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Guest Post: Aubrey Sampson: I Wish

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope this morning finds you surrounded by love in some form: friends, family, netflix, pets (don’t bring them to me, I’m allergic) or, of course, your significant other.

I’m super excited about today’s post because it’s beautifully written by a very talented gal named Aubrey who’s working on a book about overcoming shame with Zondervan. While you wait for the fall release, check out her blog aubreysampson.com.

When I first read “I Wish”, I was both touched and convicted. Aubrey has an incredible way of taking an every day experience and revealing the heart of what’s going on inside. I thought Valentine’s Day was a perfect opporutnity to wrestle with the idea of contentment since the holiday often sets many of us up to fail. “I Wish” is a great reminder that we have everything we need to be joyful.

I Wish

by Aubrey Sampson

Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Disney’s latest production of the same title are bookended by two powerful words: I wish. The point is that wishing is cyclical. We wish. We receive. We wish again.

I’ve wished for a new kitchen for quite some time now, but the reality is that on a church planter’s salary new countertops and appliances are the stuff of fairy tales. To my surprise, however, for a Christmas gift, my husband went all heroic-DIY on me. He restored our kitchen cabinets, repainted the entire room, and even used some hardware store credit he’d been saving up to replace our 1980’s eyesore of an island light. It was an affordable way to make my dreams come true. The new kitchen looks gorgeous. I am in love. I am grateful. And yet…I continue to wish.

A few days following the unveiling of the kitchen, I began to think of all the little things I wanted for the new space. A circular rug would be nice. Some new coffee mugs would be cute to display. Nothing too grand or out of reach, really, but before I knew it I was hunting the internet incessantly for sales; ignoring my family to scour decorating apps for farmhouse-chic chalkboards, neo-distressed island stools, and kitschy kitchen dishes. At night while my household slept, I would tiptoe down the stairs to search, uninterrupted, through EVERY DESIGN BLOG THAT HAS EVER EXISTED.

And while there is nothing inherently wrong with online shopping, I began fixating on what I didn’t have, couldn’t afford, and desperately longed for. I wasted long hours placing household items into online shopping carts only to delete them in a moment of anti-materialist resolve, only to later add them again.

My wishing had mutated into obsessing, and I transformed from a sweet Sondheim fairy tale character into a nighttime Gatsby; surrounded by my new beautiful kitchen while staring out at the Other Kitchens just out of reach. And all of this was literally in the span of a week.

In scientific terms: Girl. Gone. Cray. Cray.

Incidentally, as swiftly as the wishing came, the shame followed. I hated myself for this covetousness, this greed. All around me neighbors are losing homes and jobs, and yet I’m daring to wish.

In his classic book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes, “There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do.”

I think of my grandmother. Raised by share croppers in Oklahoma, a widow with four children, and still reeling from the residual impact of the Great Depression, Mamaw would deny every gift we tried to give her. “But you need a dishwasher,” we’d say.

“No I don’t. I have always washed my dishes by hand and will do so until the day the good Lord takes me home.” She wasted nothing and shared everything. She was a woman content to decorate her house with newspaper clippings, photos of flower bouquets or mountain scenery. She most certainly was not a woman possessed by Pinterest or owned by Overstock.com. Sensible Mamaw would never have wasted money, let alone a commodity as valuable as sleep, to pore over images of mid-century modern soap dispensers.

These are such first world problems, I know that. At the end of the day they are also Garden of Eden problems. I am Gatsby but I am also Eve. I dwell on what I don’t have. I’m discontent. I don’t believe God has provided everything I need. I wish.

And let’s be honest, right now my struggle happens to be with material items, but if it wasn’t, I’d be longing for other things: approval, accolades, affection.

“We either love wrong things or we love them in the wrong ways,” writes Jen Pollock Michel in her beautiful book, Teach Us to Want. “Instead of loving God faithfully, we devote our affection to trifles…We seek our good in something or someone other than our eternal husband, who is our God.”

