Sunday, April 28, 2013

#10--A Picture of Myself that Doesn't Make Me Want to Barf

I am always the person who says, "Here.. Let me take that picture for you guys." Translation: If I am behind the camera, I don't have to be in front of it.

I am not what they cal. "A dummy."

So, learning to be okay with a picture of myself was an important challenge.

First step to complete this: You have to actually allow your picture to be taken. Yeah, about that.

I've been putting this one off on purpose. Because when I see pictures of myself, there are rarely nice thoughts going through my head.

Geez my face looks chubby.

Gosh my hair looks bad.

Why does my smile look so weird?

What? Couldn't suck that tummy in a little more there Beth?

Please tell me that's not actually what people see when they look at me.

Those are the thoughts going through my head.

And then the other day on Facebook I read this blog post that someone had linked:

And I remembered that capturing memories is more important than feeling like a supermodel in pictures.

And then I got to see some far away friends unexpectedly. And the normally dreaded question was asked: "Can I take your picture?"

And for the first time in a long time I was less worried about how terrible I would look in the picture and more excited to capture the memory of meeting sweet little Matteo and getting to see his wonderful momma.

And when I look at this picture, I see a memory. Not my face.

#1--Are Those Heels You're Wearing Ma'am?

The very first challenge I put on my list had to do with footwear. How typical of a lady, right?

This little challenge of mine was a roughy though: not only buying a pair of heels, but actually wearing them.

I love heels. The look of them that is. But, they never seem to find a way into my wardrobe because they often don't feel like the practical choice. Why? First of all, they are harder to walk in. And what if I need to actually run somewhere really quick? Because obviously, that is the most practical of thoughts. And second, you can wear flats with every outfit. Heels, more limited. And the cheap, Westside part of me goes practical every time. (For the same reason I default to brown or black shoes rather than a spunky little red or leopard skin pair).

So, on a whim (when I make my least practical decisions) I went to the shoe section at Target. And, after looking at all of my options, I settled in on a cute little pair of wedges. They had a heel, but it wasn't too tall (flats to shoes with any sort of heel is a dramatic change) and they were in my price range (on sale of course).

And, I am happy to report that I not only bought them, but I've worn them. FOUR TIMES. In one week. Three of which were to work, including the day of an event.

The best part: I didn't die. I didn't fall over. And, I can still walk..

Why did I wait so long to do this?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Progress Update

I've been on this "30 Before 30" mission for a little over a year. It's been fun. It's forced me to stretch and challenge myself. And it's been hard. Good hard, but hard nonetheless.

When I created this list, I had grand intentions. And, I really am trying to complete all 30 of these items. But, if we're going to be honest, I had no idea about some of the things that would have happened in the last year.

  1. I wasn't planning on buying a house. In February 2012, I changed up my list and took moving off the list. (See post about that here.) Then, at the beginning of May 2012, on the day of the Flying Pig, I  stopped by a friend's newly on the market house to take a look at it for the first time. (Please note, I was not planning on buying a house). Then, in July 2012, I closed on said house. To call this a distraction from my list feels like the understatement of the millennium. 
  2. I wasn't planning on my job being crazier. My job has always been busy. But, in the past school year, it has ramped up a notch. Love my job. But it makes getting a few of these items on the list a little tricky.
  3. I wasn't planning to still be in a state of constant transition at the age of 30. Things are constantly still changing in my life. And yet so many things are staying the same. And sometimes, it makes moving forward in some areas a little difficult. 
So, I've made a decision. 

I'm extending my "30 Before 30" completion deadline to December 31, 2013.

I'll be honest. This was a hard decision for me. My initial response was, "I failed." But then, I had to have a little reality check. I put this list together for more than just giving myself something to do. I did this to make myself better and to challenge myself to do things I wouldn't otherwise. Who cares if I do it by my 30th birthday or shortly after? In reality, all that matters is that I finish what I set out to do. And that is a-okay.

So, to the rest of 2013, WATCH OUT. I'm coming for you full force.

Within this, I am trying to factor in as many ways as I can to push myself to be better. Sometimes this is making myself do something I normally wouldn't. Sometimes it is being a little selfish and taking time for just me. And sometimes it is surrounding myself with uplifting messages, often in the form of blogs.

Today, while reading on the Living Proof Blog (home of my girlfriend Beth Moore), I read this prayer as part of her message. And it hit close to home. And I saved it because this is a prayer that I need to pray for myself over and over. So I leave you with this:

My faithful, most holy Father and my God, 

With tremendous love I lift my sister to you. You know what stirs in her heart, what awakens her at night, what causes her to shudder, and what seeks to devour her. You have seen her in the secret place and you know her longings and her questions and her dreams and her hopes. You know the very place that doubt seeks to swallow her and deceit desires to seed in her. Spring her eyes open to cleansing, delivering Truth. Minister to her in such a personal way throughout the coming days that she is floored once again by Your all-knowingness and complete attentiveness. Sprout signs of harvest in a field where she has sown so faithfully and seen so little. Help her to see that her labor is not in vain. Soak the fleece in such a way that she'll know You are with her. Send someone to encourage her in such a specific area that she'll know You alone could have prompted it.

