta be careful about what you say around a blogger. You never know what I'll use!"

I think we're going to the second half of the DVD tomorrow. From what I saw, it looked like ab work. Whew, we're gonna be hurting... In a good way! 

Happy Trails! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 2 Day 1

I had an interesting weekend.  They're never as long as they need to be to recover from the week, but I'm thankful for having weekends off.  At different times in my life, I wasn't so blessed.  Friday night, Jason and I went to one of our favorite hang out places in Montevallo called Eclipse Coffee.  They have a great menu and so we tend to overeat.  But this time, we only ordered one thing at a time and shared while playing games.  We found that we really didn't need so much food (Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Tuna Fish sandwich and pretzels).  Good for us.  They also serve the most amazing peanut butter chocolate milkshake!  I'd been thinking about it all night.  Wrestling with whether I should get one or not.  I had been so good all week and hadn't had any sweets.  Oh, it was calling my name!  I finally decided it was OK.... and.... they were out of ice cream!  Noooooooo!  So my craving went unfulfilled but my waste line didn't increase.

Saturday, I headed to Sybil's Stoneycreek Farm with some close girlfriends to have a farewell luncheon for our good friend CPH.  Her husband is in the Navy and they are being transferred to Virginia.  Sybil was a fabulous host as always; excellent food, great company.  It was fun to hang out with one another, chasing after little ones, taking pictures and just generally enjoying the day.  All the while, remembering that at the end, I'll have to say goodbye to my friend.  We've been friends for 10+ years.  Hard to believe.  I still remember the day we met.... Thanks D$ for introducing a life long friendship.

After our tearful goodbye, I raced home as I needed to make a dessert for the game night my friend was hosting.  I had the idea to make it a special St. Patrick's Day dessert, in that I used hidden green things.  I wasn't sure people would go for it, but everyone loved the creativity.  After dinner, we played Telestrations, which is the visual equivalent of the classic school-yard game "telephone." It's a fun-filled sketching game in which everyone's attempts at "art" can turn hilarious. The game starts with a secret word that is passed from player to player. As the word is sketched, interpreted, and then sketched again, it undergoes a visual transformation that will surprise and delight everyone.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  Love that game.
Sunday, I met Jason at church.  Wow, what an incredible service!  I could write a whole blog about the lesson and maybe should.  It was powerful and touched many.  After church, we were supposed to go to McWayne's, but I had a massive allergy attack!  I couldn't quit sneezing and my head was killing me and I felt so sick.  It came on so sudden and unfortunately will last until there's a good rainstorm to wash all the pollen away.  I have a tolerate/hate relationship with spring.  I hate that it got in the way of our fun day.  Oh well, we both had a nap instead and watched a movie.
 Which leads me to Week 2 Day 1 of waking up early to workout.  Nothing exciting to report, really.  We did Dance Praise, which my knees and hips will be screaming at me later, if they aren't already.  We laugh the whole time though, so that's a lot of fun.  We need more cardio in our workout though.  We either need to make time to go back to the gym for a little bit or get out and walk or something.  Personally, I'm going to avoid going outside at all costs during this season.

I ordered Bob Harper's (from The Biggest Loser) Inside Out Method DVDs the other day for only $20!!  I know Bob and he's going to kick our tail, but that's exactly what we need.  I can't wait for those to arrive to kick start our workout routine.  We've also talked about doing Turbo Fire too.  I think it looks like a lot of fun but hard work too.  My friend has done it and seen amazing results.  We'll see... 

OK, I feel like I'm just rambling, so I'm going to go get ready for work.  Have a great day all!

Friday, March 16, 2012


The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga routine is NOT for the fain of heart.  I always dread that particular workout with Bob, as I know it'll hurt during, after and for days to come.  :)  Hurt is good though, right?  At least that's what everyone says.  This is the second time we've done this workout this week.  Mr. Bendy is amazing at it!  Oh, to be able to move and stretch and hold posses like he does!  Someday!  I'm learning, albeit begrudgingly, that I often have to do the modified version.  As long as I'm still pushing myself, I'm getting the same results.

There was a time (about 3-4 years ago) when I was working out consistently at the Y.  Every Tuesday night they offered a class called Body Flow.  It's a triad workout: Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates which built flexibility and strength.  When I first started, I was clumsy, unbalanced and struggled with many of the holds (like now), but I eventually got it.  My body started to change, adapt and soon I was rotating through the posses without any problems.  I need to remember that.  I always want to hit the ground running at peak level, but forget I have to work up to that.

This week hasn't been easy, but I've been shocked and slightly amazed that I've actually been able to wake up early all week.  After the workout is finished and Mr. Bendy goes off to work, I'm left here to write for about an hour or so.  I love the quiet of the morning to think and pray and write.  It gets my creative juices flowing.  Even if I'm only writing about my workout, everything else will come.  Being the Active Ingredient last year was a lot of fun, but my passion for writing and taking pictures got put on the back burner.  Which is fine, but I've missed that aspect of what makes me me.  I'm excited to see what opportunities God brings in this new year as I learn what it means to Create Something Beautiful. 

