Tuesday, July 23, 2013

30before30 ends....and 30 begins!

The ending days of my 30before30 (since my last post) have been eventful, momentous, life-changing, and blessed! Starting out on this journey to 30 was initially a task full of "new things" and a brush up on the old. Now, in its end it has been a great time of reflection, evaluation, and fun. I grew more spiritually, emotionally, and became much more productive than usual. I also learned/reflected/incorporated the following into my life in the process:

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes

*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff

*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's

*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"

*Staying sane while the world goes crazy

*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!

*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!
*Being thankful on purpose!
*Taking the time to LOOK!
*Going to keep swimming to see the bigger picture!

All of my revelations and epiphanies from post to post. Each embodied a different area of growth for me. One of the most important things I noticed is that my 30before30 doesn't end here. I've tapped into many areas that are keepers!
*I exercised more and it was fierce. I am embracing my inner Crossfit! (I will SO continue this, does a body good).
*I increased my water intake.
*I became a weekly volunteer.
*I met new people.
*I studied and read more.

*Deepened my conversations and prayer with God.
*I started this blog.
*I did more of what I loved to do. 
*I gave of my time.
* I completed more acts of kindness.
*I loved more.
*I tried more.
*I did more.
*I received more for myself.
*I was and am blessed!
With all of those great tasks accomplished, I felt that this period of time was a success and that I couldn't have asked for anything more....then, this weekend I realized that tremendous blessings were still coming my way. My family and friends threw me a wonderful 30th surprise bday party.
Thanks to my sister and best friend for planning such a great party, thanks to my best friend for her award winning lies to get me there, and thanks to my beau who helped plan and bring even more surprises! It was "I Love Lucy" themed, as I am one of the biggest Lucille Ball fans there is. So....here are a few pics of my day (more to come later):

My invitation (of course I didn't know about it at the time).


My AWESOME "I Love Lucy" cake!
The tiers were red velvet (my favorite) and vanilla. YUM!!! 
Made by Sinsational Cakes by YaYa (so good it's a sin)
Best bakery I know!

These were part of the favors for the guests. Heart candies inside, my sister came up with this one!
Cutest little vintage TVs, along with some personalized bubbly.
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It was great seeing everyone, being surprised, and getting a great push into my 30s! However, I was completely unaware that my 30th birthday would also spark an even bigger life change; other than my 30before30 journey...

My wonderful beau, best friend, awesome guy decided to.....PROPOSE!
My utter shock, surprise and ring!

More utter shock, surprise, ring, and love!

I love this man! and he made my birthday even more special!


So, my ULTIMATE take away 30 days later....
There is always, Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for and when blessings arise; embrace them. Take them in, remember Who allows them to enter your life, and cherish them to the utmost.


Here I was, so thankful for my day to day blessings, not knowing there was a greater blessing waiting for me. What a great way to end 29 and begin 30! Here's to the next chapter in my life.....
MRS. CraftyMorrison!


Another day in the books. "30before30" ends...and 30 begins!

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!
*Being thankful on purpose!
*Taking the time to LOOK!
*Going to keep swimming to see the bigger picture!
*Cherishing my blessings!
*Beginning 30!
*Experiencing NEW chapters!
*Continuing to be thankful!









Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 24-26: Just Keep Swimming....Just Keep Swimming...to the Bigger Picture

Today is day 26 of my 30before30! Seems like an eternity from day 1, but I am still going. The past few days have been filled with relaxation and giving of my time. Yesterday, I volunteered and continue to enjoy working and helping others each week. I'm getting better with the numerous tasks of an intake volunteer, and getting to interact with the community has been fun. One of the highlights of my day yesterday was talking to a client (who was in need of food assistance) about Lucille Ball. While discussing her file, I noticed she had an "I Love Lucy" purse. Such a small thing that made me realize something even bigger. As much as we are all different and have different struggles.....WE'RE SO THE SAME!

