Noticed

This past weekend I went to my bff’s house, and as usual I let myself in and screeched, “Hellooooo?” as I made my way up the staircase to the bedrooms. I dropped my stuff off in my room as she responded, “I’ll be there in a second,” from the master bedroom. I’ve never been shy before in making my way into her room and bombarding her privacy, so that’s exactly what I did.

As soon as I entered the room, she quickly told me not to come in as she was hovering over her dresser. “I’m finishing a surprise for you!”

Oh. Whoops.

But I like surprises, so I went back downstairs and waited.

Pretty soon she arrived with a little card in her hand. I rushed to open it, and out of the card popped a little keychain.

Curious, I read the card and immediately filled up with happiness, love, and appreciation. She was “noticing” me for being a friend, a blogger, and a new marathoner. Right then and there I hooked that little noticed motif onto my keys so I would be constantly reminded!

The back of the keychain has a website to go to explaining this Noticed Network. It is all about inspiring women to celebrate, honor, and “notice” each other in a personal way. You can also order these noticed motifs for yourself to give away to other women you want to celebrate. A portion of the proceeds in purchasing the keychains goes to two different, amazing charities.

It felt amazing to receive such a thoughtful and random gift from another woman that I respect and admire so much. It has definitely inspired me to continue the ripple effect of the Noticed Network. Who wouldn’t love to feel noticed?

Thank you for noticing me Heather. I have noticed your caring and giving heart on a daily basis.

ang

Dinner Club

A little over two years ago my best friend came up with the greatest idea.

She’s an organizer and a planner. She always makes sure that there is time penciled in to see each other. We have dates set out months in advance. She always has to remind me to update my planner. Frequently.

She came up with this idea that once a month all of our friends would get together and have dinner together. One couple will host the party and provide the main course. Every other couple will bring an accompanying side dish…and of course, B.Y.O.B.

Hence, dinner club.

I, not being the greatest cook in the world, usually just bring chips and salsa since that is the one thing I’m pretty darn good at making, but for tonight’s dinner club I decided to step out of my box!

Homemade Smashing S’mores, recipe via Jessica, a recipe-maker of all things ridiculously delicious looking! Mine don’t look quite as nice as hers, and when I was finished I had chocolate just about everywhere…even on the kitchen walls…don’t ask me how! I’m hoping they’re a hit tonight!

Back to dinner club…

I think that everyone should be a part of someone’s dinner club. It is a great way to learn new recipes, eat good food, but best of all, it is the best way to stay in touch with all your good friends (and even make new ones!) It is also a time when it is okay to act like a teenager again (at our very first dinner club get-together we ended up going and tee-peeing another friend’s house…true story!)

We have had so many different dinner clubs over the past two years and each one is as exciting as the last. We have had italian themed and mexican themed dinner clubs, we’ve had barbecues, I hosted a pizza bar dinner club, we have had tailgating dinner clubs, and we even brought dinner club to Mexico this summer!

The truth is, it is easy to put your friends on the back burner when you have so much going on in your life. I know that I’m guilty of that a lot. I love my friends, and I know that they love me, but when you have so much going on it can be hard. Dinner club gives us an excuse to forget everything else that is going on and see each other. It gives us something to look forward to every single month. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve counted down the days until a dinner club!

…and now in just nine more hours I’ll be in some good company! :)

ang

 

People Need People

(From The Girls From Ames, a note from Kelly to Angela)

As I finished reading Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Girls From Ames, I couldn’t help but keep thinking the same thing…

People need people.

It’s a simple concept really, but I don’t think that people rely on each other enough. I could be biased, though. I know that I am so unbelievably lucky to have all the people and support in my life that I do. My husband, my dog, my mom, my dad, my sister, all my girlfriends, guy friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, Mamaw…Lord knows that I’ve used each and every one of them to fall back on time and again. My hearts hurts for those people who may feel like they are alone. If you feel that way, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here for you! It doesn’t matter if you have just one person or ten people like the Ames girls…we need each other.

Reading about Kelly and Angela’s journey and struggles with breast cancer was very eye opening for me. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a freshman in high school. I think I was a freshman. I remember when she told my sister and me that I felt sad, but I the thought never crossed my mind that I’d ever be without her. It’s strange how somehow I just knew she’d be okay. I feel bad though, now looking back, that I was so caught up in my own life that I wasn’t a big support for her. I mean, I can’t even really remember what grade I was in. I know by just being her daughter that gave her something to live for, but what I mean is that I wasn’t there for her to cry to or to vent to or just to be whatever she needed to be. I just didn’t know back then that she needed that or how to be it. Just like the Ames girls, as I’ve grown older I realize I may do things different now. Different situations throughout your life make you stronger, more ready.

