Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heart. On. Sleeve.

In the spirit of all things hearts and mushy couples and red roses and love songs and everything else Valentine's Day, homegirl is going to wear her heart on her sleeve for a bit.

I'd be lying if I said that 2013 was shaping up to be the "Best Year of My Life." In fact, if given the opportunity, I would punch 2013 right in the face. Dead smack between the eyes. And it would hurt. A lot. (And it would officially be the first time that I had ever punched anything.)

Some would say, "You're about to turn 30. You're feeling old. It's totally normal to have a rough time with it." I would look back at those people and say, "This has nothing to do with an upcoming birthday." Others would say, "You're just mad that you're alone on Valentine's Day. Eat some chocolate and get over it." To that camp, I would disagree.

No, I'm just flat out going through a rough patch. A frustrated, annoyed, easily angered, insecure rough patch. (Heart on sleeve, remember? I'm not holding back). Not only have I been no fun to be around, I've been no fun for me to be around myself. Which is obviously problematic.But, this craptastic attitude is weaseling it's way into every part of my life.

Now, there are a few things that are absolutely true, regardless of how wonderful or terrible my attitude is:

1. I love my job.

True, my job is crazy. I work at least 50 hours a week, have no clue what my day is going to look like ever, and am constantly pulled in 47 directions. But, I absolutely love it. Almost eight years ago, when I was weighing the options of moving back to Louisville to work at my home church, moving to Lexington to take a job at another church, and staying on at CCU as the Assistant Manager in the Bookstore, I knew that Cincinnati wasn't done with me yet. And here I am, almost eight years later, in a position I never dreamed possible (partly because it didn't exist before), and I love it. I get to be a part of a University that makes a dramatic difference in the lives of students, preparing them to go out into the real world and make a difference in the name of Christ.

I also love my other job. The one where I get paid not only to work out, but to help people make a difference in their lives. Jazzercise isn't just an exercise program. It's the best kind of therapy that I can dream of. And, I get the pleasure of hanging out with some of the coolest people on the planet, while acting like a complete lunatic with a Brittany Spears mic.

2. I love my family.

Even though they aren't nearby, they are still my favorite people on the planet. My parents are total rockstars. They work harder than anyone I've ever met, and yet they somehow find the time to take care of everyone they meet. My brothers aren't totally awful (sisters can't just up and say anything too nice about brothers), and somehow my older brother tricked one heck of a lady into marrying him. And, thanks to them, I have the two cutest nieces on the planet. (Don't even try to convince me any other kids are cuter).

I'm also blessed to say that I have an incredible Cincinnati family. I have friends who are way more than friends who like me when I'm at my best and stick with me even when I'm at my worst (aka--right now). I like these people.

3. I love my church.

If it was still 1997, I would describe Echo Church as "da bomb." Heck, its 2013, I'm 29-years-old and I'm still going to describe it that way. Because I am far from hip and I'm totally okay with it.

Echo is no fuss. It's not about the show, it's not about the lights, it's not about the rockstar band, it's not about the cool, hip preacher that tries to make all of the perfect jokes as if they "just happened" (come on Steve, we know you write all of that material ahead of time). It's not about any of that. It's about God and it's about the Word and it's about community. And I love all three of those things.

4. I love my life.

Is everything perfect about my life? Absolutely. Not even close. Is everything terrible about my life? NO. Even when I've busted out the whambulance, I've got it pretty darn good.

So, if I have all of these things that I love, what's the issue, right? I'd say there are a few things that feed into this (and I'm going to get all crazy and switch it up from the numbered list to letters. GASP.):

A. I have high expectations for people.

I'm one of those crazy people that actually expects for others to do the jobs they were hired to do, and care about people other than themselves, and have legible handwriting. (So that last one is a little ridiculous, but it actually does qualify people for bonus points in my book.) Admittedly, sometimes I put unrealistic expectations on people. But other times, I feel like I've been backed into a corner where if I have any expectations on people, I'm expecting too much. Unfortunately, lately I've been leaning towards not expecting anything. Because when I expect things out of people, they let me down. And that sucks. A lot. I need to learn a happy medium between expecting nothing and expecting everything.

B. I have even higher expectations for myself.

If I'm expecting a 2 out of someone else, I'm expecting a 27 out of myself. I was raised to do my best. At everything. And I love that about the way I was raised. But, if I am one thing, I'm a perfectionist. About everything. But especially any and everything that is my responsibility. And you know what? Sometimes (or virtually all of the time) being perfect is not quite possible. I set myself up to fail. And I quickly chalk things up as failures instead of not quite perfect. I put a lot of work into a project, and then I get a negative email from one person--FAIL. I plan to get up early and my alarm doesn't go off--FAIL. I teach a killer class and then a student tells me after class how great another instructor's class was--FAIL. This little lady needs to remind herself that one little flaw doesn't equal a total failure. Note to self: Lighten up Beth.

