themed days & beginning the 52

So my dear friend & fellow blogger, Katie, at her site Runs for Cookies, introduced me to the concept of “themed blog posting days.” The basic concept is to post various themed writing for different days of the week. That way, if (when) I’m uncertain of what to write about, I can just say, “Oh it’s Tuesday, I should write about such and such!”

So I came up with my own themes and I’m going to introduce them to you now! Also, I might not stick to this 100% all the time. But it’s just fun to have something to refer back to for ideas.

If you hadn’t already guessed, Mondays will revolve around the mental health realm. Gotta love it! Just another manic Monday!

Tuesdays will sometimes be about tacos, but it will more so revolve around anything fitness, nutrition, low-FODMAP, health, weight, anything physical or food or whatever might seem appropriate for that genre in my bread, I mean head. Haha!

Wednesdays will center around anything “wellness” related, whether that be social, emotional, or heck, even organizational — because in my mind organizing things helps make me well. And my social work life would probably fall into this category as well.

I kinda love this one. It took me a hot second to come up with this day, but Thursdays are essentially a miscellaneous “catch-all” day. A day where anything goes, or perhaps I will have guest writers if there comes a day when someone wants to share something. Or perhaps some day someone has a question for me! Or maybe I will post inspiration articles or links to things that I like. Who knows. Thursdays is where these sorts of things belong.

Gotta love this day — Fridays are so fun! Haha. All things girlie: hair, make-up, jewelry, fashion, relationships, all that good stuff. The word fabulous kind of used to annoy me, which I find comical. I thought it was “too girlie” and cheesy and I dunno, now I just embrace it and love it. So yay for being fabulous!

One of my favorite things used to be sleeping in on Saturdays. Now I can’t really sleep past 7:00. But I love the fact that I can! And I love to laze around in bed and read books, and watch movies and TV shows, and listen to great podcasts. So Saturdays are dedicated to those topics.

Last but certainly not least, my faith and relationship with God falls to Sundays. I think that makes sense, don’t you? I will write about my thoughts, questions, love-affair with God, and yes, doubts too. I’ll be as real and honest as I can.

So there you have it! My themed days! And as today is “Throw-It-Out-There Thursday” — I want to share with you the beginnings of the 52 in 52! Last night I had dinner with some great friends (shout out to Liz & Kevin!) and stuck to my two drink limit, so that was good. But wait! There’s more.

I also started today with a #makeupfreeface — and there’s photographic evidence to prove it!

And after scouring the internet, and not wanting to spend much/any money, I found the best way (for me) to organize my nail polish. I used an old jewelry organizer that I had laying around that I wasn’t using. I laid out my nail polish in ROYGBIV fashion, and then snaked them, row-by-row, to give a pretty nice looking effect! Here’s the proof hanging on the back of my bedroom door! Snazzy is the descriptor I would use. Perhaps I will put some cotton balls or q-tips or something in those larger bottom pockets. Or even nail clippers, files, or heck, even put some nail polish remover into little travel containers, haha! The possibilities are endless. Welcome to my at home salon and day spa!

I am excited that the 52 in 52 has begun and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me! Hope you follow along and enjoy the journey. There’s still time to make a list for yourself, too!

Until next time, love to you my friends,
emily alma

fifty-two in fifty-two

fifty-two tasks in fifty-two weeks! That is my new thing. Huzzah!

So I know I just wrote last night that I didn’t want to overwhelm myself…but then today I read someone’s comment online how every year they write a list of fifty-two tasks, challenges, goals, or things to accomplish in one year, i.e. fifty-two in fifty-two. And a new vision was born for 2018. Anyone who knows me knows I love a challenge.

In the past I have done the 101 Goals in 1001 Days and I was quite successful at that. But 1001 Days was a bit too long for me. And I like the idea of one calendar year being my time-frame. So today I sat down, hit play on Netflix, and drummed up a list of 52 things to work on this year! Here goes!! Feel free to join me on my journey, follow along, and/or create your own list!

