Passing Notes – blast from the past

high school notes

Confession: I am a hoarder. I keep EVERYTHING. I have boxes of old school papers, notebooks, ticket stubs, toys, cell phones, printed out emails, programs, brochures, gift bags etc.

Last night I came across a dusty shoe box (which used to contain Mia platform sandles circa 1997) stock full of middle school and high school notes. I lost myself for a good hour, pouring over the thoughts of 14-year-old Katie and her bff Kay (who still is my bff which makes it all the more fun!). We were huge boy crazy dorks. Some days we passed at least 4 notes to each other. We kept each other sane during our freshman year of high school when hormones were high and we were desperate for boyfriends.

This blast from the past got me thinking about “today’s youth” (oh god I sound OLD!). In 1998 we teenagers didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t have texting, facebook, twitter, instgram, or snap chat. We relied on good old paper and pencil and sly ways to pass paper to one another during and between classes.

Nowadays, kids can type as many text messages as they want, developing a good back and forth banter. With notes, you had to think out how you were going to use that one piece of paper, what important things did you have to share? What couldn’t wait until the end of the day? Hand written notes have more value and more permanence. I can positively say that in 15 years I will not be going back and looking at old text messages the same way I browsed through notes from 15 plus years ago.

So I’m here to see what being a High School Freshman was like. The year was 1998 – Leonardo DiCaprio was the king of the world, skater culture ruled, the members of Weezer were our idols, boys were mystical creatures, and no one understood us.

Most notes were intricately folded. They are full of code names for boys. Half the time I have no idea what we are talking about. Here is one of my favorite finds. Turns out we were pretty mean and terrible girls!

high school notes

 So poor Kay thought she’d fail science (even though she currently has a 93%) and then suggested that we stage a fight so that we scare the freshman next year? (we so couldn’t wait to be sophomores). I also love that it is written to “Kate”. There was a time that I thought “Kate” sounded SO much more sophisticated then “Katie”.

Don’t worry – we never staged a fight. We actually took freshman “under our wings” that following year. Look forward to more freshman girl insight next week!

xoxo Katie

 

Choose Your Own Adventure

Looking at everyday as an adventure Teenage Katie was a dreamer. As a high schooler, I had high hopes of adventure for my future. I was ready to take on the world, climb every mountain, sing every song, and live a full life.

I had visions of living in NYC, surviving on ramen noodles and champagne in a shoebox apartment where I poured my soul into becoming the next great American playwright. I saw myself moving abroad for a year, an independent soul-searching journey where I’d spend my days at outdoor cafes sipping espressos and scribbling away in journals. I felt certain that I’d spend a summer sailing the Caribbean on a small sailboat with a dashing lover. Don’t let me leave out my belief that I’d be married by 24 and a mother by 28.

When we’re a teenager, the future seems endless, filled with possibilities, brimmed to the top with hope and anticipation. I was a sheltered young girl living in a small town who couldn’t wait to get out and go on adventures and to “see the world”. Life was boring and I was busting at the seams for the future to come. My fantasies seemed so realistic to my 16-year old self.

I think you can safely guess that I never did live that bohemian life in NYC, or the solo expat life, or life on the sea. What happened to my sense of adventure? Do I regret this? No. Those fantasies fueled me with hope and pushed me to work hard and dream of a big life. To open my eyes to a bigger world.

But the bigger reason why I have no regret revolves around perception of self. What do all of my teenage adventures have in common? Soul searching. The main purpose of each of those adventures was for me to go out and find myself, find a purpose, find something to live for. I thought that I’d find those things only by living out huge dreams, taking big risks, and separating myself from all that I know. Oh how wrong you were naive Katie.

I named this blog “A Beautiful Little Adventure” because I like the daily reminder that everyday life IS an adventure. Why wait of big fantasies when every single day is filled with possibilities? I can see my teenage self rolling her eyes at me, mocking my “settled” and boring life.

I don’t regret not living out those big dreams because I have found myself. I found her on the adventure of finding lifetime friends in college and doing crazy things, I found her on the adventure of working jobs I’d never imagine myself in, I found her in the adventure of dating, I found her in the adventure of defining who I am and embracing my individuality.

I thought I should look up the official definition of the word Adventure.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines adventure as:

:  an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks:  the encountering of risks 

c:  an exciting or remarkable experience 

So yes, every day IS an adventure.

Everyday we are experiencing something new, taking a risk, and experiencing something remarkable. There’s the surprising fact that I am living back in my hometown, a place I was so anxious to run away from, and I’m enjoying it. There is the newness of everyday – the choices we make, the people we meet, the little surprises that come our way. There is the biggest risk of all time, falling in love and getting married. Giving yourself fully to another human being and committing for life doubles the risk and the surprises that life may throw your way.