Grant her a heart to love You with an abounding affection that could only be supernatural and cause her to feel her heart teeming with love toward someone who is loveless toward her. Protect her heart and heal her mind where it may be bent or twisted. Take all shame off of her and cast out her self-loathing once and for all and lift her chin to see her redemption drawing near. Give her faith enough to believe that she has truly been forgiven and that You who began a good work in her will most assuredly complete it. Put a new relationship in her life that brings much joy to her in You and revives her faith-walk and makes her laugh. Healthy friendships, Lord! Help her to finally release a relationship that You have clearly brought to an end and to do so without resentment or bitterness, trusting You entirely with the future. Be radiant upon her face. Tell her forthrightly how lovely she is to You and how significant. Quiet that part of her that seeks to perform for acceptance. Give her joy in a more honest version of herself. Reveal Your gorgeous self to her, Lord Jesus. Let every false Christ in her life bow to the One and Only True so that she can see it is You. Make every competing voice hush to Yours.

In Your beautiful, saving, redeeming Name, Jesus, I bring these earnest requests.


#4--What's Up New Craft?!

Guess what? I like crafts. I know, I know. It's hard to believe. But its true.

As the daughter to a craft Mom and who was the daughter of a crafty Mom, naturally this has always been a part of my life. I have always been one to pick a craft over most other activities almost my whole life.

But, I love learning new crafts and perfecting old ones. Or learning new ways to do crafts I already know.

Like crocheting. I've been crocheting as long as I can remember. When I was really little, I used to finger crochet long chains. Eventually I learned how to use crochet hooks and started in on scarves and baby blankets. When I went to college, the girls on my floor innocently teased me for crocheting during my down time. (Please note that within a year, crocheting had become cool and suddenly those giving me a hard time were asking for help). At any given moment, I always have a crocheting project in progress. (I am a failure at sitting still).

But, why not learn to make something new, right?

And that's when I remembered these great ponchos that my sister-in-law Whitney is always wearing. They always look so cute, and even more importantly, they always look so cozy. So, since Christmas was right around the corner (again, I'm a little behind on blogging) and Whitney's birthday is the day after, I decided that a crocheted poncho was just the right thing to make.

First, I grabbed some spare yarn (which I always have around in abundance) and a ridiculously huge crochet hook. The picture below shows this hook next to a standard pen for comparison.

Then, I looked online for a good tutorial. Now, when it comes to crafts and sewing, I learn more from experience than I do from written instructions. When reading crochet patterns, they might as well be in Hebrew. I have no clue what all of those abbreviations or technical terms mean. So, a video was going to be the only thing to get me started. I found this video below that helped give me a general idea of what to do (that I then took and adapted to work for me).

Within about a day over Christmas Break, my first ever poncho was finished. And then I forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it to Whitney. But, I decided I wanted to make one for myself, and so I grabbed some more random yarn I had lying around (seriously, that stuff is coming out of the wood works at my house), and threw this little beauty together:

Please excuse me for the bathroom selfie. (But how great is that custom shower curtain that Mom made for my house in the background?) I love this thing. It's like wearing a fashionable blanket to work. So comfy.

So, this is one of the next items I plan to list on my Etsy site. Whenever I'm able to take a picture of this little guy in a setting other than where I brush my teeth.

#30--Aunt Beth Day is in the Books

Two of my most favorite people who ever lived are under the age of nine. And they are fantastic. And they make me smile every single time I think about them.

So, it was no doubt that something with my two fav gals (Norah, almost nine, and Brighton, three and a half) had to make the list.


My older brother, Chris, caught wind of this and used #30 on my list as a bargaining tool for some free babysitting just before St. Patty's Day. (As if I needed much coaxing). I woke up the Saturday before St. Patty's and taught class, then hopped in the car and drove to Louisville. Commence Aunt Beth Day 2013.

So, compliments of Instagram, here's what we did:

First stop, free zoo...I mean Petsmart. Aunt Beth needed to pick up cat food and we were right there. Please note these outfits. Brighton is wearing a tutu dress (the only thing she will currently wear), socks pulled up to her knees and dress shoes. Norah is wearing a fancy sundress, sweater, and furry boots. I was wearing sweatpants. Sounds about right.

These gals love to do crafts, and Aunt Beth is always willing to participate. So off to Michael's we went so they could each pick out a craft project. Norah got beads that you melt together into shapes and Brighton got a foam castle to put together (and a bonus Dora puzzle).

Lunch at Steak 'n' Shake was up next. Thank goodness I carry tons of writing utensils in my purse for coloring sheet fun. 

While there, some three-year-old I know was a show-off and wrote the letter "B" all by herself.

After lunch, we stopped by Walmart to pick up a few things for Granny. Right about this time, Brighton was yelling, "I'm riding this cart so fast!" You don't have to make sense when you're three.

Despite the fact that Brighton enthusiastically told me my car was "so beautiful" over and over, it was a hot mess. So, we ran through the car wash. And listed to "I Knew You Were Trouble" by T-Swift on repeat. Because that song is infinitely better when sang by a three-year-old and an almost nine-year-old at the top of their lungs.