XOXO,
emily alma

 

<food related> (8)

make sangria.

make cardamom bread.

try three new recipes.

learn to make decent pour over coffee.

go on a picnic.

eat fondue.

find a favorite recipe for overnight oats.

limit alcoholic beverages to two drinks per sitting.

 

<creative> (7)

throw pots with dad.

paint a mini with John.

sew two projects.

complete one woven tapestry.

learn the Chattanooga Choo Choo on piano.

write 30 blog posts.

make a bookmark with pressed flowers.

 

<movement & travel> (6)

bike all or part of the Kal-Haven trail.

go camping.

take a trip.

go to a drive-in movie.

play tennis.

go on a hike.

 

<brainy> (5)

read in my hammock 3x.

read 30 books from the list.

go to a museum.

earn 30 CEUs for social work license.

read Cinderella in English/Spanish side-by-side book.

 

<social> (12)

meet my (currently) unborn niece.

send out a group of holiday cards.

host a dinner party.

mail 10 birthday cards.

create a proper address book.

write my family tree.

write John’s family tree.

go on a father-daughter date.

go on a mother-daughter date.

create a “date-night-jar.”

pay for a stranger’s coffee.

go on a thrift store date with John.

 

<financial> (5)

pay off my credit card.

create & utilize a budget.

donate $1 for every task I don’t complete.

tip 50% or more for a service provided.

save $1000 emergency fund.

 

<miscellaneous> (8)

complete a puzzle.

organize my bathroom closet.

invest in return address labels.

complete 12 make-up free days.

complete 12 social media-free days.

deliver a surprise gift (in person/via mail).

whiten my teeth.

take 12 “me-time” baths.

organize my nail polish.

savor & beloved

// past & future // moving from savor to beloved.

Have you ever heard of choosing one word as an “intention” or purpose word of the year? I’ve heard people mention it these past few years, but I’ve never jumped on board myself. Yesterday, I wrapped up reading “Savor” by Shauna Niequist — a daily devotional that was and is absolutely amazing. All of her books are absolutely incredible and I highly recommend them. As I read the last day’s text, I reflected on how the word “savor” is such a powerful word and instruction. It commands us to enjoy each and every aspect of life. As I thought back to the trials and joys of 2017, I wish I had thought to make savor my word. Looking forward, I began to ponder my new devotional for this year and I am indeed taking the hint this year.

“You Are the Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living” — my devotional choice for 2018. It was gifted to me by my Mom and the first post was inspiring. But what I love most is the word “beloved.” That is my word choice for 2018 — “beloved.” Quoting Merriam Webster, beloved means: dearly loved and dear to the heart.

That is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with: feeling loved. I have a few internal lies that continue to run through my head like songs that get stuck and never seem to leave you…only these internal lies kinda kill my soul. One lie that I constantly tell myself is that I am unloved and unlovable.

This year, 2018, is the year of “beloved.” I am claiming it.

><::><::><::><:BELOVED:><::><::><::><

Looking forward to this new year, I always like to make goals. In the past I have made categorical goals and I often do quite well with them. I achieved almost all of my 2017 goals, so that was pretty exciting! But I don’t want to overwhelm myself this year, so I am limiting myself to three goals.

>> 1. Read more. Keeping in mind my last post, I have a long way to go in working towards reading those 100 books and I want to get started!! I also want to keep track of them on GoodReads. Then I won’t forget my thoughts on them.

>> 2. Move more. One of my 2017 goals was to reach my goal weight (that had been on my goal list since I gained the weight in 2007…) and now that I’ve reached my goal weight, I want to gain some strength & muscle tone!! I want to move my body, spend some time outside, and better myself (and take advantage of my aaptiv app that I aapsolutely love — haha!).

>> 3. Save more. I need to budget. I need to spend less and save more. I want to pay down my debt, be wiser with my wallet, and be a good steward of the gifts I have been given.

I realize it’s important to set goals with concrete and measurable indicators. I will work on those in the coming days, I promise. But at least I’ve got something to start with!