Oh, which reminds me, I've been wanting to share with you something I read recently while waiting for Jason at his work.  It was actually in a fire sprinkler magazine, but the source is irrelevant.  The facts are pretty amazing and might change you or someone you know.  It's the 45-10-10 Principle:

45 - $0.45 is the current cost for a stamp
10 - 10 Minutes of time
10 - 10 Days of commitment

The articles theory is that you never know how one hand written note might change someones world.  In this day and age of modern conveniences such as email, we've lost the personal connection with others.  We shoot of constant texts and emails to one another, who ever takes the time to actually WRITE out a letter or note to someone they love?  I want to challenge you to make this commitment for 10 days, for 10 minutes for the cost of $0.45 to connect with a friend you've been meaning to say hello to.  I'll do it as well.  I have two pen pals whom I know would love to hear from me. If you do take on this challenge, I'd love to hear about it.  Feel free to leave me a comment about your experience.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Best Laid Plans

This morning didn't exactly go as planned. Though, to my credit, I went to bed at 9:38p and woke up at 4:58a!! But that's where my accomplishments stop. After getting dressed, I climbed back in bed and snuggled under the still warm covers. I was/am so sleepy and worn out. Although I got nearly 8 hours of sleep, I feel like a couple more wouldn't be a bad thing. Which is why I'm writing this post in my bed, under the covers, on my iPhone, so that when I'm done, maybe I can catch a quick nap.  

Although I'm semi disappointed in myself, I'm proud that I woke up at 5a every morning this week!! That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. I'm very very out of shape so maybe my body needed a day off? So tomorrow's workout will be hard and great?! That's the plan anyway. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Live Generously

5:45AM fairly sweaty and FUN workout completed!  Do y'all remember that craze from a few years ago Dance, Dance Revolution?  Well, my sister and I saved up some money and bought the Christian version: Dance Praise some years ago.  We did it some but she lives an hour away, so it wasn't used enough.  Then my friend JW who lives near me, used to come over and dance with me but life got busy so it was put back on shelf for years.  Now enter Jason.  I've been telling him about Dance Praise for years (as of Monday the 19th), but we just never got around to it.  So last night when I'm preparing for this mornings workout, I remember DP and pull it off the shelf!  It's a surprisingly good workout.  I mean, the bottoms of my feet hurt, my muscles were burning, we were sweating and our heart rate was up for at least 30 minutes.  Yay us! 

"October Baby" with CPH last night was really good.  You should run to your local theater when it comes out.  Be prepared, you will cry, but what an amazing story of adoption/abortion/forgiveness/letting go.  I doubt there was a dry eye in the theater.  It was created completely in AL by the Erwin brothers.  One of the central themes in the movie was forgiving someone of doing something that just seems unforgivable.  (I don't want to give anything away by telling you what was going on.  You'll have to find out for yourself.)

On the way home, I was listening to WDJC and the DJ did a quick preaching on Matthew 5:35-48.  I was only half listening until Jesus poked me, "Hey, are you listening?"  Me, "Kinda, why?"  Jesus, "Please pay attention, there's a key truth I want you to learn."

V42-44: "No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.  You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer..."

Oooh, ouch, did you catch that?  " your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst."  I don't know about you, but this is VERY hard.  It's our human instinct to protect ourselves, which usually means acting in a way that's not only contrary to our normal every day behavior but not very Christ-like.  This is not how I react.  I often allow people and situations to dictate how I feel and slump into a bad mood.  How amazing would it be to say that when faced with trying people, I'm at my best.  Whew.  What a goal to strive for. 

The chapter goes on to say: "....for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.  If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." (Matthew 5: 44b-48)

What would happen if Christians all started living generously?  What if we lived out our God-created identity?  What if we responded to trials the way Jesus did?  It's corny to say, but seriously, What Would Jesus Do?   

I'm Proud of Myself Because... Even though I got to bed late, I still woke up at 5am.
Today's Accomplishment: no Subway cookies and extra lettuce and spinach on sandwich (this hasn't happened yet, but it will later. I know I've said this every day, but trust me, it's an accomplishment.)
Tomorrow's Goals: Complete The Biggest Loser workout with few complaints

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Warrior Yoga

I went to bed at 9:30 last night.  Yes, 9:30PM!  Asleep by 9:45!!  Sheer craziness, I tell you!  It literally hurt to have my eyes open one more second.  I had weird dreams again and woke up at one point, hoping it wasn't 5AM yet.  I didn't want to look at the clock, but did and found it was only midnight.  Yes!  Five more hours of sleep!

I actually woke up late... 5:01.  I gotta do better and get up around 4:55.  Oy.  I need to be dressed and ready to go when Jason gets here.  If he has to get up early to come to me, then I too need to get up early.  But it's only the second day, I'm sure I'll do better as time goes on. 

Since I didn't get vertical until 5:15, I decided we needed to make the most of our time we had left and do Bob Harper's "Yoga for the Warrior: 15 Min Abs".  Knowing Bob as I do, from watching years of his training on The Biggest Loser, I knew this would be very hard! 

