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Friday's Letters & The Book Thief

25 May 2012

Dear new friends from Confessions of a GDS, I'm so glad you're here.  I know it's probably just for the coffee, but I'll pretend it's because you think I'm amazing.  Please leave a comment to say 'hi', so I can get to know you.

Dear girl who bought our ipad, you're awesome...and you're our excuse to spend even more money upgrading to the new ipad.  And your dreads are amazing.  The end.

Dear Cathay Pacific, thanks for designing your flight itineraries to look like they were hand typed on the world's first typewriter.  They're just so easy to read.  So easy, in fact, THAT I THOUGHT MY BEST FRIEND WAS COMING A DAY EARLIER THAN SHE IS.  Can you sense the disappointment and anger in my voice, or did you think my caps lock just got stuck?  Either way, I hate you.

Dear anyone-who'll-listen, can you believe that in exactly one week, I'll be embarking on 7-weeks of travel, before returning to the US!??!  I'm so darn excited and impatient.  

Dear readers, would you be so kind as to give me book recommendations?  I hope to read lots of books during our upcoming travels.  I have a couple on my list, but could use a few more.  In exchange, I'll give you a book recommendation.

First thing you should know about this book:

Yes, that's 4.5 stars with over 1,400 reviews.  It's that good.  If you've done a lot of fiction reading, you start to look for certain things--certain ways of writing, certain plot lines, certain character traits.  This book truly breaks the mold when it comes to writing style and plot development.  It actually takes a few chapters to adjust to, and from there you'll slowly feel more attached to the characters, and, eventually, by the end, it will simply knock your socks off.  And, if you're anything like me, you might sob uncontrollably.  I'm talking shoulder heaving sobs...soaked the sheets with tears and have to get out of bed to find kleenex sobs.  But seriously, read it.


Have an awesome weekend, lovelies.
Any exciting plans?

#FlauntYourCause Winner

24 May 2012

A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the #FlauntYourCause link-up.  Whether you wrote a post, left a comment, or tweeted about the link-up, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It's the first time I've even hosted a link-up and I didn't know what to expect.  I set a goal of 30 participants, as my 'bar' for wild success.

Emmy June blog

I do believe that we create our own reality...and what do you know?  We ended the link-up with exactly 30 entries.  Thank you again!

Selfishly, I feel like I won the lotto hosting this link-up.  Every time I saw a new entry, I scrambled to read it, curious about what cause it would contain.  Through this opportunity, I learned more about:
  • Being a CASA {Court Appointed Special Advocate}
  • Down Syndrome advocacy in Australia
  • A missionary making her way to Africa
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Erin's Clothing Drive & "Shop My Closet" night
  • Wounded Warriors
  • Abortion prevention
  • Girl Scouts
  • Miles for Hope Brain Cancer walk
  • Love of Labs
  • 5 to Survive
  • Clare's work volunteering in Dominica
  • Rape is Never Justified
  • Bye Bye Beehive Mission
  • Gabriel's Angels
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
  • Girls on the Run
  • Clean Water for the World
  • Shine
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Missionary work for imprisoned children in Africa
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Locks of Love
  • Blessings in a Backpack
  • Spaying & Neutering Pets
I loved reading about the different causes that bloggers care about,
the causes they donate their time and money toward.
Simply uh-amazing!

Now the fun part is that Lindsay and I pledged to donate $50 to one lucky charity as an added incentive to get involved.  And while I feel like the winner, there will actually be a real winner.  So without further adieu,

Congratulations to Allie, from A Thousand Wonders, who wrote about the cause To Write Love on Her Arms.  What makes this even more awesome, is that Jessica from Lovely Little Things, also wrote about TWLOHA.  So it's like we had a double winner!  

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

$50 will be donated to TWLOHA, on behalf of all the bloggers who participated in #FlauntYourCause.

Happy Birthday to Me!

23 May 2012

Today I'm the big 2-8.  Still young in the minds' of most, and apparently ancient in the blogging world.
What is it about bloggers and the whole "I cannot believe I'm 24.  When did I get this old!??!"

