Looking Back on 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, I thought this was a good time to reflect and look back on an eventful year.  One of the many “highs” of the year was my trip to Hawaii in early February to cheer on the OU Softball team in their first games of the season.  From the team starting off with many wins, to learning (read: attempting) to snorkel, to stopping multiple times along coastline to take breathtaking photos, soaking up history at Pearl Harbor…the trip was a blast and one I’d repeat in a heartbeat.

hawaii 2015

View from room at Hilton Hawaiian Village

While that was only the beginning of 2015, the year seemed to go by fast and with a monumental event like losing a parent, you realize just how fast life can go.  From early spring, we knew my Dad’s days were numbered and saw this as an opportunity to start preparing ourselves (not everyone has this chance and we were grateful for the time).  Dad started to go downhill and throughout the whole ordeal of being on hospice, he maintained a great attitude, still having the energy to roll his eyes and yell at the TV for some political comment made on Fox News.  Dad passed peacefully on June 6th and with no regrets.  We were so touched by all the phone calls, notes and people showing up at the various services to be there for us.  My sisters and I were once again able to see just how many lives our parents have touched.

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” (San Antonio) increased my interest 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 a former teacher (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.

While we knew it would be hard, we also made this past Thanksgiving an inspirational and productive one.  For a while now, my middle sister Kathy wanted to do something to honor our Dad.  After bouncing a few ideas around, putting them on paper and getting the green light from her very practical husband, our new venture of Live.Simple was born.  I would love for you all to read “Our Story” about how it all began.candle

I’ve been told that all of the “firsts” are hard…holidays, birthdays and various events without those people we’ve lost.  The tears Continue reading

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Thank you, Shelby!

Dear Friends,

I received a comment on one of my blog pages today from a fellow blogger notifying me that she nominated my blog for “The Inspiring Blogger Award.” Even though I was unaware of the award, I was very touched. I proceeded to read her post where she acknowledged being nominated and how she was returning the favor. Her task to me was to answer the following questions:

1. What is the one blog post you have written, that you are most proud of? Wow, that’s a tough question because three posts come to mind where I paid tribute to 3 individuals who have since passed away. The postings brought comfort to not only me, but more importantly to their family members.

2. What is a day well spent to you? Any day that I can be around my family or good friends. A day where I laugh a lot and forget about all the cares and worries of the world.

3. What would you do with a million dollars? I would move my parents into a safer, renovated house; pay off a debt of a stranger (preferably a single mother struggling to pay her bills); create a scholarship for first-generation college students. These are just a few of the things I would do.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? The most valuable lesson I have learned is that almost always, your gut is right and that you need to trust it.

5. Where is the best place you have ever traveled? I have been fortunate to have the travel bug early on in my life by my parents. I would say that the best place, so far, was Durango, Colorado. In somewhat of a random choice, I chose that city for a girls weekend with my sister and wow, was it breathtaking. We went in December which made it even more of a perfect choice.

6. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? Hmm, interesting question. I would say I am doing what I believe in to be my calling for this time of my life. Is it my end all career? I don’t know. Right now, I enjoy what I do, enjoy who I work with and get to see the results of my work. Not everyone can say all 3 of those things.

7. What would you do differently if no one would judge you? Wow, another deep question. I honestly have no idea.

8. What could you not go a day without doing? Drinking coffee.

9. Who is your hero? Every member of the U.S. military who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom and safety.

10. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

11. Why do you have a blog? I have a blog to share stories, let out my frustrations, share my joys, and interact with others who are an inspiration to me.

Time for me to nominate 5 blogs and pose my questions to them. Here are the 5 blogs that I nominate:

Trophy Wives: This is the blog of Sarah Roberts, an FCA staff member who is in charge of the women’s ministry. She’s also the “team chaplain” to the OU Softball team which I am a big fan. Sarah is an incredible person, friend and leader of Jesus’s teachings. She never ceases to inspire me with her thought-provoking

Just One Way Ticket: This blog makes me want to pack a bag and go explore the world. I got to know the author through a freelance writing opportunity. She’s been to some very cool places and gives great hotel reviews.

