Forty One

sup-beach-view nell-hat-on-beach rock-climbing sup-selfie nell-and-kiddos 41 single-wave abc-breakfast sup bike-ride

So, this is 41. Supposedly once you’re over 40, then you’re considered “over the hill”, right? Well maybe, maybe not. In my 20’s I did consider the 40’s as being “over the hill” and I had a picture in my head of what that would look and feel like. This is not at all what I expected. Man, am I glad.  I choose to make the most of every day.  I choose to do the things that make me feel alive. So, here’s to the 40’s. Bring it on!

*A special thanks to my three favorite people; Steve, Danica and Trey.  Steve made me feel special and let me do anything I wanted all weekend while he did my chores for me.  Trey went rock climbing with me and we had the best time.  Danica gave me the best present by coming home for the weekend to hang out with me.  To each of you… thank you for being you and thank you for being amazing.  You made me feel so very special. 

 

Ocean Magic

board-sky-view-small ocean-selfie-small pier-water-small  stand-up-ocean-view-smallboard-in-motion-small sup-beach-view-small water-cloud-view-small

For me, paddleboading can be a purely magical experience.  This week I got to experience one of those magical moments. The water was completely flat, glassy, crystal clear and calm, the ocean was filled with beautiful sea life, the wind was calm and the moon was full.  It was perfect!  I quickly remembered just how much I love paddleboarding and how grateful I am to live in a place where I can do things like this year round.

You see, two years ago (before my mom’s accident), I was out on the water every single week without fail.  Then life flipped upside down and I just never got back into the habit.  Well, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m changing that.  Doing fun active activities makes me feel better physically and emotionally. Paddleboarding is probably at the top of that activity list for me.  It makes me feel alive! Now I’m looking to add additional activities to this list; mountain bike trail riding and indoor rock climbing.  More to come on that.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying more time on the ocean.

Beach Photography

I have been MIA from the blog for sometime; 3 months to be exact!  WOW, how quickly time flies.  Hopefully that will change.  Soon there will be a post about my hair, the debacle and the process to recover.  I know, don’t get too excited.  In the meantime, I wanted to share my most recent little hobby with you.

If you know me at all, then you know I’m a beach lover.  It could be said that I moved my family 1600 miles to be close to the beach.  (well, that’s at least one reason anyway) The beach brings me peace.  It is my happy place.  Ok, after much  babbling, here’s the point.  I got this awesome lens set for my Samsung phone from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  The set came with a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens. My Galaxy s6 Active already takes great photos, but this lens takes it up a notch. Plus, it’s super easy to use.  I can’t stop taking photos.

Here are just a few pics I’ve taken in just the last three weeks.  If you follow me on Instagram, then this will be a repeat.  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, please do.  You can find me at @mamanellie_.

surflines surfboard-pier sunset-view-rays sunburst-dance sand-view-clear-water nell-walking-up nell-walking-up-dress bird-up-close birds-sandbar clouds-reflection cloudy-lighthouse crooked-palm lifeguard-stand miami-beach-sunset bird-flying bird-flying-wings-up

What Shall It Be?

nell and dee skipping kauai

What does a person need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”

― Sterling Hayden

Perspective

Palm in the Sky

It was spring but it was summer I wanted; the warm days and the great outdoors.
It was summer but it was fall I wanted: the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.
It was fall but it was winter I wanted; the beautiful snow and the joy of the Christmas season.
It was now winter but it was spring I wanted; the warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted; the freedom and respect.
I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted; to be mature and sophisticated.
I was middle -aged but it was twenty I wanted; the youth and the free spirit.
I was retired but it was middle-aged that I wanted; the presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

-Written by a fourteen year old boy (yes, fourteen!)

2016 :: A Restart

Vision Board

In many ways, my life was on hold in 2015.  There was the tragedy of my mom’s life and death struggle and recovery from her car accident.  My daughter graduated from high school and then moved out of our house for the first time and went to college.  My 3 year long technology project at work launched (still smoothing out the details).  My son moved to a new school and started high school.  2015 was most definitely a year on hold personally as I prepared for and worked through the tragedies and milestones of life.  While there is still much investment to do in these areas, I want to be intentional about my 2016.  I want to make up for lost time.  I want to have a vision, goals and aspirations.  This is quite a strange thought for me as I have literally never done a New Year’s resolution.  I don’t really believe in them.  Instead of putting together a resolution or multiple resolutions that you forget about within the first month of the year; I decided to make a vision/goals board that fully incorporates everything that I want to do this year.  Most are not simply do and forget goals, but things that I want to do, not only in 2016, but on an ongoing basis.  These are things that I want to make into a lifestyle.

So, here it is; my 2016.  It is going to be a year of celebration.  I turn 40, my parents turn 60, my brother turns 30, I celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary and my brother is getting married.  How can you not celebrate with this line up?  This is a year setup for celebration.

