Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 Reasons Why Every Blogger Needs an About Me Page

When I first started to put together February's Grow Your Blog Hop. I looked over past participants suggestions on what they would like to see from bloggers they might be interested in networking with.

Over half of all the suggestions given mentioned these:

* They said it was hard to get to know some bloggers in a short time.
* Some wrote spotlight posts that didn't do anything to let them as new visitors know what they could expect or see on their blog.
* Some mentioned they tried searching for about me pages on some blogs that grabbed their curiosity to see if they could find more on if that was a person they wanted to follow. But many didn't have an ABOUT PAGE or didn't have much to their pages.

Because of this, the idea for this post came about.





#1 People who visit your blog want to know who you are.

Not every reader is also a blogger. The vast majority of people who read blogs aren't bloggers at all. They stumble upon your page in because a search engine brought them there because of a topic you wrote on. If they are intrigued if they liked your post they came across, they are going to search more about you. They want to see your About page, see who is the blogger behind the scenes. They want to know who you are.

#2 So you can show viewers your personality.

If someone comes across your page, they may look at your about me page. You should make sure your blogger personality shines through on it. Everyone has a unique voice, we all have our own personalities that make us who we are as bloggers. Our personalities are going to attract people to our blogs. If you don't have an about page that showcases your personality, your potentially losing many followers who may have become long term followers if they found out more about you the first time they visited your blog.

#3 So you can tell others why you started writing.

Did something happen in your life that impacted you and that was the reason you started a blog? Or maybe you did it because it was a fun way to talk about your hobbies and talents. No matter the reason, you have a story and you should share it. This is essentially your time to advertise (so to speak) to others why they should follow your blog.

#4 To show off your mission statement.

If you are a blogger you likely have a mission statement. If not, I highly recommend you consider writing one.  This can be who you are, what you believe, what drives you. There are many things that can make up a mission statement. It doesn't have to be big and long either. I once saw a gal's blog who summed her's up in the most fabulous one sentence I have ever seen. I've also seen lengthy ones that really move and inspire. Your about page is one of the most incredible opportunities to share your blogs mission statement show others why you are who you are and why you do what you do.

#5 Advertisers do look at these.

I understand not all bloggers have any desire to turn their blog into a business and start reviewing products or creating posts to make money on their blogs.  But those that do have a desire to at any point in their blogging career turn a profit. If you don't have an About page, you are going to miss out on many opportunities.  Last year alone, I can easily say I had over 30 advertisers reach out to me. Based on something they saw on my About Me page that they liked and said intrigued them to contact me. It's also one of the first pages advertisers look at when you reach out to them. If you can intrigue them enough in your initial email contact. Trust me I know, I used to work in advertising and marketing. The about page is the first thing you go for. To decide if you want to pursue or ignore them.

Those are my 5 reasons why every blogger needs an about me page.  But there are a few other things you should consider.




A quick list of what you may want to include on your About Me page:

* A picture, current enough to still be relevant.
* All your follow options, buttons.
* What you blog about.
* Your true voice - Don't pretend you're someone you're not!
* Intrigue, Capture and introduce yourself in a way that grabs attention.
* Your Mission Statement.
* A way to contact you.
* Current information - not stuff you used to blog about but do not anymore.

ABOUT pages are very important, especially to bloggers interested in growing their blogs. If you don't have one, you are missing out on one of the key things needed to grow your blog.

Have you visited mine? If you have a minute you should check it out HERE


Do you have an About Me page?
What suggestions do you have to add to the lists?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When You Get Devastating News That Will Alter Your Way of Life Forever

(Sorry this is a little long, I wrote it as more of a Journal for myself to look back on than anything. Which is why I didn't include any images.)

For those who read my post on Monday, here are the answers. On what is going on with me.


THE RESULTS

My spine and disc's are perfectly fine. In fact the good news is, they look much more healthy and younger looking than they should for my age.

I do have 2 bulging disc's, but they are only minor and most likely not in any relation to the cause of my pain. (I already knew about those from some car accidents I was in, in my youth. They've never bothered me.)

What is wrong? Well the medical term is Hypertrophic Facet Disease. In short, the facet's which are as I understand it the joints between the discs on your spine, that are the cushioning for all your movements your back makes. Well a few of mine are destroyed and degenerating at a very early and fast pace. Then there is a huge amount of arthritis that is building up around them. It's also spread between My L4, L5 and S1 area's.  (Right around my waistline.) Which is why it is effecting me in nearly everything I do right now and causing me such excruciating pain.

Why did my doctors nor myself prior not ever think about facets/arthritis being an issue? Well the truth is, and even my Doctor said it today. I am really too young for this, not only that but he's never see anyone as young as me have it as bad as I have it right now.

Cures? Nope, right now there are no surgical procedures that have shown to be of any benefit. It's not like when you ruin the joints on your knee's and you just get a knee replacement. When the facet joints in your lower back are ruined degenerating and destroying, they are just ruined and it effects much of everything you do for the rest of your life.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN

He told me it's going to alter my quality of life, and I am going to have to learn to live with some pain levels with everything I do. 

He told me if I want a better quality of life, I SHOULD QUIT MY JOB although he said the choice was mine, but obviously if I don't things will get even worse.
Working at a library all the bending/lifting is why mine is so bad right now, and why it's getting worse and worse instead of a little better with the past weeks of treatments I have been on. It is most likely what brought it on.