Charlie & Co. Photography: I’m a little biased, but this is my cousin’s blog. She is a fantastic photographer and inspires me to take more pictures. Frequently, she will photography her little boy (my cousin) in her shots so I get to share and show him off as well.

jsack1’sblog: I love quotes and this is a blog authored by a proud mom who always incorporates quotes into her posts.  I always love reading what she has to say.

Momdeavor: A blog that incorporates two of my favorite things: family and photography.  This mother of 9 also has made me start weaving in gratitude into my posts which is never a bad addition.

These nominees may choose to accept the nod or not.  If you do, here are my questions to you:

1) Why did you start your blog?

2) What is the book you’ve read that touched you the most?

3) If you could eat dinner with a famous person, who is still living, whom would you choose?

4) Where is the one place you’ve visited that gives you complete calmness?

5) Are you a bucket list person?  If so, name one thing still on it.

6) What is your goal for your blog?

7) Copying from Shelby, what is a day well spent to to you?

8) How do you start your day?

9) What is your favorite holiday and why?

10) Are you where you want to be professionally and if not, what will you do about it?

11)  What is your favorite quote?

I was touched by Shelby’s gesture and glad it gave me an opportunity to reciprocate.

Happy Holidays!

Mary

Leigh Anne Tuohy: “Get out of your comfort zone”

 If you’ve seen the movie, The Blind Side, you are familiar with the character Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock.  We’ve all seen Sandra Bullock portray lots of characters and she’s done it well.  The movie was based off the best-selling book with the same title.  Many times we read a book and go see the movie and walk away thinking, “I wonder how much of it was true.”  I’ve seen The Blind Side many, once or twice in the theater and numerous others at home after purchasing it.  I can say it is one of my favorites.  I loved the message of it.  I loved that it made me laugh and cry and tugged at my heart more than once. 

Just a few short days ago, I received a campus-wide e-mail advertising a lecture that was to take place tonight.  The guest speaker would be none other than Leigh Anne Tuohy.  I had the choice of a basketball game or hearing her speak.  My choice was made the day I received the e-mail, no question about it.  There will be other games.  There is only one time to hear her speak.  I arrived at the lecture with minutes to spare.  Even though I shouldn’t have been, I was surprised at the crowd.  It was standing-room only.  After her introduction, Mrs. Tuohy took hold of the mic and starts talking in what I would imagine is typical Leigh Anne Tuohy fashion: frank and no-nonsense.  I loved it.  It was obvious to most everyone in the room who had seen the movie that Bullock mimicked her “to a T.” 

Touhy discussed the movie and how things have changed since it came out.  With her southern charm and down-to-earth personality, she even brought up the silly questions people have asked her.   

   “Has this movie changed your life?”  was one she shared.  She basically answered the person with, “Are you kidding?  Of course it has.”  After sharing about the movie, she encouraged the audience to do something to help others.  “There are Michael Ohers everywhere,” said Tuohy….referring to there being opportunities for us to help people all around us.  Place value on human beings around you….give of your time.  Get out of your comfort zone.  It’s not about the money for the Tuohy family.  It never was.    It’s about placing value on Michael’s life and those around you. 

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy have wrote a book titled, In A Heartbeat.  I don’t know about you but it never hurts me to read about how I can be a better person…how I can continually appreciate what I have been given….and how I can return the favor.

Right before her closing, she again encouraged the students and audience members in the room to get involved on campus.  She said that she wouldn’t think twice about calling back 6 months to check on our progress.  She’s one of those people that you just can’t help but like and can’t help but want emulate. 

One of my favorite lines from the movie is where Leigh Anne is having lunch with some girlfriends.  One of Leigh Anne’s friends says to her, ‘Wow, Leigh Anne, I think that is incredible.  You’re changing that boy’s life.”  Leigh Anne smiles and turns to her friend and says, “No, he’s changing mine.”