Fragrance Faves

“Scent is the strongest tie to memory.” – Maggie Stiefvater

Am I the only person that attaches scents to moments and people? The first perfume I bought as a college student was Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden. It was during this time I met my future husband and he absolutely loved the scent. Because Sunflowers is the first remembrance he has of me that is associated with the sense of smell, I keep a bottle of Sunflowers to wear occasionally. No matter how many different fragrances I use, Sunflowers is the one he easily identifies with a quick whiff.

While I keep Sunflowers as a reminder of the beginning stages of my relationship with my husband, I definitely like to update my fragrances. I try to find something new and refreshing every year. I am learning that I truly enjoy fruity aromas. However, in the colder months I try to find a heavier scent. Last year I experimented with a lot of perfumes and at this moment, these are my top five.

  1. Bond No. 1 Central Park West – I’ve tried several Bond No.9 scents and this by far is my favorite. It is very aromatic and long lasting. While Bond. 9 is a pricey fragrance, I find it to be worth the coins spent. It is the ONLY fragrance I’ve used that lasts all day long and this is a scent I enjoy wearing year round.
  2. Tocca Florence – Tocca was something new I tried last year. I purchased a sample set and fell in love with Florence. It is described as a gardenia dominated perfume. I also enjoy it because it has a subtle hint of the odor I associate with Bond No. 9 Central Park West. It’s very light and smells beautiful and is perfect for the spring.
  3. Kilian Princess – This is also a new scent for me. While this scent doesn’t last as long as I would like, the aroma is very sensual to me. In addition to the aroma, the packaging screams enchanting.
  4. Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue – This is my second attempt at this particular fragrance. The first time I tried it, people kept telling me I smelled like a lemon. While it is a fruity-floral scent, the lemon is not what I was going for. I received a few samples and tried it again and started to think I had been duped when making my first purchase of this perfume. It is magically delicious and long lasting.
  5. Anais Anais – I think this will forever be one of my favorites. I recall coming across the name of this particular perfume in a book and it was associated with a woman being sensual and erotic and I needed it. While I love this scent, erotic is not what comes to mind. This scent reminds me of grandma’s house. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy it.

Do you wear the same scents year round or do you have specific scents for different seasons? Do you try new fragrances frequently or go with one you know. Drop a few suggestions below of some of your faves.

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Accountability Partner or Nah?

Be your accountability partner by Heathermelton

Many Americans begin the year with a list of goals and beautiful vision boards. Surveys show approximately 73% of Americans set fitness goals yearly and I would safely say 50% of those people give up on their goals within three months. I often wondered how this could happen and then I decided to reevaluate my own lifestyle because I fall into that 50%. While I workout throughout the year, there is no consistency in my workout regimen. I can go for months working out daily and then I fall into a slump. Now, I’m at an age where maintaining my weight and eating a more balanced diet is vital. I need to become intentional with staying active and monitoring my caloric intake.

A couple of years ago I gained a great deal of weight in a very short period of time. I struggled with carrying the weight and as soon as June rolled around and school ended, I got to work. I was able to shed almost all of the extra poundage in a two month time span. It was easy maintaining once school started but there is a season called winter that rolls around yearly. Winter is the time of year I find myself backtracking. Cold weather is a burden for me so I don’t exercise often, if at all.

I’ve done the trainer before and I thoroughly enjoyed having someone to push me and hold me accountable. But when my trainer moved, I realized just how much I lacked self-discipline when it came to working out. As a result, I decided I wanted to take control of my own health and fitness and become intrinsically motivated to regulate my eating habits and challenge myself to exercise regularly. Whelp, it’s not working. Last week, I only met my target steps one day. Why? Because it was cold and my working out didn’t impact anyone or influence someone else to be as trifling as I was in that moment.

So now the questions? Should I seek an accountability partner and/or trainer? Should I continue working on becoming more disciplined in my own standards and practices based on my personal goals? What are the benefits of a trainer? Do you work out alone or with a partner? What are the pros and cons? And how do you stay motivated to workout regularly?

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“Time for Change”

I heard some kids telling me
How they’ve lost all faith, in the world.
They’ve been talking world peace now
And the wars in the streets. (Rucker, 2014, stanza 1)

The lines on their faces so deep.
A revolution, or reach out and touch the day
We’re overdue, it’s time. (Rucker, 2014, stanza 2)

Now it’s time for change
Nothing stays the same (Rucker, 2014, Refrain)

As an educator, these lyrics have come to light and many of us are at a loss for words. Kids are watching the news and repeatedly hearing about the dysfunction and disruption at the U.S. Capital last week. They are also listening to the adults in their lives and are looking to us for answers. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers and in an effort to keep myself from possible conflict with parents, even if I did, I would choose to stay silent. I was taught to never discuss politics, religion or money and I have avoided each of them like a plague when outside of my home.