Reality check: 40's are the new 30's.  30's are the new 20's.  And 20's are babies.

Enough blogger nonsense.

Yes, I'm 28.  Although, for the record, I completely missed my 27th birthday, so perhaps I'm actually 27 this year?  You see, last year we left Los Angeles on May 22nd, and arrived in Sydney on May 24th, a mere fifteen hours later.  Thus, I missed my birthday.  Nevertheless, I don't think time-keeping works that way, or all Hollywood stars would cross the international date line annually on their birthday.

Despite starting my 27th year by missing my birthday, it's been an amazing year.  Jeff quit a job he hated, we moved to Australia, I traveled to India for a month with my dad, Jeff got to spend two months in MI with his family, I traveled to Thailand on a work trip, we drove more than 50 hours combined to see lots of Australia, I snuggled a koala, got attacked by wallabies, and learned to surf.  I took on a struggling, poor performing territory with work...and turned it into the #1 in the country. I fell more in love with my husband, and deepened my spiritual practice.  Yes, it was a wonderful year.

And, what's more, I believe my 28th year will be even better.  You see, from what I can tell, life just keeps getting better.  Every year, I feel more confident in myself, more comfortable in my skin, and more in awe of what the Universe has planned for me.

Happy Birthday to me!

" Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."

"If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year . . .
Today should always be our most wonderful day."


P.S. Today is the last day to enter the Flaunt Your Cause link-up.
As a birthday gift to me, please share your cause by linking up :)

My Life at the Minute

22 May 2012

I really haven't been giving blogging the attention it deserves lately.
And for that, I apologize.
I know I'm missing out on a lot of great reading, and more importantly, the haps of all my bloggy friends...
but there literally are not enough hours in the day.
Welcome to my life....

  • Packing
  • Cleaning
  • Researching/Booking Travel
  • Visiting with dear, sweet friends
  • Lots of misc. to-do list checking
What's worse is that none of these task make for great blog writing.  You're probably a half-second away from clicking off this site.  I can't say that I blame you.  So let's keep this short and sweet, shall we?

The Highlights
  • All our travel is booked.  In total, it's 12 flights and 3 train journeys.
  • My bff is coming to Sydney in FIVE DAYS!
  • My boss asked me if we can do all the "exit" stuff a day early (read: May 30 instead of May 31.)  We don't fly out until June 1st.  The thought of spending one and a half days in this city sans car, cell phone, and ipad is freaking me out.  What has the world come to!?!?
  • I ate half a tube of cookie dough today....and I'll be in a beach destination in under two weeks.  Eek!
  • I wish everything I listed on Gumtree {Aussie Craigslist} would hurry up and sell!
  • Saying goodbye to everyone from church last Sunday was hard!  They've been our second family in Sydney and I don't like leaving places without an idea of when I'll be back.
  • Now that I'm in super packing mode, I wish I could pack up everything #likerightnow, but that's not practical.  Apparently we need clothing and toiletries for the next 9 days.
Remember when I told you about The Big Adventure?
And you were like, "I'll be living vicariously through you!"
Well, friends, I hope this is what you were after.  The not-so-glamorous side of moving & travel planning.  Okay, I know you really just want to see pretty pictures of our destinations...and you will...just be patient, and come along for the ride. 

High's and Low's

21 May 2012

 My weekend was an exercise in contrasts.  Friday night, I'd organized some Farewell Drinks with colleagues, which is the standard practice around here.  I was encouraged by many of my coworkers to have a proper venue where they could say goodbye.  Since I'm in sales and am, therefore, field based, I don't have tons of coworkers that I would consider friends enough to see on a Friday night.  I made the list, counted it twice, and it totaled 15 people.  The email went out a couple of weeks ago, and many people RSVP'ed yes.  However, when Friday rolled around, the excuses started pouring in.  What started as 10, began to dwindle as 'family issues', 'a bad night's sleep', 'more family issues', and 'other engagements' chimed into my phone.