My mom had many, many, many (and still does) people looking out for her and praying for her. See…people need people. And luckily, she kicked cancer’s booty and will be walking this weekend in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! Go momma!

As Kelly mentioned that her friends, sisters, are there to catch her if she stumbles, “catching” someone can have so many different meanings. Sometimes it means lending an ear to someone…sometimes it means giving advice…sometimes it means throwing a party for someone…sometimes it means providing the bottle of wine to share…but whatever the case, the same things rings true…

…people need people.

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for me finding the Operation Beautiful note in the bathroom at my gym. I needed that person to put that there. I know I wouldn’t be so happy and in love if it weren’t for my husband. I needed him. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have the guts to say what I need to say sometimes if it weren’t for my little sister showing me it’s okay. I needed her…

…and I still do, and I always will.

It’s just so true. We just need each other.

Thank you to my dear friend Casey for giving me the idea of starting a book club through my blog, and thank you to all my friends and family for reading this book with me and commenting when you were able. Thank you for bearing with me as I skipped weeks, slacked on reading a little, and took three months to finish one book! Thank you Zaslow and the girls from Ames for sharing this story and helping me to open my eyes to so many different things. I needed you all!

And so we have it…we’ve shared our final book club blog post on The Girls From Ames…our final cup of coffee together.

ang

 

 

My Pinky Toes in the Sand – Part Uno

Las chicas:

Megan (and Mac!), Heather, Kellie, Casey, Me, and Amber

Los chicos:

JR, Matt B., my Matt, Nate, Lance, and Seth...ooh lah lah!

The hubs and me on the most ridiculous “50 best dance songs sung by other artists to techno music” bus ride to the resort:

So excited!

Hello ocean. I love you.

The Riviera Maya

The hubby and I before our first day of sand volleyball:

This was the first of about one hundred pictures like this!

The group playing some beach volleyball:

Nice spike Matt B.!

Friends, you really impressed me during our games! I’m so proud of you all!

Good dig Casey!

Not only did we play beach volleyball…

My Matt playing some mean defense!

…but we played some water polo, too!

Go yellow team!

The cheerleaders:

Casey, Heather, and Megan

The whole gang!

Dinner Club in Mexico!

The hubs and me and our creeper friends:

Well hello Nate and JR!

Palm Tree

Palm Tree!

The bests with our three hundred pesos bottle of sunscreen:

Lovely Ladies.

Wait! I want in!

:)

Dear ocean, did I mention that I love you?

Beautiful!

And I couldn’t leave out the best bartender in Mexico:

Irving!

Mexico, I miss you already.

ang

Book Club Post…Five Hundred and Thirteen Pages

Finally…book club is back (like, four years later)! And since nearly half a decade has passed since I have written about my girlies from Ames, I have four whole chapters to recap (yikes!) So, I’ve decided to do this post a little differently so that I don’t end up writing a nine-hundred and seventy-three page book report!

For each chapter, I will pick out my favorite quote, and then write about what that quote means to me…then you can do the same (if you want to)!

The Intervention

Studies suggest that the average girl today is likely to grow up to be a lifelong dieter, to have a distorted body image, and to be emotionally scarred by cliques.”

Poor Sally to have to go through that. It takes a very strong person to come out of such a devastating situation with so much forgiveness.

And, of course I’d pick this quote in this chapter. The most disturbing word here is “likely”…the average girl is likely. A couple paragraphs later this “likeliness” is referred to as a “national crisis”. A national crisis indeed!

When did we (girls, women, media, people) become so mean…so comparing…so judgmental?! I’m not saying I’m innocent either, although I like to think that I keep other peoples’ feelings in mind before I speak. But again, I’m not innocent. I catch myself making comments about people on television, about people I see in a store, about myself. Then I feel like a hypocrite for preaching about owning your beauty here on my blog.

However, I do think if we all (as in everyone in this world!) could make a conscious effort to change the way we talk about other people, change the way we talk to ourselves, and stop comparing ourselves to other people (easier said than done, I know), then we could change this “likeliness”.

I read a quote from Lolly on twitter today that read,

When you know who you are~you are more accepting of others.”

This sentence is so true. Live it…..and remember that you are deserving and beautiful and admirable…and you will see those traits in others, too!

FBB and Other Secrets

There were times when they felt humiliated or ashamed and kept it to themselves.”

I chose this quote because it is so me. I definitely find it hard to talk about the difficult things in life, and I’d rather people view me as a happy person! But I have learned to keeping up a happy face is not always possible…..and that’s okay! The funny thing about it is, whenever I actually have talked to someone about my problems, I always feel better afterward…then I can actually go back to being happy!

