Once I Was a Bride

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway Once I was a bride. And then, just like that, I wasn’t. For the past two and a half years, I have hesitated to write … Continue reading

27 Things I Learned at 27

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In one week, I’ll be 28 years old. Where did time go? Speaking of time, take the next ten minutes or so to read about 27 things I learned during my 27th year on earth. If you want.

1. Life is too short to be afraid. Be fearless. I used to be paralyzed by a fear of heights (and flying), so I went skydiving. It was a feeling I’ll never forget. Sometimes you have to overcome fear to experience the greater joys in life.

2. Usually the hard thing to do is the right thing to do. When you’re at a crossroads it’s normal to be afraid. Change is scary and so is the idea of hurting someone you care about. But everything in life happens for a reason. Trust your heart, but more importantly trust your gut. You know what’s right and it won’t always be the easy option.

3. When someone shows you their true colors the first time, believe them. I have always believed in second chances and I recognize that people are not perfect. But now I realize that, if a person displays a poor behavior once, they’ll certainly do it again. Maya Angelou wasn’t lying.

4. Your body is a temple. Take care of it. Maybe you can get away with eating McDonald’s and binge-drinking in college, but not anymore. Eating clean and exercising will not only improve your body, it will also improve your mind.

5. Don’t hold onto people who treat you poorly. This goes along with number 3. I finally got tired of hanging onto people who didn’t deserve a second thought. If a person treats you any less than you deserve, let them go.

6. Your friends will always be there for you. Be good to them. My friendships took on even more importance this year. I have the most wonderful friends in the world. They’ve gotten me through the hard times and enhanced the good times. Show your gratitude to your friends by returning the favor.

7. Have more patience. Good things are worth the wait. You can’t rush anything – especially the good things that will come to you in life. Practice patience. I mean literally, it takes practice. It’s not easy, but it will help you grow as a human being.

8. Tell the people you love that you love them. Life is precious – tell your loved ones how much you care about them. More importantly, show them. If you love someone, then say it. Don’t be scared to get hurt.

9. Travel more and don’t stress out about it. Don’t be reckless with money, but I don’t see anything wrong with spending your hard earned money on experiences. Adventure is what life is all about. Backpack Europe, visit the beach… those are things you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Material possessions fade.

10. Be spontaneous, it’s good for your soul. Don’t be so uptight. If someone asks you to do something on a whim, just do it. Those things are usually the most fun.

11. Just because you’re pushing thirty doesn’t mean you aren’t fun. As 27-year-olds, we clearly have responsibilities in life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still close down the bar every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to have fun. No one will judge you. If they do, then they don’t matter.

12. Kids and marriage are wonderful, but they’re not everything. If you’re not married yet or if you haven’t started your family, take your time. Don’t feel pressure from society to do what you’re “supposed” to do. Be patient and, if you’re meant to have those things, then you’ll have them. In the meantime, enjoy your friends’ children and get some practice.

13. Treating others well feels good. Even if someone is unkind to you, be good to them. It doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you stronger.

14. Every once in a while, you need a good cry. I’m generally a happy person, but a good cry is an important release for everyone. I never want to forget how to cry. If you don’t have any material, there’s always The Notebook or Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ (Damn that song is sad.)

15. Don’t focus so much of your energy on social media. Obviously it’s fun to share what you’re doing and find out how many people “like” it, but sometimes we spend so much time taking photos at an event that we miss the actual real-time experience. Next time you’re at a concert, put your phone down and just be in the moment.

16. Think before you act. Something I’ve been working on this year in particular is really thinking before I speak or act. I don’t like saying or doing things that hurt others – even unintentionally. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but it’s always helpful to at least try.

17. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve always heard this statement and kind of tuned it out, but for the past year (actually two years) I’ve really related to it. Whether it’s a broken heart or long run, it’s true that every bad thing that happens to you will make you a stronger person.

18. Don’t focus on the scale, focus on how you feel. I spent so much time obsessing over a number on the scale that I actually made myself miserable. Now I simply eat clean and work out regularly and I have never felt better.

19. Never stop learning. Read a book, learn how to play an instrument or take a yoga class. Whatever you do, challenge yourself every day and never stop growing.

20. It’s never too late to accomplish a goal. If you want to go back to school, go back to school. If you want to change careers, then change careers. If you want to open your own bakery in Italy, do it. Who is stopping you besides yourself?

21. Be open to new people. Don’t be a closed off person. Open your heart to others. People are pretty amazing and each person can teach you something different about life or even about yourself. But you have to let them.

22. Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Yeah, I stole this from John Michael Montgomery, but I genuinely mean it. You’re never going to know it all or be prepared for everything that happens to you in life. So just go with the flow. Worry gets you nowhere.

23. Don’t let the little things get to you. If someone said something hurtful to or about you, don’t sweat it. If you’re super late because the interstate is at a standstill, what are you gonna do? Take a deep breath and throw it away. Don’t hang onto it.

24. If your grandparents are still alive, talk to them. Talk to them, listen to their stories and ask to see their photos. Write it all down or ask them to do so. When they’re gone, you’ll be so thankful to have those memories for yourself and your future children. What I wouldn’t give for one more day with both of my grandparents.

25. Appreciate what you have. Sometimes I look around and I’m just like, “Thank you.” I may not have the nicest car or the best apartment or the best hair, but I have so much to be thankful for. Don’t focus on what you do not have, you’ll never be happy.

26. Drink at least a cup of green tea per day. I drink green tea like it’s going out of style. It makes me feel energized and gives me a clear mind. It also boosts your immune system. Oh and stop drinking soda. Just do it right now.

27. Your happiness depends on you – no one else. Family, friends, significant others, children are all huge blessings and life would not be the same without them, but being happy is a state of mind. Only you can achieve true inner peace and happiness. Never depend on someone else to provide that for you – it’s impossible and it’s unhealthy. If you’re happy, then you can share that with the people you love and be a good, equal half of that relationship.

Low Calorie French Toast: Yummy AND Healthy

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I love French toast. You love French toast. We all love French toast… and if you say you don’t love French toast, you’re totally lying.

But, let’s be real for a second. The stuff is made of heart attacks. All of that butter, sugar, syrup and bread is just no bueno. It’s good at the moment, but the second you finish you’re filled with all kinds of regret. Who wants to live like that?

WELL. I’m simply not willing to go on living without eating French toast – at least every now and again. Therefore, I tried a lower calorie version this morning and, let me just say, it was amazing.

I’ve never been a measurer when I cook, but, for those of you who are, I’ve stolen this recipe and switched out the bad ingredients for the good ones.

  • 4 eggs (4 egg whites)
  • 1 cup half and half (1 cup unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tsp sugar (2 tsp Splenda, Stevia)
  • 8 slices regular white bread (8 slices of Sara Lee, 45 Calories & Delightful bread)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract (1/2 tsp Cinnamon)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (NO BUTTER NECESSARY, promise)

Preparation:

  • Pre-heat oven to 200°F.
  • Mix egg whites, almond milk, sugar substitute and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow glass dish. An inch deep should be fine.
  • Heat your griddle to medium-low, and use some type of non-stick spray to assure, well, no stick. Again, NO BUTTER. This is key.
  • Soak a couple of slices of your low cal bread (but only as many your griddle can accomodate at once) in the mixture while you count to ten. Flip them over and repeat.
  • Carefully remove the soaked slices from the mixture, letting the excess liquid drain into the dish, and transfer the bread to the griddle. Flip when the bottoms are golden brown. When the other sides are also golden brown, remove from the griddle.
  • Serve French toast right away, or transfer it to a dish in the oven to keep warm.

For syrup, I use sugar free only. I promise you, it tastes just as good.

If my calculations are correct, two pieces of this French toast will equal about 250 calories, give or take. Ain’t half bad, y’all. Oh, and remember, NO BUTTER. If I catch you with that butter out… 😉

The best part, you won’t feel bad after you’re finished. ENJOY!

Shovels and Rope

My deepest apologies for being MIA as of late. I’m going through many life changes and, unfortunately, that stuff takes up time. I have not abandoned you, though.

In fact, I have something pretty special for you.

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Shovels and Rope, performing live at 1884 Lounge in Memphis, TN.

Last Tuesday, I got to see one of my favorite bands perform live. I’ve posted about Shovels and Rope a few times before. They were part of the line-up at the music festival I attended in Atlanta, GA, back in May, Shaky Knees Festival. Unfortunately, I was unable to see them, as we were lining up to see another band. Well, they were definitely worth the wait.

Their music is unique. It’s a mix of country, rock & roll, blues. Heck, throw in a little bluegrass for good measure. They’ve really got their own sound, one that I have difficulty comparing to another band – and that’s a good thing.

What I loved the most about Shovels and Rope’s live performance was their blatant passion for one another. The two members, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, are married. So adorable, huh? You can really tell they love each other – and making music – when they’re on stage together.

Their song “Birmingham” is the semi-autobiographical tale of how they met. I’ve shared it here before, but here it is again.