Category Archives: Inspiration

In Search of: The Man in the Arena (in Ireland?!?)

I’m in a bit of a frenzy over here.  It is officially spring break!  And that not only means two weeks away from school (yes, two!) but also a trip to Ireland.  I like to tell my peeps I’m heading to the motherland.  (In case you don’t know, there’s a wee ‘bit ‘o Irish in my blood.)  And although I’m being totally silly when I say it, it’s also true — I AM heading to the motherland!

So as I pack and get ready for the craziness that is Dublin and hiking in Northern Ireland, I’ll leave you with this quote.  It’s a quote by President Roosevelt and was introduced to me by Brene’ Brown.  (And if you haven’t heard of her, she’s the researcher that gave the awesome TED talk on vulnerability, and you should totally check her out.  Actually, I think I’ll post it at the bottom to make it easy for you.  ‘Cause, seriously, check her out.)  Anyway, bit of a tangent there.  Here’s the quote.  Words to live by, if you ask me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Yep.  Words to live by.  We should all strive to dare greatly.

Also posted in Europe, Ireland, Trip Planning Tagged |

In Search of: A Daring Adventure


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In Search of: 100 Ways to Happiness

My dear friend, Jen, over at South Pacific Bound posted a list of 100 things that make her happy.  And it sort of inspired me.  Because it’s so easy to forget the awesome and focus on the less than awesome.  Jen’s list totally made me smile.  So much so that I knew making my own list would be even more smile-inspiring.

So here goes.  100 things that make me happy (brought to you in smaller chunks — expect two installments of 50 things that make me happy!).

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  1. Buying airline tickets
  2. Researching a new travel destination
  3. Lingering hugs
  4. Getting lost in a kiss
  5. Reaching a mountain peak
  6. Going down the mountain instead of up
  7. Wildflowers (especially if in a meadow)
  8. The meadow at the top of the South Loop Trail
  9. Sitting next to a turquoise waterfall in the Grand Canyon
  10. Glimpsing a spectacular sunrise off the balcony, and opening the blinds to enjoy it
  11. Sleeping in on Saturdays
  12. The sound of ocean waves
  13. My house decorated exactly as I like
  14. Pinning ideas for decorating my house exactly as I like
  15. Thai food
  16. Mexican food
  17. Carrie’s guacamole
  18. Laughing over memories with an old friend
  19. Reading a good book on a rainy day
  20. Rainy Saturdays
  21. Sun-shiny Saturdays
  22. Saturdays in general
  23. Winter break
  24. Spring break
  25. Summer break
  26. Being told I’m my student’s favorite teacher
  27. Being told I would be a great mom
  28. Color Running!
  29. Fresh flowers
  30. Beach sand under my feet
  31. A beautiful photograph
  32. A beautiful photograph that I took
  33. My grandma’s art
  34. Hearing “thank you” from my students
  35. Text messaging
  36. The possibility of owning a home
  37. Spring conferences
  38. Singing in the car. loud.
  39. A hot bath
  40. Reading on my Kindle
  41. Moments that make me realize just how fortunate I am
  42. Partners in crime (you know who you are)
  43. Being loved
  44. Giving love
  45. Doing pushups without modification
  46. Peaceful moments at home
  47. Good conversation paired with good food
  48. Afternoon naps
  49. Losing time while editing photos
  50. Creating my year-end video, and getting lost in the memories

Stay tuned.  The next 50 are on their way!!  Enjoy the weekend, my friends.  And be sure to take a moment to think of the things that make YOU happy.

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In Search of: A Full Life (and Self-Portrait Series No. 6)

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend.  He’s several years older than me and is considering an early retirement (because who wouldn’t want that?!?).  That conversation was a happy one.  And then he told me about a personal situation that might force him to retire early, regardless of his plans.  That part of the conversation, well, not so happy.  He said, “I hope it doesn’t come to that.  I don’t want to be forced to retire and not be able to enjoy my retirement.”

Then he said to me, “You just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Me: “Huh?”

Him: “I mean, all the stuff you do, all the traveling and hiking and stuff that makes you happy.  Keep doing that.  Because you’ve got it right.  You never know what’s going to happen when it comes time to retire.  People shouldn’t save all the fun stuff for later.  I admire you.  You’re bold and independent, and you go out and see the world and you do your own thing and don’t worry about what people think of it.  Keep doing that.”

That part of the conversation made me smile.  Because, honestly, I sometimes second-guess myself.  I mean, yes, I put money into my retirement account.  In addition to planning my travels and the next fun adventure, I do think about the distant future.  But I get the impression from a lot of people they think spending money on travel the way that I do is somewhat frivolous.  And I worry that no matter how much of my income I send to the 401K, it’s not going to be enough.  And what then?

