31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 16

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: What’s your biggest accomplishment?

This question is hard for me. I’m not entirely sure which accomplishment is my absolute “biggest,” but these are the ones that run through my head when I try to decide upon one:

  • The progress I have made (and continue to make) with coping with my anxiety. I know a lot of people probably think that I still get overwhelmed unnecessarily, and I agree that is true, but the change in how I react, both outwardly and inwardly, when that happens is substantial.
  • Earning my bachelor’s degree with honors. It took a lot of tears, naps, caffeine, notecards, highlighters, and summer classes, but I did it.
  • As a member of PCC (now ECCO), I created and executed a curriculum night for a Toledo elementary school from scratch, led two more, and then passed it on to someone else to chair. It is still an event ECCO does regularly.
  • Paying off my student loans. I’m not done yet but I feel a sense of accomplishment with every payment I make now since I had to defer them for the first year out of college. 
  • Being a district substitute. Not only is it a valuable position to the district, but it’s a great opportunity at this point in my career, and one that I truly feel like I had to work hard to gain.
  • Buying a car. Ever since I started driving, I have driven 10+ year old Buicks passed down from my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for those cars, and actually really enjoyed driving them. But last week, I found out I either had to buy a new motor for the current old Buick I was driving, or buy a new car. Dan and I went car shopping and bought a 2010 Honda Civic. It was thrilling. We handled the whole process without aid from our parents. Most importantly, we did it together. It was exciting to do something so big as a couple, and it was exciting to have the power in determining my vehicle choice.

I look forward to being able to add things like, “building a strong swim program,” “getting healthier,” “creating a home together,” “paying off the Honda,” “earning my masters degree,” and “getting hired as a full-time teacher” to my list in the future : )

What are your biggest accomplishments?


31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 15

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: list ten things that make you awesome.

This post is awkward. I don’t feel like I can identify what makes me awesome because (1) that is a very subjective question and (2) it makes me feel conceited doing so, even though this is the prompt given. So I am just going to list my strengths? Does that work? So awkward.

  1. I always say “please” and “thank you.”
  2. I have a superb memory for historical dates and facts.
  3. I learn people’s names and remember them.
  4. I can write a fantastic cover letter.
  5. I make really good brownies.
  6. I don’t accept it when students aren’t living up to their potential, but I still give them credit and cut them slack when I should.
  7. I can perform excellent covers of Eagles’ songs.

Around this point in writing my list I was stumped. What makes me awesome? I know somethings that make me kind, or creative, or sweet, but do those qualities make me awesome? WHAT IS THE CRITERIA FOR THIS LIST? I gave up. Ate chocolate. Read my list to my fiance and fretted about how I can’t come up with three more things and isn’t that terrible and what does that?! He said:

  1. You’re humble – “That’s why this list is awkward!”
  2. Your hair looks good long or short.
  3. You care about animals and take good care of them, like Madison.

So there you go! Thanks Dan for your help : )

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What are some things that make you awesome? 

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 14

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: What’s on your iPod? 
















There is a lot on my iPod. I listen to several different genres of music. I make playlists and then listen to them ad nausem. I get on kicks where all I listen to is a particular album. Still, there are certain songs I listen to more than others, mainly for comfort or because I am pretending to perform. It also summarizes the type of music I enjoy most pretty decently, though of course some things are missing. These are the top 25 most played songs on my iPod:

  1. Vienna – Billy Joel
  2. Feels Like Home – Chantal Kreviazuk
  3. Desperado – The Eagles
  4. Bless the Broken Road (acoustic) – Rascal Flatts
  5. Let It Be – The Beatles
  6. Heartache Tonight – The Eagles
  7. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey
  8. The Boys of Summer – The Ataris
  9. To Make You Feel My Love – Billy Joel
  10. Brand New Day – Joshua Radin
  11. Good and Broken – Miley Cyrus
  12. Hotel California – The Eagles
  13. Hold On – Michael Buble
  14. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) – Mamma Mia! movie soundtrack
  15. Up Around the Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  16. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
  17. Iris – The Goo Goo Dolls
  18. Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel
  19. Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
  20. Weeping – Josh Groban
  21. The River of Dreams /Keeping the Faith/Only the Good Die Young – Movin’ Out soundtrack
  22. Lost – Michael Buble
  23. Summer, Highland Falls – Movin’ Out soundtrack
  24. Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams
  25. Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright

 What songs are in your top 25 most played?

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 13

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: do you have regret?



I can honestly say I do not have regret, not in regards to major life events or choices. I do, of course, truly regret any actions or words of mine that hurt others. I wish, like many people, that I would never put my foot in my mouth or be caught up in a moment of anger or hurt.  While I regret those things, I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me about conducting myself, handling conflict, etc. Other than that, I do not regret anything. Sometimes, I wonder if I should have done things differently – like choice a major other than 7-12 social studies education, which is super popular and not in demand in Ohio, or move out of state right after college instead of staying in Ohio and becoming even more attached to home, or make stronger and more consistent efforts to get healthier sooner instead of struggling for so long – but then I think, whatever. It would have been NICE to have left college with a major I love that also could have gotten me a job anywhere. It would have been NICE to have a job in social studies education straight out of college. It would be NICE to feel more confident and stronger already.