So, what do we do? The little ones are seeking answers and we need solutions. How do we address changes that are truly needed? Countless people want to point fingers at one party or the other and the biggest problem is the divide. I’ve read article after article about propositions and have yet to find any that are instrumental or would be effectual in getting needed results for this day and time.

So, what do we do? In education, all moments are teachable moments, or so we’re told. I would beg to differ. At this point, I’m not sure what should be addressed. Educators are struggling to identify what’s true and what is not. Do we talk about respect, violence, appropriate ways to express one’s feelings, or maybe the process or adequate ways to pursue change? I am an instructor of a very diverse population. Each of my students are walking in daily and each of them have different perspectives. As a result, some are coming to school in fear. Several are anxious and a few are defensive. And I just want each of them to continue to feel welcomed in my classroom as well as send them back to their parents the way their parents sent them to me, safe. So, what do we do? What do we do? I don’t have a clue but I know it’s time for a change.

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My 2021 IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

The year of 2020 came in and took us by storm. Many Americans spent most of the year wearing masks, binge watching shows, eating more than we should have and spending numerous months seeking disinfecting wipes and toilet tissue. I’m sure many of us can remember the chicken sandwich idiocy and the debacle that was the presidential debate. If you’re a sports fan, you were constantly reminded of the death of Kobe. With COVID 19 came several words that I don’t care to ever hear again. Such words as pivot, social distancing, and the new norm should be eradicated in the future. WHO wants this to become the “new norm”?

For me, 2020 was a year to focus. It gave me purpose as I gained opportunities to fulfill many of my goals. However, I am more than elated to move into a new year and I am looking forward to more positive things while continuing to wear the dreaded mask. As a teacher of students with special needs, I am responsible for creating IEP goals annually and assessing them every nine weeks to determine if the students are making sufficient progress to signify growth. This year, I have put myself on an IEP and will assess myself monthly to gauge my own progression.

Last year I spent quite a bit of time healing and understanding my own feelings. This year I want to garner a true spirit of forgiveness. For me I have always just moved on and found it profitable to avoid people that wrong me. However, when I cross paths with those very people, I can sense a spirit of resentment within me. We don’t have to talk but the sight of the person annoys me. In this season, I want to learn how to disconnect from people in a more positive manner. I want to genuinely forgive someone and move on with a purpose. I want to get to the point of being able to sincerely extend a greeting and keep it pushing.

The next thing I want to do is get a handle on my finances. Mid-year, I finally snagged a copy of Dave Ramsey’s “The Financial Peace Planner”. After working through the planner I realized I wasn’t preparing and adequately tracking my spending which resulted in me not meeting my savings goals. However, it did help me realize how important it is to look at miscellaneous spending because those expenses are the ones that impact my savings the most. In 2021, I plan to be more intentional with my spending and really try to get away from frivolous spending or “feel good” spending.

One of the most important things I plan to do is focus more on self-care. In the past, self-care has been bubble baths, pedicures, traveling and shopping. This year, I’m going to put on my oxygen mask before trying to help others. As an educator, I spend so much time focused on everyone else that I exhaust myself and stay in a constant state of burnout. I’m currently unplugged from Facebook and on a strike against soda. I’m going to spend more time in prayer, become more consistent in getting outside for fresh air and exercise, read more to gain experiences that don’t require me to spend money and journal thoughts, ideas and accomplishments.

My word for 2021 is “intentional”. I want to make sure almost everything I do has a purpose for my passion. What are your plans and goals for 2021? Cheers to a New Year!

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The End of the Road

This Cheers to the New Year SVG is a festive addition to your New Year's  Eve projects made with … | New years eve quotes, Quotes about new year, New  years eve shirt

2020 has definitely been one for the books. People have been anticipating the closing of the year and the beginning of the end of a very difficult journey. I sat with my family to have a conversation surrounding 2020 and while we wanted to suggest it wasn’t the best year, it was still a year full of productivity.

At the beginning of lockdown, I think many of us were feeling gloomy and doubtful about what was to come. My son’s senior year and track season came to an abrupt end while we were on Spring Break. A couple of the young ladies I trained were on the road to state and had to settle for what could have been. I was challenged to teach online while attending graduate school online. Scholarship opportunities became limited because NCAA afforded athletes another year of eligibility. Exercise facilities were shut down during a time we all needed to exercise physically and mentally. And the list goes on.