On the plus side, once I can get the inflammation down and the severity of the arthritis going on right now down. It will be to my benefit to stay and lead an active life, even if it's always going to hurt me more now with everything I do.  Which is a good thing, because I love to run and hike!!!!

For now: Things that stretch or bend my back or force an arch to my back are also a no, no for a while. Prolonged Bike rides, Swimming, Lifting, Yoga, Sit-Ups, some Stretches and Squats are out of the question right now, as they will just make things worse. Possibly they can be introduced later, but not right now.

WHAT IS NEXT

Although there isn't a whole lot that can be done. There are a few things that I started yesterday that he hopes will bring the pain levels down a bit and decrease the inflammation of the arthritis.
If that doesn't work, there are 2 other options we will try.

Looking to the Positive

While there is no cure (yet). The Dr. really does believe because of my youth. Even though right now it is super inflamed and excruciating. That eventually I can get to a point where I can manage it and find a comfortable level of pain to live with daily instead of how it is right now. I will have times where it will flare up and get bad off and on, but most the time more manageable levels of pain.

MY FEELINGS

First, I hate it, all of it!
I am also shocked, I wasn't expecting this of all the possibilities. I really only thought this kind of stuff happened to older people. But then again this is me, and crazy, weird, odd stuff always happen to me so I shouldn't be too surprised.

While, I am glad I do not have any issues with my disc's or spine. I am a girl in her 30's, when you get told that you are going to have to deal with pain on a daily basis for the rest of your life because the joints around your spine are destroyed and damaged. It's discouraging! Especially since I'd like to believe I haven't even hit the half way point of my life.

Not to mention especially, when right now I can barely move at all and when I do, it's beyond painful. I can't imagine right now living like this on some level, it just hurts way to bad.

(Wishful thinking) I was truly hoping for a diagnosis and a cure on Monday. Being in so much pain, and getting the news that I was going to have to live with it. Seriously just brought me to tears. I am so sick and tired of being the girl that keeps getting hit with blow after blow of bad news. When all I want to do is just be active and enjoy life!

QUITTING

On a side note: As of next week, I will have been battling the tendon injuries I received in my left foot 3 years ago from the work injury I got from when I first started working at the library. Finally feeling I was starting to get a grasp on those, to get this news about my back now was a serious much bigger blow.

Knowing now that the library job not only caused my foot injury and now it has also caused this degeneration of my back to come on so badly. I am beyond done with it, I am quitting!

I've said through the years that I was going to quit, and then never did. The truth is, I love my job, I enjoy most the people I worked with, I enjoy being able to travel around to different libraries. Work when I wanted to, where I wanted to. That was why I kept on staying and never left, I was having fun.

But it's taken too much of my life now.  It's now taken away my quality of life for my entire future. So on that note, no more!

What is Next?

Once I get over the emotional part. After hopefully the next 7 days of taking it very easy and no work and the new drug treatment. I hope to have some great news that the pain is starting to ease back into something less and more manageable. (I may take 2 weeks off work, if needed. Whatever it takes!)

I may not be of highest spirits right now, but I can promise you this. Attitude I already know is everything, and I won't let this get to me. It can cause me pain every day, but I am not going to let it ruin what I accomplish in life.  I will find a way to work around it, things will get better. I won't accept anything otherwise.  Oh, and even if it feels like murder or sends me into the deepest pain levels, I will finish my 50 states marathon goal. If anything, it now has me wanting to finish it more than ever before!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Geysers of Yellowstone National Park

A few weeks back, I did a post on Old Faithful, while it may be the most popular geyser. It is not the only geyser in the park, in fact there are over 300 active geysers. So this week for Travel Tuesday I want to take you on a visual trip of a few more of them, and give you a few more reasons you may want to visit the park one day.



Most geysers are a short walk, or a short hike.  There are longer hikes to different geysers, and if you are like me, you'll probably find yourself wanting to take them all or as many as possible. I was lucky enough to spend a week there last time I visited so plenty of time to get out and take many of the hikes.




A safety warning, always stay on the park paths. Especially while you are in the areas of the park that have the active geysers. This is not one of those times you want to wander off the beaten path, they are marked to keep you safe.
So, regardless of the view you want, or the selfie you want to take. Don't be an idiot, because if you wander off the path and get too close and find yourself burned or worse you'll only have yourself to blame.




Old Faithful isn't the only predictable geyser in the park, you will find many others that you can hike to and plan your schedules around to see.




I actually find this National Park beautiful, it has so many different things to see and do. You can enter in through Montana or the Wyoming side, and I highly recommend taking the scenic drives and a few days to do them.










Have you visited Yellowstone before?




Monday, January 25, 2016

No Sugarplums or Unicorns Today

When I first started this blog, I always attempted to be truthful but also try to not come off as negative. Because lets face it, no one wants to hear negativity. People come to blogs to either be educated, humored or a little or uplifted, not brought down. Today is not one of those days for me, so I promise I won't be offended if you stop reading now!

The truth is, sometimes life isn't always sugarplums and unicorns. I am really struggling right now. This issue I am having with my back, is well lets say it is excruciatingly painful each and every minute of my day/nights now.

