Tuesday, December 3, 2013

day three 2013.

I woke up in a sour mood today so this advent challenge was really a challenge, but it was so worth it in the end. Most of the people I encounter are at my office, but still, we can be so wrapped up in our own worlds, our phones, our bad attitudes, that sometimes it's just best to look up every once in awhile, offer up a smile and a hello and just keep on keepin on.

Give it a try. Really.

day two 2013

Sorry if this one gets lengthy. I have a lot to be thankful for. 

(this list is in no particular order of most important to least important or vice versa.)

1. Goat Cheese- the nectar of the gods when it comes to cheeses. It's the jack of all trades in my book. Goes great in desserts, great with wine, great on salads, great on pizzas. We have quite the close relationship.

2. Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato- I kept seeing this temptation pop up in my instagram feed from some online friends and I can't believe I resisted the urge for so long because this gelato is heaven in a little plastic container. I'm not much of a sweets person, but if you say the words Salted Caramel, i'm sold. I've eaten containers of this...containers...sans guilt.

3. Family- I may be a little biased in this department but I feel like I win the most awesomest family category. My mom is this kick as, motivated, determined, hilarious best friend of mine and I feel incredibly blessed to have such a close relationship with her, even if that means spending time with her requires waking up at 4:45 in the morning. My dad is the king of humor, the guy who can get me out of any funk and remind me that it's all gonna be alright, the only guy I will ever play the "close your eyes and let me put this random (and probably gross) food in your mouth" game with. My stinky little brother..but really...that brother of mine is an all around, good, solid guy who has done so much with his life already that makes me so proud of him. And though we are polar opposites, I am glad it's that way because it makes our siblingness work even more. And even though she's been family to me for awhile, to all of us really, but now Shauna is officially a Brown and I just love having her as a sister. She just fits right in with our family, puts up and even participates in our goofy antics and I love our girls' weekends together even if we are lame and go to bed at 10 pm. She's the best sister.

4. Jennifer Stambaugh- I know it's hard these days to look past my giant biceps, but if you want to look toned like me, get Jennifer in your life. But really in all seriousness, Jennifer took this defeated, deflated girl, shook the dust off of her and said "I believe in you" and all along the way has just been an incredibly amazing support system. She's not just a fitness instructor, but she's a loyal friend who helps bring out the best in you. 

5. Photography- Having found the thing that drives me, inspires me, makes my heart beat, it's hard to express honestly how great it is. It's not just what I want to do with my life, it's how I share my life and share the lives of others.

6. Mistakes- We learn from them. We become stronger. It sucks that we make them, but be grateful we can learn from them.

7. Compassion- You know to have those people in your life who have seen you at your weakest and your ugliest and to still embrace you and love you, yeah that compassion beats almost anything in the world.

8. Glitter- I just love sparkly things. Like glittery unicorns. They make me super happy.

9. Dancing- You have to be a robot if you can't enjoy the simple pleasures of turning up some music and just making a fool of yourself, whether in the confines of your living room, in the drivers seat of your car or out at the club. Dancing can be some of the best medicine for the soul.

10. Lisamarie Pecaut- Even though we spent the majority of the year apart from each other, when she comes home, no matter how brief her stay, it's like we didn't miss a beat. To have that friend that you can just rely on, fall back on, the one who just gets you...hundreds of miles away even...that's priceless. She's seen me through some of my darkest times and now that I'm coming up on top of this hill and back into a good place in my life, I'm so grateful to have had her along for the whole ride. She's my person.

11. My new loft- Being able to live in a space that encourages you and drives you to pursue your dreams, well it's a real blessing. Having MY space, feeling more at home than I've felt in years, it's kind of still surreal to me that I live here. I still have to look around and take it in.

12. The kitties- even as I yell at them for messing with my Christmas tree, or for their incessant fighting with one another, I am grateful for them. People try and peg me as a crazy cat lady like it's a negative thing, but I own it loud and proud. These 3 all keep me company and definitely keep me on my toes. 4 am wake up calls, ruined rolls of toilet paper, and even escape artist Biko hopping on the elevator, I just love them.

13. Chipotle- I mean really, do I have to elaborate?

14. Sunrises- Ever since I started taking my 5:55 am workout class back in February I've forced myself into becoming a morning person and though in the winter months it's a wee bit harder to get out of the comforts of my warm bed, I have loved the beautiful sunsets I see so early in the morning. They are a beautiful reminder that each day is an opportunity to embrace life and live it to the fullest.

15. Forgiveness- I've needed it and I've given it...and though it's hard to give sometimes, sometimes the best healing can be found in forgiveness.

16. Trader Joes- I'm thankful for their cookie butter. The quesadillas I could eat every day for lunch. The samples. The friendly folks. It's just a magical place.

