From One Year to the Next

Re-Capping 2018

2018 was a pretty eventful year. Looking at back at my goals, I was pleased to see what I accomplished.

  • Goal: Finish my PhD – Spring 2018 – even if it damn near kills me
    •  Follow up: I am actually happy to say that I did finish my PhD and in exactly 4 years. It almost did kill me and would say that I’m still recovering from the past 4 years.
  • Goal: Secure a job in academia for a Fall 2018 start
    • Follow up: I did secure an academic position (albeit a temp one) and I love it!
  • Goal: Stay strong
    • Follow up: I managed to not end up on medication, lost about 30 pounds, the anxiety attacks are decreasing, I randomly cry less, and have not completely lost my marbles or been committed.
  • Goal: Don’t be a disappointment
    • Follow up: Graduated on-time and have a job supporting myself – I think this qualifies as not being a disappointment.
  • Goal: No matter what, no matter where – don’t forget to find the positive and always keep a smile
    • Follow up: I’ve done a pretty good job of not losing my smile or sense of humor and finding the positive in the many interesting life occurrences.

A few of my fav photos from 2018 – it was one heck of a year!

Moving into 2019 (in no particular order)

  • Turn 2-3 articles into publications
  • Drop another 20 pounds and be at a socially acceptable weight by my birthday (April)
  • Be open to relationships (be it dating or new friendships)
  • Don’t be afraid to step outside my social comfort zone (I’ve joined an indoor volleyball league, I consider this a baby step)
  • Secure a tenure track position in a place where I want to set down roots
  • Get involved with a dog rescue organization
  • Not only tell my friends and family how much I love and appreciate them, but show them
  • Professional development – be a better professor and scholar
  • Be kinder to myself
  • Judge less, Accept more
  • Put positive thoughts into the universe and announce my gratefulness daily

All in all I deem 2018 successful. I learned a lot about myself. I have a deeper appreciation for my tribe. For all that has happened this past year, the good – the bad – the amazing moments – the moments I could do without, I think I can say that I’m more at peace with myself and the world around me. I’m more content and happy from within, something that I couldn’t say in 2017 or even portions of 2018. Growth manifests itself in many ways – for me it has been a long journey. A journey that propelled me to get a PhD and the adventures that followed. That chapter of my life is over (hallelujah!). Now I move forward, make new memories, have new adventures, and find out who I am post-PhD. A door has closed. I’m excited to see what doors will open and what lays on the other side. I’m looking forward to the adventures that 2019 brings.

”Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure”

– Bob Bitchin


Reflections: Viewing Cancer from the Outer Rings

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Just over a year ago my amazing little mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news was pretty hard to process. For the obvious reasons as well as this being the second go-round with cancer – the first being approximately 6 years prior when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

While the cancer and treatment hasn’t been a secret (hard to hide a tiny bald-headed lady who previously had a full head of jet black hair) it also hasn’t really been something that I’ve discussed on social media. It has been a journey, not just for my mom but for the family. Yes, my mom was the one having to deal with the chemo, the hair loss, the major life changing decisions associated with treatments, the radiation, the side effects, etc but as a family we each dealt with our own emotions of watching her go through all of this, both singularly and together. For me it was trying to make sure that I was there to support both Mom and Dad, in whatever that looked like.

I dealt with it everything happening by not dealing with it until I was just emotionally overwhelmed (commence meltdown wherever I happened to be. Question: why do the meltdowns always happen at the grocery store or while driving? Not cool!).

At the core of it all, I was angry, sad, guilty and amazed (in any given combination and order of occurrence).

  • Angry that the most amazing human ever, who lives the healthiest lifestyle ever, had to go through all of this not once but twice. There were so many statements I made to the Universe, most of them not worth repeating, but the general tone was pissed.
  • Sad that there wasn’t more that I could do to help. Sad that Mom had to handle all of the nonsense that goes with doctors visits, insurance, and dealing with stupid people while dealing with treatments, side effects, etc.
  • Guilty that I wasn’t doing enough to help and that I wasn’t there more. Guilty that I was so immersed in my PhD that I blocked out everything else around me which led to guilt that I felt guilty – because that seemed so selfish when I wasn’t the one going through the really tuff stuff.
  • Amazed at the strength of my parents, the support from friends and family, and the kindness of strangers.

I wasn’t around for Cancer Round 1 (probably part of the guilt) but I was around for Cancer Round 2 (which is going to be the last round!). Here is what I took out of all of it:

  • As a family, we are strong: The strength is cemented together with unwavering leadership and love from my father and faith in the Universe that we will be taken care of.
  • Focus on the positive: Dwelling in the negative is not productive. Going down that rabbit hole does no one any good and can only breed more hysteria. Been there and it wasn’t fun. Be positive, see positive, find something to be positive about. Thoughts have power – think happy thoughts!