C. I can't do all of this by myself.

I was always the girl in school (and am still that girl in every other aspect of my life) who would rather just do things myself rather than have to work in a group. When working in a group, I have to depend on other people and my outcome is dependent on more than just myself. At least when I do something on my own, I know that I have no one else to blame but me if it doesn't turn out right. But in life, I've got to let other people in to help me, no matter how hard it is.

I have to be willing to be upfront and honest about what I'm feeling, things I struggle with, and on and on. I stumbled upon this blog a couple of weeks ago and I love the author's blatant honesty about things that she struggles with in everyday life. Things that "if people knew I did this, they would think I was off my rocker." Trust me. If I were to sit down and write out my list, you all would run away screaming. But I have to be willing to let my "crazy" hang out every once in a while because that's what real people do.

I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that I can't do all of this without the Lord. I am a handful, and I'm well aware of that. But, outside of my family, the Lord is the one person I can always count on to love me no matter how ridiculous I'm being. I love reading this blog I found from a mutual friend we have from college (can you tell I'm loving the blogging world these days) because she's honest. She tells it like it is. But, it's all in the spirit of honesty and trying to make life a little better. And her post linked above was the kick in the pants that I needed at just the right time. I am fully aware that the more of good old JC that I put in my life, the more in line with him my life would be. But, admittedly, that is easier said than done. I wish I was one of those people who woke up in the morning and my first instinct was to pray, but instead I check Facebook on my phone because it gives me an excuse to stay in bed for a few more minutes. I wish that when I got frustrated my first thought was to turn on a worship song to calm me down, but instead I tend to have quite a little vent session in my head about what just happened. But, I'm making a conscious effort to switch that up. I decide where I choose to spend my time and how I choose to react to a situation. I am the only one I can control. And I need to have that breakthrough moment where I look myself in the mirror and say, "Beth. Get over yourself. And get a little more Jesus in your life. He's a big deal. You are not."

Does this mean that now that I've word vomited all of this, that I'll wake up in the morning and it will be all sunshine and rainbows and chirping birds and Pantene hair and super model looks? Not quite. Am I going to chalk the day up as a failure when that happens? No.

In the spirit of Lent, I'm going to spend the next 40 days making a conscious effort to point out the good in my days rather than the bad. In a sense, you could say I'm giving up being the "b-word" for Lent. So, in my "Lighten Up" notebook, I will be listing five things each day that were good. It could be something as simple as "I brought my lunch to work and I actually ate it" to something a little trickier like "I didn't blow up in frustration after that coworker treated me like dirt. Again." Hopefully in 40 days life will be looking a little brighter, and I'll be hating 2013 a little less.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I set the bar high for myself on this list. I could have gone with things like "Buy a new shirt" or "Watch a movie" or "Learn the Dance to Gangnam style." What's the fun in that, right? Not me. In true overachiever style, I picked a few doozies. But, in the words of my girl Kelly Clarkson, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And if Kelly sings it, it must be true.

To be completely honest, I thought this one was going to be next to impossible. But this was mostly because I had unrealistic expectations about what the word "embrace" means. In the Dictionary a la Beth, the word embrace means "be absolutely perfect about having the correct feelings 100% of the time." (In case you were wondering, my definition is wrong.), however, defines embrace as "to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly."

So, in the spirit of being honest, I have an announcement to make: I am 29. I am single. And I'm okay with it.


If I'm wearing my proverbial heart on my sleeve, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the last 13 months have been full of lessons, joys and hardships. 2012 brought along good things, like the purchase of my first home, and difficult experiences, like losing a spiritual mentor at the beginning of the year followed by my grandfather in June. And, if I'm being transparent, 2013 has not been what I would describe as "The Most Awesome Year Ever." In fact, in discussing my desire to redo 2013 with a friend today, she offered to punch 2013 in the nether-regions on my behalf. (That friend shall remain nameless and awesome).

But, while the last 13 months have not been lacking in the life-changing moments department, they have been full of experiences that have reassured me that being single isn't the worst thing that could happen. If it hadn't been for my relationship status, I might not have learned the following about myself:

  • My empty ring finger does not mean I fail at life.
We live in a society that defines people by the people they surround themselves with--hipsters, Mean Girls, Brangelina. We gain value based, not only on what we bring to the table, but the value that has been assigned to our "group." In my experience, as we move through our 20s, we begin to be associated less with a group of friends and more with the person who has stolen our heart. And, soon after he's liked it and put a ring on it, two become three, which becomes four, and so on as families are built.

