Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yay - My Favorite Holiday

Happy Halloween!
It's only 9:30 and I have already snuck a little piece of candy – shh!
Adds and I are about to go on a walk - in costume of course.
Have fun trick-or-treating...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Addie says Happy Halloween Too!

She wasn't allowed to come to the party, but she still dressed for the occasion! Awe, my little bug...

Boo-thday Pics Cont'd:

A Boo-thday Bash

My dear, dear friend Mollie Perez had a surprise 30th birthday party for her husband Tony this weekend. She planned the whole thing as a Halloween costume party, and did such a fantastic job of keeping it a secret that when Tony walked in (and we all yelled surprise and started singing Happy Birthday), he turned around and said, "who's birthday is it?"
Here are some pics from the night. In case you need a little help deciphering who/what people are, I am also including a quick run down:

Mike: Tim Donaghay (an NBA ref who was caught in some huge gambling circle)

Me: Victoria Beckham (aka. Posh Spice - was hoping Mike would be David Beckham but he refused.)

Mollie and Tony: Danny and Sandy from Greece

Rebecca and Ryan: 70's Girl and Jack Sparrow
Amy and John Geer: Witch and John Geer

Morgan and Bill: Ron Burgundy and Victoria Corenstein from Anchorman

Megan and Tripp: Dog, the Bounty Hunter and Beth (think that's his wife)

Nicole and Brent: Hugh Heffner and Playboy Bunny

Cameron and Brian: Brittney Spears and K-Fed

Stacey and Chuck: Chefs

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Life Journey

Wow, what a hectic, crazy, spectacular, and spiritual month it has been. My mom and I just returned from a five day trip to Mexico. We were part of a group of 13 women, and it may sound outrageous, but in more ways than one this trip felt like a necessary personal journey for me...

We were nestled in an absolutely beautiful mountain town called Ixtapan. It was very clean and simple and the people were incredibly kind. It was the type of place where you could walk the streets at night safely, and where you would look out over a sunrise or sunset and feel the power of God sitting right there beside you.

On top of all of this pure, raw beauty I would head to the spa each day in anticipation of receiving some type of exotic pampering... Whether it was a Swedish massage, a Fango mud wrap, reflexology, a facial, or one of the countless other treatments, we all spent at least two hours of every day dressed in nothing but a robe and absorbing the self-indulgence.

All of this pampering would have been enriching enough, but because of the timing of our trip the experience became even more special to me…

After Dustin's accident my family realized just how fast life is. For several months, maybe even a year, we were able to avoid getting intertwined in the speed of everything – we slowed down and absorbed the graces of life’s simplicities.

However, lately I seem to have devalued the importance of that costly lesson. I have not been home to Charlottesville in almost a month. Between Dustin's tournament and a huge event at work, I've been spending 65+ hours a week in the office... I was up sending emails until 3am the night before we left for Mexico. I had one hour of sleep and packed in about 30 minutes... I am not exaggerating when I say I had no idea what airport we were leaving from or what town we were headed to until I met the girls and got on the bus (to Mexico) Saturday morning. It was like October was "rapid fire" month; I reserved no time for God, my marriage, or for personal growth.

Needless to say, heading to Mexico for five days in the midst of all this seemed like a ridiculous idea. Ironically, it proved to be an invaluable opportunity that gave me the chance to slow down and recognize the person I am in the day-to-day (during the hustle and bustle of everything professional and everything social) and the person I truly want to be – a better wife, a better friend, a better steward of God’s gifts.

Nothing helped to reveal this more than the two yoga instructors we had the privilege of practicing with at the resort. Their classes were unlike anything I have ever experienced before; the classes were not about poses, but about reaching into your soul and finding your spirit.

Just to give a couple examples... We would spend five minutes lying on the floor shaking every muscle in our bodies as fast as we could, and then five minutes in absolute stillness. (This was about exercising stored energy and getting rid of the garbage we carry on a daily basis.)

We would put our legs and feet flat up against a wall and move only our eyes. We rolled them in giant circles: up, down, left, right, diagonal, clockwise, counter-clockwise, and then would cup our palms (over our eyes) and lie in darkness. (This was meant to encourage new sight and to return us to "centeredness.")

They would play music and tell us to dance... (This was all about being free and letting the simplicity of the music guide your movements.)

We would sit on our butts, stretch our arms and legs out as wide as we could, tilt our heads back, stick our tongues out and breathe in and out for 3-5 minutes. We weren't supposed to blink our eyes, look down, or swallow... Just stretch and breathe. (This series was about perseverance and openness - if you don't believe me just try it! It was one of the hardest exercises I did all week.)