Until tomorrow,
love to you my friends,
emily alma

 

the much anticipated list

John & I share a love of reading. We could spend the entire day curled up in bed, in our pjs, with a candle or two lit, our legs criss-crossing, and the blankets tangled so that you don’t know which way is up. We get lost in the world of words.

A while back, the magic of the interwebs made me aware of “The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge” in which all 339 books referenced in Gilmore girls had been chronicled and the challenge was to read them all. I mentioned it to John, shared the link, and asked him if he wanted to do the challenge with me. Immediately getting excited at the thought of the challenge, we jumped on board…and then…took a longer harder look at the list. Thus our search for the perfect list began.

We spent much time searching for the best “Top 100 Books” list. We found many great lists. But each list had its flaws. We really enjoyed TIME’s “All-TIME 100 Novels” — but was a bit disappointed after learning that they created the list based on the time-frame of when the magazine began, therefore eliminating books that were written prior to 1923 (e.g. the entire collection of the works of Mark Twain). Various other lists simply did not include some of our favorites or included others that we thought didn’t belong on the list.

So we came up with a delightful solution — we created our own list! Granted, we do not claim that these books are “the best” by any means. Heck — we haven’t even read most of them. Here’s what we did: we each decided to choose our “top ten” in that these ten are some of our favorites or most read. Then we came up with 40 books that we would like to either read or reread. Each contributing 50 books, thus completing our list of 100 books to read. We have a shared google doc and are adding in the “date finished.” I also plan on doing some book reviews here and there, and I hope to do some star-reviews on goodreads. I am not super familiar with that site, but hope to learn more about it.

J is power-housing through the books already. I, on the other hand, am not. I have moved three times in the past four months and have picked up a side gig, so I’m a bit on the busy side. But those who know me, know that I love life that way. Regardless, I do plan on tackling it soon. And also, I’m not counting books I’ve already read, even if I’ve read them recently. I am starting fresh and plan to re-read them all (with the exception of the top ten, perhaps…). I love having my nose in a book, that is for certain.

So without further ado, the list (in alphabetical order, naturally):

J’s top ten:

Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court Mark Twain
Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
Denial: History on Trial Deborah Lipstadt
Harry Potter and The Deathy Hallows JK Rowling
High Fidelity Nick Hornby
Ragtime EL Doctrow
Sophie’s World Jostein Gaarder

J’s to read/reread:

1984 George Orwell
Adventures of Pinnochio Carlo Collodi
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Mark Twain
Brothers Karamazov, The Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye, The J.D Salinger
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Mark Haddon
Elegant Universe, The Brian Greene
Ethics Benedict de Spinoza
Farenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Edwin Abbott
Free Will Sam Harris
Stranger, The Albert Calmus
Grapes of Wrath, The John Steinbeck
Great Gatsby, The F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
Handmaid’s Tale, The Margaret Atwood
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
Hobbit, The J.R.R Tolkien
Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
Inherit the Wind Jerome Lawrence
Innocents Abroad, The Mark Twain
Jungle, The Upton Sinclair
Just Mercy Bryan Stevenson
Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The C.S. Lewis
Lord of the Flies William Golding
Lost World, The Arthur Conan Doyle
Metamorphosis, The Franz Kafka
Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
Moby-Dick Herman Melville
One Flew Over the Cuckcoo’s Nest Ken Kesey
Origin of Species Charles Darwin
Peter Pan JM Barrie
Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Sophies World Jostein Gaarder
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
Wrinkle in Time, A Madeleine L’Engle
Zarastura Nietzche

E’s top ten:

Furiously Happy Jenny Lawson
Gifts of Imperfection, The Brene Brown
Glass Castle, The Jeannette Walls
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling
Love and Respect Emerson Eggerichs
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl
Million Miles in a Thousand Years, A Donald Miller
Screwtape Letters, The C.S. Lewis
Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, The Mark Manson
Wild Cheryl Strayed

E’s to read/reread:

