Monday, December 10, 2012

Who says?

People. Marriage. Life. Work. Us.

Perfect is never the same for everyone, it never is and it never will be. So often young women enter into their adult lives striving for perfection....someone else's perfection.  They seek the perfect little job with the perfect little wardrobe. They desire the perfect little marriage with the perfect man. They want to live in the perfect houses with perfect cars. This is the real world people. It's not Stepford.

Who says that you have buy a big house and fill it with fancy furniture to be happy? Who says you have to like your spouse all the time? Who says your children have to be quiet at Target and Church and on a plane and in the mall? Who says you have to have a job doing the perfect thing right out of college? Who says you have to be skinny and tan? Who says you need long hair or short hair or tight pants or short skirt? Who says you're too fat or too skinny or too smart or not nearly smart enough? WHO SAYS??????

Friends, let me tell you something.

Who you are, who your husband is, who your children are is all just fine. Stop comparing yourselves to other people. Stop using your friends as your life compass. They aren't you. You don't have to get married because everyone else is getting married, you don't have to have a baby because all of your friends have had a baby. You don't have to buy a big house or drive a new car. You don't need to lose weight because your friends are all skinny, you don't need to go into debt in Graduate school because you don't think you're smart enough.
YOU need to pray about YOUR live. YOU need to let GOD be YOUR compass. Stop making the decisions that you think are the right ones because of everyone else- make your life choices based on what fits you right now. BE HAPPY.


Love & Peace.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

20-something to 20-Someone: Meet Lauren

In keeping with my new series, 20-something to 20-someone, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Lauren. She was my housemate, friend, confidant and therapist during college. She knows some of the deepest secrets of my soul and I know in my heart of hearts that she'll take them to the grave with her :-) Get to know a little bit of Lauren and see how she is well on her way from 20-something to 20-someone!

1. If you could only use 5 words to describe yourself, what would they be and why?
I would describe myself as honest, loyal, sarcastic, hard-working, and resilient.
Honest- because I usually tell the truth to my friends and family, even when it's not easy to hear. When I look back on friendships and relationships, they have often been strengthened or destroyed by this quality. Most people think they want me to tell them the truth ("does this make me look fat?" "Should I stay with my boyfriend?" "Am I making the right decision?"), but become defensive when I've been honest in my approach. Maybe I'm not always refined in my delivery, but I DO tell the honest truth out of love, and in an attempt to help the person.
Loyal- because I'll stick with something or someone until it sucks me dry. This is both a positive and negative quality,because while I'll defend my friends and family in many situations and circumstances, I have often found that (in friendships) this is not a reciprocal trait. I've stayed in relationships that were miserable, just because I was too stubborn to let go of something that was once positive. I have learned that friendship is a "quality over quantity" relationship, and I am lucky to have a few very good friends who I know I can count on in tough times.
Sarcastic- anyone who knows me knows that I'm snarky. This gets me in trouble SO much, but luckily I've found that a lot of people (including you) appreciate my sense of humor. Is it so bad that I occasionally find humor in the ridiculous things other people do and say? I can hardly be blamed for that...
Hard-working- I've always been an overachiever, and this is a quality that has often served me well. I have a tendency to overcommit myself, but I am definitely someone who works better under pressure.
Resilient- College and post-graduation have been interesting for me. As I set off for my freshman year, I was abundantly confident in my abilities and goals. Being away from family (especially my mom) and the dissolution of high school friendships proved very difficult, and over time I think my confidence gradually diminished. Joining a sorority helped to rebuild that confidence, and through KD I made new friends and was provided with some amazing leadership opportunities and connections. Even while serving as president of KD, I encountered some people who didn't agree with my views or the way I handled my responsibility. At the time this was very difficult, because I think it's natural to want to be liked and to have everyone agree with you. But this experience really allowed me to see that as an adult, not everyone is going to like me or my opinions. It really taught me that I have to be comfortable in my own skin, and be proud of my work and decisions. If the people I love are proud of me, and I'm doing right by God, then that's all that matters to me.

2. What do you see as your greatest accomplishment and why?
Graduating from college is an accomplishment I'm especially proud of. Upon graduating high school, I think I was so shell-shocked and excited about the impending journey of college to really appreciate the degree. But college graduation is different, because it's a more mature, exhausting, and expensive experience. College was a great juggling act between academics, extra-curriculars, and personal relationships that I am proud to have made it out alive, sane, and with a decent GPA.