But that’s not the way it is. I picked the major I loved even though I knew what would happen if I tried to stay in Ohio, and when I truly thought I would be okay with leaving the state. I was 18, 19. I couldn’t predict what would occur down the line, and even so, I had teenager invincibility syndrome going in my head still – “I could be the exception. I won’t get hurt.” Turns out I’m not okay with leaving, at least not at this point in my life, and of course I’m not the exception. But guess what? There’s nothing I can do about my degree and staying in Ohio now, so it’s a waste of my time and energy to brood upon it (and given my anxiety, if I allowed myself, I could really dwell). Not only can’t those things be changed, but I’m grateful for what I’ve learned professionally and personally since graduating from college, and I really don’t know if I would have gained those same lessons or grown in the same way if I had been hired into a classroom teaching position immediately. Plus, making a different choice wouldn’t have changed my career or goals a ridiculous amount. I would still be in some sort of position within the field of education, just in a different way. I probably have to get my masters to get a job now, but that’s okay, because I have always wanted to and planned on earning my masters anyway.

As for not being healthier than I am right now, I do truly wish I could already be where my goals for my health are, and being healthier now would change my life in many ways. But again – regretting it, worrying about it won’t change it, and maybe I’ve learned some lessons by struggling along the way. I just have to keep moving forward.

There’s always room for mistakes, growth, and improvement. As long as I can own up to my choices, take responsibility for them, learn from them, cut myself some slack where I can, and see the positive, I see no reason to regret a thing.

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 12

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: something that you miss.



I miss swimming. Not in a coaching capacity (though I am sad season is over!), not in a recreational capacity, but as an athlete. Even though I love working out, I have trouble motivating myself to do so. While I am not alone in this phenomenon, I dislike that I deal with it at all. For awhile, I thought it was because I wasn’t on a team anymore and didn’t have a coach, teammates, or scheduled practices to hold me accountable. So I tried blogging about it. I tried working out with friends. I tried joining a gym and taking classes. Then I thought it was because I wasn’t training for something specific. So I tried training for a 5K (despite the fact that I totally hate running and always have). All of these reflections and efforts helped me, but none truly hooked me, excited me, or stuck.

Ever since moving back to Cleveland and trying to settle my post-college life, I have had pangs for swimming.  I mean PANGS: sick jolts of longing in my stomach, swoops of something akin to homesickness. And lately, these pangs have become closer and closer together. Not because I miss coaching, or being around a pool, or anything else like that, but because I miss being a swimmer. I miss training. I miss smelling like chlorine even after I take a shower. I miss being so sore it hurts to walk up the stairs, having skin so dry I have to take oatmeal baths, and an appetite so strong I can eat a foot long Subway sandwich and three cookies and still be legitimately hungry. I miss racing. I miss the focus I get right before a race and the harmony a good relay team has. I miss pushing myself so hard I have to crawl out of the pool when I’m done.

Then it hit me. Why am I trying to replace swimming? What’s the point?  Yes, it can be a time-consuming and somewhat costly sport. But why waste my time trying to fall in love with and become good at something else? It’s not working, and it’s not worth it.

That’s why, when my year-long gym membership is up for renewal next month, I am not renewing it. That’s why I’ve been doing better with exercising the past couple weeks. Because next month, I’m putting my money and time where it will make me most happy. I am returning to the swimming world. And you bet I am ready for it.

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 11 (and kind of a Read It in disguise!)

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: the last book you read.

I want to talk about two books in this post: Four of a Kind by Valerie Frankel and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.


Source: goodreads.com via Kelly on Pinterest


Four of a Kind, synopsis: Four of a Kind is a novel is split into parts, and each part is further divided into chapters, each of which is told from the point of view of one of the four main characters: Bess, Robin, Alicia, and Carla. All four women have children who attend Brownstone, a private school in Brooklyn Heights. They come together as members of the Diversity Committee, and in order to break the ice at their first meeting, they play a game of poker. However, instead of playing for money, they play for secrets. Soon, the four become close friends and a support system, helping each other to challenge the “givens” of their lives and their families.

Four of Kind, my thoughts: I was interested in this book for a few reasons: (1) It falls into one of my two favorite categories, chick lit; (2) the premise intrigued me; and (3) it is authored by a woman who writes articles in Self that I just love. I was not let down. This book was very engaging. The characters were well-developed, with relatable responsibilities, desires, hopes, and fears. Even though I am not married (yet!), I don’t have children, and I don’t share the same career as any of the characters in the book, there were dozens of times throughout the reading that I felt a strong connection to the readers’ feelings and situations. I felt inspired and strengthened to deal challenges of my own. Aside from feeling an emotional connection to the characters, it was just a really good story. I had trouble putting it down to work on things I had to get done! I highly recommend it.


