Book Review: Head First, a crash course in positivity

 

Steve Lawton is the type of guy that seconds after meeting him, you feel as if you’ve known him for years. He just makes you feel comfortable. I first met Steve about 20 years in 1996, when my sister and brother-in-law got married.  Steve is a fellow Aggie, like my brother-in-law Jay. Throughout the years, I would see Steve at various functions. A few years ago, my sister shared that Steve had been in a really bad skiing accident in Colorado and that Jay and another friend drove an RV out to bring him back to Texas. After hearing details of the accident, it is truly amazing how Steve survived. Just a few short years after the accident, Steve has shareIMG_5097d his story of positivity, resilience and determination in an appropriately titled book Head First: A Crash Course in Positivity. After finishing it, I can truly say what an inspirational book it was to read. I was reminded of how fast life can change and the role one’s attitude plays toward dealing with life’s surprises. Steve gives the reader 8 principles of how to maintain positivity when going through something negative or difficult.  His journey reminded me of my Dad’s philosophy: “There are problems and there are inconveniences. Learn the difference.” This is so true as we wall get caught up in dwelling on the little things and deeming our life to be over because we got a flat tire or our cable is out. I urge you to step back and reassess your priorities. When you see that your coffee mug leaked onto your back seat, sure it’s aggravating and makes you want to scream…..but is it a problem or
an inconvenience? Having cancer, an amputation or being stuck on a ski hill because of a fluke crash that cracked your helmet….those are problems. However, if you have the right attitude toward those problems, they can slowly teter toward an inconvenience. If you let it, the disease or problem can ruin your life. Don’t give it that much power.

If you liked the saying referenced above of my Dad’s, you can find out more information here. If you are interested in reading Steve’s book, which I hope all of you are, you can buy it on Amazon.  Follow Steve on Twitter: @stevehlawton.  IMG_3295

Christmas Through the Eyes of Children

For the past 19 years, opening presents has been scheduled around my sister’s family. For me being the youngest of 3, having the opportunity to watch my nephews and niece grow up and embrace their innocence has been one of the best presents. Yesterday was no exception. We decided to open presents before an early dinner and church. We all gathered around the tree with our piles of presents. Meagan, my niece, was in full excitement mode. Her 3 older brothers were on the other side of couch so they could spread out and have space. Their average height is about 6’2 and ages range from 15-19. Once my brother-in-law had his phone ready to record, the green light was given to start opening. My Mom and sister were on either side of me, and we all watched Meagan light up when she started tearing open her packages. Frequently throughout the Christmas season, I would hear my sister Kathy say, “I have to remember she’s only 10…and need to enjoy this time with her.” Whether it was a Bath and Body Works foaming body spray or a fun t-shirt, Meagan was all smiles. After opening a few of her own, she went over to my sister to see her gifts. My Mom and I caught Garrett, who just turned 13, punching his fist in the air out of excitement after opening a book on baseball stadiums.  Occasionally, from the other side of the couch, we would hear a “Thanks Grandma” or “Thanks Aunt Mary” from one of the boys as they unwrapped theirs. I loved turning around to see these large teenage boys, two of which are in college, still smile as they took part in the chaos. They haven’t outgrown any of it. This was evident an hour or so later as we were all gathered as a family in church (taking up almost a whole pew, I might add), when I watched my two 6’3 nephews sing along to the Christmas hymns. A proud aunt….you’re darn right!

One of my favorite songs I play repeatedly this time of year is “The Heart of Christmas” by Matthew West. The words ring so true as to how we should feel and the things we should embrace this time of year. Two verses of the song really say it well:
Wherever you are, no matter how far
Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas
Live while you can, cherish the moment
The ones that you love, make sure they know it
Don’t miss it, the heart of Christmas

Let’s make it feel the way it used to
Let’s find that wonder of a child
You can see the magic all around you
Come on, and open up your eyes

We are all guilty of rushing through the season. I work in a school and there were moments on the last day before our break where I thought, “Seriously, we’re already here?” Of course another part of me was ready to shove everything in my bag and check out for two weeks…but I just couldn’t believe the days had gone by that fast. No kids to see everyday with excitement in their eyes, anxiously waiting Santa and “the magic of Christmas.”

As you spend the day with your family, may you slow down and enjoy every moment.

Merry Christmas!

Returning to where it all started

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the opportunity to return “home” after losing my Dad in June 2015. Here is part of it:

       Once back home in Norman, I dove into work and also into helping to plan the 50th anniversary of my grammar school.  One of my former teachers and I exchanged texts and emails on a daily basis trying to put together what we wanted to be a memorable, fun event.  As with most everything she does, she sets the bar high.  This was no different…and she met those very high expectations quite easily (well-done, Ardie Herring).  The evening was a success filled with alumni ranging graduates of the 1970’s to 2000’s and teachers, both current and former (including one we hadn’t seen in 27 years).  This short weekend “home” (to San Antonio) increased my pull even more to be there on a more permanent basis and I headed back to Norman this time with a determination to do whatever it took to move closer to family.  In late October, I received a text from that same former teacher I helped with the reunion (see how it pays off to keep in touch) about an opening at my old grammar school.  A week later, I interviewed with the committee and a few days after that, I accepted the job of Admissions Director.  Two weeks later, my house was ready to be put on the market and my Mom, middle sister and I drove two cars full of my things down to San Antonio.