In an attempt to stop the madness, to honor my DIY husband, and more significantly, my Eternal One, I finally began asking myself some difficult questions about wishing: What would it look like for me to cultivate gratefulness? Can I give generously to others rather than hoarding in my online shopping cart? Can I enjoy beauty without becoming greedy? Can I learn to wish for the right things?

And the most essential question of all: Can I learn to be content with nothing, knowing I possess everything in Christ?

So I’m trying. I’m turning off the phone, keeping a thankfulness journal, practicing generosity, trying to find true rest. I’m not buying the rug or the soap dispenser.

Even so, something in me knows this: my true contentment will never be found by forcing my possessions back into their proper place. It will be through remembering that Christ possesses me.

Even in my “cray cray,” even in my shame, even in my wishing, I am his.

We are his. And he will be faithful to transform our desires and change the object of our longings. And at the same time, I believe that our wishing won’t end. In fact I don’t think the point of our Christian lives is to stop wishing. I actually believe God will help us to keep on wishing, because at the end of the day, all of our longings are designed to point to and be met in him. As Sondheim put it, “To be happy and forever you must see your wish come true.”

In other words, we will wish until we find the ultimate object of our wishes—Jesus.

 Photo by zazzle.com

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New Year

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I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA on here… I thought I’d do some reflections from 2014 and wishes for 2015 to fill in the gap and kick off a new year.

For the past few years I’ve picked a word, or rather, a word has picked me, to describe the year. I don’t usually do anything with the word except notice and smile at how well it fits the people, situations, and feelings I’ve experienced. This year, I thought I’d share 2014’s theme word on the blog- Peace.

At first glance, peace is a strange pick for my 2014 because it was anything but peaceful from the outside. I moved, ended a relationship, and finished final edits on the book while battling a health issue. In the words of my counselor, “It’s too much.”

Yet in the midst of lots of crazy, peace forced it’s way in to my life in more ways than one.

The quickest version I can spit out of what happened is that I was feeling bad for a long time- extreme fatigue, confusion, hair loss and cold… always cold. In June, my blood doctor (that’s what I call her) checked my counts and immediately started me on iron infusions three times a week. These were rough in that they took three- four hours and the medicine knocked me out, sometimes for the rest of the day.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My general doctor found a tumor and recommended surgery. The first two surgeons I met with didn’t think they could remove it without messing up things in my funhouse. (Meaning I wouldn’t be able to have children in the future). I met with several surgeons and finally found one that I trusted.

Which was good.

Because an MRI he ordered came back and the tumor looked odd and possibly like cancer. He decided to do a more invasive surgery right away. The next day my blood count had fallen all the way back down to my pre-infusion levels and I got a picc line put in that I wore for the next couple of months. I went in for surgery the following week and thankfully it all went well. They were able to remove everything, keep the funhouse in tact, and there is no cancer. I was off from work recovering for a month and continued iron treatments. I got my picc line out in December and have resumed a normalishhh, slower paced life.

2014 was definitely a strange year for me. I’m still discovering and piecing together it’s significance. I learned and grew in several new ways and in no particular order, I’d say the following:

