Thursday, September 21, 2017

Join me on a new journey!

How could I forget to tell you?!

I have begun a new journey. Come check me out at my new site: www.emilyalma.com.



While my blogging life has lived here on blogger for over a decade (wow!) -- I wanted a new project, a new space for new words. Same old me though, haha, no escaping that! Hope you will all join me!

love to you my friends.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lent and my experiences with the KonMari method

For Lent, instead of giving something up - I have given up many many things.

I recently devoured the book "the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo and its title definitely delivered.  The basic essence of the book is to only keep things in your life that spark joy.  That's it.  Its delightfully simple.  Then you go through every single thing that you own and tidy up utilizing the KonMari method.


So for Lent, instead of giving up a vice, I decided to give up clutter and things that don't "spark joy."  Marie created a list in order of where to begin.  She starts with clothes, specifically tops.  I got rid of a total of 52 tops.  It sickens me to read that.  How does one even own that many tops to be able to get rid of that many?  I can't believe I'm putting this in print!

I then proceeded through the rest of my wardrobe, including accessories and other items.  Books were the hardest to part with - I'm not going to lie.  I'm not done with everything that I own - but I will get there.  It's honestly kind of thrilling to do.  I held a "garage sale" of sorts last weekend.  I wanted to give my belongings to friends and loved ones for free.  I had two people show up, one of them being my roommate.  But it's the thought that counts, right?  Then I donated the remaining items to a local thrift shop.  

I'm hoping that by through this experience I will start to focus less on collecting material things.  I want to focus on the more important things in life: like love and friendship.  And ultimately: to remember that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Magical Trip

Guys: John and I recently got back from the most magical trip - to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Seriously - it was glorious.  I am just gonna give a brief recap because I could gab on about it for a looong time!  :)

We flew out Monday morning bright and early (actually it was quite dark because we left St. Joe promptly at 1AM, haha!  We headed to O'Hare and parked in the boonies to catch our flight.  We landed in Orlando and took an Uber to our hotel.  The hotel was nice - nothing fancy but it suited our needs.  It had a pool, but it was outdoors and wasn't heated, so we didn't actually end up using it.  But that's okay.

Monday after John took a snooze and I hit the treadmill, we ended up walking to Universal and exploring City Walk.  It was so fun!  We just hit the shops, ate some food, and played a game of mini golf (I won!).  It was a fun night.  John introduced me to chess on this trip, so we crashed kind of early after all our travel and played a few rounds of chess on our phones.  It was fun!  (I have yet to win a game, but I am absolutely loving it!).

Tuesday was THE BEST day ever!  I donned my Gryffindor robe which Mike and Ashley got me for my birthday, complete with an awesome tie, and had my wand in hand.  John got a wand too, and off we went!  Here are a few pics to share in the joy:






I just cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful of a day it was.  We had butterbeer (which wasn't as wonderful as I was hoping, actually - but still good), we rode magical rides, we walked around and shared in the joy of other fellow Harry Potter aficionados.  It was glorious.  Best day ever!

Wednesday we lazed around a bit.  I went for another run (who am I?!)  Then we took an Uber to Disney Springs.  We walked around the shops and did some exploring.  We went to Disney Quest which is essentially 4 floors of arcades!  That was fun.  One of my favorite things there was where you create your own roller coaster ride and then you get to ride it!  We thought it was all virtual, but for the flips/turns, you actually FLIP upside down!  Haha, we didn't realize that until the end, so we ended up turning upside down 6 times!  It was great fun.

Wednesday night we got all gussied up and went to a fancy dinner.  We went to a Japanese steak house and sat with a super fun group of people and our chef was very entertaining.  A memorable night was had by all.  A great way to wrap up the trip, for sure.

Thursday was another day of travel.  We left the hotel around 10 and were on our way back to the mitten state.  It was a quick trip but so worth it.  I am so glad I pinched my pennies for this one.  I have dreamed of HP world for so long and the dream finally came true!  With a dreamy guy, no less!  ;)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Winner winner: carb loaded dinner

Guys:  I did it.  I am a winner.



...of a DietBet!  Haha.  Man those things are not easy - for me anyway.  The object of the bet is to lose weight.  The one I was in, you have to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks.  Unfortunately for me, my birthday was in those four weeks, of which I indulged in many treats, alcoholic beverages, and other such nonsense.  It was delightful.  But I've done DietBets before and I didn't want to lose this one.

So the last week and a half left before weigh in, I did the extreme...I ate healthily.  Haha.  I turned to a real "diet" and did Dr. Oz's Total 10.  It's kind of similar to paleo but allows for some grain and some dairy.  My favorite part of it was that it gave recipes for three delicious smoothies in the mornings: chocolate almond, mixed berry, or pumpkin pie (I've continued to eat one for breakfast every morning; they're that good! - though John doesn't like them).