I haven't been just lying around either. I put in a 30 hour work week last week, that literally I believe almost killed me at one point. I've been trying to keep happy and positive, but to be honest. Anyone who crosses my path or bugs me (dumb library patrons) have experienced my short temper and overly bluntness this past week.

If I shared those with you, they'd probably make some of you laugh. But since it's probably not the best idea to advertise my occasional rudeness, I will keep them to myself.

Although the Dr's have given me their educated guesses, later this morning I FINALLY get to go in and go over the results of the MRI I had a week ago and find out what is really wrong. I can't tell you how I wish I had that appointment like a month ago! I am really really looking forward to getting whatever is wrong fixed so I can get back to my life. It's quit discouraging to be in so much pain, and having to play the waiting game with appointments with Specialists.

I do want to extend a special thank you to everyone who has left kind thoughts and heal quick notes to me. I also want to thank a couple of you who emailed me privately to see how I was doing. Truly meant the world to me, and brightened my day! I have really grown to appreciate so many of my incredible blog followers and the friendships that we have!

On a positive note, I have been working a little on putting together what I am going to be teaching in the community beginning bloggers class I was asked to teach. It's coming up the first week in February. I rarely prepare things in advance so this is kinda a first for me, LOL I'm more of a last minute gal, LOL Just ask the youth group I teach every other week.  Although they seem to enjoy what I put together even if sometimes I throw it all together last minute or on the spot. For some reason my brain has always worked out better that way.



Additionally, I finally got around to ordering business cards for my blog. Originally I was going to go with something a little more straight business like. But then after asking a few people their opinion, blogs are supposed to be fun so I decided to go with a more fun, if you look at my card its pretty clear even without reading anything on it, who I am type of card.
I may change my mind for the future, but for now, this is what I chose to go with.
You'll have to let me know what you think about them. Even if you don't like them:)


I am looking forward to the Grow Your Blog, Hops coming up in February. I put a little more prep work into it all than in the past, and I've had to turn several away already because they don't fit the requirements. I hate doing that part, but it's the only way to help insure that we have serious participants who are in it for the networking and have the time to do so.

In the end, hopefully it will help these to be even more better for fun/successful to everyone participating.
The first option I had, the slots sold out around noon opening day.  Which was kinda cool.
I do still have a few slots open in Option #2 and in Option #3 if anyone is still interested. They will be open to join until January 29th or the slots are filled. You can find the information and sign up HERE.

I am loving all the snow lately, it's so beautiful. It's kinda killing me not being able to go play out in it as I want. But I've enjoyed taking the new car out to empty parking lots and enjoying some fun donut's in the snow. (Yes, I do that even when I am alone. I mean that is really the only fun thing to do on your way to work in the morning, right!) At least, for me that's the only reason to not hit snooze a few dozen more times if I have to work on a snowy morning.



Although now that I own a car, it's a little less fun playing in the snow with it than a truck is. It's a bit more difficult to plow through snow banks that are a few feet high, than it was in my old truck. I also normally love to take the path less cleared and track free, and sometimes I have to remember that my car sinks a bit lower in those, than the truck, but that has yet to stop me. Gotta have some fun driving in the winter huh!

Oh, and now I actually have to find cleared parking spaces, because it's not as easy to create your own on the side of a snowbank as it was with a truck. Although, I've tried it with the car, it just doesn't sit as pretty on one, ha ha.
But so far my sporty little red car has held it's own. We haven't been stuck once this year and I can't say the same for a lot of others on the road, LOL So, I am not completely disappointed to be driving a car this winter. But definitely next time I buy, I am going back to owning a truck!

So that is pretty much it.
I don't normally post further updates on life later in the week. But Depending on what the Dr's say today, I may decide to share a quick update on Wednesday.



Oh, and I have a Birthday coming up this week. I love my Birthday's, I never work on them. Usually I like to play and just to fun stuff. This year I am just wishing for help for my back. But I fully plan on splurging that day and going out to lunch and dinner with family.


Tell me something fun you have been doing this winter. 
Most of us out west and back east got lots snow this weekend. Have you been having fun out in it?






Friday, January 22, 2016

Today is the Day, Grow Your Blog Hop's Sign Up is NOW OPEN


If you are interested in participating in my February Grow Your Blog Hops you can check them out and register to participate starting NOW. 
Exciting news you have THREE different options to choose from! Pick the one that fits your schedule best!




If you are one of my blog readers and you found my post this morning, you get your chance to have first picks of which one(s) you'd like to participate in.  You can find the sign up and information on my Grow Your Blog Page. I will be notifying all my email subscribers and social media channels later this morning.

Here is a quick preview of the THREE different options I have available this time around. This time you can pick the one that best fits your schedule.
Just a heads up I will not be hosting any other Grow Your Blog Hops until later fall of 2016.

NOTE: Every participant in EACH of my 3 Hop Options MUST have an About Me Page or Introductory Page. There is a purpose for this, this time around. So if you don't have one, please create one before joining!


(Option #1)
Fitness & Healthy Living Blog Hop 
Will Run 2 Weeks February 15th - 26th
30 Participant Slots Available
(1/22/16 - 1PM - This option is closed and 100% participant filled.)