  1. I learned was forced to have patience. I used to go to the doctors once every three years. Once I started going every day, sometimes twice a day, it took over my life. You sit and wait, freezing. Then they call you into another room. To wait. And freeze. In a paper gown. The doctor eventually comes and you are no longer the smartest person in the room, even when the topic is you. You try and remember half of what they say and focus on not crying. You wait again for results and an open appointment slot and move slowly forward on in your journey. I had to learn to trust others and get on their schedule. It felt unnatural…but once I gave in, it was sort of peaceful and I grew to enjoy my new pace.
  2. I learned to do less. My brain wouldn’t work most days, either because of low iron or medication. I had to be ok with simply doing less. It wasn’t easy at first but it was a good opportunity to let go. Since I didn’t really have a choice, this, too, eventually felt peaceful.
  3. I was reminded that my future is not up to me. It was rough thinking about the possibility of never having kids, wondering what surgery would be like, and envisioning battling cancer next year. It was over the top and I discovered there is actually a peace at work when you are in the midst of chaos. It turns out when there is nothing for you to control- no details you can handle, no idea what to even begin worrying over… you just let it all go. For the first time, I truly felt like everything was completely in God’s hands and it was oddly a nice release.
  4. I am extremely grateful and impressed by doctors and nurses. I am a floored by modern medicine and how freaking smart people are. With all its needles and surgery and pills and ways of healing- it’s like magic. I think there’s a time and place for natural remedies and I hate how it’s become an either or conversation…. Im glad we have access to both.
  5. I became thankful for my own health and healing. I made a lot of friends and have extended family members who are fighting far more serious health battles than my own. Their tests don’t come back with good news, their treatments don’t always work, and they haven’t yet recovered. It makes me very sad, and sometimes guilty. I don’t understand how God makes these choices. It’s a heavy, heavy burden and I have a newfound respect for people fighting for their lives. While feeling the effects of the actual illness, it’s exhausting scheduling appointments, filling out forms, paying bills. It’s a full-time job getting well.
  6. I let go of trying to be cool this year. Not that I really was ever under the impression I was succeeding at it before, I just learned there’s an identity shift that takes place when you are sick. You used to see yourself as healthy, active, and young, and then all the sudden you are no longer all those things. It’s humbling and often embarrassing owning your new limits. It was hard to admit to others and to myself that I was broken. You try impressing a first date wearing sterry strips and a picc line. You’ll feel positively geriatric when you have to ask them to walk slower, sit on a bench, and ignore the fact that you’re about to pop a narcotic. … I had to let a lot go.
  7. I learned I am more loved than I imagined. I love my friends and family, but still put the expectation on myself that I need to give back to them. I guess deep down, I viewed it as a conditional love. It’s a two-way street and I have to make an effort to earn and keep them in my life. This was a time in when I clearly had nothing to offer anyone and it was uncomfortable. I remember a moment in the hospital while three friends were visiting and I couldn’t stay awake. I fought hard to keep my eyes open, feeling terrible they’d come all the way to see me. Right before falling asleep, I saw their faces and I could tell- they didn’t care. They truly didn’t. They weren’t visiting me to get something from me. They weren’t expecting anything out of me at all. They came to give to me, plain and simple. That moment, and several like it after, gave me peace. I try to wrap my head around the idea that God loves me know matter what I do for him… but it still feels like I have to do a lot for him most days. My friends and family were a tangible picture of that perfect and unconditional love this year. There’s peace in knowing you are loved NO MATTER WHAT. You don’t always have to earn it. You don’t always have to be in a place where you can reciprocate it. This is wild to me! I don’t think I’ll ever get over the love I received during this time. The meals, visits, carried out trashcans, texts, phone calls, cards, flowers… I still can’t even believe it.

So what am I taking in to 2015? So far this:

It’s a wonderful thing to let go. It’s peaceful when you throw up your hands and realize you can’t do it all, and you don’t have to. Crap is going to happen, and when it does, you’ll get through it. God prepares you and gets you through. He uses loved ones, strangers, and experts. You learn, you grow, and you’ll be glad it happened at some point. I think I’m actually getting better at knowing this truth in the moment. I am excited for what’s coming in 2015, and I know there’s a lot of work ahead for me…but I want to somehow hold on to my newfound peaceful pace.

What about you? Any reflections or hopes? I’d love to hear.

 

 

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Dec 8-The last night I had to coordinate my outfit with an IV…. I don’t miss the challenge.

Photo by Etsy.com

 

 

 


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A Good Bad Day

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Today did not start out as one of my best. After cramming in some work at the office, I rushed out to get my uterus shot. I think the doctor needed its picture taken, or something tested. I’m not totally sure. I was more focused on pretending I didn’t see the needle instead of gathering details.

That’s how the day started.

While leaving the doctor’s office, my friend Amy, who happens to be one of the new writers coming out on the blog and a contributor in my book, sent me a screen shot of Who’s Picking Me Up From the Airport on pre-sale at Barnes&Noble.com! Naturally, I freaked out! I had no clue it was out there and a real live thing! I replied to Amy, “Thank you for sending!! I really needed some good news right in this moment.”