At the beginning of our initial two week quarantine, I was spinning in circles. I cooked and cleaned and cooked and cleaned. As time went on, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to focus on goals I had been wanting to knock out or trying new things in my stagnant and predictable life. No matter how I spin the coin, at the end of the day, my good days far outweighed my bad days and I made a decision that simply existing wasn’t enough. Talking to my family I had to really put things into perspective to help them fully understand my attitude of gratitude.

  1. As a woman I healed. I continued going to therapy and was afforded ample time to figure out more of who I am and what I am capable of doing. I wanted an understanding of why I lacked the self confidence I had as a ten year old and a 20 year old. I was able to face my truths and forgive myself so I could grow into the person I am destined to become.
  2. As a student, I completed my graduate program which I thought would have been done approximately 20 years ago. This milestone taught me it’s never too late to do the things that are a part of my destiny.
  3. As a mother, I let go and let God. I raised my son and made many sacrifices for 18 years. God reassured me I had done a god job and it was time for me to take my hands off of His child. My son was able to go to a school of his choosing on a scholarship that covered most of the cost of his tuition. He made the Dean’s List his first semester while taking classes in his major.
  4. As a coach, I helped all of the girls I train run their personal best during their shortest season ever. Having only run half of a season, they were all able to drop three to four seconds off of their times and were in the top rankings in the state in their respective events.
  5. As an educator, I became Teacher of the Year. Enough said! I was deserving of it and I’m proud of myself for giving it my all three years in a row.
  6. As a wife, daughter, and sibling, I was able to give the best version of myself to each of my family members. Because of my personal growth, I gave them the gift of me versus who I thought I needed to be.

As we move into a new year, I am hopeful as well as encouraged. I used 2020 to set a stronger foundation for my future. My goals are written and while I know God has the final say so, He has given me a platform to use my gifts. So tonight, I’ll break out the sparkling grape juice and toast to what’s behind me and what lies ahead. Cheers to a New Year!

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

As we prepare to celebrate another holiday, I’m sure this is the tale of so many homes this season. Many are afraid to put themselves at risk by visiting others and some are more concerned with putting others at risk. As an educator, it has been necessary to limit my contact for the sake of my family and also for the sake of the students that come to school daily and expect me to keep them safe.

In continuing to press forward in the midst of a pandemic, my family opted to cancel all large gatherings and many of us are celebrating with our immediate families only, if at all. Christmas Eve was always a time of fellowship for my immediate family before we joined our extended family on Christmas. However, for the remainder of the year, we will continue to gather with only close family as we have been doing since August. We have created our small bubble in a effort to stay out of harm’s way so there will be no extended family for the remainder of 2020.

This is definitely a transformation for my tribe. According to my husband, my clan has family reunions every month. We are accustomed to gathering and enjoying the company of each other to a great extent. So one can imagine how much we’ve had to pivot for safety reasons. As we prepare for Christmas and the New Year, our homes are going to be silenced by the scare of Covid. We’ll send tons of greetings but no hugs and kisses will be shared. Many rooms will stay empty and unoccupied of the laughter and booming voices that define us. We, like many others, will sit with only memories of past holidays that were filled with an unspeakable joy.

While we are missing family, my small unit will make the most of the upcoming holidays with each other. We’ll pray, laugh, eat, play games, watch movies and most importantly, laugh some more. We will make this year one to remember as we’ve done so many times before. This season will serve as reminder of the real reason for the season and to never take anything for granted again. How are you celebrating this season? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities to travel? Are you spending time with extended family? Or are you trying to figure out what do the lonely do at Christmas?

Trying to figure out how this “new normal’ works.
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Sit Down, Be Humble

Winning Quotes - BrainyQuote

A few weeks ago, I shared a blog post titled Pet Peeves. In that particular post, I discussed how annoyed I become when I see people that are unwilling to celebrate others during their moments of success. Shortly after publishing that blog post, I unfortunately had to experience the madness.

For the third time in three years, I was a finalist for Teacher of the Year. While this is a popularity contest in many districts; it’s a very tiring and emotionally draining process in our district. Part of this process requires us to complete a timed writing and go through an interview process where we are drilled about our attributes that contribute to being a “good” teacher. Now imagine going through these proceedings three years in a row and having to suck up your pride, hold your head up and extend congratulatory remarks to the person that beat you, to the winner.