Source: goodreads.com via Kelly on Pinterest


The Happiness Project, synopsis: Gretchen Rubin decided she was going increase her happiness to its maximum potential, and spent a year in pursuit of doing so. She did tons of research and documented the entire process. Each month she focused on a different theme: energy, marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, friendship, money, eternity, a passion (books, in her case), mindfulness, attitude, and overall “boot camp perfect.” Rubin perfectly blends humor, research, and honesty.

The Happiness Project, my thoughts: I am blown away by this book – totally inspired, marking up the whole thing with notes, reading parts over and over. Rubin has a blog that I am now 100% subscribed and addicted to, and another happiness work that I immediately went out and purchased upon finishing her first. Rubin has developed and put out many tips and materials for readers to pursue their own happiness project, and I have already begun to take full advantage of it. I cannot recommend this book enough. I feel happier just having read it and recalling its lessons and stories on a daily basis.


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? What was the last book you read?

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: Daily routine.


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My days do not always work out as planned/ideally, just like everyone else, but this is what an average, “good” weekday is in my book:

  1. Hit snooze over and over.
  2. Drag myself downstairs. Drink coffee and sit with Madison on the recliner while dozing/watching local news/playing on my phone.
  3. Frantically get ready for work. Sometimes while this is occurring I get a call from work  reassigning me to a different school/teacher for the day.
  4. Go to whatever school I am subbing at that day.
  5. Follow the plans left for me by the teacher for whom I am subbing.
  6. During swim season or swimming intramurals, I head to the high school, coach/supervise while a caffeinated diet soda and drinking lots of water, then go home. When those activities aren’t in season, I stop for a coffee and then go home,  or just go home (to make more coffee).
  7. Once home, I change into workout clothes, watch an episode of a TV show on Netflix, have a snack, and pet the dogs.
  8. Walk the dogs.
  9. Relax/do chores/take care of tasks for work or other things.
  10. Eat dinner and then workout OR workout then eat dinner.
  11. Some nights I may go out to play free bar trivia with my friends. If not, I will Skype with Dan, relax/do chores/take care of work stuff, or have a phone chat with a long distance friend.
  12. Shower/bath.
  13. Bed! : )

What is your routine like on a “good” weekday?

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: Bucket/life list

I have definitely made bucket lists in the past, but (1) I made them years ago and my likes, dislikes, hopes, and wishes have changes since then and (2) I have no idea where any of them are anyway. So I just rewrote it, including what I am sure is some of the same and definitely some different. I had a lot of fun making my list and I’m looking forward to both crossing items off and adding more things onto it.

  • Travel outside of North America
  • Write a book
  • Host a fancy Thanksgiving dinner
  • Learn another instrument (I know how to play violin and alto saxophone)
  • Break 1:00.00 in the 100 freestyle (This is definitely the most “up in the air” item on my list)
  • Earn a masters degree
  • Fund a scholarship
  • Own, renovate, and decorate my own house
  • Climb a mountain
  • Visit as many national parks as possible
  • Go to Hawaii
  • Become known for a very delicious signature dish
  • Learn another language
  • Swim with dolphins
  • See a Broadway show with its original cast
  • Perform again. In a band concert, a play, something.
  • Learn a crafty skill and use it at least once to do something nice for someone else
  • Be hired as a full-time teacher
  • Learn how to change the oil in my car
  • Go whitewater rafting
  • Revise, further develop, and publish my Honors Project
  • Go fishing

 What’s on your bucket list?

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

For the month of March, I am participating in Fabulous Finds by Tiffany’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. Today’s prompt: Biggest pet peeve.

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I have some weird pet peeves. For example, I hate it when pens that should have caps don’t (they’re going to mark up your bag and everything inside it, and then JUST DRY UP). Similarly, I hate it when bottles of pop or water are just sitting on a table, open, without their caps back on (Same concept – they could spill! And don’t bother telling me, “Um, you know a glass of water could spill just as easily, right?” because yes, I know that. It’s just not the same.). I also hate it when students use astoundingly bad grammar in (“I don’t got my book,” “I don’t have none,” etc. – clearly used to explain why they aren’t prepared for class, which is just whole other issue in itself), or when other swim coaches let athletes dive into the shallow end (self-explanatory). However, I think my biggest pet peeve, at least as of late, is driving-related. I just cannot stand when other drivers on the road do not use their turn signal.  THAT IS HOW ACCIDENTS OCCUR, PEOPLE. Let’s be courteous, safe, and legal (And no, I wasn’t the driver when I took the photo of Bowling Green featured above – though it would be hilariously ironic if I was!).


Do you share any of these pet peeves? What is your biggest pet peeve? 

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Have a wonderful weekend, my dears : )