All About Love: New Visions Bell Hooks
Art of Happiness, The Dalai Lama
At Home in Mitford Jan Karon
Bird by Bird Anne Lamott
Color of Water, The James McBride
Color Purple, The Alice Walker
Cosmos Carl Sagan
Cuckoo’s Calling, The Robert Galbraith
Divine Comedy, The Dante Alighieri
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman
Explicit Gospel, The Matt Chandler
Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee
Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, A Flannery O’Connor
Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie
How to be a Woman Caitlin Moran
How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler Italo Calvino
Jesus for President Shane Claiborne
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
Modern Romance Aziz Ansari
Moveable Feast, A Ernest Hemingway
No Baggage Clara Benson
On the Road Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Opposite of Loneliness: Stories and Essays by Marina Keegan, The Marina Keegan
Power of Now, The Eckhart Tolle
Quiet Susan Cain
Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Stephen Covey
Thousand Splendid Suns, A Khaled Hosseini
Tiny Beautiful Things Cheryl Strayed
To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
Tools of Titans Tim Ferriss
Walk in the Woods, A Bill Bryson
Wonder, The Emma Donoghue
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig

<:o:>+<:o:>+<:o:>

So there you have it — I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions. I would also love to hear what some of your favorite books are, and what some books are on your “to read list.”

 

Until next time, love to you, my friends,

emily alma

 

through the words of a book

Has anyone read (or listened to) “Furiously Happy” since I wrote about it? I sincerely hope so. It’s truly delightful. To reiterate from Jenny Lawson herself:

“I’m fucking done with sadness, and I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE. … I’m going to destroy the goddamn universe with my irrational joy…”

Sometimes, it’s hard to make life “furiously happy” though, right? Sometimes it’s easier to melt into the pages and journeys of someone else’s life. Sometimes, skulking through the chamber of secrets, averting your eyes as you go to avoid the basilisk, as the panic pulses through your veins, is much better than being “furiously happy” in your own life, because you have melted into someone else’s journey — through the words of a book.

I love literature. I love books. My undergrad at Calvin was partially an English degree (Interdisciplinary Science with a double focus in English and Psychology, to be specific).

As Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “I have been through some terrible things in my life; some of which actually happened.” I love this quote. It was shared at church today in reference to how we get in our own heads and worry.  I am the queen of getting in my head. Just this past weekend, when out with friends, I had to escape to a public bathroom and google quick meditative techniques. I found two which I think I will use for the rest of my days (yes, they’re that good).

1) Pretend like you’re watching yourself on TV. The article that described this technique did so in much more flowery and descriptive language with great reasoning as to why and how you step outside of your perspective and become instantly calm, etc..etc…and honestly — at that moment — I didn’t care why it worked. All I knew was that I was anxious, irritated, and having a crap-night. And watching myself on TV through a fictitious screen, worked. Plus, it was kinda fun.

2) Take a slow breath. This one sounds super typical & ho-hum average. On the breath in, you say to yourself, “I am.” On the breath out, you say to yourself, “at peace.” Again, complete with great explanations. I also switched out the wordings. Not gonna lie — I was a tiny bit upset with my man, so I said “I am” — “in love” while I held his hand. It actually worked like a charm. What I said was true, but sometimes when you get frustrated with someone, it’s easy to remain frustrated and forget the bigger picture of life and your relationship.

Anyway — back on track #rabbittrails Our pastor did an excellent job of using Paul’s words in Philippians to talk about choosing joy over worry, and choosing joy in our Lord. I am of the firm belief that God also gave us literature and words to bring us joy. And wowzer — do words bring me joy!

I have always been an avid book worm. I was in the Boxcar Children book club and would have three books delivered monthly. They’d be devoured within hours. But I did get a neat cardboard caboose to store the first twelve or so books in. I have been on many adventures with Nancy Drew and solved many a mystery with her as well.

this is not mine…mine must be packed away at my parents’ house somewhere..

My parents have always told me they struggled with the whole “lights off” concept when I was a youngster. They hated scolding me and requiring me to turn off the lights because I wasn’t up late doing naughty things — I was up late adventuring in the pages of a good book. I would sneak my nightlight under the covers and keep on reading. They always knew.