But then I have to ask myself.  If that does happen, if my numbers don’t come out perfect when the good old age of 65 arrives, will I regret all that I’ve done?  Will I wish I had stayed home more and saved that expendable income of mine?  Truthfully?  Probably not.  Up to this point, I would say absolutely not.  There isn’t one adventure I would take back, not one experience I would return.

I love my life.  I love the fact that I have a separate savings account labeled, “Travel Fund.”  And I LOVE that I use it just for that.

In the spirit of adventure, here’s one more self-portrait from a hike I did last weekend near Lake Mead.  The hike is to Anniversary Narrows, a beautiful slot canyon in the midst of the desert.  It’s unexpected and really quite wonderful to see.  It also makes for beautiful backdrops when acting silly and modeling for the camera!

Self-Portrait No. 6


Also posted in Hiking, Las Vegas Hikes, Self Portraits Tagged , , |

In Search of: Setting Goals for 2013 (Welcoming the New Year!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to set up 2013 — what are my goals? what do I want to accomplish? where do I want to travel? — all the goods.  I sort of always do this at the start of a new year.  And this year, I’m a bit surprised to see a lot of friends are doing the same.  In 2012, it seemed that resolutions were so last year.  Yet, they seem all the rage again this year.  Woot!  To all of you that are setting goals and making resolutions, I wish you good fortune in making those plans a reality.


Now, for me, it’s simply a matter of choosing which goals to set to paper.  I have a tendency to want to do 1,001 things at once, and then it’s hard to focus.  This year, I’m limiting myself to five specific goals.  For the moment, I’m just listing them out (the ones that have been on my mind).  When I have some time, I’d like to be a bit more deliberate about the whole goal-setting process.  But I’ve found myself a bit scattered lately, and being deliberate hasn’t quite entered the equation.  When that time does come (that elusive deliberate time), here’s the plan: 1. identify five values that are most important to me, the ones that I hold close to my heart and that come together to bring me happiness, 2. for each value, develop five specific goals that will support that value and bring more of that particular thing to my life, and 3. review the list of goals (now 25) and choose the five that I want the most.  I like to be methodical in this whole process to make sure I find myself doing things that are in line with what I value most in life.  Because, sometimes, when you’re not even looking — your values and actions and priorities — they get all out of whack.  And you’ve got to bring it back home.

Anyhow, like I said, I haven’t exactly followed this process yet.  And so, for now, I’ve got a few things to share that I will do in 2013.  Some are year-long projects; some are one-shot deals.  So without further ado, here are five things I’m working on for the year.

Plans for 2013:

  1. Finish the Red Rock half marathon (March 9, 2013).  Ah, that elusive goal of fitness.  I’m actually pretty good about staying fit and being consistent with my workouts.  But I find, without something to work toward, I don’t push myself.  When I trained to summit Mt. Whitney last year, I was in amazing cardiovascular shape.  I want that back!
  2. Self portrait series (52 in total):  This is a creative project designed to push my photography to the next level.  I seriously love portrait photography, and I want to get better.  I’m a little shy asking people to let me do their portraits, not to mention, I’m not that confident with posing and allowing myself to be super creative when others are involved (not yet anyway).  So, to boost my confidence, push my creativity and learn a bunch about taking portraits, I’m creating a series of yours truly.  I’ll be sharing them on the blog throughout the year, and with a little luck and hard work, you’ll see some growth!
  3. Recreate another photographer’s work series (26 in total):  I love this idea, which I got reading another photographer’s blog (just wish I could remember whose blog I was reading).  Nonetheless, the idea is stellar, and I’m using it.  Throughout the year, I’m going to seek out photos I love from other photographers.  And a couple times a month, I’ll set out to recreate one of those photos (of course, I’ll always give credit to the original photographer).  This one is all about learning from others.  I have so much to learn in photography that I sometimes get overwhelmed and do nothing because I don’t know where to even start.  This gives me a specific place to start, and I’ll learn tons of skills by actually putting them to practice.
  4. Buy a house:  Apparently, this one involves a lot of luck and quite a bit of perseverance.  I’ve been putting in offers since around October and have had no luck.  The real estate market is tough out here, particularly in my price range.  There are a lot of cash investors that have the ability to beat me out, thus far, every time.  But before I throw in the towel, I’m giving myself another 12 months to get an offer accepted.  Financially, it makes a lot of sense for me to become a homeowner, and so I’m going to do what I can to make that happen.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  5. Travel:  At this point, this is pretty much a given.  Did you doubt I would make travel a priority in 2013?  I think not!  My plan is for two big trips this year — over spring break and summer.  I’m putting quite a bit of time into planning these days, and I should have some juicy details for you soon.  Stay tuned!

So those are my five big plans for 2013.  There’s also a curriculum project I’m scheming up, which I’ll likely share with you in the coming months.  I think I’ve got a phenomenal year ahead!  What about you?  What resolutions or goals did you decide on for the new year?

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