3. How do you think your education has prepared you for what you’re doing now?
I have a Bachelor's in psychology from WKU, and my education has prepared me for so many things. The experience of getting a degree takes so much hard work- meeting deadlines, prioritizing, building relationships with students/professors- that sometimes I think it doesn't matter what you get your degree in, just that you GET one. That being said, my background in psychology has really helped me understand people, their motivations, feelings, and thoughts. It has helped me personally to understand and digest things that have happened in my own past, and to relate to others socially and occupationally. I DO think the graduates of the past few years have had a unique experience in this economy. In high school, all you seem to hear is adults telling you how important it is to go to college, because that's the only way to get a job nowadays. As I graduated from college, I realized that in my hands, I held something very important in that diploma, but I was not as naive as I had been in the past; it is TOUGH to be a young adult these days.

4. Tell us about a time you’ve had a conflict with someone and what you did to work it out.
Me? Conflict with others? Never...
I am admittedly a complicated and complex person. I often tell people that I wish I could be more like my brother, who is arguably the easiest person on Earth to be around. I wish that I could be light and carefree with not a worry in the world, but it just isn't so. That being said, I have found myself in a few difficult situations with friends or acquaintances.
One that sticks out in my mind is an experience I had in college with a group of young women. By our membership in the same sorority, it was natural to consider them friends. I had a stronger and more honest relationship with one of the girls, and this led me to believe I was, by association, friends with the others. I was shocked one evening to find that not only did these other girls not like me, but they had actually been discussing their feelings of dislike for weeks with our mutual friend and had even attempted not to go on a trip in order to avoid going with me. Apparently I'm that unbearable... Naturally I was upset, and being the honest person I am, I went to the two girls in an attempt to have a mature conversation. I wanted to know what I'd done wrong? How I had offended them? I wanted to be able to apologize for my actions, if they had offended. I found that the girls were hesitant, resistant even, to tell me what I'd done. Looking back, I know that it is because I hadn't done anything to these girls but try to infiltrate their inner circle by befriending their friend. It was easier for them to air their grievances in private, behind my back, than it was for them to actually confront me with their feelings. At the time, this devastated me. How could someone dislike me, not for something rude I'd done, but just because of who I am? It really, really hurt.
But then I found that the real conflict was not with these girls. It was with myself. I needed to take a step back and consider why I wanted to be friends with them. Was it because I really liked them (no) or because I wanted to be a part of a circle of friends (yes)? I began thinking about qualities I wanted in a friend, these women did not have those qualities. I made a decision from that point forward: I will not waste time trying to forge a relationship or friendship with someone who does not value, appreciate or help me to grow. This has allowed me to build stronger friendships with people who deserve my friendship, and has saved me from so much further heartache.

5. What do you see as your greatest weakness? See response to question #1 re: Loyal

6. What is the one thing in the world that you care the most about? Why?
I think the people reading this who know me will be surprised by my answer, because it would have been much different a year ago. The thing I care most about in the world is my ever-growing relationship with God. I have not always had a strong faith. In fact, I went through a period of time when I wasn't even sure if God existed. I thought maybe there was something out there controlling all of this, but I wasn't sure what it was.
I grew up attending a Catholic church. I had a positive experience there. My family went to church every week, I went to Sunday school, went through the Eucharist and Confirmation processes. But I never felt a strong connection to my faith. In college, I experimented with different churches, and didn't really like any of them. Two churches I went to in Bowling Green bashed Catholics, and made me feel extremely unwelcome. When I moved back to Louisville, I went to a new church with my mom, who had begun attending by herself. I was resistant at first because the church was much more contemporary than I was used to- they had a live band, people raising their hands in worship... this was just shocking for me. But not in a bad way. I really enjoyed our pastor's sermons- I found myself looking forward to hearing his message each Sunday. I experienced nothing but love and kindness from the people who attended NECC, and after the initial shock wore off, I found myself enjoying worship time. I have been through quite a bit in my personal life over the last year (won't bore anyone with the details) but I found that instead of questioning God as I once would have, I began leaning on Him. Many negative things have happened over the last year that have tried my patience, personal relationships, and sanity. But throughout this time, God has blessed me with my health, a great job, and a growing faith in His ability to help me overcome.

7. If you got to live your life over again, what is one thing you would change and why?
This one is easy... I would waste less time worrying. Worrying about grades, whether people like me, if I made the right decision. I recently saw a quote that said, "Worrying is like praying for something you don't want." How true! I spent so much time worrying about the possibility of something happening that I would almost will it to happen. When I find myself worrying, I have tried to start praying instead, asking God to help me to stop, and for his guidance in how to proceed.

