Sugar and Sass, Champagne and Class… That’s What 40 Is Made Of

VALERIE

Age: 480 Months

Height: 61 3/4″

Weight: Fabulous

 

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Every girl, everywhere, listen up.

Take a page from the book of Valerie and celebrate age with enthusiasm, youthfulness and excitement.

Like fine wine, we get BETTER with age.

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By 40 we’ve been through a lot, learned a lot, mourned losses, and celebrated wins.  We’ve redefined boundaries, established meaningful relationships, and evolved into our best selves.

 

And we are wise enough to know that we will continue to evolve and redefine who we are, what we stand for, and what we believe in.

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We take life seriously…

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But we know how to let loose, make fun of ourselves, be eccentric, and LIVE our life for us.  And only us.

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We get ONE life, and darling… 40 is another chapter in our book.  A chapter WE get to write ourselves.

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Valerie, my friend.   I am not sure in what chapter we became acquainted, but I am ever so thankful we did.  Your spontaneity, humor, EXTRA AF attitude is everything.

EVERYTHING

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May you never lose your light, your sparkle or your youthfulness.

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Forty

(well, near 40 since you started celebrating exactly 35 days early)

looks SO good on you.

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Cheers to your teens, twenties and thirties.

Forties? 

Watch it… She’s coming for ya.

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CHEERS!

 

Happy 2019!

It’s January 2nd (well, January 3rd as of publishing for you detail-minded folks) and I’m feeling all the New Year vibes.   Who hopped on the ever-popular resolution bandwagon?  Goals?  Give a darn’s?

Image result for happy 2019

As 2018 came to a close, I reflected on the last years milestones and how they aligned to the 2018 expectations I set for myself.    My motto in 2018 was to “focus on the good stuff and let go of the rest”.

Well, actually, my motto was a little more colorful in nature

let go of the BS and focus on the good sh!t

… but whatever way you spin it, same same, eh?

I even bought the shirt:

That motto served me quite well as it allowed for growth and failures.  Wins and losses.   It was quite a year of transformation, and all because I worked on ME intellectually and emotionally.

New Years resolutions don’t have to be standard.  Often times those standard resolutions are narrow and full of false hope.  Why do that to yourself?  Each day, each month, each year is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, your actions, reactions, and your relationships with those around you.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be the best I can be for myself, for my spouse, for my family and for my friends.  That goes FAR beyond what I see in a mirror each morning while I am putting my mascara on and curling my hair.

2018 was a year of monumental (and quiet) growth.  

2019?

PURPOSE DRIVEN

 

I took a look back at what I wrote in my 2018 post and thought I’d share a few of those transformational moments.  More for me, some for you.

  • Being truly PRESENT.
    • I spent more time with my phone in my purse and present with those around me.  I was living for the experience and less for the ‘gram.
  • Being more observant in my career.
    • I redirected my career focus to incorporate long term visions.  What was once working for me, no longer did, and when I created that shift internally, a large door opened and opportunity beyond measure appeared.  I am in a new position, with a new institution and learning so much about myself as a leader, colleague, mentor, and influencer.     Growth.  Impact.  Purpose.  
  • Being MORE present for my husband and his business.
    • I help deploy month end paperwork, assist in providing a larger social media footprint, and bake weekly goodies for the crew every Sunday. 🙂  Sometimes the little things help with the big things.  It also gives me more time to engage and connect on a different level with that beautiful bald badass of mine. 
  • Allowing more time for myself to learn and grow in the areas that mean something to me, my self-awareness, personal health, well-being and my bigger purpose.
    • I found a strength and conditioning gym with coaches and peers who are driven by strength, GRIT and tenacity.  We do hard shit.  We build athletes.  We don’t give a SHIZ if you are a size 0 or 20.  We care what you increased in your bench press and back squat 1 rep max, or that you are one less band closer to strict pull-up, or that you worked through an injury and have graduated to full range push-ups rather than wall. That gym speaks my love language.  
    • I sought out new professionals who provide me internal and external wellness guidance and contribute to my desire to discuss these intricacies at a raw and intellectual level.  Game changer.
    • I have read books and researched articles on emotional intelligence’s and journaled my growths and setbacks.
    • I enrolled into a big scary program that has pushed my intellectual and emotional boundaries further than I ever knew I could go… and will continue to go for several years yet.  Bless you, Clint.  Those emotional rollercoasters this last term were intense. You rode them alongside me like a friggin’ CHAMP!