When “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” came out, my life was forever changed. Literature has been and always will be a driving and life-giving force in my life. Whether it be fictional tales, life-giving advice works, words of encouragement pieces, or educational tools for work — literature courses through me. It’s the best anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and mood-stabilizer on the market, hands down.

So stay tuned for the next post in which I share John & my 100 book reading list! 😉 I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

 

Furiously Happy (choosing to be/a book review)

About a month ago I received an email about a promotion that Audible was doing in which, if you submitted a 30-second video clip about why you love Audible, you could potentially win a free car. Considering my rust-bucket of a vehicle was on its last legs, I thought, what the heck, I’ve got the app and have listened to a book, maybe I should give it a shot? So I downloaded a book I had been wanting to listen to, and plotted my way to a new car…so I thought. But what happened was a gift better than a new car — it was a new look on life.

While I never got around to creating a 30-second video on time before the deadline to submit. I did listen to a fantastic book by Jenny Lawson entitled “Furiously Happy.” I laughed, I cried. It was fantastic. Truly. There was one day that my roommate came home and I was sitting at the kitchen table with my phone out, the book playing, and I’m sitting there sobbing because of how moving her story was.

Jenny’s autobiographical comedic tale is her story of triumph and struggle with her mental illnesses. It’s her second book (which I was unaware of and am now listening to the first). It was a game-changer for me.

But why the title? Jenny describes one point in her life where to decides to be “furiously happy” — to have adventures and create amazing moments and memories so that in the depths of depression she will be sustained by those memories of crazy adventures and good times. This quote shows her quirky personality:

“I’m fucking done with sadness, and I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE. … I’m going to destroy the goddamn universe with my irrational joy…”

Ha! How great is that? I’m telling you — I laughed so many times while listening to this book. And I also had a complete paradigm shift. I now choose to live furiously happy.

There are so many great things I could share about this book. But really all I am going to say now is this: Buy it. Read it. Listen to it. Soak it up. Laugh. Cry. Enjoy it. I know I did. You will not regret it.

…but the sad part is. I did not win the car. Haha. And my car’s transmission was on the verge of dying…so I decided to part with Elena the Elantra and welcome to my heart, LaFawnduh (named after Kip’s love from “Napolean Dynamite). LaFawnduh is a 2009 Honda Fit. Here she is getting gas for the first time!

Petting the sea creatures at the zoo.

I’ve had some other pretty fun and happy and furious things happening in my life lately. I just returned from a family trip to Tacoma, Washington. My parents surprised me by buying tickets to visit my brother and his family with them for a week-long trip. It was just the get-away that I needed! We spent a good deal of time relaxing and just hanging out. I had great quality conversations with Ben over some beers, with Kristen while getting pampered with massages, and with mom while shopping. Dad and I even got to bake some pies! And Ayla and I read a million books together. A perfect week in the rainy state of Washington.

Also — I am moving! I moved a few days ago temporarily into my parents’ place because I got my own little place within walking distance of my work and I could not be more thrilled. I will be in the same building as a dear friend of mine. I will have a gas burning stove top (eee!) and have a pool this summer! Could life get any better?! So, in the meantime, so that I don’t have to pay rent there, a security deposit, and rent with my old roomie, I’m crashing with my parents until I can move in on the 20th. #cannotwait

And last but certainly not least…I have started a new diet. Ughh. Not because I want to lose weight but because I want to have a normal…”system.” Haha. I have started the low-FODMAP diet, as recommended by my GI doc.  Click here to learn more about the low-FODMAP diet and click here for the book that I bought to follow as my guide for recipes and a 14-day meal plan that so far, has been fantastic. My amazing friend and co-worker, Emily, has been so supportive and has joined me in doing this diet. She is a great accountability partner, and also happens to be a great cook. So that has been helpful. Essentially, this diet will (hopefully) help solve my gut issues that I’ve had since 2009. Fingers-crossed!

So that’s life as of late. It’s been a crazy-beautiful and furiously happy journey. Thanks for joining in. Hope all is well, my friends.