“Promise me that you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” – A.A. Milne

  • Laughter and love are the cornerstone of making it through tough times: The jokes made in our household (many times started by my mother) are a bit irreverent but it feels so much better to laugh than to wallow in the misery of what is happening.

My lovely little momma

  • Accept that which you can’t change and make your way through it: When Mom lost her hair there were a lot statements such as “O you are so brave”. She just shrugged and gracefully said “thank you”. We never thought about it as being ‘brave’, it was more that this was the ‘new normal’ and forward march. (BTW: Mom totally ROCKED the bald head and you better believe the jokes were flying around the house!)


  • Love and live to the fullest: Say ‘I love you’ – give that hug – do that thing you wanted to do with the person you love – (except when your mother wants to walk the bridge twice and you know she isn’t in as great a physical shape as she thinks she is, cuz chemo, then you say no! #truestory) – cherish every moment – have the meltdown and find something in the day to be grateful for.

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” – Tecumseh

So why this post? After chemo, surgery, and radiation…today marks THE LAST DAY of radiation treatment! 33 treatment completed! In the celebration…

(Trust me at home there is a celebration! In typical family style it will be complete with laughter and some meltdowns across the board. As I work on this post, my sister is in Publix buying flowers and balloons and adding some extra waterworks to the floral department (the dude working floral was not ready for work today #justsayin)…I shut the door to my office so that some poor student doesn’t walk in on my meltdown. #cleanuponaisletwo)

…there is also a reflection of some of the things that has occurred over the past year. In sharing some of it, from my perspective, there is closure. However, I can confidently say the entire family is happy to pen an end to this particular adventure!

“Some days are better, some days are worse. Look for the blessing instead of the curse. Be positive, stay strong, and get enough rest. You can’t do it all, but you can do your best” – Unknown

My parents are my heroes. My mother is truly the most amazing person – she has handled this past year with a strength, dignity, sense of humor, and selflessness that I can’t even fathom. She radiates (haha) sunshine even on the darkest days and is resilient beyond measure. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.


I came across the following that I think sums things up nicely:

“The real [person] smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

– Thomas Paine

New Adventures…The Saga Continues

Over the 4th of July weekend a job opportunity presented itself and by the 9th of July I accepted a position at a university in the south of Utah.

I had conflicting feelings about everything and let me explain.

  1. Having just finished my PhD, it took me a little while to mentally wrestle with accepting that I wouldn’t have a job in the fall (feeling of failure, the right opportunity not presenting itself – even though opportunities were there – blah blah);
  2. After a talk with a very wise man (my father), I decided that I just needed to let go and let God. So I mentally said “the universe will take care of me and I’m gonna have one heck of a great time traveling and visiting friends – let’s do this.”
  3. The universe did take care of me. However, I was in the middle of having an EPIC summer walkabout and I wasn’t exactly ready for it to end…especially because I still had a great summer/fall season in MT! What the heck!?! I was conflicted!
  4. Having carefully listened to the details of the job, having had lengthy discussions about the opportunity with my dearest confidants and my parents, having asked all the questions and liking all the answers…my gut told me that this was THE opportunity. So, I took it.

All that stated…I am SUPER excited about this new opportunity. It has a 9 month time cap on it, for the time being, and I’m ok with that. I turned down two job offers prior to this because they just didn’t feel right – my soul and my spirit weren’t excited. But this was different…my heart is happy, my soul is excited, and I’m really looking forward to this new adventure.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, it hit me pretty hard that I won’t have my fur friend with me this time…she was my rock for the past two major life changes and this one is all on me. It was kinda strange loading up the car and filling her space with boxes instead of her bed…


Stop and Smell the Roses

I’m really excited to start this new chapter but I will not take for granted, or forget, the lessons learned, friendships formed, loved ones lost, laughter shared, love and support that have led me to this next phase in my life and career. I’m blessed and I’m forever grateful to have the most amazing people in my life, who support me through all these crazy adventures and opportunities.

As I hit the road for my next destination, most critically, I will make sure to always remember to take a moment to “stop and smell the roses”.

Time to put the PhD to work…Utah, let’s do this!


Life is a Zoo…2018 is Now Open for Business

So apparently New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to be made (some article I read last year) however I’m going with 2018 Goals, as opposed to resolutions. For me moving forward requires some reflection on the past.

It has been a rough end to the year with the loss of my little fur-friend. I thought I was so prepared to let her go and while I know it was the right decision (at 15yrs and with an enlarged heart, it was her time) it has been a process. I feel like I lost a little piece of my heart. [And that is all I have to say about that – Forest Gump]

There are several other events that I could have done without coming to fruition at the year end. So it was important that I look back over the events of the past year if for nothing other than to not judge 2017 on just the last two months of the year.