We had totally different backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences...but we both LOVE LUCY. After a while, I forgot about her struggles to feed her family, needing services, etc. We were just able to gab about Lucille Ball and how this 1950s comedy was the best thing since sliced bread. As my shift of helping out ended, I realized how thankful I was that I stepped into this venture. It's great to feel productive and at the same time, be in an environment where nothing matters but genuine help and kindness. That conversation with her was a fun one, and seeing what others are going through each week...just reminds me to keep swimming. Meaning, keep doing what matters most. There are days that we (myself included) go through the motions, and while intentions are good; we can sometimes lose sight of WHY we're really doing what we're doing.

I initially found this opportunity for myself. I wanted to incorporate more volunteerism, more giving of my time, more stepping outside of myself into my life. Great intentions, but once the work starts it's easy to get wrapped up into "what needs to get done." Pull a file, review info, ask what services are needed, etc. However, taking the time to talk, listen, and even find moments of similarity while helping....that's why I'll continue.

Along with giving time, I also continued to workout! Oh, it's SO hard. And I have decided that's it's hard because:

-It's a process that take TIME
-It hurts
-It's continuous
-Requires discipline
-Makes you kill your flesh and sacrifice
-Slacking takes you back 10 steps

Then, I was reminded that anything worth doing is all of the above. If it was easy, then everyone would do it, right? So, I will keep swimming in my 4 days to go of my 30before30 and thereafter. I literally kept yelling Philippians 4:13 today as I trudged through my crossfit workout. I had nothing left after only 3 rounds, and I was seconds away from collapsing into exhaustion. Today's workout called for pull-ups. I had my pull-up bar in place and went for the 10 pull-ups x5 with all the gusto I had in me. Needless to say, I stopped at #2 and thought "I really have to pull MYSELF up? Seriously?!" Of course the answer was yes, as my "Momma Crossfit" schedule reminded me of my WOD (workout of the day). So, I tried my best again, seeming to only get maybe an inch or two off the ground. With each round, I got a teensy bit better. Throughout though, I contemplated....well if I weighed less, maybe this would be easier...I won't be able to finish...what was I thinking. But, I kept yelling Philippians which after round 4 just became a "4:13" mumble due to the exhaustion.

However, I made it!! I made it through, sweaty, tired, laid flat out on the floor...but I made it. I began this journey agreeing to do the hard stuff (previous posts) and through the hard stuff you HAVE TO KEEP SWIMMING. Today, I didn't want to, but I pushed through. I appreciated it afterward and the soreness I'm feeling as I currently type is the best pain ever! You feel good anytime you:

-Go through the process and take the TIME
-Feel the hurt when necessary
-Continue the continuous process
-Require discipline of and in yourself
-Kill your flesh and make the sacrifice
-Not slack and refuse to go back 10 steps

Now, this isn't easy to stick to, but it is NECESSARY. So, today was my "Keep Swimming" day. When you keep swimming, you're able to continue, go to the depths necessary to see the bigger picture. I was reminded thus far this week, that I share similarities with a diverse group of others; and that finishing/continuing something is sometimes all that is needed to succeed. Reminders are always needed and great to have from time to time. My ultimate reminder today:

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!


Another day in the books. "30before30"

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!
*Being thankful on purpose!
*Taking the time to LOOK!
*Going to keep swimming to see the bigger picture!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 21-23: Gifts and Psalms

This weekend was a great one, filled with projects/DIY/crafting. All the things I love most. It was nice to tap into some of the things that bring me joy, ultimately creating! I've come to learn that many of my best times, happiest times are when I am making something. Creating a vision. Executing a project. Just something about putting things together that brings about the happy in life. At least for me anyway. I remember a time when I wasn't aware at all of my own gifts. Honestly, I didn't think I had any. I knew there were things I could excel in, but couldn't ever quite pinpoint what they were. I used to experience periods of boredom, feeling as if I had nothing to do, nothing to give. Funny, how the boredom became less and less, the older I became.

Now, there's plenty to do! Like work. And work. And more work. So, I went from times of boredom to feeling like everything was work. How exhausting! This 30 day journey I decided to take has brought about some interesting revelations...

1) Perspective is everything!- If I think I'm having a bad day, I am. If I feel I'm bored, I am. If I think I'm happy, I am. If I feel unproductive, I'm not productive. Forcing myself to tap into what's truly significant. Taking time to TAKE TIME. Noticing the good in every day, even though every day is not a good day. Choosing to have a different perspective has been one of the biggest gifts to come from this challenge so far.