XOXO,
emily alma

Gratus -a -um

Prince’s “Purple Rain” adding spice to life!

Mr. Prince (and I’m not referring to the beloved singer of “Purple Rain” with an honorific — I’m referring to my beloved high school Latin teacher) would be so proud to know that I am reflecting back on my days in class and thinking about the root word of grateful.

Gratus -a -um — why? Why in the world am I thinking about the masculine, feminine, and neutered form of the root word for grateful? Because gratitude is a concept that has been on my mind a lot lately. And naturally, Latin comes to mind? Haha! (…life with bipolar disorder, and my natural nuttiness…)

Gratitude is a natural antidepressant.

I have struggled with depression on and off for a long time. My first and most vivid memories of my struggles with depression were in the summer of 2007, when I ventured off to live in and do missions’ work in Palmer, Alaska. It was a bittersweet experience. I loved it. I loved jumping off 30 foot cliffs into icy lakes. I loved the mountain hikes. I loved the late night deep campfire discussions about life, faith, and everything in between. I loved the long days with light blue skies until 3:00 AM. I loved stalking moose with my dear friend, Bridget. And yet — it was a tear-filled experience as well. It was shrouded with the clouds of depression.

And I have continued to struggle with it, on and off, since. There are various things in my life that trigger depression for me. That being said, I have found that gratitude is a natural antidote that, honest to goodness, truly works. I remember one time, while waiting to board an airplane, my mind started to sink into the depths. So I opened a note on my phone and started to furiously type a list of things that I was grateful for.

There are many ways to treat depression (and other mental illnesses): medication, counseling/therapy, education, support groups, and various life changes including practicing gratitude!

How does practicing gratitude act as a natural antidepressant?

When we focus on and consider what we are grateful for, the production of serotonin and dopamine increases in our brains. These neurotransmitters send signals to the “happiness center” of the brain similar to the way antidepressants do. So, essentially, practicing gratitude — literally writing down, or verbalizing what we are grateful and thankful for, can act as an antidepressant, but naturally, for free, and without all the negative side effects.

So, without further ado, I am going to write a short list of some of the things I am grateful and thankful for, because…

#practicewhatyoupreach

1. the people in my life. I have truly been blessed with some amazing friends and family and a wonderful man as well. Having mental health struggles makes for an interesting and fun life, but it can make life challenging at times. And I am so incredibly grateful for those who have walked with me through the dark times and celebrated with me in good times as well.

2. my faith in and relationship with God. Honestly, this is and has been the most sustaining thing in my life. Without God — I don’t know where I would be. He is my rock, my joy, my all.

3. my cup of coffee in the morning with splenda and a bit of creamer — a way to start the morning off with a bit of warmth and a bit of sweetness.

4. the energy that I somehow receive that wakes me up at around 6:00 AM every morning. I used to be that girl that woke up at 1:00 every afternoon, that slept away half the day. But miraculously, I now wake up like clock-work (much to John’s chagrin) around 6:00 every morning and am ready to take on the day. And I absolutely love it.

5. television sitcoms. When I am having a down day, when the tears won’t stop, or my brain won’t turn off and/or go to a happy place — I love to flip on Netflix and melt into my big screen TV and pop on Friends or The Office or Sex and the City or Gilmore girls or any show where I can join old pals and laugh and laugh and laugh…

6. grass between my toes. Oh and sand too.

7. I’m grateful for and so very thankful that I have transportation. When my good friend and college roommate, Lo moved back home to southern California, she sold me her car for $500. And I have had it for several years. It has been a good little car. And my mechanic, bless his heart, has done a great job of keeping her running. Praise God for transportation — to get to visit friends and loved ones near and far, to get to work, to go on any adventure my little heart desires.

8. books! books! and more books! and my Kindle! and my love for books! Yay reading! I have so many books on my “to-read-list” it’s not even funny. Like woah. I love it. I should probably write a post about books some day soon. Oh man. #englishmajor

9. jewelry. I love Premier Designs (a direct sales company I used to work for) and I love getting dolled up and fancy and layering on the jewels and I am so thankful for all of the jewelry that I have. What a blessing.