8. When have you failed? Tell us what happened and what you learned from it.
In high school, I was a member of our school's forensics team. If you don't know what competitive forensics is, it is a type of speech competition, involving public speaking, acting, reading and interpretation of written pieces. I competed in the areas of prose and poetry interpretation. Each week from October through April, I rehearsed and performed two 10-minute pieces, a prose piece and poetry piece (written by an author, interpreted by me). I became involved in this extra-curricular activity as an extension of my interest in theatre and performing. Because I attended a smaller high school, we had a small (yet very talented) drama department. I loved every minute of performing, and was used to auditioning, performing and speaking in front of large groups of people and being very successful at it. I had had numerous lead roles in productions, planned on majoring in theatre when I got to college, etc, etc. So imagine my surprise when, as a junior, I competed at the qualifying tournament for the state competition and... did not qualify. By a margin of a few points. I was devastated, embarrassed, horrified, depressed. I had worked so hard!
After watching many of my friends board the bus for their weekend at the state tournament at WKU, I was even more disappointed. My competition season was over. More notably, my pride was hurt. I'd never lost a part before, never failed in this arena.
So the next year, I came back with a vengeance. Prior to our season's start, my coach named me captain of the team. I rehearsed for hours, days, leading up to the first tournament. I scored enough points to qualify for finals during every tournament that season, and at the state qualifiers, I qualified. At the state tournament that year, I qualified for semi-finals in poetry interpretation, and I was in the top 18 competitors in Kentucky that year.
When I failed, I felt so awful about myself. I had very little confidence in my abilities. When you fail, it is difficult, but when you fail and you're in front of A LOT of people, it's pretty embarrassing. But it only made me work harder the next time around. And the reward was pretty sweet

9. Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
HAPPY. I haven't really clearly defined what that means yet. But it looks something like: a job that is fulfilling, being with someone who makes me happy, maybe a child at that point. I do know that it involves contentment, which can only come through faith and maintaining good relationships.

10. What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I LOVE to read. I'm not very picky- I usually stick to fiction, but I'm always open to suggestions from others. However, I do have one particular genre/era that fascinates me: Edwardian fiction. More specifically, JANE AUSTEN. Even more specifically, PRIDE & PREJUDICE. There is apparently a hidden romantic in me somewhere (deep, deep down) that is itching to get out and find her Mr. Darcy. This interest has unfortunately grown into a rather embarrassing obsession... I've seen the BBC miniseries. The 2005 Keira Knightley version. Bridget Jones' Diary (yes, it is loosely based on Austen's novel). I've read pretty much any fiction work based on P&P or that uses its characters. I have, rather sadly, considered going to Louisville's annual Jane Austen festival (I haven't yet- maybe there is hope for me). I am just oddly intrigued by the boringness of that time- what society ladies do during the day, what gentlemen make ($4000 a year was apparently BILLIONS then). But I'm even more fascinated by the extraordinary love affairs between the characters that break up the monotony. I want a man to love me so much he would write me a loooonnnnggggg letter. Is that so much to ask for? Maybe that's why I'm not married, nor have I had a successful relationship.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From the wife's perspective.

I like sports. My Dad played college basketball at the University of Illinois (when they were good) and my Mom has always loved the Atlanta Braves. Both of my parents like football and my Dad is really pretty surprisingly knowledgeable about any sport ever played. So I've grown up watching sports. I played some softball and a tiny bit of basketball when I was a kid and as you all know I've married a high school football coach. So for the rest of my life I will know about, talk about, read about and hear about sports, all sports but probably most specifically, football.

Before you read any further, I'll warn you that this post is pretty regionally specific. I'll be discussing WKU football (Bowling Green, Kentucky) and USF football (Tampa, Florida) and by "football" I mean, "the things happening with the head coach change." So don't worry, there will be almost nothing about stats and recruiting and so on.

Western Kentucky University is where the Coach and I went to College. During our years there WKU made the difficult move from being a 1AA school to a Division 1 program. It practically killed them. At some point while we were in college, the WKU football program began what became something like a 31 game LOSING streak. The longest in D1 and certainly in WKU football history. It was pretty painful to watch so most people stopped watching...I'm talking practically empty stadium kind of stuff. It was brutal. Then 3 years ago WKU made a great catch. They hired an Alum who had previously been an assistant coach named Willie Taggart. It was his first head coaching job but the university believed he was just the medicine that they needed to cure their pigskin ailment. Turns out, he was. The team had a major turn around, in fact at the Homecoming 2011 game, the Coach and I got to witness the first at home win in....Lord only knows how long....and it was awesome. We loved this guy. He was humble, he was honest, he was working the team in the right direction and his kids went to the school where Ben was a teacher so we got to see first hand that he was a family man.
Coach and Wife *almost* at the 2011 WKU football game! 5 minutes to kick off and CLEARLY it was packed...not.