2) I practiced my gifts and discovered new things = Yes, CraftyGriffin loves to create. Not a shock. I love everything from creating lessons for class, to classroom decor, to home decor, party planning, DIY, anything. Taking this time has given me the time to truly delve into my gift of creativity. Also, I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and involved myself in areas I never thought I would. I've met people I never thought I'd meet, and have made a conscious effort to extend my giving. That's something new. Discovering others outside of your bubble, your circle. Seeing how much your thought and time is needed. Taking the focus off of you and placing it on others!

3) My hunger has grown= In a previous post, I talked about searching for more! Then, I was referring to finding more ways to get out and volunteer my time/give of myself. Now, my hunger has grown in so many ways. Hungering for more with God, more for myself, a hunger for simplicity, peace, and a joy that is unwavering. It's a refreshing hunger. A constant wanting for what's better and best for you.

Today, I came across Psalm 25:4-5-

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long

....what a GREAT verse. This is part of my journey through this. At 30, I want to be guided more so in His truth, shown His ways, taught His paths. Ultimately, that's what it all boils down to for me. I think our (myself included) true hunger is to live and walk the spirit of these verses. If my hope is in Him all day long...how can the boredom, fatigue, wandering, frustrations of day to day be let in? Life happens, and for 29 years, I have been operating like a light switch. On when I have to be, putting my all into what I do, sometimes only finding my worth in "what I do," and then....when things get overwhelming, or it's time to shut down, I turn off. On. Off. On. Off. That's not a life that has hope in Him all day long. My hope for 30+ is to have that hope in Him ALL DAY LONG. To stay on. To live outside of my bubble. Continue to CREATE. Embrace my craftiness in all areas, not just with paint, hot glue, and ribbon. Now, that's a gift. To everyday find the good in the day. To everyday, hope when it's easy to lose it. Today, I'm thankful for gifts and this Psalm
. I'm appreciative for this time I have and for the spurts of meaning in the smallest experiences.

Tomorrow will be a new day, another opportunity to create. I'll begin with...jumping back on my crossfit (today was a rest day). Even exercise (that I don't necessarily like doing) is creating a better body and a more disciplined spirit. See, there's good if you look. Apparently, I had gotten so enveloped in daily tasks, that I stopped looking. My take away- Don't stop looking. Gifts, joy, peace...it's there. It can be easily overlooked when our lives become busy. However, our lives were never intended to become too busy to LOOK.


Another day in the books. "30before30"

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!
*Being thankful on purpose!
*Taking the time to LOOK!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 20: Thankful Thursday!

Day 20 of my 30before30 and I am truly thankful!! It's been great these past 20 days reflecting, trying new things, being more conscious of areas where I need to grow, and celebrating the growth I've seen in myself. So, in lieu of day 20, I decided to make a list of 20 things for which I'm thankful.

 Toya's Thankful Thursday List ( The English teacher in me loves alliteration):

I'm thankful for...

1. God and my growing relationship with Him
2. Time off (Summer!)
3. Rainy days like today (brings a refreshing cool breeze)
4. All the basics necessary to live (thank God)
5. Family, friends, and love
6. Creativity
7. Quiet time
8. The Word
9. Trials that have helped me grow
10. Projects
11. New Perspectives
12. Volunteering
13. Meeting new people
14. The ability to help others
15. My Career
16. Grace and Mercy
17. Time to rest
18. Goals and the discipline to accomplish them
19. Inspiration
20. Favor that I don't deserve

These were just some of the things that stood out to me today. All in all, I'm just thankful to be thankful. No matter how great or small, I am appreciative of every moment and experience. I wasn't always able to say that. I'm also sure there will be days when it's difficult to fully appreciate ALL (even the bad). However, there is always, Always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. ALWAYS. Being thankful changes your thinking, places your focus on what's really important, and can even eradicate burdens you didn't know were there. Just be thankful. It's a choice with lasting effects.

Another day in the books. "30before30"
*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!
*Being thankful on purpose!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 19:Productive Pit Stops, Terrific Troubles, and Growth!