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  • Making more time for meaningful conversations with friends.
    • Girls days and nights were a-plenty and well-loved.
    • Scheduled lunch dates and afternoon cocktails with former colleagues, mentors and supervisors proved to be therapeutic and growth minded. When we said “let’s do it again sometime” I followed through.  
    • There is a group text strand amongst a few gems that literally lights up my days and provide the comic relief that finds its way in on the days its needed most.  Even the most mundane of connectivity provides a deeper emotional impact.
  • Being quiet, listening more, saying less.
    • I stepped back from being a complete open book.
    • I focused my energies on being a true Servant Leader at work.  Listen more, talk less, move forward with all ideas in mind.  It’s a daily task and I learn more about myself as a leader with every passing day and interaction.
  • Canceling out the unnecessary noise that life wraps us up in and spending more time on the quiet.
    • I let go of some of the “noises” in my life. Social media channels removed, limited time on active social, saying no to things and people that didn’t fulfill me, etc.
    • Stopped allowing myself to get worked up about what others were or weren’t doing that didn’t align with my own beliefs.  To each their own!  If it doesn’t affect me personally, I don’t waste energy on it.  
  • Being less of a copy and more on owning my original.
    • I am ME.  I would say unapologetically me, but that would be a lie.   I am just me.  I think, reflect, write, stress, internalize, second-guess, judge, rejoice, pray, believe, question, and apologize on the daily.  And when I act before I think, I reflect on how I could have handled it differently and make note to be better the next time.

 

So here is my very public recap of my somewhat private 2018.  It was a year of significant growth and change personally and professionally.  2019: we are coming in HOT and purpose driven and all about helping others define their purpose and being the best they can be.

Career goals will be achieved, new initiatives will be employed to allow faculty and student growth, support systems are being put in place for staff development, and challenges will be faced with grace.

Personal milestones will be achieved unscheduled and unplanned as I continue with my 2018 motto that served me quite well.

Let’s do this!

Cheers to 2019!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

 

I made this dessert earlier this summer and OHMYGOSH you guys.  It was insane.

Or… so I was told.  I made it for a work meeting.  All I know is it was licked clean within an hour time span.

Thanks to Vera over at Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts for the easy to follow instructions and recipe.  Springforms and I have a history of disasters, but this little raspberry crumble number redeemed our friendship.

Enjoy!

PS. You should click on her link above for legitimate photos of the dessert.  Much more pleasing then my kitchen lighting + iPhone snaps.  Lazy at best when capturing food shots.  Whatevs.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

 

Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese-softened
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup raspberries-washed and well drained
FOR THE CAKE:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5.5 Tablespoons unsalted butter- softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter-chilled and cubed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Filling instructions: Mix the cream cheese and sugar together on medium-low speed until creamy. Add egg white and mix on low until combined. Set aside.
  3. Cake batter instructions: Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Spread the cream cheese filling on top. Place raspberries on top of cream cheese filling.
  5. Topping instructions: Combine sugar, flour and chilled cubed butter in a bowl. Stir with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and sprinkle on top of raspberries.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack, run a thin knife around the cake and loose ring of springform pan.
  7. Store in the fridge.

Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

The Fight of Two Wolves Within You

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

What wolf are you feeding?

Our thoughts can be our own worst enemy, or are biggest advocate.  How we channel our thoughts effects the trajectory of our lives.  It is inevitable that both “wolves” will always be a part of our journey, however, we have the power to choose which one wins minute by minute, day by day, one small victory at a time.