Soooo here we are 3 years later and the University of South Florida (in Tampa) has hired him to come in as their new head coach. Reviews are mixed. His over-all record is limited because of the mess he inherited at WKU, and he'll only be in his 4th year as a head coach. But from where I stand this could be just what USF needs to get their potentially good program back on track...however, not the point of my post.

The real point of my post is this. Early this morning on Facebook I read a status from a WKU alum chastising Coach Taggart from leaving the Hilltoppers high and dry. His claim was that the Coach wasn't a true Hilltopper, that he was only in it for the money, that he was somehow no longer a Hilltopper by leaving WKU to work at USF. And I chose the word, "work" in the previous sentence very carefully. This is a job. His job. His family's livelihood. He has aspirations of becoming a big time college football coach, as most men in his position do. He is a former Florida resident, he grew up 30 minutes from Tampa, where his extended family still remains. USF is a Big East team, in a sunny climate, where  he's been recruiting for years. Why wouldn't he take this job???

A true Hilltopper believes that "the SPIRIT makes the master" his goal is to become the most successful football coach he can be, to become a master. And at the heart of that mastery will always be his WKU spirit where he was a coach, a player and a student. As a WKU graduate I can tell you that simply because you've moved away doesn't mean that who you became when WKU was your home wont effect you any longer. It's really quite the contrary. The university prides itself on the loyalty and integrity you breathe in as you walk the campus hills. Who is to say that this way of living isn't deeply rooted in Coach Taggart and that the knowledge, experience and opportunities he aquired at WKU won't be the single greatest impact on the way that he coaches at other schools in the future? WKU believes in being a first rate university with INTERNATIONAL reach. That means we have to let our finest go out into the rest of the world and make something of themselves. We are not truly Hilltoppers if we don't see the benefit in sending "one of our own" into the world to make waves. Think of the pride WKU graduates will feel if he someday he coaches an SEC team to the National Championship or perhaps in a few years his hands are the ones to mold a Heisman trophy winner.

What good does the WKU experience do for the rest of the world if we bottle it up and only allow it to live in Bowling Green, Kentucky??

Now my Coach is a HIGH SCHOOL football coach. And it's not the same BUT if my Coach stood in Mr. Taggarts shoes, I would be proudly patting him on the back. An opportunity like this may have never come along for him again. As Coach's families we have to make the choices that are best for us. We have to move when we need to move and coach where we need to Coach in order to fulfill dreams and support families. This is simply a job, and it is time for him to go. But just like other WKU alumni have gone on to vet school and law school in other places or WKU alumni have gone to teach in China or join the Peace Corp or work on political campaigns, Once a Hilltopper, Always a Hilltopper.

So, from one football family to another I say, Taggarts, Good Luck football family, God be with you and Welcome to TAMPA :-)

Love & Peace.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"The Sound of Silence"

I bought a new devotional book on Sunday. A little late in the year, right? I figured I'd follow this one until December 3rd of next years and it will serve it's purpose as an annual. Who says we have to start on January 1 anyway?
The book is by Jill Briscoe and it's called The One year Devotions for Women. While I was look for this book at Barnes and Noble, the Coach found this little gem:
I told him he was missing the point....Anywho.
I picked this one:

So far, so good. And the verse on Monday's page was
James 1:19,
"My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry."
I can't even begin to tell you how insanely hard this is for me. Like painful, forgotten, 'I hate it' kind of hard. In most areas of my life when I see a need for change I'll do it. I'll get focused in on the change, I'll pray about the change, and I'll talk to the Coach about it. Then before I know it, the change is occurring and I'm on the right track. Well, with the exception of biting my fingers nails (which is a terrible habit, don't judge me) this verse is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
I talk too much. I talk all the time. I tell everyone what I think and why I think it. I tell other people what they should do and how they should do it. I tell other people what I know and what they should know. It is suffocating. It has to stop.
I had the privilege of knowing Barbara Larke. She is the Mother of my sister's husband. (Rodney's Mom) and last month she passed away. Both of the people who spoke at her memorial talked about what an amazing virtuous woman she was. They way that she was steady in times of joy, sorrow, crisis and excitement. They referred to her as a "true Proverbs woman." I found myself asking, What did that really mean? I knew Barbara to be kind and gentle. I knew her to be deeply loving to her son and grandson. I knew her to be very supportive of my sisters. But what did it really mean to be a Proverbs Woman?
When the James verse appeared in my devotional so closely following the memorial of such a unique woman, I decided to dig a little deeper into my bible and here is what I found...