Defining Love

“‘I think we’re meant to truly love one person, to have a life partner.’” 

Okay…so I loved this chapter!!! (Of course this sappy, lovey-dovey chapter would be my favorite!) I feel like I can relate so much to Karla in this chapter. I feel incredibly lucky to have found my life partner…my soul mate…my one true love! I agree with Karla in that I believe God put two people in this world who are just meant for each other!

And I can partly agree with Kelly. I don’t necessarily agree that a person should have a new love with every stage of their life. But, witnessing my mother get married last year to a man that is not my dad has made me believe that it is possible to love more than once in a lifetime. I know that my parents loved each other, and without that love, my sister and I wouldn’t be here. But I also know that after so long, my parents were not right for each other. Now my mom is happy in love again (and I’m working on my dad…anyone know any lovely, single 40-50 year olds?! Hehe!)

And although I don’t have children yet, I admire Karla’s love for her daughter, too. I believe when I am a mother I will feel that same way. I also loved the quote in this chapter, “The girls watched her snuggle with her baby, partly envying her and partly wondering about the ways in which loving feelings would swell inside them when their time came to be mothers.” I feel the same way when I watch other people with their babies, and I just cannot wait to be a mother someday!

“If Not for You”

Women need other women.Dare I say…sometimes women just understand better than men. I adore my husband, and I will always tell him everything, but I will always need some lovely lady to rely on. I’ve always had my mom and sister there for me if I ever needed anything, and now I feel like I have a strong core of girlfriends that are always there for me, as well. I know that my mom feels a lot of the time that I am grown up and don’t need her anymore…but mom, I will always need you. (And you too, Maggie, and all my girlies!) Always.

Sorry…this did end up pretty close to a five hundred and thirteen page book report! What were your favorite quotes of these chapters? If you aren’t that far, or just aren’t reading the book, what do these quotes mean to you?

ang

Pre-Vacation…

In less than twenty-four hours I will be…
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…in Mexico!

The hubs and I got in town yesterday morning for some pre-vacation festivities, starting off with a spray tan party for the girls! It was my first experience with a spray tan, and I was super nervous! (Pretty much anything makes me nervous…getting my hair done, getting a spray tan, the possibility of my nail polish chipping, running next to woods, the possibility of being bit by a shark….the list could go on and on.) I was in good company and after some talking, I decided to be brave and go for it! Haha…oh, the scary things in life.

After the tan, I took my sticky body shopping for last minute vacation items…flip flops, swimsuit cover, hat, and of course…
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…a new KU shirt for the hubs! Shopping is always good! :)

After shopping we headed to the golf course for eighteen holes of fun and relaxation (well, fun and relaxation for me, but high stress for the hubby).
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I must admit…I am not a very good golfer, but I like going and trying to be good! I usually only go a couple times a year, and yesterday was my first time since last summer.
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I was pleasantly surprised! I really think that my strength training has totally helped my drive!

After golf we went to my in-laws and stayed the night…this morning I got in my long run of the week (13 miles!) with a girlfriend, painted my nails, and finished packing…which brings me to the present! I am blogging from my phone as I sit in the airport terminal!
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(A beach bag doubles as a carry-on, right?!)

And folks, (folks?), I’m about to board! We have a layover tonight, so you may get a quickie post in the morning! If not, ¡adios! and I’ll see you next week!!!

ang

So, You’re Telling Me I’m Going To Live ‘Til I’m 103

But those with the most friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 percent.” The Girls From Ames, page 97

I’m not trying to brag, by any means, but I just feel so lucky to be in the position that I am in today. Somehow, by the amazing grace of God, I have been so privileged to gain the friendships of some pretty amazing girls.

I grew up in a household with my mom and sister. These two ladies have been my best friends for my entire life. We have memories stored for decades!

Then there are my girlfriends today. Heather, Casey, Kellie, Megan, Lauren, Candice. I have never felt so close to a group of girls before. I think a big part of that is due to the fact that I am sure of who I am now. I can be me. Completely. While our friendships do not go all the way back to our childhoods like the Girls From Ames’ friendships, there is still great meaning, many memories, and a feeling of longevity. To be truthful, our friendship is only about two or three years old, but most of us seem to feel like we’ve known each other forever. Everything I foresee in my own future, I see happening with my girlfriends.