We also took classes on meditation, learning about flame and chanting techniques. (In some ways it scares me to talk about all of this. Just trying to put it into words seems to trivialize the intense physical and spiritual power these classes manifested... I guess it could sound cult-ish or scary, but it was neither. It was absolutely beautiful.)

Our instructors would share powerful bits of wisdom like...

"In prayer we talk to God. In meditation we listen."

"We are exposed to so much around us that we have to meditate often to bring ourselves back to who we truly are."

“Pray and meditate as if your life depended on it, because it does.”

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

All of it was truly powerful and life-changing. I walked out of a couple classes in tears because they had such a tremendous impact on my soul.


After all of this “journaling” I do have to stop and ask why me? Why is a 27 year old girl (who has already been afforded so many luxuries and securities in life) given the chance to spend a (selfish) week in Mexico - especially when there are billions of other women in the world who deserve it far more than I do? The only answer I can come up with is that I don't deserve anything of this magnitude... There is absolutely no reason why I should be receiving my second or third spa treatment of the day and about to head off to yoga, while there are families who can't afford to feed their own children just a couple hours down the road...

I know it's unfair and that it makes no rational sense, but I did go... And I did grow and appreciate every minute of the experience. Now I can only use the opportunity to make the world a brighter place. If you are reading this, please help to hold me accountable for not only living what I have learned but also for sharing it with my family, my friends, with our GreenHouse kids, with whomever I am supposed to share this message… I realize (and truly believe) that “when you go within, you will never be without.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How Appropriate!

A colleague of mine sent this to me earlier today. He told me to pass it on to Mike. Thought it was an interesting request, but once I opened the email I realized exactly why. How appropriate!

P.S. You might have to actually click on the image in order to read the text.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I love you Dustin!

Dustin's 25th birthday was October 1st and it was the first birthday (actual or heaven) when my family could not all be together. My parents were in Wilmington, I was in Charlottesville, and Mal was in Boone. Even though we weren't able to participate in all of our usual birthday traditions, we still shared some very special moments...

At 5:00 that afternoon we all got on a conference call and said a prayer for him. We had each written Dustin a letter, so at the same time and in three different places, we tied our letters to a bundle of balloons and mailed them to heaven. After a little "family time" we invited Dustin's friends to call in and share in the memories. It was so special talking to friends, parents of friends, and even friends of friends he impacted during his time with us on earth. Thank you to everyone who shared a special thought!

Typically we would have also driven to Raleigh to put a sign and fresh flowers out by the accident site. (But again the complicated location thing forced us to postpone the delivery.) My parents finally took the sign Sunday afternoon and found a very special surprise waiting for them when they arrived. The sign we put up in April was still there! For the first time ever, the lawn mower people had not pulled it up. Six months later and there it stood in perfect condition. Since we all felt terribly guilty about not having a new one up on the 1st, this was such a blessing to see...

Lastly, I am thrilled to report we have another sold-out tournament planned for Monday, October 15th. It's the 6th Annual Hope Grows Here Golf Tournament and we'll be kicking it off at Sedgefield Country Club around noon. For everyone who is local, make sure to swing by for the after party. Things should get started around 6:30pm.

Always remember… Thanks to Dustin, hope grows here!

Old News, Old Friends

AGH, I am so overdue on updating the blog! Here's a quick recap from Mike’s 10-year high school reunion last month. (10 years - crazy I know!)

To be completely honest, neither of us were too thrilled about going – a lot of driving for two people who already do a lot of driving… But the reunion weekend ended up being a ton of fun. On top of the fun I managed to walk away with a few thoughts of my own. Here are some quick, random examples of why I’m convinced the social stigmas of our teenage years will never completely leave us:

- They were playing an old soccer video at the reunion and a guy (who I later found out was cut from the team) went behind the screen, in the middle of the video, and pulled the power cord out of the wall. Think he’s still harboring a little animosity?

- The old “class clown” kept up his end of the bargain… He’s the one pictured above, covered in nametags. Mine made his upper, left shoulder. Cute huh?

- The hottie of the high school halls shared his fashion forwardness. He came in madras shorts and a tee shirt, and prepped with some serious hair jell. It was kind-of funny since most of the guys were dressed in suits. (Caleb, if you’re reading this, we love you just the way you are.)

- I confirmed no one wants to be the “odd one out” and that black is still hot. With the exception of two people, every girl at the reunion was dressed in black and white.

I should also mention how lucky I feel to have such wonderful friendships with many of Mike’s high school pals and their spouses. The “empty nester” kids are truly a special group! I hope the memories never stop.