I had intentionally scheduled some playtime with my niece directly following my appointment because I knew she would cheer me up. It’s ok to emotionally use kids in these situations, right? When I got there, my brother and I went online to see the book for ourselves. There it was! We were super excited and he Instagrammed a picture.

Eventually I left to meet my friend Linnsay for dinner and lost track of time catching up. Leaving the restaurant, I looked at my phone and it was blowing up! Me and my sore uterus had more love and support notifications from friends and family members than we knew what to do with! I couldn’t believe people would take the time to share the news. I can’t begin to tell you what it meant to me. THANK YOU to those of you who  spread the word and celebrated with me tonight!

The book officially won’t release until February 3, but you can pre-order a copy on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

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Today was a clear reminder that some days start out.. ahem, less than desirable, but can turn around big time:)

Good night!

Cindy


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Great Outdoors

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Like many of you, I am recharged by the outdoors and am grateful I got the chance to get away to the Sierras this past weekend. Far from cell service, traffic, and a crazy schedule, I slowed my thoughts and took in God’s creation. It had been far too long since I’d lost my breath over stars, the freezing temperature of a lake, or power of the rain and wind. I know these experiences are gifts, but when you’ve gone without, they can also feel like needs. John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  I agree. I needed to come home with chapped skin, knotted hair, and a little pee on my shoes. I needed the reminder that for all man’s accomplishments, nothing has come remotely close to matching the beauty God has created.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” Psalm 19:1

Photo by the Fireman

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30 Days of Pure Barre: Part II

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It’s the second part of my challenge! If you missed the first part, read here.

 

Day 16: My friend Keturah joined me for the first time today! Also, I’m sooooo tired. All the time.

 

Day 17: I’ve figured out Newton’s strategy. She comes late to every class. I do mean every. She only grabs part of her equipment, and since it’s kept in the back next to the good spot, when we go to stretch she goes for her equipment and then stays in the prime spot! #Genius #Evil #Imontoyou

women are evil

 

Day 19Pure Barre now feels like a habit. Working out has gone from an “if” question to a “when” question. They say 21 days makes a habit and for me, it’s proving true. I can tell my muscles need a break but I’m determined to make it to day 30.

 

Day 20: My friend Amy tried out PB for the first time, along with Heather and Jody!

 

Day 22: The 30 day challenge has meant I’ve had to schedule everything else around class. So far, this has been mildly annoying. Today it became very annoying when my brother and sister-in-law invited me to stay with them and their friends for free in a Vegas suite! It worked with the fireman’s schedule. It worked with mine. Oh wait, no it didn’t. I can’t leave the state or be gone for longer than 23 hours b/c I have to “work out.” I AM NOT THIS GIRL.

 

Day 23: Guess who cut me off in the parking lot? You guessed correctly. Newton.

 

Day 25: I’m enjoying the challenge. It’s been hard at times, but I’ve loved feeling fit and making it part of my life. The instructors work with you and push you to not give up. (Even when you’re begging to take your own life;) Also, the girls who come regularly look amazing…it’s good motivation. My plan after the challenge is to take a day or two of rest and then continue going 5-6 days a week.

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Day 26 Today I learned the hard way that Pure Barre and wine do not mix. A friend came over while visiting from San Francisco and we had wine with our lunch. Nothing crazy. An hour later, I discovered that blood circulation is quite real and quite powerful. Never again.

 

 

Day 27 The natural conclusion is that I have somehow ended up in an alter universe episode of Seinfeld and Newton is my Newman. Today, she forced me to hold the bathroom key for her. Just put it in my hands and walked off without a word. As I stood there, holding the key in disbelief, my annoyance turned to slight admiration. Does she have special powers? Does she always get her way? Tell me your secrets!!!

 

Day 30 (Text Exchange)

Fireman: LAST DAY OF PURE BARRE!!! I’m so proud of you!