One of my oldest friends with the company, and the person who connected me with this job in Australia, was the first to arrive.  It was lovely to visit with him, but I couldn't shake the black cloud hanging over me, knowing that so many people cancelled, and it would be a very sparse turnout.  In my head, I thought he must be judging me that no one else showed up.  Finally, another friend showed up, almost two hours late.  Not long after he arrived, my first friend bid me farewell.  I wonder if he felt an obligation to stay until someone else arrived.  A few more trickled in later, and another friend {who swore up and down he'd be there}, turned out to be having drinks in the city, but just couldn't make the effort to come to where we were.

The alcohol wasn't sitting well with me, and my girlfriend was on a crazy, drunken mission to Surry Hills, when I made a last-minute decision to call it a night and hopped into a cab.  At that point, I just longed to be home with my husband.  A person in my life who would never find an excuse that was more important than me.  It was the eve of his birthday, and it seemed like that was where I belonged all along.

What's more upsetting to me than the disappointment of flaky coworkers, is that it still gets to me.  I wish I could truly, with complete honesty, say that it didn't matter; that I knew I was loved, and supported, and that I would be missed.  You see, in my heart of hearts, I know these things to be true!  And yet, when I was sitting in that bar, I couldn't help but feel that it was a popularity contest and I lost.

To be honest, I didn't even want to blog about it, because there's something even worse about saying it out loud.  But I guess this is my way of proving to myself that it's okay to be disappointed in the moment, but then to bounce back because my life is full of people who love and support me.

Funny enough, it seemed the Universe wanted to remind me of that as well.  On Saturday, J and I had an amazing brunch on the water for his birthday.  Then, we went to play mini-golf with friends.  What started out as 4 of us, quickly grew into 14 people--and several of our friends unexpectedly decided to join at the last minute.  We had an amazing day, and I soaked in all the laughs, and smiles, and memories. Our friend Prue surprised us with birthday cakes--complete with candles and presents!  The sun shined all day, and it was simply perfect in every way.

And, what's even better, I got back-to-back hole in one's on the first two holes of the course!


I'm glad my focus has returned to love and gratitude....and fun.

How was your weekend?

Spiritual Sunday: My Husband's Take

20 May 2012

My Mantra and What Meditation has Done for Me
{hubby guest posting}

How Meditation Came to Me

I thought it would be nice to do a guest post on Em's blog to explain some things that have helped me and might be helpful for others. 

My introduction to meditation came suddenly and unexpectedly several weeks before I met Em for the first time. I was not necessarily in a bad place in my life or a great place either, but I had definitely felt for quite awhile that "something" was missing. On top of that I was crushed at work (as usual) spending 12-16 hours a day trying to bring new and innovative products to market with Belkin. My biggest problem was insomnia. Most days when I was finally able to lay down and try and get some sleep, I would lay awake thinking about work.  

The night that meditation came to me was no different than any other week night. I had been at the office until around 8pm, then I came home and worked another couple of hours. I went into my bedroom that night and turned off my light. About 5-10 minutes later I realized that I was still standing up in the dark and had been thinking about work. I thought to myself that there has got to be a way to make this stop. There had to be a way to be more healthy and productive with my thoughts. Then, it happened. Without knowing why or how, I started meditating. I sat down on my bedroom floor and closed my eyes. With my eyes closed I focused my internal gaze on the point between my eyebrows and started to think about work. I allowed my self about 20-30 minutes to think about nothing but the problems and troubles that I was struggling with. Solutions and ideas started pouring in even on that first night. 

How Meditation Changed Me

Over the course of the next several nights I would do the same routine before bed. Each night I would sit down on my floor in the dark with my spine straight and eyes closed. I would focus my attention on the point between my eyebrows and let all my problems and worries come to the surface and forefront of my mind. Each night after meditating I would scribble some of the ideas and possible solutions I had down in a notebook before going to sleep. 

What I didn't realize at the time was that I was committing somewhat of a meditation no-no by purposefully thinking about my problems. I was so new to the process that in the beginning I didn't even realize that the process I was doing was called meditation! I just figured I was doing something new and personal that felt very natural. Plus it was helping me a great deal to be able to sleep at night. To me, this process found it's way into my routine, it made me feel better than I had felt in years, so there was no reason to question it. 