The future used to look endless. Now life is rushing by so fast that some days I get whiplash and have to stop and recover and really look around. By looking at life as an adventure I’m choosing to celebrate all the moments big and small. From weekend getaways, to weekly friend dates, to even trips to Costco (free samples!). An adventure is waiting for you every single morning. With a little change in perspective you can see how big “your” world is.

As a teenager the world outside of yours was the one you wanted to be a part of. It was all about escaping the known. Living life isn’t about escaping. The adventure is waiting for you right here, in the present. I choose to embrace it, see all the possibilities it holds and do what I love.

line Today, I’d also like to share with you the story of Heather, Cameron, and Lily Von St. James. This beautiful family is a role model for changing your life perspective and living the adventure of life moment by moment.

LungLeavin'Day cancer

Eight years ago, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer that kills most people within 2 years of diagnosis.  She had just given birth to a daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live.  After a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, LungLeavin’ Day was born.  

The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears!  Each year, The Von St. James gather around a fire in their backyard with friends and family, write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. They celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, they celebrate life! 

This will be the 8th year that we celebrate on February 2nd!

I encourage you to check out the LungLeavin’ Day website to read more about their inspiring story. (it is one very cool interactive site!)

What a beautiful reminder that life is what you make it. Choose strength over fear. Choose love over anger.

 

Real Talk – Unfocused

findingfocus

You see all these bloggers with seemingly perfect lives, Pinterest worthy homes, clothes and days. I’m not one of them. I like to keep things real around here. So here is another edition of ranting real talk

I’m stuck.

No, considering these negative temps we are STILL experiencing, I think frozen is a more appropriate word for what I am experiencing. I can’t find the motivation to do anything.

Earlier this month I communicated my winter time blues, so it is no secret that I’m in a serious thunk. All I want to do is come home to my comfy couch, layer on blankets upon blankets, and eat warm food. It’s too cold for anything else. Last night we finished watching the entire series of Breaking Bad. We started it less than a month ago. (and oh my what seriously good writing, my mind is still reeling). Like, I said, I do not want to get off the couch.

Or out of bed. Upon waking I spend way too much time on my phone or pushing the snooze button, postponing the inevitable truth that I will have to get up and go to work. Normally I enjoy my job. I like the work my company does and I love the relaxed environment I work in. I’m the only employee and can wear jeans everyday, and can get away with leggings and yoga pants! But my frozen brain is making it very hard to get through the work day. I’m putting off projects til the last-minute. Everytime I go to start a new project I get instantly distracted. I make other easier work just so I don’t have to do the harder work.

And just have a look at my desk.

my cluttered desk

Gone is the neat and organized girl. Soon they are going to send the producers of “Hoarders” in for me. Maybe I think the piles of papers will soon act as insulation and keep me warm?

The gym is only happening 3 times a week as opposed to my usual 5-6 times a week. At home I’ve been preparing only the easiest of meals and avoiding all laundry and cleaning. Surprisingly, I’ve managed to put away most Christmas decorations, yet my kitchen still seems to be confused as you can see:

chalkboard

I am constantly thinking up cute winter or  Valentine’s day sayings to replace the Christmas message. But, every time I look at it, I just feel overwhelmed at the idea of taking down the board, erasing, and writing a new message. I just look at it and run out of the room, choosing to ignore.

Same goes with blog posts. I have at least half a dozen well thought out drafts, but when it comes time to finalize them I come up with a million excuses. The worst is when I decide to write something off the top of my head, like this ranting gem of a post. Nothing like writing about writer’s block,am I right blogosphere?

All of these consequences are followed by guilt and more avoidance. The fact that my desk and house is a mess is truly counterproductive because I do my best creative work and productive work in neat and tidy work spaces. So, the clutter just stresses me out more and I just walk away from it. Hey, even at this point it feels like I’m avoiding finishing up this post with any real structure or closure and just rambling on and on.

So, I decided that if I come here on the blog and offer some advice on how to FOCUS then I’d HAVE to take my own advice or live with knowing I’m a huge hypocrite. So, here are a few ways in which

Split up Tasks: I get so overwhelmed when I see 30 emails to respond to, or a stack of papers that need to be sorted and dealt with. Try to tackle one obstacle at a time. For example, I will tell myself that I will respond to 4 emails, upload and edit 10 photos, and type 1 chapter of the manuscript I’m working on. Break down your tasks. Most of the jobs aren’t hard per say, they just seem overwhelming when combined.

Reward Yourself: Tell yourself that after completing one of your tasks you can browse twitter for 5 minutes or that you can have a second cup of coffee. Simple rewards break up the day and also structure your time. I know if I didn’t give myself these time limits I could get lost on social media for hours.