Me: Thanks!! It’s true!… I actually feel kind of sad, though. Haha …Somewhere along the line I started looking forward to the Pure Barre  part of my day! I don’t want to take tomorrow off… Never thought I’d say that!

pure barre grip socks

 


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30 Days of Pure Barre: Part I

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try pure barre for 30 days LTB 30 day challenge!

Pure Barre is an incredible workout I was introduced to two years ago by my friend Amy, who teaches at a studio up in Seattle. I’ve been going back in Orange County since, sometimes 3-4 days a week and sometimes not at all. Don’t get me wrong- I love it! I just also love making excuses not to work out and it is on the expensive side. When my local studio offered a deal- go 30 days in a row and get a month free, I considered it. When I realized summer was here and I could no longer hide my winter sins behind sweaters, I knew it was the right thing to do.

You can read the details on Pure Barre’s methods and philosophy. Just know you work out until you shake and it burns and you can’t handle it anymore! Their motto is, “lift. tone. burn.” And it does. I can’t say enough about the results and the talented instructors at my local Pure Barre studios in Newport Beach and Mission Viejo.

 

Day 1 This is the beginning… I’m gonna die. The only thing I’ve done for 30 days consecutively is drink coffee, and Pure Barre is no cup of tea. (Does that joke work?? I’m not sure.)

 

Day 2 The thing is, I felt so proud of myself for working out yesterday that it seemed oddly cruel to go again. Already, if it wasn’t for the challenge, I would have skipped. I’m coming off a pretty long break and having to start all the way at the bottom. I can’t make it through parts of the routines that I used to be able to do:(

 

Day 4 My BFF Heather joined me and tried out PB for the first time! Having her there made all the difference.

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Day 7 I do not own enough proper yoga clothes do to this every day. I do not own enough money to purchase said proper yoga clothes.

 

Day 8 This lady, I’ll call her Newton, totally broke studio etiquette! Since I like to workout in the back left corner, I arrive 20 minutes before class to secure my spot. WELL, Newton strolled in ten minutes late (that’s a solid 30 minutes after me btw) and during a stretch, dropped her equipment in the, no joke, TEN INCHES between me and the back wall. I tried to stay in my spot and she gave me attitude about not giving it up. Killed my whole workout.

 

Day 9 Nothing motivates like results! I already notice improved muscle tone, particularly in my legs and I can now make it through the 90 second plank during warm-up. Yay!!:)

 

Day 10 I figured out, while putting my hair up for class, that my part is actually amazingly better going right than left. My whole life has been a lie.

 

Day 12 Jody tried out PB with me today! She loved it as well!

eat anything stay thin

 

Day 14 Newton strikes again! Unbelievable.

 

Day 15 Heather has been coming every day since signing up! I used to keep to myself in class, but with a wingman, we’ve managed to make a few new friends. You know how it goes at these places- there are the people who seem to belong, and the rest of us who fake it. I’ve been coming off-and-on for over a year, but truly committing myself has made all the difference in this area. I totally feel at home now.

 

 

 


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Cindy vs. Morning

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Hello there!

It’s been too long… As I berated myself for the hundredth time for never blogging, the fireman suggested I just start and not worry about coming up with something amazing. Then he sent me a blog idea- an entire blog devoted to coffee! I’ve reposted her Coffee vs. Tea post below:)

Will this post change your life? Ehhh..probably not. But it’s fitting since I’m starting at the beginning. What gets me out of bed every day? It’s not family, love, God, or my passions. I hopefully live for those things, but truly the one thing that gets me up is coffee. In my head, I make the same deal every single day- if I get up, I can have coffee. It’s my one tried and true habit.

I try to make it at home to save money, but some days end up at Starbucks to save time. At which point I regret my decision and silently curse the folks in front of me ordering decaf lattes, or worse- frappacinos. Don’t they understand 6am-9am is about survival? This isn’t Treat-Yourself-Time. It seems reasonable that they should be allowed in past 10am.

Anyway, below are the benefits of drinking both coffee and tea. Don’t you just love anything that tells you your daily vice is good for you?!