Here is the list of 2016 visions/goals that went into building the board pictured here.  Happy 2016 to you!  Seize this year.  You never know, it could be your best year yet!

Travel – Hawaii/Costa Rica/Mexico
20 year anniversary & pics
Book teaching
Making friends
Investing in marriage
Have more fun
Smile more
Peace, joy, hope
Stillness (not busy) – letting God work
One day at a time
LOVE
Crossfit
Invest more in 401K
Less confusing; simplify
Go to the ocean more (body board, sup, snorkel)
PMP (project management) certification

A Christmas Celebration

I first want to acknowledge that it has been quite a while since I’ve posted here.  As you all can probably understand, this season has been quite busy.  But more importantly, I’ve been spending time focusing on the things that truly matter most; my family and the multitudes of blessings in my life.

This Christmas was quite a bit better than last.  Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of good things to be better than last year.  Last year was spent in a trauma ICU room with my mom fighting for her life.  I am happy to say that this Christmas wasn’t just a little bit better than last Christmas; it was leaps and bounds better than last year.  My mom’s amazing recovery resulting from miracle after miracle (see the one year update here) which meant that she was with us this Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus, opening many presents and eating delicious food.  My daughter was home from college and we enjoyed some great family time with her and with my husband and with my son watching movies, shopping, opening presents, laughing and enjoying life.  And if that wasn’t enough, we had some very exciting Christmas news that was icing on the cake.  My brother proposed to his girlfriend!  I helped him pick out the ring weeks earlier.  He proposed on Christmas morning but my parents had no idea.  He surprised them on Christmas day with the proposal.  We absolutely love her and are beyond excited that she will be joining the family.  I am finally getting a sister!

So this Christmas was a celebration of life; recovered life, renewed life, and new life to come.  It was a Christmas of hopes and dreams and pure joy and happiness.  We are truly blessed!

Merry Christmas to you and yours during this wonderful season!

Nell and Steve RestaurantBanana with Bow Candelight Christmas Service Earl and Joanna  Nana and Papa on Boat Nana Many Presents Nana Papa Earl Bunny Ears Nell and Joanna Nell Dee Trey Restaurant Papa Hammock Papa Leezo  Papp Driving Boat Steve Fried TurkeTrey on the Boat

I’m on a Boat

Boat - Mom and NellBoat - SteveBoat - Trey DrivingBoat - Mom BundledBoat - PapaBoat - Joanna and KonaBoat - Steve 2Boat - Mom and DadBoat - Nell and SteveBoat - Earl Cast NetBoat - Trey DrivingBoat - Nell Lighthouse

My dad has worked so very hard for over 40 years; selflessly, tirelessly and wholeheartedly giving everything he has. The only thing that he’s ever wanted is a nice salt water fishing boat. Because of my mom’s accident (11 months ago today!), he had to retire suddenly and much earlier than he expected.  Because of this, he didn’t think he would be able to ever have his dream boat. Well, I’m excited to say that after all his hard work and the horrible year that he’s had (that none of us can ever imagine) he got his dream boat this past weekend. The entire family went out on the boat on Sunday. Dad’s favorite thing is to have all of his family together, but this time he had all of his family on his dream boat. He was in heaven. I cry tears of joy every time I tell this story. He so greatly deserves this gift. He is the most amazing man and I am beyond excited for him. I foresee many more days with family in the boat enjoying the water and each other. God is totally in the process of taking something that was a tragic and absolutely horrific situation and right before our eyes is turning it into something good. Just to be a part of this story has been so amazing; a true privilege. You just never know how things are going to turn out in any situation. Life is certainly not easy for mom and dad. But we are starting to see so much positivity and blessing in their lives. I can’t think of any two people more deserving of a blessed life.  Now, let’s hit the water!

Fifteen

Trey with Lit Cake

Look who’s 15! Not even sure how this happened. When I  hug him, my head rests on his chest. He has become a young man overnight.

We have entered the cave phase where he wants to be alone in his cave (room) playing video games. My only complaint at this stage is that I miss him. I miss him a lot. I miss his laugh, his smile and his amazing sense of humor. This kid is hilarious and can make me laugh like no other; well like one other. He’s just like his dad. He is hilarious to the core with an incredibly sweet heart. I am so incredibly proud to be his mom. He is the most amazing boy, ahem, I mean young man.

Happy birthday, Trey! I can’t wait to see what your high school years bring. I love you more than words can say.

Lately

I have to apologize upfront for the lengthy post. If you’re bored, read on. (pictures below)

I know I have been MIA from the blog for a while now. Life has been quite crazy lately. To be perfectly honest, 2015 has been a “B”. Life is hard. Life is difficult. And sometimes life just plain sucks but on the flip side there are always bright spots and things to be grateful for.