17. Quiet Sunday Afternoons- This is my favorite time of the week. Sleeping in, making homemade breakfast, sipping chai on the couch, mid-afternoon naps, even house cleaning. There's just something refreshing about staying in and enjoying the calm.

18. My Clients- My VSP clients just make my world spin. I love working with them and I love seeing their happiness when they see the moments I've captured during our time together. It's a pretty gratifying feeling knowing that you've frozen in time something so valuable for someone.

19. Music- Oh brother, I could go on for days. Sometimes music can be that extra spunk inducer you need for a solid workout, sometimes it can be a healing salve in a rough time, sometimes it can be the fuel that keeps you smiling on a long work day, sometimes it's like a photo album, taking you back to really beautiful memories in your life. 

20. Target- or Terrget rather. I've never been to Disney World, so for now, when I think of a magical place, I think of Target. Andplusalso, they now have a whole section dedicated to Unicorn themed cards in their greeting card section. Uh, hello, amazing!

21. Nikki Border- this broad. Well let me just tell you, this little slice of Philly in my life has brought me a heck of a lot of laughs and awesomeness. I don't know why it is that the people I seem to bond with the most either already live far away or end up moving far away, but I'm sure grateful that either way they are in my life. This chica is the kick in my rear end I need when I need some focus in my life, she's that "You got this girl" cheerleader on the sidelines....and she's that don't mess with this or I will cutttttt you friend we all need. Loyal through and through.

22. TGI Fridays- Haven't worked there in years and don't see it happening again, but this place is like my second family. I spend a lot of time alone, but when that gets overwhelming, I know I can go up to the bar, have company and feel right at home. I will always love my 1874 crew.

23. St. Louis- this city has my heart (and now that we are getting an ikea it has it even more). As much as I dream of tropical places...this place is always going to be home. I will proudly represent my city til the day I die. The best fans in baseball, some of the best free attractions, so many events for people to attend, sometimes there's too many things to choose from and I can't see it all. I love it here and I always will.

24. Bubble baths with a glass of wine- Ahhhhhh. You get me.

25. Good hair days- I always find that the days you don't try are the days people always are complimenting you, but there's something to be said about having a dang good hair day...it just kind of seals the deal on the day and makes it easier to plow through.

I am thankful for many more things. But these popped into my head first. <3

day one 2013

Perusing through Hulu and Netflix I found a few classics I haven't seen, Blazing Saddles, Roman Holiday, Gone With the Wind but honestly I had somewhat of a strict criteria for this challenge when I did this on Sunday evening. Being that I didn't get to the challenge until 10 pm and I had to work the next morning, as much as i wanted to see Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, I couldn't quite stay awake for two hours...not really a night owl anymore. Then, there it was, the perfect classic but short film for me to watch, The Red Balloon. On my forearm I have a tattoo of a small girl holding one single red balloon with the words "Let Go" scripted underneath and so many people ask me if it has any connection to this movie. Each time I was asked I would simply say that I had never seen the film and then explain the meaning behind it. Now I can at least say I've seen the movie. 

The Red Balloon is a short French Film about a small boy who finds a red balloon and as the movie goes along you find that the balloon has almost human-like characteristics, following the boy around like a companion. The balloon seems to take on the role of a loyal friend throughout the film and the boy in turn treats the balloon as a friend, taking it with him everywhere, even to school. Without much speaking in the film it's not hard to gather a tight bond growing between the boy and the balloon. It's strange because much like Wilson the volley ball in Castaway, this inanimate object takes on a personality to the viewer and you begin to feel a connection to it as well. 

I don't want to give away the whole movie, so if you have about 30-35 minutes to watch this movie, I highly recommend it. It's an Oscar winner and I can definitely see why.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Today's challenge was very timely and fitting. I can't go into too much detail about the task itself because there are still parts of it that are unfinished, but I can say it involves children and sending toys to a struggling family this Christmas season.

I'm at work today, listening to one of my many pandora stations, when I get a news alert on my phone that there was a school shooting in Connecticut. Immediately my heart sank. But as I tuned in on the radio on my phone, and as the news came pouring in, I felt physically ill. 

To think that this Christmas, 20 families will have presents wrapped and ready for children that have passed away because of the cruel and senseless act of a very sick and twisted human being. 20 children who won't get to experience the joys of Christmas morning and all of the excitement that follows. 20 children who were robbed of a life of joy, wonder and love with their families.

I'm not a parent, though I hope to be some day, so I guess I can't empathize to a full extent in that degree. But how my heart breaks so deeply for these families and I just want to scoop them all up and hold them close and love them. It's another perspective shifter. I woke up this morning and was semi-cranky because I didn't feel like getting out of bed. But in reality, I get another chance at life, another chance at loving those around me, and not taking the breaths that I take each morning for granted.