My other favorite part of Total 10 was that every day you are supposed to end your day with a detox bath.  It's just a soak in the tub with 2 cups of epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda.  Who doesn't love an excuse to relax in the tub with a good book and a scented candle?!  I loved it.  That is something that I've also continued (not every night though, unfortunately).

Yup, weigh in day came and I was successful.  I earned my money back, and a bit more.  Not as much more as I was hoping for (I got my $30 back and then an extra $6.08) but the incentive worked - I lost the weight.  So that's good.  And now I am ready for my trip to Florida in a little over a week with John!  (even had to buy a new swimsuit as the old one was too big!)  Now time to go make a paper-chain countdown!  Hahaha...I am such a dork.  On to the next big adventure (and a carb loaded dinner).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The last year of my twenties begins!

Last week was my birthday and what a birthday it was!  I must say, I have the best family and friends anyone could ever ask for - seriously!  Let me just do a bit of a recap for you!  :)

Saturday was the second annual birthday bowling bash at Kelley's Bowl.  We had thirty people there to kick off my 29th year and to spend the afternoon bowling.  It was a complete blast.  So much fun!  And naturally my mom had to join us for a bit to get a group pic:

The gang at Kelley's Bowl.

Afterwards a good portion of us went to Coach's for dinner, and then a few more of us got drinks at Silver Beach Pizza following that.  It was so much fun.  My good friend from college, Beth, spent the night so we had a fun girls' night and then church the next morning!

Sunday was my mom's birthday so we got to see her for a bit which was nice.  Monday we had the day off for MLK.  I went up to GR to spend my LUSH gift card from Beth and get a face mask and bath bomb.  Then I grabbed THE best macaroni and cheese with Christina from The Electric Cheetah (I am seriously not exaggerating when I say it is the best...).  Sadly, we forgot to grab a pic.  Then hurried home to SJ for trivia and the Bachelor.  Which, I am SO glad I did because A Shot of Patronus totally got first place in trivia at The Buck last week.  Here is our victory picture!

A Shot of Patronus after winning first place by a landslide!

Tuesday was my actual birthday (the 17th) which I took off of work just for fun.  Naturally I woke up at 7 am and couldn't fall back asleep.  So I took a bath with my new LUSH bath bomb and tried my new face mask.  Then my mom took me to The Mason Jar for lunch.  I did some grocery shopping and other things on my to do list in the afternoon and just kind of relaxed.  It was glorious.  In the evening, Mike and Ashley joined me at my parents' house for a wonderful homemade dinner and chocolate peanut butter pie.  

Wonderful birthday conglomeration pic!

I also got to Skype with Ben, Kristen, and Ayla.  Ayla read me some books and said "Happy Birthday Emily."  She is such a doll.  I love that little girl.  The lights in the bottom right corner spell out Happy Birthday - Ashley who gets the awesome roommate award - had those for me in the bathroom.  All in all, it was a fabulous birthday, which was made EVEN MORE fabulous by the arrival of my birthday present from Mike and Ashley the following day:

YES GRYFFINDOR!

My OH-SO-AWESOME GRYFFINDOR ROBE!  I cannot even believe it!  John got me the wand for Christmas and now with the robe and tie, I am all set for John and my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in February!  I am beyond excited.

All in all, words cannot describe how wonderful this birthday was.  Marvelous, extraordinary, stupendous!  Haha.  It was great.  Thank you all for making it so fun and special.  I love you all and can't wait for another grand year.






Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Year in Review, and looking forward to 2017

So the year is just about done.  And yesterday was my dad's 70th birthday!  WOWZER!  I cannot even believe it!  We had a fun night celebrating with him.

This year has been pretty fabulous, I must say!  A few highlights:

  • I joined Premier Designs and have sold jewelry for the past year.  I've become more fashionable, made friends, gained confidence, and had fun in the process!
  • One of my best friends, Christina, got married in May!  It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderfully special day to celebrate.  What a wondrous occasion.
  • I made a crazy decision to do a triathlon....and SUCCEEDED!  That was probably the craziest thing I have ever done.  But I definitely do not regret it.  I challenged myself and am so proud that I completed it!
  • I took a trip with John to visit Ben, Kristen, and Ayla in Tacoma.  It was so wonderful to take some time off of work and visit my lovely family.  We got to spend time with the little nugget, and hike a mountain to boot!
  • I got to meet one of my idols, Katie Foster! (www.runsforcookies.com)  She is a blog writer and a huge motivation to me to be healthy.  We grabbed a drink on the east side of Michigan.  I loved it and she is great!
  • I bought a keyboard (thanks to John's inspirational trumpet playing!!!).  Unfortunately, I haven't played as much as I have hoped, but I will be addressing that with a 2017 goal!
  • I took and passed my social work licensing exam - WAHOO!  That means in April of 2017, I will be a fully licensed social worker, and instead of being Emily Carlson, LLMSW, I will be Emily Carlson, LMSW!  Hooray!
  • In December, John and I celebrated one year of being together!  Yay!  We spent our weekend in Pittsburgh at his friend's wedding.  Everything was extravagant and gorgeous - it was held at the Natural History Museum (we got to see dinosaur bones!).  And we got to get all gussied up which was super fun too.
All in all, the year was a success, I'd say.  I am definitely looking forward to 2017.  As for my 2016 goals, I accomplished some, but not all.  I did not read all of Anna Karenina.  I did take and pass my social work exam.  I did pay off my debt to the auto-mechanic (hooray!).  I did not get down to my goal weight (but I did lose about 20 pounds and I am OH-SO-CLOSE!).  I think I connected with family and friends 2x a month, but I did not keep a good record of that.  And I did read "The Celebration of Discipline."  So, not too shabby for 2016!