After a couple of weeks at my new routine I had the idea to add 5-10 minutes at the end where I would eliminate all thoughts from my mind. To say that this was tough at the beginning would be an understatement. I struggled with keeping my mind clear, but with each night it became easier and I gradually found myself reducing the amount of time I spent thinking about my troubles and increasing the amount of time I spent trying to focus on allowing no thoughts to enter my mind. One of the best techniques I have found for this is to imagine a windshield wiper in the dark brushing away any thoughts that may have crept into my mind.

Soon change was in full swing for me. I felt a constant "calm" and most worry was gone from my life. I had a great feeling that everything was going to turn out alright and that positive thinking would bring positive results. Oh, and I slept like a baby almost EVERY night.

Meeting Emily and Getting My Mantra

By the time I met Em I had a pretty good routine down. She introduced me to her church and although skeptical at first, I quickly realized it was a non-judgmental church that accepted all religions while focusing on the idea that learning and practicing meditation was the key to happiness. I fell for Em pretty fast and hard at the time because let's be honest, what's not to fall for!?! For the first time, instead of driving and seeking change, I was confidently thinking positive thoughts and accepting what came. 

While meditating and thinking positive thoughts has affected so many parts of my life from income to work/life balance, two of the most profound changes I experienced were in self awareness and communication.

Over the course of the next couple of years I started hearing a phrase while meditating. "Be calm, be centered, be peaceful." At first I wasn't sure exactly what it meant and why it came into my mind but I thought it was a nice enough mantra to repeat internally while in the beginning of my daily meditations. Around this time I read a GREAT book called "Emotional Intelligence 2.0". I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone wanting to improve relationships with co-workers, friends, and/or family members. This book had almost as profound an impact on my life as learning to meditate and meeting Em. It's a close third! For those of you guessing, Em takes the cake! 


Anyway, the book goes into how we communicate with one another and what impact many things we say and do may have on others. Most of what the book covers are everyday ways people often unintentionally mis-communicate by subconsciously being passive aggressive, using misplaced anger, being aloof, etc. That's when it hit me that my mantra was missing it's purpose. I realized what it was meant to be - "Be calm while listening, be centered while thinking, and be peaceful while communicating."

The Three "Be's"

"Be calm while listening" means to me that when someone else is speaking they are simply trying to communicate with you. If they are upset or frustrated I should not take it personally. Instead, I should be calm and not interrupt them. I should let them finish and search for the true meaning of what they are trying to verbalize, minus the emotions.

"Be centered while thinking" means that while I am formulating my response I need to be focused and centered on how I can clearly communicate my intended message to obtain a positive result with my words. It also means that it's okay to go through a couple of different possibilities in my mind as to what my response may be, but I should always try to focus on being centered and aware of how to get to the response that will bring the most desired outcome.

"Be peaceful while communicating" means to me that when I do verbalize my response it needs to come across in a non-threatening, solution-oriented manner. If I have remained calm while listening and centered while formulating my response, this should be the easy part!

I wish that I could say that I meditate everyday and never have arguments or lose my patience because of my mantra. We all know that life simply doesn't work that way. What I can say is that meditating as much as I do and practicing my mantra often has greatly improved my quality of life. While I can't imagine where I would be in my life now if I hadn't have found meditation or met Emily, I can guarantee that I would not be as calm, centered, and peaceful as I am.

I firmly believe that regardless of what anyone tells you about what meditation is or how it's supposed to be done, you should allow yourself the chance to figure it our on your own. If you can find a few minutes each day to go within and be quiet with your eyes closed, your life will start to get better. I guarantee it. Once your eyes are closed It doesn't matter what you think about, what you don't think about, or what method you follow, as long as you stay awake and focus your inner attention to the point between the eyebrows. Your body and conscious mind will do the rest.

{Emily here--is it just me or should my hubby be the blogger in the family?!?!}
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