You always hear that when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and endure many trials, this is when God can do the most work. All I can say is that God must be doing something big. I have no idea what, but something big. Life is hard. Life is tough.   It just is. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by our circumstances, we will most certainly exist on a roller coaster of emotions. I try to reside above my circumstances and see my life from God’s point of view, but I fail miserably all the time. I’m learning and trying to allow God to mold and shape me along this journey; to become the person that He wants me to be. It’s only April but I’ve learned many life lessons this year, and particularly two lessons stand out to me at this moment and time. First, you have to look at your blessings. If you’re busy being thankful for what you have, you have no time for complaints (I fail at this often – just ask my husband). Second, is to rise above your circumstances and view your life from God’s point of view. It’s difficult but when you do this, that issue that seemed like the biggest thing in the world, becomes only a small blip on your map of life.

Life has been crazy; some things good, some things bad, some things horrible and probably everything in between. Here are a few; my mom’s tragic car accident with a roller coaster of life and death moments, the long continual journey to her recovery, my Granny becoming sick twice, my Granny finally passing away, celebrating my daughter turning 18, celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday (which we weren’t sure we’d get to do), planning my daughter’s senior prom, planning for her high school graduation, planning a graduation trip and trying to land a huge 3 year long technology project at work (in which I am leading).

The topic of my mom; where do I even start? It is been miraculous, yet devastating. I have in some ways become a back up caregiver, supporter and mother to her this year and will continue to do so for as long as it takes (probably years). This area can and does easily become a big roller coaster of emotions but I am forever grateful to God for saving her life and slowly brining her back to us. I will say that celebrating her 59th birthday was the most special birthday celebration of all because, honestly, three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible. Then there’s my dad; my poor sweet dad. His life has flipped upside down and inside out. He had to leave his job, sell several properties, fight with insurance (daily), move across the country, take over the rental business, start paying all the bills and biggest of all has had to become the caregiver for my mom. The crazy thing is that he does all of these things simultaneously. He has always been the rock of our family and he still is but my brother and I have been there to help hold him up when he just can’t go anymore. He’s giving it all he has in an extremely difficult situation. As I tell him weekly, “I’m not concerned about mom. She’s coming back. I’m concerned about you.” (posting daily on her CaringBridge site)

My Granny. Oh, my sweet Granny. I’m not ready to talk fully about this yet but when I am, you’ll most likely see a blog post about it. I will state it simply like this. She was more than a granny. I was a daughter to her and she was a mother to me. I meant the world to her. We had a one of a kind special relationship. I have her wedding ring on my finger as I type this post and every time I look at it I cry. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by since Easter that I haven’t cried over losing her. She is by far the closest person to me that I’ve ever lost.

In all of this darkness, there’s the bright spots in my life. I get to watch my little girl turn into an adult, plan prom, pick out a dress, witness all those last moments of her high school career, plan for her upcoming graduation, plan an exciting graduation trip to celebrate, pick a college, pick a major, and plan her future. How exciting this has been. The excitement and joy on her face makes everything better. Yes, there are many difficult things happening this year, but on the flip side of that, there are all these exciting moments that I am so blessed to get to be a part of. This is the biggest, most monumental year Danica has ever had. I am loving every minute of it. These are all lasts to experience and I plan on being there for every one of them. For me personally, it is emotional for yet very exciting at the same time. I can’t think about all if it too hard because I will cry. I can’t believe we have reached this moment in her life. I feel like she should still be that sweet little sassy southern girl with a twang in her voice. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. There is no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things.

Then there’s work. I never really talk about work on the blog but this year is a big year. My manta last year was that 2015 would be a big year for me (without my mom’s accident happening) due to the launch of this project, Danica graduating high school and going off to college. I work in technology for a local non-profit. This project is three years in the making and it is huge. We are literally replacing the entire technological infrastructure of the organization. God is in this and I am certainly trusting in Him.

When I reflect on everything that my life holds at this moment in time, I can easily get overwhelmed. What I have to remember is that God has a plan. Only He knows the big picture. I’m learning to take each day, one day at a time, which has been a monumental lesson for me as I am a dreamer and a planner. Honestly, for my own sanity, I have no choice but to operate this way and it works. Life is short and fragile. In a moment it can be flipped upside down. The people you love the most won’t be there forever. Your children will grow up fast and move on with their lives. Soak up every moment of this day. Let the ones you love know how much you love them. This may be the only opportunity you have to do so. Enjoy each and every moment with your children because before you know it, they will no longer be living under your roof.

All I can say is this.  Live for today. Life is short.

Here are a few pictures of life lately.

Mom and Dad at LaunchDee FAU ShirtMom and Nell at LaunchNell & GrannyMom & Dad on Moms BirthdayGranny RingNell & Dee at the Beach 18 BirthdayCR Beach