Now on to goals for 2017!  Here they are:
  • Physical - achieve my goal weight
  • Mental - take 3 months worth of piano lessons
  • Emotional - write my "shitty first draft" (of my story)
  • Social - write a note/month to friends or family
  • Financial - finish saving my $1000 emergency fund
  • Spiritual - read "Jesus Calling"
  • Relational - read "Love and Respect"
I am so looking forward to the new year!  I can just tell it's gonna be a good one.  The last year of my 20's!  Crazy!  And then in February, John and I are taking a trip to the WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!  I cannot even believe it!  Nor can I wait.  It's gonna be a blast.  John even got me an interactive wand for Christmas so that I can do spells.  Wahoo!

But thanks all.  Thanks for reading.  Hope you've had a great 2016, and I hope you have a fabulous 2017 as well.  Love to you all, my friends.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Breathing a sigh of relief

I have done it.  I have read the four letters that have enabled me to breathe a huge sigh of relief: PASS.  I passed the masters of social work licensing exam on Thursday, October 27th!


What an experience, let me tell you what!  I should have take it months after graduating in 2012.  But I didn't.  I procrastinated.  But one of my goals this year was to take the exam - and when I set a goal like that and make it public - I generally tend to stick to it.  So I scheduled the exam and then there it was.  On my calendar.

My supervisor recommended a website to me to get me studying (www.socialworkexam.com).  You can subscribe to that and they have practice exams, and flash cards, and all sorts of tools you can use.  I subscribed for a month.  It wasn't until the week and a half before the exam that John asked - how's your studying going?  I was honest and said..."it's not."  He told me I wasn't allowed to call him at night until I had gotten at least a half hour of studying in that day.  It was the motivation I needed to kick my butt in gear.

I studied a minimum of half an hour each night the week and a half before the exam.  I took practice test after practice test.  I think I only passed a handful of them (you need a 70% to pass).  I usually got in the 50-60% which was pretty discouraging.  But I did not give up!  

The exam was in Grand Rapids.  So the night before, I drove up and spent the night at my good friend Danny and Christina's.  They bought me some wine to relax and we hung out for a bit before I attempted to sleep.  I woke up at 12:30 dreaming that I had already passed and I was so excited!  But, obviously that was not the case.  Then I kept waking up about every hour and a half or so.  It was horrible.  Finally the time came for me to go to the exam.

We had to have two forms of ID, and have our palms scanned for identification as well.  It was so intimidating.  There was a tiny little room where we were video recorded and they could watch us from a separate room.  There were people taking all sorts of exams - and one other lady was taking the social work exam as well.

Half way through the exam, one young woman had a grand mal seizure!  It was so sad.  And a bit distracting I might add.  I thought they might cancel everyone's exams on account of the distraction, but we just kept on taking our exams as people were coming in and out and getting her safely out of the room.  It was pretty awful.  I felt bad for her.  I found out later it was her first one.  I can imagine that would be really scary.  

So yes.  You were able to mark questions you weren't sure about and go back and look at them again.  I marked about 15 questions.  After going back and looking at them, I changed two answers.  At the very end, you click "next" and they ask you twice if you're sure you're ready to submit your answers.  My heart was beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings.  It was so intimidating.  But I kept clicking.  I thought, well, it's now or never.  And low and behold - I read the fateful words that I had been hoping for: PASS.  I could not believe it!  I passed the social work exam on the first try!  It was all over!  In a few short months, once my hours have been completed, I will be a licensed social worker! 

What a day.  What an experience.  I am so glad and relieved that it is over.  If you are reading this and have not taken your exam - just do it.  Get it over with; you will be so glad that you did.  And if you don't pass - don't worry.  It does not mean you're a bad social worker.  It just means you might not be the best test taker!  Best of luck to you all.  On to my next goal.  ;)