One Song = One Job: Put on your favorite music and tell yourself your going to work on one thing while one song is playing. This works best for me with household chores. I’ll start in the kitchen and say I’ll work for the duration of one song. Usually once the next song comes on I think, oh I can work through another song. Pretty soon I’ve cleaned all of downstairs!

Schedule a 30 Minute Time Slow with NO Distractions: When I’m writing, editing, or doing similar work I can’t have any distractions. I must close all extra tabs on the internet, put my phone in another room, turn off the music, and be alone. I’ve found that if I tell myself I have 30 minutes to work, and make sure there are zero distractions, I dive into my work head first and end up working well over an hour. Time flies without distractions.

Have any other tips to share with me? I’m hoping this attitude of mine melts away with the snow.

xoxo Katie

 

“Skinny” Buffalo Chicken Dip

skinny, lighter, healthier buffalo chicken dip in crock pot

You’re going to love this lighter version of Buffalo Chicken Dip! All the taste with half the fat. It’s perfect for this weeks Super Bowl Sunday!

As you can tell by my past recipe posts, I love creating/finding healthier alternatives to my favorite foods. During Superbowl parties, you’ll find me hanging out with my drink around the food. I’m just not a sports girl. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. I just can’t get into it and can never remember the rules. We all have our priorities. So before that turns into a completely different blog post, let me get back to this awesome dip!

Superbowl parties are often full of bowls of super unhealthy food (see what I did there?). Wings, nachos, dips galore, pizza, chili, cookies, and cheese cheese cheese! I’m left with stealing all the celery from the wings platter. Not anymore!

This lighter buffalo chicken dip is guy tested and approved and tastes amazing with fresh crunchy celery. So be the star of your party with this easy to make and crowd pleasing dip:

lighter buffalo chicken dip

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup  hot sauce(I use a little less because I can’t handle a lot of spice)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups (14 oz  raw) cooked shredded chicken

Directions:

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.

2. Add the chicken and put this in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

3. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. It needs to sit in order to “firm up” a bit

4. Serve warm with celery or other veggies and tortilla chips.

Happy snacking!

xoxo Katie

 

Use Your Voice (vlogging like a boss)

Well, I did it! I did my very first video vlog. I really wanted to take on this challenge because I like to think of this blog as a personal wine or coffee date with friends. I wanted to share my voice and for you to see more of the  “real life” me.

Like I imagined, it was terribly awkward talking to myself on my webcam and I sound VERY serious. I managed to only have one mind blank, so laugh your way through that one. YouTube will always get the last laugh and pick the worst screenshot possible to use. But, I did it, and it really wasn’t as bad as it seemed after I started talking.

I decided to vlog about the power of using our own personal voices. If you don’t show respect and confidence in yourself and your own thoughts, why would should anyone else? Check it out and then enter to win an inspirational bracelet below!

I wear my “Be The Change” bangle from The Shine Project: Threads to remind me that I am in control of my own story, that I hold the power to make the changes I want to see in my world. I love Threads (they help at risk youths attain their goals of going to college and establishing careers and being who they want to be!) so much that I decided to giveaway one of their “Be The Change” bangles to one of you!

Threads giveaway

Enter below and remember to tell me what YOU want to change in your personal life in your comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xoxo Katie

Ryan Takes Over the Blog: 5 Ways to Stay Sane in Law School (or grad school)

snow abla
The bully that is Polar Vortex came by for another nasty visit this week. The latest snow storm to pummel the North East made today and yesterday snow days!. We bundled up at home, hiding out from the 8-11 inches of snow dumped across the county. Today, we are facing a -12 windchill and I’m chilled to the bones.

While I worked from home, Ryan had a rare day of relaxation. But the man doesn’t know how to relax, instead he offered to write a guest post for me, offering some tips for adult students like himself.

So, today, I hand over the reins to my blog to my hardworking and lovable husband, Ryan. Here he is in his own words:

ryan

Hello blogging world! My name is Ryan and I’m the lucky guy that gets to call Katie my wife. Though you and I have vaguely “met” through Katie’s posts, I wanted to take a moment to formally introduce myself and discuss law school.

First, I am a part-time evening student, meaning that in addition to having a 40 hour work week, I typically spend about 3-4 nights a week attending classes at a  law school near my work. My free time is slim to none, so I’ve learned how to manage my time and divide up my hours between, work, school, sleep, and social life.   I have been doing this for 3 years now, night students have a 4 year program, and I’m begining to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now this may appear to be a crazy schedule and you may be wondering, “why would anyone sign up for this?” However, it is manageable and I am here to discuss 5 ways of staying sane during law school, which I feel can be applied to both full-time and part-time students.