Am I any less of a person because my relationship status on Facebook (while hidden) is set at "single?" Nah. Frankly, I'm awesome. I have an amazing family, incredible friends, an awesome church, a successful career, a house I can call mine, and so much more. If that makes me a loser with a capital "L" on my forehead, then bring it on. But, to go all Christian, my value doesn't come from who I am tied to. It comes from the one who loves every crazy part of me, just like this blogger states here. Whether I'm Kelly Rippa or Mary Elizabeth Rogers, single and ready to mingle, I still matter.
  • Anything he can do I can do...and maybe better.
Before I went out and bought a house on a whim, I figured I would either a) live in my apartment until I got married or b) live in my apartment until I turned 97 and had 40 cats. Why? Because no single lady in their right mind buys a house on their own. Who will fix things when they break? Who will mow the grass? Who will move the heavy stuff? Who will go in the basement after dark to switch out the laundry?

When I left my caution to the wind and it came down to it, I realized the answer to all of those questions was ME. Thank goodness I had parents who taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. Belinda "BRog" Rogers is famous for her saying, "Can't never could do nothing." Grammatically incorrect or not, it's true. If something breaks, I'll try and fix it. And, if I can't figure it out (even with the help of YouTube), I'll call a friend. When the grass needs to be mowed, I'll mow it, no matter how ridiculous I look doing it, especially since my front yard is the equivalent of a green ski slope in spring. If I need to move something, I'll move it. Home girl doesn't work out just to fill time. And, a basement is just a slightly darker room underground. No need to be scared.
  • I am resilient.

Life isn't easy. No one said it would be. Imagine how boring it would be if it was.

But, despite what every college girl who hasn't gotten a ring by spring says, a husband isn't going to be a "get out of jail free" card. A bad day at work is still going to be a bad day whether I go home to a fella or a cat (insert catlady comment here). I'm still going to have issues with friends whether I'm on my own check for dinner or splitting the tab. When the furnace breaks and I'm sitting in my 50 degree house with several layers and two blankets to keep warm (which would be right now), I can call the home warranty company without a dude there to hold my hand along the way.

I was raised to be a strong, confident woman. My worth is not dependent on anyone else. I can make it through any situation, husband or not, because, as Stuart Smalley says:

So there you have it. My willing acceptance of the fact that I'm single. Does this mean that I absolutely, positively never want to be married? No. It honestly doesn't. But, if being single until the day I die is my lot in life, will I melt into a puddle of inconsolable goo? Nah dog. I'm cool.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

See Ya Later #26!

I am a lover of many things--sewing, crafts, ridiculous 90's music, long walks on the beach. . .the usual. One of my greatest loves, however, is food. I love it. LOVE IT. I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm sad. I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I stressed. I eat when (insert any emotion/action/feeling here).

There are three major issues with my love of food:

  1. I love good food. I would almost always rather eat nothing than food that is just "okay." If you ask any die-hard football fan if they are okay with watching any old football game, they will tell you, "Absolutely not." The game of football alone isn't enough. It's the great games, the ones that are a constant battle for a win, that fuels their passion for the game. For me, it's the same with food. Food that has flavor > a bland piece of chicken every day of the week.
  2. My love for good food often means I sacrifice healthiness for taste 9 times out of 10. Let's just say its a good thing I work out. I could eat chips on command all day long. Celery? No thanks. This little issue of mine causes other issues. See #3 on my list.
  3. I hate to cook. If you know me, this is no shocker. This issue, however, is less about cooking itself and more about the fact that cooking for one person sucks. Very few meals are easy to cook for one. Who has two thumbs and hates leftovers? This girl. And, putting in a lot of effort for a meal that is just for me seems unnecessary. Eating out, however, couldn't be easier (and tastier).
When putting my list together, I wanted it to be full of things that would stretch me. And, my love of food kept coming to mind. There's a reason this challenge was #26 on my list. I didn't want to do it.  But, I knew I needed to.

I wish I could say there was some incredible story about why I picked this past week for this challenge. Instead, it was a total whim. The entire story could be told in one sentence--" I was sitting at home on my couch last Sunday morning and decided, "I'm not going to eat out this entire week." 

So, below is the breakdown on my glamorous week of eating. You all will be totally jealous.