Who is the best fit for this hop?
This hop is for Healthy Living/Fitness Type bloggers who have already been and have no problem blogging consistently at least twice per week. This hop is dedicated for bloggers who already put good time and effort into their blogs, who enjoy joining in and commenting on other blogs.

In Short, what will you be doing?
* There will be approximately 3 spotlighted blogs or less to visit daily.
* Each participant will have 1 spotlight date for themselves.
* You will be required to participate in our comment for a comment networking plan.
* A fun new option to write a post on a subject your participant peers have selected for you.
* You will also be asked to post at least 2x's or more each week of the hop.


To Join and find more information on the particular hop, 




(Option #2)
Get To Know Various Bloggers
Will Run 1 Week - February 8th - 12th
20 Participant Slots Available
(Sign up open until January 29th or until filled.)
(As of 1/22/16 - 5pm - This option is 60% full.)


Who is the best fit for this hop?
This hop is for bloggers who write on ANY genre. Fitness, Food, Parenting, Books, Crafts the list is endless. Not only can you blog any subject, but you MUST enjoy getting to know bloggers with various interests. You must be a blogger who consistently puts up at least ONE post or more each week to join.

In short, what will you be doing?
* There will be approximately 4 spotlighted blogs or less to visit daily. 
* Each participant will have 1 spotlight date for themselves.
* You will be required to participate in our comment for a comment system.
* During this week, you must be willing to post at least 2x's or more.

To Join and find more information on the particular hop, 
Visit the Grow Your Blog page HERE.

(Option 3)
BLOGGER MEET UP
3 Weeks - 8th - 26th
Up to 40 Bloggers
(Sign up open until January 29th or until filled.)
(As of 1/22/16 - 5pm - This option is 40% full.)

Who is the best fit for this hop?
Don't let the 3 weeks time of this hop scare you, this hop may be seem longer, but requires the least amount of commitment, and is best suited for those with busy schedules.
This is for the blogger who has the least amount of time to commit, a blogger who can spend time weekly, but not daily. 
This is different than both of the other hops. You are NOT required to already be a consistent blogger, but you must be a blogger seriously interested in networking and growing your blog.
You must enjoy a variety of blogs in any genre. If you don't enjoy reading a variety of subjects, this is not for you.


In short, what will you be doing?
* No spotlight dates.  No commitments to visit daily. (Weekly commitments only.)
* Each Monday you will receive a list of 13 or less blogs to visit sometime during that week.
* You WILL have to commit to visiting ALL the participating bloggers in the hop and leave a thoughtful comment on one of their posts at some time during the duration of the hop.
* You WILL be required to participate in our comment for a comment system throughout the hop.
* You need to be willing to write at least 1 post a week. However 2 is highly recommend.

** You can participate in this hop, even if you were accepted into one of the other hops. As long as you are sure you will have the time to do both.


To join, and find more information on the particular hop, 
Visit the Grow Your Blog page HERE.



 Those are the options, and yes this time around we will be doing several things very different than we have in the past.
Why? I am hoping by changing a few things based on past participant feedback, this may insure higher participation rates.  Plus, change is always good and it will be fun to try a few new things out and see how they are received or how they play out.

So if this is something you're interested in, I'd love to have you join!
I do expect Options 1 & 2 to fill up quite quickly, very possibly before the end of today. So if this is something you're interested in and you know you have the time to participate, don't hesitate!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Parasail Adventures in the Bahamas

This week for Travel Tuesday I am going to take you on an adventure. One that if you don't have a fear of heights, I would highly recommend you try yourself one day.



While I went Parasailing in the Bahamas, you can actually do this at many coastal destinations, even some lakes have parasailing.
Although it is relatively safe, there is some risk. I remembered seeing a news report a while back, that parasailing companies in the U.S. have to follow strict regulations, while others around the world do not follow those same safety guidelines.  So when choosing where and when to do it, that is something to keep in mind.


Pretty much anyone can do it, there is no skill involved. If you can wear a harness and follow simple instructions about where you should or shouldn't put your hands while taking off and landing, then you can go.

It's a lot of fun, it's not one of those adrenaline rush thrills, as it's a bit tamer on the adventure scale. But it is still fun, and worth trying at least once. My friend that came with me, she was afraid of heights, but she did it anyway and had a lot of fun too.



FUN STORY

I mentioned above it is relatively safe.  Which it is, but I want to tell you my funny almost not so safe story about this particular trip.

I had paid to go once, but the guy in charge had a little crush on me. So when I landed he unhooked my friend and told me I got to go again.  Which I was totally excited about! (Hey, it pays to be a single girl sometimes:) ha ha.)
This other gal, a total stranger was hooked up next to me and up we went. My friend stayed back and took a few pictures.

We were to be the last parasail on that boat trip out, and the driver and guides per my friend were talking to her and everyone there having fun letting us stay up a bit longer. When all of a sudden out of nowhere what they call a smaller rouge wave came up and the boat driver didn't see it in time.



He had to make a quick hard left and turned the boat almost around to miss the wave, so the boat wouldn't get flipped.  Now if you have parasailed before or are a water skier, or at least understand the part about the boat needing to have the rope tight to do the pulling work and keep ya up part. Then you can probably visualize what happened next.