10. Last but definitely not least, I am SO SO thankful that my mom and dad bought me plane tickets to go visit my brother and sister-in-law and little niece in a couple of weeks with them for a week! BEST GIFT EVER! #cantwait

Alright. I think I definitely need to work on having an attitude of gratitude. Even just writing this post, I feel better. Maybe I should write a post about exercise and then I might be able to convince myself to go to the gym that I joined recently…bahaha! Thanks for reading guys. I’m grateful for you as well.

love to you my friends,
emily alma

(Thursday night) Friends

“Your love is like a giant pigeon, crapping on my heart” — croons Phoebe. Phoebe is and always has been one of my most favorite characters on Friends. And the sitcom Friends is a staple of two of some of my oldest and most important friendships.

Every Thursday night in high school, Kathryn and Christina and I would gather at Mama and Honey’s house to watch Thursday night’s comedies, which included Friends. We bonded over Dr. Peppers, the dramas of high school, and scattered papers of last minute homework assignments that we were scrambling to do in the back room of Christina’s grandparent’s house. It was a glorious tradition that I cherish in my memory. It bonded us. We were three young girls trying to figure life out in the echoing halls of high school; we banded together in solidarity as we faced the world.

And we’re still friends to this day. We’ve gone the distance as far as time and literal distance. We’ve all traveled far and wide and we’ve had each other’s backs through it all. I’m not saying our friendships have been without their bumps. What relationships are perfect? But those bumps make us real. I love these two dearly.

What is friendship?

Proverbs 17:17a tells us “A friend loves at all times.” That’s pretty straight-forward. I am blessed to have some pretty awesome friends. Kathryn and Christina are just two.

Friends are the ones that hold your hand in the dark times. They wipe your smudged eye-makeup from your face before you go back out in public after an emotional moment. They give you courage and strength when your well has run dry. They make you “welcome home” signs when you return from months abroad. They send you encouragement cards in the mail when they live across the country and know you’re going through a hard time. They dance with you to silly songs just because life is great. They dress up with you and get fancy because “why not?!” Friends are there for the good and the bad. The mundane too. Friends don’t desert. They stick around. Friends are the coffee of life — they’re what you want in the morning to wake you up first thing. They give you energy. They can be sweet at times, but bitter if not treated well. Friends, like coffee, must be treated well. Friends, like coffee, must be chosen well. Friends, like coffee, bring me so much joy. They are essential.

I love my friends. And I love you. Love to you, my friends.

XOXO,
emily alma

cinnamon spice lattes & then some

embracing my feminine side — wearing makeup, Premier Designs jewelry, and a dress — nestled up next to my love.

Continuing that conversation of choosing joy, I sit here with my cinnamon spice latte and Amos Lee on my pandora station and not only am I happy, I am joyful. Sure, life can be pretty annoying sometimes. Take for instance when my client last week berated me for a good half hour because his apartment complex did not provide a key for him quick enough when he had requested a replacement. Oh the injustice! #life Haha.

But really, life can be pretty great. It can have its sweet and delightful moments. Since this blog is new to me and perhaps you as a reader do not know me at all, I want to share some things that bring me both joy and happiness!

>>Cinnamon spice lattes with soy milk from Biggby. I worked at Biggby for a summer. After I graduated from grad school with my masters in social work, I had to find work lickety split because I knew student loans weren’t going to pay themselves. And thus: Biggby! I got to experiment and try all sorts of drinks. Not being much of a tea drinker, it was kind of unusual that I fell in love with it, but being that it was the a tea latte: tea and steamed milk, it was a bit sweeter and creamier. Mmm…oh so good (and no, I am not getting paid for this, bahaha!).