After having that very experience two years in a row, when my name was called again, I vowed I would be ready. I spent part of my Thanksgiving Break making notes and preparing as best I could. On the day of the timed writing, I read my paper at least 40 times after it had been submitted just to give myself a sense of satisfaction in what I was able to produce in 30 minutes. On the day of the interview, I went back to the basics. After every question, I paused and processed before proceeding with any response. I walked out of my interview, phoned my husband and as soon as he picked up the phone I stated, “I killed it!” I was very confident in how well I had responded and also satisfied in the fact I had not allowed my last two losses/lessons interfere with what I desired. Beyond the writing, the voting process and the interview, I work extremely hard everyday and after 25 years as an educator I was ready to be recognized.

The day of the announcement was great! My emotions were erratic as I laughed, cried, shouted, stood in disbelief and hugged everybody in site (totally forgot about social distancing in that moment). I wore my crown and sash that day because I was proud of me! I was gratified, not just because I was a winner, but because I didn’t quit. Nobody ever asked me how I felt having to celebrate the teacher to the right and the next year having to celebrate the teacher to the left. Nobody ever asked me why I was skeptical each year about having to repeat the process all over again. Nobody asked me how it felt to live up to the phrase, “You’re never a loser until you stop trying.” This experience was indeed an humbling experience. I was grateful to have an opportunity to fully embrace my success because deep inside I had been made to suffer.

Well, less than 24 hours later someone tried to ruin my magical moment. While this wasn’t the first time I felt this vibe from this particular person, this nasty was different. For someone to openly state they knew I would win before the announcement to saying to my face in a shady manner they were insulted by the idea of me being selected over them was a bit much.

I started to address the manner but after much consideration and prayer, I decided not to say anything. You know why? Because I won. I had done everything I should have done to be the person being acknowledged in that moment. I had to remind myself we usually don’t get the things we can’t stand to see others have, including this accolade. I just hope for the day people realize there’s enough room for all of us to have a seat. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to let my light shine.

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Setting Personal Boundaries

Beginner's Guide to Setting Boundaries | Nadia La Russa

Setting boundaries is a skill I wanted to master in 2020. I thought I had conquered this years ago but after a lot of reflecting throughout the first few months of the year, I realized I sucked at setting boundaries. There were people I refused to tolerate (this was setting boundaries by my standard) and then there were the ones I would bend my rules for on occasion. I learned the hard way, “Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.” There were people in my life that had expectations of me but were not willing to give the same effort in return. I found myself constantly stressed trying to appease people and live up to a standard that only existed when I was on the giving end. I eliminated so much tension in my life by putting limits in place and doing more of the things I wanted to do versus the things I felt compelled to do.

I am not a very social person so this was the first area I had to assess. I would find myself running to functions of family members and then I started to notice that on the rare occasions I would invite them over for a function, they wouldn’t show up. Always had an excuse. I was more bothered by the fact they tried to justify their behavior than I was in noticing they would never come. So, I stopped going to the functions unless I truly wanted to be there and I knew I would genuinely enjoy myself. I also stopped responding to the lies or saying I understood when I really didn’t appreciate their lack of regard for my feelings.

Another act I addressed was allowing people to say things to me that I found to be offensive but would let it slide to “keep the peace”. While I use to be a very outspoken person, I toned it down as I matured. Clearly some people saw this as a gateway to let go of all of their sly remarks. People would say things to me and I would walk around letting my anger brew while ignoring and avoiding those very people for a couple of days. I took a different approach this year. When I found myself angry I would wait a few days to allow my irritation time to subside but I have started speaking up for myself again. I’m okay with sitting and having a cordial conversation with people to remind them, “Don’t play with me.” and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Inconsistent people had to go. I don’t have time to try and figure out how you’re feeling today or if you want to be bothered. I’ve tried to keep in contact with old teammates and classmates but whew! I’ve had people respond to questions three days later after they started a conversation with me. And then have the nerve to pick up as if nothing happened. Please stop! I would rather talk to you on an as needed basis versus talking to you every three days or when your mood changes.

Most importantly I learned how valuable it was to be in tune with my own feelings. I stopped letting people tell me how I should feel or that I’m overreacting when I tell them they’ve made me uncomfortable. I recall posting a picture of my son being dropped off to college for the first semester and someone responded, “You’ll be alright.” I was puzzled. How do you get to tell me how I feel at this moment. I’ve spent a lot of time letting people know they don’t have the right to feel for me or speak on behalf of me and my emotional state.

Naming my boundaries has improved my state of mind. I find myself at peace and my husband even shared how he’s noticed a calm. I’m not nearly as bothered by people’s behaviors anymore and I also know how to create my safe space.

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Pet Peeves = Pissed

Smiley Vector Illustration - Irritated Face Royalty Free Cliparts, Vectors,  And Stock Illustration. Image 18250248.