I was NOT disappointed!  It was hard, very hard.  From the very moment the stretches started, we knew we were in the world of hurt for the next 15 minutes.  But it's only 15 minutes, right?  Who can't do 15 minutes?  Whew!  Trust me, those 15 minutes seemed like twice that amount.  But we both did a great job!!  Today, we both were grunting and pleading for him to make the pain stop!  haha 

I must admit, I said "can't" a lot more today, but unlike yesterday, I continued to do the work!!  That, my friends, is a huge improvement over yesterday!  I did have to modify some of the exercises because of my sciatic nerve issues, but I was able to do most of it!  My pretzel of a boyfriend did an amazing job!  I'm so proud of him!!

OK, enough for today.  I need to go get a shower and head to the polls to VOTE today before work.  Later today, I get to hang out with one of my favorite people in the world and see "October Baby".  By the time I get home tonight, it'll be straight to bed for me!  Have a good day everyone.

I'm Proud of Myself Today Because... Even though I said "can't", I pushed through the pain and kept going!
Today's Accomplishment: no Subway cookies and extra lettuce and spinach on sandwich (this hasn't happened yet, but it will later.)
Tomorrow's Goals: drink more water; get up on time

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day One

I've been on a weight loss journey pretty much since the day I was born.  Of course, as a baby a little pudge is cute.  Any other age, not so much.  I've struggled with being self conscious and how I view myself for as long as I can remember.  I've been teased and made fun of which makes me wonder how I would be different if there weren't mean kids out there.  But that's neither here nor there. 

I tend to take on and tackle new projects as if I'm in it for the long haul, but weeks, sometimes days into it I find that it's too hard or quit all together.  I'm not proud of this, but I wanted to share a little back story.

Fast forward to present day.  I am not happy with what I see in the mirror.  Even though my precious boyfriend loves me for who I am, not what I look like or what he wants me to look like.  In fact, as long as I'm happy, he doesn't care what I look like.  But until I'm happy and will be OK with the girl I see in the mirror, I'll never truly be happy. 

There's a skinny girl deep down inside me.  I know because I'm always shocked to see what I really look like in pictures.  Crazily enough, I see myself different, though I'm still sad.  So, OK, what's a girl gotta do to change this?  Apparently something drastic.

Anyone who knows and loves me knows that I l-o-v-e sleep and love to sleep in, so in the past when friends would suggest I wake up early to get a work out in, never really crossed my mind...... until yesterday.  Jason and I were having lunch at Moe's (Welcome to Moe's!!) when we were talking about working out and such.  He offhandedly suggested we could get in a good workout before work, but.... it would have to be at 5AM!!  (Nearly TWO hours earlier than I'm used to waking up.)  Oy!

We used to work out together after work, but one thing led to another and the next thing you know, we're excusing our way out of working out.  Honestly, a gym is so boring and monotonous and for a recovering A.D.D. girl, I needed more.  I need more. 

My girlfriend in ATL has been working out with this new program called Turbo Fire.  She's had AMAZING results over the past eight weeks which leads me to believe there's hope for me!  I've already been thinking about buying something like ZUMBA; which looks amazingly fun.  My theory is, if you're having fun while working out, you don't realize it's hard work, because you're having so much fun. 

After talking it over some of the different options with Jason and after I got over the shock of potentially waking up before 5am to work out, I started to seriously consider this plan.  He said, "If you commit to waking up early every morning for a week or two, then we'll both know you're serious about making a change.  Besides, half the challenge for the first week is simply waking up!" (My paraphrasing) 

He just looked at me over lunch and said, "Who is this girl to even consider this?"  I'm willing to give it a try... plus, I get to see my love every morning and work out with him as well.  Seems like a fair trade off.  Fast forward to this morning at 4:57AM when I get a text from Jason, "Are you up yet?"  Did he seriously think I'd be awake before 5am?  :)  To my credit, I rolled out of bed, got dressed and then snuggled back under my still warm covers waiting for him to officially arrive. 

We got started about 5:15 and worked out with Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser.  Yoga at 5 in the morning is both perfect and extremely hard.  We sweated, grunted, complained (me), stretched, did a few push ups and many different yoga posses that has me sore tonight.  I even lost my balance...twice...and fell over, but I got back up and continued.  I was so proud of myself!  I AM so proud of myself.

I feel like this time it's different.  I feel like the change will stick this time.  I'm ready to do this for me, for my health, for my future.  Last year, God taught me all about being the Active Ingredient (which is why you didn't hear from me much), but this year's theme is: Create Something Beautiful.  I do believe I'm the something that's going to be even more beautiful than I already am.  My hope is to daily blog and write more about my journey.

I'm Proud of Myself Today Because... I actually got up at 5AM and worked out!
Today's Accomplishment: no Subway cookies and extra lettuce and spinach on sandwich
Tomorrow's Goals: drink more water; leave "can't" out of the workout

Now, I would love to write more, but alas 5AM come VERY early.  My goal is to be asleep before 10pm.  I don't think that will be very difficult.  I'm v-e-r-y sleepy and about to pass out.

Happy Trails, my friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wear Love

Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."

See it at