P.S. My favorite mornings are when the fireman surprises me on his way home from shift with a coffee delivery.

Not kidding.

What gets you out of bed?

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Top 25 Love Songs

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a list of love songs to celebrate with:) There are far too many to choose from but here is a few great ones.

Sparks by Coldplay

Stolen by Dashboard Confessional

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

At Last by Etta James

Dreamlover by Mariah Carey

La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstong

Everything I Do by Bryan Adams (this one goes out to Amber)

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra

When the Stars Go Blue by Ryan Adams

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

So Are You To Me by Eastmountainsouth (Jody:)

My Girl by Temptations

She Lit a Fire by Lord Huron

Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter

San Francisco by Gregory Alan Isakov

Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons

I Swear by All 4 One

For Me This is Heaven by Jimmy Eat World

It Matters to Me by Faith Hill

Fools Rush In by Elvis or UB40

Only Love by Ben Howard

California Stars by Billy Bragg & Wilco

Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros

To Be With You by Mr. Big


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Top 25 Breakup Songs

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Single Awareness Day is around the corner! Below is a list of my favorite breakup songs for all my blue Valentines out there. These gems (I might be guilty of playing out, through tears, in my car, all alone) are worth a listen.

Please comment your song suggestions! I’m sure I have missed some great ones that I may need in the future;)

Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar

Forget You by Cee Lo Green

Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt (or Bon Iver)

You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter

Need You Now by Lady Antebellum

All To Well by Taylor Swift

It Ain’t Me Johnny Cash and June Carter

End of The Road Boyz II Men

Since You Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake

A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans

Forget About You by Cary Brothers

When a Heart Breaks by Ben Rector

Your New Twin Sized Bed by Death Cab for Cutie

I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton or (Whitney Houston)

If I Were a Boy by Beyonce

Crazy by Patsy Cline

Screaming Infidelities by Dashboard Confessional

December Baby by Ingrid Michaelson

Stars by Grace Potter

Keep It To Yourself by Kacey Musgraves

Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw

Someone Like You by Adele

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac (or Smashing Pumpkins)

 


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Movies, Diets, and Quests

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Do the seemingly random things in your life ever connect and lead you to a conclusion? I love when that happens. It’s one of my favorite experiences. Someone should make a word for it.  I should make a word for it….hmm… I got nothing.

Anyway. We’ll start with the movies.

Please go see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I go to the theatre exactly one time a year. At Christmas. When my dad pays for the whole family.  I went twice in the month of January, both times to see the same movie. You can guess which one. Apart from being visually beautiful with an incredible soundtrack, it compellingly tells the story of a man who loved the idea of travel as a boy, but was unable to get anywhere b/c of his responsibilities. He is finally forced to go abroad and has a life changing adventure. My favorite part is that he is also rewarded for the life he was faithful to all along. (PS email me if you saw it b/c I have a hundred thousand other tangents I could get real nerdy with)

OK. With that in the backdrop comes the diet.

The fireman took me to the movies. He’s awesome like that. He also took me to yummy restaurants where I ate like a queen. Then the buttons on my jeans became sharp. Not actually sharp- I checked. They are still perfectly round buttons. But somehow, when I look away, they become tiny knives that dig into my stomach.

Soooo, I have 20 days left of a cleanse (a food one..don’t get all concerned on me). Just know, I’m getting serious over the next 20 days as a kick-start.

Which leads me to how the movie and the diet all relate to quest.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty makes you think about who you are meant to be and the very real cost involved in becoming that person. I would like to be a writer. It’s my quest for now and I have neglected the opportunity  (AKA only blogging every once in a blue moon). Since I’m getting on track with health over the next few weeks, I decided to get back in the habit of writing by blogging every day for the next 10 days.

WARNING: No promises on quality, folks. Going for quantity.

As always, thank you for reading!

Cindy

PS What’s your quest? I’d love to hear.

PSS What do you think about incidentarelate or correrandom??? …I’ll keep working at it.


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