The evil wolf allows negative thoughts in that add up over time to where you no longer realize you are living in your own self-made world of pity, sorrow, skepticism.  You have fed into the negative talk for so long that it has now become a part of who you are and maybe even how you are perceived.  This wolf is the easiest to feed.  It’s easy to slip into negative self-talk.  It’s even easier to complain, gossip, brush-off, ignore, or give-up.  Even the negativity that you brush off as joking is feeding into the evil.

Negativity breeds negativity.

But the second wolf?  That second wolf is full of promise.  It’s also full of work.  And THAT my friends, is where the magic resides.   The second wolf requires patience, commitment, tenacity, grit, perseverance, trust.  It feeds on learning, sharing, praising and the forming of habits.

The second wolf brings forth a sense of accomplishment, pride… peace even.

What’s that cliche phrase?  Nothing worth having comes easy.  You could apply it to this evil versus good wolf scenario.   Take the road with the challenge for the end result is worth more than its weight.  Feed the good wolf.  Feed the wolf that reaps the most benefit.

Right?

But what if I told you to feed both.

If you read into the Cherokee story, the alternative resolution is “if you feed them both, they both win.”

Think on that for a moment.

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Both wolves have characteristics necessary to life.  The evil wolf provides fearlessness, courage and strong-will.   The good wolf provides reason, clarity, courage, longevity.  When paired together they are powerful.

It is up to us how we manage our thoughts and how we provide an avenue for both wolves to co-exist. Mental clarity, self-awareness and confidence resides in the mind over matter.

“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”

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Why Blog?

In the world of social media, one could make the assumption that a blog is just another platform to overshare.  There are many reasons as to why people choose to blog whether personally, professionally, branding, memory preservation, or for collaborations across brands.

All blogs have their purpose for the identified author and audience.

 

When I first started my corner of the blogging world, I started out with sharing experience’s, places, networking and promoting brands and products with giveaways and challenges.  It has evolved into a place where I can share stories of what means the most to me as it relates to the people, events and experiences I surround myself with.

Mostly,

I blog for memory preservation and for story telling.

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I am not a big fan of documenting my every move and every photo on traditional social media platforms. My mind has shifted over the years to providing rich snapshots of my life versus a smattering of unrelatable photos and check-ins.  My blog provides me an outlet to share the what and the why’s behind my actions, my thinking and my surroundings.

 

  1. Places!  I love to share the places I have visited or roads I have traveled.  Reasons being are twofold: 1. It helps promote the business/location and I am all for giving someone a glowing recommendation when warranted (and also why you will see me hyperlink businesses) and 2. It gives readers ideas on where to travel or points of interest to visit on their next adventure.
  2. Friends!  My blog allows me a platform to brag on and show-off my friends.  I have a lot of fierce women surrounding me and I get the opportunity to show them off in the beautiful light I see them in and gives YOU, the reader, the opportunity to see their personalities and true beauty too!

     3. Personal!  It’s my place to share my beliefs, ideas, tips but also the highlight reel of my family life, married life, biker life and all the things in between that mean so much to me.

But, to dive a little deeper… I blog for memory preservation.  Alzheimer’s and memory loss are legitimate concerns for me.  I do a lot of reading on Alzheimer’s and memory preservation.  My memory fails me often the more I shove in my brain over the years.   I often joke that I have early onset, mostly because there are many events/moments that I simply do not remember that others do, but I also know that is partly because I wasn’t making a POINT to imbed some of those moments into my long-term memory.

At any rate, I want to be able to look back on the special moments in my life and read about those experiences long after the little details have left my mind.  I want documentation of my thoughts, my adventures and progression of my personal and professional development.

 

Blogging provides a different platform to share.  It’s my platform and little corner of the world, and for those of you who continue to follow along, I thank you.  Thank you for taking time out of your life to read about what is going on in mine.  You have taken a deeper love and interest in me and what I find important and valuable.  Thank you.

I only hope I provide you the same respect, love and admiration.

 

Cheers to living, breathing and loving this life we have.