1. Have a life!

ryan life

I remember my first year Torts professor telling me that the key to success in law school was to not have a life your first year (possibly first two years for evening students). The rationale is that the first year courses are considered your core courses and potential employers, especially for summer associate positions, will look at how you did in your first year courses. Once I heard this, I couldn’t imagine devoting over a year to work and school during the week and solely school work on the weekends. I’m pretty sure that’s how people tend to go crazy. So I decided to modify his advice and have somewhat of a life during my first year. I wound up doing well in my first year courses and also managed to stay sane.

2. Devote a weekend day to yourself or to “us” if you are in a relationship.

ryan and katie

Saturday was my particular day of choice before I met Katie and now it has become our day. Saturdays have become our day to unwind, catch up on what happened during the week, and enjoy everything that life has given us.

3. Don’t be afraid about relationships and law school.

don't be afraid of relationships in law school

I believe that one could write a book solely on this topic alone. If you google “relationships and law school” you will find a slew of articles, mostly negative, about the effects of law school in relationships. Don’t get me wrong, law school is hard on any relationship, married or dating, but if both of you are willing to make sacrifices and compromises, then it will work. Katie, being the wonderful wife that she is, has made this adventure through law school much more manageable through everything that she does for me

4. Don’t be shy!

don't be shy

This one is easily said but being the very shy person that I am, I know how hard it can be to meet new people and make new friends, especially in the competitive atmosphere of law school. Still, you are all on the same boat that is law school and experiencing the same treacherous ride, so why not make new friends along the way.

5. Get a dog! (or cat if you are a cat person)

get a dog to help with law school

Seriously, this is one of the best ways to stay sane in law school. Most recently, Yale Law School began bringing in dogs around final exam time to alleviate stress from their students. I’m lucky enough to have a little shitzu poodle named Maggie May that comes to greet me at the door every night, even if it’s midnight, just to let me know how much she has missed me.

I hope others find my learned experiences. Above all else, try to not worry too much. (I can see Katie rolling her eyes as she reads this because I’m a constant worrier). But, try to add some laughter into the mix.

have fun in law school

 

Go On an Adventure With a New Friend

Hello friends! Today, I am guest blogging over at Amber’s blog, Mr. Thomas and Me. Amber is one of my favorite bloggers and a sweet friend. When she asked me to take part in her #lovewins series I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I never waver on my belief  that love is an omnipresent power, a force that will always overcome.

But before you go check out my #lovewins guest post and Amber’s blog, I’d like to introduce you to new friend and current “Fierce Goddess” on Beautiful Little Adventure, Christina from Route Bliss.

Christina is an adventurous girl who loves traveling and going on road trips. She’s an avid photographer and her site is filled with beautiful photos of her journeys, near and far. This Texas also gal writes informative pieces about health and fitness and lifestyle tips. She is one of my daily reads and I look forward to seeing what is next for her!

I asked Christina to introduce herself and answer a few fun questions:

Christina Route Bliss

Hello, I’m Christina of Route Bliss. While I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, Route Bliss itself has only been around since the Summer of 2013. RB (as I’ve dubbed it) is where I share my love of travel and photography as well as what I’m learning on my journey to healthier living (adapted recipes as well as running and fitness tips and grumblings!).

1. What is the best adventure you have been on?

Hmm, probably my trip to Vienna, Austria in 2003. It was my first time to travel alone (well, to and from Vienna anyway!), my first time to fly, my first time to leave the country, and I stayed with one of my (now) oldest pen pals that I’d obviously never met before landing at the airport in Vienna. It was December and the temps ranged between 17 and 27 the whole time I was there. It was fun getting to see Vienna just before Christmas and my pal got to be a tourist in her hometown.

2. Congrats! You just became an eternal billionaire, what will you do for a living?
Retire to become a Toys R Us kid.

No, not really … I’d become a philanthropist. Whenever asked if I were to win the lottery, after paying off any bills me and my immediate family have, I always say I’ll pay forward my good fortune. I enjoy helping others and if I had unlimited resources (& money), I’d do that. And become a professional traveler 🙂

3. What are you looking forward to in 2014?
Focusing on the important things, some of which I’ve neglected over the last few years … family & friends, health, the things that make me happy. And traveling … once I figure out where the heck I’m going this year!
4. Name the number one trip you’d like to take in your lifetime
Oh geez … I’d love to spend several months to a year traveling around Australia and NZ. I want to see all there is to see of those two countries as well as finally meeting my pals and online friends I’ve been writing / email for years.

 Some of Christina’s favorite blog posts:

Eating Healthy (& Affordably) While on the Road 

Goals, dreams, & the start of something new

Two a.m. thoughts on blogging and online sharing

Baked Chicken & Rice

Be sure to follow her so you don’t miss a post!

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