Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

Maya Angelou

Today we have lost a literary icon, an American treasure, a poet, author and inspiration, Maya Angelou. In her honor, let’s remember her as only we can, in her own words…

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

 Photo credit: Burns Library, Boston College

A Song & A Prayer

Hillsong-Oceans

Have you ever had a song, or a poem, or a quote that you just couldn’t get away from? I don’t mean one of those earworm songs that gets stuck in your head and drives you crazy. I mean something that clearly God wants you to hear, or see, or read…something He will continue to place in your path until you stop brushing it off as coincidence and realize maybe, just maybe, God is actually trying to tell you something?

In the last few months I have really felt God stirring my soul and confronting me with the truth that I tend to stay where it is safe, and let fear and uncertainty hold me back, rather than leaning on my faith in Him that He will carry me through. The truth that if I would stop worrying about myself and my own comfort so much, He could use me for really great and incredible things in His name. I want so badly to move beyond my fears and let Him lead me where He wants to use me.

And in comes this song I just can’t get away from. For the record, I really don’t listen to Christian radio and am largely out of the loop on what is popular in the Christian music scene. So it’s not like this is a song I can’t get away from because it’s played all the time on the stations I listen to all the time. This has been brought to me through random blog posts, comments in other blog posts, Bible studies, friends’ Facebook posts…all unrelated, and all this song. So I finally listened to it and there God was, telling me once again to let go of my fears and grab on to Him.

I’m certain I am not the only one who has listened to this song and made it his or her prayer. It’s a scary prayer to pray, because God is so good in taking you to those places you aren’t comfortable when you ask Him to. But I know my God is good. And it might be tough, and it might be scary, but He can use me in this place of discomfort…this place where I can’t rely on myself but instead must truly trust in Him. I just pray I will keep praying this, and not fall back into my meek and fear filled ways. Lord help me to be bold and be a vehicle for your glory to touch others.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

-  “Oceans” by Hillsong -

Insecurity

Insecurity is a funny thing isn’t it? It has a way of sneaking in just when you feel like you’ve got it all together and things are plugging along. I’ve had this nasty self-doubt really rear its head lately, a lot of ups and downs with internal turmoil, and I really can’t pinpoint where or why it all started.

Recently I was at dinner with a group of friends and the whole time I was just overcome with the feeling that maybe my presence was annoying to them. That every joke I tried to make was so stupid and any time I participated in the conversation my commentary fell flat. I worried I was talking about myself too much, or being braggy, or telling stories that weren’t interesting at all. Truthfully, I feel this all the time in social settings. It’s painful.  This was just one moment in a long string of events where I leave feeling like I just don’t fit in.

I keep coming back to the thought that I know I am weird and beyond awkward and someone who can be hard to get to know but if only I could just totally own my weirdness and awkwardness it might not be so bad. But I just keep feeling like if only I were different, more outgoing, more confident, better at small-talk or a million other things, maybe I could be someone others felt more at ease around. The thing is, I don’t know how to be anyone but me. I don’t know, and probably never will, how to be the boisterous life-of-the-party girl or the sophisticated woman who owns every room she walks into. I’m just me. And add to that knowing that God made me just who I am, I feel guilty for not being more okay with me.

I realize typing this that it is coming across as a pity party for one, and that annoys me on so many levels…I really am not looking for sympathy. I just want to be transparent about this weird place I’m in. If you are weird and awkward and feeling a little lonely, I wish I had some great insight into how to overcome all of that but clearly I’m still grappling with that myself.  But know you aren’t alone. I’m a weird, awkward work in progress too.

I am clinging so tightly to God right now and just really resting in my faith that somehow He will use all of this insecurity and self-doubt to do something good somewhere. I know He knitted me in my mother’s womb and that I’m meant to do more. I just have to break free from these binds, have patience and know that even if I don’t always fit in here, I do fit into God’s hands, and plans.  And so do you.

Novel Notes: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Kindle Gazer by Mike Licht

One of my favorite gifts from Christmas this year was the Kindle Fire my husband got for me…I was totally surprised, especially considering I broke the last Kindle he got me! Whoops. As much as I totally love a good, real, hold-in-your-hand, turn-paper-pages book…and I TOTALLY do…sometime the portability and speed of reading the Kindle provides is really, well, awesome.

So as soon as I got the Kindle fired up and ready to go, I was struck with the, “what should I read??” question. I mean, my to-read list is probably a mile long, but I wanted something that would be easy to pick up and a relatively quick read, while still being well written. And so I settled on The Cuckoo’s Calling written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

The Cuckoo's CallingI know this isn’t a brand new book, but then I’m not always the best about picking up the latest in Fiction, tending more toward the classics, but I’m glad I clicked “buy” on this one. It’s a murder mystery that follows a would-be gumshoe Robin and Cormoran Strike, the private detective she ends up temping for just as he lands the case that will save, or destroy, his business and personal life. The beautiful, young model Lula Landry turns up dead after what was ruled a suicidal jump from her luxury apartment’s balcony…but not everyone is satisfied with the police investigation. Her brother, a wealthy lawyer, is sure she was murdered and hires Strike to get to the bottom of it.