I have now been on the job and back home 11 months and am so grateful for the opportunity. My days fly by and I am immersed in many different aspects of the school that gave so much to me a long time ago. People frequently ask me what it’s been like to now work for a school that I once attended. Invariably, I’ll smile and respond with this, “The experience has been really neat. I won’t lie-I do find it weird at times to be back here, on the other side. But I love that the reputation of this school is still strong. My hope is that the kids who come here have the same experience I do.”

Sure, I was one of those girls who “played school” in my room but did I picture myself getting a Masters degree in Higher Education in Oklahoma only to return to my grammar school to use it? Heck no. God has a funny way of planting new opportunities right smack in front of us when we least expect it. I went from working with 18-25 year-olds to working around 3 year-olds to 15 year-olds. My day starts with greeting kids and getting them out of the car to putting them back in the car in the afternoon. My favorite part of the day, as crazy as this sounds (and if you saw it in person, you’d understand the chaos), is when my co-worker and I supervise sibling care…the holding tank if you will. This is the area those kids who have a sibling in middle school wait with us until the bigger kids are dismissed. The grades range from PK3-4th grade. The little ones are adorable. They tell you about their day and are such little innocent sponges.  I love getting hugs from the first and second graders (I’m no longer the new person whom they don’t know-yay!!).

As I noted earlier, on tours, prospective parents enjoy hearing that I went to school at Holy Spirit. They ask what has changed, what brought me back here and if I would send my own kids here (if I had children). Without a doubt, the answer is yes. When I walk into classrooms and see the way our kidimg_4237s are behaving, the respect they have for adults when they walk into a room makes me very proud. Come to think of it, they make my job easy too.

So as I near my one year anniversary, I am simply grateful for having this opportunity.  Be ready for those unexpected moments-you never know what’s around the bend and are usually glad you turned the corner to find out

 

Read, Write and Get Paid…wait, what?

I would bet that, like me, that are many people out there who love reading books and also enjoy writing as well.  The two things tend to go hand-in-hand.  Many instances after reading a really good book, I’ve wrote a blog about it or shared my experience on Facebook to let others know they should read or download the book.  Have you ever wanted to let an author know they really did a great job of capturing your attention and hooked you as a reader?  Imagine if there was an opportunity that you could get paid for doing just that.  Well, actually there is….Online Book club, an internet community for book lovers, has a chance for readers who are interested in writing reviews to get paid to do so.  This intrigued me because well, as we know, I love to read…and write and have been told I’m not too bad at it.  If you are interested in learning more, click here.

Product Review: Roku & Sling TV

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of paying an arm and a leg for cable television.  I kept hearing about Sling TV and “cutting the cord.”  At first, I was hesitant because I was pretty spoiled from Direct TV and having so many channels at my finger tips.  What I realized, however, is that between Netflix and the channels Sling offers, I would be just fine.  So as of a week ago, I did indeed “cut the cord.”  I already had a Roku stick so I hooked that up to my tv and signed up for Sling.  Granted, I don’t get all the channels I had before, but they’ll do for now.  My bill will be a flat $40/month and I am just fine with that.

Anyone else cut the cord and happy  with the results?  By the way, Roku products can be ordered here:
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Book Review: Murder on Moonshine Hill

I had the pleasure of reading this book in advance of its publish date.  I would encourage all of you to download it on August 23rd when it is released.  You will thoroughly enjoy the latest from Joan C. Curtis.  Here is my review:

Riveting and engaging from the start, Murder on Moonshine Hill is yet another book of Joan Curtis’ one can’t put down. Thrust back into the never dull life of Jenna Scali, the reader follows her along as Jenna reconnects with an old friend she hasn’t seen in years. Being invited to her wedding after years of being apart has Jenna curious enough to grab her go-to buddy Quentin and head for the mountains of North Carolina. The trip is full of mystery as she arrives at the somewhat secluded hotel for the weekend. What was intended to be a short trip quickly turned into a maze of questions and drama surrounding the surprise murder of someone in the immediate group.  Not one to shy away from a good scoop, Jenna goes into detective mode and grows closer to her friend in ways she didn’t see coming. This book keeps you guessing and glued to the story of friendship, murder, suspense and more. Well done Joan Curtis!

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May Crowning

flowers from May CrowningSo often we go through the motions of life, not really fully appreciating the little moments right in front of us. We’re so anxious to hurry up and get done and move onto the next thing. If we’re not careful, life will pass us by and we’ll be stuck wondering “What just happened?” This past Wednesday at the Holy Spirit School weekly mass, we held the traditional Crowning of the Blessed Mother. I knew vaguely what was going to happen but when I walked into the church to find our middle schoolers gathered in the back by the baptismal fountain with a flower in one hand, and clutching their buddy’s hand, I couldn’t help but smile. The entrance hymn started and the procession began. 8th grade teachers and staff watched with pride as a mix of students walked hand-in-hand with their buddies down the aisle. Cell phones and cameras were raised to capture the moment and parents beamed. I turned to my Mom and said, “I don’t remember doing that when I was here.” Apparently my Mom’s memory and that of my 5th grade teacher’s is better than mine as they both agreed we did in fact participate in May Crowning. Well, regardless, this year’s was absolutely beautiful. Thanks to this job, I have been able to sit back and appreciate all the different ways that our school commemorates events like this. When I saw our 8th graders walk down the aisle, with their buddy looking up at them in awe, I simply smiled. Shortly after returning to my office, I immediately sent out an email to our Middle School Religion teacher (aka my 5th grade teacher) and a few other key individuals telling them congrats on a job well done.

In this thing called life, let’s remember to soak up the little moments….