  • Breakfast--Waffle Sticks with Syrup, Coffee
  • Lunch--Leftover veggie pizza from Friday night
  • Dinner--Crescent rolls with roast beef and provolone
Typically I eat dinner out on Sundays after church with a group of friends. This week, I went home to eat instead.

  • Breakfast--Nutrigrain Bar and a banana
  • Mid-morning snack: Fresh pear
  • Lunch--Roast beef wrap, fresh veggies and low fat ranch dip
  • Dinner--Leftover veggie pizza
  • Snack at Bible study--Apple cake
  • Breakfast--Leftover apple cake, banana
  • Mid-morning snack: Apple
  • Lunch--Progresso Light Chicken Pot Pie Soup, veggies with lowfat ranch dip
  • Mid-afternoon snack: Grapes, Right Bites
  • Dinner--Spaghetti with marinara, 1 piece Texas Toast
  • Dessert--Single serving of chocolate mug cake
My usual Tuesday routine includes a stop at Jersey Mike's for a turkey and provolone sandwich after teaching since class isn't over until 7:30 (out of the center by 8 after cleaning up). Driving past it on the way home was a little rough.

  • Breakfast--Leftover apple cake, banana
  • Mid-morning snack--Pear
  • Lunch--Progress Lite Beef Stew, veggies with lowfat ranch dip
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack--Grapes
  • Dinner--Spaghetti with marinara, 1 piece Texas Toast
This is another regular Jersey Mike's night after teaching my 6:30 class. This week I had to run a work errand after class to pick up referee whistles for Friday's Alumni Homecoming game, and since these bad boys are hard to find, I ended up on the Westside of town at Dick's to pick them up. In the same parking lot as Chipotle. On a day where work that had been less than a blast. When I wanted nothing more than to emotionally eat. TALK ABOUT WILL POWER.


  • Breakfast--Banana
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Apple
  • Lunch--Progresso Light Creamy Potato Soup with Cheddar and Bacon, veggies with lowfat ranch dip
  • Dinner--Spaghetti with marinara sauce, 1 piece Texas Toast
  • Dessert--1 serving chocolate mug cake
  • Breakfast--Nutrigrain Bar
  • Lunch--Cheddar Rice Cakes
  • Dinner--City Barbeque Catering at Alumni Homecoming (I know what you are thinking--CHEATER! This meal was already scheduled as part of an event that I was already attending for work. Not cheating.)
This day was especially rough. I was running around the entire day preparing for an Alumni Homecoming event (at the end of the day, I realized the only time that I had actually sat down throughout the entire day was when I was in my car running to pick up the Alumni game t-shirts). Planning soup for lunch on this particular day was a terrible choice. Had it not been for this challenge, I would have swung through a drive-thru to grab food while out picking up the shirts, but that was not allowed. So instead I ate the cheddar rice cakes I keep in my car for post-workout snacking. Lack of my ability to eat out=Beth didn't eat much this crazy day.


  • Breakfast--Waffle sticks, cup of coffee
  • Lunch--Tuna salad with crackers, Pringles
  • Dinner--Spaghetti with marinara, 2 pieces of Texas Toast
I had to be at a basketball game at work around lunch time, but needed to eat. So, I actually packed a lunch to take to a basketball game. If that isn't dedication, I don't know what is.

There you have it. One week. Zero meals eaten out.

Things you might have noticed:
  • Healthy food options--I've been on a mission to eat healthier since January 1. So far, it's working. But, healthy foods tend to be less filling, so I end up eating way more often. I feel like I'm always walking around with a snack of some sort. But, I am well on my way to accomplishing goal #3, so I'll take it.
  • Repetition--Remember earlier when I said cooking at home means eating the same meals over and over? Well, it's true. I am constantly battling between buying food that is proportioned for 1-2 even though it costs more vs. buying the cheaper option that will mean repetitive meals. This week, my Westside "why pay more for less" mentality won out (notice that I ate spaghetti 4 times because I had opened a jar of sauce).
  • Struggle--This challenge was hard, yo. And, this was a rough week to choose to do it because of a crazier than my normal crazy work schedule. But, I did it. Do I plan on doing this every week? No. Do I know that I can do it more often? Absolutely. 
Obviously, you all are expecting me to be writing this while stuffing my face with fast food from at least five different places at once, right? WRONG. Another side effect of my awesome "I'll plan to do this challenge on a whim" decision? Tonight is the Super Bowl (which you obviously weren't aware of) which means Super Bowl party at church. Which means no meal out after church. Which means I made this 7 day challenge an 8 day victory.

Bonus points?