The story takes many twists and turns and moves along at a pretty good clip and I found myself not wanting to put the book down because I couldn’t stop thinking about what could’ve happened and who could have done it. By the time I was about halfway through I was on a mission and spent the next two days totally wrapped up in the story. I have to also say that one of the things I really appreciated about the book was that the characters were well-developed. So often, especially with murder-mysteries, the author relies on overwrought plot turns to drive the story forward without spending much time developing the characters and their motivations. The result leaves the reader feeling like the story was a little hollow and unfulfilling. I found myself relating to each character and the end of the story is much more believable because you did see the motivation and characters develop along the way.

Reading this book has set me on a mystery book reading tear. I’ve got two more on the docket to share with you soon. Do you have any good mystery recommendations? Did you make a resolution to read more in 2014? This is a good book to start with! It’ll keep you engaged and you’ll remember how you can truly be transported by a story.

Top image by Mike Licht

Best Day Ever: Wedding Photos

Well, they are here! And I CANNOT wait to share them with you. Everyone says it, and it sounds so very cliché, but it’s true…our wedding day was the best day ever. To stand there, with the love of my life, committing my life to him in front of God and all of our friends and family has to have been the most incredible, out-of-body but totally present experience I’ve ever had. It was such a beautiful day.

We were enveloped by the love and support of our friends and family. And we had such an incredible team who helped us make the day even more special. A list of our very special vendors can be found at the bottom of the post, but a special shout out to Kimberly Rhodes and her team with Hitched Events for being that absolute best wedding planner EVER. Without her I wouldn’t have been able to assemble the best team ever. I will be forever grateful for her work and friendship. Thanks also to Eddie with Jenny Martell Photography for capturing our big day in such a beautiful, artistic way. Wow. We are blessed beyond measure.

Forgive me for not being able to edit the photos down further…they are all so special…I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Thanks to everyone who was a part of our big day! For more pictures, check out my Facebook page!

Details-Composit-1 Details-Composit-2 Getting-Ready-Composit-1 Getting-Ready-Composit-2 Getting-Ready-Composit-3 katebearwedding0052 Getting-Ready-Composit-4 Bridesmaids-Composit-1 Sisters-Composit-1 Groomsmen-Get-Ready-Composit-1 Groomsmen-Get-Ready-Composit-2 Groomsmen-Get-Ready-Composit-3 Groomsmen-Get-Ready-Composit-4 First-Look-1 First-Look-2 First-Look-3 First-Look-4 First-Look-5 First-Look-6 Ceremony-1 Ceremony-3 Ceremony-2 Ceremony-4 Ceremony-5 Ceremony-6 families mariachis Reception-Details-1 Reception-Details-2 Reception-Details-3 Reception-Entrance- First-Dance Dads-Speeches Father-Daughter-Dance Mother-Son-Dance Reception-Dinner Reception-Dinner-2 Cake-1 cake-2 Scot-Speech Speech-Crowd Sister-Speeches Adrian-Speech Flower-Toss Garter-Toss Dance-Floor-1 Dance-Floor-2 Dance-Floor-3 Dance-Floor-4 Dance-Floor-5 Dance-Floor-6 Dance Floor 7 Elevator Grand-Exit Car

Venue: Three Three Three First Avenue
Wedding Planner: Hitched Events
Photographer: Jenny Martell Photography
Hair and Makeup: Shannon Caldwell, Something You Makeup Artistry
Florist: Blue Lotus
Cake: Dallas Affaires Cake Company
Lighting: A Very Special Day
Caterer: Culinary Art Catering
DJ: Jason Esquire
Transportation: Premier
Videographer: Lynn films
 

Fresh Start

fresh page by Kalyan Chakravarthy

 

I’m not sure why, but it always takes me a few days to really get settled into the new year and ready to start forging ahead. What an incredible year 2013 was–I married the love of my life, turned 30, got a promotion, met some incredible people–and in many ways, it laid the foundation and set in motion the year that now lies ahead of me, of us.