We all have funny little quirks about us. Many of us tend to think some things are cool or cute just because it doesn’t bother us, but that doesn’t mean some of our behaviors don’t irritate the life out of others. Nothing is more annoying to me than people doing things they have to know is irksome. I often wonder, “Do you have friends?”, “Did your parents not correct you when you were younger?”, “Is it just me?” I realize I don’t like a lot of noise so I try to avoid people that tap, click pens, or hum a lot. I’m sure me staring at them is just as annoying to them as their noise making is to me. Instead of making both parties uncomfortable I try to avoid being in the presence of people are attending events where I know I’ll find myself vexed. However, some things are unavoidable and I just can’t…

  1. Loud chompers/chewers – I’m not referring to the people that smack a tad bit while eating. I’m referring to the ones that chew so loudly that it sounds like they have teeth that belong to Godzilla. Those people that chomp when they chew. Everything sounds crispy, no matter what they are eating.
  2. Jealousy/People unwilling to celebrate others – In high school, our track coach gave us a prayer. And while I don’t remember the entire prayer, I do recall the ending that said, “And if I should lose, let me stand by the roadside and cheer as the winner goes by.” This prayer along with some of the most amazing coaches taught me to have good sportsmanship. There have been times in my teaching career when I know I was deserving of accolades that were awarded to others. Instead of getting upset or belittling others because I thought I was better, I celebrated them. I learned a long time ago to clap for people in their winning season because as long as I continue working, I know my time is coming. I am always bothered when I see people that refuse to honor others during their “shining moments”.
  3. People that touch food with their bare hands – Not the “This is my plate, I can use my hands if I desire.” I’m talking potluck, shared resources in the teacher’s lounge, lunch being provided for the entire team and I’m going to grab food with my bare hands. I’ve witnessed people stick their hands in the tortilla chips that are being used for nachos. I watched one lady lick a knife and proceed to cut into a pie. Oh, and please try washing those hands next time just because.
  4. Not respecting personal space – Pre-Covid…stay away from me. I don’t like people crowding me and please ask me for permission to touch me. I don’t think people respect the idea of boundaries. I often wonder what makes someone comfortable enough to stand close, too close or play in someone’s hair or rub their stomach when they’re pregnant. UGH!
  5. Believing money has the power to change all things – People kill me trying to convince me to do things because they can pay me a couple of dollars. I had someone tell me they would pay me to give them answers to a test while we were in graduate school. When I explained to them how the test was set-up and the response was, “I know and what I need you to do… Go ahead and make a few extra dollars.” *Click…call disconnected.

I have a few more things that bother me but these are the ones I encounter the most. What are some things that bother than you, especially in the workplace?

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Be Grateful For It

We Know We Ought to be Grateful But this is the Reason we Aren't

In the spirit of the season, we should take the time to truly reflect on reasons we have to be grateful. I’ve heard so many people use the phrase, “Just throw away the whole 2020.” as if nothing positive has happened this year. While things have looked gloomy on the outside, I refuse to believe we have not had personal victories that afforded us opportunities that expanded our confidence. Silent battles have been fought, tears have been wiped away behind closed doors but when we really think about it, many of us have come out on top. After 2019, I learned there is a sprinkle of joy in everything and I refused to let 2020 steal that idea from me. Even in the moments it appeared my rope was bound to break, I took one step back to prepare for my three steps forward. 2020 has given me many reasons to rejoice.

  1. I’m still alive, and in the words of the “seasoned saints”, and clothed in my right mind.
  2. My son graduated high school and earned a scholarship to one of the schools of his choosing.
  3. After 15 long, grueling months of balancing the roles of a wife, mother, track coach, Sunday School teacher, mentor, educator and student, I graduated with my M.ED.
  4. My husband was told he would have to take a pay cut at the start of 2021 and after questioning the decision for four months, they finally shared with him it was a mistake. Ha! And I’m only laughing because they still came out on top by allowing him to keep his current salary.
  5. My family did not suffer any illnesses or injuries.
  6. We’ve eaten every single day and I don’t take this for granted.
  7. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me and because of his continued favor, I am still standing.
  8. I’m excited about every obstacle I encountered that helped me grow and develop.
  9. My physical health and the adventures that are coming for a heathier lifestyle.
  10. I am also grateful for the moments of peace and relaxation as well as my hustle and the decisions I’ve made for my life.

Although these are in no particular order, just know I’m appreciative. What are you grateful for in this moment. Take time to reflect on what you’ve put into your life and the outcome. Think about God’s grace and his new mercies every morning. Make your own personal list of things to be thankful for today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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