Then it was off to Granny and Pawpaw's house for the evening. We played lots of babies throughout the rest of the day (otherwise known as Aunt Beth changing baby doll outfits over and over).

Don't worry. That outfit wasn't just for looks folks. This was the first of many performances for the evening.

All that dancing is hard work.

After dinner, we headed down to the basement to watch Hotel Transylvania. Obviously, no movie is complete without popcorn and Sour Patch Kids. And a headband put on by yourself. (Check out that hair).

Then it was slumber party time. Girls slept on a pallet on the living room floor. Aunt Beth is old and so she slept on the couch. I believe this was approximately five minutes after Brighton claimed she was "so not tired."

Luckily these little stinkers were tired from their busy day before so they slept in. Or at least that's what I told myself since it was also Daylight Savings Time.

Overall, it was a great day. I'm pretty sure getting to be Aunt Beth to these two (or "Aunt Bef" as B calls me) is my most favorite job.

#20--Jazzercise Evaluation Complete...Two and a Half Months Ago

Something tells me this will not come as a shock to you: I AM TERRIBLE AT KEEPING MY BLOG UP TO DATE. There. I said it. (Insert sigh of relief here.)

But, I'm going to play a quick little game of catch-up as I've knocked a few things off the list.

Most of you know that in addition to my full-time job, I teach Jazzercise classes on the side. I commonly refer to this as my "fun hobby." A lot of people think that I am nuts to have not only a second job, but one that is in the fitness industry, but I love it. And, it tends to be what gets me through crazy weeks at my full-time job. And, it ensures that I spend at least three hours a week on myself, committed to fitness.

One of my favorite things about the Jazzercise organization is their commitment to quality. After going through a rigorous training period and audition, there is a three day workshop to prepare us for the journey we are about to embark upon. After teaching for our first three months, we have our first evaluation to check up on our progress. Then, these evaluations continue on an annual basis. Evaluations, teamed with district meetings, weekly communications from our District Manager, five DVDs of routines and Fit Bits throughout the year, and many other activities are integrated into our career as an instructor. These things aren't meant to just keep us busy, but instead to make sure that we are representing the Jazzercise name with quality and excellence.

All of that to say: This job is a lot more than teaching three one-hour classes each week. And all of this I do on top of working a 50-hour-a-week job. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

When putting together my "30 Before 30" list, I decided that because Jazzercise is such a big part of my life, there had to be an entry related to it. And, since I'm always looking for ways to improve myself in various areas of my life, that's what made the most sense. So, I committed to try to beat my evaluation score from last year.

Instructors are evaluated on 5 Key Categories and 20 Essential Skill Elements*:

Instructional Technique 
Cueing, Physiology, PEC, Safety Tips
Movement Technique
Correct Movements, Correct Choreography, Dance Subtleties, Musicality
High Impact, High Intensity, Use of Stage, Endurance
Presentation & Performance
Motivating, Engaging, Vocal Variety, Sound Quality
Set Structure
Feel & Flow, Set Structure Guidelines, Aerobic Section, Strength Training

An instructor is rated "Outstanding," "Meets Standards," or "Does Not Meet Standards" in each of these 20 areas above.

Well, without going into a lot of detail (I strongly believe that the details of evaluations, like performance reviews at work, should be limited to the evaluator and the one being evaluated and not made public knowledge), I tied my evaluation from the year before. In some areas I did better than last year, in some areas I was marked a little lower, and in most areas I was scored just the same.

At first, I was really bummed about this. The day of my evaluation (which are a surprise, not prescheduled) fell right in the middle of a really rough week at work, on a particularly bad day. In fact, when I pulled into the parking lot at the center, I actually thought, "Knowing my luck, today will be the day I get evaluated." And 5 minutes later the Quality Coordinator walked in the door. And, try as I might, the frustration of the week at work was a little more than I could simply push aside and it was far from my best class. And I drove home after class and just went to bed. I was done with that day at 9pm.

But, this is the beautiful thing about evaluations. They are designed to make us better, not simply to prove that we are either a great or a terrible instructor. So, since my evaluation, I've been able to do the following:

  • Have confidence in the areas that I really succeed as an instructor. Quality Coordinators make a point to not only let instructors know areas they need to work on, but celebrate the areas where they succeed.
  • Be aware of areas where I can grow. I am a firm believer that no one can ever be perfect at anything. There is always room for growth. And sometimes, we need others to help us become aware of those areas that work is needed.
  • Realize that I have to have balance between my Jazzer-life and the rest of my life. Being an instructor is a huge responsibility, but it is supposed to be fun. And, if I take myself too seriously as an instructor, I lose my ability to really connect with my students. I shouldn't feel guilty that, because of my 50-hour-a-week workweek and the rest of my life, I can't work on routines and technique around the clock. But, as long as I am teaching classes by the book and my students are having fun, seeing results, and feeling better when they leave than when they walked in, that's all I can do. And, the fact that I work full-time helps me relate to my students because they are often coming straight from a long day at work just like I am.

All in all, I call this one a win.

*Taken directly from the Franchise Zone of