 (after the hiatus), 30before30

 Today marks day 19 of my 30before30 after a 9 day hiatus. In the midst of this journey I moved! My goodness how moving can put a huge halt on your life! This is my 3rd time moving ever and it doesn't get any easier. No matter how organized I tried to be, you just never know what you'll encounter. Nonetheless, I am very blessed and thankful for the move and new space.

So, this past week has been interesting due to some random pit stops and troubles:

*My cable/internet had an (all of a sudden for the entire week) connection issue (hence my lapse in blogging each day).

*Pulled a muscle during working out (hurt like crazy for days)

*Realized while moving, that as much as I purged, I still had SO MUCH STUFF!
I will be adding simplicity to this challenge, after this revelation.

*The day of my move, my car battery died....of course it did.

However, in the midst of some of these things I noticed that I've grown quite a bit. While these are not massive issues, I have been in the habit of letting everything get to me. I realized I was controlled by my circumstances. If something bad happened, I had a bad day. If something good happened, I had a good day. But, I am thankful for the growth in this area, because you can have a great day no matter what is happening. Now, realistically yes, there are certain situations that can totally derail your day or days. But, these situations don't have to permanently steal your joy. I think that's the biggest goal I'm striving to achieve--the ability to remain stable, keep my joy, and hold my peace in the midst of any storm (great or small). So, when these pit stops, troubles, Murphy's Law all came at once--I was steady. I thought, well "this too shall pass." And guess what- it did! Trouble definitely doesn't last always. Sometimes our own time clock seems like an eternity. Like those moments where you could have sworn it has been an hour and only 10 or 15 minutes have passed. I think many times that is how we (myself included) operate. Instant gratification, not wanting to go through a process/journey, not willing to take the time that's needed to see something through.....

How we react to certain situations can make these matters (that may just be a "15 minute" period in your life) seem like forever. I noticed that when I remained stable and kept truckin' with my joy---it wasn't such a big deal. I didn't "what-if" myself to death (as I would usually do), I didn't worry, I wasn't anxious. I remembered Philippians 4:6-7. I actually laughed, especially when my car battery died, and thought of course. Of course, today this would happen. It will pass, it will be taken care of, and if I can't fix it, God will make a way. Done deal, pressed on, stayed productive....and now it's a faint memory versus a burden.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

New Perspective!


So, yes it was hard to go through a week without my common luxuries, things breaking down (including my body:)), moving my life and unpacking it all. However, I gained LOADS of reflection time. I was able to have more of a thorough study/scripture time, I HAD to change my perspective on some things, I CHOSE to not worry when things went awry. I was more conscious of my thoughts. So my pit stops became "Productive Pit Stops." When there were moments that circumstances hindered me from moving forward, I was able to focus in on something else. Some things you can't change, but you can definitely change how you react to them. So, I made a decision to be productive elsewhere. My troubles became "Terrific Troubles." I am just now, at 29 years old, truly learning how to count it all joy.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfectly and fully developed, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4, AMP

Things are going to happen. Go wrong. People will be unfair/unreasonable/annoying, etc. Your plans will be derailed, you won't be considered, you'll encounter unexpected trials, things you didn't ask to even be a part of....I could go on and on and on.....

I'm realizing that since I know these things will happen eventually, why lose my joy? Why not view it differently? We've all heard great quotes on what pressure and trials can do. How beautiful stones are formed because of pressure...being that diamond in the rough. But, I must admit, when a trial arises I have forgotten about the bigger picture. Count it all joy. It's not always what we want to do, but ultimately in the end...that pressure, the uncomfortable things, will all make us better. I can truly say I'm grateful for those Productive Pit Stops and the Terrific Troubles that arise from time to time. I may have to consistently remind myself to have a different perspective, but when I look back I'm definitely better afterwards than I was before. It all just makes me a tougher cookie!


Another day in the books. "30before30"

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!
*Counting it all joy and staying on track!




Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 10: I got inspired!

Woo Hoo! Day 9 of my 30before30...

All in all today was a great day, and although I'm still at the beginning of this journey-it's been great thus far. Today was filled with a pretty scheduled day of To Do tasks. I'm moving this week. I planned to move months ago in my realization that I should be more aggressive about my finances.