It seems that 2014 has brought a swirling wind of ideas to me which is all together thrilling, and a bit scary.  And while I must admit some of these ideas have been brewing for a while, the start of the year also seems to have brought a certain confidence, or determination, to start bringing some of these ideas into reality.  So much of my time last year was consumed, happily, by the planning of our wedding and when not wedding planning, balancing a heavy work load. This year I have more time to develop my creative pursuits and I do hope they will be fruitful.

no plan

So while I can’t promise I won’t take a few opportunities to look back on 2013 (especially when we get our wedding photos in!), I am eager to jump into 2014 with gusto and make things happen! Are you ready to jump with me?! Let’s go!

 

photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy and quote from Pinterest.

Party With A Purpose

Party With a Purpose 1

What a weekend it was! I took off Friday to help my sweet Bear as he had his wisdom teeth taken out. Poor guy, he’s still on the mend…hopefully he’ll be back in action in the next few days! And while most of my weekend was devoted to playing nurse, Saturday I took on another role, that of hostess along with three of my girlfriends and we hosted a Party with a Purpose to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Corporate Hero Circle.

It was a great afternoon and, aside from a short 10 minute rain shower, it was a beautiful day and so much fun! We had a fun band, Lager and the Fatties, who kept the crowd entertained and dancing, lots of yard games, and a pretty amazing raffle. All told, we raised over $1600 for the American Cancer Society! Not to shabby for an afternoon backyard party! If you would like to take part in our fight against cancer, I would be so honored to have your support with a donation to my Corporate Hero Circle fundraising efforts. To donate, simply click here. You have until June 15th to donate, should you choose to. Many thanks in advance for your support!

Here are a few snaps from the party! Thanks to everyone who came out to support the American Cancer Society!

Tabitha, Meredith, Lacey and I...the hostesses!

Tabitha, Meredith, Lacey and me…the hostesses!

Two Stock the Bar Raffle Packages

Two Stock the Bar Raffle Packages

PWAP Crowd

Yard Games

Lovely Ladies

Lovely Ladies

 

Thanks again to everyone who came out! And if you, too, would like to donate to support the American Cancer Society, click here to be taken to my donation page. Happy Monday!

My Oklahoma-Shaped Heart

Oklahoma

I’ve tried to start this post some 10 or 15 times but never really know what to say. I am heartbroken by the tragedy the struck Moore, Oklahoma in the form of a monstrous tornado yesterday afternoon, just one day after another significant tornado in Shawnee, Oklahoma…and less than a week after the tornadoes that ripped through Granbury, Cleburne and other parts of North Texas.  I can’t remember a tornado season like this in these parts.

After spending four of my best years of life in Oklahoma for college, the state, and particularly the Norman area (just south of Moore) will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I learned to live on my own, and to loosen up and enjoy myself more, and where I made the best friends I will EVER have…my forever friends. And because of that, I still have a lot of ties to the area. I guess what made yesterday’s tornado seem even bigger to me was realizing just how many people I love and hold dear were directly the path of that tornado’s destruction. My youngest sister, Caroline, is in school at the OU Health Sciences Center in OKC and she lives in Norman, her boyfriend’s parents and grandmother live in Moore, one of best friends, Ashley, lives on the Norman/Moore borderline…and that’s just to name a few of the many.

I was texting Caroline like a crazy, overprotective mother yesterday making sure she was safe and out of harm’s way. I was praying over Ashley’s storm cellar doors on Facebook….I was totally consumed by the enormity of this thing.  The photos of the devastation are almost mind-numbing. It doesn’t really seem possible. And then the children. Oh the children, Lord. I got home and just sort of dissolved into tears. I couldn’t help it.

OklahomaLRG

But just like good ol Toby Keith said, Moore (and really Oklahoma as a whole) is “strong and will persevere.” There is work to be done and rebuilding to start. What has happened cannot be changed. We can only learn from it and get on with it. We now have a duty to lift this community up in prayer, and to get down and dirty helping them rebuild and repair however we can. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • American Red Cross: Make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999,  donate online or over the phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS
  • Salvation Army: Make a $10 donation by texting STORM to 80888, donate online or over the phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
  • Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers: Make a donation online .
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma: Text FOOD to 32333 or donate online.

I know there are many more and I absolutely encourage you to share resources if you have them! I know sometimes it’s hard to know how to help when something like this happens. Take it from me, with my non-profit experience, if you have any money to give I PROMISE that is the best thing right now. That way they can get the items they most need, and the people who are trained in recovery and cleanup can do the work they are made to do.

My heart is with you, Oklahoma!

Engagement-Pics-7

Engagement Session Snaps

Engagement-Pics-12

I have to apologize for the incredibly self indulgent post that follows but I just had to share the amazing engagement photos we just got in. It was a sweltering hot day, the only one in a long stretch of cool days, and somehow our photographers will still able to make us look like we weren’t totally sweat-drenched and wilted. We have the great pleasure of having the brilliant Jenny and Eddie of Jenny Martell Photography as part of our dynamo wedding team and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to have them capture our wedding after seeing what they put together from our engagement session. Jenny and Eddie put together the concept for the shoot based on a few questions we answered for them and knocked it out of the park. Excuse us while we do our best Johnny and June Cash impersonations. *wink, wink*

It is always so hard to edit photo selections down, but here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!