Yup, we were plummeting and despite being hooked to a parachute of sorts, myself and the gal next to me were coming down fast.  
I quickly realized something was happening (because obviously we didn't feel or see the wave.) But a glance below seeing that the guides were working frantically to reel in the rope as fast as absolutely possible. That and the fact that it was perfectly obvious the boat turned directions quickly.



You know how you always wonder how you will react during crazy times, I mean you hope you will be calm, but you never know. Well luckily I am a calm reactor to things, the gal next to me, not so much.

I turned to her remember telling her to calm down, and relax because there was a good chance if they couldn't get the line in below we were going to hit the water pretty hard. I told her we might be under second or two but we will be okay, but since we were hooked together if the chute landed on us, we would have to swim together to get out from under it. I do remember telling her many times, relax and enjoy the thrill she might actually have an adventure story to go home with.
I vaguely remember her throwing up, LOL



Well luckily, they got the rope tight just in time. In fact the picture you see below where we were close to the water is us. We didn't hit, but were were about 4 feet from the water before the boat and rope caught up and was tight again. 
My friend on the boat took this picture for me, so I would have a picture to highlight my almost parasailing accident, LOL  She said it was pretty exciting watching it all happen.
If you're wondering, the guy on the boat laughing, was laughing because he thought me and the other gal were going under. Glad to know of their concern, LOL



Anyhow, that is my fun parasail story. Don't let it discourage you from going, stuff like that happening is pretty rare. Rare things seem to always happen to me, I swear I am like prone to them, if you've read my blog over the past few years, you've probably picked up on that odd fact too.  LOL



(Sorry about the picture quality, these were taken with one of those waterproof Kodak cameras.)

Have you been parasailing before?
Is this something you want to try sometime?





Monday, January 18, 2016

A first run in a while, and another Harry Potter Ball

This week was actually pretty busy, fun, productive, exciting and lazy at the same time. Let's start with the exciting news.

Monday I decided to get out and attempt to focus the back pain into the far back of my mind, and see if I could get out for a run.
I did, while I only ran a mile and it was pretty slow at that. It surprisingly did not hurt my back any worse than standing does. Which doesn't say much or maybe it was just the fact that it was a warm 20 decrees out and numbed things down a little LOL.

While I waited for my Dr. Appt. with the specialist on Friday. When I didn't have to be up and moving around, I took advantage of being forced to lay around more than normal and I enjoyed yet another amazing book. In fact I enjoyed The Book of Ivy so much, I pretty much devoured it in one sitting, LOL.  For those of you who enjoy Dystopian with the absolute perfect kind of romance in it, I highly recommend this book. I couldn't get enough and already have book 2 on hold at the library.



I did have the Dr. appointment on Friday, while my MRI was postponed until later today actually. I did have other tests taken. Although, I still have no idea what caused it, with all the other tests they put me through they are fairly certain it is disc related. Even possibly a herniated bulging disc. But I won't know for sure until the 25th.  Ya, that's the part about doctors sometimes that suck. Having to wait so long to have an appointment just to hear results.

The doctor was pretty great to me, he totally could see and get how much pain I am in, he even gave me my pick of whichever drugs I wanted to get me through until the MRI and until my next appointment with him to decide on which course of action we will be taking to fix me.
So ya, I picked some good ones. While nothing takes the pain away entirely, at least they make the pain bearable, so that's a plus.



This week, was also another Harry Potter Ball. If you remember I decorated for one back in December, this was pretty much the same thing, we just did a few things differently this time.

I have an awesome crew that work for me, I made them do the majority of the lifting. Even though I should have stayed more hands off than I did. (I don't know why, but its impossible for me to just stand back and watch others work. I cannot, not resist helping, especially when I don't like what they are doing, LOL.)
So yeah, I over did it, even though I still made those who work for me do the heaviest lifting parts.



I managed to get through the day okay, but by 10pm, my back was shot. I couldn't have lifted anything more if my life depended on it. My fault!
I consider it a miracle that the snow that night held off until I got home, and I was able to back my trailer into it's spot so easily and smoothly without having to turn my neck or back.

But on the plus side, my decor turned out pretty cool. As one of my friends who saw the finished work called it, exotically beautiful:) On that backdrop two pictures above.



But yes, I did get my geek on and let my sister take a few photo's of me with the Harry Potter Cut outs, LOL. I just wished I had thought to have her take them before we started setting everything up, and before my hair got caught in one of the pine greenery's, that I apparently didn't care to fix, and well lets just face it, I was a sweaty mess by the time we snapped these fun shots, LOL Oh well!
I was so supped up on painkillers for the below picture, I really should have a little shame and not post it. But...



Oh, and the two backdrops above, although for the same event, they were in two entirely different rooms, if that helps you wonder why they don't exactly look like they match each other. LOL

Another funny fact, I have never read the Harry Potter books, and I haven't even really seen any of the movies. Kinda funny, that I am decorating for a themed event that I literally know nothing about, other than what I googled, LOL

That was pretty much my week. I have kept up pretty good with eating much healthier. I went 12 days without a Pepsi. Although the afternoon after we finished setting up for the event, I did take my sister out for an early dinner and ya, I had a Raspberry Coke.

But that's okay, I never said I was quitting soda, I just said I was going to significantly cut back.
I lost 1 more pound last week, which brings my weight loss total to 6 pounds lost.  Not much, but I'll take it. I am sure when I can start working out regularly again with the better eating habits I should hopefully have even better success at it!