I am very excited about being able to send gifts to a family that needs extra love this Christmas season. I'm hoping in a few days I can disclose a little bit more information, but there's still some details that need to be worked out so I can't give it all away. I wish so badly that I could give more, but financially I'm giving what I can. More than anything, I hope my gift just represents that someone out there cares for this family and is thinking of them.

Hold your babies closer. Tell your families you love them. Be thankful. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Today's makes me nervous. This was a challenge for sure. I'm nervous because I'm putting something out here publicly that I haven't really done or shared in awhile. I'm no mozart when it comes to composing, I'm no Ben Folds when it comes to talent on the ivories, and I'm definitely no Celine Dion in the singing department. But I grew up singing on various worship teams at churches I attended. It always meant a lot to me because I love worship. I think our every day lives should be worshipful.

I've written songs here and there, but never did much with them. My skills are limited. But I know that when it comes to worship, it's all about the heart, and that makes my Jesus happy.

Singing and playing piano is something that I had suppressed in the past few years. I had this shame that covered my life and I was embarrassed by it. I'm trying to break through that again, because I'd love to get back to singing and writing again.

So getting this today was hard. Because it means I have to be vulnerable. I tried for over 2 hours tonight to think of something...and nothing. Until I started watching YouTube videos of one of my favorite worship leaders, Jenn Johnson. What I love about the way Jenn worships is this reckless abandon she has before the Lord. It's no show. It's no performance. She's simply standing in the palm of God's hand and honoring him. So when I sat down at the piano with that in mind, just abandon, something started to come to me. It's the very beginnings of something. But it just felt so good to worship. 

In all the trials and pain of the recent months I have found myself closer to God than ever, because I can see his goodness and faithfulness in my life even still. Even though my life is far from what I thought I wanted, I know that God is bigger than any of my pain, and he loves me with such a depth that I can trust that he has it in his hands. So that's where this comes from. A solid hope that in everything, God is good and faithful and I am thankful for his unfailing love. 

Again, fair warning, it's unfinished, it's been recorded off of my iPhone and it's been awhile since I've done anything like this. I also was trying to  be quiet since it was later at night and I didn't want to bother my sweet neighbor.

Listen here. And be easy on me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I had something in mind for today. And I even started typing something. But now I sit here in tears and I've erased it all. Because something much more important has come up.

Some of you may have seen me post on Facebook about my friend Amanda, her family, and mostly her sweet daughter Reese. Back on October 31st, Reese was taken to the hospital and there it was discovered that she had a brain tumor. The past 6 weeks have been nothing short of hell on earth for Amanda and EJ, at least that's what I could imagine. Tests. Tubes. Wires. Machines. Countless surgeries.

Last week we were all elated to see that Reesey was coming home. This new routine for the Skelte family was going to be a battle, but they were just happy to have their girl home. Last night Amanda had to take Reese to the ER because she had thrown up and Amanda was quiet all day. And this made me nervous.

So tonight, I wish that I was posting a lighthearted post, but Amanda and her family need prayers.

Here's her most recent post.

I know that I'm getting readers from around the world. Blogger has a fancy way of checking those stats. So, I'm asking for prayers, from all around the world. For Reese. For Amanda. For EJ. I wanted this whole advent challenge to be a way to reset my way of thinking and look at life in a different light, take the time to think of others before myself. So I beg that you join me and send all of the love and prayers you have towards this family.

I'm going to add the donation page on here so if anyone feels like they can donate to the family, that would be wonderful.

Please spread the word. We want a Christmas miracle and we want Reesey better.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Whew. I'm tired today. So tired, in fact, that I'm ready to fall asleep at nearly 8 pm. I had another crazy busy day at work and in the middle of all the madness, I realized I forgot to pull my task from my envelope. Doy.

Thankfully, it was something I could easily do when I got home. I have to remember to get it in the morning though, because I might need all day to plan for some of these things.

Anywho, tis the season for giving right? Well, today's task was to give away 3 photo sessions. That's right 3 free photo sessions. That's a lot of time and work to just give away for free. But Ho Ho Ho and a Merry Christmas people. That's how it goes.

So, how was I going to do this.

I made a facebook status on my photography business page that said "I need three people from the St. Louis Area to comment on this status. And go."

Easy as that. The first three people get a free session from me for Christmas.

30 minute session.
10 images.
All for free.

Either keep it for yourself or give it as a gift if you want. But Merry Christmas to you, Kami, Jeanine and Alex.

And for the rest of you (shameless plug) if you're in the St. Louis vicinity...click on my button over on the right and check out my blog. I'd love to photograph you in 2013. And share the photo love. Tell your friends!