Proberbs 31:10-31

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Let me just repeat one small part to you all...
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
My hearts deepest desire is to draw close to God. I know that only when I am at my closest to Him am I the closest to my husband, only then am I truly fulfilling my purpose, only then am I honoring God. I want to be a Proverbs woman. I am deeply inspired by Barbara's life and I am deeply moved by the recent scripture in my life. I want to listen more and talk less. I want to speak ONLY when it is wise. So please my friends remember how I confessed that this is so so so so so hard for me.? I ask you to pray for me as I begin my journey to becoming the Proverbs Woman.  I am  asking God to tame my tongue and tune my ear. I know that listening with love brings love in return.
Love & Peace!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas for the kiddos.

Someone sweet and little in your life?
Looking for something meaningful to give them for Christmas?
Maybe you should consider my book.
Available for purchase on
Just click on the image below and it will take it right where you can purchase.
P.S. 100% of the proceeds go to the AWESOME website that promotes literacy and creativity across the globe :-)
Alright, enough with the shameless self promotion :-)
Love & Peace

20-Something to 20-Someone

Thanks for waiting.... here it is, Staci's Story in her words:
1.       If you could only use 5 words to describe yourself, what would they be and why?
A.      Impatient – I want what I want when I want it, dang it!
B.      Perfectionist – I like everything to be a certain way with everything in its place. I hate making mistakes or feeling like I’ve failed. L
C.       Realistic – I don’t get too excited about things until they are concrete and achievable.
D.       Devoted – I have my small circle of friends and invest in our relationships. I’d much rather have awesome, solid relationships with my few girlfriends than try to be besties with everyone I come in contact with. I give my all to my education, work life, and home life (family and fur babies included!).
E.       Mrs. Fix It – When catastrophe strikes or problems arise, I try to put everything back together as quickly as possible. Instead of freaking out (well maybe momentarily), I try to work on fixing the problem. Hmmm this is probably due to my impatience issue. J 
2.       What do you see as your greatest accomplishment and why?
Obtaining my degrees and CPA certification. I’m from a very small town where very few of my family members went to college and my Mom had me at a very young age. With her support, I was able to get the education I needed to live the life I really wanted. Moms are the best.
3.       How do you think your education has prepared you for what you’re doing now?
Without my education I couldn’t have gotten my first job out of school and without my experience (prestige of the firm and having them foot the bill for my certification) there, I wouldn’t have gotten the job I’m in now. A job where I feel secure in my career and a job that allows me to provide for my family. As far as what I learned in school applying to the work I do now – I really don’t think you learn all you need to know until you are in the workforce. I’ve learned so much more on the job than I ever did in school.
4.       Tell us about a time you’ve had conflict with someone and what you did to work it out.
I’m really bad at this. I hate conflict and confrontation. I just want everyone to be happy and get along. If it’s my husband, I’m always right. If it’s anyone else, I apologize first or just try to move on from the issue.
5.       What do you see as your greatest weakness?
Public speaking. I hate it.
6.       What is the one thing in the world that you care the most about? Why?
My family! And that includes friends that have become family. At the end of the day, after all the crap, that’s your safe place. People who will love and support you no matter what.
7.       If you got to live your life over again, what is one thing you would change and why?
I would be more involved. Be more involved in extra-curriculars  in high school and take more advantage of opportunities in college. I used to love to dance when I was younger, but that was short lived. I’d have my parents win the lottery so they could afford to have jobs that allowed the time for me to do those things growing up. Army Dad and nurse Mom makes for some crazy schedules!
8.       When have you failed? Tell us what happened and what you learned from it.
Didn’t you see the perfectionist comment above? ;) Ok but really, I had to take one section of the CPA exam 3 times before I passed it. I learned what it was like to really have to work for something that doesn’t just come naturally. I would spend an 8 to 10 hour day at work, eat dinner with the hubs, then study till bedtime. I studied every weekend. I had to give up going to some special events and my precious free time, but when I finally passed, it was so worth it.
9.       Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Happy. I want to live a full, well-rounded life. I hope to be rooted here in our new town with a couple of kiddos and moving forward in my career. I want it all. Too much to ask?
10.   What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Shop, craft, and see my family. I love living closer to my extended family now. Growing up as an Army brat, I was only able to visit during holidays and summers. It’s so nice to run out to dinner with grandparents and go to football games with my siblings. I was raised an only child and now have 3 brothers and 3 sisters (so dysfunctional but I love it)! Living closer has allowed me to build a closer relationship with them. Since they are quite a bit younger than me, we get to skip the sibling fights and I get to spoil them!