For those of you who are interested. I plan on hosting a couple different Grow Your Blog Hops in February. If everything goes as planned I hope to launch the sign up THIS WEEK either Wednesday or Friday on my blog.

I listened to the feedback from past participants, and I have come up with a few new unique spins to put on them. So if you have time, and it might be something your interested in. You may want to watch for the sign-ups.
I have over 180 bloggers who have already signed up to be alerted as soon when the sign up's go live. Right now I am only looking at opening 50 slots between the two different hops I am working on, so the slots could potentially go quick.
They will be the last of their kind that I host until later in the fall. Spring and Summer are just too busy for me in my personal life to host events like this.
However, for my blog followers, I will announce the news on my blog FIRST and then notify everyone else later that morning, giving my followers a first peek at the events in case you'd like grab some of the first few spots.


So that is my week.
How was yours? 
Did you have anything out of the ordinary happen that brought you joy?


I am linking up with HoHo Runs and Mississippididdlin today for their Weekly Wrap!





Thursday, January 14, 2016

10 Reason's NOT to feel bad for the runner in your life

Becoming a runner is a choice, (although a great choice) and we all do it for different reasons. Others in our lives may or may not understand why we do what we do. But if they love us, they let us do it anyway without questioning us much.

This is written for the non-runner in your life. Or if you are a runner, it may provide you today with a little laugh.



THEY ARE IN PAIN AFTER A RACE

Your friend or significant other is limping badly or complaining about the pain they are in because they just gave it their all in a race. Don't feel bad for them, no need to extend sympathy, they did this to themselves, you nor anyone else forced them into it.

Not only that, but they actually PAID to put themselves in that pain.  Instead, just congratulate them, and tell them, that pain is their reward for a job well done! Then pretend to look interested or concerned, even if you can't imagine why anyone would want to torture themselves with doing what they just did. Pretending to do this especially when they are complaining about the pain, then a few minutes later share their plans to do it again soon, can also be helpful.

THEY COMPLAIN THEY ARE GAINING WEIGHT

While many take up running to lose weight, what many realize if they don't have good diet habits to begin with. They find themselves gaining weight faster than they did before they started running.
If you have a runner in your life who is complaining about how much weight they are gaining, and how it shouldn't be possible with the mileage they put in.
Don't feel bad for them! Tell them that maybe they should reconsider the amount of sports drinks they are consuming daily, or the second helpings at dinner.
Of course, I should warn you if you do tell them these things, they may react unpredictably and you yourself may have to take up running to get away from them as they come after you.

THEY WEAR QUESTIONABLE APPAREL

While some may buy cute running outfits and matching shoes. If you've been a runner a while, it's not always a top priority to match. In fact very likely the more years that go by, the less and less a runner is going to care what they look like as they head out the door for a run.
If it is clean or at least smells good enough to throw on, they'll wear it.

So if you have a runner in your life who leaves the house in colors that you aren't sure a clown would wear in a parade. What better reason to just let them go, and secretly pretend you don't know them.

THEY SAY THEY HAVE TO GO TO BED EARLY

This rings true especially for morning runners. If they are going to hit the pavement in the morning, or of all things it is their long run in the morning. You may find the runner in your life's day ends pretty early.
Don't worry about this or feel bad they are missing out, send them to bed, tuck them in. Then use it to your advantage to go catch up with a little Netflix binge, or an excuse to go hang out with your friends. But word of warning, don't accidentally unplug their Garmin while you are still up. Otherwise, they may wake you up at 4AM for questioning.

THEIR MIND IS ALWAYS RUNNING RELATED

You may have noticed the runner in your life, turns nearly every story or conversation into running. If they don't, you can guarantee the next conversation you have with them will be about running.
Don't feel bad that their minds are so one track and don't begin thinking they need psychiatric help.

It's a pretty good guarantee when they are out with their running buddies they are talking about everything else in life, and solving all of the worlds problems. If they run solo, they probably have a few dozen conversations with you non running related in their heads while they are out, even if it is a long list of honey do's. This also keeps them sane, stress free and so much better to be around. So while it may seem like they only talk running non stop, rest assured other things do go through their minds while running that are and will keep them sane.

THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT HAVING TO USE THE TREADMILL

Don't feel bad for the runner in your life who is complaining on bad weather days that they have take their 6 mile run to a treadmill.
After all 6 miles on a treadmill is going to feel more like only 4 miles on the road to them. (Although you may not want to remind them of this.)

Plus, lets be honest, they will say they hate the dreadmill over and over, but secretly they love it, because it's a way they can run and there is no reason to feel bad for them being able to do what they want to do.

THEY COMPLAIN THAT ENERGY GELS ARE GROSS

Do you have a runner in your life who tells you every energy gel they taste is gross and disgusting? Yet they continue to keep on taking them? First, don't feel bad about this. Just like running, eating these gels are a choice not a requirement to run.

Second there are other things they could be doing or taking instead that don't taste as bad. Of course they probably won't take your word for it, but knowing that alone should curb any reason's to feel bad for them when they complain about things like this that make them want to hurl.
Instead, go grab a donut, and listen to them and pretend you care and tell them if you could you'd make energy gels that taste more like the donut your eating.

THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT RUNNING IN BAD WEATHER

This is one you definitely should not feel bad about if you have a runner who has to do this.
First, most runners love running in crazy weather. Then when they come back from the run they get to tell each and everyone they come in contact with and on Facebook how seriously tough they are and how insanely brave the they were during the worst moments of it.

Second, if they didn't want to run in bad weather there are almost always other choices. It's the reason a lot of gyms enjoy runners becoming members, because they only rarely use the facilities when the day or night is to crappy to run in, yet they get to collect their monthly fee anyway.

Third, if you haven't already started to notice a pattern. It is their choice! It wouldn't kill them (Well maybe a little mentally, but definitely not literally) to take a day off running if they really wanted to. So let them go, and don't feel bad for them if they come back after with a gross frozen stream of drool or snot hanging down them and frost covered eyelashes. Instead when you see them looking this way, just tell them "looks like you had fun" and allow them to strut their stuff and bad weather badges of honor.



THEY THINK FANNY PACKS ARE OKAY

Don't feel bad or too embarrassed by the runner in your life if you notice them always wearing a fanny pack, even though you know they went out of style decades ago. You may find they have a new name for it, a fuel belt.
Just turn your head and let them call it anything they want. Let them buy one in every color and strut their stuff as they train in your neighborhood, or in a race.
Like I mentioned above, you won't be with them so you won't have to pretend you know them while they are out strutting a fanny pack like it's okay.

THEY NEED A 2ND JOB TO KEEP UP THEIR RUNNING HABITS

Don't feel bad if the runner in your life comes to you and says they are looking to take a 2nd or part time job to help support their habit.
They'll probably complain that shoe prices keep going up, or they need multiple pairs of shoes. Or money to enter the next race or travel to a destination race.  The list could really go on and on.

Because technically if they wanted to they could cut back, but since they don't want to it's their choice. Let them go get that 2nd job, and then don't start feeling bad for them when they tell you they have to adjust their running schedule and how tired it makes them.
After all, running gives them more energy right, so 1,2,3 jobs??? Who cares just tell them to go run more and get the energy and endorphins they need to get through them.

If your a runner are you guilty of any of the above? Did you have a little laugh?
If your a non-runner with a runner in your life, when I finished did you want to say Amen, LOL




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

One of the most popular National Parks to visit out west is Yellowstone National Park, and inside that beautiful park are many things to see. However, one is more well known and that is seeing Old Faithful.



Old Faithful was one of the first geysers in the park that was named, and it was named because of it's frequency of eruptions. Which happen every 45-120 minutes. The park service can predict them, and they are pretty accurate with a + or - 10 minutes as per the signs.



The eruptions shoot the boiling water out over 100 feet, and up to 185 feet. Although each eruption is similar, they are actually all different.



If you go, I will be honest with you. During the summer when tourist season is at it's peak, you will have to fight for a view of it. hundreds of people gather in advance to get a good spot and watch the eruptions. I got there a little early, but even I couldn't get a front row spot.
Either way, there is lots of standing room and you will still get to see it, even if you have to look in-between the people.



I'd love to show more pictures, but they all kind of start looking alike:) So there really isn't a point. But if you find yourself in Yellowstone or plan to take a trip. You'll want to check out Old Faithful while you are there.




Don't think you will ever make it.  While the view in person is definitely the best. You can also find a view on the parks live webcam. They'll even tell you what time to make sure to come back to watch it go.  You can find it HERE. It's actually kind of a cool winter sight too, if you have time you should check out one of the eruptions on the webcam today.

Have you seen Old Faithful erupt before?
Is this something on your bucket list to do?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Little bits of my week, oh and a funny naked selfie story.

So I almost wasn't going to write a post for today. I am getting tired of sounding like a broken record because of the back pain I am in. Luckily I have my next Dr. Appt on Thursday and I can't tell you how excited I am about that. So to reduce the risk of sounding like a broken record, that's all I am going to say to that.

I did try to push past some of the back pain earlier last week and tried to get light workouts in.  I have found if I am moving at a certain level the back seems to allow me to do it.
I even got 10,000 steps in on Tuesday, and I haven't pushed through to do that in a while, it felt good.

I gave a few mini workouts a go earlier in the week, but by the end of the week the inflammation was too bad so I didn't get anything in on Thursday- Saturday.
But hey, it's a start and a little is better than none!

I am trying to look to the positive about having to lay around a little way too much. The positive is, I've been reading some GREAT books lately. Catching up on some recommendations that others have given me. I realized this morning, I've already read 5 novels this year and it's only the 11th. I am telling myself to enjoy it while I can!

I do have a funny story to share.
I was working at a library the other day, and I was checking a book a gal had dropped through a book drop. (We can't see on the other side of the wall.) I noticed an envelope in it, so I pulled it out. It was a Walmart photo envelope.
But it felt thin, so I thought I'd open it just to see if it was just papers and I could toss it.
Imagine my surprise when I saw some girls naked selfie pics.
I literally yelled YIKES and threw them down, LOL

Yes everyone, WORST IDEA EVER FOR A BOOK MARK!! Do not use your NAKED SELFIE PICS as a bookmark. Because everyone forgets to remove their bookmarks!
I tried calling the girl, to let her know she left her pictures. I thought that would be a fun awkward conversation for her, LOL (Yeah, doesn't bother me to put people in an awkward position, apparently, LOL)
But she didn't answer.
I am curious if she will actually come to get them. My guess is yes, because anyone who would take them and then get them developed, likely wanted them, LOL
I taped the envelope shut to avoid additional prying eyes, LOL.