I've never been totally irresponsible with money, BUT I do have a few financial burdens I could go without. So, I made the decision to pack all my stuff and move to a slightly larger but less expensive place. Not at all a hard decision, the hard part is packing up my life in....oh about 5 days! Nonetheless, I began my day by doing the following:

*Praying and spending time with God- God and I had a great conversation this morning. I read a bit of Word, read a bit of Elizabeth George's book, reflected, etc.

*After a short morning nap (oh the things you can do when you're off for the summer!)...I made a list of things I needed to tackle for the day which included:

*Paying my deposit for the new place.
*Checking on insurance and utilities for move in day.
*Transferring internet and cable services.
*Reserving a U-Haul truck for the move.

You know, the boring stuff that you have to do before you can get into your new space. Between those errands and To Dos, I decided to stop by Target. If you know me, this is a problem waiting to unfold. I LOVE TARGET!! I feel that the store must have been created especially for me:) I stopped by to snag a giftcard for a friend (part of my 5x5 in a previous post). However, I can never walk into Target and not stop at their dollar spot section. The endless display of random, cutesy, sometimes useless things that you think you really need. I walk in and it's like "Ahhhhhh" cutesy, cheapy things!

 This section in the store is a TEACHER'S DREAM! The possibilities of what you can use the items for is limitless. So, as I usually do....I strolled through the section and found...

French Fry Snack Containers!
Now, for the regular shopper, these might be used for a cute BBQ party or kid's event. But, to an English teacher these cutey pie containers are just the supplies needed to spice up my "Figurative Language Fry" activity. Yes, I said "Figurative Language Fry" activity. If you don't know by now, my 6th and 7th grade ELA classroom is cafe themed (check out the "Toya the Teacher" tab for a peek). I came up with the theme this past year and have been ready to "up the ante" for next year ever since. Along with cafe/food inspired decor, I also made sure to make EVERY lesson and activity based on the cafe theme. So, when my students study figurative language, they practiced their skills by making figurative language fries.


Now, my lesson can go further and have the manipulatives I've been looking to have! Stay tuned to this activity, I have many a fry to cook!


As I tried to leave this section in Target, more items began to call my name. Again, things that prevent a teacher like me, who loves to create, from walking away...
Steak Coasters in cute little meat packages! Ahh!!!

As mentioned before, to a normal shopper, a cute BBQ coaster. To an English teacher who's classroom thrives on a foodie theme- Lesson in a package!!
So, I stood there. Staring at the packages thinking, "I could use this some how, I just know it!" While standing, in just a few moments, I had created a writing lesson about sentences that would be awesome for my 6th and especially my 7th grade classes. It just hit me, "Is your sentence at "stake?"
Killing two birds with one stone, I decided I could use this to teach the idiom..."something being at stake" as well as a lesson to model well written sentences. Once I finish writing this along with the handouts and notes for their Cookbook (what I call their English interactive notebooks), it will definitely be utilized this year!


I also ended up leaving with $1 packs of recipe cards and plastic corn molds. All  items I will turn into fun lessons. I love teaching. Love inventing new ways for kids to take in the information. Today, I was inspired. In Target. In the dollar section. Over the smallest of things. Tada! Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. Nonetheless, inspiration is what keeps one going. I remember just about a month ago, I was counting down until summer. Looking forward to a break from the day to day teacher schedule. One month into summer, I find myself shrieking over french fry containers and pretend steaks. I find myself making lesson plans in my head and getting excited about the possibilities of the lessons. Now, I will return back to my regularly scheduled summer- but I'm grateful for the moments today that inspiration hit. It lets you review your passions, it takes you out of your box, it brings excitement into a day that began with boring "adult" tasks. Yay inspiration! Get inspired to do something! Always!



Another day in the books. "30before30"

*Surrounding myself with good people/with good goals/for good causes
*Doing the hard stuff because the hard stuff is the good stuff
*Dotting my i's and crossing ALL of my t's
*Going from "Meh" to "YEAH!!"
*Staying sane while the world goes crazy
*Being more aware and helping others, so I can help myself!
*Aspiring to go from good, to better, to best in ALL things!
*Taking the butt kicking that comes with the journey!
*Getting Inspired!