The Good Stuff (in no particular order)

  • I spent time in Texas with friends

Shot and Seat

  • A work trip to Mexico


  • The road trip of all road trips from FL to Seattle


  • Fantastic conference in NOLA with two amazing gal pals


  • Some great workouts (inclusive of podium finish at a comp) and improvements in the lifting department
  • Progressed with the PhD
  • I’m a godmother/aunt to the most beautiful little girl

2018 Goals

  • Finish my PhD – Spring 2018 – even if it damn near kills me
  • Secure a job in academia for a Fall 2018 start
  • Stay strong
  • Don’t be a disappointment
  • No matter what, no matter where – don’t forget to find the positive and always keep a smile

That pretty much sums it up.

So here is to 2018 and remember…

“If you are confident enough, every zoo is a petting zoo.” – Author Unknown

In Memory of Ruby: 2002-2017

HRH Ruby Tuesday Templeton

Rest in Love little girl

Breakfast at Dixie Belle’s

The brunch spot for the past two year’s has been KeKe’s (I’m all about 2 pecan pancakes with eggs and bacon, the bacon is really good – the coffee is sub-par). However, due to a noticeable drop in service level we’ve (the bestie and I) been searching for a new breakfast/brunch spot.

In a google search of “top restaurant spots in Orlando” I came across Dixie Belle’s Cafe. Top reviews on Yelp plus the proclamation of “home of the sweet potato biscuit” cemented the decision to give the joint a try.

A super cute little place, very homey and causal. I decided to go with pancakes, eggs, bacon and a sweet potato biscuit.

Service factor: 5 out of 5. Very happy with the waitress. She had a wonderful personality, offered suggestions, made sure coffee was always filled, and was attentive without being overly attentive.

Food: 4 out of 5. The pancakes were delightful and the eggs cooked as ordered. The bacon was ok, a little flimsy for my taste. The coffee sadly was sub-par (not strong at all). The sweet potato biscuit tasted like someone captured the essence of fall, wrapped it up and delivered it on a platter. Sweet without being too sweet – and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg – I could have eaten another!

I highly recommend this little place and definitely will be going back.




2016 – A Reflection in Clicks

Slightly late in post…please pardon the lack of appropriate timing. 

It has been a challenging year for me on many levels. I decided that instead of dwelling on all the ups and downs associated with the past year, I would revisit the year in photographs. I chose two sets of photos to look through: 1) photos taken with my camera and 2) photos taken with my phone.

As I went through each album, I was reminded of the adventure that the set of photos represented – each of these shots is a reflection of a memory of an event, a person, an entire experience…all captured in moment. From each album, or set, of photos I chose one photo that I liked the most (for whatever reason – maybe the memory of the particular moment the photo was taken, in some the photo subject represents an inspiration, maybe just from a technical perspective, the reasons are varied). I did realize that trying to sum up an entire trip, or adventure, in a single photo is not easy! I’m sure I may have missed some things, but the following slideshow is a pretty accurate representation of 2016’s major events summed up.

I hope you enjoy the trip through 2016 as much as I did!

Sometimes it takes looking back, to realize how much fun you had and how many adventures you experienced in the course of a year. Life is a learning experience – and the attitude you go into the experience with dictates what you learn and how you grow. I am finally beginning to understand that my reaction and my attitude towards what life throws at me is completely in my control – I am the captain of my own ship. While the seas may not always be smooth to sail upon, it doesn’t mean that I can’t approach the storms with a smile (granted sometimes forced), a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn from whatever the storm brings. A wise person said to me recently, “adversity brings growth.” 2016 has been a growing year! While I know it wasn’t all smiles, I bear the year no ill will.

As another section of my story comes to an end, I’m looking forward to 2017 and the adventures that it brings! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2016 Mantra: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”


Going Green

While visiting in Ft. Lauderdale, I went out for lunch with friends. (Honestly, I just got in the car and found out we were going for lunch – I’m always up for an adventure!)

Ended up at a Vegan restaurant called Green Bar & Kitchen. Located in a strip plaza off of 17th street in Ft. Lauderdale, this hidden gem serves delectable food that vegans, vegetarians, and food lovers will enjoy.

On the advice from a frequent visitor, I had the Green Bar Burger: brown rice, quinoa, chickpea, roasted vegetables, sunflower seeds, garlic, lettuce & chipotle mayo served on a burger bun (gluten free bun available upon request). It was excellent, great flavor and excellent presentation.

The table shared an order of loaded fries: *seasoned with chili, “cheese” and scallions. If there are toppings left from the loaded fries, I suggest adding them to the burger for a little extra “pow”. I also tasted the Mac-n-Cheese – you would never know it isn’t real “cheese”!

Eating there is dine-in or take-out – the staff is very nice and has great suggestions in the event you don’t know what to order.

Overall – I give this place an A++! 🙂

P.s. The outside patio is dog friendly!

*Photos (and restaurant selection) courtesy of Aneysi Fernandez