I remember Megan’s wedding, Lauren’s wedding, Heather’s wedding, and Kellie’s wedding. I remember when Heather asked me to be in her wedding…she had already had her bridesmaids picked out for the past few months, but she felt like she had to add a tenth (yes, ten!) because we had become such good friends in a short amount of time. I remember meeting Casey at Heather’s bachelorette party. We talked to each other like we were already friends. Even other people at the party assumed we had known each other a long time. I remember dancing the night away at Heather’s wedding on the sticky dance floor from all the spilled drinks. I think it’s funny now…Heather told me that right before she met me, her boyfriend (now husband) warned her that I was very quiet and shy. I guess she took it with a grain of salt and the rest is history. I remember how beautiful Lauren looked on her wedding day. Well, I remember how beautiful everyone looked on their wedding day (Candice only by the photos.) I remember when Megan told us she was pregnant, and how we all felt so happy for her new and long-awaited pregnancy. I remember kissing Kellie in the bathroom on her wedding day. In only three years time, it’s funny all the fun/crazy/sad/happy memories I can recall.

Heather, Casey, Me, Lauren, Megan

What I find somewhat interesting, is that, according to the studies, it is hardest to maintain friendships between the ages of 25 and 40. We have all “discovered” our friendships between these ages. I think it is because the thing that makes it hard to sustain a friendship during these times, marriage, careers, and children, are what binds us together. Many of us became friends because of our marriages. I never would have met Heather or Lauren or Megan if it weren’t for my husband already being friends with their husbands. Most of our friends are ready to start their own families, so that is making their bonds even tighter (I’m sort of lagging behind on that one…sorry mom, not yet.)

I do have a little bit of a fear that something, somewhere will pull us apart…there is always a fear of losing the people you love. However, I think we all kind of know that maintaining our friendships will be a little bit harder once there are little babies running around our lives or in my case, when nursing school will be consuming my life…but I think because we know this, we will try harder to make it work. The phone calls, e-mails, get-togethers may not be as frequent, but the times together will be more meaningful!

I also find it necessary to speak to the friendships I have made through blogging! I am truly beyond humbled to see that people who I have never even met before take the time come to my blog, read what I have to say, and leave meaningful, beautiful comments. I never thought what I had to say really mattered all that much. I am grateful for you girls who stop by and leave a piece of yourself here. I am truly thankful!

In this chapter, The Things They Remember, there were so many studies talked about on how womens’ friendships are beneficial…longer lives, better health, better marriages, more oxytocin, less stress. I find it interesting that a study from the Harvard Medical School found that isolation, or too much time away from friends, has the same effect as smoking, overeating, or drinking too much. In conclusion, putting all the scientific data together, I do think I will probably live until I’m 103. :)

ang

Megan and Angela

As I am reading The Girls From Ames for my book club, I am constantly being reminded of my childhood best friend, Megan, and it is the perfect time to write our chapter. I’m pretty sure we spent every second of our lives together in elementary school. Literally. Every second. We had zillions of sleepovers together, we took vacations with our parents together, we played on sports teams together, we lived in the same neighborhood and we played outside all summer together, and we longed for and loved when a snow day arose allowing for us to spend a day together sipping hot chocolate and cross stitching. We were definitely the goodiest two shoes who ever walked the earth! I remember playing a restaurant game during recess…we sat at the bench and pretended to sell and serve food to people…ironically, we were acting a lot like fast food employees. We played tons of Mario Brothers, and I always wanted to play Nintendo at her house because she had Mario 3 and I only had Mario 2. When she got her first boyfriend in fifth grade, I got my first boyfriend shortly after. I remember I was jealous when she told me she got her first bra before me. I think my mom took me out to buy a bra then, even though I was not even close to needing one.

The truth is, I cannot really recall any memories from elementary school without her!

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We began to grow a part after the sixth grade, but when we would get back together we always picked up where we left off. There were no awkward silences, and it was just like no time had passed between us. I could still be that silly girl talking in an alien voice shaking my booty to “Whoomp There It Is”!

As we have gotten older, the time between our meetings have become further and further apart. Life happens. For Megan, med school happens (yay for her!) and now marriage (double yay!)

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Tomorrow we are celebrating her marriage like in the olden days…with our moms and my sister. The only real difference is that her and my sister and I will have our other halves with us! This will be the first time we have all gotten together like this in…..well, I can’t really remember when! It has probably been a good four or five years…at least. I’m sure, though, that it will be wonderful.

And as I am reading the book and reminiscing on our friendship, I realize that I wouldn’t be the girl I am today without Megan. Maybe we were goody two shoes, but I am proud of my “goodness,” and had I been friends with anyone else, I may not have turned out the way I am. Megan made me ambitious and determined…to her and our friendship I am forever grateful!

ang