>>A good quality book. Also beside me as I write this from the Biggby down the street are a handful of books and my Kindle full of many more that I have yet to explore. I love to read. I love to escape into worlds unknown, or topics left to be discovered. Whether it be the true stories of someone’s life, the fictional tales created in someone’s mind, advice about life from a wise sage, or knowledge for knowledge’s sake: I love to read. Words entrance me. I am a gypsy of the page. I get lost and can be hard to be found again. It’s a love affair that I will never recover from.

>>Nature, hiking, camping, campfires, grassy knolls, sandy beaches, streams, lakes, mountains: I swear I am kinfolk to Cheryl Strayed and Wild is in my blood. I may not be an “uber-wilderness-girl” — but I surely do love being outside. Get me some fresh air and I’m good.

>>Sleeping bags are my home. Is that weird? Was I a caterpillar in a former life aching to be in its cocoon? Perhaps…

>>This is something I’m more recently discovering about myself, was perhaps a bit embarrassed about for a while, but am learning to embrace: my feminine side. As a youth, I was a total tom-boy. All my neighbor friends were boys — so I was just “one-of-the-guys.” Even in middle and high school, I was always just a friend to everyone. But more recently, I am wearing a bit more makeup, occasionally donning a dress or skirt, and wearing a lot of jewelry. I even worked for Premier Designs and sold jewelry for a while (and consequently have a lot of jewelry in my collection…like a lot). It’s been kind of fun — not gonna lie. So there’s that.

That’s just a snapshot of what brings me joy and happiness. There is much much more where that came from. Honestly, what brings me the most joy and happiness in my life are the people and relationships that I have. I treasure my friends and family and loved ones dearly. I hold them close. But if I were to even begin to write about that topic, it would be a novel of a post, and well, it’s about time I start wrapping up the night and getting ready for bed. Haha. Thanks for reading. Until next time.

love to you my friends,
emily alma

joy vs. happiness

Happiness fades with the sunset, but joy is everlasting as the sun. What is the difference between joy and happiness? Happiness is like a drug, it feels good when you’ve got the high, but it is not long lasting, it is not sustaining; it is circumstantial.

Joy, on the other hand, is a state of being. Joy is a way of life. Joy is a choice. Joy, like the sun, is always there and warms you whether or not you always see it or feel it. You choose to believe in it’s power, in it’s existence. Joy is a fruit of the spirit.

When life brings you down, when the bills come due and the bank account is dwindling towards empty — happiness fades. When a friend promises to be there for you and the phones lies silent on the desk — happiness fades. When the MRI report reads possible sarcoma and you can’t breathe — happiness fades. What then? What sustains you? Joy. You persevere with joy as your guiding light.

There have been times in my life when choosing joy was not an easy task. After just reading through some of my posts from my old blog when I was in Spain, especially the second post following the first time my classmate raped me…just re-reading that post reminds me of how lost I was. I started to question what I wanted to do with my life, what my goals were, who I wanted to be, and who I was. I was feeling empty and void. I was struggling to find my purpose, and definitely my joy.

I was robbed of my happiness and I let my joy be stolen from me. I had become a shell of a being. For three months I walked those city streets of that tiny coastal town in Denia, Spain: empty, void. No joy. I let it escape me. I did not pursue it. Looking back, I think I found happiness in simple things: the Mediterranean coast, the cafe con leche, the siestas in the afternoon where I would take 2-3 hour naps in my cozy bed. But I let joy escape my grasp and did not make it a priority.

Choose joy. I had to choose joy. I had to wake up every morning and make a conscious choice to choose joy. Upon my return to Grand Rapids, I met with my counselor and processed through my experiences and my emotions and my feelings of shame. I began to learn how to live life again, to choose life again, and to ultimately choose joy.

That lesson has helped me time and time again. It helped me when I was un-diagnosed with bipolar disorder and taken off my meds, when the mania struck, when I was hospitalized (twice), and when life took a downward spiral. Joy is hard to grasp when life is at its seemingly worst. But that’s when you must hold on the tightest. Joy sustains. Joy uplifts. Hold on tight. Life is a wild ride and joy is a great companion.

dinner and drinks @ Greenbush Brewing with my dad, 9/7/17

Cheers to joy.