She's just lucky I am not a FB bully. Because I guarantee if those got into the wrong hands. Or if I didn't find them, and some teen found them in the book when they checked it out next. They would show up on someones FB page as a laugh.  So that girl is definitely lucky it was me who found them. Of course, I don't consider myself lucky, I really wished I hadn't opened the envelope to be honest. But either way, it was funny!

SUCCESS
Last, I have been working on some diet changes. Major diet changes, which I will tell you about another time. But to point to this past weeks successes they are:
* I haven't drank a Pepsi or any soda in 7 days.
* I have been eating SO much healthier for 7 days now.
* I lost 5 pounds last week.
YAY, me, I have a long way to go, but it's a start!!!

I wish I had more to share, but that about does it. I know, I am leading a desperately dull life right now. But I have faith that after Thursday things will change on that front!
Because all this beautiful snow outside, has me wanting to go play in it!

I also just noticed this is my 600th blog post! Wow, that's a lot of writing!


I am linking up with HoHo Runs and Mississippididdlin today for their Weekly Wrap!





What was the funniest thing that happened to you last week?



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

5 Reasons Maybe YOU Need to Take a Cruise

If you live in a cold climate like me, you are probably buried in winter right now, with many long months ahead before we can go outside in a t-shirt and bask in some rays again.
So I thought it being a new year, for Travel Tuesday it would be a great day to show off a few reason's why you may want to take a cruise in 2016.



#1 THEY CAN BE A CHEAP TRIP

When you figure in costs as far lodging, food you really can't beat the prices you can find when you search for deals on cruises. Depending on the cruise line you take, your looking at inclusive prices that start at $299 for 4 day cruises. I've seen them as low as $399 for 7 day cruises.  (They really can be great deals, you can't even find hotels for prices like that.)

Shop around, and don't be afraid to find a deal. You'll have access to the same all you can eat buffets or dining rooms or dessert bars and entertainment as everyone else. Other than your room size, you will have pretty much the same amenities as guests who pay much more for theirs.



#2 GREAT WAY TO SEE MANY NEW PLACES

Cruises usually have 1-2 days at sea depending on the length of a 1 week trip. So when they are not at sea, you are docked at a port where you can go out and explore new places and try new things.
You might find you are able to visit a few islands or countries that you never normally would have booked a trip to go on.
SAFETY TIP: Stay where the tourists go when you visit these places. Don't venture into odd area's or away from the tourism sections mostly for your own safety. Most places are safe, but not all areas welcome tourists or are patrolled for visitors safety.  If ever in doubt, ask a tour guide or cruise director before you venture out.



#3 FIND DEALS ON EXCURSIONS/ADVENTURE

So many first time cruisers will only book excursions through the cruise line themselves. Which is totally fine, if you don't mind paying nearly double for the exact same thing you could have booked on your own.

Many think that if you book with the cruise ship that is the only way to make sure you make it back in time before the boat leaves the port. While this is a definite plus for booking them through your cruise line, it's not always true.

Those same companies that the cruise line sends you to when you dock and meet up, also book these adventures on their own. The difference is, you don't have to pay a heafty price for the cruise agent to book it.

I literally have saved half and sometimes more by booking them on my own and because I do a little searching I have always been safe and surrounded by many others on the ship doing the exact same thing.
Additionally, if you don't want to worry about planning ahead and have a relaxing go with the flow type of trip. When you dock the ports, you will see MANY tour excursion companies with signs with their prices and you can book and go right then, most the time they will even send you on the same exact tour group as others on your ship that booked through the ship.




TIP #1, double check on the end time of the excursion so you won't have to worry about getting back in time.  They will tell you exactly what time you will be back!
TIP #2, if you are booking on the spot when you get off the ship. Go ahead and barter with the tour company. If they aren't full and want to sell more tickets you can talk them down right on the spot on occasion!



#4 LOTS OF FREE ENTERTAINMENT

While yes cruise ships have casino's and spas you can spend your money at. I have to say on all the ones I have taken I have never even paid once to do those things.  There is no reason to, unless it's something you really want to do.  There are so many awesome free shows, and entertainment going on around the ship.  From musicals, to movies, pools, rides and more. You'll be surprised with the talent they have in the evenings at the comedy clubs or shows they really have great productions!

Not to mention you don't have to sacrifice your health either, you can eat all that yummy buffet foot and go work it off in the gym, or even many ships have outdoor tracks that run around the ship. What a fun way to get a workout in!



#5 THE VIEWS

Where else can you get 360 degree views at any time you want? Whether you want a full view of the islands or countries you arrive at places/locations/sights you are passing, or want to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. You can't beat the ease and availability of the views.  So don't forget your camera!



Those are just five reasons, that a cruise just may be something you should consider.
While there are several reasons a cruise may not be for you, if you are looking for a low cost, low stress alternative and more of a relaxing vacation. Then a cruise might just be something worth looking into taking.





Have you been on a cruise before? Or is it something you may be considering?
What was your favorite thing about a past cruise you took?