Engagement-Pics-1 Engagement-Pics-2 Engagement-Pics-3 Engagement-Pics-4 Engagement-Pics-5 Engagement-Pics-6 Engagement-Pics-7 Engagement-Pics-8 Engagement-Pics-9 Engagement-Pics-10 Engagement-Pics-11

Tuesday Tunes: Happy 80th Willie!

Tuesday Tunes

Willie Nelson. He is as synonymous with Texas as bluebonnets and The Alamo. And today, he turns 80 years old (which, really, is pretty incredible considering the life he has lived!). So really there is nobody else I could possibly feature than the man himself!

willienelson

I have had the privilege of seeing Willie play on quite a few occasions and there’s just nobody quite like him…he’s still Willie, and that voice is still just as leathery and poetic as ever…and you never know quite what you’re going to get, but it’s sure to be a great show no matter which route, or detour, it takes. In fact, on one occasion I heard Willie sing Whiskey River no less that four times…in one set. I think the Whiskey River has been flowing pre-show and, indeed, taken his mind!

If you haven’t seen him perform, you should definitely make plans to asap. Put on your boots and get ready for a good time. Without further ado, I give you the birthday boy himself, Willie Nelson…

One For My Baby and One For The Road

Crazy

Heartbreak Hotel

Pancho and Lefty with Emmylou Harris

Whiskey River

 

Tuesday Tunes: 03.25.13

Tuesday Tunes

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Tuesday Tunes and today seems like a good day for some good music. There is truly no rhyme or reason to what I’ve chosen other than it’s stuff I like, and hopefully you will too! Without further ado…

Power Hour

morning workout

5 a.m.: the power hour. I’ve spent a good long while totally convinced that there was no way I could ever be a morning workout person. “It’s too early and I need lots of sleep to be productive during the day,” or “I don’t have the energy to get my best possible workout that early…I do better in the evenings,” and even “I won’t have enough time to get ready and to work on time if I work out in the morning.” I’d also convinced myself that I couldn’t physically handle back to back intense workouts, “My body needs ‘rest days’ between intense days…” Believe me, I was NOT, no way, no how ever going to be a morning workout person. It was settled.

But then, after months of paying for Camp Gladiator and only making it to camp twice a week, at best, or none at all at worst, and subsequently seeing no results, my friend Sarah and I decided our system just wasn’t working. Something had to change if we wanted to reach our weight loss and fitness goals.

And so we made a plan to do what I never thought was possible for me–we were going to Tuesday’s 5:30 a.m. camp. I had my doubts that we would actually make it. But then a funny thing happened. We made it to camp. And not only did we make it to camp, we felt great having gone and were more energetic throughout the morning, more productive at work and actually excited to work out. Somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m, something changed: my perspective.

Now, not only can I do it, I want to do it! I even caught myself saying to Sarah this morning, “Man we should’ve started Monday so we could make it all five days this week!” WHAT?! Crazy right? In just a one hour on a random Tuesday morning, my workout became something I no longer dread all day long before coming up with a reason I can’t make it, or felt guilty about having to miss because of a meeting or event in the evening. My workout is part of my morning routine. It’s just one more step I take before hopping in the shower and getting ready for work.

Plus, it’s positively affecting the rest of my day as well. I eat better the rest of the day because I don’t want to blow everything I got up early to do. Before, I would eat junk all day long with the thought that I would just work it off at camp that night. Again, it’s just a little shift in thinking that has big impact! I get far more done in the morning when I get to work, and when I get home in the evening, I can jump right into whatever I need to get done. It’s not 7 pm before I can start on something because I had to go workout in the evening. The evenings are mine and I’ve been making the most of them!

Now, all of this said, we are only three days into our new routine, but I truly believe there is no turning back. Sarah and I have already confirmed we will be out there again tomorrow morning (again, Friday workouts? A few days ago those just wouldn’t ever have happened.) I must confess I am very sore today and I’m more tired than I have been thus far BUT this was to be expected and it’s just the hump I have to get over while my body adjusts to the new schedule. And now I have the determination to push myself past this hump!

So, what have you dubbed “impossible” in your own life? Maybe it’s time you give it another try. Challenge the voice that tells you you can’t. Because maybe you can. And even if you can’t, you can’t just yet. Start working at it, believe that you can, and I bet pretty soon you’ll have achieved “the impossible.”  See you in the morning?!

 

photo credit: Family and MWR Programs
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